That’s done – migration and everything. No matter all the information I have collected beforehand and precautions adopted, it has NOT been a smooth process. To get everything back in place has taken me a couple of weeks, and I am not completely happy yet with the outcome. But the site is up and running again, so I deem myself satisfied for now. Here I would like to offer advice in case you want to follow and do the same (reasons why you might want to do that here), relating my experience and some lessons learnt on the process. I assume you’re migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org – otherwise some of the things I mention here don’t apply (but some are general issues and valid no matter your target platform).
1- A DIY Migration? Be prepared to struggle and suffer, no matter your grasp of IT/coding etc. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I have been coding and regularly working on internet at least since 2000, so I am not a complete beginner. Even if it is *supposed* to be painless and straightforward, it’s not – or just out of a lucky strike. If you want avoid all the hassle, pay WP $129 to do it for you, and sleep on that. Otherwise, start working and sit tight.
2- Another thing to consider: if you have only a <yourname>.wordpress.com blog and not a domain it will be somehow easier to do. You don’t have to go to transfer your own domain to the host company etc. You only need to buy one and go through the procedure. Alas, that was not my case. If you are in the same position, ask WP for a transfer code and follow carefully the instruction of your selected host company. There are a few around, some of them optimised for running WP.org blog (see number 4).
3 – Why choosing a WP.org, by the way? There are other valid alternatives, of course. However, if you have been blogging using WP.com, it will reduce the amount of time devoted to learn another platform. Without mentioning that WordPress remains one of the most user-friendly and nice looking around. If there are no other considerations, stick to that.
4- Hosts. So many alternatives, how to choose? I used two criteria, (1) being a platform with an entry price/level that can grow with you and (2) having a live chat function. When you’re struggling and freaking out because nothing works as you would like, you want help as soon as possible – emails and tickets are 20th century methods in a time of instant communication. At the end, I’ve chosen Blue Host, and I am reasonably happy with that (so far).
5- Now, for the transition. Export (you find it under Wp Admin/ Tools) your old blog and import it under the new platform where you have already installed your WP.org. (If you have chosen wisely your host, you will have a hassle-free, one click install for doing it). Import it. If it is done properly, you will see its content displayed in whatever Theme features you have active on WP.org. (I have assumed here you have not done the redirection from WP.com so far, only bought your space. This is what I advice, so that while you work on it your site won’t be affected and you continue to receive visits as usual. In case you have done it by mistake, you might want to display a “Work in Progress” page in the meantime. There are many plugins for it – and it is a recommended choice anyway, so that you can play around with the installation without bothering too much about how your site looks).
6- I mentioned Themes. They are a headache. If you had bought a premium Custom Theme on WP.com, like I did, kiss it goodbye and choose something else. You can’t bring them over with you.
7- Jetpack is the main plugin you want to install when doing the transition. It will serve multiple purposes, including being able to admin your WP.org as you were doing with the other, and other cool features. By the way: they have a support by email, and while it takes around 24 hr to get an answer, they are kind and very helpful.
8- Followers: you want to reasonably keep your blog followers and make sure they keep receiving your updates when you switch platform. Jetpack is going to take care of that, and if you have troubles you can always approach WP.com. They have helped me with the transition. Again it’s not as smooth as they say, but in a couple of days you get it done.
9- Stats. Jetpack will have them maintained in the same WP.com style. However, the counter will start again from zero – it is a new site, after all.
10 – Permalink. This is a potential headache. Permalink ensures your articles are indexed in a certain way to be searchable. Now, there are many ways to display them, and if you don’t make sure your new WP.org does it *exactly* as the previous one, Google will be unable to retrieve your past content (it happened to me). It took me a while to figure out the issue, and eventually it was an easy fix, but it’s something the how-to pages don’t warn you about.
11- Plugins and SEO. That’s the cool part – WP.org is richer and more flexible that the other, and with a good SEO approach you can make sure your content is more easily discovered. This would deserve a post on its own – for the moment, make sure you explore your plugin repository to find your favourites.
As a last advice, do not delete your old blog. You have either the choice of redirection or make it private in order not to be affected on Google & Co. search engines – they don’t like duplications – but it is always good to keep there somewhere, until the moment it will be too ancient for being of any use.
Welcome to WP.org!