If you have a blog hosted through the free version of WordPress.com and want to move to a self-hosted WordPress site (WordPress.org), I put together this step-by-step guide for you.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- How to get web hosting (with a new domain or transfer domain)
- How to install WordPress (.org) with a simple click
- How to Transfer your Blog from free WordPress.com
- How to connect an Existing Domain to your new website
Read through these steps before you get started with moving your free blog to self-hosted WordPress.
How to Get Web Hosting for your Blog
First, congrats on deciding to move from your free website to a self-hosted. Many people start out with a free blogging platform and then realize that if they want to get serious about earning an income, a self-hosted website is the way to go.
Using a free blog will present many obstacles for you as a monetization model in the long-term. It’s free right? You don’t actually own it!
Free blogging platforms have many policies that can limit what you can do with your own blog! When you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you have no limitations. Your blog is your asset. You’ll also have more choices for Themes for WordPress and plugins.
Learn more about why you need a self-hosted blog if you want to make money.
Before you do anything, you’ll need to chose a web hosting provider and purchase a hosting plan. These companies have the technology to allow blog content to be available on the Internet via a domain name (URL).
There are many providers that you can choose from. Believe me, I’ve been with many of them over the years. I just switched to SiteGround because they were above the others in all categories, especially speed.
Learn more about the top five reasons why SiteGround is worth it.
Get Started with SiteGround Web Hosting
Getting set up with SiteGround web hosting is super simple!
1 – Go to SiteGround
.2 – Choose your hosting plan
SiteGround has three plans and you can get a great discount! I use the GoGeek plan because it’s faster! Choose the best plan for your blog. You can always upgrade later. If you are just getting started, the StartUp plan is perfect for you!
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves a WordPress and Joomla website speed
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration
3 – Choosing your Domain
You can either purchase a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain. If you already have a blog with a domain, SiteGround offers a FREE website s service that’s include with their hosting services.
4 – Review and Complete
Fill in all the information in the form. Choose the period of time that you want hosting services. You get a discount for signing up for a one year minimum. It’s a great deal!
If you a purchasing a new domain name, be sure to check the Privacy box at the bottom of the page. This is to ensure that your personal information is kept private. If not, domain owner information is made public. This is true regardless of where you register your domain name.
The SG Scanner is optional. It’s good to have but not necessary if you need to save a few bucks.
Complete the purchase information and click Pay Now.
Once you submit your purchase, you will receive an email with information on how to log into your account. Follow those instructions and then move to the next step to install WordPress. Don’t worry, it’s easy peasy.
Install WordPress.org on your Self Hosted Website
After your account is ready for you on SiteGround, log into it. You will be on the Home tab.
1 – Click My Accounts and then click Go to cPanel.
3 – On the WordPress page, click Install Now.
4 – On the Software Setup page, select the Protocol, Domain, Directory and then fill in your Site Settings. Be sure to write down your admin username and password in a safe place so you don’t forget it! You’ll need it to log into WordPress.
5 – When finished, click Install. You will receive an email when the installation is complete.
Transfer your Blog from Free WordPress to Self-Hosted
Before you do anything else, you will have to export all the data from your existing Free WordPress.com blog. This data includes posts, pages, categories, tags, comments, etc.
After you download all the data, you’ll upload it to your new website.
NOTE the following:
- If you have a new domain for your self-hosted site, follow these steps.
- If you are transferring a domain, you’ll have to connect your existing domain to your new self-hosted site before doing the Import step.
Export your blog posts from Free WordPress
- Log into your WordPress.com dashboard.
- Select My Site > Settings and then select Export under Site Tools.
- Click Export All. An .xml file will download to your computer. Take note of where this file is. You’ll need to import it into your new hosted website.
Import your blog posts to Self-Hosted WordPress
- Log into your new WordPress dashboard. Usually it’s domainname.com/wp-admin. Remember, you wrote down the user name and password.
- In the WordPress Admin Dashboard of your self-hosted WordPress site, go to Tools > Import and then select WordPress. If it hasn’t been installed yet, you will be prompted to install the WordPress Importer plugin.
- After you install it, select the .xml file that you downloaded in the Export step.
- Click Upload file and import, and select the option to Download & import file attachments.
All your posts will be available at your new website! Congrats!
How to Connect an Existing Domain to your New Website
If you did not choose a new domain name when you set up your webhosting and you selected to transfer your domain, follow this step before you import your blog posts to your new website.
You’ll need this first:
- The new name servers for your hosting account. In the SiteGound cPanel, the name servers are in the upper left. You will see two name servers and you’ll need both.
Ready to point your existing domain to your new self-hosted website? Great. There is a term called DNS. This means Domain Name Server. You will be using custom DNS to point your existing domain to your new website.
All domain registration companies have their own way to access the custom DNS feature. I will show you one. If you have trouble, you’ll have to contact your domain name registration company.
- Log into the account where you registered your existing domain name.
- You should be able to do something like Manage your domain.
- Find the button to change your domain name servers.
- Select custom and enter one name server on each line and then save. It may look something like this:
After you change the name servers to point to your new website, it takes time for it to propagate through the Internet. Usually the official waiting time is 24 to 48 hours, but it’s usually less than an hour.
All that means is the time it takes for your DNS change to take effect!
Final Thoughts on Moving your Free Blog to Self-Hosted WordPress
Whew! On paper these steps seem long but in reality they take about 10 or 15 minutes to perform. Once you have your new self-hosted site set up and all your blog posts imported, you can start working on installing a nice WordPress theme and getting it all set the way you want!
I am super excited for you as you start your blogging journey. Please do come back and leave a comment letting me know how I can find your website!
I hope that you found this helpful. Do share if you know anyone who might benefit from these steps.