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Step 5: Consolidating my online strategy – moving my content from WordPress.com to self-hosted Dreamhost

Importing WordPress content to self-hosted DreamhostFlow One: Fractal graphic image by L Kaestner via Flickr

Was difficult but I got it sorted eventually.

I began with my content on my old blog: http://flowingmotion.wordpress.com, and  I had already installed the shell of WordPress using a One Click install on Dreamhost.

Export

To move my content from my old blog to my new blog, I went to my old blog (on WordPress.com), chose Admin, scrolled down the left-bar to Tools, and selected export.  WordPress automatically downloaded all my posts, categories, tags, comments and authors to a file on the  hard drive on my laptop.

Import

To upload the content at my new blog on Dreamhost, I went to http://flowingmotion.jojordan.org/wp-admin and logged in. I chose Admin, scrolled down the left-bar to Tools and chose import.

Import Fail!

I followed the instructions and it timed out after 30 seconds.

Roadblock

If I were importing to a blog on my localhost (WordPress on my laptop), I could edit my .htaccess file and set the maximum execution time to 3 minutes.  I can’t do this if I have One Click installed on Dream Host.  I have access to all other files but not that one.

Workaround

Fortunately, someone has already solved this and has written a program to split the WXR (RSS XML) file that I had exported so successfully from my original blog.

WordPress WXR (RSS XML) Splitter

WordPress WXR (RSS XML) Splitter is downloadable as a zip file.   I made a sub-folder in my WordPress themes folder and unzipped the splitter programme there.  Then I ran it and inserted the path and name of the file of blog content that I had downloaded from WordPress.

Advantages of splitting the file of your blog content

My objective was to split the file into smaller files that I could import into my new blog one after the other.

I didn’t want to faff about so I cautiously set the splitter at 40 posts per file.  I suspect more could be crammed in but I went the cautious route of 23 by 40 posts.  Splitter runs fast and made me 23 files neatly labelled from 0 to 22.

I went back to my new blog and tried again (Admin-Tools-Import).  And it all worked perfectly though it took me well over half-an-hour.

Result

So now I have a working theme with all my blogs, categories and tags, on a self-hosted blog at Dreamhost, and I can start tidying up details like RSS feeds, Google Analytics, email subscribe forms, and so on.

UPDATE from Dreamhost

“If I were importing to a blog on my localhost (WordPress on my laptop),
I could edit my .htaccess file and set the maximum execution time to 3
minutes.  I can’t do this if I have One Click installed on Dream Host. I
have access to all other files but not that one.”

You do have access to the .htaccess file. The One-Click installer doesn’t
prevent that, you have access and can change/delete any file in that
directory.

The problem is that the “php_value max_execution_time 180” addition to
the .htaccess file will not change how PHP runs in the DreamHost
environment. It worked on your home computer because you are running PHP
as an Apache module (mod_php). On the DreamHost servers however PHP
processes are run in CGI mode. This means PHP will work independent of
Apache and therefor doesn’t look in the .htaccess file (this file passes
instructions to Apache) for configuration changes. When running PHP in
CGI mode most configuration changes come from the php.ini file which is
owned by the root user and therefor can’t be modified directly by your
user.

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Step 4: Consolidating my online strategy – prepping my WordPress shell to import my blog content

Migrating from WordPress.com to self-hosted

My overall goal here is to organize my online assets and my specific goal right now is to move my 2 year old blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress blog on Dreamhost.  Though self-hosting costs a monthly fee and takes more maintenance, self-hosting allows me to control the theme, get Google Analytics and use advertisements.

So far, I have completed these steps

  • I bought a domain name, jojordan.org
  • I made a neat frontend for my domain using Posterous and connected it to the domain name that is housed at Dreamhost
  • I set up a sub-domain on Dreamhost flowingmotion.wordpress.om
  • I used Dreamhost’s one One Click install to set up WordPress including an admin account
  • I zipped a theme that I had edited on my local host version of WordPress and tested it on a dummy account

Uploading a theme

Now I am ready to import my own theme to my self-hosted version of WordPress.

I don’t need to login into Dreamhost.  I simply go to my browser and type in the address of my blog:  http://flowingmotion.jojordan.org/wp-admin and login in as admin (not me).

Now I can go to Appearance in left side bar and Add Theme.  I use Upload and Browse to upload the them from my hard drive.  Activate. Check. Done!

