Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org ( self-hosted WordPress )

Every business these days wants to have a global presence and one way of doing it is through creating a website. Now there are crazy number of options in choosing what and how you want to go ahead with, but given the brand value that most of us swear by, WordPress is the obvious choice for many. But wait, would you choose to go with WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Well, if it’s confusing then you are at the right place.By the end of this article we are sure you will be able to decide on what’s the best choice for you.

What is WordPress in the first place?

WordPress or WP as it’s commonly known, is an open source Content Management System that enables its users to create a blog/website without any technical knowledge. Yes you heard it right, you need not be technically sound in order to create and maintain your blog/website. Everything you need is just a few clicks away.

Since its inception in 2003, WordPress has grown immensely popular thanks to its founders who have kept it as an open source software, which means that the product isn’t owned by a particular individual or organization but is a collective work of tens of thousands of developers who work tirelessly to make WordPress the best amongst all the other web software packages. Though there is a particular team that is dedicated towards maintaining the quality and regular updates to the software, however it’s through the contributors that the users get to choose from an ocean of products and services, including, but not limited to, customized themes, plugins, widgets, patches and hundreds of other products.

Is WordPress.com the same as WordPress.org?

Yes and No.

WordPress, the CMS is a open source project updated and maintained by many contributors and WordPress.org is where you get to download and learn about the CMS.

WordPress.com on the other hand is a hosted website / blog building platform that runs on the WordPress CMS.

WordPress.org is a open source project, WordPress.com is a commercial website building / hosting platform.

Yes, WordPress can be installed for free but opting for added products and services does cost you. This is where WordPress.com and WordPress.org comes into picture. Let’s take a look at what’s the difference between the two.

WordPress.com is an open source web software solution that enables its users to use its platform absolutely free of cost. This means that apart from downloading and installing the software for free, the platform also provides its users with free hosting solutions. The themes, plugins are all inbuilt. Your website’s/blogs security updates, backups and upgrades are all been taken care of, by the developers. Another cool thing is that, as your website/blog is a part of the WordPress.com network, they may choose to feature your posts on their blogs which inturn will direct good amount of traffic to your site. Woah!! Now that’s an added bonus, isn’t it?

But as the saying goes, “There are no free lunches”, there needs to be a catch somewhere, and that’s where we introduce to you the limitations of using the WordPress.com.

Domain Name: When you choose a domain name on WordPress software, it would reflect as “XYZ.Wordpress.com” and if you choose to get away with the WordPress.com suffix then it comes at a cost.

Limited alterations: The users have very limited access to alter their blog/website as per their need. WordPress.com only allows alterations in the body of the article, the header and footer stays stagnant. Upgrading the CSS can be done by paying $30 per year. However you will have no access to PHP and Javascript code.

No third party products or services: After maintaining your blog/website for a while, there comes a time where you would want to use a third party theme, plugin or widget to make your website more user friendly and attractive. But with WordPress.com you aren’t allowed to use any thirds party product or services. You are bound to either choose from the free themes/plugins or you can opt for their premium themes/plugins that comes for a certain cost. Not to forget the choice of themes/plugins are very limited.

WORDPRESS.com plans

No Third party ads: You aren’t allowed to sell any third party ads on your website/blog. Why? Simply because, the software was given for free. WordPress.com displays certain ads on your blog/website depending on its niche, to opt for ad-free option you would be charged $30. If you would like to control the ads on your account then you are required to opt for ad-control feature. To get the feature activated, your website should have a minimum of 25 thousand views per month and you would have to share half of your revenue (generated through ads) with WordPress.com. Phew!! Learn more about Advertising on WordPress.com here.

On the other hand, downloading and hosting your own WordPress website gives you a lot of options. You are in complete control.

You can download and install the software for free, however it would be a self hosting site, which means that you would have to buy a hosting plan with a web hosting company.

Now lets look at the pros and cons of choosing WordPress.org.

