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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.

9 World-class Bloggers Share Their #1 Email List Building Tip

This is a guest post from Nate Desmond of SumoMe, plus half a dozen contributors you’ll encounter throughout the article.

Too many blogs are plagued by hit-and-run visitors.  These are people who come, read your article, and then melt back into the ether of the internet.

As much as we love to see spikes in our website visitor analytics, post views are actually useless.  Unless those visitors do something – buy your course, follow you on Twitter, join your email list – even a large traffic spike will leave you back in the same place a few days later.

So how can you transform one-time visitors into lifelong readers?

Simple: convince them to join your email list.

Next time you publish a new post, you won’t start over from zero – your new email subscribers will be glad to read your latest writing. Think of it as a great vicious cycle. More emails = more traffic = more sharing = more emails.

But how do you build your email list?

1sean_dsouzaI wondered the same thing, so I asked major bloggers for their advice.  Here’s what they said:

#1. Partner with other bloggers

“Strategic alliances help grow the email list. The clients already know and trust the partner and hence the trust is transferred to us as well.”

- Sean Dsouza writes at Psychotactics

Partnerships with other bloggers can help both blogs reach new audiences and build their reach.  When selecting potential alliances, look for two factors:

1. Size: While bigger blogs offer bigger rewards, they also are less likely to be interested.

2. Audience: The more similar your audiences are, the more benefit both blogs will see.

Keeping these criteria in mind, build a list of 10-20 blogs you’d potentially like to partner with.

1problogger

Here’s an example guest post on ProBlogger

Once you’ve selected a these potentials, decide what type of content you’d like to use:

  • Webinar
  • Guest post
  • Ebook
  • Podcast
  • Email
  • Physical events

Armed with these ideas, you’re ready to reach out to the bloggers you brainstormed earlier.  Particularly when you’re new and don’t know people, this step will often be discouraging as probably only one in 10 bloggers will express any interest.

Instead of becoming frustrated, expect initial failure, and use the results to steadily improve your emails.  As you start gaining momentum after your first partnership, landing the second and third will be easier.

#2. Prominently ask people to subscribe – then provide amazing value2neville_medhora

“A big-ass banner across the top of my blog helped a lot.  I also used CrazyEgg.com to make sure people were clicking on it.  I went through a couple of revisions based on the CrazyEgg stats.

At first I was afraid of asking for people’s emails because I thought it would annoy them.  Then I realized getting my posts via email were people’s favorite way of hearing from me!

Once someone joins my email list, I use Aweber to automatically send a series of epically valuable emails over the next couple of weeks.  This helps transform a new subscriber into a hardcore, engaged fan.”

- Neville Medhora writes at Neville’s Financial Blog

Rather than just sticking a form randomly on your site and hoping for the best, take the time to test the best placement, wording, and coloring like Neville did.

You should test many elements of your form:

  • Headline
  • Button text
  • Forms required (name and email or just email?)
  • Color
  • Incentive

The signup incentive is a particularly potent piece of your form.  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ebooks
  • Recordings
  • Cheatsheets
  • Videos
  • Email series

2nevilles_email_list

One of the incentives Neville uses to build his email list

Optimizing form locations and incentives will help you get many times more email subscribers than you do right now.  Just remember, getting email signups is only the very beginning of a strong reader relationship.

This reader trusts you enough to share their email address – now it’s your turn to prove you’re worthy of it.  Work to consistently overdeliver on expectations, and you’ll soon have a thriving email following!

#3. Use a non-annoying popover

“When I first started my latest blog, I just slapped a basic subscription form somewhere on my sidebar.  Barely anyone noticed it, and even fewer subscribed.3nate_desmond

Then I tried SumoMe’s List Builder plugin.  Literally overnight, I saw a 10x increase in subscriber conversion, and my list has continued growing steadily ever since.

I actually liked it so much that I now work for the company!”

- Nate Desmond writes at NateDesmond.com and SumoMe

Building an email list is one of the fastest ways to compound your blog’s growth, so you’ll want to start optimizing your email forms as soon as you get the first trickle of traffic.

