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How to Move From WordPress.com to WordPress.org Using a Self-Hosted Domain

by Scott Chow | August 28, 2019

In this guide, I assume that you have already set up your new domain name and installed WordPress.org. If you haven’t done that yet, please follow my free guide on how to set-up WordPress.org to see exactly how to get a free domain name and install WordPress.org. I can even do the install for you for free, just submit a blog install request here.

If you already have a blog on WordPress.com and would like to move it to your own self-hosted domain using WordPress.org, this tutorial will show you how.

WordPress.com has several inherent issues that make it less desirable for many bloggers. The main issues are the lack of control and security, along with the inability to profit from your blog. If you have run into these issues, it is time to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

1 – Export Your WordPress.com Blog

Although you cannot install third-party plugins using a free blog hosted at WordPress.com, there is an export tool included with the platform that allows you to download all of your posts and comments to make it easy to transfer from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

  1. Navigate to “Tools > Export” in your wordpress.com blog, and click on “Export”.
  2. Choose the content that you want to export. Most likely, you’ll want to stick with the default option, “All content,” to export all of your posts, pages, comments, navigation menus and other content.
  3. Click “Download Export File” to download your content to your computer in the form of a single XML file.

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2 – Import Your WordPress.com Blog

Now you can upload the XML file to your new WordPress.org blog (find detailed instructions on making your new blog here) so that all of your content will immediately appear on your new website.

  1. Navigate to “Tools > Import” in your new self-hosted wordpress.org blog, and click the last option “WordPress”.
  2. Click “Choose File” and navigate to the XML file that you downloaded in the previous step. Click “Upload file and import,” and wait for WordPress to transfer your content to the new site. The transfer may take a while depending on your Internet connection and the size of the XML file.

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3 – Set up a Redirect

Since your visitors won’t know that you have moved to a self-hosted blog, they’ll still be visiting the old one for a time, so you’ll need to have them automatically redirected to the new domain. The easiest way to do this is to use the Site Redirect service from wordpress.com, which costs $13 per year.

  1. Open the “Store” menu item in your old wordpress.com administrator dashboard and search for “Site Redirect”.
  2. Click “Buy Now,” and click “Buy Now” again to confirm. Enter the address of your self-hosted wordpress.org blog, and click “Redirect to this URL”.
  3. Confirm the purchase, and enter your payment details to complete the process.

With the redirect set up, you will be able to manage your site redirects from the “Store > My Domains” menu item in the wordpress.com administrator dashboard. In order for the redirect to work correctly, the permalinks on your new site will have to match those used on your wordpress.com blog. You can change the redirect at any time you want, and for best results, you’ll probably want to use the service for a year or two until your visitors come to memorize your new domain and it takes precedence in the search results.

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  1. Avatar
    Vivian Moon says: August 20, 2019

    Hi Scott, thanks for your post! I just renewed my wordpress.com plan last June and am now realizing I’d rather be on wordpress.org to get more value. Will I be paying an annual fee for wordpress.org if I transfer my domain now?

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: August 26, 2019

      Hi Vivian,

      WordPress.org is free, but you will need to pay for web hosting (about $3 per month). Just follow the steps in my guide on this page and let me know via my contact form if you have any questions.

  2. Avatar
    Sara says: May 29, 2019

    If you pay extra for a web address that doesn’t have “wordpress.com” in it and you keep the same domain name, do you still need to do the redirect when you switch from .com to .org?
    Thanks!

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: August 26, 2019

      You don’t need to do the redirect, but you will need to change your nameservers of your domain to point to your new hosting company. For BlueHost the namservers are ns1.bluehost.com & ns2.bluehost.com

  3. Avatar
    Angie Vertoochi says: May 12, 2019

    Don’t want a redirect… using the same name… so, I have to completely shut down one, change domain name servers, then upload to new?

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: August 26, 2019

      You don’t need to do the redirect, but you will need to change your nameservers of your domain to point to your new hosting company. For BlueHost the namservers are ns1.bluehost.com & ns2.bluehost.com

  4. Avatar
    Sarah says: May 7, 2019

    Should I be able to see my posts that have been copied over just in my posts section or is there somewhere else I need to activate the information? I followed the steps but I can’t find any of the posts.

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: August 26, 2019

      Hi Sarah,

      You should see all of your posts in your dashboard for sure. If you don’t then you need to go back and redo the export/import steps.

      If you are having trouble just seeing your posts on your live blog (but you can find them in your dashboard) then you just need to make some adjustments to your theme settings to get them to show up where you want.

  5. Avatar
    Morgan says: February 14, 2019

    Hi Scott!
    I’m interested in making the leap to paid web hosting for my site which has been on a free account for a few years on WordPress.com. I’d like to monetise my adverts to offset the costs. But I worry about losing a lot of views during a move to self-hosting. Almost all of my page-views are from Google searches (currently only around 2k a month.)
    Is it common for these hits to fall significantly, or not?
    If so, is there something I can do to avoid it (besides re-directing)?
    Thanks a lot, Morgan

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: March 9, 2019

      Hi Morgan,

      You will want to make sure you have the 301 redirect working correctly. It is common to have a decrease in your Google search rankings when you first make the switch, but that should resolve itself within a few weeks of having the redirect set up.

  6. Avatar
    Mollie says: January 6, 2019

    Hi Scott,

    Do you help bloggers migrate their WordPress.com site to WordPress.org? Your steps are very helpful but I don’t want to mess anything up!

    Thank you!

    Mollie

  7. Avatar
    Brooke says: November 17, 2018

    Thank you so much for a simple, clear and easy to follow explanation! This was immensely helpful!

  8. Avatar
    Adam says: November 13, 2018

    Does the exporting of the comments retain the users names, dates, etc?

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: December 7, 2018

      Yes, it should retain all that info for the comments.

  9. Avatar
    Wambui Njuguna-Räisänen says: November 6, 2018

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for this. Just want to be clear what you mean by having wordpress.org already installed…where would it be installed?

  10. Avatar
    Kaira says: September 23, 2018

    Thank you it was so easy!

  11. Avatar
    Cindy says: September 11, 2018

    Rather than set up a re-direct, is there a way to actually delete the WordPress.com account and transfer the domain to WordPress.org?

  12. Avatar
    Rose says: August 27, 2018

    Thanks for this valuable info, Scott!
    I’m just wondering why a new blogger wouldn’t just start with WordPress.org off the bat rather than with WordPress.com and then the hassle of the redirect?

    • Scott Chow
      Scott Chow says: September 2, 2018

      Hi Rose,

      Some prefer to start with WordPress.com since it is free to use in its most basic form.

  13. Avatar
    L Kay Elliott says: August 23, 2018

    Great info! Helped a lot! Thanks!

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