Have you decided to make the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, but don’t know where to start? Many times after using the hosted WordPress.com platform, beginners realize the limitations that come with WordPress.com in terms of design and functionality. That’s why making the move to the self-hosted WordPress platform is such a great idea for those that want to grow their blog or start an online business.
Here’s a list of steps we’ll cover in this guide:
- Why Move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
- Sign Up for Web Hosting
- Install WordPress
- Export Content from WordPress.com
- Import Content into Self-Hosted WordPress
- Set WordPress.com to Private
- Redirect Site Visitors
- Wrapping Up
Why Move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
WordPress.com gives everyone the chance to start a blog by creating an account and publishing content. The problem is, WordPress.com comes with many limitations, unless you invest a lot of money on one of the premium plans.
And even then, there are some things you just can’t achieve with a WordPress.com website.
That’s why so many people make the switch to the self-hosted WordPress.org platform. It’s much more powerful, flexible, and customizable. In fact, with the WordPress.org platform, you can create any kind of website you want – not just a blog. For example, you can maintain a blog and start an online business or eCommerce website with WordPress.org.
To find out all the differences between the two platforms, check out our WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparison.
That said, let’s take a look at how to properly move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
Step 1: Sign Up for Web Hosting
To move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, you’re going to need a few things:
- Domain Name: you’ll need to buy and register a custom domain name, or URL, to represent your website. Many WordPress web hosts offer free domain name registration for one year. This not only makes starting a WordPress website more affordable, it keeps everything in one convenient location for easier management.
- WordPress Web Hosting: when you make the switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, you’re going to become responsible for hosting your site’s data. That means you’ll need to invest in web hosting. There are many options available. If you’re not sure which web host is best for you, check out our roundup of the best WordPress hosting providers around.
If you’re using a premium WordPress.com plan, and already have a custom domain name, you’re still going to need web hosting. Without WordPress.com hosting your website for you, you’ll have to hire someone to handle it for you.
We recommend a web host such as Bluehost for those that are just starting out with a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
Not only is Bluehost an official web host of WordPress.org, it’s affordable and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get features such as:
- Easy to use cPanel for managing hosting account and websites
- Built-in security measures protecting your site
- CDN services for delivering site content to people around the world instantly
- Automated backups just in case something happens
- 24/7 customer support via email, live chat, or phone
Lastly, Bluehost will guide you through the process of setting up a hosting account, starting a website, and installing the WordPress software with one single click.
For help with this step, be sure to check out how to start a WordPress blog and follow the detailed steps.
Step 2: Install WordPress
After purchasing a web hosting account, you’re going to need to install WordPress on it.
With Bluehost, you don’t have to install WordPress separately because it does it automatically for you. Instead, all you have to do is choose your WordPress theme, give your site a name and tagline, and start creating content to publish for site visitors.
Bluehost comes with hundreds of WordPress themes to choose from, which is helpful for those not used to picking themes for a website. In fact, the themes are organized by industry such as ‘blog,’ ‘food & drink,’ and ‘eCommerce.’
Don’t forget to assign you website a name and a tagline. And if you need help deciding on a name for your blog (or online business), use one of these blog name generators to spark some inspiration.
Once WordPress has been installed for you, you will be able to log into your new self-hosted WordPress site by adding wp-admin to the end of your site’s domain name. Here’s what your WordPress.org login URL will look like:
You can now log into your WordPress website using the credentials sent to your email address when you signed up for Bluehost hosting.
Now let’s see how to move your WordPress.com website to your newly created WordPress.org website.
Step 3: Export Content from WordPress.com
First, log into your WordPress.com website and go to My Sites. Then, click on WP Admin to access your WordPress.com dashboard.
Next, click Tools > Export. When you do, you’ll be asked to choose between a free or guided transfer. In the Export section, click on Start Export.
On the next screen, select All content.
Then, click Download Export File and save your WordPress.com xml file to your computer or other storage device. This file will have all your posts, pages, images, categories, navigation menus, tags, and more.
Step 4: Import Content into Self-Hosted WordPress
Now that you’ve exported your WordPress.com content and saved it in a safe location, it’s time to import it into your new self-hosted WordPress website.
To do this, log into your self-hosted WordPress site and go to Tools > Import. Then, click on Run Importer under the WordPress system. This will install the WordPress importer plugin on your site so you can import your WordPress.com content.
Next, upload your WordPress.com xml file and click Upload file and import.
When you do this, you’ll then be prompted to import authors or assign posts to existing users. If you want to import attachments, select the box labeled Download and import file attachments.
When everything is finished, you’ll see a success message.
Step 5: Set WordPress.com to Private
Once your self-hosted WordPress site is up and running, you’ll need to set your WordPress.com website to private so people can’t see it anymore.
If you don’t want to redirect users to your new website from WordPress.com, go to Settings > Reading in the WordPress dashboard.
Under ‘Site Visibility’ click I would like my site to be private, visible only to myself and users I choose .
Now your WordPress.com website will not be visible to anyone but yourself and those you choose to tell about it.
Step 6: Redirect Site Visitors
If, however, you’ve been using WordPress.com for awhile and have a loyal following, it’s best to leave your WordPress.com site visible and redirect those that come to it to your new self-hosted website. This will also help preserve your SEO rankings.
To redirect users that land on your WordPress.com site, you’ll have to invest in the premium WordPress.com feature called Site Redirect. To start, click on Settings in your WordPress.com account dashboard and click redirect underneath the ‘Site Address’ option.
When you do this, you’ll be prompted to enter the domain name of your self-hosted WordPress site (the site you want to redirect users to).
Enter your new domain name and click Go. Then, pay for the service (it is $13/year).
Now, anytime someone lands on your old WordPress.com website, they’ll automatically be redirected to your new WordPress.org website.
It is suggested you maintain this service for about 2 years to ensure all old users memorize the new URL of your self-hosted website. Make sure that if you’re changing domains, you update all your imported WordPress.com post URLs. If there is any interlinking, update those as well.
Note: if you have a custom domain name with WordPress.com, you don’t have to do this. Instead, just change the DNS record to your web host and retain all your SEO benefits.
And there you have it! You now know how to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org in the simplest way possible.
If you’ve moved your hosted WordPress site to the popular, self-hosted WordPress solution, be sure to check out our guide to installing a WordPress theme, so you can begin designing your site the way you want. After all, a WordPress.org website has everything you need in terms of flexibility so you can create a website that meets your needs in both design and functionality.
Have you ever made the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org? How much do you love your self-hosted WordPress website? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!