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Where I write about why I made the change from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

by John on September 23rd, 2011

When I launched Daddy Runs a Lot, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted. I had my old blog, but it just wasn’t cutting it for me – everything was workout or diet related, and it’s just difficult to write when you paint yourself into a corner like that.

So, I was going to re-launch my blog, and I was going to write about anything (diet & workouts included), but I needed to figure out where because, right then, Blogger started one of their truly epic screw-ups (I think it was one of their “nobody can comment on your post” spells). Since I’m in the “blog comments are currency” camp, this was wholly unacceptable, so I was going to ditch blogger – and, somehow, I chose WordPress over Typepad or writing my own platform.

But, simply choosing WordPress is just the start. Do I go with WordPress.com or WordPress.org . . . and this was not a matter of semantics.

WordPress.org is an open source blogging platform – the code that allows for blogging. You can pick up the package from wordpress.org, put in on a server, and start blogging from anywhere.

WordPress.com is a website that runs a modified wordpress.org platform. They control the source for you and give you a simple and free entry point.

See, while the wordpress.org platform is free, a website isn’t . . . and you need somewhere to put it. Hosting solutions aren’t expensive, at all – but wordpress.com is two things I love: cheap & easy. Setting up daddyrunsalot.com with wordpress.com cost me less than $20, and that was just to register the domain name.

So, I went with wordpress.com. and started blogging like a fiend. I was quite comfortable with things after a week – I knew the platform in and out, but I quickly realized that I thought it was lacking.

Some of my favorite blogs are run on the wordpress.org platform, and I wanted to emulate their functionality. For example, Kris from Pretty All True, back when she was commenting, had her blog automatically send out a notification every time someone replied to one of your comments. I love interacting with my readers, and I wanted to emulate this – but, since you can’t alter the wordpress.com source, you only have what they give you.

Well, cheap & easy is still . . . well, cheap & easy, so I reply to comments via email and post the reply to the blog – it’s an extra step, but it’s not exactly taking any extra time. When I wanted to change the way things looked, well, since I absolutely refused to spend the money to adjust the CSS layout with wordpress.com, I was stuck with the free wordpress themes. Some of them are great – and since I’m a function over form guy, it wasn’t really “bad,” but it was another limit.

For the better part of a year, that was just fine for me. But, then there were two incidents in near succession, followed by a harebrained plot, that made me itchy to switch.

First, I wrote this silly quiz. When I author a post, I write in straight-HTML. See, I know HTML very, very well. I’m a tad bit obsessed with how “neat” my code looks when I’m writing it (and therefore can’t stand to have a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSISYG) editor render the HTML for me). I’m able to picture how things will look on the screen just by reading the code. Well, I nested ordered lists within ordered lists for that post . . . but, they never came out like I wanted them to. In doing some investigation, wordpress.com was stripping out my style arguments.

Ok, that was nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

But then I created my first link-up and I couldn’t embed the link-up code into the post itself – I had to link to a separate site. Why was this? Because wordpress.com stripped out the javascript call1.

Then I looked back through all of my posts. Any time I build a link to another website, I write specific code so that the code will popup in a new window (I’m all about keeping people “here”). That all got striped out. Well, that’s a pain only because I probably spend an extra 30 seconds putting the popup code in for each link.

So I have some things that border between inconvenience & irritant. There isn’t enough there to actually make me want to switch – but the seed was planted.

And then, as all bloggers are wont to do, I started thinking about how I could make money. I’m not a stat freak, but traffic has been growing, slowly. That said, I think I’m a tad bit too in love with the word “fuck” to ever really pull in money for writing posts. There’s advertising, and I can do that – but, well, I’d never be able to allow advertising for products that I wouldn’t personally use (dear Cadillac, I’ve never driven one of your cars, but if you were to send me a car, I’d gladly offer up prime advertising real-estate for a very reasonable fee). Because I’m able to ignore most all advertisements that I see, personally, and believe that most internet surfers have that ability, combined with the fact that I’d only allow select advertisers, any money from ads would be limited, at best.

But, then I saw what WordPress.com charged to export your site somewhere else – $119. And I saw what that the “premium themes” cost a whole lot more than a $4-5 (most are in the $50-$80 range).

