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Notes About Our Move From Wordpress To Squarespace

Hi everyone! It's time to talk about the tech side of our move to . With over 11 years of posts and 100,000 comments, it was definitely more involved than simply starting a blog for the first time or moving a blog with only a few years of content over... Yet, it was surprisingly very straight forward and the results exceeded our expectations. 

To continue in the conversation about this move from my previous two posts (here and here), today we're going to get into the nitty gritty behind the move from a more technical standpoint. I've asked my husband, Thorsten Becker, who has a background in the tech industry, to tell you more about how the move panned out because he's the one who worked on this for me. Hopefully you will walk away with some knowledge that you may be able to apply to your own blog and if you decide to do so, please consider because they’ve definitely earned my respect.

The following is written by :

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

Back in 2003, I was looking for an easier way to maintain a content-focused site with frequent updates. Up until then I had written everything on my own site in HTML, which was quite laborious – write the content, paste into the HTML code, code check, upload, verify, fix any mess-ups. 

I eventually talked about content management system with a local entrepreneur who was starting his own hosting business. We were both trying out a few, Drupal and WordPress amongst them. We agreed that WordPress seemed to be the most promising. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for a small hosting package with him and installed WordPress for the first time. It was a revelation. Writing and publishing online had become a lot more enjoyable for me. I also started posting more regularly as I didn’t have to deal with tedious coding tasks anymore.

DECOR8 WAS BORN

In January 2006, Holly started blogging, creating what has since become one of the most influential design blogs worldwide. I had shown her a few things I was doing on my Wordpress site and how easy it was to publish content for a global audience (up until then she had mostly posted on design forums, which are generally closed environments, and had her own Yahoo Groups page). However, since she already had a Blogger account which she'd created in 2005, she used that to get cattledogs started.

DECOR8 LEFT BLOGGER

Blogger.com was fun for Holly to use at first (she still uses it to write her expat blog, ), but over time it became somewhat limiting. Customizing the site was difficult because it often required coding, and new features simply couldn’t be added. If we wanted a custom template we had to get it properly coded. If we wanted to customize it ourselves afterwards, we had to write code. Also, extending functionality wasn’t possible at all and the options that Blogger offered back then were rather few and limited. So, while writing on it was fun, the rest really wasn’t.

THE MOVE TO WORDPRESS

In July of 2008, Holly and I decided to move cattledogs to WordPress, which we hosted ourselves. I took on the administrative tasks of maintaining the server and the Wordpress back end. Initially, Holly was quite happy with the decision and all the new possibilities available -- easily extending functionality with plugins was great. Installing new templates was a breeze, just upload, activate and tweak a bit. Done. Everything seemed to be better than before.

 WHAT DIDN'T WORK

Maintenance began to increase dramatically. Traffic on the site grew rapidly and we started running into server resource issues which led to cattledogs not being available for stretches of time. We upgraded the package several times until we eventually took on a VPS, a Virtual Private Server. That, however, led to an increased workload on my side. I now had to manage the server infrastructure myself, including security-related tasks. Also, with each update WordPress became more and more resource hungry. I constantly needed to optimize server settings to keep the site running smoothly while also fending off several large-scale attacks directed at it.

This is where WordPress turned troublesome. While we had a lot of flexibility – at one point using close to 40 different plugins, it came at the cost of constant monitoring, tweaking, hardening, etc. We also needed to replace plugins frequently as developers decided to no longer update them. WordPress’ open source environment with its myriad of plugins and templates and modifications, which once looked so attractive, caused a lot of headaches. In addition, many of the commercial plugins we once bought started employing year-over-year paid update and support schemes, increasing site expenses.

Redesigns, of which we did a few, never went without a hitch. At one point, I had to create a separate staging site to ensure the next redesign didn’t take the site offline. Some WordPress templates even had gaping security holes that could be exploited by hackers – unbeknownst to us. 

WHY SQUARESPACE?

After some consideration and deliberation, I set out trying to find a better blogging solution, one that didn’t require maintaining a server. The only real alternative, at least for us, turned out to be . Holly already had an account which I used to put the interface through some tests. I instantly found it to be very intuitive, easy to use and most of all fun to write on. Pages and posts can be composed in a similar fashion to using DTP software – add a text block, add image blocks, add text and image blocks, mix and match, expand, decrease, remove. It simply made sense and felt familiar.

