I started this blog on WordPress.com more than a year ago and was there for exactly one year. I contemplated making the move to a self hosted blog for several months before I actually took the plunge. Some of the reasons why I stayed put on WordPress.com for so long was the cost of moving, the thought of missing out on the community/virtual friends I had there and sheer procrastination.
Albeit as time passed, I saw things from a different perspective and wanted a lot more from my blog. The free platform wasn’t so great any more as I couldn’t have all the stuff I admired about other blogs. I guess switching to WordPress.org was inevitable all along.
In this guide I am going to highlight all the steps you will take if you decide to move your blog like I did and still retain your blog posts and your audience.
I decided to start this migration tutorial with some reasons I think makes the migration worth it because I understand that you may still have reservations and even feel like you are losing too much. Well, you aren’t and here are some reasons. . .
Why You Should Consider Moving Your Blog from Free WordPress to Self Host
1. You gain more than you lose
The only things you will lose are the likes on your blog posts. You won’t lose any blog post, comment, WordPress followers or even e-mail subscribers. However, your WordPress followers will no longer receive e-mail notifications when you publish a post but your posts will still be visible on their reader. You can encourage them to subscribe to your blog via e-mail.
2. You get better organic search
One of the things I loved about WordPress.com was the now retired daily post community. It was really easy to grow and I didn’t care about SEO and all this other stuff because all I had to do was partake in the community pool, blogger to blogger award nominations and the daily prompts to put myself in front of a new audience. Guest posting wasn’t a big deal. Life was pretty easy.
However, I realised that my readers were 85% bloggers, another 15% came from social media and I had between 0-1% through organic searches, this is great if your target audience is bloggers but then my blog wasn’t and isn’t tailored to only bloggers. I was happy with the bloggers reading my blog and reaching out to me, call me Oliver Twist but I wanted more. I needed none bloggers to find my blog too.
Here’s the advantage a self-hosted blog has. It has all the plug-ins to help you optimize your blog or search engines which in turns increases you organic search.
3. Your blogs SEO won’t be negatively affected
Your blog’s SEO won’t be negatively affected. If anything, the earlier you self host the better. So you have time to build your domain and page authority
4. You have more freedom and can earn money from your blog
With the free WordPress platform they would be adverts on your blog but you won’t make any money from them. They are almost too many restrictions plus there’s a huge probability that your blog could be deleted at any time after all you are not even paying for a space. You were given for free so your landlord decides when it is time to kick you out.
5. You actually own your blog and move out of a rented apartment, get to design your blog to your taste
With a self hosted blog, you get to design your blog exactly the way you want it, add all the necessary plug-ins, pop ups etc. you become a home owner and can literally break down walls and build new ones, choose your paint colour, furniture and even hire a butler (mail service).
With these few points I hope I have convinced you on why you need to move your blog. If you are ready to make the move, then read on and do this. It’s really easy. I promise.
Fun fact: I can’t geek you out. I am not tech savvy at all so you should know that this is basically; How to move your WordPress to WordPress.org 101 for dummies.
Step By Step Procedure on How to Move Your Blog (export) from WordPress.com and Import It on WordPress.org
Step 1: Purchase a hosting plan and setup WordPress
Skip this step if you already have hosting but if you don’t, I recommend namecheap since I use them for this blog and also got my domain from them. Their customer service is awesome and I have had no issue since I started using them. You can follow this simple tutorial on how start a blog. It also contains how to purchase namecheap domain, hosting and install WordPress.
Step 2: Install your theme and tweak it to your taste
They are lots of free WordPress themes you can choose from or if you prefer something premium then you can get a premium theme and install it. You basically want your blog to be aesthetically ready before you move your content. You can’t move into an uncompleted building with no furniture. Your theme is like your deco and furniture. If you can’t get the site aesthetically setup to your taste then don’t worry too much. You can always change it. Focus on the general functionality and design for now.
This is when you may put up your “coming soon” page so that people that stumble upon your blog will know that it is in the works without it being live. Some coming soon pages even help collect e-mails of interested visitors just so when your site goes live you already have a waiting audience.