Thinking back to the functionality that I wanted to have, combined with the fact that I know HTML & PHP better than the vast majority of people out there, well – I think I might actually be able to make a half-decent side business offering blog support — custom designs, custom features, import/export, set-up, backup, disaster recovery2 . . . all for topless photos less money than most anyone is charging for similar services now (because I actually enjoy this stuff).

But, if I ever hope to actually promise that stuff, well, it’s best to actually go about & do it.

So, I’ve migrated to a WordPress.org installation on a low-cost service provider.

Next post, how I actually went about the migration.


1 This one actually makes a modicum of sense, as a script is valid across an entire domain, so if I wrote a malignant script, it would be seen as coming from “wordpress.com,” and that would be…bad.
2 Disaster recovery is typically defined as recovering in the event of hardware failure – but hosting services offer this, and I can’t make any promises. However, if we define “disaster” as “I accidentally deleted all of my posts because I was drunk,” or “somebody got a hold of/figured out my password and fucked around with everything,” well, that’s where I can help.
15 Comments
  1. My wp design is all done and I’ll be off blogger very soon! 🙂

    The how though- um, I ask for help. LOL

    • Really? REALLY? Okay, I feel like a dork over how excited this makes me.

      (Not having to open the stupid Blogger box to comment? Squee!)

  2. I am so so happy with WordPress.org (self hosted). HTML is also an alien language to me, though. You’re smart and stuff. I’d like to try and teach myself… after I get done making this baby…

    • Well, thank you – but I’m not so sure about the “smart” stuff every now & then. But, I know HTML really, really, really well.

      Yeah, babymaking is much more important than any of this computer stuff. Computers, for the most part, are perfectly fine if ignored. 🙂

  3. Half way through this I got confused. I am so not techy.

    • I actually try to explain all of the techy stuff in the next post about how I went about the change – we’ll see if I’m anywhere near as good a professor as I think I am.

  4. I’m moving in the next year… How soon are you open for business?

    • I’m open for business at any moment – though I’m still figuring out half of what I’m doing as I’m doing it . . . but, this is the fun stuff.

      Now, why is it moderating each & every comment? Gah! I’m even have to moderate myself!

  5. I started on .com and moved to .org about 6 weeks later. I love .org and am always helping answer questions for people about it.

    • You know, I nearly switched over to the .org once I saw the limitations . . . but, I was really, really afraid of losing something (part of why I was so anal about the actual move). Have you gotten into designing your own themes and/or modifying functionality?

  6. I loathe searching through lines of html for the errant missing / or > or whatever it is that happens to be jacking up my post. Loathe, I say. Except there’s always a little rush when I figure out what’s been giving me grief.

    PHP and CSS? Totally different ballgames that I despise.

    Congrats on the move to .org and the new venture!

    • Thanks – we’ll see how it plays out – I’m already having issues with comment moderation & email subscriptions, but I’ll get those figured out.

      Fixing wonky HTML that I didn’t author drives me batty, but fixing my own error? Yeah, there’s a very real rush.

  7. So…this post…totally confuses me….since I’m totally not even close to tech savvy….the only thing I got out of this….I need to switch to WP…which I want to do very badly…just have no idea how….plus I think I’m a little nervous since I’m not tech savvy….afraid of losing stuff I think.

    • I loathe losing stuff . . . part of why I’m usually quite content with the status quo – but, I wanted to try things out, so I did.

      My next step is to move another blog from blogger over here . . . we’ll see how that goes.

  8. I moved my Writing with Chaos to wordpress.org and while it went smoothly, it was also a bit dangerous.

    I broke my blog twice with plugins that didn’t agree and didn’t know how to fix the code. Luckily someone took pity and did the 2 minute fix for me.

    So I’m a bit terrified to move Dances with Chaos, paired with the issue of the dot com address for Dances already taken (dammit!), I’d have to rebrand and Dancing with Chaos…

    So yeah.. I don’t like it. I really wish I was able to embed link codes, but wordpress.com still does a lot of things better than my self hosted site, because I haven’t found a plug in for some of the functionality, like the easy was to “like” a post and how if I visit any wordpress.com site, I don’t have to type all my info in.. I miss that.

    I wish there was a halfway point, with a few more features, but not so much I could break my blog so easily. Or have to back it up. Or update PHP which even my geek husband doesn’t know.

    Oy.

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