FROM WORDPRESS TO SQUARESPACE

I tried some sample imports, bringing a few cattledogs posts and comments in to a test site on . That, too, worked flawlessly. However, to bring a large site like ours over, some planning was needed. Over 6,000 posts and over 100,000 comments had to be transferred. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it in one go. Again, WordPress got in the way. A full export of all data kept timing out. Our server team tried to assist by increasing all timeouts values in the server environment – to no avail. I decided to do partial exports instead. That initially didn’t work either. There is a long-standing bug in WordPress that excludes featured images from posts if a partial export is done. To rectify this a plugin is needed. That plugin led to timeouts again. I was going around in circles.

Eventually I created one, large partial export for all posts from 2006 to 2014, knowing that featured images would be missing (though we hadn’t started using them until about 2013). For 2015 to 2017, I then created monthly exports with featured images. In some cases, I had to break it down even further, creating two or three export files for a single month. Once done, the files imported flawlessly into . It was worth the effort.

THE WRONG INTERFACE CAN AFFECT YOUR WRITING

Holly is a prolific writer. She can turn out a book in a week if she wants to. But after moving from Blogger to Wordpress I noticed that she was writing less and less on cattledogs. By 2010 she was posting about half of what she used to on Blogger. While she was rather busy with new projects, including her books and , the real reason might surprise you - Wordpress' interface. While I had really liked using Wordpress and had convinced Holly to switch, her experience was quite different from mine. 

She was simply not having fun using Wordpress, silently struggling with it for 7 years, finding it to be quite confusing and even stressful. She had voiced her frustration on several occasions but no matter what we tried, it just wouldn't make it enjoyable. However, as soon as I had tried Squarespace I was certain she would really enjoy using it. Everyone's different but in general I find Wordpress geared more towards technical minded users. Squarespace on the other hand is clearly aimed at design oriented users such as Holly.

As soon as the move was done and Holly was writing her first post she had a big smile beaming across her face. She explained that she loved writing again because it's so easy and intuitive to put together a post on Squarespace. Adding photos and creating various layouts is fun for her now.  Within a few days she's learned the entire interface and has no issues navigating it. Not even a week later she is posting regularly once more and she can't wait to get her next post up. She’s excited again to blog and is going full speed ahead. 

THE VERDICT

Almost 12 years of cattledogs content is with now and we are very pleased. Moreover, blogging is fun again for Holly. She really enjoys the interface and the options available to compose her posts – and any auxiliary content as well.

I once was an eager proponent of WordPress, advocating it and recommending it to almost everyone interested in blogging due to its flexibility and extensibility. This, however, turned to be its biggest downside for us. It just wasn’t working for cattledogs anymore. With Squarespace, we have found a platform that works and that's made blogging fun again.

Want to make the switch the which offers ? Sign up for a 14-day free trial. When you're ready to subscribe be sure to use code 'DECOR8' for 10% off your first purchase.

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Squarespace. All words and opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep cattledogs blogging for over 11 years.

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6 Reasons We're Moving To Squarespace

After months of wondering what the best decision would be, my husband (who runs the backend of cattledogs) and I decided to move cattledogs from Wordpress (WP) to and try something completely new. This isn't purely about aesthetics, following trends, or even because we're bored with Wordpress. It's actually none of that. Our reasoning is based on more of what's happening behind-the-scenes that you never see or hear about. The stuff that kills creativity.

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Before I detail why we’re moving to , let’s talk about blog platforms in general. If you've been wondering about which blogging platform is best for you, I encourage you to think about your needs and do a lot of research. Ask around for help from people with a tech background, but also talk to bloggers who are using these platforms each day. Also read through our 6 points below and see if anything feels familiar to you. Every platform out there serves different needs and people. You have to find what works best for you.

Like me, maybe you've been battling with whether to try or not. When I started blogging, it was easy. I used Blogger.com and a boring polka-dot template because that was one of the only templates I thought was cute. Back then, nothing was happening yet with blogs (2005) so you took what you could get. Things have gladly changed in incredible ways. That's why in 2009, I dropped blogger and hired a template designer and moved over to Wordpress. It was a smart decision at the time and I'm glad I did it.