3sumome_popover

This is the email popover I use on my blog

For me, SumoMe popovers have been the most successful effort thus far.  They’re pretty simple to setup (took me less than 5 minutes), but you should watch for a couple things:

  1. Timing – Mine loads after about 1 second, but you should experiment to see what works best for your website.
  2. Color – Make sure your form is colored similarly to your website – context matters.
  3. Wording – This is critical.  Brainstorm 25 ideas for headlines and test the three best.

Forms in your sidebar, footer, or even header can be out of your reader’s line-of-sight, so non-annoying popovers can be a highly effective way to get your reader’s attention.

4sean_work#4. Produce exceptional content

“Producing exceptional content that our readers can use to improve their craft.”

- Sean Work writes at KISSmetrics

Ultimately, the success of your blog relies on the quality of your writing.  A strong email list can help speed your growth, but everything ultimately relies on your posts and emails providing stunning content that solves real problems for your readers.

Quality content attracts potential readers to your website and inspires current subscribers to stick around and engage.

4infographic

This is part of an infographic KISSmetrics uses to engage

Here are a few things you can do to make your writing amazing:

Write articles that you would want to read and share with your friends, and you’ll probably be off to a strong start.

#5. Use Post-Specific Bonus Content

“Giveaway a bonus within your content that requires the readers email address.

Think of it like Facebook advertising.

My click-through-rate (ctr) on the newsfeed ads is 2.5% while my sidebar Facebook ads on a great day do .5% ctr.

That’s a 500% increase in clicks.

5noah_kaganPeople are engaged in the middle of the site, NOT on the fringes.

Think of this with email collection within your blog.

Make a benefit and give the reader a link / button to get a cheat-sheet or bonus document related to the content the person is reading.

Then ask them for an email to get that content.

If you are really lazy just do it for the top 3 posts you get traffic on.

I have seen this nearly increase my daily email growth by 30%!”

- Noah Kagan runs SumoMe and writes at Okdork

Advertising platforms like Facebook are working tirelessly to try to better understand visitor intent.  The more they can tailor advertisements to what a person actually wants; the more customers they will see.

You have a major advantage over advertisers though – since your visitor is reading a specific post, you already know that they have at least some interest in the post’s topic.

Based on this knowledge, you can create a targeted call-to-action offering exclusive content that builds on your post.

5email_incentive

This email bonus is from one of Noah’s recent posts

So what exactly can you offer?

  • Google spreadsheets with exact formulas
  • PDF “cheatsheets” with a quick review of your post
  • Video materials adding on to your post
  • Exact emails and scripts you’ve used in your case studies
  • Ebooks closely related to the post topic
  • “Inside tips” like the list of top giveaway sites in the above example

Whatever you choose, giveaway incredible value and you’ll not only get email subscribers – you’ll get lifelong readers!

#6. Use multiple signup forms

“The number one strategy that helped me grow my list was placing multiple sign up forms on high traffic pages on my site and offering a high value giveaway in return.

Today I have forms in my popup, in my sidebar, at the bottom of every post and on a slide in.”6steve_chou

- Steve Chou writes at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com

Different readers will be ready to subscribe at different times.  If you have a subscription form ready when they want to subscribe, your email list will grow quickly.

You should test email signup forms in all these locations:

6sidebar_form

Steve’s got a great sidebar form on his site

Over time, you’ll probably find two or three forms are dramatically more effective than the others.  At that point, you can remove the low performers and focus on optimizing the forms that do work to make them even better.

This is a principle that actually applies in all areas of blog growth – cut the strategies that don’t work and double-down on the areas that are showing results.

#7. Provide deep research that solves problems

“There has to be a steady stream of high quality content that actually solves the visitor’s problem.

There’s a lot of research that goes into the articles we publish, because too many of the marketing articles out there skate by passing opinion off as fact without any kind of qualification. The problem with that is that it creates a culture of “marketers” who blindly follow opinion without being willing to test that on their own.

By including the deep research, and really digging to find those “aha” moment, we try to create a “can’t miss” experience.7tommy_walker

The feeling is that if you don’t sign up for email, you might miss something valuable that increases your revenue. Nobody wants to miss out on revenue, especially if learning how to get more of it will be sent to your inbox for free.”

