Please do not be alarmed with the new look, I promise the content will continue to stay technical and ghetto still 🙂
As some of you may have noticed, I finally took the plunge last Friday and migrated off of Google's Blogger platform and onto WordPress. I have actually been looking at an alternative platform for a couple of years now but never got beyond the research phase as it seemed like a daunting task. I decided to finally make the switch in 2014 and with the help from fellow blogger Ben Thomas, I was able to finally transition to WordPress after two weeks of tinkering around and testing. Do not get me wrong, Blogger is a great platform for anyone looking to quickly get started with blogging and it is very easy to use and best of all, it is free. When I first started virtuallyGhetto back in May of 2010 (wow, almost 4ys ago!), I chose Blogger for two simple reasons, it was easy to use and most importantly I could use a custom domain without paying additional fees.
At the time I really had no idea if this blogging thing would actually take off and whether people would care about the things that interests me. It took me almost another two years to decide if I wanted to start blogging and I really owe it to guys like Duncan Epping and Scott Lowe who convinced me to give this blogging thing a go. Over the years, Blogger has not changed too much and the platform had very small incremental enhancements here and there. I felt that it was really starting to fall behind other blogging platforms and was lacking in several areas, one of which was plugin extensions, which was much richer on other platforms. Another thing that really surprised me was how often the "search" functionality broke on my site; I am not sure how many readers actually noticed this. For a company that is the de-facto standard when it comes to search, I was quite shocked to see this happen on somewhat a frequent basis. It was usually faster and more efficient to search for something on Google than it was to search directly on my blog.
The lack of plugins and enhancements to the platform is what really motivated me to take a look at an alternative solution. Although WordPress was at the top of my list, I also took a look at some of the newer blogging platforms like Medium and Ghost. I decided to go with WordPress as it still has the largest community and these newer platforms were specifically aimed at users who just want to write. Their interfaces were very simplistic which is great for people who just want to write and not get bogged down by too many options but they were still too lacking from a plugin extension point of view that most bloggers expect today.
Once I settled on a blogging platform, I had to figure out how I would host WordPress. One of the nice things about Blogger is that it is fully hosted by Google and you do not have to worry about maintenance, it was just taken care of for you. In the past I have heard many bloggers running into issues while performing WordPress upgrades and I was looking for a fully "hosted" WordPress that would be managed by the hosting provider. After soliciting for some recommendations on Twitter and looking at the rates and plans, I decided to go with a "shared" hosting service which provided me with the most flexibility for what I was looking for and still have the simplicity of managing WordPress without too much hassle. However, I was still responsible for managing this instance which includes backup, luckily there is a nice WordPress plugin for this as mentioend by Matt Cowger. I ended up using Dreamhost DigitalOcean after having performance issues on Dreamhost's shared hosting and even VPS services after migrating. I had several bloggers recommend DigitalOcean and so far I am pretty happy. Hopefully this will be the last time I need to move my site.
For those of you who are interested in my setup, take a look below for the details:
DigitalOcean Package: $10/month
WordPress Theme: M1
WordPress Plugins (I have a bit more than normal due to some customizations):
- Analytics for WordPress — by Segment.io
- Blogger To WordPress Redirection
- Broken Link Checker
- Crayon Syntax Highlighter
- Easy Author Image
- Easy Table
- Gist GitHub Shortcode
- Google XML Sitemap
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- KAPlugins GFonts - Google Fonts For WordPress
- Simple Share Buttons Adder
- Simple Social Icons
- UpdraftPlus - Backup/Restore
- WPtouch Mobile Plugin
- WordPress Related Posts
If there are other must have WordPress plugins or alternative plugins that you think I should use instead, feel free to share. Hopefully this will help someone that is looking to perform a similar migration or even start blogging for the first time. If there is any feedback on how I can make the site more user friendly, feel free to leave a comment.