Moving Your Blog from WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org: Resources and Tips

Moving my blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted site using WordPress.org software was far easier than I ever imagined. The process is not nearly as terrifying, complex, or time consuming as some would lead you to believe if you are prepared.

In this article, I will share the resources I used to ensure a smooth transition and special tips and alerts to make your blog move easier too.

Here’s a brief explanation of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org from the Automattic team:

“WordPress.com is a hosting platform that makes it easy for anyone to publish online. You don’t have to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server. WordPress.com has hundreds of themes, and includes the functionality of many plugins, but you can’t upload your own plugins or themes.

WordPress.org offers free software that you can install on a web server. You can upload and install themes and plugins, run ads, and edit the database.”

In short, WordPress.org offers far more freedom, but requires taking more responsibility. Want to know more? Read the complete explanation.

Guided Transfer: For the Technophobic

If all things technical make your knees knock, the best choice for you might be a Guided Transfer. For $129, a WordPress.com Happiness Engineer will install WordPress software at one of their recommended hosts, transfer your blog, and provide additional support for a two-week period.

Resources for Transferring Your Blog to Self Hosting

If you prefer to make the move on your own, unless you are a tech whiz, you will most likely want to have a technically inclined friend willing and available to offer support as needed.

Your first three action steps for setting up your new “empty” site include:

  1. Purchasing a Domain Name (or Redirecting Your Name Servers if you already own your domain name);
  2. Finding a Web Host;
  3. Downloading and Installing WordPress software.

These are the steps that must be taken before you can export your blog from WordPress.com and import your blog contents into WordPress.org software on your self-hosted site.

Read these articles and watch the recommended video before you start the process. They will take you step-by-step through the process so you can avoid any pitfalls.

Special Blog Set Up Tips and Alerts

Once you’ve followed the links, you will have a good overview of how to transfer your blog and, I hope, will feel more confident about the process.

But, don’t dive yet! Following are some steps I recommend considering before you leap into exporting your blog or as soon as your import is complete. By thinking it through ahead of time, you will be able to get the features you want in place quickly rather than ending up without a subscription service, for example, and not knowing where to get one or how to set it up.

Themes

What theme would you like use on your new blog? Decide in advance so you can install it before or immediately after the transfer.

Unlike WordPress.com, your new WordPress.org blog will appear with only two theme options: Twenty-Eleven and Twenty-Ten. You will have to “install” any other theme you would like to use.

Many, but not all, of the free WordPress.com themes are also available for your self-hosted blog and there are more than 1,500 other free themes to choose from.

Check the theme directory at WordPress.org to see if your current theme is available or browse the expanded selection of options available to you there.

You might feel like a kid in a candy store – especially if you are a theme junkie like me – with hundreds of new theme options. You could easily waste hours or even days previewing the multitude of themes. Sooner or later, however, you will discover that most free themes are not well-constructed. Some of your best bets are the themes you liked on WordPress.com, if available, those listed as popular on the sidebar at the WordPress.org theme directory, or themes you’ve admired as you’ve traveled the blogosphere.

Now that you are self-hosted, you also have the option to purchase a WordPress theme. Paid themes typically offer more options and flexibility than a free theme. Some of the most popular theme makers include DIY Themes (Thesis), Studio Press (Genesis), Woo Themes, and Elegant Themes.

Once you’ve decided on a theme, with rare exceptions like Thesis, you can install it with a few clicks on your dashboard:

  • Appearance > Themes > Install.

Search for the theme by name, click the install now button after it appears in the window, and then activate. The second way to install a theme is to download the zip file at WordPress.org and then upload it here:

  • Appearance > Themes > Upload.

Email Subscriptions

Understandably, you don’t want to lose a single treasured reader. And, you’ll want to set up your subscription service for new subscribers to sign on first thing on your self-hosted blog.

Happily, the staff at WordPress.com will transfer your current subscribers from your WordPress.com blog to your new self-hosted site if you install the Jetpack Plugin by WordPress.com first. The Jetpack Plugin offers several handy features – mostly free and some paid – that you’re already accustomed to as a WordPress.com blogger. Free features include subscriptions, social media sharing, wordpress.com stats, spelling and grammar, a contact form, among others.

