Decided to take the leap and convert your entire site to WordPress yet worried about the process? No matter where you’re coming from the process can be a intimidating and I bet you’ll have some nagging questions about it all. Hopefully, this post will help answer some of those questions and put you at ease.
#1 Can I keep my domain name?
Absolutely. Domain names (if registered under your name) can follow you through any web host, site publishing tool or content management systems. The only time a domain cannot be transferred is when the original web host or web design person/company plays dirty and holds your domain hostage by refusing to change where it points to or refusing to transfer to another registrar without payment.
Most of the time, this is not an issue and you will be able to keep your domain.
#2 What will it cost? What kind of investments would I have to make?
WordPress (.org) is open source software which means you won’t have any licensing fees. That does not mean there are no costs. If you’re coming from a platform like Blogger where you’ve never paid for hosting or in some cases don’t even have a domain name, then those are the two costs that cannot be avoided.
Beyond that, additional costs only come in if you decide to purchase a premium theme, hire a designer, buy premium plugins or purchase books and informational guides. If you think you might need or want these, it would be wise to set aside some money so you have room to play.
#3 Can I set up a test site while I move?
If you are starting fresh with a brand new domain the answer is yes. If your domain is currently going to the old site, most web hosts can provide you with a temporary URL where you can access and work on the site before flipping the switch.
#4 My pages are static HTML. Is there an easy way to transfer them into WordPress?
Alas, you may be disappointed here. While there is a plugin that could help, what you have to keep in mind, static HTML importers require your pages to be uniform and well formed. Hopefully yours is. Plan on spending some time to clean up the imported pages as some may look a little strange after importing. If you only have a handful of pages it’s probably simpler to just copy and paste.
#5 Will I lose my readers or content?
WordPress has many importers and converters to help you move your content. Chances are, there will be no loss. You’re more likely to lose some formatting than entire pages and posts.
As for losing readers, followers and traffic, if you were operating on your own domain before and keeping that domain, they will still find you on your new site. In that sense, you won’t lose your traffic nor links pointing to your posts. If you were using someone else’s domain like sittingonmybackporch.blogspot.com and now getting your own, you can’t have them follow you automatically. However, you can and should modify your old site to display a prominent banner to announce and advertise your new site.
#6 What will happen to the URLs of my old pages? How do I redirect them?
If you try to keep your page and post names as similar as possible, WordPress can attempt to guess and redirect people to the right place. Sometimes, the automatic redirect doesn’t work as it should. You can help it along by using a plugin called Redirection to specify exactly which pages direct where.
You should also make sure you have the ‘404 Not Found’ error page set up properly to catch the pages that fall between the cracks.
#7 Can I handle this by myself?
That answer lies in what you know and how determined you are. If you know even a little bit of HTML or HTML/CSS, you’re in a better position. If you know a tad of PHP you’re head and shoulders ahead. If you know none of that but are very determined and motivated, yes you can, but be well prepared to face major frustration. Getting a guide, set of tutorials or connecting to a group of WordPress knowledgeable people will go a long, long way.
A blogger who attempted the switch all by themselves had this to say, “The problem is not the lack of free tutorials but too many of them! It takes huge amounts of time to separate the good and bad ones, and on top of it all, I didn’t even know what I was looking for. Save your sanity, get help.” Great advice from someone who’s been there.
Lynette Chandler is the web tech go-to-gal to marketers and bloggers online since 2004. She teaches them about WordPress, related web technologies and invites you to grab free training at http://TechBasedTraining.com/free-training/?&aff_id=XXXX