The pros and cons of being free hosted by WordPress.com or self hosting a WordPress.org software install are summed up very well in this support documentation entry – WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org The first step towards eventualy managing your own WordPress.org install can be purchasing your own domain and domain mapping. You don’t need to leave WordPress.com to do that, and the sooner you do this, the better. The reasons why acting early is better than waiting are found in my blog posts below:
If you are an experienced WordPress.com software user, and have the skill sets required to set up and manage your own self hosted WordPress.org install then the instructions for making the move are easy to follow. But if you are not skilled at WordPress.com blogging, and also lack the skill sets required to self host your own WordPress.org install then acquiring those skills first is recommended.
Required skill sets for self-hosting a WordPress.org install
Richard, who answers questions on the WordPress.com support forums as I do, provides the following advice:
You will be responsible for all upgrades, installations, backups and troubleshooting. If you install a theme or a plugin that negatively affects your blog, then you have to figure out what went wrong and fix it. Sometimes it is a conflict with another plugin, sometimes is it is just a poorly written plugin.
If you install a plugin with a security flaw, and your blog is hacked, you had better have a good, recent backup or you might just lose everything. I cannot stress the importance of frequent backups. I’ve been called into many situations where there were no recent backups (or none at all) and no backups available from the host, and there was nothing left to recover, so in one case, 3 years of postings virtually every day were gone. Only about 15% of them could be recovered by copy and paste from Google cached pages, the rest were simply gone.
I’m not trying to scare anyone off, just letting them know what is ahead. In the last 3 months, I’ve helped to recover a total of 35 blogs that were “hacked.” Luckily in most cases we were able to recover most of it, but the average cost of recovering one is about $500. Think about that when you ponder if backing up your blog is really that necessary.
WordPress has done an outstanding job of jumping on security issues and making WordPress as secure as they can right out of the box, but the thing you have no control over is the web hosting company and their server configurations, and some of them are not all that secure.
For self-hosting figure an average monthly total cost (including cost of a domain name) of about $10 to $25 generally, but that all depends on storage and bandwidth requirements.
Most bloggers I know that take this route to make money via advertising do not make up for their hosting and domain registration costs, and with literally millions of people downloading and installing Adblock plus on their Firefox browsers each month, fewer and fewer people are seeing ads. Adblock Plus for Firefox has been downloaded from the mozilla.org site 98,112,095 times as of the end of October 2010. I installed it years ago and have literally seen no ads in that time. If one comes up that it does not block, I simply right click and zap it and never see it again.
Setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org install
1. Purchase a domain and hire a web hosting provider
Locate the web hosting requirements for WordPress.org installs and the recommended web hosting providers. If you haven’t previously purchased a domain and domain mapping then this is where to begin. If you want to redirect yourblogname.wordpress.com (as well as all of your permalinks) to your new domain name, then that’s what the Offsite Redirect upgrade does this. It seamlessly forwards traffic to your new domain. Expect to pay $6 to $15 per year for the domain name. Many web hosting providers also offer domain purchasing or you can buy your domain separately.
Once you hire a web host, they will give you the DNS information for your account. You then go into your domain management here and change the DNS records to point to the new web host. It will take 24-72 hours for that change to propagate through all the world-wide internet nameservers and then you can put together the blog on the new web host. Typically the DNS changes will settle down after 12-24 hours, but sometimes it takes longer. It just depends on how busy the internet nameserver system.
2. Register a wordpress.org account and locate resources
Your password will be emailed to the address you provide. Resources are found in the codex – Getting started with WordPress.org
Getting More Help
3. Download a FTP Client
FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is used to moves things from your computer’s hard drive to your server. Using an FTP client is required for uploading themes and plugins in order to customize your site. FTP clients are free and readily available on the internet. Filezilla Client is one that’s commonly chosen as it’s a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface.
4. Upload the most recent self hosting version of wordpress.ORG software into your new site
Download the most recent version of wordpress.com software. Upload/install and configure the WordPress software, including creating a MySQL database. Most webhosts have a one-click installer script, but they are not always running the latest version of WordPress in which case you will have to immediately do an upgrade to WordPress. This can get involved if your host does not by default give enough memory to WordPress and sometimes it requires that you create a php.ini file to override the default memory settings so that you can run the upgrade from WordPress. Set up all the different things on WordPress (time offset, permalink structure, etc.) Resource > First Steps With WordPress
5. Select and upload a theme
Upload a wordpress.org theme – themes directory If you find and install a theme of your liking from the internet (be careful of the source for that theme as there are some bad actors out there that are including malware in theme files). It’s sad but true.
6. Select and upload plugins
Upload plugins of your choice – plugins directory Heed the warning re: themes above as malware may show up in plugins as well.
7. Import your WordPress.com content into your new site
Export the contents out of your WordPress.com blog out of it to your desktop and then import them into your new worpress.org install. The export file will contain your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags. Note that you will be given the option to include attachments such as images and pdf files, etc. in the export.
There are internal file size limits, so if you have a lot of content, you might have to open the export file in a plain text editor and break it up into smaller files so that it will import. You need to read up on this as there are specific parts of the file that have to be in each of the chunks.
8. Import your Links (blogroll) into your new site
9. Change the visibility of your WordPress.com blog to private
When your move is completed change the visibility of the WordPress.com blog to “private” so there is no duplicate content issue and keep it as a back-up blog. You can use the export function on your WordPress.org install to periodically export/import an XML file from the new blog to maintain current backup of content.
Have a blog launch party! :)
Do you have a WordPress.org install
Have you considered moving your blog to WordPress.org?
Related posts found in this blog:
Why I switched from Godaddy (WordPress.org) to WordPress.com
Become a WordPress.org Blogger: Free Video Tutorials
Tutorial: Setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org blog
WordPress Blog Import and Export