It’s not too much trouble to move your blog from the free, hosted WordPress.com platform to your own web server. When you have your blog on your own server, we say that it is self-hosted to note the difference from having it hosted on WordPress.com. Some folks will call this using WordPress.org, but WordPress.org is actually where you download the software from. I don’t want to argue about names, but I want to make sure we all know what we’re talking about.
I wanted to write this post because this is a common question I get. I receive several inquiries about this a month, so for the benefit of anyone seeking answers, I wanted to give an overview. If you want a detailed step-by-step tutorial, that’s not what this is.
When you have a blog hosted on WordPress.com, they take care of a lot of technical stuff for you. You never have to mess with installations or upgrades. You don’t have to create databases. You never have to deal with domains (unless you want to). All you have to do is create your blog, pick a theme (the look or design of your blog, sometimes called a template), and start posting.
Nothing could be better? Right?
- Soon or later, you find out that out of all five billion themes available, you don’t really like any of them, but you have little to no say (or skill) in customizing all but a very few of them.
- Sooner or later, you discover that all the cool functionality other blogs have from something called plugins is verboten to you on WordPress.com.
Plus, having the blog separate from your main site messes up search results because you’re sending people to two different places. It sorta weakens your search strength.
Lastly, the blog is simply out of your control. Other people could decide to try and get your blog banned, or WordPress.com might make some decision in the future that you will not be happy with, and then what would you do?
If you were wondering why so many bloggers recommend that you host your own blog, I hope now you can see why a little more clearly. Of course the problem with such a move is that it requires technical skills and knowledge which many beginners don’t have (and frankly, don’t want). Unless you can do this yourself, you will probably need to pay someone to do it for you.
Here’s how the overall process works:
- Make sure the server meets the minimum requirements to run WordPress
- Delete all the spam comments on the WordPress.com blog
- Export your posts and all data from WordPress.com
- If needed, create a MySQL database on the new server
- Install and configure WordPress on your own web server
- Import the WordPress data
- Install theme(s)
- Install and configure additional plugins
- Repoint the domain name (if you had your own to begin with), so that when people visit they get the new self-hosted blog location instead of the old WordPress.com location
These exact steps are different for different hosting companies’ control panels and so forth. That’s why this couldn’t be an exact step-by-step tutorial, even if I wanted it to be. I do not recommend using your web host’s “easy installation” of WordPress. It will likely not be the latest version (important for security reasons) and you have less control over it.
There can be a few “gotchas” along the way, such as:
- Database issues (WordPress stores all of its posts and other information in a database, so problems with this can be frustrating and difficult)
- Domain name issues (your “dot com name”)
- Settings on the web server may not be correct
- Links in old posts that worked fine at WordPress.com now broken
How long does the entire migration process take? Well, I can only speak for myself, but if all goes smoothly I can usually do it in two or three hours. Your web hosting company may also be able to help you with this via technical support.
I’ve tried to make this as beginner-friendly an overview as possible. If there’s anything you don’t understand or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below with your general questions. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss any updates!
Photo by The Muuj