How to Move Your Blog From WordPress.com to Self Hosted WordPress.org
Last week we gave you some advise to help you determine if you’re ready to move to self hosted WordPress. If you’ve decided that you are indeed ready to make the move then the next step is to figure out how. Look no further! If you’re using WordPress.com to host your blog here are the steps you’ll require to move it to self hosted WordPress.org. If you’re still in doubt then remember we offer a free migration service when you order one of our web hosting packages.
There are a few things you have to get sorted before you can begin the process of moving your blog to self hosted WordPress.org.
Firstly you have to find somewhere to host your blog. This is known as a web host. If you’re unsure what this is then you can find an explanation in our what is web hosting knowledge base. We provide a Bloggers web hosting package that is specially tailored to the needs of bloggers and is now starting at £10 for the first year (limited time only).
You’ll also need to decide on a domain name if you haven’t already. If you’re unsure of what a domain name is you can learn more in our what is a domain name knowledge base. If you were already using a custom domain with WordPress.com then we’ll let you know how to move it later in the tutorial.
Once you’ve got your domain name and web hosting sorted you can get cracking with installing WordPress. This should be a simple one click process on most web hosts including ours. This will vary from host to host so I won’t expand on the steps required. Once installed you can delete the sample post and page upon logging in as you won’t need them.
If you were already using a custom domain with WordPress.com then you’ll need to use the temporary domain name your web host provided to access your admin area until your existing domain points at your new web hosting service.
Find a theme (optional step)
WordPress comes preinstalled with several default themes that y0u may have come across before on WordPress.com, however if you’re moving to self hosted then chances are you want a swanky new design. There are plenty of free and paid themes available so you can implement your dream design for your blog with ease.
Export your content from your existing blog
Now that we’re all set up with our new install, we can now begin the hard work (it’s easy really I promise). You will first need to login to get your existing content out of your current WordPress.com account.
From the dashboard of your existing WordPress.com blog you need to find tools in your side menu and click on export.
You’ll next need to click on the free option for export.
On the choose what to export screen you want to make sure you select all content. You can then click download and an XML file of all your existing content will be downloaded to your desktop.
Import your content to your new blog
It is now time to import your content into your new self hosted WordPress.org install. To do so you need to navigate to tools in the left hand menu of the dashboard and click import.
You will see a series of sites from which you can import. You’ll need to select WordPress which should alphabetically be at the bottom of the list. You will then be prompted to install the WordPress importer plugin if it isn’t already installed.
Simply click install now in the bottom right and then activate plugin and run importer once the install is complete.
Now that your import plugin is ready simply click choose file and select the XML file you downloaded from WordPress.com then press upload file and import.
In the next step simply select your user where it says assign posts to an existing user under import author. Also make sure you select download and import file attachments in order to bring all your media over to your new install. And that’s it just click submit and you’re good to go.
If your previous blog was large and had many posts and comments then you may find that your xml file exceeds your upload limit on certain web hosts. If this is the case you have can add the following lines to your .htaccess file replacing the 10M with a whole number large enough for your file. If in doubt contact your host for help or to explore other options if they don’t allow php directives in .htaccess files.
php_value post_max_size 10M php_value upload_max_filesize 10M
Alternatively you can also try the WXR file splitter tool.
Also note that if you have a lot of media on your old blog it can take a while to import it all.
Redirect your old blog
Phew! Now that all your content has been imported the next, and perhaps most important, step is to redirect all of your old posts so that you don’t lose any traffic from search engines or existing back links. You’re going to do this in one of 2 ways depending on if you already had a custom domain with your WordPress.com blog or not.
Set your permalinks
The first thing you need to do is to set your permalinks for your new self hosted WordPress.org blog to ensure no traffic is lost when performing the redirects. You need to set these to be the same as the WordPress.com permalink structure to match the incoming redirects that we’ll get into in the next section.
Navigate to settings and then click permalinks. You should then select day and name under common settings and save changes.
Redirect your posts
We are now ready to redirect your old posts. If you were using a custom domain with your WordPress.com blog then you can skip this and follow the change your name servers section. In either case you will want to make your WordPress.com blog private at this point.
WordPress.com charges a small annual fee for redirecting your blog, but you should only need to do it for one year realistically as all your SEO value should have flowed to your new domain way within that time. You need to visit the WordPress store to purchase a site redirect upgrade entering your new domain in the process. If you need additional guidance then follow the steps on the site redirect help page.
Change your name servers
If you were using a custom domain name with your WordPress.com account then you’ll need to change the name servers to match your new host (contact them to find out what name servers you will need to use if you’re unsure). If you purchased your custom domain name via WordPress.com then you’ll need follow the steps on their change name servers help page.
If you purchased your domain name via a 3rd party then consult them about the steps required to change your name servers if you’re unsure as this will vary from provider to provider.
Even if you had a custom domain you may also want to purchase WordPress site redirect if you’ve been using your domain for less than 3 months as you may still be getting traffic to your old subdomain. You may also want to use the WordPress.com redirect upgrade if you have a lot of back links pointing to your subdomain.wordpress.com URL.
Install some plugins
Plugins are what make WordPress beautiful. There are plenty to choose from and you can view our recommended plugins for new wordpres installs post to help you. We recommend the Redirection plugin for your new self hosted WordPress blog. This is important as it enables you monitor any 404 errors you might have on your site. A 404 error occurs when someone attempts to visit a URL on your domain that does not exist. Yes, you’ve redirected all of your content from WordPress.com, but in the first month or so you’ll want to keep an eye on the content and this is even more important if you were already using a custom domain with your WordPress.com blog.
Advanced optional steps
Finito! Now that wasn’t as hard as you expected was it? The beauty of moving from WordPress.com to self hosted WordPress.org is that everything should be instantly familiar, only now you have the control and flexibility in your hands to truly harness the power of this great piece of software.
If after that detailed walk through you still think its a big hurdle to jump then we offer a free migration service when you sign up to one of our web hosting packages. Our bloggers web hosting package is tailor made to suit the needs of most bloggers and comes with plenty of storage space.
Photo from Luca Sartoni