Heads up – today’s post is NOT about Therapeutic Riding! This post is about how to transfer your blog from WordPress to GoDaddy so you can have a self-hosted blog, like I did, in hopes that it will help someone out, like all the internet articles helped me. So unless you’re looking for this specific info, you can skip it 🙂
About 2 years ago I started moving my blog from the free hosting of WordPress.com to the pay-for-it-self-hosting of GoDaddy.com. While there were tons of great resources on the web that helped me do this on my own, there was nothing with all the information in one place for my exact situation. In the spirit of passing things on to help make the process easier for others, and I am creating these posts. Part 1 is how to transfer your blog. Part 2 is how to monetize it, so it at least pays for itself. I hope someone out there finds it useful!
PART 1: How to Transfer Your Blog from WordPress.com to GoDaddy & WordPress.org
(For a really simple overview and video, click here.)
Why Transfer from WordPress.com to a self-hosted version of WordPress
Most bloggers start out using a free blog host like WordPress.com. I did! The benefits are:
- it’s free
- you don’t need technical computer skills
- there are an adequate amount of customization options for you blog in the provided themes and widgets.
However, the downsides are:
- often these hosts stay free because they put their own ads on your blog, of which you cannot control the content or location
- you have minimal monetizing options, as WordPress.com only allows WordsAds (if you’re accepted) and does not allow outside advertising (except links to your own items on Amazon or Etsy) or affiliate links (if you want to partner up or get a sponsor).
- there are limited theme and customization options
- you can’t use advanced tracking software to analyze how to improve your blog
- therefore it’s hard to brand your website, expand, and monetize it to its full potential (especially if you want to be a full or part time blogger)
So it’s up to you! While I really liked free WordPress.com and had a great experience slightly monetizing with AdWords, I decided it was time to move my blog to a situation where I could be more in control of everything. I have to give a big shout out to reader Cindy Ryan who first encouraged me to make the move – I don’t know if I would have done it without her telling me the basics and making it sound so easy! And in the end it was much easier than I expected, mostly because with good Googling you can find the answer to anything.
1. Copy your entire website
Save the whole thing page by page. That way is anything is lost in the transfer you have a copy of it. I made a word doc for each post and page, and copied and pasted both was the page looked like in the browser and the coding in the editor. I also downloaded all the images. Some say you don’t need to do this, or there may be programs that can do it for you, but this is what was recommended to me. It took way longer than I thought.
2. Sign up for a self-hosted site with GoDaddy.com
You can do this on their website or call in into customer service. I ended up wasting a lot of time on the phone with someone who didn’t know the answers to most of my questions which in the end I just figured it out myself. So I’d say if you’re familiar with computers and blogging, even minimally, and good at following online directions, then do this yourself on their website and Google any questions.
To sign up on your own:
- go to GoDaddy.com
- click on “All Products”
- click on “Hosting”
- click on “Web Hosting”
- Explore the option and choose what’s best for you.
Some thoughts on plan options. The more years you agree to, the lower the price. I chose the Economy plan for 3 years. You may want to purchase a domain name with it, or one may come with it. I did not because I already had one through WordPress.com, and later when it was expiring I transferred that domain name registration over to GoDaddy. I probably should have set it up at the time, though, because I think it was free with the package.
3. Set up your cPanel account
“cPanel” is a Linux-based (an open-source operating system) control panel for web hosting (like an app that lets you manage your account’s emails, file, applications, websites, etc.) meant to make things easier for people like me. cPanel has a WordPress app that installs WordPress.org for you, so you can use it to transfer and continue your blog. But first you have to set it up.
- Log in to your account manager at GoDaddy.com
- Click on “Web Hosting”.
- If you bought your GoDaddy package over the internet, you probably need to install cPanel yourself by clicking “Set Up”. If you bought your GoDaddy package over the phone, they probably already installed cPanel for you and you just need to set it up by clicking “Manage”. If you already have a domain assigned to the hosting, it will show a “Launch” button instead that takes you directly to your cPanel.
- Fill out the forms. Remember to save your login information somewhere!
- Click “Finish”
For more details and pictures of the process, check this page out.
4. Set up your self-hosted site on GoDaddy.com with WordPress.org
cPanel will look like a bunch of app icons. In cPanel:
- Scroll down to “Web Applications”
- Click “Wordpress Blog”
- Click “Install this application”
- Fill out the forms. Remember to save your login information somewhere! (more here on GoDaddy and here on DeclusteredMarketing)
- Click “Install” or “OK”
Once installed, go to: www.[yourdomainname].com/wp-admin/
Login like you would at wordpress.com but using your new username and password you just set up. If it works, great! Skip the next step. If this page can’t be found, see the next step.
