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Transfer Your Blog From WordPress.com to WordPress.org Part 2

This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.

Yesterday, I started the convoluted process of swapping my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. As you may remember, I’d finally got to the point where I was ready to import the files of my blog. Everything seemed to be okay, until….

Big Deal #4: The import keeps getting stuck

You see that white screen? That’s how it stayed.

Importing the files

At first, I was happy. The little circle on my browser was turning. I assumed it would take a lot of time. Even though my blog was obviously smaller (2.9 megabytes) than the maximum allowed file (64 megabytes), I figured it would take time to import eight months worth of blogging with almost 2000 photographs.

So I let it be.

When I returned to my computer, I found out that the import process had got stuck. Remember, my blog crashed for almost 48 hours. I was sure that was the reason of my current technical challenge. After my blog returned to life and I was able to work again, I repeated the process explained above. While my blog hasn’t crashed since (and it was in late February), after a short moment of importing, nothing was circling anymore: the white screen of the import remained white.

Big Deal #5: Challenges with the blog file

I decided to open the file I had exported from WordPress.com. This is what it looked like:

Inside the file

I learned that there were two errors in the file:

  1. Error on line 149 at column 32: Namespace prefix atom on link is not defined.
  2. Error on line 150 at column 29: Namespace prefix atom on link is not defined.

I Googled it and found various discussions on the matter. I looked for ways to fix the file, yet found no help in simple language. I tried exporting the file from WordPress.com and importing to WordPress.org various times, and kept hitting the same error, only in different lines and columns each time.

As I kept searching the web, more and more answers seemed to lead to one solution, but one that sounded too simple—and to be honest, too frustrating—to be true.

The advice said, refresh the page.

I exported the file once more. Imported it once more. And then refreshed it an unbelievable number of times.

Each time, more and more files appeared to be added. Sometimes only a few files were added when I hit Refresh; sometimes there were many at a time.

The list of problem files

Either way, the list of files kept growing.

At the end of every file line, it said “already exists”. For example, “Media ‘DSCF1372′ already exists”. Also, I didn’t see all my posts and pages on the list. I was concerned that some aspects of the blog were being imported multiple times and some not at all.

Then I got some good news.

“All Done. Have Fun!” WordPress.Org wrote to me.

All done, have fun

Could it all really be done? Could I now actually stop dealing with technicalities and return to writing?

I logged in to my new URL: www.AllColores.com—no “WordPress” between my blog’s name and the dot-com—and I saw my blog! It was an exciting moment.

Until I noticed something was not okay.

Big Deal #6: My photos weren’t included

All was well with the posts and the comments on my blog, but no photos appeared in the posts. Let me remind you, we are talking about almost 2000 photos, which I made sure to include in the export and import processes.

After some digging in my dashboard, it turned out I’d actually done things well. The photos were indeed imported to the new blog … most of them just weren’t “attached” to any blog post.

Unattached images

The solution? Take a deep breath!

On the left-hand sidebar of your dashboard you will find the word “media”. Click on it. You will reach your media library, where all your photos are listed. I had 1856 media files, all of which were photos, and 1847 of them were unattached. That means that only nine photos were attached.

As you will see in the above photo, in each line beside the media file, you will find a column named “author”. Next to it, there will be a column called “attached to”. If the photo is unattached, an Attach button will be available. Click on that button to attach the picture to the post.

Attaching images

An image will pop up, asking you to search for a post or a page. You can type the beginning of a post title, or choose from a list offered by WordPress by clicking on the right post, then click on Select.

If you, too, have many media files and don’t feel like spending hours “attaching” them to countless posts, you can Google for plugins that might do it for you. From the various message board discussions I read, these actually had helped several people. I tried a couple of options, but they did nothing for me. It was back to manual work.

How do you remember which media file belongs in which post?

That’s where not deleting your WordPress.com blog comes in handy. Keep one window open on your WordPress.org dashboard, and log back in to your WordPress.com dashboard on another. Go to your media library. In your WordPres.com dashboard, files are attached to posts. Follow what it says there as you attach photos on your WordPress.org dashboard.

And, as it turns out, there’s a way to hurry up the process after all.

On any given page, mark all the photos related to a single post and only then click Attach on one of the photos. You will select a post the same way, yet when you click Select, up to twenty photos will be attached at the same time.

Bulk image attachments

Once I was done attaching, I verified that all photos were transferred and attached well.

The end result

Here is a part of my post “More Photos from Bariloche”, which I published while in Argentina in September 2011 to let everyone back home know I’d been doing well and enjoying the snow.

A post

Here is part of that post as it appeared on my new WordPress.org blog in late February 2012:

The old post

At last, I could breathe a sigh of true relief. I would have preferred to start with WordPress.org, yet accomplishing this triumph gave me a new boost of energy as I returned to do what I love most: writing.

Have you encountered any other technical challenges while transferring your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments.

Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic writer and translator from Israel. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinaire joys of life through travel on her travel blog, All Colores. Follow her adventures onTwitter and sign up to her RSS Feed.

Transfer Your Blog From WordPress.com to WordPress.org Part 1

 This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.

WordPressIt was finally happening: I was about to embark on the trip of my dreams—and I wanted to write all about it.

I decided that a travel blog, shared initially with family and friends, would be a great experiment to see if I felt comfortable with the format of blogging that I’d wanted to try for quite some time. I did some research and found out that WordPress was a highly recommended platform. I read about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, yet I wasn’t up for all the technical mumbo-jumbo that I thought comes with launching a site on WordPress.org, even if it allowed me to monetize the blog.

I opted for WordPress.com, thinking I could always transfer later if I decided that was the path for me.

Transferring from WordPress.com to WordPress.org looks easy at first

I read blog posts about it, I read explanations about it on the WordPress website, I watched videos on YouTube. And they all said roughly the same thing: all you have to do is follow these very simple steps, and then your blog is exported from WordPress.com and imported to WordPress.org.

