Moving to Self-Hosted WordPress
If you have a site hosted with us at WordPress.com and are thinking of moving to a self-hosted WordPress site (WordPress.org), we’ve put together this guide to help you along the way.
With a hosted site on WordPress.com, we take care of a lot behind the scenes — like security, backups, and filtering comment spam. Even after you move to a self-hosted site, we can keep helping you out. (Jetpack was created for just this purpose!) This guide will help you set up and configure everything.
If you don’t want the hassle of moving to a new host, we also offer a Guided Transfer service where one of our Happiness Engineers will transfer your site for you.
Here’s a list of the steps we’ll cover through this guide:
- Purchasing web hosting
- Installing WordPress
- Transferring your site from WordPress.com to the new host
- Registering a new domain name or transfer an existing domain
- Installing the Jetpack plugin
- Migrating your subscribers
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
First Step: Find a new host
If you’ve made it this far and your head is spinning, we can help! There is still the option for a Guided Transfer — where our team at WordPress.com will take care of it for you — or if you just need a little guidance feel free to contact us.
While this guide is meant to get you started with WordPress.org, there’s still a ton more to explore. Here’s a curated list of places to visit next so you can get the most out of your WordPress.org site:
Move Subscribers / Stats
With Jetpack now installed, you can make sure your subscribers and stats follow you over to your new site as well.
Moving to a self-hosted WordPress.org site doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all the followers you’ve built up on your WordPress.com site. With the Jetpack plugin you can migrate your subscribers to the new site with the click of a button. Now that you’ve installed Jetpack, just follow the instructions for the subscription migration tool.
Note: Social Media follower counts are a feature that’s only available on WordPress.com stats. Jetpack-connected self-hosted sites will only show WordPress.com followers and email subscribers.
With Jetpack you can also keep the stats you’ve built up on your WordPress.com site. While there is not an automated tool for this, you can contact us and we’ll gladly help get it done for you.
Note: WordPress.com and Facebook likes cannot be transferred at this time.
Connect A Domain Name
Next: Let’s make sure your domain name directs visitors to your new site.
Free WordPress.com Domain
If you have been using one of our free WordPress.com domains, such as example.wordpress.com, you will need to purchase a new custom domain name for your site. In many cases you can purchase this from your new hosting company at the same time you set up your account.
You can also set your WordPress.com domain to take people to your new site. We offer a Site Redirect upgrade which will do just that.
Custom Domain Name
If you already have a custom domain name, something like yourgroovysite.com, there are a couple options when it comes to moving it to your new site. If your domain is registered here at WordPress.com, you can transfer your domain or update its name servers to point it to your new hosting platform.
Having a custom domain hosted with WordPress.com means that it is currently using https. Search engines and other links would be using this in the address they link to your site with. Find out more about avoiding security warnings when switching hosting providers.
If your domain is registered with another company, you’ll have the same options with them — either transfer the name or update the name servers.
In either case, to redirect your permalinks (including links indexed by Google), make sure you choose Day and name in Settings → Permalinks in the WP Admin area of your self-hosted WordPress site so they match the same as what was used here.
Next Step: Add Jetpack
Themes and Widgets
Now that WordPress is installed, it’s time to set up your theme.
You can move all the content from your current site to your new self-hosted WordPress site, but themes and widgets cannot be moved, so you’ll want to set up a new theme on your site.
There are many places to find WordPress themes — one great option is to browse and download one from the WordPress.org theme directory.
If you’re happy with the theme you’re currently using on WordPress.com, you may be able to use it for your new site as well.
To search for your WordPress.com theme, use the action bar in the bottom right when visiting your site and click the Get Theme link. On the theme’s page, you can scroll down to the bottom of the Overview tab and download the theme to use with your self-hosted site.
If you are unfamiliar with how to install a theme in WordPress, the Using Themes page on WordPress.org has the instructions.
Once your theme is installed and activated you’ll need to setup the widgets for the site as well. You can find more information about working with them on the WordPress.org widgets page.
Next Step: Export / Import Content
Once you have your domain name pointing to your new site, let’s get it connected to Jetpack!
Even with a self-hosted WordPress site, you can still get all the cool features you enjoyed at WordPress.com by using Jetpack. This optional plugin offers analytics, site management tools, and it gives you access to our mobile and desktop apps. It’s one of our official plugins, and it’s supported by our fantastic Happiness Engineers.
You can get Jetpack for free through the plugins section of your WordPress Dashboard or by downloading it from jetpack.com. Step-by-step installation instructions are available here.
Jetpack upgrades are an optional extra. If you’d like anti-spam, backups, and security features for your site then read on …
What upgrades are available?
To see the whole list of features and comparisons you can view it on the Jetpack features page. The main features of the two upgrade options are below.
Next Step: Move Subscribers / Stats
Export / Import Content
Once you have your theme installed, it’s time for the next big step: exporting your content to your new site.
In your WordPress.com dashboard, go to My Site → Settings and select Export under Site Tools at the bottom to download an XML file of all of your content. Click on the arrow next to the Export All button if you want to select specific content items to export.
In the WP Admin area of your self-hosted WordPress site, go to Tools → Import → WordPress.
If it hasn’t been installed yet, you will be prompted to install the WordPress Importer plugin.
Choose your file, click Upload file and import, and select the option to Download & import file attachments and import your XML file.
The WordPress.org Importing Content page has more information about this process as well.
Next Step: Move Domain
Once you’ve selected your new host, it’s time to install WordPress. Most hosts have a one-click install for WordPress, which means all you’ll need to do is click a button to get WordPress up and running with your new host.
For our recommended hosts at get.wp.com/hosting, you can find their instructions for getting WordPress installed here:
BlueHost WordPress installation instructions
Pressable WordPress.com migration instructions
If the one-click install button is not available, you can also download WordPress for free at https://wordpress.org and install it yourself manually. Instructions for installing WordPress, including the famous 5-minute installation, are available on the WordPress.org site.
Next Step: Customize Appearance
Find a New Host
The first step to getting a self-hosted (WordPress.org) site is choosing a new host. We are your host at WordPress.com, but when you move to self-hosted you’ll have to purchase an account with a new provider.
We have a list of recommended WordPress hosts at get.wp.com/hosting, but you are free to choose any host you like.
Next Step: Install WordPress
Avoid security warnings
Your WordPress.com site is protected through HTTPS encryption, improving both security and performance for your site. Visually the only change is an extra S in your browser address (https instead of http) and the green lock in your browser bar when visiting your site:
Unfortunately, not all hosting companies offer this option by default (yet). Depending on the hosting company you have chosen, you might be transferring your site from an HTTPS URL to a plain old HTTP one. Your site won’t be accessible any more through those HTTPS links.
Anyone who tries to access your site using one of the HTTPS URLS, will get a security warning. This affects mostly visitors coming through Google (the search engines need time to update their records to HTTP) and those who bookmarked your page.
There are several options to prevent these security warnings:
Option 1: Add an SSL certificate from your hosting company.
Your hosting company most likely offers information and documentation regarding SSL certificates on their website. Make sure to check which options are available for free and which are paid upgrades.
Option 2: Get a free SSL certificate
If your hosting company does not offer free SSL certificates, there are two alternatives you can choose from:
- Get your own free SSL certificate, for example via Let’s Encrypt). You will have to install this on your hosting account yourself.
- If you don’t want to install a SSL certificate, you can use a service like Cloudflare to route your DNS through their servers.