There comes a time when you have to fly the nest. Leave the safe but structured environment of your WordPress.com site for the freedom and responsibility of owning your very own self-hosted WordPress.org site.
What is the difference between a WordPress.com site and a WordPress.org site?
Having a WordPress.com site is like renting an apartment – you can live in it for a while but it’s not yours and you can’t do what you want with it. Having a WordPress.org site is like buying a house – it’s your place and nobody can tell you what you can and can’t do with it.
Anyone can head over to WordPress.com and set up a site within seconds. Everything is taken care of for you: setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc., and it lives on an almost-indestructible cloud environment.
However, if you head over to WordPress.org you can actually download the software that powers WordPress and upload it onto your own webhost and use it as you see fit. However, you need to spend money on a host and do the setting up, backing up, upgrading, etc., yourself.
If you are serious about your blog or website, you really need a self-hosted WordPress.org solution. With WordPress.org you can do anything you want to your site. You can change it’s design by loading any theme you want, increase functionality with any plugin you like and customize it pretty much anyway you want.
How to migrate from a WordPress.com site to a WordPress.org site
Here is my tutorial video where I change name servers, set up WordPress, export from WordPress.com and import to a WordPress.org blog.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Get a domain name (try GoDaddy, NameCheap or 123-Reg) – it is possible that you already have this if your WordPress.com blog is www.something.com rather than www.something.wordpress.com
- Get a webhost I would recommend Hostgator, Bluehost or, my current host, Dreamhost
- Export your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags in a file to your computer (XML file)
- Change the name servers at the domain name registrar
- Set up WordPress at your new host
- Import the file you just exported from your WordPress.com site to your new WordPress.org site
- Customize your installation with all the lovely new themes, widgets and plugins you can get your hands on!
Get a domain name
Your domain name is the bit that goes after the www. You need to register this and it costs about $9 a year. I used to recommend GoDaddy as it is the cheapest. But NameCheap sells for exactly the same price or 123-Reg).
It may be that you already have purchased a domain name for your WordPress.com site in which case the name servers will be ns1.wordpress.com and ns2.wordpress.com.
If this is your first time looking for a host you need to get a good shared hosting service for WordPress.
You should get from these hosts the names of your name servers. In our example for Bluehost the name servers are ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com.
Export XML file at WordPress.com site
At your WordPress.com site, go Tools > Export (choose the free option!) and then choose what you want to export. I exported everything: my posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags into a WXR file or, WordPress eXtended RSS file, basically an XML file specific to WordPress.
Change the name servers
Change the name servers at your domain name registrar. So whether you use GoDaddy, Namecheap or 123-Reg, you need to head over there and fill in the name servers you got from your webhost.
They usually say that this change takes 24 hours to propagate through the system. In effect this usually takes only an hour.
Set up WordPress
Once the name server change has taken effect, install a new version of WordPress at your new site.
In our example, Bluehost (as well as most other hosts) have a very simple one-click install of WordPress.
Import XML file at WordPress.org site
And then, log in to the back end at your new WordPress self-hosted site and navigate to Tools > Import. Click the WordPress option, install the importer and upload the XML file you just downloaded.
Themes and Plugins
You may like to keep a note of any functionality that was added to your WordPress.com blog that won’t be carried through on the XML file (things other than posts, pages, comments, custom fields, users, categories, and tags).
For example, you will have to download and reactivate the theme you were using at WordPress.com to make your new blog look the same.
And you may want to install and configure Jetpack and other plugins to provide features that you had been using on WordPress.com. If you have comments enabled, the Akismet comment spam protection plugin is virtually a must.
Maybe you have a lot of content that ranks well in your old WordPress.com site, the new site would lose all that value as the URLs will all be different.
If you would like to redirect the old URLs at yourblogname.wordpress.com to new URLs at yourblogname.com, WordPress.com does this for a fee of $12/year.
What about you?
Have you ever had to move a WordPress.com blog into a WordPress.org blog? Has this been useful for you? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section down below. Or you may like to Tweet or Like the post!