Installing the Jetpack plugin was one of the first steps I took after exporting my blog to the new site.

Install the Jetpack by WordPress.com plugin here:

  • Dashboard > Plugins > Add New > Search for Jetpack by WordPress.com and follow the installation instructions.

Once the Jetpack plugin is installed, contact WordPress.com staff and ask them to transfer your subscribers from your WordPress.com site to your new self-hosted blog. I was amazed by how quickly the staff responded. The transfer was complete in a matter of hours.

Three words of warning.

1. More than 100 of my subscribers vanished into thin air during the transfer never to be recovered again. While the staff was very concerned, they weren’t able to correct the problem. This was probably a rare anomaly; after all life happens.

2. Don’t count on your subscribers subscribing to your new blog in hordes if you opt out of the subscription transfer. Experience consistently indicates that only a small percentage of subscribers will sign on to your new blog even after being requested to do so through a special bells and whistles blog announcement or two. People are busy, they may miss the announcement, or actually want a divorce.

3. The WordPress.com (Jetpack enabled) subscription service does not allow you to download a file of your email subscribers. Because of this, I chose the free Feedburner email subscription service for my new subscribers. So I currently have:

  • the Jetpack plugin subscription service for sending new posts to my old subscribers;
  • the free Feedburner service in my blog sidebar for signing up new email (and RSS) subscribers.

This is important should you ever wish to use your subscription list for sending communications other than blog posts to your subscribers. This could be anything from a free newsletter to an announcement about a paid e-course. Setting up Feedburner was one of my first steps.

Plugins

“Plugins” are software components that add specific abilities to your blog. Some function like the widgets you are accustomed to using on WordPress.com and others offer additional features like data base back-up, a contact form, social media icons, comment luv, SEO support and much more. You can read about the most important plugins in the articles linked to above.

There are thousands of plug-ins. Like themes, you could go wild. But here’s the cautionary point. Plugins increase the loading time of your blog so the fewer the better. Also, plugins sometimes conflict with one another and then cause mysterious problems on your blog. For example, a spam plugin I tried blocked comments all together! A recently installed plugin is a hot suspect when you suddenly experience glitches on your blog.

Hitches

Even with excellent preparation, I ran into a few minor hitches but nothing major. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the Google Analytics plugin until I finally realized that I had to set up a Google Analytics account first. I couldn’t figure out how to set up a plugin or two so I just opted for another choice.

Moments of frustration and confusion are bound to happen. Breathe, try again, do a web search for the problem, or ask a techie friend. You’ll sort it out in time!

After a few hours of advance preparation, it only took an hour or two to set up my new site, export my blog, and set up the most important features and plugins.

I haven’t had a single regret or a significant problem since moving my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org a few months ago. My traffic did not diminish significantly and my Google Page Rank did not dive to zero. I assume this is due to owning my own domain name for more than a year and having a good network in the blogosphere.

I’m grateful for the fantastic support I received as a WordPress.com blogger and consider WordPress.com an excellent blogging platform. But, I’m far happier now to have full control over my blog and not be subject to the limitations and policies that come along with any hosted format.

Have you considered moving from WordPress.com to self-hosting? Has anything held you back? If you’ve made a successful move, do you have any tips to share?

Sandra PawulaAbout the Author: Sandra Pawula is a freelance writer and inner explorer. Her aspiration is to help others find greater happiness and freedom. She writes about personal transformation at Always Well Within.

97 thoughts on “Moving Your Blog from WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org: Resources and Tips

  1. Hey thank you for your post and information. I have four wp.com blogs and have just transferred all the content into a new website and it’s associated blog tab to consolidate all the blogs and website content into one single place so as not to lose rankings when people visit the blogs instead of my website. It is all built on a wp.org self hosted site that is a merge of my old website and blogs to one place.. dynamicdraintechnologies.com.

    My question is, and sorry if you have answered it already, when people search for our services, the old blogs addresses still come up in search results. I don’t want to lose that but I want to have them go to my new site instead of the old site.

