Imagine this nightmare for a second;
You have a free blog on Tumblr, Wordpress.com, Blogger, or somewhere else and when you go to login, it tells you that your account is suspended.
That's exactly what happened to Janet Thaeler
Not only did this happen to her blog on Wordpress.com, but also to her previous blog on Blogger!
Wordpress.com told her this;
Blogs are suspended if they are found to be in breach of the TOS.
We do not contact you first to ask that content be modified or removed.
You cannot have that blog name back.
You cannot have the blog content back.
POOF! Just like that. Gone forever.
The countless months that she spent creating content were completely meaningless.
Stories like this are very common with free blog hosts. Just ask Google.
Free blog hosts like Tumblr, Blogger and Wordpress.com offer great blogging platforms for beginners, but also 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.
Does that make sense?
On a free blog host, you have no control. If they delete your blog, you can't do anything about it.
Not only that, but 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.
And to add icing on the cake, 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've put any kind of time into your blog and don't want to lose it, you need to move from free hosting.
I'll show you how to do just that.
Let's get into it.
Grabbing all your data
Ok, let's get practical.
We need to;
- Export all your posts/images/settings from your current blog.
- Install Wordpress on a webhost.
- Import all your posts/images/settings from your old blog into your new Wordpress blog.
If any of that sounds daunting, I'll show you further down the page how you can get that all done for you for free.
The first thing you need to do, is to export all your posts and other content from your current blog.
This will mean you have a backup of your blog's data.
Luckily, this is super-easy.
I'll guide you through the steps for each of the major platforms.
After logging into Wordpress.com, click My Site in the top-left.
Now scroll down the menu on the left and click on Settings.
Click 'Export' on the top menu. Then click 'Export All'.
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.
In your Blogger admin panel, go to Settings, then Other, then click on Back up content.
You'll get a small popup window that. Click on Save to your computer.
You'll then be asked to save an .xml file. Save it to somewhere you know you’ll find it easily, like your desktop.
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 on a webhost and import all that data into it.
It's not as scary as it sounds, I promise.
Choosing a webhost
A webhost will host your website on a server (basically a computer) and take care of updates for you.
This is exactly what Blogger, Wordpress.com, etc. do, but a webost will personally take care of you and your website.
There's many webhosts on the internet that will host your website for you for a small fee.
But with so many webhosts out there, which one do you choose?
In my 17+ years of being online, I've tried numerous web hosts. I even started my own hosting company at one point, but that's another story.
Along the way, I've found some good hosts, and some terrible hosts.
The host I recommend people choose, is SiteGround.
There's a few reasons for this;
Their support is unmatchable.
With most hosts, when you contact support, you'll speak to a general support person. Their job is to listen to your query and pass on a message to the server engineers or the billing department. After that, you have to wait for them to fix the issue 'as soon as possible'.
This could be hours, or even days.
With SiteGround, you're talking to a member of staff that has technical knowledge. They typically fix any issue within minutes.
Their servers are fast
Their servers are some of the fastest in the industry, which means your page will load quickly.
With Google now using page loading time as a ranking factor and penalizing slow-loading websites, this is really important!
Even when they have a server that is under heavy load, the servers still respond amazingly quickly.
SiteGround is popular
People often ask in Facebook groups for recommendations for what web host to choose. The answer is nearly the same every single time.
Setting up Wordpress on SiteGround
There's many blogging platforms available, but the most popular is Wordpress.
If you've already had a blog on Wordpress.com, you will have been using a heavily modified version of Wordpress already, although it would have had lots of limitations.
Installing Wordpress on your own server on SiteGround will mean that you have control over how it functions. There won't be any limitations like you're used to experiencing with Wordpress.com, or any other free blog host.
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.
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.
From your Wordpress admin panel, click on Tools in the sidebar on the left. Then Click on Import.
Then scroll down the list and click 'Install Now' under 'Wordpress'.
This will install a small plugin within Wordpress.
Once it's installed, click 'Run 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'.
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.
With this post, I've shown you some of the benefits of moving away from a free host, and why you should.
Along with the fact that it means you can't have your blog taken away from you suddenly, you can also get a huge loading speed increase and other benefits.
The key thing to take away here is; 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