I Took The Plunge! Moving from WordPress.com to a Self-Hosted Site

After almost a year (my blogiversary is soon approaching!) of blogging over at WordPress.com I decided to take the plunge to a self-hosted site!  If you’ve been floating around with the idea as well, I recommend you read further and hopefully get a clearer understanding of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  When I was researching the pros and cons, it left me with more questions than answers, so I’m hoping to clarify some of that for you here.  I’m still tweaking a few things on my site, and learning a whole lot along the way, but excited to share it all with you.

I’ll start by saying that I am a computer geek by nature, and was able to do several customizations on my own when I was on .com.  When you decide to move your blog over to .org, you have the option of doing it yourself, or paying a ‘Happiness Engineer’ to take care of the transfer for you.  I have friends who took care of the transfer on their own and it is really quite simple, but I lack one thing, and that is time, so I opted for a Guided Transfer.  If you follow suit, you will be contacted via email and advised of a 24 hour period for when the transfer will take place.  During that time, your site does not go down, but you are asked not to make any changes to your site so that the transfer goes smoothly.  My transfer went very smoothly, and all my posts, photos, comments, stats, readers came along with me.  As well, WordPress provides additional support for a two-week period after the transfer is completed.  So far, the only hiccup I had was my shiny new website was taking quite long to load.  After some research, my Happiness Engineer informed me that the hundreds of photos I have in my media library were quite huge and this was slowing everything down.  Well, friends, if you aren’t resizing your photos before loading them to your site, beware – eventually you will either run out of space, or slow things down tremendously.  Luckily, (yay for plugins), I managed to install the Smush-It plugin and resize my entire already existing library.  This helped a lot!  For future, I will resize my photos before uploading them, and if you aren’t already, please join me in doing so. 🙂
Regardless of the route you choose (doing the transfer yourself or using a Guided Transfer) in order for it to go smoothly and in a timely manner, you must be prepared.

  1. Begin by purchasing a domain name or redirecting your name servers if you already own your domain.  I used GoDaddy to purchase my domain name a while back, so I just redirected the nameservers to my new web host, Blue Host.  This is very simple to do and if you have more questions on this, please ask!

  2. Choose a Web Host.  As mentioned above, I chose Blue Host, as it was recommended as a secure and stable host by WordPress and after researching and comparing them to others, I felt comfortable with their service and cost, and decided they were the best bet.

  3. At this point you are ready for the transfer.  You can either get your hands dirty and follow some easy step by step guides, I like this one from WordPress, and also these simple tips from my blogging buddy Laura or you can purchase the Guided Transfer and let a Happiness Engineer take care of it for you.  If you are prepared, either process will only take a few hours to complete!

  4.  We obviously want to make sure all our readers are moved along with us, and with a Guided Transfer, they take care of moving your subscribers and readers.  If you transfer your blog on your own, simply email WordPress and request a transfer of your subscriptions and they will take care of that for you.  Along with this, I also wanted to make sure all my favourite blogs which I follow would still be accessible to me.  Wordpress.org does not have a Reader, but I will continue to have access to my WordPress.com account, and therefore to my reader as well!

  5.  You have many more choices for themes in WordPress.org, and although I had a Guided Transfer, they cannot move Premium Themes over from WordPress.com.  So, basically I switched my blog to a regular (free) theme on WordPress.com right before the transfer and then when the transfer was complete, I installed my own theme.  Again, a very simple process which I can happily walk you through if you have any questions!

At this point, you are done!  But the million dollar question is, do you stay on WordPress.com or do you move to WordPress.org?

WordPress.com is a super platform to start your blog.  You don’t need to worry about backing up your content, finding a host, performing regular maintenance and keeping hackers away.  In exchange for the free hosting, your site will be laden with restrictions and advertising. You can pay yearly in order to have these removed. Or, you can commit the time to maintain your own site.  Along with that comes complete control.   You can install plugins to increase the functionality of your site.  You can eliminate ads completely, or if you are looking to monetize your site, you can join affiliate networks of your choice, for example, Google AdSense.

For me, I was starting to feel restricted with things I really wanted to offer on Love and Lentils.  For example, when hosting a giveaway, you cannot install a simple plugin to manage the entries (such as Rafflecopter) on WordPress.com.  Also, simple great tools like a ‘Pin It’ button from Pinterest was not possible on .com.  There are a lot more plugins which I wanted, and the only way to have that control and freedom was to move on over!

I hope this answers some of your curiosities about taking the plunge and if you already have moved to a self-hosted site, I’d love to hear about your experience!

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Thank you all for your continued support and ever-growing sense of community.

Sophia x