The most frequently asked question among bloggers and business owners is how to move a blog or website from wordpress.com to a self-hosted WordPress. A self-hosted WordPress website can be used commercially for money-making purposes and has far more functionality than a worpress.com website.
The process below is one I have used successfully on many websites.
1. Purchase your domain.
You can purchase your domain from any domain registrar. Below are just a few you might consider:
*Some of these are affiliate links, which means that I will earn a small commission if you choose to use their services.
2. Purchase a hosting package.
This means purchasing space on a server where your website will live. Depending on your needs, you can choose from a shared server, a dedicated server or cloud hosting. To start off with, all you need is a shared server. Some other things to consider when choosing a host are:
- recommendations from friends and colleagues;
- server downtime – all hosts will experience some downtime, this may range from 1 minute to hours, how your host deals with this is an important issue to consider,
- level, accessibility and response of technical support,
- cost and frequency of payment – the cheapest hosting options will usually require you to pay for 3 years, or more, in advance. If you prefer more flexibility with both your budget and ability to change hosts, you might want to look at a host that allows monthly payments.
I use and recommend SiteGround.
3. Install WordPress.
The new account information you receive from your host will include a link to your cpanel, or dashboard, or OnePanel, as well as your username and password. Depending on your host, once you login to this dashboard, you will either find an option to install WordPress in one step, or if you’re using cpanel, look for the Software section, then click on Softaculous and then on WordPress, or there might already be a link to WordPress.
When installing WordPress, often the default installation directory is /wp. Delete this, to make sure you are installing WordPress in your root directory, ie: www.yourdomain.com.
Choose your user name (do not leave it at “admin”!), password and enter your email address where your login details will be sent.
4. Install your theme.
The URL for your WordPress dashboard will be:
You can choose from the many free themes available from your dashboard. Just go to Appearance –> Themes –> Add New. Feel free to play around with a few different ones until you find one that suits your needs.
When you purchase a theme, you will download a .zip file to your computer. To add this theme to your WordPress installation, go to Themes –> Add New –> Upload and then select the file you downloaded earlier. When the installation is complete, you will be asked to Activate the theme, so just click on Activate.
When installing a new theme – free or paid – make sure you check out the installation and set up instructions on the theme developer’s website for details on how to make it look like the demo on the sales page.
If you decide not to use a particular theme, once you’ve installed it, remember to delete it, to keep your server and database tidy and to conserve space.
5. Install plugins.
Plugins are bits of code you can add to WordPress to add specific functionality to your website.
There are thousands of free and paid plugins out there and as you become familiar with WordPress and start looking for extra functionality for your website, you will discover ones that suit you best.
You can search for specific free Plugins by using the search function on the Plugins –> Add New screen.
There are also paid plugins which you install the same way you install a paid theme.
Below, I have listed the main plugins that I usually install on my websites:
Akismet – to protect your website from spam, needs to be connected to your WordPress.com account, if you don’t have one, you will be prompted to create one.
Jetpack – this is a collection of plugins, which include a Facebook “like” box, sharing and publicising widgets, related posts widget, contact forms, subscrption widgets and many more – needs to be connected to your WordPress.com account.
Wordfence – this protects you against hacking attacks. You can set specific rules for immediately locking out certain types of unauthorised login attempts. It also allows you to block specific IP addresses.
Broken link checker – monitors your site for broken links and sends you an email when it finds them.
Revive old post – automatically shares old posts to your social media channels – you can choose which channels and frequency of posts.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – an SEO plugin that assesses your content for your chosen keyword and allows you to customise how your content appears in search engines, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
6. Export your existing blog.
In your worpress.com dashboard go to Tools –> Export. Select “All content” and an .xml file will be downloaded to the Downloads folder on your computer.
7. Import your blog into your new WP installation.
In your new WordPress dashboard select Tools –> Import –> WordPress. You will be asked to install the Importer plugin. Click “Install“.
Once installed the plugin will prompt you to upload the .xml file you downloaded earlier, so find the file on your computer (Downloads folder) and click upload.
When the next dialog box pops up, tick “import all attachments” and click OK.
8. Delete the “Hello world!” post.
Any new installation of WordPress includes the standard “Hello world!” post, a “Sample page” page and the “Hello Dolly” plugin. Just delete them via the dashboard.
9. Check that everything is working.
Check that all your posts and pages are there. Check that your menu is working, if not, adjust it in Appearance –> Menus.
You will need to set up your sidebar (if you have one) again, using Appearance –> Widgets.
Customise your theme as needed using the Appearance –> Customise function.
Use the Broken Link Checker to find any broken links.
You may need to use the Search and Replace plugin to change all your internal links from yourname.wordpress.com to yourdomain.com. Or use the process described in this blog post.
If you’ve followed all the steps, you should now be a happy owner of a self-hosted WordPress website or blog. If you’ve run into any problems, feel free to contact me for a free consultation and I’ll see if I can fix your issue on the spot.