What’s the big deal?

The basic process is supposed to go something like this:

  1. Log in to your WordPress.com dashboard.
  2. Choose “Tools” on your left-hand sidebar.
  3. Under “Tools”, choose “Export”.

There, choose the material you’d like to export. You can choose to export only your posts, for example, and create brand-new pages at your blog’s new home. Or you could choose to transfer the pages, yet start fresh on the posts front. You can also choose to export all the content at once—posts, pages, media files and comments.

Since I wanted to transfer everything in my blog to its new location, I chose All Content and clicked on Download Export File.

Selecting All Content

The file was downloaded pretty quickly. The file—an XML file type—appeared at the bottom of my screen.

The file downloads

My blog’s name is All Colores and the URL I had at WordPress.com was http://allcolores.wordpress.com . That’s why you see it in the image. When the download ended, I clicked on that box to open the file, which contained lots and lots of lines of code. Who knows how to read that?

Later, since I wanted to import this file to my WordPress.org blog, I needed to know where this file was saved. You’ll see soon that I needed to select it from my computer and upload it. But I didn’t know where that code was saved! It looked as weird to me as writing from right to left will probably look to you. What’s a blogger to do?

The solution is simple—at least in this case—so savor it: click on that arrow you see and choose to view the file in a folder. A folder will open up with a list of files, and the file you need will be marked—like magic! This is what you will see at the bottom of your screen:

What appears on screen

(Note: You might not see Hebrew on your computer—unless you have an Israeli computer like I do…)

You can make a note for yourself or memorize the location where this file is saved. I decided to copy it to my desktop, where I don’t have many wandering files and it would be easy for me to pick up during the import process.

Important: Do not delete your site from WordPress.com, at least not yet. You might need it later in the import process.

Big Deal #1: Get a domain and server, and install WordPress.org

You’ve exported the file and you know where it’s saved—congratulations! Now … where do you move it to?

Getting a domain is the easy part. That’s the www.YourSite.com URL. Just Google around for best domain sellers and you’ll find plenty of recommendations. I got mine at NameCheap, as I got a personal recommendation for that store, and it included some free protection with its regular sales price.

Next, Google for recommendations on a web host where you can host your site. If you plan on writing lots of posts and including many media files, it is best to find a host with unlimited space. It won’t necessarily cost you more. Another aspect to consider is that some hosts will allow you to use a large or unlimited number of domains. This is important if you dream of launching a network of blogs. Hosts will sometimes offer a one-click installation of WordPress, which will make your life a bit easier, yet I suggested finding YouTube videos that will guide you until that one click. For me, Hostgator has been the perfect fit these past few months, and I am also satisfied with its customer service.

Big Deal #2: The blog crashes after you’ve finished installing

Note that it’s best to do this process a few days before you actually plan to start working on your blog. While your site will usually go live right away, sometimes it can take up to 72 hours for all the systems of cyberspace to cooperate and recognize your blog. If your blog does crash in the meantime, you will not even have access to write posts.

For me, it took almost 48 hours. Those 48 hours plus all the technical challenges that followed added up to days. Remember, I had no idea what I was doing and therefore researched almost every move as I went along. Those days were days I cleared to write content for my blog before a busy month started, and instead, I found myself dealing with technical mumbo-jumbo. So register and install in advance!

This whole ordeal of domain, server, and installation processes scared me immensely back in July, when I launched my blog. Little did I know that you can find great how-to videos on YouTube. Just doing it would have you done with these challenges in almost no time—rather than taking days off your writing time. If you’re reading this and haven’t launched your blog yet, stop right now. Go get yourself a domain and a host. Trust me, the worst in this post is yet to come.

Once that’s installed, you’re ready to begin importing your blog

You can now access your dashboard from http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin. So access it and log in. Once you do, it’s time to start the importing process!

Follow these steps:

  1. Click on Tools on the left sidebar.
  2. Choose Import.
  3. Your screen will look like the image bellow. Click on “WordPress” at the bottom of this list.

Importing your blog

This is what I saw when I clicked on “WordPress”:

A plugin is needed

My Dashboard was darkened and I was required to install a plugin that would enable the importing of my blog to WordPress.org.

As with any plugin on WordPress.org, after you download it—which usually takes a second—you must activate it before it will work. The screen for activating the plugin will appear right after the download is complete. But if you accidentally closed your browser or clicked on something else, worry not: you can always access your downloaded plugins on the left-hand sidebar of the Dashboard. Each plugin that you activate can later be de-activate and even deleted here.

Downloading the plugin

I decided to follow the advice of WordPress and the YouTube videos I watched: I downloaded the plugin and clicked on Activate Plugin & Run Importer. Within a second, the plugin was activated. That’s right—no installation nightmares! How good is that?

Finally, you get to upload your file (good thing you know where it’s saved). Import it and then start working, right?

Importing your blog file

Wrong. This is where all the trouble begins!

First, I was concerned my blog might be too large, as it contained almost 2000 photos. WordPress asked me to upload a file with the maximum size of 64MB (64 megabytes). I looked at my saved blog file to see how big it was. The number I got was 2989. That’s way bigger than 64! But wait—this figure had different letters next to it: KB. That would be kilobytes.

What does this mean? I asked Google. It turned out 2989 kilobytes equaled 2.9 megabytes. If you scroll back up, you’ll see this information was given to me when it was time to save the file. Paying attention to details is important. What’s 2.9 megabytes compared to 64 megabytes? I was about to find out.

I uploaded my file…

Big Deal #3: My blog’s file version was outdated

This is the message I received when I tried uploading my file: “This WXR file (version 1.2) may not be supported by this version of the importer. Please consider updating”.

