Welcome to the new Polish and Paws website. I have been blogging for over two years now, so it was time to make the migration from Blogger to WordPress, and hopefully make the site easier for you to read and navigate. I knew the move wasn’t going to be easy and straightforward, but I didn’t think it would take so weeks to get set up. Just about everything from the blogger platform has been transferred, unfortunately some comments haven’t been, so don’t worry if yours isn’t there – please write it again. I hope you like the new website and find it easier to use. I will still be tweaking things over the next few days, but after that, everything should run smoothly. I would love your feedback, good or constructive, so please leave it below.

Polish and Paws blog website

I thought I would give you some insight into what went into the migration and what plugins I am using to help any of you considering the move. I had a lot of help from a friend who is a software engineer. The site would not be functioning as well as it is or looking as nice and cohesive without him, so I really appreciate all of his help. If I had done it all by myself it would have taken a lot longer and not looked anywhere near as good. I will list all the plugins I’m using and other similar plugins that had good reviews so that you have a place to start from. I had no idea where to start with the migration, so a post like this would have been very helpful to me.

New Polish and Paws Blog website plus best wordpress plugins to use

To transfer the content from Blogger to WordPress, I used Blogger Import Extended and Image Teleporter wordpress plugins. Captions, formating and some urls needed to be updated after using them. Some core plugins that I have installed include Redirection (redirecting pages), Yoast (SEO), WP Optimize (optimisation), W3 Total Cache (page caching for performance – WP Super Cache is an alternative), and TinyMCE Advanced (more post editing options). For security and spam I am using Shield WordPress Security and Akismet but I also looked in to using iThemes Security and WordPress Zero Spam. I didn’t worry about image optimisation with blogger, but it was mentioned in the majority of blog posts about wordpress plugins that I read. I am using EWWW Image Optimizer as it seemed like the best fit for me but WP Smush – Image Optimization also had great reviews. After paying for a custom theme, a font and styled stock images, I didn’t want to pay much for plugins, but backing up my content is important enough to me to pay for a good service. I am using VaultPress as my backup system, which integrates well with Akismet, but BackupBuddy was another option I considered. I looked into using backups with web hosts and BackWPup plugin but I am happy with what VaultPress supplies for the low price they charge. I want control over the email updates I send out to subscribers so I signed up for MailChimp, which is free up to 2000 subscribers, AWeber is an alternative to MailChimp but you need to pay from day one. I originally wanted to use Disqus as my commenting system but I had problems with owning two accounts under the same email resulting in me not being able to get into the main one, and Disqus weren’t any help. So I decided to go with Jetpack as my commenting system, it’s very simple, plus Jetpack has so many other awesome features, like built in stats. I am also looking into using a google analytics stats plugin like Google Analytics by MonsterInsights or Google Analytics Dashboard for WP but I haven’t decided on one yet.

The theme I purchased came with a lovely Instagram plugin and sticky social media icons, but I’m sure you could find plugins for something similar. I paid more for my theme than I wanted to, but I am very happy with the layout and the great mobile site that it comes with. It will be a lot easier for mobile users to use and navigate the website now, which was an important part of choosing a theme for me. The theme didn’t come with the sidebar social media plugins but they’re very easy to do, or the Pinterest RSS Widget that I have in the sidebar. I wanted to have a custom pin button for Pinterest on all my images, so I used the jQuery Pin It Button for Images and this tutorial to do it. I also used the standard Snapchat plugin and a tutorial from Bloglovin’ to create those social media links. My featured posts are created with a category post widget that I customised to work for me and the archive list made with the jQuery Archive List plugin. I looked into using something like OptinMonster to create an email sign up banner, but I didn’t want to pay for it or annoy my readers with any sort of pop up. I hope this list of plugins and widgets helps to point you in the right direction if you are going to migrate from Blogger to WordPress. I have spent many hours reading tech blogs and finding the best plugins and widgets for my blog, but there is no way I read them all, so if you think I’m missing something, please let me know.

