Do you have a personal blog or website that is currently running on and hosted by WordPress.com? There are definitely some benefits in choosing WordPress.com for your blog, as it could be a cost-effective way to start your own blog without your own hosting service or domain. However, a self-hosted WordPress blog can be a much more useful and innovative solution for those looking to get more out of their WordPress site.
With self-hosted WordPress, you’ll have more options to customize your blog through various new functionalities. In order to move your WordPress.com site to a self-hosted WordPress site, you will need two things; your own domain name and a web hosting service.
Get Yourself a Domain Name
When buying a domain name, you should remember to choose one that is short, memorable and something that is related to the topic of your website. By just looking at the domain name, visitors should have an idea of what your website will be about. You might also want to try selecting a name that is unique to your website, reducing the chances of people visiting other similarly named blogs/websites.
Getting a Web Hosting Service
Once you’ve picked up the perfect domain name for your blog/website, the next step is to purchase web hosting. There are thousands of medium to large sized web hosting companies in the industry and it can be troublesome to choose the best one. A good rule of thumb is to select a hosting company that not only meets your hosting requirements, but one that has been around for a long time with a high user-rating.
I trust and recommend WebHostingHub for WordPress hosting services, they offer complete automated WordPress installation and support. Most hosting plans offer unlimited resources in terms space and bandwidth, which means you’ll be able to host numerous sites on one single web hosting account. You may also choose to purchase your domain name from the web hosting company as well to make things easy.
Setting Up Your Web Hosting Service and Domain Name
If you have your domain name and web hosting at two different companies, you will need to make sure they are linked together by using the correct nameservers. You can find more information on setting up the nameservers for your domain name in your welcome email from the web hosting company you signed up with.
Setting up WordPress on Your Hosting
If you are using a web hosting service that offers a quick install solution, you’ll be able to install WordPress within minutes. Even those without any technical or coding knowledge can install a WordPress blog, as everything is now automated through very user-friendly platforms, like Fantastico, Softaculous or Quick Install. The following is an example of what a user-friendly WordPress installation platform looks like.
Once you have the WordPress platform installed it is time to move your WordPress.com blog to the self-hosted WordPress website you just installed. There are several key steps that need to be followed in order to successfully move your blog without any downtime or issues. Before we move on to the next step, if you need more detailed instructions on how to setup your domain, web hosting, and WordPress you can read through my full tutorial here.
The Move Over to Your Self Hosted WordPress Site
Step 1. The first step is to backup all the content on your old WordPress.com site, including all the pictures that were used for the blog. Unlike with a self-hosted blog, you will not be able to access your blog content files through the web hosting control panel. Instead you will have to download the database, which is known as exporting the database.
To do this, you will need to go under the Tools menu in the administration panel and choose Export. On the next page that shows up, you will be asked whether you want to use the Free Export option or a Guided Transfer, which costs $129. Select the Free option and choose ‘All Content‘ when asked what to export.
You now have the WordPress backup downloaded onto your computer. Keep the WordPress.com account active until the new self-hosted blog is up and running perfectly.
Step 2. The next step is to import the backup into the newly created self-hosted WordPress site. In the admin panel of your new blog, go under the Tools menu and select Import and choose WordPress. This will ask you to download and install the WordPress Importer plug-in, so make sure that is done. Once the plug-in has been installed, you can upload your XML file.
Note: If your XML file is larger than two megabytes, you might need to ask your web hosting company to increase the upload limit (not an issue with the web hosts we recommended earlier). Once the XML file is uploaded, your new blog should be accessible at the new domain name.
Step 3. When switching from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress blog, it is important to preserve any search engine optimization (SEO) or existing traffic you may have. You want your old visitors to be able to find your new blog. Having a 301 redirect is the easiest option to preserve your SEO as well as retain all your visitors and keep them coming to your new blog.
Unfortunately the WordPress.com function that allows you to add a 301 redirect to preserve all SEO is a paid service that is offered at $13 per year. In most cases, you really will only need to have this option enabled for one year, just so that it gives enough time for your new site to build up authority within the search engines and for visitors to remember your new domain name. An alternative to doing the paid site redirect option (which is what I do myself since it doesn’t cost a dime) is to simply put up a statement on your WordPress.com homepage which tells your visitors you’ve moved to a new web address with a link to it. You also want to contact any websites that are currently linking to your old WordPress.com blog to let them know that you’ve taken your site to the next level and have your own domain name now and to update their links.