I’m making this guide for all those out there using WordPress.com sites who may want to move to their own hosted service. There’s also moving from one self-hosted site to another, which I recently did, but that’ll be covered in another guide.
So, to start off, you should have a wordpress.com site that you want to move. This is one which is hosted by wordpress.com and probably has a url such as “blog.wordpress.com”. For this guide, I’ll be using my old site: triplezerox.wordpress.com as an example. At this stage, nothing needs to be changed with it. We’ll first need to find a new hosting provider and (optional) your own domain name.
Hosting set-up and Domain Names
There are an abundance of hosting providers out there, each with different plans, etc. A standard WordPress blog does not need anything fancy, and the cheapest plan will usually do. Specifically, WP only needs PHP5, MySQL and a web server such as Apache – this will generally be included and configured by your web hosting provider. Spend a good amount of time researching which provider you want – read reviews about their service, support, compare pricing, etc. Once you decide on one, you are usually with them for at least a month, but pricing is usually better when you sign up for longer period such as one year. There are plenty of reliable US based hosts, such as Bluehost but there are many available outside the US as well such as UnitedHosting and AltusHost. The main features of a plan that you should keep in mind are disk space, bandwidth.
Disk space will limit how much content your site can store. Text usually does not take up much space, but if you intend to have many images or other content on your site, it can really add up and so I’d recommend at least 500MB.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred to and from your site each month. This will vary according to the number of visitors and the content you have. Each time someone visits your site, they are (probably) downloading all the text and images which show up on it and that could amount to a few hundred kilobytes or a few megabytes. As a rough indicator, my site has averaged about 150k hits per month since it started, and my average traffic has varied from 30-50GB per month.
I‘ll leave the choice of a host up to you, but would be happy to provide my opinion on a host that you have in mind. I’ll be using Bluehost’s basic shared hosting as an example. This particular plan includes a domain name (e.g. “zxzxzx.info”) as part of the plan. Some other plans may not. If one is not included, you will have two options: ‘buy’ your own domain name, or use a free one. Free domain names are usually in the form “myname.hoster.com”, and as such, are not “top-level’. One thing to note is that the prices shown when signing up are usually a sign-up only price that only lasts for a year, that is, the renewal cost will generally cost more. In the case of bluehost, I believe it was $7.95 per month afterwards.
Now, regardless of which hosting provider you went with, the next steps will likely be the same. It will take some time for ‘propogation’ and set-up after you sign-up and pay for hosting until your site is ready. This will generally take several hours, but can take up to 48 hours. If you bought your own domain name separately, you will need to point your nameservers to your hosting provider.
Once everything is setup, you should be able to visit your site’s url and see a sample page which indicates that it is ready. You’ll now need to login to your hosting account to set things up. You should look for a “dashboard” or “cpanel” where various features and applications can be accessed. From there, look for something like “one-click installer”, “softaculous” or “installatron”. These are tools which will help you install everything you need for a WordPress blog without getting into the technical details. In the case of bluehost, I simply had to click on “Install WordPress”. You will want to install it at the root directory e.g. http://blogname.com/ so that is is accessible from that url.
Fill in any extra options that there may be with your own details. There’s no need to enter the username as I have, it could be anything you like, Installation should take just a few minutes. Once installation is complete, you will either see a coming soon page or a blank new WordPress blog. You can then login to your new site by appending “/wp-login.php” to the end of the url.
Login to your new site with the credentials that you made during setup and you will be presented with the familiar WordPress Dashboard.
First things first, we want it to be clean, with only what we need. Visit the Posts section, and delete any of the sample “Hello World!” posts which are there. I would recommend permanently deleting them by emptying the trash as well. Proceed to do the same for Pages and Comments.
Head into Appearance > Themes and click to add a new theme. You’ll then want to search for, install and then activate the theme which is on your old site. The name of your old theme can be found in the footer and this step is purely to maintain compatibility.
Feel free to customise anything in the Settings area to your liking. One particular setting you may want to change is “Permalinks”. Next, go to Tools > Import, and select WordPress. You will likely be prompted to install the WordPress importer plugin, which you should do. After installation is complete, head into the Plugins section.
Akismet, Jetpack, and WordPress Importer are what I see as the basics to get started. You can always add more as you go. Anything else which was pre-installed can be deactivated and deleted. It would be a good idea to activate Akismet (set the slider to $0) and connect to WordPress.com with Jetpack now – you can use your existing WordPress.com account. Feel free to customise your Jetpack options.
Back up and Import your old WordPress.com site
Head back over to your old site at wordpress.com and go to the admin panel / dashboard. From the sidebar menu, go to Tools > Export > Start Export. Make sure that all content is selected and then click on “Download File”. That file will contain all your data up to that point, and any new comments or changes afterwards will not be included so it would be best to let your site readers know.
Once that is done, simply go to Tools > Import > WordPress and select that file to be imported.
You will want to ensure that the settings are as I have above. This will import the original authors exactly as they are, and retain them on all their posts and also download all the images which were on your site. Once done, head to the Users section to ensure that the roles and other details are correct.
Not everything will be perfect, but all the important things should be there. If you had any sidebar widgets, those will need to be redone, but that’s usually just a copy paste job. Any header and featured images will probably need to be set again. Menus should also be functional, although you may need to tweak them a bit.
Most things should now be complete, and you should stop using the old site so that only one of them remains up to date. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Also, I’ve realised that I may have used a lot of technical terms in this post, so just let me know if anything is unclear.
Original Site: http://triplezerox.wordpress.com/
http://126.96.36.199/test/Update: Link above is dead now as I have moved from host.