Why you should move from Wordpress.com (and how to do it)

Read time: about 6 minutes (1375 words)

We all have to start somewhere.

When I first started blogging, I had a blog on Wordpress.com

  • It got very little traffic
  • it looked ugly
  • I didn't update it often

With all that aside, in my eyes it was the greatest blog ever. I wrote about rock music and the little traffic that I got, I treasured.

Note: If you don't already have a blog, but are looking to get started with blogging, you should checkout my guide to starting a money-making blog.

I soon figured out that if I wanted more traffic, I had to get serious.

Wordpress.com and other free blog hosts offer great blogging platforms for beginners, but have some serious restrictions.

First of all, the blog isn't technically yours.

Let me explain;

It's like the difference between renting property and having a mortage.

When you rent an apartment or house, the landlord owns the property.

You can call it your own place, but it's not yours.

Chances are, you can't paint the walls the color you'd like, or get rid of the cupboard doors in the kitchen that you don't like. You have no control, because technically, it's not yours.

With a mortgage, the property is yours. You can knock down walls, install a new bathroom, anything. It's your property. You own it.

This is what it's like to have your blog on Wordpress.com.

With wordpress.com, you can't install custom themes or install plugins. This is a HUGE problem, especially if you want to get serious and have a successful, money-making blog.

Because Google wants the best results on it's first page, it doesn't rank free hosts as highly.

Basically, It's next to impossible to run a really popular, successful blog on a free platform.

If you want a serious blog, you need to start taking blogging seriously. It's that simple.

In this post, I'll show you how to move your blog from wordpress.com and on to something a bit more serious.

Spoiler; It's easier than you think.

Let's get into it.

Grabbing all your data from Wordpress.com

Ok, let's get practical.

The first thing you need to do, is to export all your posts and other content from Wordpress.com.

This is super-easy.

After logging into wordpress.com, click 'My Site' in the top-left.

wordpress.com my site

Now scroll down the menu on the left and click on 'Settings'.

wordpress.com settings

Click 'Export' on the top menu. Then click 'Export All'.

wordpress.com export

And there you go. Done. You should now get an email from Wordpress.com with a link to a .zip file containing all your blogs posts and settings.

Click the link. Save that .zip file to somewhere safe where you can easily find the file, like your desktop.

Double-click the .zip file and you'll find a .xml file in there. Drag that to your desktop.

We'll need that file shortly.

Setting up Wordpress on Bluehost

The best Wordpress host out there just now has to be Bluehost. Sign up using that link and you'll get an exclusive discount, so you'll only pay $3.95 per month, instead of $7.99 per month.

And do you know what the best part is?

They'll throw in a free domain for you. Bonus!

Ok, let's get you a Bluehost account.

First, go to Bluehost and click 'get started now'.

get started with bluehost

You'll be given the choice of 3 accounts.

Don't worry to much about this for now, as you can always upgrade, if need be.

The 'basic' package is ideal if you only have 1 blog. If you have multiple blogs, across different domains, you may need to choose the plus or prime package.

If you only have one blog, choose 'basic'.

bluehost account options

If your wordpress.com blog had an address like yourblog.wordpress.com, then I have good news.

Bluehost will give you a free domain. You can have yourblog.com instead.

Enter the domain you want, and see if it's available.

bluehost free domain

If you already have a domain name, don't worry, you can just transfer it to Bluehost.

bluehost transfer domain

The next step is to fill in your account information.

bluehost account information register

You'll now be given a list of extras to buy.

You don't need any of these, so untick them all.

The only option you should consider adding is 'Domain Privacy Protection'.

Having this on your domain, will ensure that people can't see who owns your domain.

If you want peace of mind, and are a little on the private side, enable it.

Choosing 36 months of hosting will get you the cheapest price, monthly. If you wish to have your blog that long, choose this.

If not, choose 12 months.

You'll end up paying slightly more in the long-run, but you can easily make that money back.

$65.40 for a year of hosting, and a free domain name. Not bad.

Ok, let's keep moving.

bluehost account options

Installing Wordpress

Installing Wordpress with Bluehost is ridiculously easy.

After logging in your Bluehost account, look for 'Install Wordpress'.

install wordpress

After clicking that, you'll be asked a few simple questions.

Fill in the questions and follow the instructions.

All going well, you'll now have wordpress installed.

Now go to http://yourdomain.com/wp-login.php and login using the username and password you chose a moment ago.

Importing all your Wordpress.com posts to your new blog

Another easy step. Just a few clicks and you're there.

Click on Tools in the sidebar on the left. Then Click on Import.

Then scroll down the list and click 'Install Now' under 'Wordpress'.

install wordpress importer plugin

This will install a small plugin within Wordpress.

Once it's installed, click 'Run Importer'.

run wordpress importer

Now you just need to do one last thing.

Remember the .xml file you saved to your desktop?

Click 'Choose File', select the file from your desktop.

Now click 'Upload file and import'.

import posts to wordpress

And that's it.

Your shiny new wordpress blog will now have all of your old wordpress.com posts and it's settings. That wasn't too hard, was it?

Your new Wordpress blog is now installed and ready to use.

But wait, there's more!

Let's tweak a few things and make it much better.

Customizing Wordpress

Wordpress is setup pretty nicely out-of-the-box, but there's a few quick changes you can make to make it better.

Change the default theme

The default theme that comes with Wordpress isn't the best, but it can easily be changed.

Click 'Appearance'. Then click 'Themes' directly under it.

You'll now get a list of themes you can scroll through.

wordpress themes

Use the options at the top to filter through featured, popular and latest themes.

If you have an idea of what you're looking for, use the search box.

Once you've found one you like, you can preview it live on your blog, and install it if it's one you want to use.

Make page addresses better

By default, Wordpress will save your blog posts with an address like http://yourdomain.com/?p=123 which is not attractive, at all. They're ugly and not informative.

You can change that.

Go to Settings, then click Permalinks.

Now change the permalink setting to 'Post name'.

changing wordpress urls

Your posts will now look like http://yourdomain.com/post-title, which looks much better.

Your readers will be able to see what the post is about before visiting the link, and also be able to bookmark and remember the link more easily.

Creating content

The interface for a self-hosted Wordpress blog is a little different to the wordpress.com interface you're used to.

Don't worry though, everything is still there. It's just in different places.

Click 'New' in the bar at the top.

create new wordpress post

You'll now be shown the Wordpress post editor. This should look a bit more familiar to you.

make a new wordpress post

You should find it very easy to publish content now, just like you were on your Wordpress.com blog.

Conclusion

With this post, I've shown you some of the benefits of moving away from Wordpress.com, and why you should.

Blogging is fun, but if you want to make money, you have to get serious. If you wish to do that on a free platform, you're going to have a HUGE hill to climb.

To be honest, you'll be lucky if you can even get half-way up that hill.

Would you like to move from wordpress.com? Is there anything I can help you with? Let me know in the comments