A lot of times, when asked, I suggest to people to setup a self hosted WordPress blog before even considering a blog at WordPress.com. Not that there is anything wrong with WordPress.com. Many people run very successful blogs there and it is a great platform to use in the same way that a self hosted install from WordPress.org would be. The problem really lies in ownership. If you don’t own the domain that you host content on, essentially you don’t own the content.

More than that, in forums, Q&A sites, and in keyword tools I often see questions related to: How can I switch from WordPress.com to a self hosted WordPress blog? Clearly people see the value in hosting their own site, often after seeing the limitations from working with WordPress.com initially.

In this article I am going to discuss the process of moving a site from WordPress.com to your own domain with the WordPress software installed.

WordPress.com export XML screen

You can do the switch yourself or pay for a ‘guided transfer’ from WordPress.com

WordPress.com provides a service for tranferring blogs over from WordPress.com. The cost, as of this writing, is $129.00 per blog. This fee also includes 2 weeks of support on the new site.

First off, they will help you install the WordPress software in your hosting account. To do that yourself, here is an overview of the steps:

1. Buy a hosting package.
2. Point the domain to the hosting package if you had one. If no domain was used and you were just using sitename.wordpress.com then a Site Redirect upgrade will need to be purchased from WordPress.com to point the site and all of its posts to a newly purchased domain name.
3. Create a database and user.
4. Download the software from WordPress.org.
5. Extract the files and update wp-config.php with database info.
6. Install the blog.

Alternatively you can use a quick install option if one exists at your host. The advantage is that you just fill out a couple boxes and everything is done without hassles. Plus, updates are usually automatic when done this way. The disadvantage is that the host may “brand” the install in some fashion, use an older version of WordPress, and/or use the default “admin” username and default “wp_” table prefix which is bad for security.

Install the free Jetpack plugin so that you don’t miss any features from WordPress.com

Those moving from WordPress.com to a self-hosted install were blessed with some extra features out of the box. Installing and configuring the free Jetpack plugin quickly brings in WordPress.com features to a WordPress self install. WordPress stats is one such feature that JetPack brings over.

The official description of the Jetpack plugin:

“Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com.”

Transfer content and data from WordPress.com to your own WordPress site

After the hosting is purchased and the WordPress software is installed it’s time to export the content (posts, etc.) from WordPress.com, and then import it into your site.

Here are the two steps:

1. In the WordPress.com blog, go to Tools >> Export and then download the XML (WXR) file.

2. Next, go to your self hosted install an go to Tools >> Import >> WordPress. Import the XML file from the previous step. Be sure that Download & import file attachments is selected.

You can see the export/import steps visually in the video below:

More very specific details for transferring your WordPress blog can be found here, which includes information about videos that you had hosted at WordPress.com if any.