Move WordPress.com to WordPress.org With Ease

Move WordPress.com to WordPress.org
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Move WordPress.com to WordPress.org

WordPress.com is a great place to start blogging. It’s free, you can personalize your domain name, and all the tools are there to get going.

Eventually though, you’re going to want something with a little more oomph, a little more flexibility and a little more professionalism.

The most obvious choice is to make the switch to self hosted WordPress.

I really struggled the first time I had to move WordPress.com to WordPress.org, and I really wish someone would have written a guide – so here you go!

To get started, you’re going to need to know the difference between WordPress and self hosted WordPress software.

For first time users, this can seem a little daunting (believe me, I’ve been there!) but once you know how to do it, it’s really not too difficult. Here is how to tell the difference between WordPress and self hosted WordPress.

What’s The Difference Between WordPress.com and Self Hosted WordPress?

WordPress IS a website. You are using their hosting to display your blog for free at a personalized “subdomain” – or you can upgrade to buy a domain name and use that instead (I believe this is called “WordPress Premium” nowadays). WordPress gives you free hosting, but with limited resources and functionality.

WordPress is software provided by WordPress.org which you install on your own hosting and have complete control of. It offers more functionality and flexibility – it is your own complete website.

Why they would call them both the same name, and use the same logo and everything else is beyond me, but that’s just how it is!

The main benefits of having your own hosting with WordPress installed on it is that you can install better themes, and plugins.

To be honest, if you want to get serious about blogging, if you want to make money from your blog, WordPress.com just isn’t going to cut it.

If you want to make money from your blog, WordPress just isn't going to cut it. Click To Tweet

Luckily for you, making the switch is easier than it seems! I’m going to create a dummy blog, and then show you how to move it to a self hosted WordPress site.

This is going to involve the following key steps;

  1. Export data from WordPress.
  2. Sign up for hosting.
  3. Install WordPress software at hosting provider.
  4. Import data into WordPress self hosted.
  5. Install theme and plugins and configure.
  6. Done!

So, let’s get started!

How To Export Data From WordPress

For me to demonstrate this step, I’m going to need a WordPress blog – here’s one I made earlier http://howtobookkeep.wordpress.com

To get started with exporting the information, go to your WordPress dashboard, which can be found by clicking the “WP Admin” button on your WordPress editor.

WP Admin Button

Then, take a look on the left and go to Tools > Export

Tools and Export

This will bring you to the following screen;

Export Screen

Can you believe WordPress.com charges $169 for this service?! (I charge a lot less…)

At this point, you want to click “Start Export” on the right. This will give you this screen:

Export Screen 2

Leave the “All content” option ticked and click on “Download Export File” – this will download a .xml file to your computer. Make a note of where it is, because we’ll be needing it pretty soon!

Getting Your Own Hosting

Okay, so this is the crucial part. Picking the right hosting provider is extremely important!

This costs a little money, but not a lot. It works out to only $3-4 per month – or one less Starbucks coffee per month if you prefer to look at it that way!

BlueHost.com is the hosting provider I use. I also recommend them to all of my clients, and use their corporate server rental services for my own projects. Their customer service is great, and if you have any issues you can come straight to me – email me.

Click the button below to get started with BlueHost.

Get Started With BlueHost

Once there, follow the signup instructions. When you signup they give you a free domain name, so if you don’t already have one registered – now would be the time to do that!

You should receive a confirmation email when your done, click the link in it and go login to your BlueHost dashboard.

Installing WordPress On Your Server

Buying hosting basically means you are “renting” server space. To get WordPress working, you will need to install it on your server.

Again, this may seem complicated, but with BlueHost it is ridiculously easy. They have a “One-click install” that allows you to install WordPress in just a few simple steps.

So, once you’re in your BlueHost dashboard look on the home screen for a section called “website” and click on the “Install WordPress” icon.

BlueHost Dashboard

This will start the installation process.

Select your domain name from the drop-down list and click “Submit”

Install WordPress 1

Let it load, and then you’ll be brought to this screen;

Install WordPress 2

Click “configure your password” and proceed to the next screen.

