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July 26, 2008

A Non-Expert Moves From Typepad to Wordpress: Part 1

Note to my regular readers: I’ve written this post to record how I moved a blog from one platform (Typepad) to another (Wordpress).  I hope it might help some others who are thinking about or getting ready to make the move – I know I learned a lot from reading the posts that fellow migrators had written. 

I’m also hoping that I might get some ideas and tips about how to improve on this process for the next big move: shifting the Confident Writing blog. This first move was just the warm up. 

The notes below are fairly technical and complicated so if you’re not interested in migration issues… just skip this post.  I’ll be back with the normal fodder on Monday!


I’m gearing up to move Confident Writing from Typepad to Wordpress.  I’d read enough about how other people had done this to know it wasn’t a totally easy or painless process so I thought I’d do a warm up with a blog site that wasn’t currently ‘live’ and that I wouldn’t fret about so much if I did something daft in the middle of the process. 

So last week I moved my first blog: Coaching Wizardry from Tyepad to Wordpress.

The notes below record what I did and why; which bits worked (or didn’t); things I haven’t yet cracked; what remains to be done. I’m describing this as a non-expert move because I’m not saying this is how you should do it – just that this is the way I did it. 

It’s also non-expert as it’s in as plain English as I can manage, and – wherever possible – I used the easiest solution I could find.  I could see there were more effective solutions for some of the problems I encountered but didn’t know enough about the back end of blogs to be able to use them (or even understand the instructions!)

The main problem with making the switch is that the urls change when imported.  The two platforms have a totally different approach to setting them up.  A Typepad version looks like http://coachingwizardry.com /2007/12/inspirational-q.html

Importing to Wordpress gives  you http://coachingwizardry.com/2007/12/inspirational-quotes-living-life-on-purpose/

I haven’t found an easy or foolproof way to beat this.  I ended up changing the ‘post slug’ (see notes below) manually, which is the most time consuming and laborious part of the switch.

Without further ado here’s what I did in a 20 part move.

Warming Up

1. Get used to WordPress before you start.  I don’t think I could have done the switch myself otherwise. These notes are based on using self-hosted WordPress.org rather than the free blogs.  Which means you also want to have your own host, be used to managing the interface, know how to upload WordPress, be familiar with using plugins… etc

2. Read up. I spent quite a lot of time reading how other people had done it.  This is a mixed blessing – you’ll realise it’s not easy (and it did put me off for a while) but you’ll also get an idea for the issues and problems that might come up as you move.  Forewarned is forearmed.

3. Set up a dummy blog. I created a site where I could practice these steps before I did the final version.  This also gave me the chance to see any obvious issues with the blog content (like sorting out my categories before moving) and to try out different themes and pick one I thought would work.

4. Set up the domain on your host and download wordpress  so you’re ready to import.

5. Tidy up the exising blog.  As I was using the same domain for the new site I wanted to minimise the time I was working on the switch (when the site would be down to visitors).  So I did some of the tidying up before I moved – removing any redundant posts and pages, sorting out the categories into a manageable and meaningful list.

Making The Switch

6. Grab the Tyepad version of your urls. This is the boring and laborious part of the process but it's important.  It’ll help you with internal links and (some not all) external links to your blog.  Save the 15 character part of the url.  In the example above http://coachingwizardry.com /2007/12/inspirational-q.html the 15 character part would be inspirational-q  I went through and cut and pasted these extracts into a notepad file.  It saved a bit of time later (and saved me getting confused with switching back and forth between sites).

7. Export the content from your Tyepad blog.  This bit is easy. (And if you’re not worried about links you can just press import and start working on your new site). In Tyepad it’s manage, then import/export and follow the instructions.  Save to a notepad (or equivalent) file.

8. Edit the internal links in your export file.  This was a great tip that saved me time later.  Internal links all seem to have the coachingwizardry.typepad.com/coachingwizardry/ format which means they’ll point back to the old Typepad site rather than the post on your new site.  It’s easier to change them in this file than one by one after you’ve imported them, so, using ‘replace’ in your text editor, change anything that is coachingwizardry.typepad.com/coachingwizardry/2007 to coachingwizardry.com/2007. If you’ve more than year, repeat with the different date.  You want to include the date to avoid editing the links to your images.

9. Transfer the domain to your new hosted site.  Wait for however many hours this takes to shift.

10. Take domain mapping off the Typepad blog. I’m not sure if I had to do this but it seemed cleaner.  From this point on the old blog was coming up as http://coachingwizardry.typepad.com/coaching wizardy/ and coachingwizardry.com was pointing to a ‘hello world’ post on Wordpress (once the domain switch had happened)

11. Put the site into maintentance mode.  I used this maintenance mode plugin which comes up saying the site’s undergoing maintenance, ch eck back in 60 minutes.  It gives you the space to relax and work on the site behind the scenes (of course it will take  you longer than 60 minutes)

12. Apply the theme you’ve chosen.

13. Activate any plugins you want to have available as you work on the site.  Archives helped for example.  An easy to use archive made it easy for me to check and grab links. (It’s a good thing to have anyway).