Pros:

Open Source: As mentioned earlier WordPress.org is an open source web software solution that allows the user to download and install the software free of cost. The only cost involved is in purchasing a domain name and web hosting and you are done. Ou want me to remove this>

Fully Customizable: You have complete access to PHP. You can customize your site’s appearance by modifying the CSS files. You can add widgets, create child themes, templates and even do amazing effects and a lot more with custom javascript code. If you do not know how to go ahead with it, you could hire a pro for a reasonable cost.

Incredible Themes/Plugins: WordPress.org offers you 2700+ themes/plugins for free. Added to that there are several hundreds of commercial themes/plugins that come handy. These purchased themes/plugins not just makes you stand out from the crowd but it adds value to your site. These are easy to add and can be done with just few clicks.

User Friendly: After the initial setup ( downloading, installing and setting up in your host server ) is done, WordPress is undoubtedly the most user friendly web software solution available on the web today. You need not have any knowledge of html (if known it is an added bonus though) or you don’t need to hire a web developer until and unless you want to make any major changes. Its as easy as using a Microsoft word doc, all that you have to do is use the available editing tools and save the changes and Voila you are done!! Its that easy to manage and update the content on your website/blog.

Easily available Support options: Apart from writing to the support team at the WordPress.org website , there are tens of thousands of videos and written material available on the internet that will help you resolve your query within minutes. Isn’t that cool!! You can also write to us at hello@pauple.com if you have any topics which you want us to write a tutorial on.

Making Money: Well of course, ultimately all this done to earn some bucks, in some case a full time income as well. WordPress.org gives you that benefit. You are allowed to sell ads, as many as you may want. You even have the advantage of choosing the ads you want to be displayed on your site. Unlike WordPress.com, all that you earn comes in your pocket. WordPress.org does not charge you a dime for that.

Cons:

Self Maintenance: Since it’s self hosted, the maintenance of the blog/website has to be manually done. The security updates, scam control, upgrades, back ups everything has to be done by the user. The software is in no way responsible for any of these services.

No extra traffic: No extra traffic is diverted from the WordPress.com network as your blog/website is not a part of their network.

Added cost for added products: Most of them would consider spending on self hosting and premium products as a con but what’s better, having a free blog with limited control or paying a considerable amount and having a fully customizable blog with complete freedom? Well we would undoubtedly choose the later. Ooops!! We have given our verdict with that statement.

Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
Now that you know that WordPress.org is a better option than WordPress.com, we are sure you may have the thoughts of migrating from .com to .org. If yes, then let’s get started.

Export the data from WordPress.com

  1. Login to your WordPress.com blog/website.
  2. Go to the menu bar on the top left corner of the page
  3. From the tool menu- click on export
  4. You will be given 2 options – Free transfer or guided transfer. If you opt for guided transfer then you will be charged $129 and an engineer from the WordPress.com team will help you set up your site within the next 24 hours. You will also be provided with 2 weeks support thereafter. For more details please click here

If you go for the free transfer option, then choose Export option. It will take you to a new page, where you can choose to download either all the content from your site or posts/pages/feedbacks separately, as per your requirement and then select download export file option. If in case you choose posts/pages/feedbacks, you will be given certain options to choose from, depending on which the files are downloaded. The files can be saved on desktop or any selected folder.

With this we are done with the export part of it, now it’s time to import the data onto your new website/blog. But before you do that you would have to register for a new domain and also select a web host. If you’ve already done that, then you are ready to import the data on your new site or if you have already registered for a new domain then it’s time you opt it for a trusted web host.

Install your New site on your host server
The next step is to install your new site on your host server. As every hosting provider has different steps to install WordPress on their server, you could either ask them to help you install your new site on the server or follow the steps that they provide. Usually the installation is quite easy and just take a few clicks to get it done.

Import the data on your New WordPress site
As you are done with exporting the data and installing the WordPress on your new web host server. It’s time to get on to the final stage i.e. importing the data on your new WordPress site.