Install WordPress 3

Pick a username (I normally use my email) and pick a password. Click “complete setup” – and you’re done!

Import Your Data Into Your New WordPress Installation

Log into your new website. You just set up all of your information, but in case you forgot – your login screen is at yournewdomain.com/wp-login/ – for example, mine is at http://howtobookkeep.com

Go ahead and login.

Welcome to your new dashboard! It may appear overwhelmingly familiar, but believe me, there’s much more power here than you’ve been used to.

To import your WordPress data, navigate the left menu to “Tools > Import” (the opposite of when we exported).

This brings you to this screen;

Import WordPress 1

Click on “WordPress” and you will get the following popup;

WordPress Importer Plugin

This will install a plugin which allows you to import your WordPress.com data! Click on “Install Now”.

The plugin will install and you will be given the option to activate and run it.

WordPress Importer Plugin

Click “Choose File” and navigate to wherever you saved the file we exported earlier.

WordPress Importer Plugin 3

You can then assign an author (you don’t need to do this if you’re the sole author on your blog) and tick the box which says “Download and import file attachments”.

WordPress Importer Plugin 4

You’re done!

You can go check out howtobookkeep.com and see that all of the content is now live on there! Don’t bother reading it though, it’s a bunch of made up junk.

WordPress Importer Plugin 5

Installing Themes And Plugins To WordPress

Now that all of your content is on your new site, you can finally start reaping the benefits of custom themes and plugins!

I’ve already covered this on my Blogging Resources Page, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here.

On that page, you’ll find all my recommended plugins for WordPress as well as the theme I use for this blog. (BeTheme)

You can also check out my eBook which details how to install plugins and themes, and how to get the ball rolling on your new blog and get that traffic pouring in!

Conclusion

Making the move from WordPress.com to self hosted WordPress isn’t as intimidating as you might think!

If you have any questions, or if you want one-on-one help with getting set up, then just email me – I won’t charge you anything, and I truly enjoy helping my readers.

Made it this far? Check out this followup post to see what you should be doing next with your new WordPress blog.

Still too complicated? Hire us to move WordPress.com to WordPress.org for you. Simply click the button below to get started;

Hire Us!

Comment and share if you found this post useful, and if you haven’t subscribed already then please fill out the form below!

Tom Watts
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Tom Watts

Blogger from England, living in Canada. I blog about blogging, SEO, Social Media, Web Design etc. Monday lover, coffee consumer. The glass is always half full. Read my full story here: Read More
Tom Watts
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27 Comments

  1. Zoe says:

    Thank you so much for this, I’m looking to get more serious about blogging and am looking into self-hosting, it is so confusing to me aha but this is really helpful 🙂

    • Tom Watts says:

      Hey Zoe,

      It definitely can be confusing when you’re new to it. I had a lot of trouble the first time I moved a site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, but now that I know what I’m doing it takes no time at all. You can see from the other comments that a lot of others have had the same experience. Let me know if you need any help when you’re ready to make the switch, or if you have any extra questions 🙂

  2. Carrie says:

    Great post. I am so glad that I am on self-hosted WordPress as it gives you so much more freedom to do what you want with your site. Really helpful roadmap to make the switch!

    • Tom Watts says:

      Thanks Carrie! Self hosted WordPress offers so much more customization and flexibility, people are mad not to make the switch – hopefully this post might give them the push they need 🙂

  3. Very thorough! As a business owner and a blogger, I definitely would not leave my business in the hands of WordPress. Self hosting is definitely the way to go.

  4. This is a great resource! You’ve done a really thorough job of documenting the steps.

    I moved a blog from WordPress.com to self-hosted many years ago. It was rough. I thought I was going to pull my hair right out of my head. But then again, those were the days when you had to install all WordPress.org updates manually. Each blog took about 30 minutes every time WP updated. No one-clicking back then! Talk about pulling your hair out. WordPress has come a long way.