14. Import the content from Tyepad. This bit’s easy.  Manage – import – chose movable type/tyepad option.

15. Set your permalinks with a custom structure. Settings – permalinks – then chose custom structure and set it like this /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html This will move the url closer to the version that Typepad uses

16. Now you need to change each post slug.  This is the boring bit – but you need to concentrate because if you make a mistake you’ll break the links.  In edit mode for each post you’ll see the permalink just below the heading of each post.  Click on edit.  Change the WordPress version (inspirational-quotes-living-life-on-purpose) for the Tyepad version you saved earlier (inspirational-q). 

TIP: make sure you save the permalink and then save the post.  Otherwise you’ll lose the change and need to do it again.  Work through these 1 by 1. 

(I’m sure there must be an easier way to do this, but couldn’t find it.  Not one I could comprehend or do without learning another computer script.)  This part of the process took about 90 minutes for 130 posts. Now you have a url that looks like this http://coachingwizardry.com/2007/12/inspirational-q.html

This is the solution that starupnewz used and it worked when I practiced it on my dummy version – not this time round though.  When I clicked on those urls I got an error message to say the posts didn’t exist. I did find an easy way round it though.

17. Using the permalinks migration plugin go to settings, permalink migration, set the old structure as /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html then change the permalinks to the month and name option http://coachingwizardry.com/2008/07/sample-post/

Moment of truth – yes, the permalinks work and all my internal links were working. Yippee!

18. That’s the moment when you can have a drink.  And if things look okay, or good enough, from this point onwards you can think about taking off the maintenance mode and letting people back in

19. Change Your Feed.  Grab the atom feed from your new site, go to feedburner, edit the feed with the new address.  After a few hours posting at the new site should appear on that feed so your readers stay subscribed without  having to do anything.

20. Tidy up: This bit’s as long as a piece of string of course.  There’s bound to be a whole lot of things you want to do to sort your sidebars, layout, design, if you want a static home page etc.  You might also find that some of your formatting that was okay in Tyepad looks a bit wonky in your new site. 

Still To Do

  • Update the old blog (still hosted on Typepad) with ‘we’ve moved’ and links to the new site.
  • Go back and make a donation to the authors of the plug ins I know I’ll stick with (or that helped to save my migatory bacon)
  • Move images over – I’ll need to do this if I eventually close down the Tyepad account

What I’ve Not Been Able To Do

  • Redirect from Typepad to the new blog (to catch links from other sites)
  • Catch links that are in the coachingwizardry.typepad.com format
  • Make the switch without closing down the site for about eight hours

What I’ve Achieved

  • Blog now operational on WordPress
  • Internal links work
  • Links with the coachingwizardry.com/2007/post format will work*
  • Feed updated without readers and subscribers needing to do anything

*This is important because most of my Confident Writing links are in that format and I wanted to know I could transport those across

That concludes part 1 of the story.  Part 2 comes after I make the switch for this blog (gulp!).  I'm planning to do that before I move house so the blog and I are both in our new  homes by mid August. 

A big thanks to other bloggers who charted their own progress through these choppy waters, especially startupnewz whose tips I followed most closely, and to those designers who come up with plugins that make all of this so much more possible.

Meantime if you've any suggestions, tips or improvements to add so the process works more smoothly next time please do share in the comment box below!

Other reading

Moving from TypePad to WordPress: Pains and Problems

Moving From TypePad to WordPress: How To - Part 1

TypePad to WordPress Switch: Detailed Instructions

TypePad to WordPress: Moving the SEO friendly way

How to Port Your Blog from TypePad to WordPress: Part 1

How to Port Your Blog from TypePad to WordPress: Part 2

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Comments

My goodness, you are brave! And I thought social media and bookmarking had a steep learning curve!

Hi Joanna,

It is always helpful to read posts like these from "real" people. Having made the switch to WordPress self hosted from Blogger I culled the web seeking plain talk and clear instructions when I had a problem. It is very kind of you to share your experience. I know that others making the move from TypePad will really appreciate your help! Congratulations! :-)

I'm glad you sorted out your platform issues, Joanna.

You certainly don't write like a non-expert on how to do the change! :-)

A pretty good guide Joanna. I started to add some thoughts, but ended up with a post - it got a bit long.
Here is the post, though Typepad does not seem to like my comment on this, it eats it up - second try now.
Hopefully it is a useful addition to your guide..

http://fracturedbloughts.heszroland.hu/2008/07/26/some-tips-on-working-with-a-self-hosted-wordpress-blog/

Another tip Joanna. You could try Scott Yang's Permalink redirect plugin for wordpress.
http://scott.yang.id.au/code/permalink-redirect.

I did not look into it in detail, but on first glance it solves some problems, if not all.

