Transitioning from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

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Wordpress Logo | Brian NagelI’ve been in the WordPress world for a little over a year now, and have thoroughly enjoyed the process.  I was relatively new to blogging and finally found a comprehensive tool that I could learn from and experiment with.  WordPress.com became a great starter solution for me.  But then I began to look deeper into what WordPress.org offered, and I began the plan to transition towards the more full-featured, plug-in rich, blogging platform.

There’s a great explanatory tutorial available, right from the WordPress guys themeselves.  However, my reason for writing this post is to mention a couple of the other things one should be aware of when making the switch.  Following the break, you’ll find my step-by-step process into successfully transitioning my website away from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org engine.  Plus, you’ll hear about the things that you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re aware of before you tackle the project on your own!

1) Read the Instructions!

Knowledge is power, and it certainly is no different here.

2) Exported my site from WordPress.com

This was easy, as I just signed into my WordPress.com account, headed to Tools > Export.  It simply downloaded a single XML file to my computer.

3) Added a hosting package to my GoDaddy account

There are certainly many options out there for hosting, but I decided on just keeping my domain name registrations and hosting plan all with one company.  Plus, I found a 20% coupon online, so I picked up 2 years of the basic hosting package for $65.

4) Used GoDaddy’s automatic WordPress installation option

Rather than doing the “5-minute install”, I stuck with the automated option – and it was just as slick.  Within a half hour, I received an email notification letting me know that everything was set!  No need to set up the SQL database, change PHP files, or anything like that – all was done for me.

5) Changed my Nameservers

With my WordPress.com website already using the brian-nagel.com moniker, I had to ensure that my new host knew that the name was squared away.  GoDaddy’s control panel makes it very easy to make those changes.

6) Accessed my fresh install of WordPress!

After a short few minutes, I was into my new installation of WordPress and ready to bring in my other stuff.

7) Imported my WordPress.com Blog

This step was just as easy as the original export, as I went to Tools > Import and selected the XML file from my computer.  I also made sure that it would also bring over any attachments (there’s a simple checkbox for that).

8) Time to play….and time to panic

At first, I was very impressed with what came over:

  • All of my posts
  • All of my categories
  • All of my tags
  • All of my media
  • All of my pages

But that’s where I realized something big – my theme did not come with it!

Now, this might seem like an obvious thing, but I had assumed that my free theme that I had as part of WordPress.com would be readily available in my switch to WordPress.org.  And we all know what assuming does.  Turns out that my theme, Enterprise, is a premium theme for WordPress.org users at a nifty $80.  I was not having that.  So I then began the arduous task of finding a quality theme to work with, that would mostly mimic my original while still allowing the added flexibility.

As I began working with fine-tuning the theme, I then noticed that a couple of other key components did not make it through the Export/Import process: my links and widget content.  Again, I probably shouldn’t have so naively assumed that everything would be perfect, but these are things that would have been good to have learned about prior to making the switch.  I could then have been more diligent about copying and pasting content and preserving the major things of importance.

Conclusion

All in all, I’m very pleased with the switch.  The whole process only took about a week and a half – and could’ve easily been accomplished in an afternoon, had I had more time to dedicate to the process.  If this is something you’d like to undertake as a project, certainly feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.  There are certain growing pains to be expected, but the overall value of the added flexibility with the plug-in architecture, and the full website control over file management, hosting, and content is well worth whatever minor hurdles come your way.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve undertaken a similar project and what, if any, hardships came your way during the process.

3 Responses to "Transitioning from WordPress.com to WordPress.org"
  1. I am getting ready to undertake the same transition. If you look at the format of our site, preserving the links will be huge. It would be a gargantuan pain to have to go back through and re-add them all. Do you know if it is possible to do this? Or if you’re just sort of screwed at that point?

    • Hi Ben…

      It’s a great question. The links in the posts and the pages will be preserved. When I said the links get lost in translation, I was referring to the “Links” section in WordPress’ admin panel – left side, underneath Media.

      Based on what I saw in your site, I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about.

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