Every novice blogger starts with free blogging platform and the most popular platform is wordpress.com but after some time as your blog grows it starts getting more traffic and followers and then you reach a point where you are ready go higher and beyond wordpress.com’s resources and features. For instance, you want to use your own domain name, want to have a custom created theme and for more functionality you need to install plugins and you can not do that on wordpress.com’s hosted blogs. So what you do? Well, move on to self hosted wordpress setup from wordpress.org is what you do.
If you are also looking for a step by step tutorial about how to move your wordpress.com blog to wordpress.org’s self hosted one, then you’ll find this guide useful. In this article we are not going to do a comparison between the two options because you have already reach to the point where you want to go beyond wordpress.com. This insightful documentation will help you learn who you can easily and properly transfer your website from wordpress.com to wordpress.org platform. We will cover how to properly move all your existing content including media files, images and other settings. We will also emphasize on how to keep your SEO settings data intact on the new installation so that you do not lose search engine rankings. We will also cover how to redirect your existing user account to the new self hosted installation. So are you ready? Let’s get started!
What all you need before you begin with the transfer
First of all you need your own domain name registered and a decent wordpress hosting company account for installing self hosted wordpress setup. For domain you can rely on godaddy.com, namecheap.com or name.com and for hosting we recommend hostgator.com and stablehost.com because all these companies are known for their excellent services and are good wordpress hosts.
In case your wordpress website is already setup on a custom domain name, then you don’t have to worry because we are also going to cover that part for convenience of our readers. The next thing you need is access to your wordpress.com account to be able to move posts, pages, categories, attachments, images, comments and imperative data to your new wordpress.org installation. Follow the steps below to get started with the transfer.
1. Taking Export Data Backup From WordPress.com Account
Sign in to your account and head over to your blog’s dashboard area and then click on ‘Export’ menu which is located under the ‘Tools’ menu. When you click on ‘Export’ menu it will take you to a new page where it will show you two options for ‘Free’ and ‘Guided Transfer’. For guided transfer you will need to pay $129 fee.
Since we are using the free transfer option, click on the free option’s export link. Upon clicking export, it will show next screen with an option to select which data you want to export. There select ‘All Content’ and then click the ‘Download Export File’ button. This will generate and download an XML data file in your computer. This xml file contain all your data including posts, pages, comments, images, categories, custom fields, tags, menus and other data as well.
2. Installing Self Hosted WordPress Setup
Following the step above now you have your wordpress.com export data file, the next thing to do is to do a fresh wordpress installation on your web hosting for the domain name. Installing it very easy, you can either install it manually by uploading the wordpress files using an FTP client or else use your web hosting’s one click installer app. We recommend using one click installer because it saves time. You can look for this app in your cPanel account of your hosting. Once you have the fresh setup ready, it is now time to import the xml file in the self-hosted wordpress setup that you have downloaded earlier from the wordpress.com account.
3. Importing XML File Into Self Hosted WordPress Website
To import your content to newly installed wordpress site you have to go to the dashboard of it and then head over to ‘Tools’ >> ‘Import’ option. Click on import and it will take you to import settings page where you have options such as Movable Type and TypePade, Rss, Tumblr and WordPress. Click on WordPress option and it will ask you to install the importer plugin. Proceed with importer plugin installation and active it. Once activated run the importer plugin and then it will show you a new screen window with an option to upload the wordpress.com generated XML file which you have already downloaded in step 1.
Important – In case your old blog had lots of content and media files the import file may go beyond the 2MB file upload limit. Therefore if the XML file is more than 2MB in size then you have two options to work with. First option is to ask the web hosting company to increase the upload limit temporarily for your account, so that you can complete the import process. Second option is to split the XML file into partitions using a WXR file splitter tool.
Once you have sorted out the file upload limit issue, it is now time to import the file. Click on importer, locate the file on your computer, select it and click import button. During the import process it will show an option of assigning the import content to a current user or to create a new user. You will also be presented with an option to import old attachment data. Make sure you select this option to ensure your images and other media files are imported over to the new installation.
This should be pretty much it and your old blog data should be displaying on your newly created wordpress website.
4. Making Your wordpress.com Blog To Private
The last step of moving you blog to newly self hosted wordpress is to set your old blog at wordpress.com to private. In case you want to redirect your old blog readers to the new website, please follow the step below:
On your wordpress.com account’s dashboard, head over to ‘Reading’ page under ‘Settings’ tab and there select the last option that says ‘I would like my blog to be private, visible only to users I choose’.
Note: It is imperative to redirect your visitors from old blog to new one because if you have been writing some quite some time and have developed a good numbers of loyal readers, then it doesn’t seem nice to leave them hanging. On the other side, with age your blog gets indexed in Google and other search engines and starts getting organic rankings and traffic. Therefore it is important to keep all the search engines ranking intact by properly redirecting the old blog to new url.
5. Redirecting Old Blog Visitors & Safegurading SEO
To preserve your search engine rankings and maintaining on-page so when you move your websites to new domain like we just did requires redirecting the urls with a 301 header. It is a standard solution and recommended by Google as well. Given the fact wordpress.com doesn’t allow its users to have access to .htaccess file, you can not make any redirection changes yourself. However, they offer a paid solution for this that comes under their paid upgrade offer. With this you can do site redirect easily to the new url.
To avail this function, login to your wordpress.com account and in the dashboard you will have this section for “Store Menu” click on it and it will show you upgrade options. Look for “Site Redirect” upgrade which is about $12 per year. This is a 301 redirect that will not only redirect your visitors to new website but it will also redirect the search engine bots to the new url which is import to preserve your SEO and search rankings.
$12 a year seems unnecessary and some of you may ask how long you should keep the redirect setting on? Well, the answer is as long as you want, but generally it takes 18-24 months for search engines to do a permanent redirect and show new urls in the index. So around 2 years should be sufficient for site redirection.
In case you already used a custom domain name on wordpress.com and now moving over to self hosted wordpress with a new domain name, then you have to update all in post urls to the new domain name. Also, if you have interlinked your posts and pages then you will have manually update those posts. Please read our other guide on “How to update urls when moving to new domain name in wordpress”.
We hope you found this guide easy to understand and follow and successfully moved your website to a self hosted wordpress setup. Comment below if you need any assistance.