Hi Joanna - brave move - especially when you're preparing to move house yourself. I would have been terrified to do that myself. But I'm guessing that there's more plugins and widgets available on wordpress than typepad.

I moved my personal/knitting blog (www.chappysmom.com) over from Typepad to Wordpress in January and it mostly all went smoothly, but the pictures are still an ongoing problem. (And, as you can imagine, since it's a knitting blog there are a LOT of pictures.) Still, though, I like Wordpress so much better!

Wow that is an awesome post. Moving your blog into Wordpress can be a nightmare but the way you did it will help a lot.

Joanna, sounds like you've made a lot of progress. In the long run, I think you'll be very happy with WordPress.

Thanks for a good guide. I moved from typepad.com to wordpress.com, which of course is a lot easier, but there is still a lot of work involved, especially correcting all internal links and uploading all images to WordPress and re-inserting them. The best part about wordpress.com is the "Page Not Found"-page, so even though the old URLs are no longer working, people still end up on my blog and not on a blank white page like with TypePad.

Wow, Joanna, I haven't visited in a while (sorry!) and didn't know you were moving to WordPress. WooHoo for you! ;-)

I'm loving it myself. I'm self-hosted at WordPress.org, too.

*smiles*
Michele

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and encouragement.

SpaceAgeSage - not sure about brave, stubborn maybe! I love working out how to do these technical challenges myself.

Karen - I too have found it wonderful to get so many ideas and suggestions from bloggers. There's a lot more from WordPress people of course - it's a reflection of that community, and one of the reasons I want to follow you and make the switch.

Scott, thanks. I know I've learned a lot in the last 12 months - but when I compare my skills and knowledge with those of many others I know there's a long way still to go! Have you picked on a platform for your own blog yet?

Roland, thanks so much for taking the time to write that guide on self-hosting issues. I think the more we all do this the more we can learn (and teach) together. Thanks for the plugin suggestion too

Cath - I get bored very easily with domestic tasks so doing this has been a pleasant distraction from sorting, packing and cleaning!

-Deb, I can believe there would be a lot of pictures, and that getting them right would be an important element of a switch for you. I'm still prevaricating with what to do with mine - I think I'll just keep the account running for a while and (try and) move them over slowly

Jordan, thank you. Fingers crossed things seem to working okay so far

Brad, I'm sure I will. Watching the things that you and others can do with WordPress has been pulling me over for some time now. Plus I know I'll have a lot of people I can ask for help when I get stuck!

Michele, no worries, I'm reading you but not visiting either! TypePad has been bugging me more and more, so I'm getting ready to get my wings then fly! Smiling back :-)

Joanna

Wordpress is very versatile and has the most plugins of any platform. There is a way to fwd from the old Typepad. I will look for the page, I think it's on my Delicious list. I believe it has to do with your .htaccess file. Meanwhile, just know you did the right thing and it is a better platform to spread your quality niche content to more people.

Damien, thanks, I like the idea of a platform to spread my quality niche content :-)

I did see various solutions that referred to working with the .htaccess file - my problem is that this is way over my head and sounds terrifying. Maybe I'm being unduly scared?

Joanna

I'm a Wordpress person, I think :-)

Sounds like a wise move Scott.

Brave Joanna! I'm gearing up to do this as well, but I wimped out and asked Men with Pens to do it. (They're so darned nice, and when I realized the amount of time it would take me to puzzle it all out vs. the amount of freelance time I'd have to bill to pay for it, things got very clear.)

Since I'm not on my own domain, I don't think I have a redirect option--I'll just have to put up some notes on the Typepad posts that get link or Stumble traffic. Theoretically I think I could migrate Typepad to my domain first and then 301 redirect it, but I'm too impatient and too eager to move on already.

I bet you could handle that .htaccess file. Just a bit of code, after all! Or there are many gallant experts on Twitter who I'm sure would help.

OMG. This post makes me gulp and wonder....

I just stopped to say hello. Was just at Sonia's. It would seem we are all moving to wordpress this summer. I am hoping it won't be a monster to get used to. I am wisely having the Pen Men do the tech and design, but now I am looking at this and thinking oh no what am I getting myself into?

Hope all is well there. Wave from the US here.
Your seriously technically impaired friend,
Janice. :)

Sonia, congratulations on writing the 3000th comment! And good luck with your own move. It is time consuming and fiddly, and getting help sounds like a good plan. I feel rather stubbornly determined to try and do it myself, though there were many points in this switch when I wished I hadn't - and I know it'll be more work next time round as this blog is about three times as big...

Janice, hi! It's fine once you're there, no more tricky than typepad unless you want to customise it yourself. Doing the importing / exporting is tricky if you want to preserve links. If you want to do that maybe you could ask MWP to do that bit for you too? After that you'll be away. And enjoying WordPress. I'm already using it on some other sites and can see the benefits very quickly.

Good luck both of you!

Joanna

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