The file version warning

Well, I did consider it. However, first, I couldn’t figure out what a WXR file was. I thought it might be the file I just uploaded—that seemed to make sense, yet that file was an XML file. Could a file be both XML and WXR?

Second, I couldn’t figure out how to update the file. I searched on my WordPress.com dashboard and on Google and couldn’t find the answer.

WordPress tip: For any challenge you might be experiencing, type it into Google and you’ll find plenty of message board discussions that were started by people with similar challenges. Many of these discussions take place on WordPress forums, which will start showing up many times once you Google your challenge.

I found message board discussions regarding my file version challenge. I just didn’t find solutions. When I did find message board answers that seemed to be offering a solution, the language they used was too technical for me to understand and know how to implement. I didn’t have the background or experience necessary to do it.

Whether it was the “right” thing to do or not, this is what worked for me. I don’t know if this will work for you too. What made most sense to me was that the above-mentioned comment referred to the file I just uploaded. I mean, it wasn’t there before, it appeared the moment the file finished uploading and it mentioned a file! Unable to discover how to update its version, I decided to go along and use it anyway the way it was. After all, if the file “may not be supported”, it may be supported. WordPress did not obligate me to update—it simply recommended it.

For me, this worked. I had a bunch of technical challenges that you’ll read about tomorrow, and they may or may not have resulted from this decision. Nonetheless, the fact is my blog is up and running on its new domain as you read this. Therefore, this is the place to smile: there is hope!

Before you click Submit…

It’s important to notice two elements on this page before continuing to the next screen.

First, you can assign user roles and positions to posts during this import. If you do this, you might need to handle more settings manually later on. Since I am the only author of my blog, I decided to leave this space blank and avoid dealing with settings. If you have more than one writer, you will likely want to explore it further.

Second, you need to choose whether to download attachments. If you leave the box “download and import file attachments” (right above the Submit button) empty, your photos and videos will not be imported to your WordPress.org file. Do yourself a favor, check that box.

Then click Submit.

At last, you can breathe

WordPress is importing your blog file! Yay! Celebration time, right?

Import problems

Wrong!

That’s right: there were problems with this step too. Don’t worry—I’ll show you what the problem was, and explain how I solved it tomorrow in the second part of this series. In the meantime, if you have any WordPress.com to WordPress.org war stories to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments!

Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic writer and translator from Israel. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinaire joys of life through travel on her travel blog, All Colores. Follow her adventures on Twitter and sign up to her RSS Feed.

Use Email to Post to Your WordPress.org Blog

This guest post is by Anurag Bansal of Techacker.

Owners of WordPress.org blogs don’t get the flexibility to post by email through a WordPress service. It’s very surprising to see that such a popular platform doesn’t offer a native way of creating blog post by sending an email—especially since WordPress.com owners can update their blogs using native WordPress functionality.

If you have a blog on Tumblr or Posterous (which was recently acquired by Twitter), you know how convenient it is to update your blog using email. It naturally increases the frequency with which you update your blog.

Today I’m going to introduce you to an easy way to post by email to your WordPress.org blog using a service I am a big fan of—ifttt.

ifttt stands for If This, Then That. This service, which was introduced recently on ProBlogger, makes it really easy to do many online tasks, some of which are mentioned below.

How to post by email to a WordPress.org blog

  1. Create an ifttt account if you don’t already have one.
  2. Activate and authorize the WordPress.org blog you want to post by email to. To do this, click on WordPress logo under Channels on ifttt. Then add the appropriate details to authorize your WordPress blog to use with ifttt. Once activated, you will see a similar screen to the one shown below.Authorize your account
  3. Activate the email channel connection to the email account from which you’d like to send posts. All you need is to click on Email icon and enter your email address. ifttt will immediately send a PIN to this email address. Copy that PIN from the email into the box on ifttt. Once your account’s confirmed, you’ll have successfully activated the email channel.Activate email channel
  4. Use this recipe to create a task. While creating the task, you can edit the details shown in the screenshot below to suit your needs.Create task
  5. Once the task is activated, all you have to do is send an email from the email account you confirmed in Step 3 to [email protected] with the specified # tag in the subject line. In ifttt terms, that tag says, “if email is received from the account specified earlier, then post it to the WordPress blog set up earlier.”
  6. ifttt will create a post on your WordPress.org blog, using the email details as follows:
    1. The subject of the email becomes the title of the blog post.
    2. The body of the email becomes the content of the blog post.
    3. Tags for the post are specified in the recipe. You can change these in the task details on ifttt.
    4. Categories for the post are also specified by you in the ifttt recipe.

There are many other recipes I use to update my WordPress.org blog, including:

  1. Post photos simultaneously on Instagram and a WordPress blog.
  2. Cross-post from a Tumblr blog to WordPress blog.

I have been able to successfully post many updates to my blog using this process. It’s easy, painless and quick. All it takes to update your blog is an email!

Stop postponing that great blog post idea just because you didn’t have the right tools at the time. Now, there’s no need to install any plugins—just use email.

How do you update your WordPress blog now? Do you think email updates would make it easier for you to update your blog? If you’re already using emil updates on another platform, is it helpful? Let us know in the comments.

Anurag Bansal is a technology enthusiasts and internet addict. He reviews various internet services, Android and iPhone apps and provide tips on many technology related topics on his blog at Techacker. Anurag also releases a FREE Monthly Magazine - THM - on his blog. You may follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Which One’s Right for You?

This guest post is by Matt Hooper.

When you first start looking at building your own blog, you are going to be inundated by the different options that are out there. After considering all your options, hopefully you’ll come to your senses and realize that WordPress is your best option.

As a reward for all this deliberating you are now presented with one more decision. Do you choose .org or .com? And we’re not talking about your domain name. You, along with many others, might be surprised to find out that there are actually two different kinds of WordPress.