- Tommy Walker is the editor of ConversionXL

Most blogs today fall into one of two main categories: “churn and burn” websites that just publish frequent, basic posts and long-form websites that publish detailed, researched posts.  Both types of content can build popular blogs, but in today’s competitive blogosphere you’ll generally go farther and faster with long-form content.

How can you do this?

It’s actually not nearly as complicated as you might think.

First, litter your posts with fun, memorable stories.  Some authors actually go so far as keeping a “commonplace book” filled with stories waiting to be used.  Others simply write from memory.  Either way, adding examples and stories to your posts will make them easier to read and more helpful.

Second, use lots of statistics in your posts (and also in your headlines!).  Lots of posts can tell you that colorful images are more popular on Pinterest, but that’s not nearly as useful as knowing that colorful images get 300% more shares.

7case_studies

One of many specific case studies shared on ConversionXL

As you write your blog posts and emails, look for opportunities to share unique, actionable information that will make your readers think “ah ha!”… and hopefully subscribe to your email list.

#8. Place a giant lead magnet on your blog homepage

“For the last six months or so we’ve been displaying a “lead magnet” on our blog homepage that offers four ecommerce case studies that 8mark_macdonalddrip out via autoresponder. After subscribers get the content they’re added to our main blog list.

Note: we aren’t currently using this on the blog as we plan to deploy it somewhere else soon.”

- Mark Macdonald writes at Shopify

What’s the most visited page on your website?

You guessed it… your homepage!

Unfortunately, your default homepage is also probably the least engaging page on your entire website.  You’ve probably got a random array of your most recent posts, maybe a few images, and some sort of a sidebar.

Adding a major email form with a high-value incentive can help you transform confused visitors into engaged readers.

8homepage_subscription

Shopify’s homepage subscription box

By filling most of the above-the-fold space on the blog homepage, this email box is almost as effective as a popover at drawing attention.  The images and growth graph both make the form visually engaging, and who wouldn’t want to get 4 free case studies?

Unless you have a coding background, this could seem difficult to build.  Never fear! You can simply use this plugin to make something very similar on your own website.

#9. Persistently continue writing – growth compounds9penelope_trunk

“The number one thing that helped me grow my email list was persistence. I have been writing a blog for ten years, and working really hard and teaching myself to write posts that people love. When you write good content, the email list is easy.”

- Penelope Trunk writes at PenelopeTrunk.com and Quistic

Here’s the fun thing about growing your blog: moving from 3,000 to 4,000 subscribers will be just about as hard as getting your first 100 subscribers.  Growth compounds.

One of the most important keys to blogging is actually quite simple: keep writing and keep improving.

I always love Babe Ruth’s quote: “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

Generally, growth will be very slow for the first month or two; then it will start to accelerate for the next few months, and you’ll start to feel like you’re on fire after about seven months.

9publish_button

Practice clicking this button frequently

Unfortunately, the vast majority of writers quit before they reach the tipping point.  If you just keep steadily writing, your email list will grow faster and faster.

What single thing has been most effective in building your email list?

Nate Desmond works at SumoMe helping fellow bloggers build their email lists, increase social shares, and build thriving blog communities though a suite of growth tools.

 

Optimize Blog Content for Social Media with These 4 Effective Tactics

social media

Photo Credit: ePublicist via Flickr

This is a guest contribution from freelance blogger and writer Alicia Rades.

When you get a notification that someone tweeted or liked your latest blog post, you get excited. You can’t help but crack a smile and do a little fist pump because someone shared your content.

If you feel like the king (or queen) of the world and you do a little dance every time someone shares your blog post, get it out of your system now. Today you’re going to learn how to optimize your blog posts for social media, and when your notifications are ringing off the hook, you’re simply not going to have the energy to do a little dance every time someone shares your blog post.

Why do social shares matter? Well there’s the obvious. Social shares help spread the word of your content and brand, which helps drive more traffic. But what you should really care about is the fact that Google cares about social shares, so the more shares you can get, the better your pages will rank in search engines, which drives even more traffic to your site.

Check out these four effective tactics to help you optimize your blog content for social media to better promote your business.

1. Craft Your Headlines Wisely

Your headlines are perhaps the most important part of your social media strategy. Since your post title is the first thing your followers read on social media, you have to hook them so they’ll move on to read and share the post.

