Monday, January 01, 2007

Upgrading to New Blogger - Huge Task but Worth it

Happy New Year

I hope the new years revelries have not left you worse for the wear and if you are now considering your New Years' Resolutions I have a free gift that may help - no string - just pop along to Expect More From 2007 and download the eBook full of tips for being more successful from nearly 60 top professional speakers from around the world. My article is on Page 33. Feel free to send a copy to friends if you wish.

Now if you have visited my blog before you will I hope notice the complete new look and feel which I managed to complete late last night - actually it was early this morning - I know spending New Years Eve upgrading a blog is sad - but at least I am not sporting a mother of all hangovers this morning.

A week ago I mentioned Charlemagne Stavanger's Custom Templates blog which has provided me with two great three column blogger templates that I though would take me a couple of days to install as part of my Blogger upgrade - I was wrong - It has kept be very busy for most of the past week - actually installing the templates only takes a couple of minutes - populating the templates is a different matter.

I am sure there must me thousands of Bloggers dreading the fact that they will eventually need to upgrade to New Blogger which is why I thought it might be helpful if I blog some of my experiences from this past week. In fact upgrading to New Blogger is very easy - just a few seconds but that retains your old template. The challenge is moving to a New Blogger Template and Layouts because all your hacks and modifications, those that you can remember installing, have to be reinstalled and in many cases the previous code no longer works. Because this was going to be a huge learning curve I decided to leave this blog to last as it involved the most work.

First I converted my Personal Blog which was fairly basic with few modifications, using the standard new blogger template. Then I started adding page elements that I had not been using but were on this blog which helped me to learn more about how the page elements worked. Along the way I kept discovering new add-ons like MyBogLog and TheGoodBlogs so it was a fascinating learning curve.

Probably the most important discovery or realisation for me was that using Feedblitz or FeedBurner I could provide a means for visitors to subscribe to my blogs by email. This has been a godsend - I really have a problem with newsletters. I launched one in September 2005 and have still not managed to get issue 2 out yet - they are so time consuming. Yet I love Blogging. The only downside to blogs was that so few people understand about feeds or what to do with them. IE7 is going to help but now I can replace my attempts at developing an ezine with blogs.

By now I had also discovered the three column templates but was very uncomfortable about tackling this blog with such a huge change, especially as I was finding more neat add-ons. So I decided to get to work on my GenderShift blog which I have been meaning to start for a while. Having completed that I was even more nervous about this blog, when I read a comment somewhere on Beautiful Beta, a blog dedicated to hacks and mods for new Blogger, suggesting working on a test blog first. Such an obvious thing to do. Duhhh!

So that was yesterdays task - reconstruct this blog on a test site and then copy the completed template over here job done - NO! I don't know why but the widgets simply would not transfer - I am sure there was something I needed to have done but I really do not - (I did expand the widgets before copying) So I finally copied all the page elements one by one and it seems to have worked - I am sure there is probably some extraneous code somewhere - but it ain't broke so I am leaving it.

Just one final point. If you use a test template - or want to transfer lists of links between blogs I strongly recommend that you use the HTML widget and not the Links Widget. The Links widget is very basic and you cannot add attributes like "target" or "title" If you have even a basic understanding of HTML you will be frustrated by the links widget especially when you have to copy links between blogs they have to be set up again one at a time. With the HTML widget you can simply copy and paste the lot.

Well I'm proud of my new look blogs, excited by all the new tools and tips I am learning by being part of the blogosphere, pleased that I can drop my newsletter plans and stick to blogging and inspired to keep up regular posting to make the huge effort of the last two weeks worth while.

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

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