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How to Properly Move Your Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

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How to Properly Move Your Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Ok so you’ve been a user of WordPress.com for a while now. Things have been pretty nice so far, but you’ve come to a point where you’re ready to go beyond WordPress.com. You want to install plugins and customize your themes. You want to really start monetizing your site and be in full control. Well you are at the right place. While today’s article won’t discuss the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, we will take a look at a question that a lot of users have been asking us: how to move your existing WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress.org site. In this step by step tutorial, we will show you how to properly move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. We will cover how to transfer all of your WordPress.com content to a WordPress.org site (yes this include images). We will also cover how to keep all of your search engine rankings along with how to redirect your existing users to your new site. Are you ready? Let’s start transferring your WordPress.com blog over to your new self-hosted site.

Things You Need Before You Start

You will need to have a domain name and a good web hosting company that knows WordPress. We highly recommend that you use Bluehost because they will give you a free domain and 50% off their hosting plan (special for WPBeginner users). Bluehost is also an officially recommended hosting provider of WordPress.

If your WordPress site already has a custom domain name, then don’t worry. We will cover that as well. Lastly, you will need access to your WordPress.com account, so you can easily move all of your posts, pages, images, comments, and other data over to your self-hosted WordPress site.

Before you get started with this migration tutorial, we want to let you know that we can migrate your site for FREE as part of our Free WordPress Blog setup service. This will be less hassle for you, but if you are someone who likes learning and doing things yourself, then follow our step by step tutorial below.

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Step 1: Exporting Data from WordPress.com

Sign in to your WordPress.com account and go to your blog’s Dashboard. Click on Export under Tools menu.

Export Tool in WordPress.com

Clicking on the Export tool will take you to a new page where you will be asked to choose between Free or Guided Transfer.

Free or Guided Transfer from WordPress.com

Choose the Free option by clicking on Export. On the next screen you will be asked which data you want to export. Select “All Content” and press the Download Export File button. An XML file will be downloaded in your computer which will contain all of your posts, pages, images, comments, custom fields, categories, tags, navigation menus and other information.

Exporting data from WordPress.com in XML format

Step 2: Setting up WordPress

Now that you have exported your WordPress.com data, the next step is to set up a fresh WordPress install on your web hosting. WordPress is very easy to install, and it only takes a few clicks. We have a step-by-step tutorial on how to install WordPress within 5 minutes. Once you have installed WordPress, it is time to import your content into your new self-hosted WordPress website.

Step 3: Importing Content into Self Hosted WordPress Site

To import your old content from WordPress.com to your new site, you need to click on Tools » Import option in your self-hosted WordPress.org dashboard.

Importing WordPress.com content into WordPress.org

Next click on WordPress. You will be asked to install the WordPress Importer plugin. Once you install it, activate and run the importer plugin. It will take you to a screen where you will be asked to upload your WordPress.com XML file that you downloaded in step 1 of this tutorial.

Import WordPress

Note: if your file size is larger than 2MB, then you have two options. One is to ask your web hosting company to increase that limit temporarily, so you can get on with the process. The other option would be to split your file by using a WXR file splitter.

When you start importing, you will have the option of assigning your old content to a current user or create a new user. You’ll also have the option of importing your old attachments (you want to make sure that you check this box to ensure that your images are imported).

Step 4: Importing Your Blogroll Links

If you had been using the Links feature on your WordPress.com blog to store blogroll or other links, then you need to follow these instructions to export and import them. Users who were not using this feature can skip to Step 5.

Blogroll links are exported in OPML format. It is an XML format which allows you to export and import your links and link categories. Your WordPress.com links have an OPML file located at an address like this:

http://example.wordpress.com/wp-links-opml.php

Replace example with your WordPress.com blog’s subdomain. If you are using a custom domain with your WordPress.com blog then your OPML file can be accessed by visiting a URL like this:

http://www.example.com/wp-links-opml.php

Your OPML file will open in your browser window and you need to save it to your desktop. Press CTRL+S (Command+S on Mac) to save the file on your computer.

Now that you have a backup of your WordPress.com links, the next step is to import them into WordPress. However, self hosted WordPress does not have a link manager enabled by default.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Link Manager plugin. The plugin’s page says that it hasn’t been updated in last two years. That’s because it didn’t need updating and you can confidently install this plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item in your WordPress admin bar labeled ‘Links’.