5. Change your domain name direction
If the wp-admin login page can’t be found (like for me), you may need to change your domain name direction at this time (which fixed it for me). This is because your www.[yourdomainname].com is directing all traffic to your old WordPress.com blog instead of your new one, so you need to tell the internet to start using the new location instead. However, doing so this early on means that everyone will be redirected to your not-yet-set-up blog! Don’t be worried, you can set everything up pretty fast. If you’re not yet ready to transfer your blog (aka you haven’t saved/backed it up), then wait until you are ready. If you’re adamant that your blog be perfect before redirecting, as in you don’t want it to be unavailable or weird looking even for half an hour, I don’t know the answer. I hear you may need to get a temporary domain name…Google it. I went ahead and redirected my domain name at this point so I could login to my new WordPress.org and simply hoped I’d be able to figure out how to make the new blog perfect quickly. Thankfully it was easy and quick, and the website was not down for long at all.
If you choose to redirect your domain name now and purchased it through WordPress.com, follow the WordPress.com Support directions here. If you purchased your domain name from someone else, Google directions on “how to change name servers” or “how to redirect domain name” along with the name of your domain name provider.
Note: In retrospect, I maybe should have posted the day before a heads up that the site would be down at some point in the following day. In the end it wasn’t that big a deal, though.
Now go back to: www.[yourdomainname].com/wp-admin/ and you should be able to log in to your wordpress.org dashboard!
6. Transfer your blog
This is actually the easiest part! If you’d like to see directions with pictures, check out this article on WPBeginner.com.
Download your data from the old WordPress blog:
- Log in to you WordPress.com dashboard
- Under “Tools” click “Export”
- Choose “All content”
- Click “Download”
- You’ll download an XML file
Upload your website to GoDaddy/Wordpress.org:
- Sign in to your new WordPress dashboard on GoDaddy (remember it’s www.[yourdomainname].com/wp-admin/ and using your new username and password)
- Under “Tools” click “Import”
- Click “Choose File”
- Select the XML file you just downloaded
- Click “Upload”
- It may ask if you want to import all images too (say yes0, or it may do it automatically
7. Configure your blog
The transfer of your blog did not include your theme or widgets or other customizations, only the posts and pages, so you will have to do this all over again just like you on your old blog.
Set up your Theme
Search the WordPress.org list of themes to find the same one you used on WordPress.com. If your theme is not there, it’s because WordPress.org does not have all the same themes are WordPress.com, ad you will have to find it in internet land or choose a new one. I internet searched for mine, found it, and downloaded it (from a trusted source). Then you go to your new WordPress site, go to the “Themes” section, click “add new”, and upload it. The only problem with this method is that there is really no way to edit the code of the theme if you want do to certain things with your website. At some point you may want to check out “Child’s Theme” which is an editable template and allows more customization options.
Add Widgets & Plugins
WordPress.org and your theme come in only the most basic templates, so there will be many things that were included in your old free WordPress site that now aren’t on your new one – such as being able to put an image in the sidebar, or having security measure and stats tracking. However, developers have created all these and many many more options for you to install into your new site! They’re called Widgets (little things to put on the sidebar of your blog) and Plugins (applications to improve your website). All Widgets and Plugins are listed in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. There are lots of lists out there of the top Plugins to consider, just search “Top WordPress.org Plugins” for reviews. You can take your time figuring these things out. For me, most important was to establish some security measures so I wasn’t getting millions of spam comments a day (yes, that happened) and finding widgets to make my blog look just like it had before.
To add a Plugin or Widget:
- Download it.
- Go to your dashboard’s “Plugins” page, click “Add New”, and there you go!
- Once Widgets are installed, you’ll find them from your dashboard’s “Appearances” > “Widgets”
- Once Plugins are installed, it will take you to the opening page. Look on the dashboard to see where it’s located. Sometimes they get put on the dashboard, or under Settings or Tools.
- For setting up Plugins, they pretty much explain themselves right there on your screen and walk you through all the steps. If you need help use their installation manual or FAQ from the directory. Do allow some time for setting them up, as some, like the security measures, have a ton of options to choose from.
These are the ones I added:
- JetPack (I use it for email subscriptions but there are lots of product options within it. More in Step 7 below.)
