How to migrate a free Wordpress website from Wordpress.com to your own domain
A common scenario
The idea for a new blog or a website comes to your mind and you find yourself driven by the typical enthusiasm of this new project. You want to get started as soon as possible, but you have no experience with domains, hostings and websites in general, so what to do? The solution is a free version of WordPress hosted on wordpress.org: no installation, no complicated stuff, no payments or subscriptions, in other words the perfect deal!
Yes, but… your website address has that
/wordpress.org suffix that doesn’t sound very professional.. but hey, it’s free so you can turn a blind eye after all.
However, one day you realize your project started to grow, your ideas are more clear and you want to scale up! More needs arise and surfing on the web you will discover a huge amount of plugins that would fit perfectly into your website, but.. oh-oh: plugins are not available on your free version of WordPress.
As a matter of fact, the easiest solution is to upgrade to the WordPress Business plan. You can buy your own domain directly from WordPress and get finally rid of that wordpress.org, while you keep all your work and continue working as usual, being also able to install third party plugins without loosing anything of what you’ve done.
Nevertheless, you may want to host your own website separately. Maybe you found a cheaper deal for it or you already have your own domain or whatever other reason you can think of. The only problem is: you don’t want to lose your work and you don’t know how to migrate your wordpress site.
Now is when this tutorial comes into your help!
Iportant Note: importing your contents will NOT import your theme!
There are no particular knowledge requirements to follow this tutorial. On the technical side, the only thing you need is to have a domain and a hosting of your own, as our purpose is precisely to move WordPress instance, hosted freely on wordpress.com to a domain of your own.
If you have your domain and hosting then you’re ready to go on with our migration tutorial!
Step 1 — A clean installation of WordPress
As a first step of the process, you need to have on your domain a fresh WordPress, that is, a brand-new installation of WordPress with no content except for the name of the website itself and an administration account.
You can have a new WordPress already installed on your hosting by your service provider or you may want to install it manually by yourself. If you don’t know how to install a new WordPress website, stop this tutorial here and read my article on How to manually install WordPress on your own domain.
Step 2 — Export your existing WordPress
Now that you have a fresh instance of WordPress on your hosting, it is time to take all the information we need from your current free hosted WordPress on wordpress.com. To do so, just go into your admin panel and in the sidebar, go to Tools > Export .
In this page, click the Export all button as shown in the picture.
Wait a few minutes until the export process is finished. You can now click Download on the right side of the success alert. In doing so, you will download a zipped folder, containing one or more .xml files (depending on how much content you have on your website). These files, contain all the information about your website content, including pages, articles, authors and media. Please note it does NOT contain anything related to your website theme.
Step 3 — Importing your content to the new Website
It is now time to bring all our content inside the new website on our domain! First, access the new WordPress with the administrator account. On the sidebar go to Tools > Import.
In this page we will see a list of import options. Since we are moving from WordPress, let’s pick the WordPress option and click the Install Now link to install the official WordPress importer plugin.
Let’s wait a few seconds until a Run Importer link will show up in the same spot and then click it.
We will be asked to upload a file to import our content. Let’s click the browse button and pick the .xml file we downloaded in step 2, then click the Upload file and import. If you have more than one xml file, you will need to repeat this process for each one of them.
In the next screen, WordPress will look for the authors of the posts we are importing and will ask what to do with each of them. Our choices are: importing the original author, create a new user and assign the articles to it, or assign the posts of the author to an existing author of the new website. Of course, this choice is up to you!
It is very important to check the Download and import file attachment option before we click the Submit button. This will allow WordPress to import all files and media in the articles.
Now, we only need patience. Depending on how much content you are trying to import, the process will take some time, up to 20 minutes in some cases. At the end, we will see a success message, and if you go on the Articles, Pages and Post sections you will see all your content! Have fun!