It’s been a week since I launched this blog and already I have a few notes to pass on to future potential bloggers.
First, I’ll admit that I jumped in without researching blogging platforms at all. My wife has a WordPress blog so I figured I’ll just use that. WordPress.com is fantastic tool to get one up and running in minutes. The .com version has all the basics at a click of the button and it provides tutorial videos. I bought my custom URL and started drafting my first post. It was not until my second post that I realized that .com was not the platform I would need. It is a stripped down version of WordPress.org and most importantly, I could not embed Tableau Public vizzes.
I went to my Google account and created a test Blogger.com site. That platform did allow for embedding Tableau Public vizzes from the generated code. So the decision was Google or self-hosting? I’ll point out that I’m a big Google fan. I’ve had an Android phone since the original Droid launched in 2009 and am currently rocking a Nexus 4. But sometimes Google can be disappointing. They shut down popular products like Google Reader and not so popular products like Google Wave. I didn’t want to start a blogger site then have to move it later down the road.
WordPress.org it was! Now came my difficulties. I would need to convert my .com to .org. WordPress will do all the conversion for a fee of $129. Ouch! I consider my self pretty tech savvy. I’ve picked up decent SQL skills in my professional life and I love hacking my Nexus 4 (I root my phones and I’m currently running CyanogenMod rom and the Franco kernel). I decided I’d do it myself. I started reading the conversion steps about exporting your blog and importing and bought a Bluehost account. I did not know that I could not transfer my custom URL within 6 months of purchase. I would need to point WordPress nameservers to Bluehost’s nameservers. Honestly, I know very little about web hosting, so some of this was a little confusing. After I changed the nameservers, I crossed my fingers and it worked….took a day or two to actually be processed. I also saw that I lost my stats and subscribers from my first post. I mentioned this to my wife who quickly reminded me that she moved to self-hosting after a year and lost a lot more than I ever accumulated in two days. I got over it.
In creating the Bluehost account, I used a one-click install of WordPress.org but inadvertently created another WordPress account. Now I have separate accounts for .com and .org. I still need the .com because it has my custom url and it does not look like you can merge the two. All the features of .com that got me up and running so quickly are not present from the start in the .org platform. Everything needs to be installed as separate plugins. I installed a few plugins and I still could not embed a viz. I finally found an iFrame plugin that worked with Tableau Public content. It is still not perfect if viewing my vizzes from a mobile device, that’s a work in progress.
My advice to anyone considering starting a blog is do your research. There are a plethora of blogging platforms out there. Find the one that best fits your expected needs, then create your necessary account(s).