Links manager in WordPress

Your WordPress site is now capable of managing links and blogrolls and you can safely import them. Visit Tools » Import and click on Blogroll to install the OPML importer.

Blogroll Importer

Upon installation you will be redirected to the importer. Where you need to upload the OPML file you saved earlier and click on import OPML file button.

Importing an OPML file in WordPress

WordPress will now import your links and link categories from the OPML file. You will be able to see the progress and on completion you will see the success message.

Successful completion of blogroll link import

Step 5: Setting your WordPress.com blog to private

The final step would be to set your WordPress.com blog to private. If you don’t want to redirect your old users to your new site, then go ahead and follow this step. Go to the Reading page under Settings tab, from your WordPress.com Dashboard and select the last option, “I would like my blog to be private, visible only to users I choose”.

Making a WordPress.com Blog Private

Attention: If you have been writing for sometime, and you have a loyal audience, then it does not make sense to leave them hanging. Furthermore, if your blog has been out there for a while, then chances are that it is indexed in Google and other search engines. You should keep all the search engine juice and easily redirect your old users to your new blog.

Step 6: Redirecting Visitors and Preserving SEO

Redirecting users to new location with a 301 header is the standard solution to keep search rankings while moving a site from one location to another. Since you don’t have access to .htaccess on WordPress.com, you can not make any changes by yourself to retain search engine rankings. However, WordPress.com offers a paid upgrade, Site Redirect, which provides this functionality.

Go to WordPress.com blog’s dashboard and click on the Store menu item. The upgrade you are looking for is called Site Redirect. At the time of writing this tutorial, this update was reasonably priced at $13 USD per year. This upgrade provides 301 redirect which allows your site’s visitors and search engines to be automatically redirected to your new site.

WordPress.com site redirect

Some of you will ask how long should I keep paying for this Offsite redirect feature? The answer is for as long as you want to. However, we personally think that 2 years would be enough time for your old users to memorize your new domain name :)

If you are changing domains, then another thing you want to do is update all in post URLs. If you ever inter-linked your posts, then those links have to be updated. Use our article on how to update URLs when moving your WordPress site.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We wrote this article in January 2013 and since then we’ve received tons of great questions. A lot of which we’ve answered via email or in comments, so thought it would be nice to compile it at one place where everyone can see them.

What happens with my WordPress.com Subscribers?

Thankfully, WordPress.com allows you to migrate your subscribers with one condition. You must use Jetpack plugin which adds the same subscribe functionality that you had at WordPress.com. Once you install and activate the Jetpack plugin, you would need to contact the WordPress.com team and ask them to migrate the subscribers for you. Our hope is that in the later versions of Jetpack, this will become easier and users will be able to do it themselves.

Can you help me transfer from WordPress.com to WordPress.org for FREE?

Absolutely. We offer migration from WordPress.com as part of our free WordPress blog setup service. If you need our assistance, then simply signup. It’s free :)

What are the costs of switching to WordPress.org?

WordPress is free. However, there are some minimal web hosting costs. We recommend that you read this article on: Why is WordPress free? What are the costs and what is the catch?

Will my images break?

No they will not. When you transfer using the import file, all attached images are downloaded and the link is updated. However there is one caveat that we noticed. If your image URL starts with files.wordpress.com, then they will not be converted. If you notice that the image URL has not changed and still points to WordPress.com, then we recommend that you use import external images plugin, and it will take care of that.

I registered my domain through WordPress.com, can I still move?

Yes you can. WordPress believe in empowering users and giving them full control of their content. If you already have a domain name through WordPress.com, then all you need is a web hosting account. We recommend that you setup with Bluehost or any of these other WordPress hosting providers. During the signup phase, you will be asked do you have a domain or want to register a new one. Simply select the option that I have a domain name, and insert the domain that you registered at WordPress.com. Next thing you would have to do is change the nameservers to point to the hosting provider. We’re able to assist with this as part of our free setups service. You can also ask your web hosting provider for support.

Will my website go down when I switch?

If you do it correctly, then NO. The method we’ve suggested above will ensure that your website never goes down. If you’re worried, then know that we are here to help. You’re welcome to use our free setups service at anytime.