    If I delete and point the old blog domain names to my new site I fear I will have nothing but broken links when people click on my old blogs in search engines.

    If I redirect the old blogs to the new one, the old blog still exists and my new site will never be the most popular in search rankings.

    And to add insult to injury we are currently deploying lots of SEO into our site which is changing the link structure and permalinks across our site which is causing a lot of dead links to occur and creating a headache of epic proportions!

    I feel like we are all over the place and scrambling towards a never ending-facade of constantly updating links throughout our site when we should be using this time to make new posts and site content.

    If you have any insight into this or anyone else can offer help to lay out this unruly bag of snakes for us I would greatly appreciate it. My email is mark at dynamicdrain dot net.

    Thank you so much for your time in advance!

  2. I am pretty new to blogging, and just switched over from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. I just copied and pasted the old content, since I only had a few posts. My question is about commenting on other blogs when I opt for the wordpress option. It still links to my old blog with the .wordpress in the url. Is there a way around this? It seems that it is hard for wordpress users to sometimes comment on blogger blogs anyway, but I feel like I must be missing something. So much new lingo and information in such a little time is overwhelming. And the above exchange with that one guy has me worried I’m supposed to only ask questions in a certain place?

    • I can’t help you with this. You need to get help from the WordPress.org support forums and they are here http://wordpress.org/support/ If you don’t have a username account at WordPress.org, click that link and register one on the top right hand corner of the page that opens, so you can post to the correct support forums for your software.

  3. Hi there, and thank you for this post, helped a lot…now I just need to try tomake this work on my blog :) Have you got an idea, if andif then how I can show the blogs I follow on my blog?

  4. I’n new to blogging, and, after a couple of weeks on wp.com I thought I could just move over to wp.org. My bad. I did the setup, hosting and all that stuff okay. But I got there and learned about “plugins”. Didn’t know what they were, what they did and that many of them were already included in my wp.com site. Then I installed one that I needed a tech genius to get setup properly and the owner wanted to charge me $150.00 to do that. Whoa! And I don’t even have readers and subscribers yet. I don’t think so. So, my best decision was to mossy on back to wp.com until I can learn what I’m doing, build some readership and build some content into my blog. The transfer process was not hard for me, but the “what to do next setup process” was a nightmare. When I’m ready, I’ll be back.

  5. Thank you so much for this post….very, very helpful.

    I have another question that I hope you might be able to answer.

    I am planning on moving my blog to wordpress.org but it occurs to me that since I have not had my blog for very long and have as yet to acquire very much of a following (unless you count my mom commenting on everything) maybe I should just start over fresh with the wordpress.org rather than trying to transfer my blog.

    So my question is can I keep my current blog on wordpress.com and still create a brand new blog on wordpress.org cancelling the .com one once I have everything rolling with the .org site??

    Thank you so much in advance for your help :-)

    Jena

  6. Hi there Sandra
    thanks so much for all this brilliant info. I have just moved my bog from wordpress.com to .org and it was all going well until I realised that you can’t actually see my old posts). I know that this is a beginners questions, but if you have time could you point me in the right direction for an answer? I think its probably something really simple that I need to do. I have installed jetpack and changed the name-servers so my new blog is just out there looking trashy for the world to see! I have trawled all the support forums for hours but I am no closer to finding an answer. If you are too busy, that’s ok, just thought I would ask. Have a happy new year.
    thanks

    • Hi Margaret,
      I’m responding as it is the holiday season and Sandra may not be able to reply right away. I don’t know why your earlier posts are not appearing in your install. I do know that they ought to be included in the XML export file you created. I also know that if you need help with importing an XML export file that you will need to create WordPress.org username account so you can post to their support forums. You do that on the top right corner of this page http://wordpress.org/support/ I hope this helps. Best wishes with your new site.

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate this. Yes my posts are definitely in the export file but are mysteriously not showing. All the other content is there though ( about page etc.) I will do what you suggested and post a query to the support forum. Thanks again. This is a great site.

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