uilding an Author Website can be quite costly so most of us prefer to DIY it but with so many choices out there, how can you decide? And if you’re stuck on Blogger, what are your options for migrating over to WordPress and should you? We’ll find out the answer to this and much more when we talk with Lisa Butler from Elembee and Empress Themes
- 0:00 Introduction
- 0:29 The Name Lisa
- 1:26 1 | Tell us more about your re-brand
- 2:35 2 | Lisa is unique because she knows both WordPress Development & Beautiful Design
- 4:13 Is Font Research ever a waste of time
- 5:06 4 | How did you choose WordPress over Squarespace
- 8:13 What is the biggest reason to choose WordPress over Squarespace
- 10:30 6 | What does Open Source mean
- 12:13 6 | Wix & Squarespace are like dictatorships; whereas, WordPress is more like a democracy
- 14:43 7 | What are the dangers of using Wix or Squarespace if you write Erotica
- 15:55 8 | How do you handle author anxiety over migrating from Blogger to WordPress
- 19:22 9 | Are Authors losing any functionality when they migrate from Blogger to WordPress
- 22:59 10 | What’s involved in a DIY Blogger to WordPress migration and what is your process if they outsource it to you 2
- 7:19 11 | Why is there no reason to be afraid of a Blogger to WordPress migration
- 28:48 12 | What are the services you offer and how does that work
- 31:35 13 | Here’s the timing I would recommend on when to contact Lisa for help
- 32:42 14 | What type of investment should authors expect when working with Lisa & what is her timeline for customizations 34:16 15 | When does the clock start ticking
- 35:05 16 | Will you have an Author Theme in the Template Shop
Lisa Siefert: Are you confused and overwhelmed by all of the tech options out there for building your next author website? There’s WordPress, there’s Squarespace, there’s Wix, and there’s also Blogger. We’ll talk today with Lisa Butler on which platform is best and why, and how she can help you get off of Blogger and onto WordPress.
I everyone, I’m Lisa, and today I’m with Lisa. This is so great, because I never meet people named Lisa, ever, and I thought it was such a popular name. Do you know a lot of Lisas?
Lisa Butler: No, actually I don’t think so. I think you’re the first one that I’ve met in a while.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah.
Lisa Butler: I think we were popular and now we’re special snowflakes.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah, it’s got to where I don’t even know, I still hear that joke all the time, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. I don’t really hear any jokes about my name any more, I guess because … I don’t know.
Lisa Butler: My middle name is Marie, so I do occasionally hear the Lisa Marie Presley thing, but that’s about it.
Lisa Siefert: I’ve actually never had that one. I think maybe because I grew up in the 90s I have the Lisa Lisa thing. Anyway, Lisa is from, do I want to say ellembee? Because I know you’re rebranding. Maybe tell us more about your rebrand, and what’s going on.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. It is ellembee and it’s still ellembee, but it’s my initials spelled out actually. There were too many Lisa Butlers on the internet already, surprisingly enough after we just had this whole …
Lisa Siefert: Right. I guess they’re all online, but they’re just not hanging out with us.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. The funny story is, one, there’s a famous makeup artist by the name of Lisa Butler, and I always wanted to be a makeup artist in another life, so I got the opportunity. There is at least one other out there that’s taking my domain name, so I went with my initials spelled out. I am actually in the process of launching a theme shop as well with a partner, and so that is Empress Themes, and that will be launching soon.
Lisa Siefert: Very cool. If you guys haven’t checked Lisa out, I found her, she’s one of those rare breeds where she makes beautiful designs and really great websites, but she’s also really text-smart. Because I can make pretty things but I cannot program them. I have to outsource that. Whereas she just kind of knows the answers to everything.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, I’ve been working in WordPress development for, it’s been a little over five years now, so I launched my business in April of 2012. I got into it because I was interested in where, I actually started my website as a playground for WordPress. I started that back in september of 2010, so I’ve had my WordPress site for quite a while. Then along the way I started getting requests for custom designs. People would see things that I’d done on my website and they were like, “Can you do that for my website?” Then I started connecting with other designers who were like, “I can’t code. Can you code this for me?”
