After 5+ years of sharing recipes and other food adventures on Blogger, earlier this fall I concluded it was time to move this blog to WordPress. I chose Blogger initially because it seemed easier to use to a blogging newbie, and I also that they’d be advantages of having the blog hosted on a Google owned product. This summer, we committed to trying to take Cooking Chat to the next level, in terms of overall quality and generating some additional income. That led to a lot of reading up on how to get the most out of a blog, and I eventually concluded we needed to get over to WordPress. I thought a post on moving a food blog to WordPress might be useful for others contemplating such a move.
My goal with this post is to share my rational for moving this blog to WordPress, and some of the resources I found helpful in making the decision and implementing it. I am not by any means a technical expert on the matter, simply sharing my experience here. I will include links to folks and articles that provide more comprehensive treatment of the subject.
Moving a food blog to WordPress, after being on Blogger for over five years, did seem a bit daunting. But I was getting a consistent message in my research that I really needed to make the move to have the success I am looking for. Here is a summary of the reasons I made the move:
- Traffic/SEO: Let’s face it, when we work hard to create and share tasty recipes as food bloggers, we are hoping people beyond our immediate family will see the recipe (they already know what it tastes like!). I had been gradually growing my traffic numbers on Blogger, but when I heard inFood Blogger Pro discussion forums about traffic levels fairly new bloggers were getting, I knew something was amiss. I started to learn there were some important things for search engine optimization (SEO) that I could do much more readily on WordPress. The early results have been encouraging: the last full month on Blogspot was my best for page views (3,037) as reported by Google Analytics; I haven’t even been here on WordPress for a full month, and we are just a tad shy of 4,000 views–expect to get there before the month is through!
- Food blogger friendly plugins: There are so many great plugins to use on WordPress! Clearly this is an important factor in the SEO results. Some of these plugins are good for any blog, but there are some specific to food blogs that are especially helpful. For instance, the EasyRecipe plugin formats your recipes into nice, easy to print recipe cards. More importantly, the plugin automatically embeds the code needed for Google to recognize the post contains a recipe. As I learned from Bjork at Food Blogger Pro, that is pretty crucial for your recipe to be served up as a result for some of the millions of recipe searches conducted each day on Google. (the absence of such recipe coding when we were on Blogger is one pretty big clue as to why more people weren’t finding our hundreds of tasty recipes!). EasyRecipe comes as part of the Foodie Pro Theme we are using.
- Customization: There’s so much more room to customize your food blog on WordPress. I was especially glad to be able to set up good ways for people to find my recipes here, with the “Find a Recipe” button in the top menu (power by a widget that came with Foodie Pro) and the tag cloud in the side bar. With the many themes and widgets to choose from, there’s a great deal of flexibility here.
- Ease of use: I chose Blogger initially because it seemed easier, but WordPress is really pretty easy to use, too. I think it was the early steps of installing WordPress and setting up themes, etc. that was a turn-off for me. But that’s really not that hard, and there are plenty of good how-to resources out there. Once things are set-up, most of the basics on WordPress are pretty user friendly. If you’re on Blogger and hesitating because you’re not sure you can handle the tech side of WordPress, I say don’t sweat it! I’m someone who wants to focus on creating tasty content, not messing around with code or other tech stuff, and that is very doable on WordPress.
Resources: As noted above, the early returns here at Cooking Chat’s new WordPress home have been promising. In addition to the positive site traffic numbers, I’m happy to report things have gone very smoothly in making this transition from a technical standpoint. This is great, because I thought I was going to be dealing with a lot of work to fix the formatting of old posts imported from the initial blogger site. The only things I need to do with the old posts is optimize the photos for the new format and put the recipes into EasyRecipe. The posts look OK without doing that, so I’m just chipping away at those items. Let me tell you about some of the resources I’ve found helpful in the process. Note this post includes some affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission through purchases made using the links–but I only recommend products I use and value.
Food Blogger Pro As I detailed in this post about a special offer from Food Blogger Pro (FBP), membership in FBP has been a great source of support as I work to grow this blog. I was able to read many very helpful posts in the FBP forums from others who had considered switching to WordPress, and those who had done so. There are also a bunch of helpful videos on topics like setting up the site and posts to be SEO friendly. In addition, many of the FBP members are using the Foodie Pro Theme, so it’s a good resource for help on particular questions about the theme. I definitely recommend the Food Blogger Pro membership, it’s well worth the $25/month for any food bloggers serious about improving their site.
Fabulous Blogging (Transfer Services) It is certainly possible to figure out how to do a transfer of your food blog to WordPress yourself, but it sounded technically complicated enough that I was interested in hiring someone with the expertise to do it for me. With nearly 500 posts on the Blogger site, I felt it was worth it to ensure a smooth process. I’m very glad I made that choice and worked with Julie DeNeen from Fabulous Blogging on the transfer. Her blog transfer services are very reasonable (described here on her site) and I found to be well worth the investment. Julie was a breeze to work with, and the process took about two weeks to go from my deciding to work with her to the transfer process being completed–with no downtime on the site at all, so I was able to keep blogging away as Julie was making things happen behind the scenes. If you are interested in the DIY approach to a transfer, Julie has some good resources on how to do the transfer. In fact, reading some of those convinced me to work with Julie–she clearly knows this transfer stuff inside & out!
Foodie Pro Theme There are a lot of themes to choose from, but so many of the FBP members are happily using the Foodie Pro Theme that I landed on it fairly quickly myself. As I mentioned earlier, it has a nice search setup designed specifically for recipes, and it comes with EasyRecipe baked in. I also like the nice clean look, that sets up lots of visually appealing ways to display those tasty food photos. Some basic terms I learned in the process: you need to choose a WordPress framework as well as a theme when getting started on WordPress. Foodie Pro operates on the Genesis framework, which my research suggested is the most reliable. The Foodie Pro Theme is current priced at $129, with features described here on the Foodie Pro page.
Sunday Supper Movement I’ve really enjoyed and benefited from active participation in the Sunday Supper food blogger group. This is more focused on food blogger events organized around a weekly theme, and is less focused on the technical aspects of blogging. That said, it’s a friendly group of bloggers happy to share resources and answer questions. In fact, Shaina from Take a Bit out of Boca made the switch to WordPress a bit before I did, and offered some encouragement and shared one of Julie DeNeen’s articles, which is how I found her. I also mention Sunday Supper here because participating in their events has been an important part of growing our traffic here at Cooking Chat, along with the technical advantages offered by our new WordPress home.
Ok, that’s what I have to share for now about the experience of transitioning a food blog to WordPress. I plan to mix in posts like this from time, sharing about the blogging experience and helpful tips I’m picking up along the way. Would welcome any insights you have from your blogging!