When I launched this blog at WordPress.com, I never heard of “self-hosting” nor did I know its long list of advantages. It’s alien to me. I only learned it from the blogging community and from reading articles on why migrating is better so I considered doing it.
In a nutshell, self-hosting is running your website on your own private server by signing up for a hosting service. Sample benefits are:
- Custom domain
- SEO features
- Custom email address
- Full web control
- More themes
I actually considered availing premium plans on WordPress.com but I really find it expensive. However, when I learned of self-hosting, I was 70% determined to do it. The other 30% was more on thinking if I have the skills to do it myself. I have zero skills on web developing.
Thankfully, upon reading Writings by JM’s self-hosting journey, I was inspired to migrate my blog. I did some further research about it—you know, just learning what I’m getting myself into—until I officially decided to go for it. The migration was a success, though! I spent a whole day for it.
Below is my step-by-step guide; I tried to write this as simple as possible so it would be helpful for beginners and new to the term “self-hosting”.
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Exporting my site
Since I decided to migrate my blog from WordPress.com, I needed to export its content before I transfered (WordPress Dashboard > Tools > Export). I only had 20 posts that time so it quickly downloaded a compressed file to my device. I extracted it then got the XML document which I would later upload to my chosen host. Note that this process only exports your posts, pages, and images.
Pick a hosting service provider
There were many options in Google if you search, but make sure to check out the features for every package they offer and avail of what fits your preference. After comparing options, I decided to host my blog at Hostinger. It has the most affordable offer of up to 90% at that time and includes a free SSL certificate, a feature that gives you a more secure connection. And because it offers a great package for such a price, I availed a two-year hosting service. They’re also responsive to my “noob” queries and they’ve been really helpful! If you’re looking for a hosting provider that is convenient, I definitely recommend them.
I initially purchased a domain (thequeensights.com) in WordPress.com so I only paid for the hosting service to Hostinger. After confirming my payment, I logged on to their dashboard and started the most frustrating part of the migration.
Importing the site
I downloaded WordPress.org via Hostinger’s Auto-Installer feature in their dashboard. From there, I got access to manage and import my website. Then, I imported the XML file containing all my content which I mentioned earlier (WordPress Dashboard > Tools > WordPress > Install Now > Import). Make sure to check the box that says “Download and import file attachments”.
The reason why I said it was frustrating is that it failed to import some of the images! I felt hopeless I almost cried, but Hostinger had helped me every step of the way. Maybe it was just a bad internet connection or just not my time to finish it. I redid the importing the next morning and it miraculously worked.
I really had no freaking idea on the next steps because, first, there were no images in my gallery even the importing was a success; second, my domain had “-preview” tag in it. I immediately consulted Hostinger for assistance and they advised me to point my domain to Hostinger as I had purchased my domain from WordPress.com. This process lets you use your own domain in the self-hosted blog and see all the images in the media gallery. Phew!
Customizing my blog
Self-hosting offers more flexible ways to customize your website. I like my blog to be chic-looking and interactive. I really had a hard time picking a theme until I tried Bard Theme by WP Royal. This theme, which you are seeing now, totally suits my taste, and is highly customizable with its many features. Simple and clean.
What I love more about self-hosting is the access to free plugins which I couldn’t do in WordPress.com. Here are the plugins I initially installed:
- Akismet Anti-spam (spam comment blocker)
- Google fonts typography (to apply other fonts)
- Jetpack (plugin suite which combines essential WordPress features into one large plugin)
- Yoast SEO (basically helps you optimize your blog to get traffic)
You can create your personalized logo and banners for your blog for more creative output. If you’re a beginner, Canva would be a big help. It’s a favorite for most of the bloggers. Check out my post on other photo editors you can explore.
Transferring subscribers and stats
Migrating to a self-hosted blog does not include the migration of your subscribers and stats. As for subscribers, I used Jetpack plugin to migrate my subscribers from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. (Jetpack > Settings > Discussion > Subscriptions). Here’s a full tutorial if you want to know.
For the stats, I asked for the help of WordPress’s customer support. I got my stats back after a couple of days.
Making my old site private
Do not forget to make your old site private to ensure that your readers won’t be directed to it. To do this on WordPress.com, I went to my old site’s Dashboard > Settings > Privacy > Private.
That’s it! It was not an easy migration and I somehow felt stupid for not understanding stuff I read online. Thought of sharing this post so I can help other bloggers, too.
Hope you find this helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!