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Changing from Wordpress.com to own domain; is it a good idea, and how to?
October 27, 2008 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Dear Hive Mind, I'm thinking of switching my college's wordpress.com literary blog to its own domain using wordpress.org. But I don't know if this is the right thing to do.

I know we'd get our own domain name, we'd be able to put in podcasts and to embed Google Maps, and design the thing ourselves. But I heard the following here: "Wordpress.com has vastly, VASTLY more drawing power than an independent blog using WP software, because of the global tag pages."

So...

1) For a blog that's hoping to get its own fans, but which is in the arts and currently helped by author searches, is that "drawing power" essential to us?
2) We're going to do the domain name upgrade in Wordpress.com before switching. However, will we be able to get wordpress.com to forward people to the relevant pages on the new domain if they're typing in our old URLs?
3) Where do I go to find someone to design us a blog using wordpress.org (I'm not skilled enough to do it myself, and the stupid college won't cough up the time or money) and how much should it cost?
4) Perhaps, for a beginner, wordpress.org isn't right for me. Is there a free blog-hosting service, like wordpress.com, but which doesn't demand that the design is one of their themes, and which allows for I-frames and podcasting?
posted by omnigut to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could use a domain re-direct from Wordpress.com to your own domain. You're beholden to their themes (There are a few fairly flexible ones if you pay the 15 bucks for custom CSS) and there are a few other strings, but it might be what you need.
posted by GilloD at 10:29 AM on October 27, 2008


Wordpress.com has vastly, VASTLY more drawing power than an independent blog using WP software, because of the global tag pages That's one person's opinion. I was never aware of global wordpress.com tags until I read this and looked into it. I think it's a bit of an overstatement to say those "global tags" vastly increase your "drawing power." You can use technorati tags to get the same effect (but via technorati, not wordpress.com), which probably creates more pull.

Blogs do not really gain pull through access to blog-spanning tag archiving. They gain pull through solid content.

If you purchase your domain name before you move to a self-hosted blog, you'll have more futzing around getting the domain transferred. Just sayin'. Easier to start the new domain at the self-hosted blog. You can keep the old blog in situ and put a redirect there to the new one.

You might want to use an existing theme. There are thousands out there. Not sure how much it'll cost, but a good designer can charge $50/hr (if not more), and if you want a scratch-built theme, it could easily take 10 hours. Having a designer adapt an existing theme would be a lot faster, if you find one that's close.

Running a self-hosted blog is a doddle these days. A lot of web hosting companies have one-click installs where you navigate through their admin interface, click a button, and five minutes later your blog is up and running. You'll need to export your database from wordpress.com and import it into to your self-hosted blog, but that's not hard.
posted by adamrice at 10:47 AM on October 27, 2008


I think it's worth seeing what someone can do with the custom CSS option Wordpress.com offers before moving everything, despite the limitations. If you're a beginner then you don't want to be messing about with hosting, databases, file permissions, etc. to keep your own WP installation running smoothly.
posted by malevolent at 10:48 AM on October 27, 2008


(as adamrice mentions, you get one-click installs nowadays that make things a lot easier, but everyone I know running WP has had to get their hands a little dirty with the behind-the-scenes stuff at some point)
posted by malevolent at 10:50 AM on October 27, 2008


I can't answer all your questions, but I have a few suggestions to make.

First, I think the benefit of being in the Wordpress tag space can be pretty powerful, but its probably more important when your blog is young. If I were you, I'd do the custom domain upgrade ASAP so that anyone discovering and linking your blog via wordpress will be linking to your custom domain. I'd leave the blog there for a while. Maybe as much as six months, or maybe based on some traffic target (like 2x your current traffic).

In the meantime, consider setting up your own hosted instance of wordpress and using it for the podcasts. You can then link to these from your main blog. You could use an RSS sidebar widget, create the posts by hand, or find some sort of automatic reposting plugin for your self-hosted blog.

BTW, it looks like wordpress will let you embed google maps. Also, Wordpress.com allows you to pay for custom CSS. You can do a lot to change the look and feel of a well engineered template by customizing the CSS.
posted by Good Brain at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2008


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