If you've read this blog for awhile, you may know that I used to run things on the Blogger platform. Very early on, I actually started the blog on WordPress, but when I gave some thought of giving up blogging, I migrated over to Bloggers since that was free.
It didn't take long for me to renew my interest in blogging, but I stuck with Blogger for a couple of years. I always had a mind to get off of it and over to WordPress, but it took a couple of years for me to do anything about it.
Finally, I found a new hosting company and got everything signed up.
The Grand Plan: Build In The Background
After I made the decision to switch, I wanted to make sure that I did things the right way. I had what I thought was a decent amount of users, and so I didn't want to switch the blog over and build it at the same time. So, I came up with the grand idea to rebuild Money Beagle in the background. I am savvy enough to know how to add a DNS record at my registrar, so I registered test dot moneybeagle dot com to point to my new host. This, I figured, would let me set things up exactly as I wanted, then just flip the switch once I was ready.
Seemed pretty simple, right?
Well, not so much.
Problem 1: The Immediate Crash
I did get things built. I got pretty much all the content transitioned over, I made sure everything worked since some of the URLs changed format, I got a theme I liked in place, and everything seemed ready to go. So, I changed the setting that I thought would be needed in WordPress, I told Blogger that it was no longer the destination for Money Beagle, then I went over and redirected my site through my registrar.
And, I immediately got locked out. I could not access the site, and certainly couldn't access the administration tool. I was dead in the water for over an hour. Eventually, I figured out how to go in through my host providers control panel and modify the files using a text editor.
It seemed to work
Problem 2: Images and links were broken
I found out that although I switched stuff over, many of the internal links I had to images and other links within Money Beagle were still using the ‘test' domain. I spent many hours going through trying to cleanse things, but it took a long time and every time I looked, I found something new that was still using the old address. Finally, I think I reached a day where I had cleansed it all, though I'm still not convinced I won't find something.
Problem 3: One of the main links was broken
I was probably a couple of months into my ‘new' site when someone let me know that if you just typed moneybeagle dot com (without the typical ‘www') that it was re-directing to the test. That means that I was basically splitting my site in half, and that sites that assign metrics (such as Google Page Rank, MozRank, or Domain Authority) could see it as two different sites. Metrics like this are one of the keys to growth for a blog, and if the tools saw that I was splitting it in two, it could have been devastating to my blog. Not only would it have basically cut my authority in half, it probably would have gone down further as they could have perceived that I was duplicating my content, which is a big no-no in the search engine world.
A few clicks and I had that fixed, but it was around this time that I was beginning to realize that I had probably bitten off way more than I could chew in terms of setting things up as a test site.
Problem 4: My Own Access
I use a dashboard in WordPress to run the blog. Anytime I want to write a post, approve a comment, install a plugin, or other administrative functions, I need to log into my dashboard. This typically works such that you log in, and you're good for a while.
Every so often, I noted that I was having some minor issues, but mostly they were just annoying. I found that if I was logged out, clicking the button that essentially logs you back in didn't work. It resulted in an error. This was annoying but not a big deal. I also found that when I was logging in, it was taking me to a different sub-domain (not test, but it was the non-www domain). This was causing some random issues that would lead to links within my own dashboard not working. For awhile, they were troublesome but not a big enough deal. Then, some WordPress update must have changed something because suddenly this became a big issue. I started getting logged out of my own site after just a couple of minutes.
Troubleshooting this took a couple of hours, and the cause was likely due to the changes that I mentioned when I locked myself out after the first transition. I had to go into the actual database tables to find some values, and also go into a couple of files that I had likely modified. Finally, after finding the magical combo, the dashboard works perfectly.
I made this correction last week. The blog moved over in December 2011. That was fourteen months after I had made the move that I was still troubleshooting issues.
Problem 5: Who Knows?
I'm hoping that was the last of my issues related to my migration strategy of trying to get things set up beforehand.
The thing is, I've done some digging and there are plugins and tools that would have done exactly what I was hoping to do, and I could have easily accomplished this without any of the heartache that I've put myself through.
But, at the time, I was so focused on the Blogger to WordPress migration that I didn't even consider any potential issues from essentially migrating from WordPress to WordPress, which if you think about it, was what I was doing.
I'm disappointed in myself because I'm a project manager by trade, so I completely ignored some of the very tenets which make me successful at my day job, namely to identify potential risk issues and come up with plans to mitigate risk. I'm very risk averse in life and in my job. This serves me pretty well in my job, because I spend a lot of time managing risk, which many other project managers tend to gloss over, but this generally leads to less issues arising throughout the course of the project.
I guess I need to apply more of my job principles into real life issues moving forward!