We hope that you found our guide on switching from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org to be helpful. If you have any questions, then please let us know by leaving a comment below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Andrew Phillips says:

    Hello,

    How come after installing wordpress from Softaculous, it’s routing me to log into my wordpress.com account still?

  2. Ilia Mura says:

    I would like to switch my domain from .com to .org. I have already purchased my domain with WordPress.com (basic package for £99/year). Will I still have to pay for redirect if I move the same domain? It shouldn’t change anything because the domain will stay the same?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      No you will not have to pay for the redirect. When you update your domain’s name servers they will automatically start pointing to your new web host.

  3. Gabriel lucatero says:

    Hi
    I’d like to make my blog, gabriellucatero.com into a self hosting blog. I read and watched your video, but I don’t quite understand it. When I am ready to move, should I first get a Bluehost account and then transfer all my info there?
    I want to be able to have the same web address.

  4. Josiah Skeats says:

    I’m confused how to move my blogroll using the OPML importer.

    Any advice, or another article?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      @Josiah: We have updated the article and added a new section on how to import your blogroll links. Hope this helps.

  5. Sian says:

    I have a WordPress.com blog, I exported and followed all the steps to import into my new Wordprress.org interface but there’s no WXR file. Help?

  6. Christine says:

    At what point in the process do I change nameservers?
    And using the same wordpress domain that I paid for means I don’t need to pay for a redirect, correct?

  7. Scott says:

    Hello.

    I followed your steps exactly, but after importing the xml file, I got a few error messages like “Failed to import jetpack-portfolio-type Buisness”, “Failed to import jetpack-portfolio-type Landscapes”, and so on.

    After the import is complete, there are still no posts, pages, comments, etc. Also, there are only about 30 pictures (current site has around 300). What am I missing??

  8. Laura says:

    Does your free set-up service apply to people who already have a blog and domain and just want to get it set up on bluehost/wordpress.org? I am having some trouble migrating my wordpress.com to wordpress.org . . . Thanks:)

  9. Febriyan says:

    If I only want to transfer some posts from old wp.com to the new wp.org, should I do redirect? If I am not redirect it, would it mean that I need to set from starts all aboout the alexa rank and every thing else like the stats?

  10. Karen says:

    I have paid for a premium account for a year (3 months to go) will I lose that money if I transfer to wordpress.org Should I wait until the year is finished and then transfer?

  11. Hayley says:

    I have paid for a theme on wordpress.com
    If i change over to .org will i still have the same theme?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Some themes on WordPress.com are also available for self hosted WordPress.org site. Visit the theme’s page on WordPress.com and look for a link that says ‘Download for Self hosted WordPress.org’ or contact WordPress.com support.

  12. Diana Brafford says:

    Would you suggest paying for the redirect if I will be using the same domain name? And do I need to have the old site on private or public if I’m using the redirect feature? Thanks!

  13. Brick ONeil says:

    I currently have a wordpress.com domain and I pay a few fees, personal domain name, redirect and some fees with godaddy. I’ve had several advertisers ask to buy spots on my website so I am considering moving to wordpress.org. Do I still have to pay the previous fees I do now with wordpress.com and godaddy if I move to .org? I’ve been with bluehost years ago, so I am familiar with them.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      You will have to pay for the domain name and probably site redirect too. Contact support of both service providers to be extra sure.

  14. Thao Tran says:

    Hello, I have a wordpress.com blog and domain and now I am moving it to Bluehost. All of the contents are fine but I have troubles with the domain.
    – I use the temporary URL to install wordpress
    – I changed the name server in WP.com to the bluehost and got confirmation from WP.com that my domain is successfully transferred away from WP.com
    – I got confirmation from bluehost that my domain transfer is completed
    – I change the primary domain in my old blog (WP.com) to example.wordpress.com

    BUT, when I changed the domain in Setting -> General in my new host to the actual domain that I bought from WP.com, it always redirects me to example.wordpress.com and when I try to log in to the control panel, it redirects me to the WP.com dashboard too.

    Please help me, I don’t know what to do.

    Thank you!

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Seems like your domain is still pointing to the WordPress.com nameserver. Check your site’s DNS settings to make sure that your domain is using BlueHost nameservers. Contact support team if you need help setting it up.

  15. Sakura says:

    If I just transfer my blog onto the same domain, will I need to use the redirecting service?

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