How to Move from a Free WordPress Website to a Self Hosted – (Step by Step Guide for Beginners)

This article is for only those with an existing free hosted website (e.g.mywebsite.wordpress.com) which is WORDPRESS.COM but wish to migrate to a self-hosted website (e.g.mywebsite.com) which is WORDPRESS.ORG.

 

WordPress.com is one of the most popular ways of making a website, but it comes with severe limitations like disallowing plugin usage, limiting your earning capacity and many other limitations. WordPress.org on the other sense opens up a wealth of options such as adding extra functionality, and provides the underlying freedom of owning and being in control of your entire website.

 

Moving your WordPress.com to a self hosted website is a very common desire for many bloggers who are wishing to exercise more control over their website as well as increase their audience base. The process is very easy as this guide will walk you through the entire process of moving from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.

 

I will start by establishing the differences between these two, guiding you through on how to successfully transfer all your website contents from your previous free hosted website to your new self-hosted website ans also ensuring the technical setup is eased and transfer of your site comes very easy.

 

Free Hosted Website vs Self Hosted WordPress Website

 

Free Hosted Website vs Self Hosted WordPress Website

 

To easily distinguish these two from each other, a free hosted WordPress website ends with the extension ‘.wordpress.com’ (e.g. gospelbreeddesigns.wordpress.com), while a self hosted one have a .com, .org.net or any other extension apart from the former- with an addition of  ‘wordpress’ before it.

 

A ‘wordpress.com‘can be likened to you renting a free space (i.e. an apartment owned by WordPress.com). You have to abide by their rules and ask for permission and even get to pay an extra fee before any major changes can be made to your rented space.

 

While using a wordpress.org is like owning your own apartment. You buy your own domain and hosting and you get the freedom to download and install any theme or plugin from the WordPress repository.

 

Many beginners often start with ‘wordpress.com‘ and soon they begin to realize the limitations faced from its use and would want to migrate to a self hosted WordPress.org platform.

 

This could be because a free-hosted WordPress website does not give complete ownership of website and does not grant users the freedom to control all its features, plus the ways of earning are limited among other disadvantages.

 

In this next step, I will show you how to properly move your website to a self-hosted one without losing any of your post or contents.

 

Things Needed Before Moving to a Self-Hosted Website

 

Before deciding to move to a self-hosted website, you will need to have purchased a domain name and hosting plan and ensure you have installed WordPress on your hosting.

 

All of these I have explained in a former blog post, you can click here if you missed that step

 

After buying a domain name, hosting and installing WordPress, then follow the steps below:

 

STEP 1: EXPORTING YOUR CONTENTS FROM YOUR FORMER WORDPRESS.COM WEBSITE

First, you need to sign in to your WordPress.com account and go to your blog dashboard.

 

EXPORTING YOUR CONTENTS FROM YOUR FORMER WORDPRESS.COM WEBSITE

 

From the left options, you will click on the WP Admin to access your admin panel.

Thereafter click on TOOLS >>EXPORT

Export tool on WordPress

 

Clicking on the export will take you to a new page where you will be asked to choose between FREE or GUIDED TRANSFER.

 

You need to choose the free option as I will be guiding you through the technical aspect, instead of you wasting 129 dollars, if you were to choose the guided transfer method.

 

Next, click on the ‘START EXPORT’ button

 

Start Export

 

After which you will be asked which data you wish to export.

Select ALL CONTENT and press the DOWNLOAD EXPORT FILE BUTTON.

Export Content from Free WordPress

 

Am option will pop out for you to start your download, ensure you click on the download button.

 

An XML file should be downloaded to your device at this point.

 

This downloaded file has all your website content which includes pages, posts, images, videos, documents, comments, menus, categories etc.

 

STEP 2: Importing the Downloaded Contents to your New Website

 

Having successfully exported your content from your previous blog which is in form of an XML file, you have to import this file to your new website.

 

Login to your newly created WordPress website (self-hosted) dashboard.

 

 

Click on TOOLS >> IMPORT.

 

Scroll down to WORDPRESS and click on INSTALL NOW

Install WordPress Importer

 

This will immediately install the WordPress Importer.

 

Once this is done, you will need to click on the RUN IMPORTER link to continue.

 

Run WordPress Importer

 

This will thereafter take you to a screen where you will be asked to upload the XML file you downloaded in STEP 1.

 

Upload the Imported File

 

Upload and import the file at this stage.

 

When this has started importing, you will be provided with the option of assigning an imported content to a current user or create a new user for it on this new website.

 

Also, you will be provided with the option of importing your old website attachment files. Simply check the box so that all your media files are imported appropriately.

 

WordPress Import Option

 

STEP 3: Setting your Free Hosted Website to Private

 

This step is required if you don’t want your free hosted website to still be accessible on the internet, to prevent confusion.

 

If you wish to still have your free website running, then skip this step.

 

You will need to visit your former website dashboard,

click on SETTINGS >>READING.

 

Privacy - WordPress.com

 

Under the SITE VISIBILITY section, simply select the last option which reads ‘I would like my blog to be private…

 

Congratulations, your previous website contents have all been successfully migrated to your new self-hosted website.

 

You can follow the guide in the gif image below to install your preferred theme then start designing to suit your taste.

How to Install Theme

 

One of the great advantages of self-hosted WordPress is the option to choose any WordPress theme and then customize it precisely how you want.

 

I hope this tutorial was helpful?

If you get stuck at any point during this process or you’ve got a question for me, kindly use the comment box below.