Lisa Siefert: Exactly.
Lisa Butler: I slowly made the transition into coding and I did strictly web development for about a year and a half, almost two years, and then I just missed design. That was where the recent rebrands came back in, which I launched in July to add back design services to my roster of services.
Lisa Siefert: Awesome.
Lisa Butler: You just can’t get that font bug out of your head. You look all over the web and you just want all of the pretty fonts, and you want to be able to use them in projects.
Lisa Siefert: I’m so glad you said that, because I think the other day I, I wouldn’t want to say wasted, I researched fonts for pretty much the entire day. I don’t think I even made anything.
Lisa Butler: It’s not a waste. It’s never a waste.
Lisa Siefert: It’s funny, because a lot of the fonts … I have thousands of fonts now, and so a lot of them look very similar to other fonts, but even when I find I don’t even know, a hundredth script font, I just fall in love with it and I must have it.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. There’s just so many subtle differences that can convey different things to your brand, and I think that’s what I love about it, is just find that right fit.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah, I feel like designers spend most of their time searching for fonts, and then when they’re not doing that they’re searching for images.
Lisa Butler: Yes. Absolutely.
Lisa Siefert: I’m so glad you’re here, because I love WordPress. Before we even start talking about Blogger, let’s just start talking about how you selected WordPress and you stuck with it, versus Squarespace and Wix and all the other solutions that are out there.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. Like I said, I started my site back in 2010. I’m not even sure that Squarespace really was …
Lisa Siefert: I don’t think it existed yet.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. If it did then I certainly hadn’t heard of it. To go a little bit further back, I actually started, I learned how to code in high school. I continued taking some coding classes in college, so it was always something I was kind of interested in, but I never really saw myself working in web design or development because I just couldn’t wrap my head around this idea of building something for somebody that had to be tech savvy to use it. I was coding websites in strictly html, and I’m thinking, it’s just not responsible of me to code a website for somebody, and then they’re tied to me to be able to update it. I hated the idea of that, and constantly keeping up with the technology and everything, and that somebody was going to have to rely on me just to make simple updates on their website because it was all done in code, and you’d have to know code to do it.
The job I had got right out of college, I was working for a nonprofit in the publications department, and they were talking about bringing the website in-house, and the person they were hiring to do it was putting it on WordPress. That was my first, really, introduction to WordPress, and I volunteered to take over maintenance of the website when it came in-house, and the more I played with it and learned about it I was like, “This is how I can build websites for other people and still give them the power to make those simple updates for themselves.” That’s really what got me interested in WordPress, and why I stuck with it.
I never even looked at Blogger, honestly. I went straight to WordPress. I don’t really think that wix and Weebly were as big. I think maybe wix might have been around back then.
Lisa Siefert: I think so.
Lisa Butler: But none of these solutions were as popular as they are now. Even with that in mind, I think I would’ve gravitated toward WordPress anyway, just because of the customizability, and I’m sure we’ll be talking more about that as the conversation continues. Those things started to come out after I really got my start in WordPress.
Lisa Siefert: Great. I love WordPress, and so even when … i want to say I maybe considered Squarespace and all those things for a minute, but I found them so limiting, and I don’t think that people realize it’s rented space just like Facebook, and so they could just wipe your site out.
Lisa Butler: [crosstalk 00:08:13]. That is my biggest reason for telling people to go to WordPress, is because WordPress is open source, and what that means is that all of the code is publicly available. All of the code is on your server, you purchase a hosting plan, which gives you server space, but all those files, you can download them and keep them forever.
It doesn’t matter what happens to WordPress in the future, your site is protected. Whereas Squarespace, Blogger, wix, Weebly, they’re all tied to companies, and it’s all proprietary code that, their businesses own that code, so if it’s no longer in the business’s best interest to offer a certain feature that is necessary to your business, or if they go out of business, then they’re taking your site with them. They’re not obligated to tell you in advance, they’re not obligated to give you a backup of your site, they’re not obligated to give you any way to move off of their platform. You really are on rented space, and you’re tying your business’s decisions to another business decision.
