The idea of moving an entire blog over to self-hosted WordPress puts fear into the hearts of many-a-blogger. With such a complicated-seeming process and plenty of horror stories, it feels like an overwhelming, complicated task. But I assure you, even the least tech-savvy blogger can complete the move without too much drama.
Purchase a domain and hosting
First up, we need to purchase hosting and a domain (if you don’t already have one.) Look for a hosting company that has a one-click WordPress install option and choose a basic hosting package, which should come with plenty of space and a few email accounts. (I recommend BlueHost or GoDaddy) Skip over everything that says “Add this! Add this! Add this!” If you decide you need more space, email accounts, or extras you can always go back and add them later.
This will be slightly different for each company, but the two important notes are: Create a unique username and password, which you’ll use to login to your blog. Admin + Password123 is sure to get your site hacked immediately. And second there likely be an option to install in a subdirectory. If you want users to go straight to your domain then leave that space blank. If you want them to go to something like xosarah.com/blog, then you would put that in the box.
Once WordPress is set up you’ll login at http://yourblog.com/wp-login.php (substitute “yourblog.com” for your own url)
Transfer your content
When exporting, I highly recommend breaking your site in to two or three chunks to avoid the issue entirely. For WordPress.com, you can do this by selecting a type of content and then choosing a date range. I did my posts one year at a time and it worked like a charm!
For Blogger you’ll go into Settings > Other and export your content. Blogger does not currently transfer pages (lame!), so you’ll have to copy & paste those yourself.
If your files are still too large, you could use the WXR file splitter.
Once you login to your new WordPress site, head over to Tools > Import and import your files.
Set-up your new WordPress site
- Choose a new blog theme—look for something with custom header and custom background options to quickly add your own design details (I have a major crush on the Genesis framework – best for those with some coding skills)
- Add your blog title and tagline (Settings > General)
- Change the permalinks (Settings > Permalinks). I recommend using the post name structure http://yourblog.com/sample-post/
- Add your navigation (Appearance > Menu)
- Add items to the sidebar (Appearance > Widgets) The Black Studio TinyMCE plugin adds a visual editor widget, which is great for those without coding skills (or get some coding skills here >>>)
- Set-up JetPack to get your stats working
Bring your followers with you
Losing subscribers is one of the major concerns when leaving an old blog behind. If you’re moving from WordPress.com, you can keep them by using the JetPack plugin and the instructions here >>> For Bloglovin’, you can email their support team and ask them to change the URL and feed for your site.
Set up a domain redirect
When readers go to your old blog we want to make sure they’re directed to your new content. You can make all of your posts private and add one last big obnoxious graphic to let them know you’ve moved.
You can also use the Blogger to WordPress plugin (instructions) or Blogger 301 Redirect plugin, which will set up 1-to-1 mapping, so users visiting your old posts will be redirected to the same post on your new site instead of the homepage. (A dead end for search engines or Pinterest traffic.) For WordPress.com you can purchase a site redirect, which will do the same thing.
If you are moving from one self-hosted site to another, you can redirect through the htaccess file.
In the event of an emergency
First off, don’t panic! It’s just the internet and everything is fixable!
If you’re getting an error when you try to login to WordPress or visit your new site, contact your hosting company—they should be able to pin point where things when wrong and you may just need to do the install again.
If your photos have disappeared—again, don’t panic, it’s fairly normal for some of your photos to jump ship during the process. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt, but it also allows you to go through your content and fix up your posts in the process. You photos may have transferred into the media library and just become detached from their posts or you make have to go post by post saving and re-uploading.
If none of your internal links are working (links to your own pages or posts), use the Search and Replace plugin.