The Journey Begins – Consolidating multiple blogs to WordPress

Over the years I have maintained blogs on a number of different platforms. I started in 2003 with Blogger moving later to TypePad and finally to Movable Type hosted on Yahoo Small Business. In order to simplify my life, I set out to bring them all together into a single domain. What follows are my notes on the process and what I learned along the way. This is a work in progress, check back for updates as I continue down this path.

Preamble: Why WordPress? Why did you leave Yahoo Small Business?

Short Answer: TypePad is a great place to start blogging and Movable Type on Yahoo Small Business is a pretty good solution for the more advanced user. I had played around with WordPress but basically I wanted to get down in the weeds with WordPress and I would never do that unless I made it my primary blogging platform.

Long Answer: I needed to redirect all my traffic from cavitate.net to everwas.com. I have a number of links coming into the old domain so I wanted to use an .htaccess file to set up permanent redirects and preserve the search engine rankings. Yahoo Small Business doesn’t allow .htaccess so that cinched it.

Those that know me know that I’ve been a huge fan of Movable Type (I used to work at Six Apart). I actually gave the MT4 beta a try just to see what it was like but when I had problems with the installation reading the MT-Static directory correctly (yes I did fiddle with the permissions) I ran out of patience. Frankly, I was itching to try a WordPress installation just to see what all the fuss was about. When it installed immediately and I began to play around with the template files, I was immediately impressed with its speed – no more rebuilding!

Right, on to the journey!

1. Exported all my TypePad entries and saved them to my desktop.

2. Exported all my Movable Type entries and saved them to my desktop.

3. Downloaded and installed WordPress into my new hosting account at Laughing Squid.

4. Modified my DNS entries to point to the Laughing Squid name servers (they only provide hosting, no domain name services). I then waited a couple of days for the new DNS entry to propagate. Once I confirmed that I was able to reach my WordPress site via everwas.com, I got to work building the new site.

5. Downloaded the Underscore Permalinks plugin. Because TypePad and Movable Type write their URLs with the underscore (_) in between the title words instead of the (-) that WordPress uses, activate this plugin before you import any of your old posts to preserve the trailing links on the url. This is important if you want to later use .htaccess to preserve your links. (oh great, I just read this!)

6. It’s also important to preserve your old directory structure. Use WordPress’ Options > Permalink area to match your existing directory structure for your individual posts. Mine is [/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html] for example. There are a number of resources which you should read carefully before you begin. The WordPress Codex page is a good place to start. Be sure to read the bit about running an SQL Query on the wp_post table in order to preserve the entire length of our URL.

After the permalink structure is changed and the %postname% dashes have been set to underscores, an SQL Query must be run on the wp_post table in the WordPress mySQL database. This is because every Movable Type installation has a different %postname% length cutoff point. On the contrary, WordPress displays the whole URL. Before running this SQL query, replace “15” with the number of max characters in the %postnum% for the particular MT installation.

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_name=SUBSTRING(post_name,1,15)

You can find your Movable Type %postname% length settings under “Basename Length” under Settings > New Entry Defaults in MT 3.2x.

Now you’re ready to import your old posts!

7. My Blogger entries were the oldest. WordPress has a built-in importer which you can run from within WordPress. When you run the importer, it’ll ask for your Blogger username and password, Google will then ask if you want to grant access to Blogger from WordPress. Once you do that, it’ll pull everything over. Both Movable Type and TypePad entries imported easily (seconds!). Now I had all my text in one place. Comments and Trackbacks made it through with the URLs preserved. All was gravy. [I did have one false start but you can use Justin Watt’s excellent WordPress Suicide plug-in to delete everything and start over]

Now my only problem is that all the images were now getting pulled from their original location. I needed to re-publish all these posts to point to their new home. There’s probably a better way of doing this. I could just upload all images to a location on my new host and run a SQL Query to replace their old hostname with the new but I took a manual approach in order to re-visit my earlier posts and re-format my images to fit the new template.

Images

8. Blogger: I saved all my images by going to each blogspot post and right-clicking on them and saving them to a “blogspot” directory I created on my hard drive. I think Blogger also offers FTP access but I only had a few posts with images so it didn’t take too long.

