I recently decided to take my blog to the next step by moving it from my free WordPress.com site to a self-hosted site on WordPress.Org. Going self-hosted means that you have complete control over your blog in that you own your data, can customize your site as much as you want using plugins and themes, are responsible for backups, can have custom analytics and tracking and can potentially make money from your blog. I thought it would be worth writing this post as a guideline for other bloggers that might be considering this move. If you’re not comfortable with this, you can always ask your hosting company if they offer support for this.
As I am a techie by day the idea of attempting to migrate my blog myself was very attractive 😉 But before I dove right into it I needed to come up with a plan on how to do this.
Steps I followed moving my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
- Set the expectation – Let your readers know about the changes happening to your blog.
- Decide on a domain name – I contemplated the idea of changing my blog name but decided against it. The reason being I still love my blog name and for me it encompasses all the topics I have written about. I also loved the idea of owning my own “co.uk” domain. So instead of the previous “whatudidntknow.wordpress.com” domain address, I now wanted my domain to be “whatudidntknow.co.uk”.
- Create a backup file of your old blog’s content/Export data from WordPress.com site – I then needed to create a backup file of my data from my WordPress.com site to later be imported onto my self hosted WordPress.org site. This backup is an xml file that gets generated with all your blog content. To generate this file go to your dashboard on your WordPress.com site, Tools -> Export -> Choose the Free export option -> “Select All Content” and download the export file to your computer.
- Find a good hosting company – you need a hosting company to store your new website and data on their server so that it can be accessed over the internet. After researching and chatting to another blogger, I decided to use Siteground as my hosting company. They’re a global company, have been around since 2004 and hosting is their core business. I also liked that they offer “ready to go” WordPress hosting services meaning my migration would be easier to manage. This also meant I wouldn’t have to download WordPress and install it onto my site. I was keen to stay with Wordpress as I was happy with how things worked previously on WordPress.com. There are also many tutorials available on their website to help you with your setup and migration. I decided on the “GrowBig” package with Siteground to allow myself more flexibility in future.
- Once you’ve bought your domain/hosting package then you will essentially have a blank or empty website. If you haven’t followed any setup wizards with your hosting company to install WordPress.org’s software then you will need to do this.
- Install a theme – If you used Siteground’s WordPress installation then your website will come installed with a default WordPress theme. Now you have the option to install a theme of your choice whether it’s a free one or one that you’ve bought from another company. I was bored with my previous WordPress theme so started looking at other themes. I discovered Pipdig from other bloggers sites and love the clean, professional themes they have to offer. Pipdig also offers a service to install your theme for you as well as migrate your old content to your new site. I decided to do this step myself.
- Move your old blog’s content to your new site – To import the backup xml file from step 3, go to the dashboard of your new site -> Tools -> Import -> Click on Run Importer under the WordPress option -> locate your backup file and click on Upload file and import
- Congratulations!! Your new site should now be up and running with all your old content!
Steps I took once my new blog was up and running
- Update the old links to your new site address in your posts – if you’ve referred to previous posts in your blog posts then you will need to update all these links. A quick and easy way to do this is to use the Velvet Blues Update URLS plugin. It’s as simple as specifying the old url and the new url which then automatically updates all the links in your blog.
- Redirect visitors from your old blog to your new blog – To preserve my blog SEO and redirect my visitors from my old blog I decided to pay the £11 fee using the WordPress.com service. This service is valid for a year. Based on what I’ve read, depending on how long your old site has been running, a redirection is probably good to have in place for at least 2 years. Check out this link for more info https://en.support.wordpress.com/site-redirect/
- Move your email subscribers and WordPress followers to your new blog – I didn’t want to lose the followers I’ve accumulated up until now so was keen to find a way to keep them. This meant I needed to install the JetPack plugin on my new site. Follow these steps on how to do this: https://jetpack.com/support/subscription-migration-tool/ (There are mixed reviews about using JetPack as some bloggers have said that it slows down their site. I haven’t had any issues with this yet.)
- Other plugins I’ve added are Easy Image Collage, Backups plugin, Yoast SEO, Content protection and no right click copy plugin, Google XML Sitemaps, Google Analytics
- Update your blog URLs on all social media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, BlogLovin, Instagram etc
- Publish a Welcome post – I published a “Welcome” post on my new blog to let everyone know that this is now my official new space 😉
This is the approach I took based on the research I did. There were a few uncertainties here and there but thanks to my good friend Google I managed to figure it all out. I really love my new site and am so happy that I decided to make the change. Hopefully my tips will help you too should you decide to take on the challenge 😉 Good luck!
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