The likelihood of WordPress going away, it’s just, you’ve got a huge community of developers behind it, people like me who make their living off of it. We’re not going to sit back and say, we’re just going to let WordPress die out. People are always going to get behind it and pick up where somebody else leaves off, so you’re a bit more protected with that community aspect of it.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah, I don’t think people realize, if you’re still confused by open source, that just means that it’s open to everybody. It’s not like it’s someone private that can just take it away. Anyone could just build a new WordPress if someone, for whatever reason, decided to remove WordPress from the world somehow.
Lisa Butler: Absolutely. Which really … I think a lot of the misconception with WordPress, or the confusion I guess, is there’s WordPress.com and then WordPress.org.
Lisa Siefert: Org, yeah.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, and WordPress.com is the same kind of deal as Blogger, Squarespace, all of that, is they are hosting the files for you. They are the team that initially created the concept for WordPress, but they don’t own the WordPress platform as far as all of the code behind it that is self-hosted WordPress. There are certain things in WordPress.com, but they typically release that to work on self-hosted WordPress, and they’re just part of a larger community when it comes to the development of self-hosted WordPress. Really, it’s a team of individual developers, it’s not a company that comes out with these WordPress updates. There are people all over the world who are contributing to furthering the development of WordPress. There’s not a company that’s behind it and in charge of it and owns it and that sort of thing. Does that kind of make sense?
Lisa Siefert: It’s hard to get.
Lisa Butler: I know it’s kind of confusing when you don’t really understand the differences, and especially when they’re named the same thing.
Lisa Siefert: I almost want to say, Squarespace and wix are like a dictatorship, whereas WordPress is more like a democracy.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, that’s a great way to put it actually. Yeah, absolutely.
Lisa Siefert: When you have a dictator they could just decide one day, “I want to shut down and go out.” Just like, I think, what went out of business? I know this is getting old, but Myspace, and remember Yahoo Geocities?
Lisa Butler: Yeah, and Zenga.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah, they’re gone.
Lisa Butler: You ever have a Zenga blog?
Lisa Siefert: I vaguely remember those. Those are all gone. It’s not to say that we’re saying Squarespace is going to go out of business, but the likelihood is much higher than it is for WordPress. At the time, when Squarespace was around, and geocities, everyone thought those were the greatest things ever, and those would never go out of business, ever.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. You just didn’t imagine what the future would hold. Then I think also, with Google, you’d like to think there’s so many users who are on Blogger they’ll never discontinue it, but there are so many users who were using Google Reader back in 2010, and they did away with that because it wasn’t in line with their business decisions. It had nothing to do with the user base, with it not being popular. It was definitely popular. There was a huge outcry of people who did not want it to go away, but at the end of the day they wanted to push users to Google Plus. It had nothing to do with whether or not we wanted to use it, they had another product that they wanted to push on us, which, we all know what happened to Google Plus. It’s not really as active, and it didn’t end up being the big platform that they anticipated it to be. You’re tied to these grander business decisions that aren’t even really necessarily about the product itself, it may be that they just want to push another product in its place.
Lisa Siefert: Exactly. I think this audience, this video’s being made for authors. I write erotica, so some of my stuff I can’t even put in different platforms because they don’t like it, and that’s rented space like Facebook. It’s the same thing, you might be able to create it, but someone might report it, and then it’s gone.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, and then you have no recourse to get it back.
Lisa Siefert: Exactly.
Lisa Butler: Blogger is particularly strict about that as well, and it has nothing to do with … There’s nothing wrong with the content you’re posting. Just, if somebody decides that they don’t like it, they think that it doesn’t fall under their specific idea of what should be on your website, then they can just turn around and report you. Then, Blogger doesn’t necessarily have to look into the issue, they can just immediately take down your site.