You will also find my tutorial on how to install a free or premium WordPress theme helpful. These are really simple guides that’ll give you all the information you need and walk you through the steps
Alternatively, if you already love a theme another blogger is using and will like that exact one on your blog, you can enter the blog address in at WPThemeDetector.com and it will tell you if the blog is using a free, premium or custom template and also highlight all the WordPress plugins the blog is using. How cool is that?
Step 3: Export your WordPress.com content
As soon as you have WordPress installed, you may begin your content export. To do this successfully, follow the steps listed below accordingly;
i. On your WordPress.com dashboard go to “tools” and click on “export”
Two options will appear: the guided transfer for $129 and the export free. Obviously you should choose the second option except you have the money to spend and will rather pay for something this easy.
ii. You will then be asked to choose the content you want to export, choose “all content” in order to export all your pages, posts, comments e.t.c
iii. Click “download export file” when you do this your content will be sent to your e-mail.
Step 4: Import your XML file to WordPress.org
The XML file sent to your mail will be available for about a week. Download this into your device. I used my Samsung phone for this and chill, your site will not have any down time while you do this. You are basically copying content from one blog that you own to another so it’s really straight forward and easy.
Follow the steps below accordingly to import your content successfully;
i. On your WordPress.org dashboard go to “tools”, click on “import” and then click on “WordPress”
ii. You will be asked to install the WordPress importer. Go ahead and do so and then activate it
iii. You will be asked to upload your XML file (remember the one you exported from your WordPress.com blog? Exactly. That one)
iv. The next prompt will be to assign the old posts to a new author. You may leave this untouched. However, I started blogging with my tribal name and when I self hosted, I chose to be known by my English name so I changed this. Totally your call.
v. Make sure you check the box that says “download and import file attachments” this helps you import all your photos.
Step 5: Let your WordPress.com audience know you’ll be moving to a new blog and encourage them to subscribe via e-mail
Some bloggers will advise you to announce your move in a blog post before exporting your contents but I don’t think that is right because you don’t want to direct them to an unfinished blog. It’s a lot like inviting people for a house warming party when you are still living in an uncompleted building.
If you still want to do this, I recommend any of these two ways
i. Setup a coming soon page with the subscribe option so you can collect emails and let them know when you go live.
ii. Let them know you’d be moving soon but DO NOT reveal your new blog address until it is setup and you have the subscribe option available.
Step 6: Redirect your visitors (Optional)
Redirecting your visitors simply means that you will be redirecting any traffic from your old blog to your new blog. That way, your audience, your links on social media and even search engines will automatically be redirected to your self-hosted blog. The site redirect service costs $13/yr (approx. #5,000).
This step is for those that have a blog address that looks like this: yourblog.wordpress.com
To pay for the redirect service, follow this procedure;
i. Open the “store” menu on your old WordPress.com admin dashboard and search for “site redirect”
ii. Click “buy now” and click it again to confirm.
iii. Enter the address of your new blog (self hosted blog) and click “redirect to this URL”
iv. Confirm your purchase and enter your payment details to complete your payment
You will probably want to use the service for year or two until your visitors are able to memorize your new domain name.
This step is for those that already purchased a domain name from WordPress.com and have a blog address that looks like this: yourblog.com
i. If you decided to host with namecheap during the signup phase you will be asked to enter your domain name you already own or register a new one. Click “use a domain name I own with another registrar”
ii. Insert your domain name you registered at WordPress.com
iii. Point your domain to your hosting provider in this case ns1namecheaphosting.com and ns2namecheaphosting.com.
Step 7: Take necessary steps to avoid duplicate content
You won’t need your old blog anymore so some bloggers go ahead and delete it. I do not support that but that’s just my opinion. I feel it is better to heard to your settings, change it to private and check the box that says you don’t want search engines to index it or your old readers to see it so make it private by clicking the button that says “I would like my site to be private, visible to only myself….” . This step is very important because duplicate content is very bad for SEO and can hurt your blog a lot. You don’t want that.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? If you follow this guide religiously, you should be able to export your content completely hassle free!
I hope you found this guide helpful. If you did, let me know in the comment section. This is easier that it looks, honestly.
Let me know if you’ll use this guide to move your blog from WordPress.com to self host and don’t forget to let me know how it goes.