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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Many newbies give preference to WordPress, when getting involved into the website development process. However, many of them get puzzled when choosing between the systems and often give preference to WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org, which is a more preferable solution in their case.
As they start working on their startup project, though, they soon realize that using WordPress.com is much more difficult than it seemed from the start. They face problems with code editing, website promotion – this is not to mention hosting-related nuances (or the process of moving between the hosts) and domain name choice, which is not provided by default in WordPress.org.

Why Switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?

Actually, WordPress.com is a WP-based website builder, which allows creating versatile projects, offers integrated hosting, domain name, abundance of design customization tools and templates to choose from. WordPress.org, in its turn, is the homepage of the world-popular CMS WordPress, which is much more difficult to master for beginners and requires extra coding awareness.
Realization of the inability to master website management from the technical point of view sooner or later triggers the need to start looking for a simpler, more convenient, affordable yet feature-laen web building tool. In many cases, switching from the familiar self-hosted WordPress.com to WordPress.org proves to be a reasonable solution. The latter platform grants you with absolute website ownership rights and freedom of actions.
Now it’s high time to figure out, if it makes sense to go for the DIY website migration or hire a professional to do that for you. That’s exactly what we are going to discuss further.

DIY Switching or Hiring a Professional Service?

As soon as you decide to migrate from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, the first and the most burning problem is to decide on the best website transfer option. This is where you will face two popular alternatives: DIY website migration vs hiring a professional service. Both options have their pros and cons, realization and analysis of which make it possible to adopt the right solution in the long run.
Wordpress.com to WordPress.org
If you hire a professional web developer or use a specialized website migration system, you run a risk to be unable to manage and update your WordPress website afterwards and, thus, you won’t have another choice but to contact the developers you hired over and over again to have your problems solved.
If you don’t want that to happen and wish to have full control over your website development and promotion process in future, it really makes sense to try switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org on your own. This may take some effort and time, of course, but this is the only surefire way to feel responsible about each step of website transfer process. This is where the step-by-step guidelines listed below will be of great help.

How to Switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org – The Ultimate Guide

Before you get started, there is one thing you should not overlook. While WordPress.com is a self-hosted website builder, WordPress.org is the CMS, which doesn’t come with integrated hosting and domain and that is one of the major concerns of beginners.
You need to find a reliable hosting provider, look through the plans, terms and subscriptions it offers and pick the one that come up to you current website development and promotion needs. You will also need a domain name. If you have the one already, then you should just provide it, while registering your new hosting account. This will help preserve your search engine ranking and properly redirect traffic from the previous website, while completing the next steps, namely:
  1. Choose Hosting – The first step to undertake is to pick hosting and install WordPress on it. There are multiple hosting providers to choose from, which takes time and effort to explore all the available options and make the right choice based on your needs.
  2. Export the Data from WordPress.com – Sign in to your WordPress.com account and reach the dashboard of your website. Access the WP Admin section and click it to open the admin area. Then go to the “Tools” section and then to the “Export Page” area.
    Wordpress.com Export
    When you click the button, you will be redirected to the new page, where you’ll be offered to pick either Free or Guided Transfer option. We recommend choosing the free option and then click the “Start Export” button. Right after that, you will get to the next screen, where you’ll have to select the data elements you wish to export. Choose the “All Content” variant, if you intend to export all content at once and then press the “Download Export File” button.
    If you do everything correctly, the export tool will offer you to download the XML file (which will contain all your images, posts, categories, tabs, web pages, comments, navigation menus and other fields) to your computer so that you could further import it to the new website.
  3. Install WordPress CMS – As soon as the XML file is ready for further import, it is high time to download and install the CMS as well as to connect your hosting account. Mind that some hosting providers (like Bluehost, for example) offer 1-click automated WordPress installation that takes a couple of minutes only and does not require your effort. Otherwise, you’ll have to install WordPress on your own, but this is also quite easy and fast – just follow the guidelines and tips the system generates, while you are completing the task.
  4. Import the Content – As soon as you are done with your CMS installation, you may proceed to the content import. To do that, you’ll need to access the admin section of the new website, reach the “Tools” section and then the “Import” page, where you will be offered to activate the “Install Now” button to run the importer tool.
    WordPress CMS Import Tool
    Upon the completion of the step, you will be redirected to the new screen, where you’ll have to upload the exported XML file you’ve downloaded to your computer in the second step. While completing the task, the system will offer you to create a new user or to assign the imported content to the current user. You will additionally be offered to import the old attached files. It’s a must to check this box to import your image files correctly.
  5. Transfer the WordPress Domain to the New Hosting. Upon the completion of content import, you will need to transfer the domain name of your WordPress.com website to the new hosting you’ve chosen in the first step. Follow the guidelines the system generates to complete the process.

What’s Next?

These are the steps, which are a must for all users, who wish to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. The next steps will depend upon the privacy options you prefer. Thus, if your objective is to launch a completely new website from scratch without traffic redirection from the old website, then you should go to the “Settings” section and then to the “Reading” page found in the admin area of the website dashboard. This is where you fill get access to the “Site Visibility” section, where you should mark the following option “I would like my blog to be private, visible only to users I choose”. This means that the new website won’t be visible to previous users.
In case your intention is quite the opposite and you have the intention to redirect the traffic from the old website to the new one in order to preserve current search engine rankings (which is strongly recommended), here is what you should do. Reach the dashboard of your WordPress.com website and access the “Settings” menu. Find the “Site Address” option and click the “Redirect” link found there. You will further get to the new screen, where you’ll need to provide the domain name, to which you would like to redirect your website visitors. Complete the step and then click the “Go” button. Mind that site redirection option is currently paid, but the cost is definitely worth the preservation of your old website positions and traffic.
To make sure your SEO positions will be preserved, you may also need to update all the in-post URLs and post interlinking (if any), but only if you have changed the domain. You can omit this step, if you’ve preserved your custom domain name. Just change the DNS record to your host and enjoy your website promotion.

Bottom Line

Whatever your reasons to migrate from WordPress.com to WordPress.org are, you should carefully get ready to this responsible and time-taking process. Another option is to hire a professional, who will do that for you, but how can you be sure that you will get a worthy result in the long run? It’s much better to transfer your website on your own. Hopefully, the tips and recommendations listed in the post will help you cope with the task in the best way possible and get the expected result.
And one more thing: don’t hurry to deactivate your WordPress.com account until you make sure your new website is running well and all the SEO positions are preserved as they are. Good luck and may your website migration experience be a success!
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