    You have a great blog. 🙂

    • Tom Watts says:

      Trust me Carla, I’ve been there! That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get this up; because when you know how to do it it’s actually really straightforward. Moving this test site only took me about 10 minutes! Agreed, WordPress is for sure my CMS of choice, you can’t beat it now.

      Thanks for the compliment on the blog – I checked your site out too, very nice! I’d love your opinion on my new company site if you have time – http://topshelfmedia.ca

      Tom

  5. Lynda Kenny says:

    You are obviously well versed in technical issues and you spell everything out really well in this blog post. For anyone just starting out who might be overcome by all the jargon I would recommend outsourcing this. I wasted a great deal of time at the beginning of my blogging journey, trying to do it myself.
    Tom, I see an opportunity here for you, lol
    Thanks for sharing this great info.

    • Tom Watts says:

      Hey Lynda,

      Thanks – this isn’t my first rodeo, and I too once wasted a lot of time figuring this stuff out! Thanks for pointing that out, I am now offering WordPress migrations under my Services page. Thanks for stopping by and reading this, Lynda!

      Tom

  6. Bob R says:

    Great stuff. I do suggest though that bloggers create a good community while in wordpress.com before making the switch. It can be VERY lonely out there when you do if your followers, especially the most regular ones, don’t come knocking as often.

    • Tom Watts says:

      Good point, Bob. It’s also equally as important to post a post or notification out to existing subscribers that you’ve moved! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  7. Klauss says:

    This is extremely useful article, advanced plus level, of course subjective. Can a couple of questions? The server on which the blog will be developed to work around the clock, 365 days a year?

  8. Brittany says:

    Thanks for such a thorough guide! I know moving is intimidating so I hope this helps some people make the jump!

    • Tom Watts says:

      Thanks for the support Brittany, and I hope it helps people move too! I already know it’s helped at least one person, so that’s good enough for me 🙂

  9. Was looking for a guide on this and yours was useful..thanks!

  10. Hi, I have a couple of questions I was hoping you could help clear!
    1. When I move from .com to self hosted will all the comments / likes on my posts also transfer or are those lost?
    2. Will my followers list on WordPress.com and my email list also transfer or do I start at zero again?
    3. One of the primary reasons im looking to move at this point (besides greater design flexibility) is to improve my hits from Search engines. Do you believe the use of SEO plugins like yoast will actually make a difference significant enough to warrant the move?

    Thanks so much!

    • Tom Watts says:

      Hi Hoshner, I’ll do my best here to answer your questions;
      1. I believe comments are moved with the blog. As for likes, are you referring to social media i.e. Facebook likes? Or a like system built into WordPress.com?
      2. You can integrate WordPress.org with WordPress.com through the Jetpack plugin – so you can keep your WordPress.com followers. However, I would recommend starting a mailing list (I use MailChimp, but Aweber is good too) and start referring your subscribers to that. I would write a post about the move on your WordPress.com site once you’ve moved so that your subscribers are aware of the move and can follow you over. The nice thing is that you can leave your WordPress.com blog live and just have a notice up to let new/old visitors know that you’ve moved.
      3. Yes I do, beacuse Google rankings are based on authority and quality. Google knows if you’re using a free platform like WordPress.com or Blogger, and won’t rank you as highly as similar self hosted sites. The reasoning being that anyone can make a free site and fill it with whatever they want. Self hosted sites require a little time and money and are generally less used by spammers. Forget YOAST, (although YOAST is awesome) just the act of moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org will help you in the search engines.

      Hope that covers it – but I’ll look out for a follow up comment 🙂

      Tom

  11. Wow! That’s an awesome and very detailed tutorial on how to move a blog to a self hosted WordPress! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  12. Dannie says:

    This is so so so so helpful and I love it! Thanks so much for writing this. I’m bookmarking it for when I [finally] make the switch over to self hosted.

    xoxo,
    Dannie
    http://www.stilefotocibo.com

  13. Drew Berman says:

    Great post. Learned a lot from this, thanks!

  14. Sarah Lentz says:

    I am so glad you posted this! I’ve been looking for a post like this, and you did a beautiful job of describing and illustrating the process. Thank you!!!

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