Two weeks ago I had the generous Melinda VanLone by to help answer the question Should You Move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org? Not only was Melinda’s post fantastic but so were the comments. For those of you who decided to make the change, Melinda’s broken it down into nine easy-to-follow steps for you. This week she’ll go through the first five, and next week you’ll get the remaining four.
If you entered last week’s critique giveaway, winners are announced at the end.
So, without further ado, take it away Melinda…
How to Switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
If you started out on WordPress.com, and have now decided you are a professional with a need for your own hosted website, it’s time to move. The sooner you do it the easier it will be in the long run. Don’t worry, I just went through this myself and I’ll hold your hand. We can do this together!
1. Advertise the move.
Write a blog post explaining that your blog will be moving to a hosted site in the near future, and include a reminder in every blog post leading up to the move. Unfortunately, subscribers won’t automatically travel with you. You will lose subscribers in the switch no matter what you do, but the more you tell them, the more likely they will be to remember to subscribe to your new blog location.
2. Export your data.
Log in to your WordPress.com dashboard. Look along the admin panel until you find Tools > Export. Using this handy plug-in will make a file that combines all of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags.
Click on Export. It will bring up a page that gives you the option of paying a lot of money for a “guided transfer.” You don’t need that. Click Export again. Select “all content.” Click “Download Export File.” WordPress will then create a file containing your data in one handy package. Be sure to save it somewhere you will remember later. You’ll need it.
Buy the Land
3. Get a domain name.
On the internet, it’s all about location—your web address. Your domain name is how people will find you. This isn’t something to dash off without thought. See Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It’s Me Writer or Dan Blank’s We Grow Media website for help with choosing the right domain name for your author platform. You’ll notice that both Marcy and I have chosen our names for our domain because as fiction writers our names are part of our brand.
Some web hosts offer domain names as well as hosting services. If you like things simple, take them up on their offer. If you don’t like putting all of your eggs in one basket, use a service like godaddy.com or dotregistrar.com to buy your domain name, and look for a web host elsewhere.
If you already own your domain name and are using it for your wordpress.com site, then you can skip right over this and start building.
Lay the Foundation
4. Locate a host for your new website.
There are thousands of options. Don’t go with the cheapest. Instead, look for one that has been in business for awhile, seems stable, is compatible with WordPress, does daily and weekly back-ups, and has 24/7 tech support. If your site goes down, it’s nice if someone answers the phone. Find a host that is friendly, not afraid to walk you through the steps, can prove nearly 100% up-time, and gets great reviews. Research this just like you would a building contractor or any other big purchase. It might not cost a lot, but this will be a big deal in the long run. Just ask anyone who’s had host problems.
WordPress recommends Bluehost (among others). This is the one I chose because they have one-button installation of the WordPress infrastructure. I’m all about easy installs. You should be able to find a host for less than $10/month.
Frame the House
5. Install WordPress.
If you’re using Bluehost or something similar, there is a one-button installation right on the admin page. If you use another host, give them a call and ask them if they have WordPress installation set up. They will walk you through it. If they won’t, find another host. You pay these people to support you.
You can also install WordPress yourself following their instructions. It looks intimidating, but it’s not overly difficult. Try not to let the technical terms scare you, and just follow the instructions step by step.
Any questions so far?
Melinda VanLone is a science fiction/fantasy author with a Master’s degree in Publishing. She spent too many years to confess to working in graphic design and production before moving on to explore life as a writer. She’s a Photoshop expert, technology addict, and MMORPG lover. Melinda’s current work-in-progress, The Demon You Know, will be published in 2012. You can visit her website at http://www.melindavan.com/.
SPECIAL NOTE FROM MARCY: The winners of 1,500-word critique offered last week in my post on Is Now Really the Best Time Ever for Writers? are Rebecca Enzor and Bonnie Way. Lisa and I will be in touch. Also, registration is now open for my Get Rid of Boring Blog Titles Once and For All class, with a special offer for the first 10 people who sign up.
Be sure to subscribe by email so you don’t miss the rest of Melinda’s series.