WordPress.com is a version of WordPress that is hosted by Automattic, the development team behind WordPress. WordPress.org is often referred to the self-hosted version of WordPress. The two are very similar but there are a few differences that you need to be aware of before you finally get down to work on your blog.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the safest way to go, as there are a lot of mechanisms in place to make sure that you don’t accidentally break it or prevent it from working the way it was intended to.

This means that it is nearly impossible for a beginner to render their site unusable. It also means that you are unable to really make use of some of the more advanced, and fun, features of WordPress. I’ll get to those below, but let’s take a closer look at what WordPress.com has to offer first.

The biggest selling feature of WordPress.com is the fact that everything is free and easy to use. You can head over there right now, sign up for a free account, and be blogging before you know it. You won’t even need to invest in a domain name if you don’t want to. Without any expense, you are able to have a website of your own at a domain like yourname.wordpress.com.

That’s right: you don’t even have to purchase a domain name to get started. However, going from a yourname.wordpress.com domain to yourname.com in the future is going to hurt your search engine rankings. This is something that you might want to consider before going the totally free route.

In the event that you are even remotely serious about creating a blog, you’re best to start off with your own domain. You can have your own domain name at WordPress.com for an extra $12 per year plus the cost of the domain itself.

On November 29, 2011 WordPress announced WordAds. Only WordPress.com hosted sites with custom domains and “moderate to high traffic and appropriate content” are eligible to apply for the WordAds program. WordAds appears to be a viable monetizing option for WordPress hosted sites that have established audiences. This does not appear to be an option for new WordPress.com sites.

The barrier to entry is extremely low here so it can be very appealing to the less technically inclined. For hobbyists or people interested in just kicking the tires, WordPress.com is a good starting point. However, if you are at all serious about moving forward with your blog, you’re going to quickly run into the limitations of WordPress.com.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the version of WordPress that you have to host yourself. This means that if you use wordpress.org, you have to go out and find a web hosting company to host your blog. This may result in you having to paying for services before you even hit Publish on your fist post.

The good thing is that some hosting companies may give you a short grace period to try out their service before you get your first bill. Then, after you get going, you’ll be looking at a cost of anywhere from a $5 to $10 per month for a shared host.

You’ll also have to buy your own domain to use with your blog—you won’t even have the option not to. Again, some hosts will give you one domain for free when you signup. This also means that you can add additional domains for just the cost of the domain, since you already have the host.

After you have decided on a shared host of your choice, you are going to have to install WordPress in your hosting account. Don’t fret: most shared hosts worth using will have a “one-click install” for WordPress, so it’s not too complicated to get WordPress installed. In the event that you do have any problems, most good shared hosts will help you out.

Once this has been completed, you will have free rein to do whatever you wish with your shiny new WordPress installation. This also means that you get access to two of the best features of WordPress that I alluded to above: plugins and custom themes.

Themes are what control the look and feel of your blog, colours, layouts, fonts, etc. Yes, it’s true that you are able to pick a theme while using WordPress.com but there is a limited selection and you are not able to do much customization to the theme itself. If you know your way around CSS, you can pay an additional $30 per year to have the ability to modify the CSS.

Even if you get to the CSS of your WordPress.com site, you still have a limited selection of themes to choose from. At least with WordPress.org, you have the choice of using the same out-of-the-box free themes as on WordPress.com or to pay a bit extra for a premium or custom theme.

But the killer feature of WordPress.org has got to be the ability to add plugins, which are not available with WordPress.com. Plugins are add-ons that expand the core functionality of WordPress. As an example, if you want to be able to scan your entire site to make sure there are no broken links, there is a plugin for that. There are countless other plugins for WordPress that will:

  • compress images
  • enhance SEO
  • create contact forms
  • lightbox images
  • and much, much more!

Initially, having FTP access to your blog might not matter to you, but as you grow into your blog, you might want to have the ability to modify and move files around on your web host’s server. This is something that you get with a self-hosted site running WordPress, that you can’t ever get with a WordPress.com blog.

Probably the most important feature of using WordPress.org is you get to make money with your blog. You’re free to use anything from Adsense to affiliate promotions. You’ll even have the option of creating and selling your own products through your site. And if the need arises, you can turn a WordPress.org site into a full-blown ecommerce solution.

That said, it’s not all roses with a self-hosted blog. There are two major things missing with WordPress.org that you get with WordPress.com: backups and protection from extreme traffic spikes.

There aren’t many safety nets with a self-hosted site, so make sure you back it up often. WordPress.com takes care of this for you. A good web host usually performs regular backups, but most will tell you that they don’t guarantee anything. So whatever you do, make sure that you perform your own WordPress backups frequently.

In the event that your blog does get popular overnight, it could buckle under the added traffic. Don’t worry: the stability of your site can be beefed up through the use of a good caching plugin, like W3 total cache. Also, it isn’t too difficult to upgrade your hosting at some point in the future when your site starts getting massive traffic. This would be a good problem to have!

Wrapping it up

I have to admit that after being so accustomed to the flexibility of WordPress.org, I would have a hard time being happy with a WordPress.com blog. If you have any aspirations of taking your blog past the hobby stage, you should just start out with a self-hosted site.

It is possible to move a WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site later on. However, presuming that you might consider starting with a WordPress.com site and moving to a self-hosted site later on, you’re best to just start out with a self-hosted site.

That said, if you are comfortable living within the limitations of WordPress.com, and you want to never have to deal with the technical details of a blog, then a WordPress.com hosted blog might be all that you need.

WordPress.com is great if you are looking to keep an online journal or for small clubs and the like. Due to the fact that you are reading this site, I expect you’re interested in making a business out of your blog. On that note, at some point in the future you will end up with a WordPress.org website. Save yourself the fuss and the hassle of trying to transition your site later on. You’ll be happy you did.

