Like so many of our posts, the idea for this week’s blog post comes from a client. She had built her website on WordPress.com and quickly realized the limitations she had when it came to adding new features to her website.
So she decided to move her site over to the self-hosted version of WordPress, known as WordPress.org.
For those who aren’t familiar with the difference between the two, here’s a quick summary.
The one major difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is who’s actually hosting your website.
WordPress.com is a self-contained platform. What that means is that you don’t need to pay for hosting for your website as it’s hosted directly on WordPress.com’s servers. They take care of the hosting and the software for you. But, you will also have a domain name that’s something like “mavrocreative.wordpress.com”. If you want to use your own domain name, like “mavrocreative.com” without the word “wordpress” in the middle, you need to pay for that feature.
While it may seem like an easy and inexpensive option, you may find that there are too many limitations with WordPress.com. You can’t upload plugins and are limited with the themes you can use. This is a huge downside, as the usage of plugins and themes is what makes WordPress really shine.
With WordPress.org, you’re downloading and using the WordPress software. You are responsible for getting hosting for your website, which is known as a “self-hosted” site. I like to think of hosting as a great big file cabinet. It’s literally the place where your website files all live.
There are many great hosting companies out there that you can purchase your hosting from. One that I highly recommend is Siteground. I like them so much that I’m an affiliate for them.
With a self-hosted site, you will also have to purchase a domain name (in my case, it’s mavrocreative.com). Once you have your domain name purchased, you just have to tell it where to find your files, which is your hosting server’s address.
There’s the quick and dirty explanation of the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For our purposes, all of the websites that we build at MavroCreative are using WordPress.org software and are self-hosted.
Let’s Move Our Site!
It’s totally normal for people who are just getting their feet wet to not realize that there’s a difference in the two. Believe me when I tell you that it’s a common thing that happens and it doesn’t take long to realize that WordPress.com may not be the best platform to use to build your site.
But don’t worry! Moving your site is not as difficult as it may first appear, as long as you know the steps. Which is exactly what this blog post is going to explain!
And since I’m a visual girl, I’ve also created a video that will walk you through these steps. You can watch it here:
We’re going to assume that you already purchased your domain name and you have signed up for hosting for your website at a place like Siteground. If you haven’t done this yet, go on and do so. We’ll wait for you!
Log into your WordPress.com account and go to the Dashboard.
Go to the Dashboad, Tools, Export.
You’ll have a choice between free and guided. Choose free (because I’m making this so easy for you that you don’t need to pay someone else to do it!)
Choose “All Content” and download the export file.
Guess what? You just downloaded your entire wordpress.com website!! Easy peasy, right? It will appear in your downloads (or wherever you have your downloads set to go on your computer) as an XML file.
Now that we’ve downloaded our site, we need to import it into our new hosting that you already purchased.
Depending upon the website hosting provider that you choose, you’ll want to use their feature to install WordPress. Since all of my sites are with Siteground, I’m going to show you how to install WordPress on Siteground. While your hosting provider may look a little different, the steps are all the same (or very similar!)
The video above will show you how to install WordPress with your hosting provider.
It’s time to import the data from your previous WordPress.com site into your shiny, new self-hosted site. It’s going to be just like the Export tool in Step 3 above, except we’re going to Import this time. So go to Tools, Import. You’ll get this screen:
Choose WordPress. You’ll be prompted to run the WordPress Importer. Once you install it, then activate and run it. It will take you to a screen where you will be asked to upload the XML file that you downloaded in step 3 above. Just upload that file!
You will be asked if you want to Import Attachments. Click on that box so that all of your images and other uploaded documents are imported as well.
Now that you’ve successfully moved your site, you don’t want your visitors going to your old site. But if you’ve built up a following and don’t want to leave your visitors hanging, you can use WordPress.com’s feature “Site ReDirect”. It’s going to cost $13 per year to have this service, but that’s short money if you have a website with a WordPress.com domain name (like mavrocreative.wordpress.com) that people have been going to. You want them to go to your new site at your new domain name.
Here’s the link on WordPress.com that will take you to the Site Redirect page.
If you don’t need or want to redirect people to the new site, but you also don’t want anyone going to the old site, you can change your settings so that the old site is “private”. Just go the Dashboard on your WordPress.com site, Settings, Reading and set it to Private.
That’s it!! It’s as simple as that!! You’ve now successfully moved your WordPress.com website to your self-hosted site on WordPress.org. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Until next time!
Want to build your own WordPress website the easy way? Check out our BYO Website Online Course!