I merged my blog (idratherbewriting.com) and podcast (techwritervoices.com) into one site. If you go to techwritervoices.com, it redirects to idratherbewriting.com. All the posts that were on techwritervoices.com are now on idratherbewriting.com.
See the right column for podcast information. All podcasts are in a category called Tech Writer Voices, which has its own podcast feed, the same feed as before (http://feeds.feedburner.com/techwritervoices).
Why Merge the Two Sites?
Maintaining two sites was burdensome. Whenever I published a new post on Tech Writer Voices, I also wrote a post on I’d Rather Be Writing letting others know. Upgrades, plugins, theme tweaks, comment spam, and other blog maintenance were double the work with two sites. I wanted to reduce my workload and centralize the information.
I would have consolidated the sites from the beginning, but I originally envisioned Tech Writer Voices as a communal podcast site for all tech writers, a venue for all chapters to publish podcasts. That didn’t happen. People who record podcasts usually want to publish them on their own sites. Keith Hoffman, Heidi Hansen, and Mark Lewis contributed some recorded content, but not many others.
I casually surveyed some blog readers to see if they’d be opposed to the idea of consolidating. Not many responded, but those who did respond liked the idea. Kai convinced me most when he said,
As an avid reader/listener of both your sites, I find them complementary in style and content and would appreciate having one source for all my Tom Johnson/Tech Writer needs.
Steps for Merging the Sites
Merging the sites wasn’t technically hard, but it’s not a 5-minute procedure either. Here are the steps I followed for merging the two sites:
- Backed up the databases on both sites in case something went wrong.
- Transferred the audio files from my techwritervoices/podcasts and stc-suncoast.org/podcasts directories to a new directory: idratherbewriting.com/podcasts. This seemed like it would be easy, but Filezilla was corrupt and all the audio files I transferred were unplayable. I downloaded SmartFTP and used that instead — it worked fine, except the computer seemed to go into hibernation mode after transferring 6 podcasts each night. I had 2 GB of audio files to transfer.
- Removed all the categories except one on techwritervoices.com, and then changed the category’s name to “Tech Writer Voices.” This is so I’d later be able to isolate the imported posts from techwritervoices.com into their own feed.
- Exported the content from Tech Writer Voices into an XML file through the Manage > Export function.
- Used Find and Replace on the XML file in Dreamweaver to change all instances of techwritervoices to idratherbewriting. This fixed links that had techwritervoices in the URLs.
- Uploaded the XML file of posts and comments into I’d Rather Be Writing using the Manage > Import functionality.
- Downloaded images from Tech Writer Voices manually (right-click, Save Image As), and manually uploaded them into each post that I imported into I’d Rather Be Writing.
- Changed the audio player code from <mp3> </mp3> to <audio: > using the Search and Replace in SQL database code as posted by Lorelle. I didn’t like the MP3-O-Matic player –with large files, it didn’t seem to respond until the audio was loaded. Until it loaded, it looked like it wasn’t working. I used the Audio Player from One Pixel Out instead. It looks more active/dynamic and seems to load audio faster.
- Used the same Search and Replace in SQL database code to change all links on the blog that had “techwritervoices.com” in the URL to “idratherbewriting.com”. (For all those posts on I’d Rather Be Writing where I announced a new post on Techwritervoices.com, I had to change the URLs).
- Removed posts (not many) on I’d Rather Be Writing that announced new posts on Tech Writer Voices.
- Removed the Search feature in the top right of the Limau-Orange theme and replaced it with a Podcast logo. This was easier than I thought, except that I was still using Filezilla and it borked images too, so it had me confused why the images looked corrupt. I wanted to add the logo Tech Writer Voices subtitle somewhere, but it didn’t quite fit and it competed with the I’d Rather Be Writing logo. Switching FTP tools fixed it.
- Added a Google AJAX search widget in the upper-left to replace the lost search. It retrieves accurate results, but displays them in the side column. Unfortunately you can only click one result per search.
- Grabbed the URL for the new Tech Writer Voices category, created a category specific feed (http://idratherbewriting.com/wp-rss2.php?cat=246) and edited the source feed details in Feedburner. The podcast feed remains the same (feeds.feedburner.com/techwritervoices), but instead of pulling from techwritervoices.com/feed, it pulls from the category specific feed. This turned out to be incredibly convenient, because now I won’t lose the 640 subscribers to the podcast. For details on changing the original source feed in FeedBurner, click the thumbnail image below. It shows how you can easily point a different source feed for the Feedburner feed. For details on creating category specific feeds, see #6 on a previous post I wrote or this post by Lorelle.
- Created new subscribtion options on the blog. Now you can subscribe to All Content or Podcasts Only, either by RSS or e-mail.
- Rearranged the widgets in the right column to add an RSS feed for the podcast, showing the last 10 podcasts as well as a link to archives.
- Installed the Custom Query String plugin to define the number of posts shown for the Tech Writer Voices category. I wanted any view of the Tech Writer Voices category to show all the available podcasts, rather than just the last 10. Other categories display only the last 10 posts (according to the reading options I set in Options > Reading). I like the ability to scan down and see all episodes. (I had no idea this plugin existed, but was able to find some help from Kafkaesque in the WordPress support forums.)
- I already mentioned in a previous post how I got rid of PodPress and manually added download links and durations for each episode. Podpress was just too buggy with WordPress. Despite the coolness of the plugin, it’s not worth the hassle.
- Added a Streampad audio player to give the site more of a podcast look and feel. It makes it easy to realize the site offers audio content you can play from your computer. I totally stumbled across the player by chance; the orange on the player just happened to match my orange theme.
- Transferred the techwritervoices.com domain from Globat (an original podcast host that I disowned long ago, but never fully transferred the domain) to Blue Host. Then set techwritervoices.com as a parked domain that points to idratherbewriting.com. Transferring domains is a pain because you have to obtain an authorization code from the losing registrar. Seems easy, until you try it. Also, I was hesitant to leave the Lunar Pages account, which was free until 2009 because of podcast sponsorship. But maybe I’ll use them for a backup. They’re a good host, but all of my blog content was already on Blue Host, and I didn’t want to transfer it.
- Wrote this post announcing the change.
That’s about it. What do you think of the merged sites? Any suggestions for improvement?