The initially-free option of WordPress.com could actually result in higher costs down the road. After you start piling on extra fees for a custom domain, ad removal, extra storage space (you only get 3GBs to start), plus the ability to use custom CSS in your blog design, you really aren’t saving much, if any, money on WordPress.com, and you have to deal with its limitations.

Finally, and this is a big “finally”, you don’t own a WordPress.com website. After you’ve spent all that time to build a blog and an audience, do you really want to wake up one morning and find out that WordPress.com didn’t like your site so they deleted it? There isn’t a strong chance of this happening, but you should be aware that it could.

Have you been trying to decide between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? What challenges are you facing?

Matthew Hooper helps individuals, small businesses and organizations build an internet presence. You can get his free guide on building an internet presence or check out his online WordPress course full of step-by-step videos so that you can learn WordPress in a single weekend.

Jetpack: Bring WordPress.com Functionality to Your WordPress.org Blog

jet-pack.pngIn the last week, Automattic (the team behind WordPress) released a nice little WordPress plugin bundle called Jetpack, which gives your self-hosted WordPress.org blog some of the functionality that was previously only available in the hosted WordPress.com-type blogs.

This won’t appeal to all bloggers—especially not those who have been at it for a while and who have researched and installed a wide range of plugins to customize their blogs—but for some it’ll be a great addition to their WP.org blog.

Jetpack aims to give “feature parity” to both types of WordPress blogs, and includes the following features:

  • WordPress.com Stats – a metrics tool
  • Twitter Widget – display latest updates from Twitter
  • Gravatar Hovercards – show pop-up business cards of users’ Gravatar profiles
  • WP.me Shortlinks – a permalink shortening tool
  • Sharedaddy – a sharing tool (shares to Twitter, Facebook etc.)
  • LaTeX – mark up your posts with LaTeX markup language
  • After the Deadline – adds spell, style, and grammar checking to WP
  • Shortcode Embeds – embeds videos easily

Again, many of you will probably have other plugins that do some of this, but for those looking for an easy install to cover all of these plugins, Jetpackcould be a good option. It also looks like other plugins will be added soon.

Further reading: Read the Jetpack launch post.

How To – Move From WordPress.com To WordPress.org

WordPress To WordPressMoving a Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is something I’ve had a lot of questions about – today Jeff Chandler shares tips on how to do it.

Everyday it seems like I find a story or two from a cities local online newspaper which delves into the topic of blogging and what it’s all about. The story usually goes through a mini backlog of history surrounding the term, what blogging is and at the end of the article, there is usually a list of suggestions on how to get started with the most popular suggestion being WordPress.com. Using WordPress.com is a great way to introduce yourself to blogging but if you decide that you want to turn blogging into a full time job or just want more control over your work, you’ll need to move.

Thankfully, the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (WordPress.org being the self hosted version of WordPress) is painless thanks in large part to a great export tool.

Tools ImportTo start things off, login to your WordPress.com account and browse to your administration panel. From the menu on the left, click on TOOLS – EXPORT. At this point, you have the option to confine the export to a particular author or all authors. Using the export tool will compile your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags. This information is placed into a WXR file or, WordPress eXtended RSS file. Essentially, this file is just a normal XML RSS based file with a couple of custom fields added to it which makes it specific to WordPress. Once you’re finished, click on the Download Export File button and save it to your desktop.

Once you have that file on your desktop, you can breath a little easier considering your half way through the content migration process.

The second part of this guide refers to an installation of WordPress 2.7. Login to your self installed WordPress administration panel and from the menu on the left click on TOOLS – IMPORT. From the list of blogging systems click on WordPress. Next, click on the Browse button and locate the XML file you downloaded earlier. This will upload the XML file into your WordPress installation and will unpack all of the data the file contains. There is one caveat though regarding this entire technique.

Importing WordPressMost webhosts for whatever reason still have their PHP.ini configured in such a way where end users can only upload files with a maximum file size of 2MB or smaller. Although it takes quite a bit of content in an WXR file to go over 2MB, 2MB is not a lot of head room. If you find yourself in the position where your WXR file is larger than the maximum file size, I highly suggest submitting a trouble ticket to your webhost and asking them to increase the limit. If they choose not to, then ask them if they can import the file for you. If that doesn’t work, you can pull a trick from your sleeve by uploading a custom php.ini file to your webhosting accounts root folder. This is what my host did for me and afterwards, I took a look at the php.ini file and noticed it had this line in it:

; Maximum allowed size for uploaded files.
upload_max_filesize = 7M

Apparently, the php.ini file overwrote the settings on the original file and I was able to bump my limit up to 7 Megabytes. This trick is not guaranteed to work. As a last ditch effort, you can also try adding these lines to your .htaccess file. Just replace the pound sign with a number that is above the size of your WXR file.

#set max upload file size
php_value upload_max_filesize #M

#set max post size
php_value post_max_size #M

Once the WXR file is unpacked on your self installed version of WordPress, you’re ready to walk through the gates of freedom without skipping a beat!

P.S. This strategy also works for those wanting to go from WordPress.org to WordPress.com.

The ProBlogger Infinite Scroller WordPress Plugin

Last week we made out first plugin available on the ProBlogger Community: an Infinite Scroll Wordpess Plugin. It’s a plugin we’ve been using on Digital Photography School since we redesigned it late last year.

With each of these plugins we release we want to share why we’re using it on our own sites, and also give you some options on how you can the techniques yourself (community member or not).

The infinite scroll plugin is does one very simple task: as you reach the bottom of a page (typically an archive of posts), it will automatically load in some additional posts. Once you get to the end of the new list, it will load more until you run out of posts.

For a demo, scroll to the bottom of this page on dPS. If you want a super crazy version check out the front page of mashable.com

With an infinite scroll, you’re essentially doing away with the need for ‘pagination’ which are those “next page” and numbered buttons you often come across. Sites like Google Image Search, Facebook, and Pinterest all use this infinite scroll technique.