Now, it's time to move on! Next month, cattledogs will have a new look and feel and move over to Squarespace. It will be very stream-lined and basic, as I really want my blog to look and feel like a blog and not a news or media website. I know I'll write on it more frequently and feel more excited to write regularly if I have some of the tech stress removed from my work life. I’ll detail those current stresses below.

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Here are our top 6 reasons for changing platforms:

1. Security. Our site has been under permanent attack for the past several years, from brute force attacks (password guess attempts) to DDoS (denial of service). The attacks require our constant attention and prevention. This is expensive and time-consuming, taking us away from doing more interesting work.

2. Server cost. We are currently hosting WP on our own VPS (virtual private server), with considerable cost, which is needed to keep the site running smoothly under WP. While there are more affordable hosting options none proved resource sufficient enough for a site of our size (visitor wise).

3. Server maintenance. We do all our own server maintenance. While our server comes with basic tech support we still need to maintain several site critical aspects ourselves. Again, time-consuming and costly on our end because this takes us away from doing work that could be much more exciting for us and for all of you.

4. Non standardized framework. While WP can be easily extended with plugins, most of which are open source, many of these plugins may contain security risks. Plugins also often cease to be maintained by their developers, unless they are commercial, posing further security risks. They can also add considerable resource load on the sever, risking the site going down. Plugins are generally needed to go beyond the rather basic options available with vanilla Worpdress, e.g. there is no built-in eCommerce functionality.

5. Adaptable design. To this day, Wordpress still does not ship with a flexible, fully visually customization template. Such templates need to be purchased from external vendors, adding cost and uncertainty (see plugins above).

6. No support. Any issues that arise with a local install of Wordpress are on us to deal with. While there is a WP support forum it has proven non helpful with most issues we faced over the years.

We are both happy to make this change, and ready! We will keep running Blogging Your Way on Wordpress and my personal expat blog, Hausmaus, on Blogger, cattledogs will be best served on Squarespace. I may eventually run them all on one platform, but first I want to see how the big move goes for cattledogs and to give it time on the new platform.

If you'd like to give a go, you can sign up for 14 days risk free to check it out - no credit card required. When you're ready to subscribe, just enter code DECOR8 to get 10% off your first domain or website purchase.

Time to run to the airport to catch my flight to Barcelona, bye!!!

Xo

Holly

(Photography: Holly Becker)

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Squarespace. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep cattledogs blogging for over 11 years. :)

Sign Up For The cattledogs Newsletter

I am so excited to tell you about this. But first, hello everyone! Okay, so I decided after 11 1/2 years of blogging to finally start my first ever cattledogs newsletter. Many of you subscribe to cattledogs via RSS or ', which is great because you get my feed daily in your inbox so you don't miss a beat! However, in addition to the feed, my new will be a personal note written from me to you once weekly where you'll see things that I don't show on my blog or social sites.

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I'll include behind-the-scenes stuff with my projects and colleagues, trend reports, European travel tips, personal essays to motivate and inspire you, decorating tips, organization ideas, thoughts on current decorating trends, discount codes from favorite online shops, up-and-coming designers, favorite products of the moment, shopping round-ups and much, much more.

Think of the all-new as your weekly letter from a dear friend who can tune you in to the BEST of the BEST in the world of interiors, decor and design. I'm that friend, I'm going to work hard to deliver something very special to all of you that will become something that you look forward to receiving.

To register (it's free), just and enter your email address. It's really THAT easy. My first newsletter will be sent on Friday, June 23rd so between now and then to get the cattledogs debut newsletter.

Weeee! I'm so excited! Welcome cattledogs readers to something new!

xo

Holly

I Am Enough

Hello everyone, I have a little story to tell you today. I was thinking recently about my trip to Zurich last November, when I worked for , and how I fell in love with a very special little owl. Would you like to know more? It's short, and sweet, and just may make you feel all the feels but my goal is that maybe my story will make you see that you are enough, too. So there I was at a shop in Zurich, I cannot recall the name of it but it was so well curated and honestly, one of the best I'd seen in all of Zurich for interiors. In a corner, there sat a little owl and many of his friends. A real owl? To me, yes. But to everyone else, he was only porcelain and merely a decorative object for the home.

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That little owl represented more in my eyes though, so I looked a bit more closely to examine his details. Why was this little figurine calling to me, beckoning me to take a closer look? Upon closer inspection, I understood why I felt a heart connection with this lovely little bird. Let me explain.

