You’ve heard about the benefits of self-hosting and are ready to transfer a free blog to WordPress.org but are afraid of losing your blog content. Follow these steps for a smooth transition!
It can be confusing to start any blog let alone create a new one and making sure that you don’t lose any of the work you’ve put in so far.
You have domains and hosting to worry about as well as themes and design and so much more!
The good news is that the transition is really much simpler than you would think, and we’re going to show it to you in 5 simple steps!
Disclosure: We are an affiliate for Bluehost, which means that we may receive a commission if you sign up through our affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you and helps us continue to offer free content on our site. P.S. We only recommend products and services that we have personally used and continue to stand by!
AND you can do this through our Bluehost discount of $2.75/month!
We’re also SO pumped you’ve decided to make the transition to a self-hosted blog because that means that you are one HUGE step closer to being a pro blogger!
Just to make sure you’re on the right track and feeling good about your decision, let’s chat briefly about WHY this is such a great decision!
Why Transfer a Free Blog to WordPress.org?
As we explain in our article on the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, there are quite a few reasons why self-hosted is the way to go.
Free blogging platforms come with serious limitations, with one of the biggest limitations being how you can monetize your site.
Some of the other limitations of free blogs include:
- Less space (limits the content and media you can have on your blog)
- Can’t put ads on your site (one of the easiest ways new bloggers monetize)
- Less control of the design of your blog (can’t upload custom themes or plugins)
- You don’t own your domain name (unless you purchase it separately)
- And more!
With WordPress.org, you can monetize however you want to, upload any custom themes and plugins to design your blog exactly how you want to, and you can get a free domain name when you sign up with Bluehost below!
Free blogs are really designed more for hobby bloggers that aren’t looking to many any money from them. If you are looking to turn your blog into a full-time business, you WILL need self-hosting when you’re ready to get serious about it.
We would never have made it to making over $50,000/month with our blogs, Avocadu.com and Createandgo.co if we were using free blogs.
Sign up for hosting with Bluehost (includes a free domain name).
Click here to get started with Bluehost or on the photo of our goofy faces below (opens in a new tab).
You will then be taken a list of pricing options:
Next, you can choose which pricing plan is right for you, although you most likely won’t need anything above the Basic Plan, so we suggest you start with that.
Now, there are a couple caveats to this incredibly low price of $2.75/month, which is also a deal only available for our subscribers through our affiliate links. For one, you must sign up for at least 36 months. You must also pay for your hosting up front.
Before you freak out, let us explain why this isn’t the end of the world…
A lot of other hosting companies will allow you to pay monthly, but they will charge you $7-12/month for it. That’s 2-4X MORE than Bluehost and those charges will add up majorly over time.
Here are a few other reasons why we recommend taking advantage of this deal:
- You can always cancel risk-free within your first 30 days if you are unhappy or change your mind.
- Signing up for a longer contract term locks in this low price and ensures that your hosting price can’t be raised during this period.
- This investment represents a commitment you are making to your blog and to your future success. Let it keep you focused and determined to see this through and make a full-time income from it!
Okay, moving on! After you select your pricing plan, you will be asked to enter your domain name (FREE with Bluehost!).
If you are using a free blogging platform, you don’t own the blog name that you have been using (unless you purchased it separately).
Most of you will simply enter your new domain below — enter an existing blog name on the right side ONLY IF you purchased it separately from a registrar.
If it says that your domain name has been taken, simply try another one. You can also read our post on choosing a great blog name if you need any additional help with this step.
Next, you can fill in your contact information and select your hosting package. Please read our instructions carefully below regarding this step.
You can get the lowest per-month price by signing up for a 36-month plan or a 60-month plan – whichever you prefer. The longer the contract term, the longer you have the lowest price locked in.
Now, some boxes may or may not be checked on this screen, so make sure to have your screen look like ours above. The only box that you need to have checked is for Domain Privacy Protection.
It costs an extra $.99 cents/month, but this ensures that your information stays private. Otherwise, when someone looks up who owns your blog, they can see your name, physical address, and more. You don’t want your cell phone and mailbox blowing up with sales calls and promotions!
Congratulations, you now OWN your first blog!
If you get promoted to purchase any “premium services,” simply click No Thanks and move on to installing WordPress below.
Okay, we’re almost nearing the step where it’s time to transfer your free blog. First, we need to install WordPress on your new blog!
Bluehost has made it easier than ever to install WordPress with their new one-click install! Simply create a new password, check the boxes to agree to their terms, and log in!
When it asks you to select a theme (pictured above), click “Skip for Now“ because we will address that AFTER we transfer your free blog content over!
From here, Bluehost will set up WordPress on your blog. After that is done, it’s time to get ready to transfer a free blog over!
