March 2009
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Goodbye WordPress.com, Hello Freedom

Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me,
“How good, how good does it feel to be free?”
And I answer them most mysteriously,
“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”
- BALLAD IN PLAIN D

So, as you can see we’ve moved. About two weeks ago I decided to start this blog. A few hours and a few beers later, I was up and running on the hosted WordPress.com site. Picked the theme that I disliked least from the 17 or so available, and sprouted my first post. A couple of days later people that I didn’t even know started reading it, which was all very exciting.

It was about that time I realised that although WordPress.com is easy, it also sucks the big one if you want flexibility. The things that annoyed me in a week included:

  • I have to pay to change the CSS. Probably a good things as my CSS is terrible and I’ll just make things worse, but I demand the right to change my CSS anyway.
  • I have to pay to remove adverts. Fair enough I guess. In a moment of purity, I paid this for a year. Which was $30 down the toilet in retrospect.
  • The built in analytics are horrible. I’m not actually sure what they mean. Of the 3,500 “Page Views” I’ve been told I’ve had since this has been live, I suspect 3,450 were from me, and the rest from me mum. Not even close to Google Analytics on the functionality front.
  • The themes are inflexible. For example, I wanted to show only excerpts on my home page, not full stories. No-can-do with the theme I chose, I’m afraid. And the one line PHP change was beyond my control.
  • I started to discover lots of cool plugins written by clever people, but I couldn’t touch them.

Migrations from .com to hosted

So yesterday we moved everything. I hope the migration has gone okay. I’ve chosen a theme I prefer. I’ve lost one comment, and it seems all the nesting of the existing comments. I’m going to see if I can h4x0r those back. I think all the existing deep links to the old jonontech.wordpress.com domain will actually still work. And the RSS feed is fixed with the auto-discovery feed matching the advertised feed. Thanks a million to James for helping me with this, seeing I couldn’t CSS or PHP my way out of a brown paper bag.

We had a few issues. My current hosting provider, it turns out, can’t support multiple host headers to my Linux VM, so that attempt failed. Then I tried my free GoDaddy hosting that came with my domain registration. Turns out that my account was incompatible with WordPress because “WordPress can only run on a paid hosting service”. Bastards! So I’ve coughed up my few dollars a month and, in the end, it was all remarkably easy. I also had to buy another WordPress.Com add-on so I could set up the deep link redirect to my new domain. Ching ching. That’s now $45 to WordPress. About a year’s hosting cost.

To be honest, I do think WordPress.com is pretty good. But, if you want flexibility and like WordPress, don’t be lazy like yours truly. Make the effort to host the thing yourself. Biggest blogging mistake I ever made.

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15 comments to Goodbye WordPress.com, Hello Freedom

  • Hi Jon, looks great! Keep up the good work :)

    Jules…

  • WordPress.com might be good to get up and running with a blog quickly, but, to be honest, if you’re techy you’ve got no excuse! You can whack up a WP on your own server, theme it, do some posts and you’re done in an hour or two, I can’t stop recommending it.

  • Oh I don’t believe it, the first two comments on this blog are by people who use the same themes on their personal WP blogs!

  • Ah, the freedom that comes with pretty mandatory upgrades every month or so… 2.8 is about to be released :) Fortunately for you, though, upgrading WP should now be a one-click process… but whether it succeeds will depend on whether you’ve managed to correctly set the user rights to all the WP files :P

  • Interesting to see that you have almost the same experience as me. I think WordPress.com is so limited that anyone with a little self-respect (or vanity?) has to either pay for the premium features, or move somewhere else.

    Although I work for Escenic, I use WordPress for my personal blog, on my own server. In case you’re interested, I have listed some plug-ins I think are useful here: http://automagisk.no/blog/about/

    I’m not sure what to say about Clay Shirky’s blog (http://www.shirky.com/weblog/), but it’s pretty clear that content IS king :-)

  • I’ve been on self hosted wordpress for quite some time now but am quite fed up of the upgrade madness. Okay – so it is quite easy and all that but i still need to do it, check and test theme, upgrade and test all the plugins and so on. In fact, the last upgrade broke my theme!

    But a hosted alternative is no good either, for reasons that you mentioned :(

    I’ve also considered going back to blogger but gave up the idea. I considered it because the hosted version of blogger gives more flexibility (in terms of adding acripts etc to themes) and i get an option to do static publishing to my web server.

  • Followed your link from your comment on http://ferrogate.com/2009/04/the-new-ferrogate-i-moved-from-blogger-to-wordpress.html. Nice to hear my post was helpful – and I’m pleased to see you’ve made some smart choices above. Keep it up :)
    Martin at FerroGate

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