It is common for starting businesses to create a WordPress.com website. But with time and growth, you realize there is a need to upgrade to a WordPress.org website that is self-hosted.
Central to this fact is that WordPress.com comes with limitations like the inability to monetize, you can’t place ads on your site, and you are not able to install plugins, among other useful items that make sites profitable to the owner. With WordPress.org, you will be in charge and have complete ownership of the site, plus have all the administrative powers to operate the website as you wish.
What Do You require for the Migration?
For starters, having a WordPress.org website that you self-host you will need a domain name and a WordPress hosting. WordPress recommends Bluehost, SiteGround as some of the hosting providers, but there are others out there.
If you already have a domain name, then it is time to look for web hosting. You can transfer your website and still retain the domain name and the SEO rankings.
You also need the hosting account and have access to your current Wordprss.com account to enable you to transfer both images, posts, pages, comments, and all the data to your new WordPress.org website. You can choose to hire an IT firm to help in the migration at a fee to avoid missing on a step.
However, if you have the DIY attitude, here is a step by step guide through the migration process.
Export Data to WordPress.org
You will need access to your WordPress.com and go to your admin’s dashboard. There is a column on the left where you should click on the WP Admin to access the admin area of the site. Click on the export feature to open a new page that will have two options: Guided transfer or Free transfer. By clicking on the Start Export option, you choose the free transfer choice.
The next screen will come with an option asking about the data you want to export. Choose all content and then download an XML file to your computer. It will contain all the information including categories, menus, navigation fields, tags, comments, menus, among others.
WordPress Setup and Importing Content
It is quite easy to set up WordPress now that you have the exported XML files. It only requires a few clicks. If you use Bluehost, WordPress will install automatically. Once you have it in place, log in and delete the default page and post. After installing WordPress, you can now import the content in the XML file into the new website.
Importing Content into Your WordPress.org Site
Login into your new WordPress.org site and get the dashboard or admin area of the site. Go to the tools import page to find the “Install Now” choice right under WordPress and then click on the importer button to proceed. This will lead you to a new page that will request an upload of the XML file that you downloaded in the first step of this guide.
In case your file size exceeds 2 MB, you will have two alternatives. First, you can ask your web hosting company to increase the space size temporarily, so you upload the file. Or use a WXR file splitter to divide your XML file before uploading it.
You should then assign the content to a user by creating a new one or the current user. Check the import your old attachment files section so your files can be imported with the images.
Import Your Blogroll Links
If you were storing your links or blogroll links by use of the links feature, you need to export them in OPML format, which will be present in a link (http://www.example.com/wp-links-opml.php) if you have a domain name.
You can open the OPML file in your browser window and save it on your local disc. Press CTRL+S to avail a backup for the links on your computer. You can then import your link files by the help of a plugin known as Link Manager (which will add a links label on the dashboard to help you manage them).
Hide Your WordPress.com Website
It is now time to redirect your old audience into your new website. Go to the admin area of the WordPress.com, settings, reading, and find the site visibility section. Select the circle with “I would like my site to be private” and you will be done.
Preserve Your SEO Rankings
If you had a following and was already indexed on your previous site, you should just redirect your old site into the new one. You can’t do it on your own, and therefore, you will have to seek help from WordPress. There is a Site Redirect feature that you can pay to redirect the old site and retain the search engine rankings. Click on it and provide a domain name you want your audience to redirect. Now click go, and you are through.
There you go! — a step by step guide for moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org in the right manner. Try it out and share your experience.