It’s something that has actually been around for quite a while, and I’m often surprised it’s not as widespread as perhaps it should be. This is because are both downsides and upsides for a plugin like this.

The upside:

  • When a user is browsing a list of posts it can be bringing in new posts without the user need to click (or think).
  • It’s a quicker to show new content (the user doesn’t have to load a whole new page).
  • It’s more friendly for touch devices (tablets and phones) as you’re not asking your readers to zoom and touch those tiny numbers.

To put is simply: your helping expose more of your content to users for less work.

The downside:

  • People can’t get to your footer unless its sticky (or you run out of posts)
  • With an endless stream of posts there is no point of reference for people to go back to: “I remember seeing that on page X”.
  • If it’s not backwards-compatible (ours is) it will affect how your site gets indexed by search engines.

Over the last few years there have been a number of very detailed reviews by user-experience experts about the pros and cons of the infinite scroll. Of course with varying opinions.

At the end of the day you’ll just need to make the choice yourself!

So how do you add and infinite scroll on your WordPress blog?

Obviously if you’re a member of the ProBlogger Community you’ll get free access to our infinite scroller. One of the handy features of ours, that I’ve not seen any others, is the ability to include infinite scroll of related posts at the end of a actual blog post, not just an archive page (see the video at the end for a demo).

There is an infinite scrolling plugin in the wordpress plugin directory that looks like it was updated only a month or so ago with some nice features.

If you’re using a theme from WordPress, some of them actually have the infinite scroll built in.

Of course if you are a developer of have access to one, they can make one for you too!

Here’s a demo of our scrolled that will give you a better idea of how to set it up and how it works.

This is just a first of a many of plugins we’ll be releasing over on ProBlogger.com. If you’ve not signed up yet, we’d love to see you there!

Any if you’ve got any questions or experiances with this approach I’d love to hear them in the comments too.

Beginner Week: Bite the Bullet and Start Your Blog with this Seven-Point Checklist

Theme WeekWelcome to ProBlogger’s second theme week – where we take a topic you’re interested in and drill right down to bring you all the information we can find to be of use to you. This week we are focusing on newbies – what do all beginner bloggers want to know? What are the first points of reference we should use, and where do we go from there? Today, please welcome Ali Luke from Zen Optimise, who has put together a handy checklist of things you should do in your first week of blogging to get yourself off the ground. There is also a fantastic deal on Darren’s “ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging“, full of hints, tips and practical exercises for the beginner blogger. Even if you’ve had your blog for a while, it’s a great refresher of what really works in getting your site some traction. You will receive 50% off the purchase price when you add the discount code BEGINNERWEEK at the checkout for this week only. Don’t miss out!

Without further ado – here’s Ali.

Have you been reading ProBlogger for weeks, or even months, so you can learn everything you need to know before setting up your blog?

You might be wasting your time.

That’s not to say that the content on ProBlogger isn’t hugely valuable: of course it is. As a new blogger five years ago, I devoured a large chunk of the archives – and even today, I still get inspired (and pick up a few new tips) from posts here.

But I also know how easy it is to fall into the trap of reading post after post, struggling to make sense of it all, and wondering how you’ll ever take in all the information out there.

“Be Prepared” Can Go Too Far 

While it’s great to do some research before diving in and starting a blog, it’s easy to end up reading post after post after post … without taking any action.

Until you get your blog up and running, you won’t really know what you need to know. You might be reading about topics that you’ll never need to concern yourself with – or you might be missing out on information that’s going to be crucial.

Launching your blog can feel like a huge step. You want to get every detail right; you want it to be perfect right from the start.

The problem is, if that perfect ideal keeps you stuck, you’ll never have a blog at all. And a real, imperfect blog will outperform an imaginary perfect one in every way imaginable…

Start Your Blog This Week: Your Checklist

It’s time to bite the bullet. No, you probably don’t feel ready. Yes, there’s a lot you still don’t know. But you will learn so much faster from actually blogging than from simply reading about it.

Here’s what you need to do. If you tackle one task each day, you’ll have your blog up and running next week:

Day 1: Set a Clear Goal

What do you want your blog to do for you? “Make money” is a popular answer – but how?

Is your blog going to support your existing business and bring in new customers?

Do you have a service to offer, like design, writing, or coding?

Is it going to be market research – and a platform – for a book that you plan to launch?

Are you going to bring in lots of traffic and sell advertising space?

Will you review products as an affiliate, taking commission on sales?

All of these are perfectly valid strategies, but you need to be clear about what you’ll be doing right from the start.

Of course, your blog doesn’t have to be a money-making tool. Perhaps your motivation for blogging is to get your writing out there to the world, or to build up a strong reputation in your field.

Further reading:

Top 10 Blog Monetization Strategies, Ranked In Order (Blog Marketing Academy)

To do: 

Write your goal down, and keep it somewhere visible. You want to have your goal in mind over the next few days.

Day 2: Choose a Platform

There are so many different blogging platforms out there, and there’s a good chance you’ve heard of (and maybe tried out) a fair few of them. I’ll name a handful of them: WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Tumblr, Squarespace…

Let’s make this decision easy. Your best option is almost certainly WordPress.

It’s used by most of the top blogs (including ProBlogger) and it’s a hugely flexible and powerful platform.

Ideally, you’ll want to go with self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) where you install your blog on your own web space. If you can’t afford hosting, though, you can use WordPress.com – this is still a powerful blogging platform, but it has certain limitations.

Further Reading:

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com (WPBeginner)

To do:

Decide whether you’re using WordPress.org (self-hosted, recommended) or WordPress.com (hosted, a good second choice).

