Blogger Tips & Tricks: WordPress Plugins

I did a post last week about why I moved to WordPress and my experience with it so far. I can tell you that my experience is definitely positive. I love WP and I couldn’t think of being back on Blogger now. My #1 reason for loving it so much is Plugins! That’s what this whole post is dedicated to.

If you’re wondering what a plugin is:

I’m going to start off with an explanation of what a plugin is. I think a lot of non-WP users aren’t clear on what they are. I couldn’t find a definition of Plugin that wasn’t super confusing so…here’s my definition:

A WordPress Plugin is basically something you download that extents the ability of your blog. You find a Plugin you want, you install it, and like magic it’s doing the work for you. The easiest thing that I can think to compare it to it Linkwithin for Blogger. Most of us use that and it’s the most comparable thing on Blogger. Except there are thousands of WP Plugins. Just about everything that you can imagine.
See WordPress Codex for the confusing definition.

How does a Plugin work, you may be wondering? Well, it’s really simple. There’s a Plugins section on the dashboard. You go there and you search for the plugin you want or you can browse the popular ones. Once you’ve found what you want you click install. Then you have to activate it and depending on the Plugin sometimes you have to go to its settings and set it up how you want. The majority of them as really simple and make life so much easier.

If you’re still a little confused maybe this will help. Here’s a list of my favorite Plugins and what they do. Listing my Plugins was inspired by this awesome post at Miss Remmers Reviews.

The Must Haves:

  • FD Feedburner — This one will redirect your feed links to your feedburner link. Which is very, very awesome.
  • Broken Link Checker — After switching, lots of my links were broken and this nifty little Plugin will find those broken links and list them for you. It even checks your comments.
  • Akismet — This is spam protection, so obviously it’s s must!
  • WPtouch — Makes your blog mobile!
  • Jetpack — This opens up many more options for widgets and such.

The Fun Stuff:

  • All in One Favicon — Easily set a favicon for your blog and your dashboard!
  • Share Buttons & the Pin It Plugin — Add the buttons to all of your posts in just a couple of steps.
  • CommentLuv — You’ve all seen this right? This is the one that picks up on your feed when you comment and adds your newest post link in!
  • Comment Reply Notification — This one will email your reply to the original commenter!
  • Duplicate Post — This will set up a new draft for you using the same template as the original post. This is super helpful for posts that are the same or mostly the same every week. Like my Saturday Situation posts.
  • Tweet Old Post — This will randomly tweet old post links for you. You do have to set it up to not post certain things, but I really love it!
  • WordPress Editorial Calender — See all you posts in a calender format and drag and drop them to the days you want. I love this one!
  • Thank You — I have this but I haven’t set it up yet. The first time someone comments on your blog it takes them to a special Thank You page that you set to say whatever you want.

The Plugins You Need:

  • All on One Webmaster — This one is just awesomeness. You can add all of you stat tracking sites without having to add something to your coding. Like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Sitemeter etc.
  • SEO by Yoast– I started out using this one, but now my StudioPress theme has SEO built in. This is a fantastic option for SEO.
  • WordPress DB Manager — This one backs up your database on a schedule set by you and then emails it to you. It’s so, so important to have a backup!

Some of the SEO and Webmaster ones can me a little hard to set up, but I always just Google and find a tutorial. There’s endless ones! For the most, though, they are super easy to set up and make blogging so much easier.

I hope that gave you a better understanding of Plugins! If you’re a WP user, what are some of your favorites?

Blogger Tips & Tricks: What’s a the fuss about WordPress?

I’ve been on WordPress for 4 months now and I really wanted to take the time to let y’all know about my experience with it. Some of you may be thinking about making the move and I hope some of this might help you one way or another.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that lots of bloggers made the move to WordPress in the last few months. It all started with the treat that Blogger could delete your blog any time they wanted to, but for lots of bloggers, including myself, it was just time to make the switch. I’m going to try to explain my reasons and why people keep saying ‘WordPress is just better’.

Firstly, I think the .com vs .org thing confuses lots of people. I know I was confused at first. WordPress.com is a free blogging platform, like Blogger. WordPress.org is for self-hosted blogs. Meaning you have to have a hosting account and pay a yearly fee for your hosting. You then own your blog and have complete control over everything. In my humble opinion there’s no point in switching to WP unless you self host. Here’s why: WordPress.com is fantastic but it’s limited. There’s tons of fabulous options but there’s tons of fabulous options on Blogger. The big deal breaker for me is that WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to customize your design html easily and there’s no plugins on the .com site. Some might think that WordPress.com is still better than Blogger but I honestly don’t think it’s worth the hassle of switching. Self-hosting is definitely worth it.

So why switch?

  • The SEO options are amazing. I’m still learning but I’m really in love with them. I know Blogger has SEO options now but I haven’t looked into it. I can’t imagine that it would be as extensive as some of the WP plugins.
  • Plugins, plugins, plugins. When I switched I really didn’t comprehend the awesomeness that is plugins. It’s really became my most loved thing about WP. Imagine just downloading something that will do all the work for you. It’s incredible and if you have no other reasons for switching, plugins should be enough reason. Stay tuned next week for a post all about plugins!
  • Design aspects. There’s so, so much more.