Update 10/07: The site was going down constantly with my host (aws), so after much research I have now moved over to WP Engine. It is considerably more expensive than the other main hosts (Bluehost, Hostgator etc) but WP Engine have a security guarantee where they will fix any problems if your site gets compromised either through your own site, or through another site on your shared host (server). They also provide automatic daily backups so you don’t have to pay for Vaultpress (but Vaultpress does work with the system if you want another backup platform). WP Engine also manage all the caching so you don’t need the extra plugins for that. I had problems with W3 Total Cache so I switched to WP Super Cache, but it will be much easier to not worry about them at all. EWWW Image Optimizer worked fine on the previous host, but it isn’t compatible with WP Engine, so I need to switch to WP Smush for image optimization now. The customer service from WP Engine has been great, so I’m confident that this will be a better solution for this website, and keep the site up and running smoothly for my readers. 

Polish and Paws iPad view

Most of the widgets needed some custom css to fit nicely into my theme and colour scheme, which I couldn’t have done without help. I have tried to ensure that everything works on computers, tablets and mobile devices, but that took coding as well as many plugins weren’t optimized for mobile use. You will see that I have tried to keep a very similar colour scheme as I previously had as the colours remind me of happiness. You don’t need to buy a custom theme or font like I have, but I am very happy with my purchases. You will see the font I bought in the header, my hello and at the bottom of each post. I still want to do something more with the header but nothing I have tried so far has worked – I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I actually found out how much of a perfectionist I am when browsing fonts for the new site. I have spent a huge amount of hours looking for fonts and trying different pairs, looking for something just right. I’m not entirely convinced I have it right yet, but it is much better than some of the other combinations I tried. I was reminded numerous times to not let perfect be the enemy of good, but that didn’t stop me wanting everything to be flawless from day one. You can hire someone to help with your blog branding and they will make things like your header image and pick fonts that work together, but it can be a very expensive way of doing it.

If you are considering starting a blog about any topic, then don’t let the above freak you out. Blogger is a great platform to start blogging on and it has very simple settings that will help you set up your site very quickly. I started on Blogger as I wasn’t sure if blogging was for me, but it turned out that I loved it, and the site worked really well for me for two years. Now that I have a bigger audience, I wanted more options to customize the site, but I could have easily continued to blog using Blogger.

New Polish and Paws Blog website plus best wordpress plugins to use

If you are going to start blogging, I have a couple of tips for you. Make sure your blog is unique – google search the blog name you want to use and make sure it isn’t being used by anyone else out there. My blog name was copied by someone else after I started my blog and it has caused some confusion, you really don’t want that – so find a name that is unique to you. Before you start, have a good idea about what you want your blog to be about and how you want it to be perceived, that way you will find it a lot easier to write. Chances are, your blog content will change over time, just like mine has, but knowing what you want from your blog is a good place to start from. It can take a long time to be noticed in the blogging world, especially the nail and beauty world so don’t let stats, figures or numbers of press samples make you stop blogging. I am still a very little blogger and I’ve been going for over two years. And last but not least, blog for you first. What I mean by that is that the content you write needs to be what you want to write. Don’t let anyone else dictate what goes on your blog or how you should write it. At the end of the day, you are the one that needs to be happy with what goes on the site, if you’re not happy with it, you will lose your drive to write it. Putting yourself out there can be hard, you can face people who just want to tear you down, but I have found there is far more good than bad. Find you blogging community, be unique and true to yourself, persist with your writing and you will do great.

Polish and Paws website on an iPhone

I will be back to posting normal content in the coming days so please subscribe to my new mailing list so that you get updates about new posts and you can find me on all the social media channels in my sidebar – I am a bit addicted to sharing cute Facebook dog videos and pinning everything on Pinterest right now. If you have any questions about anything in this post or feedback about the new Polish and Paws website, please leave me a comment below. Thank you so much for supporting me and the original Polish and Paws blog.

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Alinta McMurdo