My blog is finally self-hosted. And I promised to write how the migration had gone. This post will be about migrating a blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, using Bluehost as a host. Overall, my transition was smooth. However, it could have been faster if I only knew all the steps along the way. Frankly, they turned out to be more than I had imagined.
I tried to find articles by self-hosted bloggers that would explain it all. Bad luck with the googling, I guess. Because most blog posts I read on the topic would depict it as a 5-minute thing, a couple of clicks here and there – choose a new host, export your content, install WordPress, import content. Simple, right? It is simple indeed. But what if you:
- haven’t done it before;
- are used to the good old WordPress.com where you don’t need to bother about anything but writing (how to leave it, it’s so convenient!);
- have no clue what is happening during the process of migration and what you should do next?
If any of these sounds like you, let me assure you they all sounded like me, too. So don’t worry. Migrating a blog is not that frightful. Not at all.
I started with these two:
- Moving to Self-Hosted WordPress by WordPress.com;
- How To Migrate a WordPress Website to a New Server by Bluehost.
You will probably want to go back to both guides during the migration, so keep them at hand.
Now, let’s do it! In brief, this is what you need to do:
- Choose a host and purchase your hosting package.
Create your Bluehost account following these steps. Choose ‘transfer domain’ as you are transferring an existing domain. I’ll be totally honest, I don’t know what if you migrate your blog but at the same time, decide to change your domain name. I was happy with my old domain name.
- Install WordPress.
This has been done during the first step so nothing to worry about here.
- Export your database files from WorsPress.com.
Go to your WordPress.com dashboard → My Site → Settings → Site Tools → Export.
Your content is now a zipped folder you can download on your computer.
- Download an FTP software.
Here, you will upload your WordPress content folder (the zipped folder from above).
I chose FileZilla because Bluehost recommend it and you can download it for free.
- Create an FTP account.
Bluehost explain how to do this.
Bluehost dashboard → Hosting → ftp → Add FTP account.
Next, connect with FileZilla (open FileZilla → Site Manager → follow the instructions by Bluehost).
I couldn’t connect the first time, even though I followed the guide. Luckily the Bluehost team was there to help. I contacted them and they sent me the credentials.
- Upload your content folder using FileZilla.
I was chatting with a Bluehost Support member while doing steps 5 and 6 and I advise you to do the same if you don’t know what the heck FTP is (obviously, I had no idea).
Back to the content folder. The first upload didn’t work so the Bluehost guy asked me to export the content a second time and upload it again. All done here. 🙂
- Change the name servers and transfer your domain to Bluehost.
The tricky part for me. Bluehost suggested to contact the registrar of the domain and ask them to point the name servers to ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com.
So this is what I did. I wrote to the WordPress.com engineers hoping they could save me from my perplexity. Wrong! They got back to me after a week. Yes, they were super kind and I thank them for all their help. And I understand they are busy. However, I had already done the whole thing by myself because I didn’t want to waste more time waiting.
Apparently, I should have used their tutorials instead of emailing them. WordPress.com Support offers plenty of tutorials to help you out. It is a good idea to look up there first.
But as you can guess, the technical stuff had blown my mind and I was hoping to get some help from my current host. Asking the specialists for advice sounds wise to me, especially when one is unsure what comes next and which guide in particular to refer to.
Anyway. Please, don’t make the same mistake. You don’t need to contact WordPress.com as you can change the name servers and do the rest all by yourself. Again, the Bluehost team were extremely helpful (and patient).
Read these: Transfer a Domain to Another Registrar and Bluehost’s Transfer Your Domain to Us. They helped me to transfer my domain easily and I believe they are all you need. It’s very important to read Bluehost’s guidance carefully and complete all steps before the transfer is initiated.
The transfer is said to take up to 7 days. You will be advised to either contact your current registrar during this period or wait for the domain to be released automatically after a week. I decided to wait and it was done in 2 or 3 days.
- Install Jetpack.
I think it was already there when I logged in to my WordPress.org dashboard so I just clicked Install and Activate. 😉
The bad news that took me by surprise – Akismet is no longer free and I have to pay if I want to use the full potential of this anti-spam service.
- Transfer your followers.
Jetpack has made it pretty easy. Check out Jetpack’s Subscription migration tool and follow the steps.
OK. The hard work has been done. Now, you can start customising your new WordPress.org blog. I began with this after completing step 6, but I only did some basic stuff such as adding my old theme and customising the appearance. I waited for the domain transfer to take place first before working on my blog as usual.
Note: In the beginning, I couldn’t log in to the WordPress.org dashboard using my domain name so Bluehost advised on the URL I should use (my IP instead of simplymarinailieva). After the domain transfer, that was fixed. Does my tech ignorance play a role? I suppose it does. 😀
However, I had trouble staying logged in as it would keep logging out all the time. The problem was in General Settings – WordPress Adress (URL) and Site Address (URL) should be the same, and they weren’t. Here is a tutorial on how to fix the logging out issue. Try https if you have an SSL Certificate (and you will have a free one with Bluehost), it worked for me.
As for the SSL Certificate, I am no use here and I don’t want to give you misleading information. I believe I activated it this way: Bluehost dashboard → WordPress tools → Security → Free SSL Certificate. The validation was quite easy.
In conclusion, I apologise if I have missed anything. I tried to be as exhaustive as possible but most probably, I have forgotten some of the things… This blog post does not pretend to be a complete guide containing all the steps of a blog migration. I am not a pro and definitely not a know-it-all tech savvy. Instead, I have included all articles and tutorials I found useful during my blog’s transition to WordPress.org.
Oh, and please forgive any mistakes I might have made in this post. It’s just my humble desire to help new bloggers on their journey to becoming self-hosted.
Last, I have no experience with other web hosting companies, but I am absolutely happy with Bluehost and I highly recommend it. Hope you would trust it, too.
Happy blogging and thank you for reading! 🙂
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I receive compensation from the company whose products I review. All opinions expressed here are my own.*