Moving a Site from WordPress.com to WordPress.Org 1


wordpress-logo-notext-rgbI know that a lot of people want to learn how to use WordPress, but don't want the expense of a web host (from $3.99 per month) or domain name (around $10 per year).  Therefore choosing WordPress.com to learn may seem like an obvious solution.   The thing is, the interface on WordPress.com is not the same as that for web-hosted WordPress.org websites, and you do not have all of the same options.  Therefore you cannot really learn WordPress fully using the free WordPress.com service.  The best option if you simply want to learn WordPress without paying for a host is to install WordPress on your own computer.  Yes, you can do that.  If you want to learn how, I have a course on Udemy that teaches you how to install WordPress on your own computer, then transfer it to a web host when you are ready.  That way you can learn WordPress without paying for a host or domain name.

Alternatively, you may have started a website on WordPress.com for a different reason.  A lot of people will start their first website on WordPress.com because it is a free way to “own” a website.  Sure, WordPress.com is free, but has a lot of limitations (not to mention unwated adverts and the fact that WordPress actually own your site and can close it down without notice).  As your site matures, you may want to start adding your own advertising, or plugins and themes that are prohibited on WordPress.com.  If that is the case, a web hosted WordPress site using the script from WordPress.org is the solution.

Switching to WordPress.org will give you a whole host of new features and freedom.  Fortunately, making the switch is not too difficult, and I will show you how to do it in this tutorial.

I should warn you though that not everything is moved across. Your content and images will be, as will categories and tags. That means the important stuff. You will need to change themes, add plugins and general setting up, but your content will be safe.

Before you start the move, you need to have web hosting, and a domain name where you want to move your website to. If you have not decided who to go with yet, do read my article on recommended web hosts.  I'd also recommend you read my comparison of two web hosts.  One is a really popular host, the other is one that use.

OK, so you have your WordPress.com site that you want to move, and a domain with WordPress installed awaiting the import.  Let's get on with it.

Step 1 – Export your Data from WordPress.com

Login to your WordPress.com website and click on the Settings menu in the left sidebar.

The settings screen has several tabs. Click on the Export tab, and then click the Export All button:

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After the export was successful, you will be emailed the exported data. However, you can also download it manually:

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The downloaded file will be a zip file that contains your website posts, pages, images, etc.

Step 2 – Import the Data into WordPress.org website

You’ve got your domain setup and WordPress installed (from WordPress.org). Login to the dashboard of your domain.

From the Tools menu in the left sidebar, select Import.

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At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see an option to import from WordPress. This is the option we will use, but first we need to install a plugin by clicking the Install Now link:

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Once installed, that Install Now link changes to Run Importer. Click the Run Importer link. You will be asked to choose a file to import.

The file you downloaded was a zip file. That is a compressed file that you need to unzip first. There are various free tools available that can do this for you, so search Google for free zip tool if you need one.

Once unzipped, your file will have an XML extension. This is the file we need to import. Click the Choose file button, and select the unzipped XML file.

Once you’ve selected the file, click the Upload File and Import button.

The next screen will give you the option of supplying an author name for the content.

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Select your username from the drop down box if you have the user already in your WordPress installation, or type in a new user you want to assign the content to.

Check the box to Download and import file attachments.

Not click the Submit button.

You should get a message saying:

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If you now go and visit your site, you should see that the content is now on your hosted domain:

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You can see that all of the important stuff has been moved over. This includes:

  1. The site title and tagline.
  2. The post categories.
  3. The posts.
  4. The images.

You cannot see from that screenshot but the WordPress Pages are also there:

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With all of the content across on your hosted domain, you can now choose themes and plugins, and set the site up to look as you want. It should not take you too long to get the site looking the same, or better than before.

Step 3 – Redirect the WordPress.com site to your new domain

Once the content has been moved across, you will have duplicate content. The same articles will be on your WordPress.com site, and your hosted domain.

What you do next will depend on whether your WordPress.com site had any links pointing to it, and organic search traffic.

No links or Traffic?

If your WordPress.com site does not have valuable links pointing to it, and does not get any real search engine traffic, you can set the site to Private.

To do that, login to your WordPress.com website and click on the settings menu. Click on the General tab:

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Select Private and click the Save Settings button.

Your site will now only be visible to you, and search engines should start deindexing your content on the site.

Has Good Links or Traffic?

If your WordPress.com site gets a lot of traffic from the search engines, or has valuable links pointing to it, you should redirect the old site to the new.

The problem is that you do not have access to the .htaccess file on WordPress.com to set up the redirects. The solution is to use a service provided by WordPress.com.

Login to your WordPress.com website and click on the Settings menu in the left sidebar.

On the setting screen, you will see a section called Site Address.

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Click on the link to redirect this site.

You then have the option of signing up for the WordPress.com service that will redirect your WordPress.com site to your new domain. At the time of writing, this service cost $13 per year.

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Once you have the redirect in place, you can forget about your old WordPress.com website. At any time, you can cancel the redirection service, but if you do, make sure you also delete your WordPress.com website or you’ll once again have your content duplicated on two websites.


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