Launching – Transitioning To A Self Hosted Site

Launching – Transitioning To A Self Hosted Site

Happy Independence Day!!! I realize this may seem like it is a few days late since the 4th of July was last week, but I am actually referring to my new, independent, self-hosted website. The free  WordPress site was a fantastic way to start out blogging, but over the course of the past year I have realized that I would like a little more flexibility in how I manage the site. So with that – welcome to just,

For those interested in how to go about transitioning from a free WordPress site to a self-hosted one, here is a little bit of information on the process I went through. I am sharing this because I stumbled upon some misinformation which slowed me down and caused a few hours of angry screen time. As usual – my pain, your gain.

First off, a little bit about the mistake I made – domain mapping. The reason I wanted to make a transition is because I already owned my own domain and I have a hosted site via another provider. I basically just wanted to move everything (all content, subscribres, links, etc.) to the new site. Domain mapping seemed like the right thing to do, but it is not. You are still bound by the limitations of the free WordPress account you have when you just map.

The correct thing to do is a Site Redirect – this way, everything gets mapped like I wanted, but I am free to design, track, etc. as I wish. I am now independent of the rules of a free WordPress account. However, and here is the beauty, my hosting service has a WordPress engine so I still get to use the same interface that I am familiar with. While I am glad to be independent of the free WordPress account limitations, I am delighted to still be using WordPress since it is so easy, yet so powerful.

There has been one major hiccup in my plan though and that is my arch nemesis, Pinterest. Pinterest and I have a love/hate relationship. Right now, I hate it. Much of the net new traffic I received from my old site was from Pinterest, especially from my sexy grilled artichoke picture. However, now that my old site redirects to the new, Pinterest flags it as malicious and encourages the user not to click through. My tech support request is still pending with the last auto-correspondence being “Thanks, but we can’t answer all emails”. That is a far cry from the awesome service I got from the WordPress tech team.

Here is a step-by-step walk through of how I made the transition. Of course, you can always buy the Guided Transfer and have the WordPress team do it for you.

Step 1
Export a copy of the XML file from your free WordPress site. This is found under “Tools” in the dashboard.

Step 2
Install and activate WordPress on your new self-hosted site.

Step 3
Once WordPress is installed on the new site, install Jetpack. After Jetpack is installed, go to the import function under “Tools”. Import will instruct you to install that plugin, follow those instructions. Then import the XML file you downloaded, making sure to check the box to download and upload all content (this is how you get the picture files, and not just link backs)

Step 4
Assuming this all passed (my import took a couple tries), click to continue once you see the pass messages complete. At this point, your new site should look very similar to your old site. You may have to make adjustments to the theme, header, Jetpack, widgets, etc., but the base content should all be there. Also, you may need to change the new site permalink settings to match the old ones. Otherwise, later when people click an old link from a site like Pinterest, the link will not go through to the right page.

Step 5
This one is optional, but if you have subscribers or followers on your old site and you want to make sure they get transferred to the new site, you have to post a tech support request on the WordPress forum. At least, that’s what I did and the good fellows over there made that transition for me.

Step 6
After the subscriber transfer is complete, buy the upgrade “Site Redirect” from the WordPress store of your free account. Follow the instructions and input the information of your new site. Once completed, all traffic that comes into your old free account (from links on Facebook, Pinterest, comments you have made in other blogs, search results from Google, etc.) will automatically be redirected to the new site.

The Result:
My new self-hosted site has all of the content, pictures, links, comments, etc. as the old site. All traffic is automatically routed to the new site. I now have better ability to track analytics on search engines, improve the SEO even more, run adds if I choose, and add video content. Best of the old & best of the new. Pinterest issue still pending.

If you have any questions on how to do any of this or you have a better way, please feel free to add in the comments section. If you are from Pinterest…kick your tech support guys in the rear.

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