Do you see the little mouse he is holding under his wing so gently? In nature, the mouse would have been devoured in a moment, owls are not vegetarians! They're hunters and must be in order to survive. The artist who made this owl though, , is of course allowed to tell stories through her creative expressions; to alter reality to create a new idea, a new way of looking at the world. That is the only job of an artist, if you can even call it that - to spark a reaction. If someone is drawn in, the artist accomplished a goal.

When I stood before the little owl, I was a little girl again. Not a strong woman with a family and a company. I thought about the owl as if it were going to start moving about on the table, making its way over to sit on my hand. It had a magical quality, but again, most likely only to me because the other shoppers walked on by.

I realized in that moment that the owl represented me but I couldn't quite figure out why. I thought some more. Perhaps it was tied in to my desire to heal, protect and show love. To be liked, to please others. To be kind. I am a caring person yet I often forget to show it and can come across as very headstrong - like I have no fears or problems, like I have it all under control. Yet, I have suffered from feelings of self doubt since I was a child. I always wanted to be protected and loved but losing my father when I was 18 was devastating. Not because he died, he didn't, but because he divorced my mother and started a new life and I never saw him again.

Over the years, I wanted to protect and heal everyone as a result so they didn't hurt as much as I had hurt. I didn't realize that getting hurt was character building and if faced and resolved, getting hurt can be a huge stepping stone. Guarding people from getting hurt emotionally is less important than helping to support them through the pain. It's like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon, pushing its way through a tiny hole, the force of it all, the struggle, is making it stronger so once it emerges, it can fly. Did you know that if you cut the sack right before the butterfly appears, it will be limp and just lay there and most likely, die? This is because the force of pushing itself out is what the wings needed to become strong.

I read a quote once from that resonated with me, "You are enough". When I met the little owl in November, he reminded me that I am enough. That being human is okay and to focus on others and to guide them, while also caring for myself, is okay. But now in my life, the most important thing is caring for my son, being a watchful owl, a guide, a consistent source of love. He is my little mouse, I am his mama. That is enough because to him, I am enough. This owl made me see that I don't need to heal the world, I really just need to be there for my child and then, everyone else can come later as time allows. This was a refreshing perspective for me and a first, for sure.

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Flashback to Zurich in that little shop... So you won't believe this... The next day after encountering the little own, unknown to me, I ran into the artist at the fair! In fact, I was a jury member and we had to pick nominees for an award. As I roamed the fair searching for a winner, looking at hundreds of products, there was the little owl! It couldn't be! And the artist was there with it and all of her other creations too. I was so shy to say anything to her, so I only grabbed her business card and later, returned to meet with the other jury members and told them, "I nominate !".

Months later, the little owl still stayed on my mind. I thought about it nearly every day. Then one day an email arrived and it said, "It was very nice meeting you at Blickfang Zürich. I would love to invite you to my open studio this Friday, if you are in Zurich!". It was from Babette. How could it be? She remembered me? I felt that the little owl was working behind-the-scenes. I felt he somehow wanted to live in my home.

Guess what? The owl lives in Hannover now. He arrived right before the birthday of my son. has a permanent spot in my heart now through this small bird. I've been wanting to tell you this story for months, but I've been so overwhelmed with travel in the past few months (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Paris, Milan, Cuxhaven, Berlin, Oberhausen...) that I couldn't find a moment to type all of this out until today.

Thank you Babette for putting your work into the world and for touching hearts, like mine. Thank you for letting this owl remind me that to my son, and even to those I work with, and to my family and friends, that I am enough. What I give is enough. And that all of you reading are enough too. Focus on what matters and let the rest wait.

That feels nice.

Holly

How To Crush It: Working With Brands e-Course

Oh no! I got so wrapped up in sharing my travel adventures that I still need to tell you all about my current e-course, ,  that kicked off yesterday and wraps up May 22, 2017! The first lesson was a video from me for 15 minutes followed by 3 lessons. It's only a two week class so there is no long term commitment or pressure on your part, yet it's absolutely packed with EVERYTHING you need to know about how to crush it when it comes to working with companies from the smallest to the largest. We're covering everything we can in two weeks (lesson outline at the bottom of this post) from the importance of engagement on Instagram, the different campaigns you can do, what to get paid and how to ask for money, tips on how to maintain clients, sponsored blog content, how to run your business like a pro. This dynamic, interactive class is packed with ideas for working with companies on campaigns and in other creative ways too that don't involve social media.