The rest of these instructions assuming you’re using WordPress.org; if you using WordPress.com or a site like Blogger, you won’t need hosting, and you can choose not to buy a domain name. (If you don’t buy your own domain name, you’ll have one like yourname.wordpress.com.)

Day 3: Decide on Your Domain Name

Your domain name (sometimes called your URL or your web address) is what users type in to visit your site. ProBlogger’s domain name is problogger.net.

To get a domain name, you need to register it with a domain name registrar – a site like GoDaddy (well known) or Namecheap (popular for its high-quality customer service).

Domain names aren’t especially expensive to register, and will normally cost you around somewhere around $12 per year. Prices vary between domain name registrars, and some suffixes (the .com or .net etc) cost more than others.

When you’re choosing your domain name, aim to:

Keep it fairly short. Long domain names are hard to remember and type.

Keep it to two words or fewer if possible.

Make it match the name of your website. If Darren called this site “ProBlogging Tips” but had the domain name “ProBlogger” it would be confusing for readers.

Avoid using hyphens if you can: if another website has the same domain without a hyphen, readers may end up there by mistake.

Use a .com suffix if it’s available. If you really want a particular name and the .com is taken, you can use .net. If your readers are mainly from your own country, you can use your country’s domain (e.g. .co.uk for the UK or .ca for Canada).

Further reading:

Five Best Domain Name Registrars (Lifehacker.com)

To do:

Come up with several possible domain names. Use WHOis.net to see which ones are available. (Simply typing them into your browser won’t necessarily tell you if they’re available or not, as sometimes domains are registered without hosting so no site will show up.)

If you’re self-hosting WordPress and thus buying hosting, you may want to register the domain name through your host – this can make life slightly simpler.

Day 4: Buy Hosting

Many bloggers find “hosting” a tricky concept to get their heads around. Here’s how it works.

For your website to be online, all the files for it need to be kept on a computer that’s always connected to the internet. (It’s technically possible for you to host your website on your own computer – but there are a huge number of reasons why you probably wouldn’t want to do this, including security issues, and the cost of keeping your computer switched on all day and all night, all the time.)

Web host companies provide space for your site on their servers (huge computers), which are permanently connected to the internet. These servers also have special software that allows you to install WordPress on your site. You pay a monthly or annual fee for this, usually around $7 – $15 per month.

There are loads of web hosts out there; personally, I use Dreamhost for all my own websites – but I’ve included links to other suggestions in the further reading.

Further reading:

How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting? (WPBeginner)

To do:

Choose your host and sign up for an account. Don’t spend hours agonising over the choice – you can always switch hosts in the future if you decide they weren’t the best option for you.

Day 5: Install WordPress

Assuming you’ve chosen a WordPress-friendly host, you’ll probably have a simple and easy way to install WordPress – often with a “one-click installation” option.

Follow your host’s instructions, and get WordPress installed on your site. During the installation process, you’ll be prompted to enter:

The name of your site.

The username for an administrative account.

A password.

Your email address.

The only bit you can’t change later is the admin username. Avoid using “admin” as that’s way too easy for hackers to guess!

To login to your site, go to www.yoursitename.com/wp-login. You’ll automatically be directed to your dashboard – the “behind the scenes” view of your WordPress site – after logging in.

You’ll also have the option to make your site invisible to search engines. This can be reassuring while you’re developing your blog, but if you switch this on, don’t forget to switch it off again later! (You can do so in your WordPress dashboard under Settings Reading.

Further reading:

Secure Your WordPress Blog Without Touching Any Code (ProBlogger)

To do:

Get WordPress installed. It will probably be easier than you think! If you have time to spare, poke around in the WordPress dashboard to get a sense of all the different options and functions.

Day 6: Choose Your Theme

The look and feel of your blog is determined by its theme (sometimes called the template). You can switch your WordPress theme without losing any of your content – your posts, pages, sidebar widgets and so on are stored separately.

To change themes:

Go to your WordPress dashboard (www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin).

Click on Appearance  Themes

Choose a theme you like and click Preview to see how your site will look in that theme.

Click Activate to switch your site over to the new theme.

There are thousands of WordPress themes available online, so if you don’t find anything you like in the current themes section, look around. Free themes tend to be more limited in functionality and design; premium (paid for) ones often have lots of new options.

Further reading:

How to Pick a WordPress Theme That Doesn’t Suck (StuffedWeb)

To do:

Select a “good enough” theme – it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’re creating a website for an existing business, consider using a premium theme that’s tailored to your industry. (E.g. there are restaurant themes, band themes, guest house themes…)

Day 7: Write Your About Page

Once you’ve got your theme up and running, there are still a lot of tasks ahead. New bloggers often wonder what to prioritise. Getting their sidebar spruced up? Posting lots of content? Adding their “Services” page? Including an option for readers to get posts by email?

All of those are important – but one of the very first things you should do is get your About page in place.

New readers will very often look for and click on “About” (or “About me” or “About us”) to find out who you are and what they can expect from your blog. If the page doesn’t exist, or if it’s badly put together, they might shrug and go on their way (and never return).

A good About page needs to:

Tell the reader what your blog (or company) is about and how it can help them. It’s often a good idea to put this information up front, perhaps after a few words introducing yourself (“Hi, I’m Bob Jones, and I blog here about…”)

Introduce you so that the reader feels a sense of connection. You can do this in a straightforward way, or with humour, with a list of interesting facts about you, with your credentials and experience, with an inspiring story … whatever fits with the tone and brand of your blog.

Include a photo of you. This isn’t an absolute rule, but it helps readers come to trust you – and if you’re selling them products or services, or promoting affiliate products, this is important.

Be updated regularly. Your blogging mission might change; facts about you and your life might change. If your About page is clearly years out of date, your blog is going to look cobwebby at best … and abandoned at worst.

