So, you’ve got a blog running on the free hosted WordPress.com platform.
But you soon realized that you want to expand your blog, but WordPress.com sets several limits that keep you from customizing your blog as you wish. What do you do now?
You’ve probably heard that the “real” WordPress most website owners are raving about is in WordPress.org. So perhaps it made you ask this question, “Can I move over my old WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org?”.
Yes, you can absolutely migrate your existing blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. This guide will show you how.
Plus, learn about why migrating your blog to WordPress.org is a better idea instead of upgrading to paid plans on WordPress.com.
When to Make the Move
Your free WordPress.com blog is up and running for quite some time now. But when should you be thinking of switching it over to WordPress.org?
WordPress.com has lots of limitations that prevent you from making the most out of your blog. And here are some specific reasons why you might consider moving your blog to WordPress.org.
When Monetization Matters
An amazing blog that attracts a continuous stream of visitors could also attract a continuous stream of income for its owner.
Let’s say that your WordPress.com blog is starting to become popular, with a steady number of subscribers to boot. Why wouldn’t you monetize it
This is because WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to.
WordPress.com prohibits you to put up ads for monetization. Your visitors can see WordPress.com ads all over your site, but you don’t earn anything from it.
The platform has its WordAds feature (unlocked if you upgrade to Premium or Business plan), but you have to share your revenues with WordPress.com.
If you want to earn some side cash through your blog, you can migrate it to WordPress.org to get started.
WordPress.org allows you set-up your own ads and lets you keep your profits to yourself. There are no limits to the ad networks you can apply to if you’re using WordPress.org.
When You Want to Update Your Site’s Look
Tired of how plain your existing WordPress.com blog looks? Perhaps you’d like to install custom-made themes or add some exciting plugins to your site.
But it’s frustrating to learn that WordPress.com doesn’t allow its Free Plan users to install their own themes and plugins.
You’d have to upgrade to their paid plans to unlock these customization features.
The solution is to migrate your existing blog over to WordPress.org. This platform allows you to upload any theme and plugin you wish, without limitations.
You can finally overhaul your blog’s look and functionality to make it as customized as you want, only in WordPress.org.
When You’re Ready to Up Your Blogging Career
It is a wise decision to move your blog to WordPress.org if you want to expand it to further your blogging career.
WordPress.com has lots of limitations that prevent serious bloggers from stepping up their blogging games. This includes limits on storage, domain name, statistics monitoring, and security.
Again, upgrading to paid plans is the only solution they have to let you upgrade your blog on their platform. But this may be too costly on your part.
Migrating to WordPress.org gives you free rein over the limitations that WordPress.com has set.
You have larger storage space (though this is included in your hosting provider’s plan), you don’t have to add wordpress.com at the end of your blog address, you can install and use any third-party stats monitoring as you wish, and your blog is fully yours without threats of being put down without notice.
All these can be done at a lower cost than if you upgrade to paid WordPress.com plans.
The Migration Proper: Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
Ready to switch your blog over to WordPress.org? Here’s how:
Get a WordPress Hosting Account
Web hosting accounts are where your blog’s data are stored and served. Think of it as an Internet home to your entire blog’s files.
Hosting is not a problem with your existing WordPress.com blog, since the platform already takes care of the hosting for you. But if you’re moving to WordPress.org, you’ll need your own hosting account.
Purchase a plan from a web hosting provider of your choice. Some of the hosting providers you can pick from are the following:
Assess your needs and select the right plans from the provider you think will fill in those needs.
Set-up your custom Domain Name
Domain name is basically your blog’s Internet website address. If you used a custom domain name in your existing WordPress.com blog, you can continue using it for your new WordPress.org site.
Otherwise, you can purchase a new domain name. Most hosting provider plans offer custom domain names for free or for a small additional charge.
Install WordPress on your Hosting Account
Once you have your hosting account and domain name, you can now set-up a new WordPress.org installation.
How WordPress is installed may vary depending on your web hosting provider. Some web hosts automatically install WordPress for you.
If not, refer to your specific provider’s instructions for further details.
After successful installation, you may now log-in to WordPress.org using the credentials sent to you by your provider.
Export your blog’s data from WordPress.com
You must take your existing blog’s files and export them from WordPress.com so that you can migrate it properly to WordPress.org. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open your WordPress.com account and head to your Dashboard.
- Select the WP Admin link from the left column. Your blog admin area will appear.
- Click on Tools, then choose Export.
- A new page appears prompting you to choose between a paid Guided Transfer or a free Export Select the free export by clicking on the blue Start Export button.
- The Export screen appears. Click on the All content radio button so that your entire blog data will be included in the export file.
