How to Add an External Blog to WordPress (and why it’s a Bad Idea)

Block 2 is WordPress itself

Recently I received an email with a question that comes up frequently. It’s about adding an external blog to a WordPress site. Bob wrote:

“I have a travel blog on blogspot.com. I am considering creating a website using WordPress. I want to include my blog but I do not want to move it. Is that doable? Your thoughts.”

Of course it’s doable, and in fact it’s quite easy to do. Depending on why you don’t want to move the blog, though, it may not be a good idea. First, a little background…

What’s an “External Blog?”

There are lots of free blogging platforms. Blogger (blogspot.com) and WordPress.com are the two most popular. They are strictly for blogs, and both have limitations on what you can do with them, making them not ideal for business or commercial use. They’re both good choices for personal blogs, though.

It’s pretty easy to outgrow what you can do with either of these platforms, though, and moving to WordPress — self-hosted WordPress, as explained here — is the logical next step.

So Bob obviously recognizes that he wants more than his blogspot blog can do for him. Perhaps he doesn’t want to move it because:

  • He gets a ton of traffic there and doesn’t want to lose it
  • He’s comfortable with the technology and doesn’t want to change
  • He likes the look of it and doesn’t want to change
  • He doesn’t know how to change and thinks it’s complicated and time consuming

Fortunately, there are several solutions.

Create a Custom Menu Link

First and simplest, Bob can create a WordPress site and keep the blogspot blog as a separate entity. It’s very simple, and it’s done by creating a custom menu link in WordPress.

Here’s what the navigation looks like here on WordPress Building Blocks.

navigation bar

When you click the “Blog” link, the browser opens a blog page on this site. You can tell it’s on this site because it’s still on the domain, wpbuildingblocks.com. However, Bob could create a custom link in his site navigation to take the reader to another domain entirely, in this case his blogspot blog.

It’s simple to do. (If you don’t yet know how to work with menus, check out this tutorial.)

  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Appearance / Menus.
  2. Select the menu to edit
  3. Select Custom Links on the left, which opens the dropdown
  4. Fill in the URL of the link you want to add — for example, http://bob.blogspot.com — and the text for the link — “Blog” would be logical
    add a custom link to the menu
  5. Click Add to Menu
  6. Drag the new menu link to where you want it in the navigation
  7. Click Save Menu

Other Solutions for Adding a Third-Party Blog to WordPress

That’s a very easy and direct way for Bob to keep his blogspot blog while making it easy for his WordPress readers to find. However, I don’t believe it’s an ideal solution.

First, it violates one of the first rules of content marketing, which is, don’t build your business on a platform someone else controls. Blogspot is a free Google product, and if they decide one day to eliminate it, or charge for it, you’re up the creek. The content you’ve worked hard to build over weeks, months, or years, could be wiped out in a heartbeat.

Second, you work hard to get traffic and attract an audience that will do business with you, so why would you routinely send them away from your site to another site? Yes, I understand Bob owns both the WordPress site and the blogspot blog, but they are different properties. When you do this, you confuse your readers.

Third, if Bob has outgrown blogspot.com for his business, but he continues to use it solely for his blog, he’ll need to work harder to move blog readers into his sales funnel.

So, if Bob were asking for my professional advice, here’s what I’d tell him.

  1. Initially, keep the blogspot blog, but only as an archive. Post a prominent notice that the blog has moved, and provide a link to the new URL — the main page of the new site.
  2. After a few months, set up a DNS redirect so anyone heading to the old blog gets automatically redirected to the new site. In fact, create a landing page specially for those folks, with a big announcement that the blog has been upgraded, and a tour of the new site and everything they can find on it.
  3. At the same time, recreate the blogspot blog on the new WordPress site. This is easier than it sounds, and WordPress provides tools to do so. Blogger allows you to export the site, and WordPress provides a Blogger import tool.
  4. Add new blog posts to the new blog, not the old one!

This gives you the best of both worlds. You gradually migrate your traffic, and you don’t confuse readers by jumping them back and forth between the blog and the website.

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