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I am thrilled to teach this class because I have invested the past eleven years obsessing over blogging and digital marketing while also having to earn a living. I had to learn how to work with clients in a way that benefited them, myself and my readers while still maintaining a good reputation and not compromising my values. I have read and followed everything about working with brands and social media marketing in general and I've applied MOST of what I've learned... Though at times I didn't listen and I failed miserably, and had to pull myself out of that hole of pain -- but I learned anyway and pressed on. I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars not listening to some of the advice I was given by well-meaning family and friends who knew a lot more about working with brands and marketing then I once did. I have also generated a lot of revenue by applying what I've learned and from thinking of new, creative ways to work with people. I've seen all sides - the darkest nights of my business and the brightest days. All in all, I've learned a lot and I'm sharing all of my secrets and tips with you.

I've also been on both sides of marketing - for my own brand (cattledogs) and for other brands to help to promote and grow them. I've tried Facebook ads, Instagram ads, affiliate marketing, campaigns for brands, Skype consults with brands, running ads on cattledogs, hiring ad managers, being my own ad manager, teaching myself how to work with clients, flying to big cities to meet with some of the largest companies in the world to teach their teams how to use social media to extend their brand, lecturing before hundreds of bloggers on social media-related topics, retargeting, polling, newsletters, reading reading reading... If anyone can teach you about how to work with brands, it's me. But it has taken me 11 years and you don't have 11 years to learn this - so learn it all in 2 weeks from me.

Bottom line: If you want to work with brands, you have to be willing to spend $129 on this class OR be willing to take the time to teach yourself through trial and error as I have done for over a decade. Think of education as a big part of your self-care ritual because it is - it's good for your self-esteem because when you are successful at what you do, you glow from the inside out. When you speak confidently about your work, are sought after by brands, when other bloggers look up to you because they see your good work, you shine! Then, you can share that glow with others and make them feel good. Plus, learning is the only way your business can survive and thrive - you have to keep firing up your brain to make new connections, form new ideas and get yourself out of your ruts and routines that can sometimes cause you to stagnant and ultimately, stink at what you do. Don't be stinky! :)

Because this is the first and LAST time I will teach this topic, I will keep enrollment open for the next few days in case you want to get started. Class JUST began yesterday and new materials won't go live again until tomorrow, so you haven't lost time.

Full course outline below: Different Ways To Work With Brands What Brands Look For In Bloggers/Influencers/Partners How To Write a Sponsored Post How To Know The Right Brands For You How To Find Brands And Reach Out To Them (Pitch email templates will be provided) How To Post a Sponsored Instagram Photo (or IG Stories, IG Gallery, etc.) Finding Agents And Ways To Work With Them When Brands Reach Out To You: How To Handle Them Pitch Ideas For Bloggers, Instagram Users, and Influencers How To Pitch To Brands Red Flags To Watch Out For Deciding Your Rate Asking For Money What Do You Do When Brands Don't Want To Pay? Legal tips Negotiating Contracts Continuing The Relationship With Brands 30 minute live chat Q & A with your teacher and fellow students (once a week on Fridays)

Holly

Garden & Home Blog Awards In Berlin

Hello! Are you thinking a lot about plants and gardening at moment? How about fresh flowers? Well, this weekend, I'll be in Berlin for the event sponsored by , , , , ,  magazine from Burda, and , all in conjunction with the big garden show - . I can't wait to meet the many garden and home bloggers attending and to present the winning blog in the "Best Blog Design" category (see all of the finalists ).

I've been working hard behind-the-scenes as for the past several months and now it's time to go and award our winners! So ,  OR  will win in the category that I've been selected to present. I wish you three the best of luck, along with the other finalists in all of our categories.

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It will be so good to be back in Berlin for a few days, I'm taking the train Saturday morning and returning Sunday night so while it's only a quick trip, I will definitely be out and about and sharing my less than 48-hour adventure on - which by the way, I recently passed 100k followers - I am very excited about that! So if you would like to  to see what I'm seeing in Berlin, you are more than welcome to travel along. I'll include some IG Stories just for you, too!

Thank you Simone, Julia und Friederike from for including me in this wonderful and meaningful event for bloggers.

(Photos: Blumen's )