Crack open the champagne – I’ve done it!
After a few months of deliberations and a week of Google searches and fiddling about I have moved my blog from Weebly to WordPress.
And I have to say it went much more smoothly than I thought it would. I still have a bit of rejigging to do with the way everything looks now, and I have a lot to learn about WordPress, but the main thing is, I’m here, my blog is here and all my comments are here too which I’m so pleased about!
I started my blog with Weebly back in February 2015 as it just seemed like the easiest way to get up and running. And I actually don’t regret that decision. Weebly was good for me. It was so straightforward to use that it allowed me to just get on with writing posts, finding my voice, learning about blogging in general.
But, over a year later, I felt that it was time to move on. I was feeling a bit restricted by Weebly, and really didn’t like the fact that they were basically in control of all my content (and they don’t have an option for backing up your blog posts with them).
The thing is, Weebly really don’t make it easy for you to move your content away from them. And a lot of the results of my googling were out of date, as they talked about using google reader which doesn’t exist anymore.
So, in the hope of helping someone else who might be wanting to move from Weebly to WordPress, here’s how I did it and the steps you can take to make the move yourself:
The first thing I should mention is that I had a bit of an issue in that I already had my domain name with GoDaddy and it was pointing to my Weebly site. I wanted to move the domain name with me over to WordPress, so I went into Weebly and changed my domain name there back to the basic .weebly.com option. This meant that anyone looking for my blog might be a bit confused for a few days as it either wouldn’t be there or would look a bit ‘off’, but it freed up the domain name so I could crack on with setting it up with a new host and with WordPress.
I should also mention that one of the most time consuming parts of migrating for me was backing up my blog posts. Now, as Weebly don’t have a way of doing this for you, what I mean by this is that I manually went into each post and copied and pasted all my text into word documents, and made a note of the date they were written and the url of the post. I wanted to be absolutely certain that I wouldn’t lose all my hard work in the move, and for the most part this turned out to be unnecessary as all my posts were fine in the end. The one issue I did have was with the dates of the posts, as they were all wonky in WordPress so it was useful to have a record of when the posts actually went live so I could go in and edit them in WordPress.
The first big step in making the move from Weebly to a self-hosted WordPress blog is to get hosting for the new site.
After asking around other UK bloggers I decided to go with TSOhost, and they’ve been great so far. You simply go to their site, and sign up for hosting. I selected the lite option as you can always upgrade later if you need to.
Once I’d signed up for hosting TSOhost sent me a welcome email with some important information and details in it. When you get your email, click on the control panel URL link and log in using the details they give you. Click on the ‘add a site’ option and add the domain name that you want to use. If like me your domain is already pointing at your Weebly site you’ll have to change this, so go to your domain provider and change the nameservers to the ones listed in your welcome email.
This willl mean that your blog will go down for a bit, but this whole process didn’t actually take too long so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Install WordPress through the TSOhost control panel. Again this was a pretty simple process, just follow the instructions on the screen.
Once WordPress is installed you can log in to wordpress and choose a theme. There are loads of free ones to chose from, but I went for a premium theme from Pipdig as I had an idea of what I wanted and really loved the look and feel of this particular theme.
Migrate your blog posts from Weebly to WordPress.
The next big step is to get your blog posts, categories and comments over from Weebly. This is where I got confused as most of the tutorials I could find were out of date, and involved using Google reader which doesn’t exist anymore. But there is a way to do it, and for me at least it was really easy and worked perfectly.
I went to shifttowp.com, and followed the instructions there to get the rss feed from my weebly blog. This file gets sent to you in an email, which also includes instructions to get the full wxr file. This does cost about £15 but it’s well worth it if you want to take all your hard-earned comments with you!
Once you get the wxr file you need to import it into WordPress. You do this by going into your wordpress dashboard and going to tools, import, wordpress and then uploading the file you were sent in the second email.
All of your blog posts should now be with you in wordpress – hurray!
The next really important thing to do is to install and run the Import external images plugin to transfer all your images from Weebly to WordPress. It might seem that your photos have already been transferred over with your posts, but they’ll actually still be held over on your weebly site, so if/when you delete that old site all your photos will disappear from wordpress, so do make sure you don’t skip this step!
Rejig anything that needs rejigging.
Chances are your blog posts won’t look quite how you want them to look in your new set up. So take a bit of time to straighten up your images, make sure your posts are in the right date order (mine got really messed up in the move!), and basically get everything looking the way you want it to look.
Set up any other pages you want your site to have.
Now all your blog posts have been migrated you can set up any other pages that you want. There is a way to migrate this information over but I just did it manually, by creating new pages in WordPress and typing in the content I wanted – simple.
Sort out your 301 redirects.
One problem you might have is that the way Weebly sets up its urls is different to the way wordpress does it, so anyone trying to find one of your old blog posts using one of your old links will get a 401 error.
There are two schools of thought on how to deal with this, you can either create a custom url in wordpress so that it creates its urls in the same way that weebly does, or you can set up 301 redirects from your old urls to the new ones. From what I read the second option is best, although I couldn’t quite work out why!
Setting up the redirects was surprisingly easy though. I installed the simple 301 redirects plugin and found it really simple to use. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin you need to go to settings, then 301 redirects then put in the request and destination urls.
Let’s say for example a post on your Weebly blog had the url http://www.yourblogname.co.uk/blog/this-is-a-post. then that means your standard url for all blog posts would be www.yourblogname.co.uk/blog/blog-page/%postname%/ so in the ‘request’ box you would put /blogpost/%postname%
As standard on WordPress, blog posts don’t come under a header of ‘blog’ like they do on Weebly, so the same post would have a url in WordPress of www.yourblogname.co.uk/this-is-a-post, so you want to set the ‘destination’ to /%postname%
This seemed to work for me, as my old links now open up the post in my new wordpress site, so give it a go!
Start blogging with wordpress.
That’s the hard bit done, now you have the fun of getting stuck into WordPress, so go and explore this brave new world!
I really hope this post is helpful to anyone wanting to make the move from Weebly to a self-hosted WordPress site. If you think I’ve missed a step please do let me know so I can include it, and if you’re considering doing it, then I urge you to just take a deep breath and go for it, it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! Good luck!