Lisa Siefert: Right. If people don’t know, Blogger is owned by Google, and Blogger does have some appeal, just like Squarespace and Wix, because it’s easier to use. But I would also argue, when people say to you, just like you were saying, you don’t want people to be beholden to you just because, for website updates, and they’re afraid of moving to a new platform. What do you say to them when they give you that complaint, or that obstacle?
Lisa Butler: Yeah. I think WordPress definitely does have that kind of learning curve as far as getting your website set up, but I’ve been really surprised … I’ve been moving people from Blogger to WordPress since I started my business, and everybody’s scared to actually make the move, but when they get there they’re always like, “Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I think this was going to be so hard to use?”
The actual maintenance of your site is not the difficult part, I think. I know the actual moving part can be a bit more technical, it can be scary, but one, you don’t really have to be scared of it, because you’re never going to lose your contention in the process. It’s basically copying your content over from blogger to WordPress, so if you mess up something after you give it a try, your Blogger content is still there. You’re not losing anything, and you can always go and get a professional’s help at that point. If you want to try it yourself, there’s really nothing to lose.
Then, once you’re on the platform, once you’re set up, once you have your theme set up and everything, then it’s really just your regular maintenance. It works so much like Microsoft word, or any other word processor. The interface is very familiar to people who are used to word processing. You just highlight something and bold it, and it just does the same thing. I think really that hurdle is just the actual movement of one platform to the other, and I think the sooner you do it, the less you have to move, and so that makes the process a bit easier.
Then there’s so many things available these days that make the actual putting together your site part of it a lot easier than it used to be. WordPress has just grown so much over the years that there’s so many more options available to you than there were five years ago, were you had a handful of themes to choose from. I think that really helps, that you can find a theme that already kind of has the features that you want, and if you’re going to pay for a premium theme then you also get support and documentation, generally, on more of those things. Even with free themes, a lot of them are well-documented, but you get more reliable documentation with a premium theme. Those are just things to consider as you move, is just choosing a theme that is going to fit your needs, and is well-documented. That can kind of ease the transition and make it a little less technical.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah, and can you talk some more too about, I think people are worried, and this is so not the case, they’re going to lose functionality. There’s so many more things you can do in WordPress than you can do in blogger, and I think especially … Not even themes and plug-ins. It opens up a whole new world. Is there anything that they’re losing, I guess, in leaving blogger?
Lisa Butler: I don’t think that you’re losing anything, because to do the kind of things that you can do in WordPress, there’s so many crazy workarounds just to make it work in Blogger, and WordPress, it just works. In a lot of cases it’s a matter of finding the right theme, which admittedly can be a hurdle, but that’s the same thing with blogger. You’re going to have to find the right look for your website, and then if you can’t find it you have to create it.
I think maybe the difference is that in Blogger it’s a little bit easier to kind of dig into that website code. But as far as functionality, because you can dig into that code directly on their platform, there’s just not as much you can do with it as there is WordPress, where you can use development tools to really make it whatever you want. I think that’s a huge thing with WordPress, is it will grow with you. It’s as flexible as you need it to be. If you just need to get on the platform, first you can pick out a them that works for you, and then once you’re ready to kind of take that next step, you can hire a developer that can build something that is exactly what you’re looking for, and you’re not going to be able to get that level of precision with Blogger that you can get with WordPress.
Just as an example, there’s so many more ways to organize your content in WordPress that just are never going to be available to you in blogger. If you want it organized by book reviews and things like that, you can actually have a custom category for that. You have your categories, but then you’ve got genres as well, and that’s just a whole other level of organization that you can add into WordPress for your own needs that you wouldn’t be able to do in Blogger.
Lisa Siefert: Right. Have you been doing author websites? Because now you’re talking author book talk.
Lisa Butler: Oh!
Lisa Siefert: [inaudible 00:21:40], everybody’s getting excited now.
Lisa Butler: I actually work mainly with lifestyle and style bloggers, and I think there’s a lot of overlap in those areas. Because with lifestyle bloggers we’re talking about outfits, and a lot of times they want to organize by season, and brand, and things that … The words just escape me. “This is where I’m wearing black boots,” and things like that. That’s just a whole extra level of organization that you’re just never going to get in Blogger. You can customize that information to look different than the rest of your information. There’s just that extra level of flexibility and customization that can take your site to the next level, I think.
