About two weeks ago, I made a pretty humungo decision. I decided to move my little blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site. By. My. Self.
In case you haven’t heard any horror stories yet, switching your blog over is kind of extremely difficult when you have no idea what you’re doing. There’s a reason so many people hire professionals to do this!
However, I made it to the other side and here I am, still breathing and somehow writing about this topic.
I used a lot of wonderful tutorials to help me through that mess (including this fabulous one from Munchkins and the Military), and it took me about 5 days before I could proudly say that I had completed the move. I started on a Friday and declared myself finished the following Tuesday (although there are still a lot of little things I need to fix), but anyone with more time on their hands probably could have been finished sooner.
I also ran into more problems than I would have liked to and as a result, I spent way too many hours searching Google, sifting through WordPress forums, emailing blogging friends & even the designer of this beautiful layout, and chatting on the phone with my hosting company. If you’re planning on making this switch by yourself I don’t want to discourage you—I only want to make you aware of some of the issues I bumped into and I want to help you navigate through these issues if you happen to run into them, too!
So without further ado, I present to you the five biggest problems I ran into & how I fixed them:
1. Switching my URL
In case you aren’t familiar with how the DNS works, I’ll break this down a bit. First of all, I already owned my custom domain of “themilitarywifelife.com” when I was on Blogger. Once I switched to my self-hosted WordPress site, I had a different URL for this new site and had to redirect that to my custom domain. This sounded easy, but for some reason I just couldn’t figure out how to do this. There weren’t any clear directions, and I had long ago purchased my domain through a registrar that isn’t my new hosting company, which meant I was kind of own my own as far as figuring things out go. It turned out that when I signed up with my host company, they had sent me an email with a new IP address and two different nameservers that had to be plugged into the system on my domain registration account. (A huge thanks to Alex for pointing me in the right direction with that!)
Once I figured out what needed to happen, I copied and pasted the two nameservers from the email into my “nameservers” settings page on my account, then copied my new IP address and replaced the old ones under my “host records” settings page. If you’re trying to figure out how to do this and my directions aren’t clear enough, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to walk you through this!
2. The propagating stage
Nobody told me that my website needed to be “propagated” (whatever the crap that means) when I signed up with my hosting company, so I kind of freaked out when my blog shut down for about 24 hours. I even had a blogging friend message me on Facebook to let me know that my site wasn’t working (thanks for looking out for me, Robin!) and the entire time my blog was redirecting to an ugly “sign up with Host Gator!” (read in a stupid Barney & Friends voice) page. Not even my old Blogger site! Gahhh. Can you say frustrating?
Anywho, I called my hosting company and they assured me that it’s normal and something every website has to go through once you switch to self-hosted. Just be aware that this happens, and you just have to wait it out. In other words, don’t have a mini panic attack the first time you see this.
3. Verifying my account
Okay, this one was just plain stupid.
My hosting company shut down my blog for at least 12 more hours that Monday while they were trying to verify my account.
“Verify my account??” I asked them on the phone. “Oh, you mean the account I created FRIDAY?!?!”
Just kidding, I wasn’t that rude.
I was, however, completely pissed off that they shut down my entire blog ALL DAY MONDAY because they didn’t ask for my freaking ZIP CODE on Friday when I paid! Sheesh!
Just a heads up: if you pay for your web hosting via PayPal and they don’t ask for your zip code upfront, they may just put a big fat hold on your entire account until they can send you an email asking for you to verify it.
Guess the internet gods weren’t in my favor when I made this switch.
4. DO NOT—I repeat—DO NOT try to edit php files on your theme unless you know exactly what you’re doing!
Holy cow, I really can’t stress this one enough. I wanted to add a copyright statement along with my creative commons license to the footer of my blog, so I followed a tutorial on my layout designer’s website called “How do I set up my Credits?” The tutorial involved editing your “Theme Functions” (which is a file labeled “functions.php”). The instructions also included an exact code to copy and paste in replacement for another part of the code that was already there, with precise directions on exactly what you should change.
The instructions were extremely clear and I followed them exactly, no doubt about it.
So of course, I was in complete shock when I saved the file (there’s no “preview” option on WordPress when you’re editing huge things like this, which super sucks) and I was directed to an error page.
Hmm, oh well, I thought. I’ll just go back and paste the original php file to undo this.
Well, that didn’t work. I was STILL being directed to an error page and no matter what I tried to fix or how many times I tried to upload the original file back in its place, the error page wouldn’t change.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!!!
Not only was I being redirected to the error page when I tried to fix the file, but MY ENTIRE BLOG was being redirected to that SAME EXACT ERROR PAGE. It even included the URL to my admin page and details as to which file I messed up and exactly how I messed it up (it was line 160, to be exact).
Oh and I couldn’t even get to my admin page. That’s right: once I had exited out of the page where I was editing that stupid php file I was completely locked out of my whole account.
After a few hours of reading countless articles and forums while simultaneously emailing the designer of my theme who was of NO HELP to me on this subject (there were several other subjects she didn’t help me on either, which was very disappointing), I decided to call my hosting company. I didn’t think they’d actually be able to help me, but in less than 20 minutes the guy I spoke to had the problem fixed!
He was still able to access my admin page from the back-end of my hosting, so he just turned off my theme so I could access the admin page again. Once I was back on, I had to delete and re-install my theme (yes, all of it—including the framework). I honestly didn’t care about being back in square two because at least I was in a square at that point!!!
5. Mobile responsive issues
Before that little php file fiasco I mentioned in #4, my theme worked perfectly fine in mobile (the only issue is that it’s a little squished, but I don’t think I have control over that). After all, this is a mobile-responsive theme I purchased.
However, once I re-installed my theme, the mobile version of it stopped working for some odd and frustrating reason. I tried emailing the creator of this design (again to no avail), I tried turning my mobile version off and on again and again in Jetpack, and I even tried downloading mutiple plugins that were supposed to adapt my theme to a mobile site or allow me to create my own mobile template.
I don’t know what crazy piece of magic made my theme work in mobile again, but the next morning it was working. Right now my settings show that “mobile” is turned off in my Jetpack settings and the “WPtouch Mobile Plugin” is activated. The night before my theme started working again I had used the WPtouch Mobile Plugin to create a mobile site that was less ugly than the default it was on, so I really don’t think it’s this plugin that made my theme respond in mobile again (the point of this plugin is to create a mobile theme, not to make your current theme responsive).
If you run into this same issue, I would try using this plugin anyway. Maybe it’ll work for you, too!