9. Movable Type: I simply FTP’d into my Yahoo Small Business account and pulled down everything in my Images directory and saved it to a “mt” directory I created for them.

10. TypePad was a bit more difficult because they don’t allow FTP access. I had to basically pull down each file using the TypePad File Manager to view the graphic in my browser window and then right click to save it. I saved all my TypePad images to temporary “typepad” directory.

11. Starting with my oldest post in February 2003, I overwrote any entries for the old images and replaced them with a new one. I took the time to re-format them to fit the new template and if I found any dead links, took the time to update them. Call it a walk down memory lane, it was amazing to see how much things had changed! I’m working through the entries slowly but surely so if images are missing, that’s why.

12. Added the MyBlogLog sidebar so I could see who’s visiting my new blog.

13. Changed my Feedburner settings to read from my new xml file over at everwas.com using Feedburner’s FeedSmith plugin. I’m keeping the old feeds.feedburner.com/flashpoint address for now until I think through what I want to do about the existing RSS subscribers. If anyone knows a transparent way to take advantage of Feedburner’s domain mapping so I can move to a Feedburner-hosted everwas.com/feed url without interruption, let me know!

14. Modified .htaccess to redirect www.everwas.com to everwas.com.

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.domain.com$ [NC]

RewriteRule ^.*$ http://domain.com%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Also specified this preference in Google’s Webmaster Tools so all search results strip the www off the url.

15. Yay! It looks like I can do future posts! Yahoo Small Business doesn’t provide cronjob access so this was a limitation I’m glad is behind me.

16. Open hosting account on Laughing Squid for cavitate.net so I can set up a .htaccess file. Move DNS mappings to point to Laughing Squid DNS servers. Wait several hours for new settings to propogate.

17. Create .htaccess file in root of new cavitate.net directory to permenantly redirect all traffic to cavitate.net/flashpoint/foo.html to everwas.com/foo.html. Mine is simple:

Redirect 301 /flashpoint http://everwas.com

Redirect 301 / http://everwas.com

18: Added Google Analytics plug-in. There are several but I chose this one from Semiologic.

To Do:

  • add favicon
  • Modify <title> on default template
  • Update Blogroll
  • add Blog Business Summit badge
  • add microid header to verify blog on claimid.com
  • update facebook profile
  • update flickr profile
  • update delicious profile
  • update upcoming profile
  • update linkedin profile
  • update Plaxo Pulse (wow! the new Pulse page looks good!)
  • update Yahoo profile page
  • update LastFM profile
  • update Yahoo Videos profile
  • update You Tube profile
  • update vox profile
  • add everwas.com to Google Webmaster Tools
  • add robots.txt file
  • update twitter profile
  • update yelp profile
  • add everwas.com to Yahoo Site Explorer
  • create sitemap using Chris Peason’s xhtml sitemap generator, submit to both Yahoo Site Explorer and Google Webmaster tools and add an entry for it to robots.txt
  • Configure Archives Page
  • Write About Page
  • message flashpoint members in MyBlogLog of new site
  • Create Widgets page for all the dynamic crap I’m always adding into my index page
  • install wp-chunk plug-in to shorten long urls in comments (so it doesn’t mess up layout)
  • install sociable plug-in for sharing with delicious, digg, and technorati
  • install Alex King’s popularity contest plug-in to display most popular posts in side bar

5 Replies to “The Journey Begins – Consolidating multiple blogs to WordPress”

  1. Thanks for providing so much detail. That was nice. I have a few blogger blogs, some of them hosted on my own server. Same for wordpress. I have to say based on my experience I prefer blogger.

    BeachBum

  2. Thanks for sharing so much detail. Indeed very informative for bloggers and very helpful too. Thanks for sharing your insight and guidance to build a blog or to be a blogger. happy Blogging. Nice posting liked it. keep posting its really helpful.

  3. Your process of elaboration is quite good but there are so many steps that its rather very much confusing. According to me it would be very much helpful if you give a video tutorial on this its more easily understandable.

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