Get the basics of your page in place, then, once you’ve been blogging for a couple of weeks, update it and:

Link to two or three of your best posts. This is a great way to draw readers further into your blog.

Let readers know how to subscribe to your blog by email. Even if you’ve got a big email sign-up box in your sidebar, readers may not notice it.

Further reading:

Are You Making These 7 Mistakes with Your About Page? (Copyblogger)

To do: 

Write your About page. You might find it easiest to split it into two sections, “About the Blog” and “About Me”. If you can, ask a friend or colleague to look over it and give you feedback – they may have ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of.

And that’s it! Your blog isn’t only online, it’s looking good, and it’s ready for you to publish your first post. This is just the start of an exciting journey – and I wish you all the best with it.

Ali Luke is Head of Content at Zen Optimise, where she leads small group courses on blogging and writing for the web. Once you’ve got your blog set up, check out 7 Rules for Creating Highly Successful Posts for powerful tips plus handy further reading suggestions.

How to Take a Blog Break Without Losing Momentum

Paradise waiting

A Guest post by Stacey Roberts from Veggie Mama.

As anyone who has ever started a blog knows, it can be hard work. The internet never sleeps, and it seems at times neither do you! In the 24-hour machine that is the blogosphere and accompanying social media, there is the potential for our blog/life balance to be so far off kilter it’s all but disappeared from view. And the best way to deal with blogger burnout is to stop it before it begins.

Working for yourself means you also have the luxury of choosing when you can shift gears. And while you might not have a colleague to step up and take over in your stead, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your site will suddenly plunge to the depths of the internet where blogs go to die if you’re not there to constantly push it back up to the surface. The fear of being forgotten is very real, as the blogosphere is awash with ten more blogs to take your place should you quiet down. But the trick is finding the minimum amount of effort you need to spend to keep your hard-earned traffic, and ring in some help along the way.

Step One: Get organised

First thing you need to do is define how long you are going to spend away. I was having a baby, so I planned for three months and had a tentative plan for the fourth. Figure out how many posts would be the minimum to keep your readers interested, and set them into an editorial calendar. There are plenty of ways to do this – use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin, use software, a downloadable template, your laptop calendar, a real calendar, or you can go old-school like I did and draw a colourful diagram with connector pens.

The next step is to fill those spots with content ideas. There are plenty of things you can write ahead and schedule – I did a mix of non-time-sensitive posts, recipes, tutorials and guest posts. Once you have an idea, then set aside a chunk of time to tackle the posts and have them ready to go. You already have inspiration because you’ve created a list of ideas ahead of time, all you need to do now is flesh them out. Or if you can’t find the time to write a bunch of posts in one go, then commit to writing two posts each time you sit down to write one. Publish one, and schedule the other for a future date. You also might like to re-post earlier content – we all have that one brilliant piece we wrote when we were first starting out, which only two people read. Bring it back out and let it get the love it deserves!

Spend some time either creating your own images for the posts, or searching for stock images. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to write a post once the title and image are sitting there, ready to go. Make a list of what you need and stockpile them, to save time searching for each one as you write your content.

Write a post explaining to your readers what to expect, and when you’ll be back. Most readers are happy to give you some breathing space and pop back when you return. You’re probably also doing them a favour – less posts in their readers mean they get a break from keeping up with the blogosphere’s breakneck pace!

Step Two: Get some help

If there’s too much to do and too little time, then call for reinforcements. Write a post asking for guest posters, outlining your contribution guidelines (it is much easier if they all come in the same format, because uploading 40 different blogging styles can be just as much work as writing the content yourself!), and setting your standards. You might like to include ideal post length, whether or not it needs an image (and be certain that the image they supply complies with copyright law!), and whether they need to write their own bio and supply a head shot. Guest posts are usually better received if you have written a small intro before they begin, and helps keep your voice on your site, which is why your readers read you in the first place. Submissions in HTML format are light-years more easy to deal with than document attachments and separate images, but not everyone is au fait with that.

Reach out to your networks and let them know you’re looking for contributions. Are you a member of blogging groups or organisations? Put the call out on your blog’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. You might like to open it up to up-and-coming bloggers looking for a big break, or you might like to only invite established writers with their own readership. Or you could simply hire professionals.

Judge what mix is best for you and your readers – keep your own content a constant, if you can. While your readers will appreciate you’re taking a break, and enjoy some fresh views, it’s your voice they want to read.

Step Three: Get away

Get right away. You’ve done all you can ahead of time. You’ve automated tweets and Facebook updates using the scheduled post’s permalink, and everything should run smoothly (you hope!) with little or no effort from you. Stepping back and clearing your head does wonders for motivation and creativity – soon you will miss your blog, and have ideas coming out your ears for future content. But until that happens, break up with your blog just a little bit. Get outside and get a life (as Darren says!), so you’ve got some depth to your writing. Don’t even open your laptop if you don’t have to. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and nobody likes forced writing. When you’ve reignited the passion for blogging, your words will flow better and you’ll create more of a connection with the reader.

If you absolutely can’t bear the idea of totally stepping away, or you don’t need to, then pop up every now and then with a fresh post. You never know when inspiration will strike, and it’s always best to bow down when it does. Keep up your networking and being part of the community with your social media accounts – maybe Instagram your break and the new things you now have time for, to keep your followers in the loop. If you’re troubled by dips in traffic on the days you’re not posting, then invite readers into your archives by tweeting a new old link for them to read.

Nobody likes a burnt-out blogger, and you and your readers both know when stuff’s getting stale. Take a well-earned break and keep the home fires burning so it’s still warm when you get back.

Have you taken a break? I’d love to hear any tips you learned along the way.

Stacey Roberts is the blogger behind Veggie Mama, and when she’s not writing about good food and motherhood, she’s teaching media law at university. Or avoiding the laundry. She’s an Instagram ninja here, on Facebook here and tweets @veggie_mama.