Moving Platforms: Blogger to Squarespace

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About a month ago, after about a year of deliberating, I moved my blog from Blogger to Squarespace. I'd heard great things about Squarespace for a while, and after tinkering around with the free trial, I finally decided to go for it. Some of you were interested in knowing more about the move, so today I'm sharing my experience migrating platforms, as well as a few thoughts for those of you thinking about making the switch. 

 

Why Squarespace?

I don't want to bash Blogger, because it works perfectly for some people, but it just wasn't cutting it for me, so I started exploring other options. Squarespace (SS) is a paid platform: the "professional" package, which is their most popular offer, includes unlimited pages and storage space; access to customizable templates; a developer platform to further customize via HTML and CSS; a custom URL; and 24/7 customer support. This costs $16 per month. In comparison to a self-hosted WordPress (WP) site, SS requires less maintenance and tech know-how; WP, however, allows for more complex designs. SS is potentially pricier, but if you'll need to hire someone to design and maintain your WP site, the costs will probably even out. On SS, it's pretty much impossible to break your site, and even if you're not coding-savvy, you won't need someone to help you design/maintain your site. If you run into issues, SS customer support is excellent. I ultimately chose SS because I wanted a clean, minimal site that was easy to manage without much technical upkeep.

 

Moving Platforms and Hosts

After I set up a Squarespace account and a site with a temporary .squarespace.com URL, the process of moving from Blogger to Squarespace involved the following steps:

1. Importing the content (old posts) from my Blogger site to my Squarespace site.
2. Transferring my domain's host from a Blogger/Google Apps "partner" host (GoDaddy, in my case) to Namecheap, so that I could access my domain's full DNS settings. 
3. Mapping my existing domain to my Squarespace site.

I've linked step-by-step instructions for each stage in the process. The entire process took a little over a week, mostly because of the domain re-routing. If you purchase a custom domain through Blogger, Google acts as the "middle-man," meaning that you cannot access your domain's DNS settings through your host's main site. I had trouble accessing my DNS settings through Google Apps, and the unreliability in controlling my own domain was one major factor in my decision to move hosts. 

It's important to note that moving platforms usually isn't seamless: links will get restructured in the process (meaning the old ones no longer work) and the format of old posts might look a little off once they're imported. Expect to go back through the archives and update things manually. Also be aware that links to your blog posts from other places around the internet might not work anymore.

I'm not well-versed in internet magic, so I hired Bobbi from Ready to Blog to make sure the switch happened smoothly. If you're at all nervous about the move, I can't recommend her services enough! That said, it's very realistic to switch to SS yourself, assuming you don't run into any major hitches.

 

Should You Make the Switch?

A rhetorical question, of course, that I can't answer for you. I also can't tell you whether SS or WP is a better choice; both have pros and cons, and it comes down to personal preferences. However, there are a few things I'd recommend considering to help you make your decision.

  • What is the purpose of your blog? What features would be most useful? Try projecting your site a year, or three years, into the future: what are your long-term goals, and how do you anticipate your site evolving overtime?
  • Will you need help making the move and maintaining your site? How much time/energy can you invest in learning how to use a new platform?
  • What is your budget for setting up and maintaining your site? 
  • Will it be okay for your site to be temporarily offline while you make the switch? Will it be okay for links to old posts to get restructured?
  • How long have you considered switching platforms? If you've been wishfully thinking about it for a while, I'd say go for it; the sooner you make the switch, the better.

Once you've thought these things through, do your research. Look at lots of blogs on the platform(s) you're considering, reach out to people, and plan out your template. If you're interested in Squarespace, I'd also recommend taking advantage of their free 14-day trial so you can play with the templates and make sure you like the interface. 

I hope this was helpful to a few of you, and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Blog Talk: Creating Content

Based on your feedback, today I'm trying my hand at a new feature called "Blog Talk," aimed at bloggers and anyone interested in starting a blog. I hope to share the things I've found most useful in creating my own little online space: lessons I've learned, technical tips, and general resources. Though I'm by no means an expert on this topic, here's hoping the more I learn, the more helpful I can be. If there's anything specific you'd like me to address, let me know!

For my first topic, I'm focusing on content. When I hear from readers interested in starting their own blogs, the most frequently asked questions include: what do I write about? and how do I make my content unique?

Let's face it, I still ask myself those questions all the time! There's no step-by-step recipe, but in my opinion, here are a few keys to creating content that stands out.

Keep an Open Mind
Whether you're blogging in a specific niche or you're taking a more multifaceted approach, cast a wide net when you're looking for inspiration. Read blogs in different genres: for example, I'm not a design blogger, but I love reading design blogs, and they have definitely helped solidify my sense of aesthetics. In order for your blog to grow, you need to grow, so go explore, try new things, read good books... whatever sparks your interest and curiosity. By expanding your sources of inspiration, you'll develop more unique and informative content. (Of course, there is merit in making your content cohesive; that's a topic for another post.)

Embrace Half-Baked Ideas
What if you have an idea, but you don't know where to go with it? Ideas-in-progress can make engaging posts, especially when you open them up for discussion. When you use your ideas to generate questions, you encourage readers to participate in your blog. Maybe you can't make up your mind about the latest trend, or maybe you're trying to work towards a goal, but you're facing some challenges along the way. Because "thinking aloud" posts are relatable and honest, they can also help express your personality and voice. Garance Dore does this very successfully in her "stories" feature.

Be Your Own Editor
Blog about the things you love and feel 100% comfortable sharing. Sounds obvious, but when you put your blog forth in a sea of other blogs, it's easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing rather than build your own ideas and opinions. Don't think too much about dos and don'ts (I realize the irony in that statement)... readers want to see your take on things! You should never feel that you have to post about something just because "it sells" or that you can't post about something because "it's not popular." Trust me, if you're interested in what you're writing, someone else will be too. What can you teach your readers that they might not already know? What fresh perspectives can you offer? What do you like about your favorite blogs, and what would you do differently?

Finally, keep in mind that developing content usually takes time, trial and error. There are many ways to stand out, so go do your thing!

How do you get inspired to create new content?