How to Transfer a Free Blog to WordPress.org
Export your files from your free blog site (WordPress.com or Blogger).
First, we will need to export your old files from your free blog. We will show you how to do this on WordPress.com and Blogger.
Login to your WordPress.com dashboard, and go to “Tools” –> “Export.”
The next steps will differ depending on whether you are planning to transfer a free blog from WordPress.com or Blogger.
Exporting files from WordPress.com
From the export screen, click “Export” next to the free option to create an XML file.
Next, select “All Content,” click “Download XML File,” and save the file on your computer.
Exporting files from Blogger
From your Blogger dashboard, go to “Settings” –> “Other.” Then click on “Back up Content,” and save the file on your computer.
Import your files to your NEW self-hosted WordPress blog.
After you have exported your files, log in to your NEW WordPress.org dashboard that you just created with Bluehost. You can do this by logging in at Bluehost.com or by going to your blog’s URL with wp-admin attached to it (i.e. https://yourblognamehere.com/wp-admin) and then entering your password.
From your new WordPress dashboard, go to “Tools” –> “Import.”
The next steps will differ depending on whether you are planning to transfer a free blog from WordPress.com or Blogger.
Select either Blogger or WordPress from the options on this page and click “Install Now,” which will install the plugin required to import the old blog files. When the installation is finished, the text will change to “Run Importer.” Click this, and then upload your previously exported files from your computer.
The file should take a couple of minutes to upload depending on how large the file size is, and then you’re almost finished!
Make sure to read over the section on WordPress themes below and then the final section on other considerations.
Design your new self-hosted, WordPress.org blog!
One of the advantages of transferring a free blog to a self-hosted blog is that you can upload your own custom theme to design your blog!
WordPress does have a few free themes that you can choose from, so you can definitely play around with those first to get the idea of how the themes work.
Free themes are a great place to start if you’re a beginner blogger or on a serious budget, but they will lack some of the tools a paid theme gives you.
If you free stretched at this point, we get it. Rock a free theme for a month or so and get used to the platform.
If you have the extra $50 – $100 to invest and want to get your blog looking the way you want it to in less time with fewer headaches, then go for a paid theme.
Our #1 recommendation is Divi Theme because it’s VERY customizable AND beginner-friendly. You often get one or the other with most themes, but this theme has it all!
This theme is what most of our new bloggers in our Launch Your Blog Course are using and they absolutely love it! You can easily customize the design of your homepage and other pages on your website and they have great customer service.
They also have a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee so there is absolutely no risk to try it!
When you purchase Divi, you also get access to the entire Elegant Themes market, which includes over 70 other themes to choose from if you don’t end up loving Divi. This theme is quickly becoming the #1 new theme on the market for newbie bloggers!
Our #2 recommendation is Avada Theme, which is nearly as customizable and beginner-friendly as Divi but has a lower price tag.
You can also check out our article on WordPress themes for new bloggers if you’d like a more in-depth comparison of our recommended themes.
- IF you were using Blogger, you will need to update your permalinks (or URLs to your blog). Follow the instructions below do to this.
- Go to “Settings” –> “Permalinks.”
- Choose Month and Name from the permalink options.
- If you had subscribers on your previous WordPress.com blog, you can transfer them over using JetPack’s Subscriber Migration Tool. You can download JetPack here or search for it in “Plugins” on your WordPress Dashboard.
- Set your WordPress.com blog to “private” so that no one stumbles upon your old blog now that you have created the new one. From your WordPress.com dashboard, go to “Settings” –> “Reading” and set your old blog to private.
- If you internally linked your blog posts on WordPress.com, make sure to change those links to reflect the new URL with your new domain name. You don’t want posts to contain links to your old blog! You can do this inside the post editor for individual blog posts.
- You may or may not need to set up redirection as well. If you posted links on social media (like Pinterest) that are still generating new website views, you need to redirect links from the old blog to the new one.
- If you were transferring a free blog from Blogger, you can download and install the Blogger 301 Redirect plugin to your NEW blog to do this. Follow the instructions in the plugin carefully after installing.
- If you were using WordPress.com, you can either change the homepage or write a post on your old blog explaining your move and including the new domain name for your new blog OR you can set up a Site Redirect that costs $13/year.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You have a new blog set up! It’s time to start designing, writing new posts, and getting ready to launch your new blog!
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed at this stage about where to start next, our Launch Your Blog Course can get you through it!
This beginner blogger course is all about learning how to navigate WordPress, write your first few posts, set up email marketing, design your blog with a great theme, and more!
Lastly, if you enjoyed this post on how to transfer a free blog to WordPress.org (self-hosted) or have any questions about the process, please feel free to leave a comment below!