Setting up permalinks

Now the last task before I come to get the content here is to match the permalink style on my self-hosted blog to the style here.  If I don’t do that, then the post titles are going to get scribbled and people won’t be able to follow old links and bookmarks to find the posts.  I may as well leave them behind, in other words.

To prep the permalinks, I look at the bottom of the left sidebar, choose Settings/permalinks, and and choose the 2nd option, day and name.  Check they are same as usual.

Ready to import content

Now if I am right, I am ready to import content.  I will come to my hosted blog, go to dashboard and export all the content to my hard drive.  This usually trips up over size and timing.   As can never remember what I wrote, I will write it down this time and make post 5 in this series!

But that will be from the new blog!  See you on the other side!

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Step 3: Consolidating my online strategy – make a WordPress shell on Dreamhost

My Online Strategy

My online strategy includes

  • My own domain name jojordan.org (that I bought through Dreamhost and will renew annually with them or somebody)
  • A front page for jojordan.org to have a smart CV to add to the bottom of emails’s.  I made that on (free) Posterous and “redirect” it to my domain name at Dreamhost.
  • A blog that I used to keep on WordPress.com (the free version).  I am going to move that to Dreamhost now, and pay for hosting.  Why do I want to do that?  So I can control the theme, get Google Analytics and have the freedom to advertise.

Steps in self-hosting WordPress on Dreamhost

To make a WordPress shell on Dreamhost, I must go through 3 steps.  Then I’ll be ready to pretty it up before I import it and attend to SEO (let the world know it is there).

#1  Set up a sub-domain

Because I am redirecting my Posterous blog to my domain name,  jojordan.org, that domain is no longer available to host my wordpress blog.  I need to make a subdomain, which I will call flowingmotion.jojordan.org.  I thought of using blog.jojordan.org.  It is shorter and easier to remember but some people already know my work as flowingmotion and flowing motion tells those in the know I am interested in a holistic paradigm of psychology.  Using a subdomain does mean though, that my my domain, jojordan.org, won’t benefit from the pagerank that I have already accumulated on Flowingmotion.

To set up my subdomain, I . . .

  • Log in to Dreamhost
  • Look for Manage Domains on the right sidebar
  • Choose Add a Domain
  • Type in flowingmotion.jojordan.org
  • Submit, and all is done.  Wait a bit and I should be able to access it from my browser: http://flowingmotion.jojordan.org

Now when I got to Manage Domains, the Dreamhost screen looks like this.  Notice my jojordan.org is not fully hosted because the physical asset of the blog is actually over on the Posterous computer.   Dreamhost is now expecting me to put something in space reserved for flowing motion, and, the world can find it.  If I put nothing there, a visitor will just see an “old fashioned looking” list of generic files.

#2 Create a WordPress shell

So I have a space on a computer waiting for something and the world can find it.  I am going to load up the WordPress framework into the space.

Dreamhost has a One Click Install.  Choose it in right side-bar.  Then chose the Advanced option (can’t remember why – tip I picked up on the net).  Make sure the radio button for WordPress is selected.

Whiz down to the button and make sure Dreamhost will link to the right sub-domain.  Submit.

Wait ten minutes or so.  You should get an email saying everything is done!  So easy!

#3  Create an admin account on WordPress

When the email arrives, follow the link.  You are asked for a blog name and an email address and then given a password.  Cut and paste the password in the login for admin and IMMEDIATELY change your password to something you can remember.

Done!  You have wordpress loaded up.  Now you are back on familiar territory of adding a theme, etc.

Next steps

I have already edited a theme on my own laptop and I am going to zip that into a file and try loading it up.

Then I’ll import my content from WordPress.com.

The final stages will be to add plugins, set up Google Analytics, add the spam catcher Akismet, connect to Feedburner and most importantly, set up redirects from WordPress.com so that anyone who is looking for me is redirected to my new address.

So next step.  Have a go at importing a theme.

Comments very welcome!

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Step 2: Consolidating my online strategy – redirecting my Posterous blog to my own domain name

Neat and tidy Posterous

I use a (free) Posterous blog as a tidy frontend to “serve” my CV at the end of emails and so on.  Here it is jojordan.org.

Redirect a Posterous blog to your own domain name

First, of course, you must buy a domain name.  Once you’ve done that, you will need to direct your Posterous blog to the domain name.