- Click the Download Export File button at the bottom of the page.
- com will proceed to create and download an XML file containing all the elements included in your existing blog.
- Save the XML file in a suitable place on your computer.
Import your contents to your new WordPress.org site
With the XML file already in your computer, you can now start importing your blog to WordPress.org.
- Open your new WordPress.org account and go to the Admin area.
- Click on Tools, then select Import.
- Click the Install Now link underneath the WordPress WordPress Importer plugin will then be installed.
- Once installed, click on the Run Importer
- A page appears prompting you to upload your exported XML file. Click the Choose File button, select the XML file you got from WordPress.com earlier, then click the blue Upload file and import
- If your XML file is larger than the upload limit shown on the screen, you can either use a WXR file splitter or request temporary increase of upload limit from your web host to continue with the import process.
- Once your file is uploaded, assign a new or existing author to your posts by clicking on the appropriate drop-down lists shown on the page.
- Click the Download and import file attachments checkbox just below the Assign Authors Don’t skip this step so that your images will be uploaded correctly.
- Click the Submit
- A message will appear prompting you of a successful import once it’s all done.
Import Blogroll Links
WordPress.com has a Links feature that is used to store blogrolls and other links. If you’ve used this, you may as well import them to your new WordPress.org blog now.
- Locate your WordPress.com link files by opening an address similar to this:
- Replace the word “example” with your blog’s subdomain name. Omit “wordpress.com” and type in your entire domain name if your existing blog already uses a custom domain name.
- Your exported blogroll files will open in a browser window. It will present as an OPML file, a type of XML file format that allows links and link categories to be exported and imported.
- Save your OPML file to your computer by pressing CTRL+S for Windows users or Command+S for Mac users.
You can now proceed to importing the OPML file to your new WordPress.org site. WordPress.org doesn’t have a pre-installed link manager feature, so you need to install the Link Manager plugin first from the WordPress Plugin Database. If you can’t find this plugin, search for the updated version called Simple Links and install it to your site.
After installing WordPress Link Manager or Simple Links, follow these steps:
- Navigate back to your WordPress.org admin area.
- Select Tools, then choose Import.
- Click Blogroll. WordPress automatically installs the OPML importer.
- Once installation is completed, click on Run Importer.
- The Importer screen will appear, prompting you to choose the OPML file you wish to upload. Click on Import OPML file once you’ve indicated your saved OPML file.
- A screen appears showing you the progress of the link uploads. After that, a success message which includes the names of your uploaded links will appear.
You have now successfully uploaded your blogroll to your new site.
Make your WordPress.com blog private
You must now set your old WordPress.com blog in private mode to keep your old visitors from accessing your old site.
- Login to your WordPress.com dashboard and admin panel.
- Click on Settings, then choose Reading.
- Scroll to the Site Visibility section and choose the last option “I would like my site to be private, visible only to myself and users I choose”.
- Save your settings.
Set up Redirects and keep your SEO Rankings
If your blog already has a loyal and large following, you can create redirects to your new site to let your subscribers know of your switch to WordPress.org. This can also help you keep your SEO rankings.
WordPress.com has a paid Site Redirect feature which costs $13 annually.
You have no choice but to use this feature, since you can’t create a standard 301 header redirect manually on WordPress.com. It’s because access to .htaccess is not allowed in the platform.
Avail of the Site Redirect feature by following these steps:
- Login to your WordPress.com dashboard.
- Click on Settings.
- Click the blue redirect link found underneath the Site Address
- Type in your new WordPress.org domain name where your subscribers will be redirected.
- Click on the blue Go
It is recommended that you keep the Site Redirect feature on for around 1-2 years. That’s already ample time for most of your subscribers to get used to your new domain name under WordPress.org.
That’s it! You’ve successfully migrated your WordPress.com blog to a fresh WordPress.org site!
You are now free to experiment with your new blog by adding various plugins, changing themes, scheduling backups, and adding statistics tracking tools.
Let your imagination run free now; there are no limits to your blog this time around.
Wrapping it All Up
It is possible to move your WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress.org site. The migration process is simple and you can complete it within a few hours.
Moving to WordPress.org is a great option if your blog is getting larger and you’d need more flexibility in customizing its look and functionality.
It’s also recommended if you want to start monetizing your blog.
The costs of migrating your blog are considerably less than upgrading to a paid plan in WordPress.com.
It only requires you to purchase your own web host provider and domain name, and then a subscription to WordPress.com’s Site Redirect feature for 1-2 years to drive your old visitors to your new site.
After that, most tools in WordPress.org are completely free to use.
What’s stopping you from moving to WordPress.org? Follow the steps in this guide so you can go ahead and make your blog even better than before.