Why move your blog from WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a popular option for bloggers because of the simplicity and accessibility of help. If you simply want to have a blog on the internet and have a custom domain then it is an easy, user friendly option. However, if you want to include additional features into your website you will find that WordPress.com Personal or Premium packages have significant limitations.

One of the major limitations is that you are not allowed to install plugins. If you wish to include ecommerce (using WooCommerce), offer a subscription service, send out newsletters etc you will find yourself having to choose between upgrading to one of the more expensive plans or transferring to a different hosting provider.

Why Shared Hosting?

I’ve been building websites for about 8-9 years and as such I have tried out most of the popular shared hosting providers. Shared hosting simply means multiple websites are utilizing a single server, which is fine for most websites on the internet, especially if your provider manages resource sharing properly.  

  • Shared hosting is by far the cheapest hosting option available, ranging from $3 – $12/month
  • Most providers have different levels of shared hosting options so you can choose a package to fit your needs and upgrade as your needs increase.
  • Usually comes with cPanel for easy management of your services.

Siteground is by far one of the best providers I’ve used, their documentation and customer service really set them apart. They also do daily backups which is a good feature to have just incase your own personal backups fail. Siteground plays well with WordPress, with a built in WordPress installer that makes the process simple for you.

For this article I’ve used Siteground so the screenshots will be specific to them. However, since most large shared hosting providers use cPanel, the interface you encounter should be pretty similar to this.

Okay, so now that you’re convinced, let’s jump into the process of transferring your website.

STEP 1 – Make a backup

In your WordPress.com control area, in the left panel scroll down and select Settings as shown above. On the settings page, scroll down to Site Tools -> Export.

You will be taken to an Export page that looks like the page above. From here you can export your content (pages, posts etc) locally to your computer. This is necessary for 2 reasons:

  1. You need to import these files in your new site when you set it up to get everything on your website back up and running quickly and easily.
  2. A local backup will help ensure that you don’t lose all your files just incase you make a mistake somewhere along the way.

TIP: On the Export page, next to the Export All button (in photo above) you will see a downward arrow (V shape). If you select that, you get the option to export your content in pieces; I’ve found that sometimes when trying to use Export All, all your content may not actually be included…. so I strongly recommend exporting posts, pages etc by author in separate files just to be sure that you get everything.

STEP 2 – Purchase Hosting Package

Because I am a strong advocate for Siteground’s services I do have an affiliate link you can use to get discounted rates for hosting with them. However, the process for purchasing a hosting package is pretty much standard across all major provider platforms, so you should be good on whichever one you choose to use.

Since you’re coming from WordPress I would suggest selecting the option of Managed WordPress Hosting or Reliable Web Hosting. You will be presented with different package options. Depending on the expected traffic of your site you can choose one that fits your needs. On Siteground I would recommend either StartUp or GrowBig. One major perk with shared hosting that I mentioned before is that you can start smaller and upgrade freely when necessary.

Once you select your package, you will be taken to the ‘Choose your domain’ page. If you already purchased a custom domain name in WordPress (one of the upgraded packages) then you should select ‘I already have a Domain’. If you were using a <name>.wordpress.com domain then you can purchase a new custom domain at this point.

After this you will be taken to another page where you will enter your personal and billing information and pay for your package. And Voila! You now have a shared hosting package!

STEP 3 – Transfer Domain

The domain transfer process varies from provider to provider, the overall steps that you need to do are:

  1. Get EPP Authorization code from WordPress.com (under Domains tab in your control area)
  2. When you login to your new hosting package there should be an option to select for Domains. In Siteground this option is under My Accounts tab.
  3. Select Transfer Domain to <new Hosting provider>. Here you will be asked to enter the EPP Authorization code that you got in step 1.
  4. Wait a couple days. The length of this process can vary from hours to a couple days. Some providers say it can take up to 5 days, some say up to 14.
  5. You will receive an email verifying the request for domain transfer (sent to the email account that’s registered on WordPress.com so be sure that you have access to that email account before initiating the transfer).
  6. Once you approve the request, the domain status in your new hosting control area should change to Active.
  7. Select Manage Domain/ Manage button and change your domain DNS information to the server location of your new hosting provider. (If you don’t know what this means then your safest option is to contact your provider and let them do this last step for you)

I’ve tried to keep the steps as generic as possible to cover a range of different providers, if you find that you’ve been waiting too long and the transfer isn’t working then contact the hosting provider for further help on it, as this step can be a little tricky.

STEP 4 – Import your Content to new site

If you’ve made it this far, you’re almost in the clear. In your My Accounts tab, select ‘Go to cPanel’, under WordPress tools, select WordPress installer and then follow the on screen instructions to install WordPress.

Once your WordPress installation is set up, you can go to www.<yourdomainname>.com/wp-admin and log in with the login information you provided when setting up.

When you enter the WordPress dashboard, the first thing you might want to do is install your old theme on your website, so that when you import your content it looks the same. To do this, go to Appearance -> Themes and install theme.

Next, go to Tools -> Import.

On the Import page, scroll down to WordPress and select Install Now. Then click “Activate Plugin & Run Importer”. Here you can select the .xml files that you exported from your WordPress.com site in step 1.

When you’re done importing all the content that you exported before, head over to your website and ensure that everything was imported and exported properly. If everything checks out, you have successfully transferred your WordPress.com site to Shared Hosting!

TIP: There may be some cleaning up to do with internal links, media links, etc so be sure to go through your site to ensure everything is looking the way you want it to.