(PS You can buy a domain name through Posterous .  I didn’t; but it looks possible.)

Dreamhost

I bought my Domain name through Dreamhost and I intend to keep other assets on their computers, that is, use them to host some of my online assets.

“Redirecting” my Posterous account to Dreamost

My Posterous account will stay on the Posterous computer though.  But I want people who look for jojordan.org to be redirected there without them having to do anything extra.

The word “redirecting” is confusing, because it suggests the Posterous blog moves over to Dreamhost.  The opposite happens.  People looking for my Posterous blog will be sent by the world-wide internet system to Dreamhost who will redirect them, without them even noticing, to Posterous.

Settings on Dreamhost to “redirect” my visitors to Posterous

To setup Dreamhost to perform this magic redirection, you need to login in to Dreamhost and look in the left sidebar.  Pick manage domains.  Choose the domain that you will be linking to Posterous.  Then choose DNS.  You will get a wider screen. In the middle is the following information.

Copy the settings.  The numbers  in the second last line is the IP address of Posterous.  You will use your domain name throughout, of course, not mine.  The CNAME setting has the effect of allowing people to type your domain name without the www and finding you nonetheless.

Posterous settings

On the Posterous side, all you have to do is login, go to Manage (top menu bar), choose settings (tab one-third down) and type in your domain name.  It all looks like this.

The link up will take at least 30 minutes (the world wide web is a physically big place!).  Beware too, that once Posterous is directing to your domain name, if you break the Dreamhost side you won’t be able to get into Posterous because the WWW will still redirect anyone looking for http://yourblogname.posterous.com  to the domain at Dreamhost.  You are effectively locked out!  So remember to disconnect the Posterous end before you fiddle!

Problems

Let me know if you have any problems and I’ll adjust these instructions.  It’s sometime since I did this; though I did manage to lock myself out of Posterous today.  I got back in again with a bit of Googling and reading so, all good.  Patience and tolerance of geeky English and it comes together.

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Step 1: Consolidating my online strategy – self-hosting my blog

3 reasons to self-host a WordPress blog

I am planning to migrate my two year old blog on WordPress.com to a self-hosted version (WordPress.com).  The advantages of self-hosting are three

  • I can choose any theme I like
  • I can link up to Google Analytics that will tell me lot more about my traffic
  • I can add advertisements

Online strategy

I prepared for the big migration by thinking about my online strategy.  Despite wanting to put some adverts on it, my blog is not part of my commercial strategy.  I use it think things out and to write regularly.  It is a notepad where I develop, rather than sell ideas.

Ideally, I want it to link to my “CV” sites and to use its page rank to boost other online ventures.

Online organization

As I dallied, a tai chi outfit in the states snapped up flowingmotion. com.  My names is rather common as well.  So I settled on this strategy.

  • Buy a domain in my name (jojordan.org)
  • Take up jojordanorg on Facebook
  • Set up an central organizing point on a free Posterous blog and redirect it to jojordan.org
  • Make my blog a sub-domain of jojordan.org (flowingmotion.jojordan.org).

The reason I did this is because Posterous makes a good-looking front end CV site where I can link out to all my CV assets – Linkedin, Xing, Slideshare, etc.  It’s easy to redirect the Posterous blog to my domain jojordan.org which is hosted by Dreamhost.

I thought for a moment that I could host the blog at jojordan.org/flowingmotion and take full advantage of its page rank; but it seems not.  So a sub-domain it is:  http://flowingmotion.wordpress.com.

Costs and maintenance

In summary,

  • I’ve purchased a domain name http://jojordan.org.  I bought it through Dreamhost and will need to pay for an annual renewal.  At the time of the renewal, I could move it to another host/registrant like GoDaddy, if I want to.
  • I set up a “permanent” CV front end with Posterous.  That blog stays with them for free and I redirect it to the domain at Dreamhost.  This seems counter-intuitive because it is working the other way. People go to http://jojordan.org and they are redirected to Posterous.
  • I am now taking my blog hosted for free at WordPress.com and I am moving to Dreamhost.  I will pay them a monthly fee for hosting my blog on their computers but the software will come for free from WordPress.org.  I will use a free theme which I have edited to suit me.

Clear so far?  I need to add the instructions for redirecting the Posterous blog to Dreamhost because that tripped me up the first time I did it.

Now I am going to set up the “full hosting” for the WordPress blog.

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