After having my blog for a while, I decided to take the plunge and switch from wordpress.com to a self-hosted wordpress.org blog.
What’s the difference?
I made the switch after feeling like my blog was picking up traffic, and I wanted to offer more. Having more creative freedom with themes and plugins was a big part of the decision for me.
What do I need to know?
These for me were the most important things to take into consideration before becoming self-hosted.
- When you switch to WordPress.org, you will need to migrate your followers. Guide here.
- If you want to make sure people can still follow you from a WordPress.com account you can create a button here.
- If you have an ‘example.wordpress.com’ site, you may need to consider purchasing the WordPress redirect service for your new URL.
- Features on your blog such as sharing buttons and themes won’t transfer to your new site, you’ll have to find the proper plugin. The bonus of this is you have much more control over plugins and custom themes!
- Remember, you won’t loose your content. As long as you export everything you’ll be fine!
- Make sure you have enough time to complete the process! Set aside a day or two depending on how technical you are.
- If you own your domain, for 48-72 hours (took about 12 for me), your domain will have to propagate. For example, I purchased my domain with 123-reg, therefore, I had to point the name servers at my host. In this period, my site switched between the old site and the new site until it settled.
The self-hosted Journey
I purchased a WordPress hosting package, there are plenty of other hosts out there but I chose them after hearing good feedback and knowing that they had 24hr help if I needed it. Live Chat is really a godsend.features a ‘one-click’ WordPress install. (Remember if you’ve not purchased your domain with your host, you need to point the name servers in the right place, ask a Live Chat rep if you’re a bit lost.) I followed the instructions and that bit was done and dusted!
Most hosts feature a ‘one-click’ WordPress install. (Remember if you’ve not purchased your domain with your host, you need to point the name servers in the right place, ask a support rep if you’re a bit lost.) I followed the instructions and that bit was done and dusted!
If your site needed the name servers to point your new host, you’ll have to wait for that to take effect before you can carry on.
At this point, I spoke to a rep on Live Chat to get the log-in for my new site. My username was my e-mail, and they set a password for me which I changed once I logged in. You’ll need to login to your new site at ‘yoururlhere.com/wp-admin’.
Exporting and Importing
Once you’re ready to switch, login to the old wordpress.com hosted site, and export all your content into an XML file. This will contain all of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts.
Then, login to your new site at ‘yoururlhere.com/wp-admin.’ Go to tools and import and choose WordPress.
*Tip: Before you import your content, you may want to download a Maintenance Mode Plugin, so you can add a ‘This site is under maintenance/Back soon’ type page whilst you’re working on your new site! Remember if you’re logged in you won’t see the maintenance page – check it’s working in an incognito window!
Upload your XML file, and assign the content to a user or create a new user. Select download and import file attachments. You should then see all of your content uploaded on your site! When I was doing this, I did have to do it twice before all of my posts came back.
Where is my theme :(
You’ll have a plain-looking WordPress site now without your theme. However now you can take advantage of the marketplace and WordPress themes, free & premium. You can also visit external sites and Etsy shops for custom and pre-made themes.
My new theme is from an external site. I uploaded it by downloading the theme I wanted (there is no need to un-zip the file), logging into my control panel and going to ManageWP. Back over at WordPress, in the Appearance tab, I customised my site as you would.
Which plugins to install?
There are so many plugins to choose from, it can be a little over-whelming. Here are a few I’d recommend as a good place to start. You can download them and upload them in the Plugin panel, or search for them and install them that way.
Jetpack – This will pop-up on your dashboard, connect Jetpack to your wordpress.com account. It’s a great all-around tool! I recommend starting with Jetpack, going through the settings and choosing the parts that are relevant to you and filling in the blanks with other plugins.
Askimet – A feature you’ll have seen on wordpress.com, a comment spam filter.
Broken Link Checker – This does what it says on the tin!
Easy Pie Maintenance Mode – I mentioned this earlier, just so I could work on my site without worrying about people looking it half-finished.
W3 Total Cache – This is a performance plugin to help with the speed of your site
WordPress SEO by Yoast– A really handy SEO tool with plenty of guides & instructions for SEO newbies!
There are so many more, spend a bit of time deciding what you need to get out of your site and finding the best plugin for it!
There’s now so much more freedom, I can add in all the plugins I want, run giveaways, take full advantage of affiliate schemes and build my domain authority more effectively.
I think I’ve covered everything I came across in this process. I hope that’s clear enough, I don’t half ramble do I! Any questions or advice – give me a shout on Twitter or leave comment! @sarahxsarahh