You can learn all about crafting powerful headlines for social media on Social Media Today. As this post mentions, it’s important to use emotion to grip your readers, but let’s dig deeper into optimizing your titles for social media.

First, let your readers know what the post is about so you can better connect with their interests. Someone who sees this title on Twitter isn’t likely to click on the link because they don’t know what to expect:

Trial and Error: How to Know When You’ve Got it Right

Okay: what exactly are you going to be talking about? This article could easily cover a range of topics, from learning how to parent and trying different recipes to discovering what works for you on social media. Instead, incorporate keywords that will connect with people’s interests. Some alternative titles include:

  • Trial and Error: How to Tell if Your Parenting Methods are Effective
  • How Using Trial and Error Can Help You Create Tastier Recipes
  • Discover Which Social Media Tactics Work for You with Trial and Error

Another important headline tactic is to keep it short. Most bloggers try to keep their headlines under 70 characters. Why do bloggers do this? Because any longer than that and your entire headline might not show up alongside your links. This means readers could lose valuable information that’s meant to hook them.

2. Use a Photo with Your Content

Social media websites like Facebook and Google+ usually feature a picture when you share a link to your content. But when you don’t set a photo for your post, your link doesn’t look as appealing.

Don’t think it matters that much? According to MDG Advertising, blog posts with compelling images receive a whopping 94 percent more views than those without. [Tweet That Stat!]

To make the most out of this, you have to consider a few things.

First, where can you find compelling photos? Glad you asked. You have several options:

  1. Take your own photos or hire a photographer to take photos for you.
  2. Find free photos on sites like CreativeCommons.org or Compfight.com. (Most of the time you have to attribute the image within your post.)
  3. Purchase photos on stock image sites like CanStockPhoto.com (photos starting at $2.50) or Getty Images (images starting at $25).

Once you’ve found an awesome image, you have to make sure it will show up properly when you share it on social media. In some cases, the social network won’t associate the image with your link if you simply insert the photo into your post. If you’re using WordPress, you can set a featured image, and Facebook and Google+ will usually use that photo alongside your link. To make sure, consider downloading the Facebook Open Graph Meta Tags for WordPress plugin, where you can choose which photo will show up with your link on social media.

3. Create Meaningful, Strong Quotes within the Content

When you have something interesting or meaningful to say, you can make it easy for your readers to share the quote by offering a “click to tweet” link. Since this tactic doesn’t require a lot of work for your audience and it easily draws attention to the sharing option, people are more likely to tweet your post.

A few ways to do this include:

  1. Head to ClicktoTweet.com and create your tweet. Generate and copy your link to incorporate it into your content. Easy peasy!
  2. Install the Click to Tweet by Todaymade plugin onto your WordPress site. In the CMS, click on the Twitter icon in your edit bar. Input the text you want people to tweet, and the plugin will create a box with your text in it and a “Click to Tweet” link.

Creating meaningful quotes isn’t only helpful for getting people to tweet your content. You can also use these quotes as a marketing tool to capture readers’ attention. Simply include the quote in your updates when you share the post on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to draw readers into your words.

4. Include a Call-to-Action

If your main purpose is to increase exposure on social media, ask people to share your content.

But it’s not always effective to simply say, “Please share my post!”. You sound desperate.

Instead, connect with your readers and make them want to share the content by focusing on how they feel or have felt reading your piece. Don’t just tell them to share your post, either. Tell them exactly what to do by mentioning which social media platform to share on so you don’t leave them with too many options.

Here are some examples of good calls-to-action:

  1. Loved these ideas? Let everyone know by liking this post on Facebook.
  2. Do you share these same views? Tell the world by sharing this post on Facebook.
  3. Rise to the challenge and help spread the word by tweeting this post.

Make it easy for readers to share your content by offering easy-to-find sharing buttons (because let’s face it, no one wants to waste time copying and pasting). A few excellent plugins that offer easy-to-find buttons include:

Let’s put some of these strategies to the test. Enjoyed these tips? Do your friends a favor and let them in on these blog writing tactics by Tweeting this post with the share buttons above.

Alicia Rades is a freelance blogger and writer. She manages a blog called The Writing Realm and offers blog writing services on her website at AliciaRadesWriter.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.