Adventures in Co-Blogging is a monthly feature where we discuss what it’s like to blog with a group of people. We talk about tips and tricks, what we’ve learned, how we accomplished things, challenges, benefits, and more! To see all of the posts we have so far for this series, check out our Adventures in Co-Blogging tag.
Tips for Moving Your Blog to a New Home
Back when the three of us decided to combine forces and virtually move in together, we had to pack up our individual blogs and then make them all fit together nicely in our new home. I think, for the most part, our preparations served us well and things went smoothly. There were, however, a few things that didn’t go perfectly and were therefore a bit embarrassing.
On that note, I’d like to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and impart our wisdom onto you. You never know! Maybe you’ve decided to conquer your fears and move in with a blog buddy, or maybe you’re just moving into your own domain. Either way, I hope some of these tips will be helpful for you.
BEFORE THE MOVE
1. Prepare the new site ahead of time.
If you’re moving your blog to a brand new location, then you have the advantage of being able to spend as much time as you want preparing it beforehand. We spent a couple of months setting up WordPress, deciding which plug-ins we wanted and needed, figuring out our theme — and tweaking all of it to perfection.
Use this time to test everything! Your theme, plugins, comment system, widgets, etc.
This worked out really well for us because it was a secret place where we could play around and figure out what worked, what didn’t, what we liked and disliked, etc. And by the time our Grand Opening date arrived, we knew everything was going to look and function just the way we wanted!
2. Organize the content on your existing blog(s)
Moving is a GREAT time for spring cleaning, so to speak, and it’s a great motivator for getting yourself organized. Take this opportunity of starting fresh and make the most of it. Think about things like blog categories, tags, and permalinks. Do you want to change any of them or remove some? Do you want to keep your permalink structure the way it is, or change it to something different?
We did a lot of organizing and discussing and planning before our move, which you can read about in more detail in my previous post: Keeping Organized with Multiple Bloggers.
3. Get subscribers early
I think one reason we hit the ground running when our blog opened was that we’d been building the hype and the mystery for a couple of months leading up to it. Since we had the site in progress, working on it in the background, we decided to make a Coming Soon homepage that would allow visitors to subscribe to our feed and get an email as soon as we opened up. For this, we used the Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin, which worked out pretty nicely. This allowed us to collect a significant number of email subscribers before our blog even opened its doors!
A word of caution: If you do plan to take this approach, make sure that whatever RSS feed you use in the plugin is NOT LIVE. Several people probably remember the test blog posts that showed up in their email inboxes because I was testing stuff and the RSS reader picked up on it and sent it out to our subscribers. Oops!
DURING THE MOVE
1. Put your current blog on hiatus.
Once your new home is setup and waiting, it’s time to move all of your content over! The timing for us worked out pretty well. Leanne went on a blog hiatus as soon as we made the decision to move, so hers lasted a couple of months. Asti was planning a hiatus for the month of February anyway, as well. So when the time came, I put my blog on hiatus for a week too.
Then we had a whole week to move our content over to the new site, make sure everything went smoothly, and make any last minute tweaks and edits that we needed before our Grand Opening. This was also useful because it meant that we didn’t lose any posts or comments that might have come in on our individual blogs during the week of the move.
2. Enlist the help of a professional — Maybe.
Moving from one self-hosted WordPress blog to another is not too terribly complicated. But when you are combining THREE blogs into one — and three blogs with a LOT of content on them — it might not go quite as smoothly as you’d hope. The problem is that uploading and importing your content (posts, pages, comments, AND images) can take a long time, and a lot of it depends on internet speed and time-outs.
In our case, we were able to enlist the help of Adam from our wonderful web host, Safe Shark. He did the exporting and importing for us, which went very smoothly because he had all the content right there with him physically — no internet required! This worked out well for us because we were all using Safe Shark to begin with, and moving over to another site also being hosted on Safe Shark. If you have this option, I highly recommend you take it!
AFTER THE MOVE
1. Update your RSS feeds!
Once everything has been setup, moved, and ready to go, you can make those final touches!
- Update the RSS feed that all those people subscribed to from your Coming Soon page.
- Update your URL on all your social media sites!
- Notify BlogLovin that your blog is moving and have them update your feed.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to turn OFF your Coming Soon page before the RSS feeds update with your first official new post! I had the bright idea of leaving it on until midnight, which was right when the feed went live as well, and people were already visiting the site before I had “opened the doors”. Oops!
2. Setup 301 redirects on your old blog(s).
Now that you’re comfortable in your new home, decide what you want to do about your old blog. I’m pretty sure Leanne and Asti just ended their hosting plans for their individual blogs and figured if anyone wanted to know where to find them, they’d already be at Oh, the Books!
I was a bit more paranoid. I kept my old blog up for a while, but minimized the front page to show one post announcing that I’d moved. I kept the hosting up for a month and setup 301 redirects on every single post, review, and page (yes, you heard me. I am kind of neurotic, but that’s okay). After a month of that, I decided that was enough, and if people hadn’t figured it out by then, too bad. I kept my domain (which still forwards to this site), but got rid of the hosting.