Why I Chose WordPress Over Geeks With Blogs, And Moving From WordPress.com To A GoDaddy Hosted Solution
A while back I wrote about some reasons why I didn’t like GWB (Geeks With Blogs) and was attracted to WordPress. 6 months later and I am confident that I made the right decision. GWB was good to me, but their UI and features are just too dated and can’t keep up with what WordPress has to offer. They said that they had hired some developers to improve the site, but it’s been 6 months and I can’t really see a difference. When I wrote my last post the one thing that I didn’t like about WordPress.com was that I couldn’t find a theme that would stretch the content area to the full screen width; which is pretty essential for me since a lot of my posts involve long code snippets. I never did find a theme to do this on WordPress.com (although I gave up after a few hours or searching). Instead I decided to move to hosting my own WordPress instance.
I have a few other websites that I was hosting on my own personal server at home, but decided to move to GoDaddy for my hosting since they had a half price special and it would cost me less than my power bill to keep my server running (and I already had my domains registered through them). I opted for the Deluxe package since I have a few websites, and GoDaddy offers up to 25 free WordPress installations with this package, so I have moved my blog from my deadlydog.wordpress.com site to my GoDaddy-hosted blogs.danskingdom.com site. The migration process should have been painless; just export my deadlydog.wordpress.com site to an xml file (this part was very easy and painless), and then import it into my new blogs.danskingdom.com site. For some reason when trying to do the import I would often get a “Connection was reset by the server” error. So it took me probably about 15 tries before it actually imported everything properly; a few times it died half way through the import, but most of the time it would die before the import even started. Luckily blowing away and recreating an WordPress instance with GoDaddy is easy and only takes about 30 minutes. Another reason I chose GoDaddy were that their base prices are pretty competitive, plus I consistently receive coupon codes in my email from them for an additional 25% or 30% off (hint, use referral code WOWdeadlyd to get 35% off orders on new products). Also, their customer service is wonderful. The support I’ve received via email has been only ok, but anytime I’ve actually called in to their support they’ve been awesome and very helpful.
So once I finally got all of my posts migrated to my own hosted instance I could fix some of the things that annoyed me about my wordpress.com site. First, I’m able to modify the theme’s css directly without paying anything. This allowed me to go in and stretch the content area to fit the user’s screen. You can probably tell while reading this that it isn’t perfect; there is some extra space on the right-hand side, but meh, it’s much better than it was. Second, it allowed me to add advertisements to my site, which help pay for the hosting costs. You might be thinking, “What? I don’t see any ads”, but that’s because I’ve placed them at the very bottom of the page to be as non-obtrusive as possible. Third, it allowed me to hook up Google Analytics to my site so that I can get even more information about my site’s traffic and visitors, and see what search terms were bringing people to my site. And by hosting my own WordPress instance I can now install any WordPress plugin that I want, instead of only the ones that WordPress.com has allowed. One thing that I’ve noticed however is that accessing and navigating links on my GoDaddy hosted WordPress site is often slower than it was on WordPress.com. I’m not sure if this is a temporary thing or what (since I’ve only been hosting with GoDaddy for about a week), but I often notice myself waiting for a webpage to load now, where I never noticed this before with deadlydog.wordpress.com. However sometimes a page is super quick to load, so it’s not consistent.
One thing that does sort of suck about moving from WordPress.com to my own hosted solution is that I couldn’t figure out how to transfer my site stats across, so my stats for blog.danskingdom.com only start from the day I setup the new blog on that domain. Another thing that I didn’t realize until after I had setup my new WordPress account was that I would have to pay to have traffic from my old deadlydog.wordpress.com redirected to the new blog.danskingdom.com; it was only $13 for a year though, so that’s not too bad as I’ll likely delete my old wordpress.com site right before that expires.
One other change I had to make when moving from WordPress.com to my own hosted solution was that in order for my code snippets to show up properly I had to install SyntaxHighlighter Evolved on my WordPress instance, which was super simple to do, and I can still use the Source Code Highlighter Plugin for WordPress.com plugin for Windows Live Writer which is great.
GWB users may have noticed that I still post to GWB with a “Read more at” link that points to the post on my new domain (in fact I went and updated all of my old posts to “read more” at my new domain. GWB doesn’t offer any way to forward my blog with them to a different domain (not even a paid solution like WordPress.com), so updating my old posts with a link to my new domain was the best I could do). This is because the one and only thing that I’ll miss about GWB is the community. While double posting (bad I know, but at least I’ve switched to the “Read more at” method rather than double posting the entire post) I found that I would still get more comments on my GWB posts than my WordPress posts. Did this mean that my GWB posts were getting more traffic though? I can’t tell because GWB doesn’t offer any sort of information or stats about how many visits my site receives, and I can’t hook up Google Analytics or other 3rd party services to it either. I’m going to continue double posting with the “Read more at” links so that GWB users can still see my post titles on their feeds and don’t miss out on anything I post that they might find useful, as I too often monitor the GWB main page feed to see other code-related posts that I don’t want to miss out on. Also, by changing to using the “Read more at” convention it allows me to only have to update my one website when I update an old blog post, rather than having to update multiple; this was a major pain point, especially when I needed to use different Windows Live Writer (WLW) plugins depending on which site I was posting code to.
Anyways, these are my thoughts on my blog’s move. Hopefully it helps you with making a decision about going with GWB or maintaining your own hosted WordPress solution, and whether you choose GoDaddy or not. Again, use referral code WOWdeadlyd to get 35% off your GoDaddy order.
I’m sorry you moved away from GeeksWithBlogs and I understand some of your frustrations.
I noticed you said you can’t really see the difference at GeeksWithBlogs since we hired some developers (me! :). We did launch a new homepage just 2 weeks ago and moved the entire site to Azure. You may not have noticed this though since many bloggers don’t visit the homepage anymore. We’re also building out some new templates for individual blogs (in addition to our new “Minimal” template that you may not know about), but it’s going to be a few more weeks for those to be completed. You can check out the minimal template on my own blog at http://geekswithblogs.net/BenBarreth.
Now that you’ve moved away, I doubt you’ll move back, and truly I wish you all the best. The WordPress platform is outstanding and we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us at GWB competing with that.
Keep up the good blogging!
Ben Barreth GeeksWithBlogs Developer and Community Developer
I’ve only recently signed up for a blog at GWB and although I now have a blog I must say I’m a little confused and may end up disappointed, here’s why.
I cannot find any forum for me to discuss the site, ask questions or assist others. Its a major omission to not have a forum.
I can see links here and there for “feedback forum” and so on, but clicking these takes me to the sales page for “Uservoice” so the link is an advertisement not a forum at all.
The consider the site’s search features - its just a single text box!
I cannot refine my search at all, I can’t for example search blog user names or blog titles or post titles.
I have no idea what search actually searches - all text? only tags? all posts? all posts + their titles etc etc etc.
If I wanted to find posts whose title contained “optimize” then I’m stuck I cannot see any way to do that.
Also the results of a search cannot be ordered in any way, I’d like to order the results by date-posted for example or by number of comments that post has attracted but I simply cannot.
I can make suggestions but this feels like a waste of time, I have no idea who looks at these I cant find a neat tabulated list either, all I can see is the long winded wordy list on the suggestions page, a proper condensed line by line list (like a spreadsheet) would be most helpful for me to scroll through, people would pay more attention if the list were presented in that way.
Also an ability to search the suggestions would be neat.
It just strikes me as a load of low hanging fruit is being neglected and left to rot on the branches, there’s so much simple stuff that could be done..
Sorry to hijack your post Daniel but I couldn’t resist!
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