- Akismet & Bad Behavior (for spam)
- All In One WP Security (for security measures and backup files)
- Contact Form 7 (for creating a contact form to put on the “Contact Me” page)
- Simple Image Widget (so I could put images in the sidebar)
- Simple Custom CSS (so I could center the image widget – see the FAQ – but by now there is probably an image widget that centers)
- Display Posts Shortcode (to create the lists of posts in my index)
- Yoast WordPress SEO (for analysis, improved search engines, and more I don’t understand, but it got great reviews. I use it to edit how people see my site link in search engine listings.)
- Google Analytics (for site stats and tracking) – first sign up for it (read how here) then to see the results install the plugin Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress (for directions click here)
- Google Adsense (to put Adsense ads in various locations on my site. There are many plugins for Adsense, but this was the only one that let me put ads in a particular place I wanted to, and it’s super easy to use, so I’m quite happy with it)
- Insert Headers and Footers or Header and Footer (to put pictures and ads in the top and bottom of the website and to to edit the theme’s code since I can’t edit the base code, for example to help put YouTube Videos in a post)
- One plugin I haven’t looked into yet is a Backup Plugin. My All In One WP Security Plugin has a backup aspect in it that works well enough. But you might want to look into other options.
Note that Plugins are regularly updated. The WordPress dashboard will tell you when new updates are available so you can easily update them all at once.
8. Transfer your subscribers with JetPack
If you had email subscribers with your old WordPress.com website, you will need to transfer them to your new site. I used Jetpack because it was easy and if it didn’t work they did it FOR you for! Also, Jetpack comes with tons more optional Plugins you can activate, such as the “Subscribe” widget, extra sidebar widgets, related posts, site stats, and spell check. The only downsides I found are 1) you can’t personally edit your subscriber list (if you want to do this, find a different plugin), and 2) when I activated the customized comments settings through Jetpack people were unable to post at all so I disabled it.
How to transfer your subscribers:
- Install and activate the JetPack Plugin
- Connect Jetpack to your wordpress.com account
- Attempt to transfer your subscribers through JetPack on your own (for directions click here)
- I wasn’t able to do it, so I contacted JetPack and they did it for me, for free!!! Thank you so much JetPack!
- When the followers transfer, email subscribers will still get email notifications about new posts as before, but wordpress.com subscribers may not get email updates but only see it on their reader. You may want to post this on your site and encourage them to sign up for email updates.
- Remember to add the Blog Subscribers widget to your theme, which is now in the widget section since you added Jetpack. That way more folks can subscribe to your blog on your website.
If you did not need to redirect your domain name earlier (step 5) do so now. If you purchased it through WordPress.com, follow the WordPress.com Support directions here. If you purchased your domain name from someone else, Google directions on “how to change name servers” or “how to redirect domain name” along with the name of your domain name provider.
If you did not have a domain name for your old blog but now have one for your new blog, you have two options:
- Tell your readers that you switched to a new address by telling them in a new and final post from your old blog. If you don’t have many posts, you may want to go through them all and paste a link to the new address at the bottom.
- Redirect your old blog’s website address to your new one. You can sign up for this on WordPress.com. I did this so that when someone still has an old link to lessonsintr.wordpress.com it automatically takes them to lessonsintr.com. This also helps if content that ranks well in search engines still comes up as your old address.
You can continue to pay for Wordpress’s domain name registration, or when it expires you can transfer your registration elsewhere. I decided to move it to GoDaddy to keep everything with the same place. So…
9b. Transfer your domain name from WordPress to GoDaddy
When my WordPress purchased domain name was about to expire, I transferred it to GoDaddy so everything could be at the same place. I followed these direction:
WordPress’s Transfer Domain Registration
Domain Name Privacy is something to consider purchasing too, but after some research I decided not to.
If you move your domain name, consider continuing domain name mapping through WordPress. I decided to continue having WordPress redirect my old blog addy to my domain name for another year, in case links people had saved were sending them to the myname.wordpress.com addy. It didn’t cost much. Here’s some links about it and how:
10. Do something with the old blog
It’s probably a good idea to leave your old blog online for a while after transferring your site, to let Google update itself so that over time your old address will fall out of the search results.
Once you think it’s time, you can set your old site to private or delete it
Congrats, now your blog is officially transferred!
Now that I’ve helped you out so much, I have to say no questions please!!! I’m not an expert, you can Google them yourself : )
On to Part 2: How to Monetize Your Blog so It Pays for Itself
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!
Ahá! This is a REALLY useful material 😛 It helped me out in the best way =) Thanks a lot, nice work! I’ll have fun following your tips, hehe.