Did you sign-up for a WordPress.com account thinking your site would be on WordPress? After a few weeks, you realize you signed up for the wrong thing. Nothing to fear! You can easily transfer your site from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.
When you are transferring your site (moving it from one platform to another), you are moving your site from one server (computer) to another computer. When you move from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress, you are moving your site away from the WordPress.com servers (and their requirements) and onto a new server, with Siteground for example.
Before You Begin
When you do this transfer process, you are moving the content – images, text, comments, blog post, pages, categories, and tags. You are not moving the design.
In order to move to a new site, you need to have a domain name and hosting. If you are purchasing your domain name for the first time, most hosting companies, like SiteGround, offer it for free with your hosting purchase. I recommend the shared hosting at $3.95/month for anyone under 10,000 page views a month and beginning bloggers.
Instructions: Moving From WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress
- Export Content from WordPress.com: Log in to your WordPress.com account. Go to your site’s Dashboard. Under TOOLS < EXPORT, you will be asked to choose from a Free or Guided Transfer. Select the Free Option. A new window will appear saying “Choose What to Export”. You want to select “All Content”. This step will generate an xml file that contains all of your posts, pages, images, comments, custom fields, categories, tags, navigation, and other details.
- Install WordPress on Your New Host: WordPress is very easy to install, and most hosting companies offer 1-click installs that take only 5 minutes. You can read about how to install WordPress here.
- Setup a Temporary Landing Page: Since you are moving content over, your site can look funky until you get the new site up and running. I like to set up a temporary landing page that lets visitors know everything will be back to business as usual. You can follow this tutorial on how to setup a landing page.
- Import Into New WordPress Site: Log in to your new site’s dashboard. Go to TOOLS < IMPORT. Select WordPress Importer. The plugin will install. Activate it, and run the importer. You will be asked up upload your XML file. When you have start importing, you will be asked to assign your content to your new user or old user as well as importing attachments. Make sure this box is checked so that your images are imported.
- Import External Images Plugin: Sometimes the importer does not get all of the images. If this is the case, run Import External Images plugin. I have found that images don’t always come over easily if you uploaded huge images to your .com blog. This process can take a while, so be patient.
- Redirecting Visitors + Preserving SEO: You want to maintain the readership and SEO you established. Go to WordPress.com dashboard, and select the STORE from the menu. Purchase the SITE REDIRECT upgrade for $13 per year. This upgrade provides a 301 redirect so that yourblog.wordpress.com goes to yourblog.com. I recommend paying for this redirect for anywhere from 2-3 years.
Frequently Asked Questions + Troubleshooting
Will my website go down when I WordPress transfer? If you follow the steps, then no. The approach above ensures that your site never goes down. I’ve done this process for several clients. The total time it takes me to install could be 1-5 hours depending on the size of the site.
If my domain is registered through WordPress.com, can I still transfer my blog? Yes! You will have WordPress.com as your domain registrar, and your hosting company will be your hosting provider. Some people use the same company, and others use two different ones. It doesn’t matter, as long as you remember your logins and what you have with which provider!
I already paid WordPress.com, can I get a refund? If you recently purchased a custom domain or paid plan from WordPress.com, ask them for a full refund. They usually issue them within 30 days.
What’s the cost of switching to WordPress.org? When you move your site to self-hosted WordPress, you are leasing server space from a company. Depending on your traffic, this cost can range from $3.95/month to $25/month for higher plans. You can read more about finding out the best WordPress hosting for your blog here.
If you have any questions about the process, leave a comment below!