Lisa Siefert: Awesome. Let’s just talk, so hopefully we’ve convinced people to switch over, and it’s so easy. Let’s just talk about the migration process. If they want to DIY it themselves, what does that look like? And if they want to work with you or somebody else, what does that look like?
Lisa Butler: As far as the DIY route, the plugin that I recommend is the Blogger Importer Extended, and not to use the WordPress one that’s … There is an importer that’s included with WordPress, but it just doesn’t … it’s kind of hit-or-miss, how it works. Blogger Importer Extended makes things really easy. The thing that you need to be aware of with that plugin is, there is an option for … Well there’s two options when you’re importing. It walks you through the whole process. It’ll say, “Now it’s time to log into your Google account,” and then it’ll pull in your blob, and you have a button to start the import.
As far as the rest of the process, you want to set up your WordPress on a host, on a web host. You do have to purchase web hosting. Most web hosts offer one-click install for WordPress, so then you’ll install the Blogger Importer Extended plugin after that, move your posts over. When I say move your posts over it’s really just copying your posts over to WordPress. They’re still going to be there in Blogger.
Then you’ll choose your theme that you want to use and set that up. Like I said, if you’re moving from Blogger I definitely recommend going with a premium theme, because it’s going to be documented, you’re going to have more resources and support than you would have with a free theme, but if you do go with a free theme, just look for something that has more documentation. Don’t just pick the first thing that you see in the showcase or things like that. You want to kind of do your research and look for something that kind of shows you how things work in the theme, or else you might be a little lost trying to figure it all out yourself. That’s just something you can do to kind of make the process easier.
Then you’ll redirect your domain name once you’re ready to take your WordPress site live. That’s a matter of just going into your domain settings, and wherever you purchased your domain should have more information on how you need to redirect that from there. Do you have any questions about the DIY process, or anything I can [crosstalk 00:27:02] about that?
Lisa Siefert: No, that sounds pretty straightforward. I really think there’s so much out there, just like you said, you could YouTube it when you get stuck on something, but for the most part I think, join WordPress, get a hosting service and then port your stuff over, is basically all you need to do.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, and like I said, there’s really no reason to be scared of it, because there isn’t anything in the process that can’t be undone by someone who’s experienced. If you do have to go back and ask somebody like me for help, it’s not a problem. You don’t have to transfer your domain name over to WordPress. If you get everything set up in WordPress and you’re like, my posts look off, or something didn’t transfer, or I can’t get it set up right, you just leave your domain pointing to Blogger, your site’s still live, and then you contact a professional and there’s nothing lost there, so you’re totally fine. I think on paper it’s a scary process and you’re like, “What happens if something goes wrong,” but at the end of the day you’re not stuck if something does go wrong.
Lisa Siefert: Right, the whole thing won’t blow up and disintegrate or whatever.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, exactly. You’re not going to lose your website. You’re not going to lose any of your content, you’re not going to lose your website, it can all be undone. Depending on where you are at the process it may be more of a process to undo the work that you did, but everything can be fixed.
Lisa Siefert: For those people who are like, “Heck with it, I don’t have time, I have a full-time day job and I just want to move it,” what are the services that you offer, and how do that look?
Lisa Butler: I offer a migration package where I do everything for you, and I also include an hour of customization time so that, if the theme that you pick out isn’t exactly what you want, I can make those changes for you. I can use the hour of customization time to set up the theme exactly like the demo. It’s just a little, I wanted to give people more flexibility to kind of tailor the options that are going to work best for you, so you’re not just stuck with telling somebody, “This is the theme I want,” and they install it, move your posts, and then it’s up to you to set everything up. My process is definitely a bit more handholding for the person who is just really not tech-savvy, really kind of scared of making the move and doesn’t want to mess with any of the details themselves.