  1. Login to your new website
  2. Click on dashboard – Go to the tools menu – Select import option
  3. You will be taken to a new page, from the list select the WordPress option. It’s going to ask you to install the WordPress installer plugin. Install and activate the plugin.
  4. Once activated, select the “Choose File” option and upload the exported .xml file (the downloaded file from WordPress.com) and then click on the upload file and import option.
  5. When you upload a file you have an option to assign the files to different users, you may choose the user you want to assign it to. Also check the “Import attachment” box , to import your images as well.
  6. In case your .xml file exceeds 2mb limit, then you could either ask your hosting provider to increase the limit of your file temporarily or you could download the WXR splitter from WordPress and break the .xml file into small files and import them accordingly.

Now your site is officially moved from WordPress.com to your own self-hosted WordPress website downloaded from WordPress.org.

But the work doesn’t end there. There are a couple of more things to be done. One, decide if you want to redirect the traffic from your old site to the new one.

If no, then logon to your old site. Go to settings – select reading – under the site visibility option click on “I would like my site to be private, visible to myself and only to users I choose”

301 redirect

But if you choose to redirect the traffic from your old site to your new site, then WordPress.com comes to your rescue. From your WordPress.com site, go on dashboard – store menu items – select site redirect option. Once opted, WordPress.com redirects the search engines and your site visitors through the 301 redirect option.

With that done, you are all set to use your new site. Go ahead and customize your site with you choice of themes and plugins.

Moving your Domain:

Using 301 redirect isn’t a long-term solution. There are 2 scenarios to address here:

If you do not have a custom domain with WordPress.com: As mentioned before, every site created on WordPress.com comes with a suffix ie. XYZ.WordPress.com. To remove the suffix or in other words to get a custom domain name you have to purchase one either from WordPress.com or from any outside source.

If you plan to get ahead with WordPress.com then you would have to get on one of their plans before you purchase the domain. With every active plan the users get a domain registration absolutely free. You can even have multiple domains on the same site, however every additional registration comes with a separate cost.

  1. Login to your WordPress.com blog/website
  2. Go to the domain bar on the bottom left corner of the page
  3. You will be taken to a new page, from the list you can select the prompted domain names (if it goes with your brand/business name) else click on add domain button
  4. Enter the custom domain name you would wish to purchase, if it is available you will see it highlighted in a green box else you would have to go with the alternate solutions of either considering one of the names suggested by WordPress.com or select a different name (that is available)
  5. This is time you choose weather you want to add professional email to your selected domain.
  6. Fill in the details required, these include domain contact information and weather or not you want to add privacy protection to your domain
  7. Fill in your payment details, and with that your domain registration is complete
  8. Now all that you have to do is to update your custom domain name as your primary domain, on the domain page of your WordPress site

If you already have a registered domain name elsewhere, you can simply map it to your existing WordPress site.

If you have a custom domain with WordPress.com: If you already have a registered custom domain name with WordPress.com, or from any outside source, all that you are required to do is mapping your domain to your site. To do this you have to be active on one of their plans, either premium or business.

  1. Login to your WordPress.com blog/website
  2. Go to the domain bar on the bottom left corner of the page
  3. You will be taken to a new page – under the “Already own a domain” option click on the “Map it” button. You would have to pay a certain amount in order to map the domain. If in case you are already on an active plan you would be allowed to either get a domain registration or mapping a domain to the site, absolutely free. You can even have multiple domains on the same site, however every additional registration comes with a separate cost.
  4. Enter your custom domain name you would like to map with the site and hit the add button. And you are done!

Now is the time to check if the mapped domain name is been set as the primary domain on your site.

  1. Go on the domain page
  2. Click on the domain you want to set as your primary domain
  3. Select the button “make primary”
  4. Click on the “Update Primary Button” on the end of the page
  5. Once done, a green tick mark appears beside the domain chosen

Now it’s time to update your site’s DNS setting. You could either ask your domain registrar to help you with this step or you can choose to do it on your own. If you go by the second option then you would have to login to account given by your domain registrar and replace the names of the existing servers with the following DNS addresses

NS1.WordPress.com or ns1.wordpress.com
NS2.WordPress.com or ns2.wordpress.com
NS3.WordPress.com or ns3wordpress.com

Note: The process to change the DNS addresses may be different with different registrars, kindly check their website for a detailed guidance or you may choose to contact their support team.

It usually takes a couple of hours for the DNS to get updated completely. So just wait and relax.

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