For anyone just getting started with blogging, WordPress.com can be a great place to begin. It’s free to use, requires no technical skill to set up, and allows content to be published quickly and easily. As your blog grows however, you may notice the free site becoming too restricted, with monetizing features such as e-commerce and Google AdSense prohibited. As we mentioned in our article comparing the pros and cons of using WordPress.com vs a Web Host, to expand your site and grow your brand, it will be necessary to move beyond the limitations of WordPress.com and over to the bigger and better WordPress.org content management system. This guide will help you do just that in a few simple steps.
1. Getting a domain name
Before beginning any sort of transfer, you will first need to set about buying a domain name and getting web hosting. There are dozens of domain and hosting providers out there, and the one you choose will ultimately depend on your personal preferences. That said, HostPapa and Web Hosting Canada are two web hosts we recommend to host a WordPress website.
2. Moving from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org installation
With a domain name and hosting plan in place, the next step will be to move your WordPress.com content over to your own installation of the WordPress CMS from WordPress.org on your domain name. To begin, you will first need to install WordPress on your host; this can usually be done using the WordPress one-click installation, which is as easy as it sounds, through services like Softaculous or Fantastico.
With this done, you will need to login to your WordPress.com dashboard, go to Tools > Export and select the option to “Download Export File”. Now, go to your WordPress.org dashboard and select Tools > Import. Choose WordPress from the list of available options and select your downloaded file. Next, choose the site authors and make sure to check the “Import Attachments” box.
WordPress will then proceed to install your old blog on your new domain.
3. Redirecting traffic from WordPress.com to your new blog
With the installation complete, the next step will be to ensure visitors are directed to your new site from your old one. To do this you will need to login to your host control panel and modify the DNS settings to point towards your WordPress.com website.
In the Configure DNS Servers option, you will notice DNS name servers already in place; it is important that you make note of these.
In the boxes marked 1, 2, and 3 in the Configure DNS Servers, write in the following name servers and click “confirm”:
Heading back to the WordPress.com dashboard, go to Upgrades > Domains and input the URL of your new website (i.e. yourwebsite.com). Select the “Add Domain to blog” option and when asked to confirm, select “Map Domain”. Once this is done, choose your new URL as the primary address in Upgrades > Domains.
Note: Mapping currently costs $10 per year.
With the new URL in place, go back to your hosting control panel and change the DNS name servers back to their original settings (the ones you made a note of). Click on “Save” and relax while all traffic from your WordPress.com blog is now redirected to your new and improved website.