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.
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!