Why I switched:

  • I’ve been blogging for 3.5 years and it was really just time to grow my blog in ways that Blogger wouldn’t allow.
  • I wanted to learn how to do WP design….and for that I needed a WP site.

Really, that’s all. Looking back it was maybe a rash decision that just happened to work out very well. I couldn’t be more pleased with WP. It’s definitely not for everyone. If you’re more of a casual, post once or twice a week blogger than a free site is probably a better answer for you, but if you want to grow your blog and get nearly limitless options then you should look into self-hosting.

 

If you have any questions about WP feel free to ask away!

 

Blogger Tips & Tricks: Moving to WordPress

Two weeks ago I moved from Blogger to WordPress. It was frustrating and stressful to say the least. It’s definitely not for the weak of heart, but if you are thinking about moving I wanted to share some things with you to help you. If you have questions I’ll try to answer them as best I can, but I’m no expert.

Where to start:

First I would recommend starting a WordPress.com account just to see what you think and get used to the layout. WordPress.com is free but it has very limited customization options. (Pro account probably has more options but I’ve never used it) I think Blogger has way more options than the .com, that being said I don’t see the point of switching unless you are going to self host with WordPress.org. Now if you decide you want to go for it you can pick a hosting site. WordPress has a list of recommended ones. I went with Bluehost and I’ve had zero problems. Plus the guide below shows you how to set everything up with Bluehost.

These to guides really have almost everything you need. It’s step by step and it was what I and several others used. I highly suggest reading it from start to finish before attempting anything. Familiarize yourself with it and keep in mind that it’s not as hard as it sounds.

Awesome Guide Part One
Awesome Guide Part Two

I did run into two problem that weren’t address in the guides. These are issues that not everyone has I guess, but I still want to go over them so that if it happens to you you don’t have to have a meltdown like I did.

My first problem was with getting the Blogger Importer to work on WordPress. Google would not authorize it and I spent hours trying to figure out what the problem was. Finally I asked the fabulous Erica at The Book Cellar and she told me what the problem was then I found a small tutorial. So if you can’t get it to authorize use this fantastic tutorial. I had to do what it goes over in the first method. Then it worked like a dream!

Problem number two was kind of huge and scary, but of course it turned out to be a super easy fix. My Feedburner account wouldn’t work the day after I switched…then it didn’t work the next day or the next or the next. I had a breakdown. But! Turns out all I had to do is change my original source url in my Feedburner account. Now, the guides up there say you don’t have to do this if you are keeping the same domain, but I did and it fixed it instantly. There were a lot of tears those 4 days for something that was just that simple. So if you are keeping your same domain while switching (ie not going from a .blogspot to a .com) then I say leave Feedburner alone for 24 hours after you switch and if it doesn’t work after 24 hours then change your original feed url to the new WP one. That will save you lots of heartache. Oh and I did not lose any subscribers by doing that.

If you want to move to WP but don’t want to do it yourself here is a fantastic deal!

That’s really all my advice…If you want to know some facts about my move here they are:

I had 1,219 posts when I moved and 1,213 switched.
I had 14,002 and only 13,970 switched. (Which isn’t horrible.)
I don’t think that I lost any subscribers….You know how Feedburner fluctuates especially over the weekend. If I did lose any it was maybe 300 and I have since gained them back.

I’m really loving WordPress too! All the plugins are fantastic! It is more complicated than Blogger but it’s not bad after you get used to it. There is also a plethora of support forums for when you run into a problem.

On a semi related note, I am working on my new WordPress design as we speak! I’m really excited about it and I hope to have it up in the next few weeks. (I’m so tired of this one already) So hopefully I will start offering WP designs on my design site in the next couple of months.

Let me know if there are tips and tricks you want me to discuss!

Past Tips and Tricks:
New Features in Blogger–new interface & mobile templates
More info on mobile templates & reply to comments in Blogger
A overview on the new Blogger interface
Pros & Cons of word verification
How to make a customized link bar
Things that slow your blog down
New Blogger app
How to add live links to comments
How to remove hidden HTML from your posts (this is a life saver!)
Info on getting your own domain name
How to get the external link to your Followers gadget
Automatically tweet links to your posts with Feedburner
Keeping Up With Your Books Read Throughout the Year
Getting share buttons to work in Blogger
Getting your full feed count through Feedburner

 

I’m Back!!

Woohoo! I’m back! I’m super excited to because everything went smoothly…for the most part. (Thanks so much to Erica for helping me out with the one thing that made me want to pull out my hair) I’m still in the process of tidying things up. The look is only temporary until I figure out how to customize things more.

For anyone wondering how the switch went I had 1,219 posts and it switched 1,213 for me. I have no idea which ones didn’t transfer and I’m honestly not very worried about it.  I had 14,002 comments and it only switched something like 13,970. Which I don’t like, but I can live with it I guess. As of right now I have all of my subscribers. Here’s hoping that that doesn’t change! Feedburner is not working at the moment…I really hope that’s because my domain is still propagating. So Google Reader isn’t updating either. It that doesn’t fix itself I’ll probably cry. Lots. So…I hope it fixes soon. :)

 

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