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

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 blog.

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

Free blog hosts like Blogger and Wordpress.com offer great blogging platforms for beginners, but have some serious restrictions.

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

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 a free blog host.

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 a free blogging platform and on to something a bit more serious.

Let's get into it.

Grabbing all your data

Ok, let's get practical.

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

Luckily, this is super-easy.

From wordpress.com

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.

From Blogger (sometimes called BlogSpot)

First things first, you need to grab your blog's content from Blogger.

  1. In your Blogger admin panel, go to Settings.
  2. Then Other.
  3. Click on Back up content.

Now you just need to save the .xml file to your computer. Save it to somewhere you know you’ll find it easily.


Ok, so you've now got all your settings, posts, and other content exported from your old blog. That wasn't hard at all, was it?

It's now time to install Wordpress and import all that data into it.

Setting up Wordpress on Siteground

Head over to SiteGround and click the white SIGN UP button.

You'll be taken to a screen where you get the option to pick your plan. Don't let this confuse you. The StartUp plan is more than enough for now. If you out-grow your plan, you can always upgrade it.

Simply click the blue ORDER NOW button under the StartUp plan.

You'll now be asked if you want to register a new domain, or if you already have your own domain.

Enter the domain name you would like to register (or an existing domain name you own if you have one already) and click the PROCEED button.

You'll now be taken to a page with a few forms to fill in.

When you register a domain, your registration information is stored by the registrar and people can find that information. If you don't want this, choose to purchase Domain Privacy.

You'll now be asked to enter various information about yourself.

Now you'll be told how much you'll need to pay. Tick the box to say that you've read the terms and conditions, and click the PAY NOW button.


Head over to SiteGround and click the white SIGN UP button.

You'll be taken to a screen where you get the option to pick your plan. Don't let this confuse you. The StartUp plan is more than enough for now. If you out-grow your plan, you can always upgrade it.

Simply click the blue ORDER NOW button under the StartUp plan.

You'll now be asked if you want to register a new domain, or if you already have your own domain.

Enter the domain name you would like to register (or an existing domain name you own if you have one already) and click the PROCEED button.

You'll now be taken to a page with a few forms to fill in.

When you register a domain, your registration information is stored by the registrar and people can find that information. If you don't want this, choose to purchase Domain Privacy.

You'll now be asked to enter various information about yourself.

Now you'll be told how much you'll need to pay. Tick the box to say that you've read the terms and conditions, and click the PAY NOW button.



Installing Wordpress

All going well, you'll now have an account, and will have been logged in automatically to the SiteGround admin panel.

Click the Go to cPanel button.

You'll now get a popup asking if you'd like to access cPanel securely. Tick the box and then the Proceed button.

Once in the control panel, click the Wordpress icon under the autoinstallers section.

Now click Install.

Enter the name and description of your blog. Don't worry too much about this, as you can change it any time you'd like.

Choose the admin username and password you'd like for your blog.

To stop pesky automated scripts from trying to gain access to your blog admin page, you should enable Loginizer.

Finally, hit Install.

A database will now be setup for Wordpress to store all your posts and settings. This will take about a minute.

That's it! Wordpress is now installed. You should get an email like the one below confirming that Wordpress is now ready to use.

Importing all your old blog content 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 blog 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 interface you'll have been used to using on your old blog.

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.

The editor is very simple to use. Simply enter text in the editor and then you can modify the formatting of the selected text.

make a new wordpress post

From here, you'll find it's very easy to create content.

Conclusion

With this post, I've shown you some of the benefits of moving away from a free host, 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 your free blog host? Is there anything I can help you with? Let me know in the comments