I’m also launching a theme shop here soon in a few weeks, and we’re going to be offering migration service with that specifically for people who purchase our themes, and that’s going to be more like, we’ll set up the theme that you purchase according to our demo, get your posts moved over and things like that. Of course that’s a little easier for me, because I did all the code behind the theme so I know how everything’s set up. Versus, if you come to me to work with another theme and I’m figuring out how things are set up for that, and how to customize things for you and things like that.
Then if you just look around there’s a lot of people who … There are a lot of theme shops who do offer migration services as an add-on to their packages, so that’s an option as well. If you find a theme that you really like, just take a look around at their services and see if migration is something that they offer. That’s a third option that you can look into, and it would be the same thing as what I’m going to be offering as part of my theme shop, that they know the code on their theme and they can get it all set up for you, so that your posts are there, and you can just start blogging on WordPress, and you don’t have to worry about all the technical ins and outs and things like that.
Lisa Siefert: Good. That sounds awesome. I would recommend, just because I don’t do the development, but as a designer, don’t contact Lisa until you know exactly the new theme that you want, and what customizations you want, you have your logo, your branding, your design, all done, so that you can just put it in a big zip file and just hand it over. Right?
Lisa Butler: Yeah, I think that’s really helpful as well, and then also if you know, if you already have a logo on the Blogger platform and you know you just want to transfer that over to WordPress, that’s cool too, just as long as I know that’s an option. Having your theme picked out, and knowing what customizations you’re going to want to that are huge. Then the rest I can walk you through. I can help you select a web host if that part is confusing, or you’re not really sure what’s going to work best for you there. That’s something that I talk out with clients according to what’s going to work best for their needs, so those details can always be figured out later.
Lisa Siefert: Perfect. If people want to work with you, what’s your timing, and what kind of investment should they be willing to start up, depending on, I know there’s lots of customizations that could change that.
Lisa Butler: Yeah. For my personal service it’s 497, and then through the theme shop we’re still working out what the pricing’s going to be for that, but it will be less, just because we know the code. That is, if you want to check out our theme shop at ImpressThemes.com when we launch, and you like one of those themes, then you can go through that website instead. But if you do have another theme in mind that you’d like my help with then you can go to ellembee.com and I can help you with that as well. That would be the 497, and then it’s typically five to 10 business days from the time that you book, and then I can also give you kind of a heads-up of what my current schedule is when you reach out.
I also … Personally I like to launch Blogger migrations on Fridays, so that’s just something to keep in mind because it gives you the weekend for that domain name change to go through the internet, then your site’s not … You’re not trying to figure out what’s going on in the middle of the week, or the domain change isn’t going through in the middle of the week when you’re trying to get work done and things like that.
Lisa Siefert: Cool. Just remember, when Lisa says five to 10 days, she means five to 10 days when you give her the files. You can’t just hire her and then say, “I’ll get you the files in a week.” This happens to me all the time.
Lisa Butler: Yeah.
Lisa Siefert: Then all of a sudden, I don’t even know, five months later I’m still waiting for files.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, absolutely. It’s from when we get all of the stuff settled and we actually get the project started.
Lisa Siefert: Awesome. We’re really excited. Well you guys should be really excited. Lisa creates beautiful websites, and I’m sure everything in the theme shop is going to look awesome.
Lisa Butler: [crosstalk 00:34:45] with you all.
Lisa Siefert: Yeah. If you have … Because she’s still putting the theme in, I’ll put this little theme in that if you have an author theme it might be popular with certain people. It is hard to find a really good author theme, and that’s why I think so many people go to blogger.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, that definitely makes sense. We are going to have one that is a photos-optional theme, that is just beautiful typography made for writing. I think that’ll be pretty exciting for you all to see.
Lisa Siefert: Awesome.
Lisa Butler: Yeah.
Lisa Siefert: Cool. All right, thank you so much for being on, and thank you so much for sharing everything that you know about blogger and switching over.
Lisa Butler: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Lisa Siefert: All right, bye.
Lisa Butler: Bye.