Are you tired of all the limitations of a free website? Do you want to move from a free website to self-hosted but not sure how? Well, it’s easier than you think, if you follow these simple steps.
When I first started blogging, I used a free website offered by WordPress.com, but it quickly became clear that I could make only the basic changes and if I wanted to be more professional and have more freedom to create a blog that competed, I needed to become self-hosted.
In this article, I will cover the following topics:
Please feel free to jump to the part that most interest you, or read the tutorial step-by-step. But, whatever you do, don’t forget your bonus.
The Difference Between a Free Website and Self-hosted One
As I mentioned before, when I first began blogging, I used a free website through WordPress.com called Delayed Mama. My website address was https://firstname.lastname@example.org.
I remember thinking that I wish that it said www.delayedmama.com without WordPress branding in the domain address, but since it was free I didn’t care. I then picked a free theme and began blogging. Simple, right?
WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
Features of WordPress.org
Features of WordPress.com
Full Theme Support
Some great theme choices include:
Limited Theme Support
All Plugins Allowed
No Plugins Allowed
Recommended Web Hosting Providers:
Bluehost - FREE Domain Name for one year
Pay to Remove Branding
All SEO Features
Limited SEO Control
Basically, you can’t upload any SEO plugin and only make limited modifications on your site. You have little control.
You can install Google Analytics and powerful third-party plugins to maximize the full potential of your analytics.
You receive only the basic information about who’s coming to your site, where they’re going, etc. You can’t upload any third-party plugin.
No E-commerce Marketplace
Basically, you don’t have this ability. You can’t sell your products, unless you upgrade to a self-hosted website.
You are responsible for keeping your site updated, backing it up, and controlling spam. But, this is easy to do once you learn how.
Can't Create a Membership Site
So, you can see that moving to WordPress.org/self-hosted is a smart idea. But, what web hosting service should you use?If you don’t have a website or blog and want to set up one, read How to Make Lots of Money Blogging. You’ll be on your way.
What Hosting Service Should I Use?
Pro Tip: Basically, when you self-host you pay a provider to “host” all your websites content on their server. It’s like a posh hotel for your content. Everyone staying at the hotel is another website. So, the reason it’s smart to choose someone like Bluehost is that they take care of everything for you.
One of the most recommended web hosting providers is Bluehost. When I first decided to move from a free website to self-hosted, I had no idea where to begin. Then, I did some research and chose Bluehost. I highly recommend them for these reasons.
- Recommended by WordPress. Yep, that’s right. Of all the web hosting companies to choose from and the giant of all blogging platforms recommends them, then you have to consider them as well.
- The price is right. Blue Host has competitive plans that come with free domain names. For as a little as $3.95 per month, you can turn your website into a professional one.
- Free Domain Name for one year.
- Excellent customer service. 24/7. I’ve had to learn to become tech-savvy and along the way Blue Host helped me. They always responded to my questions and never made me feel like anything I asked was stupid.
- Easy to use platform that makes things like backing up your site, registering a domain name, uploading a theme really easy.
- Lots of extra freebies - $200 Value
- Special Discount for Black Friday
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Signing up with Bluehost is easy and will take minutes.
1. Follow this Link HERE
2. Next, you need to select a plan. I went with the recommended plan because you get everything for low monthly price.
3. You can either finish the process by signing up with a new domain name of your choosing (if available) or transfer your current domain.
How to Move from a Free Website to Self-hosted
Once I decided to move my free website to self-hosted on Bluehost, I had no idea how to transfer my content to my new host. I was afraid that I would lose my blog posts and didn’t want there to be any downtime.
Follow these easy steps to transfer your website.
2. Export your files from WordPress.com - in your WordPress site go to Tools - Export
Next, choose the Free Export transfer. You can transfer your files without having to pay.
This will now take you to a new page. You'll be asked to choose what content you want to export. Choose All Content. Click on the Download Export File
3. Import your content into your new site. To do this you need to go to your new self-hosted dashboard for WordPress. For example, if you're using Bluehost. You need to login and go to your WordPress dashboard for your new site.
Go to Tools - Import
Now, click on WordPress to begin importing your files.
4. Update any URLs. If you now want to redirect from your old site to your new site, then you can do that easily with a plugin. I used Velvet Blues. It's free and you can change page and in-content links.
Once installed, go to Tools - Update URLs Now
Pro Tip: For a more advanced tutorial on this topic, go to: How to Move Your Blog From WordPress.com to WordPress.org
What is a domain holder?
This one might be a no-brainer for you, but for me, I had no idea. A domain holder is the company you bought your website URL from. In my case, Namecheap is my domain holder. I had no idea that Bluehost gives you one for free.
What the heck are Name Servers?
This one threw me for a loop. I had no idea where to find them. Basically, the company you bought your domain name from is where the Name Servers are. So, if you get your free domain name through Bluehost the Name Servers are located there.
If that's the case, your Name Servers are:
Or, if, like me, you purchased your domain through another company like Namecheap, your Name Servers are on their server/website. But you still need to direct the Name Servers to Bluehost or whoever is your hosting provider.
Should I pay for an email service?
There are two different kinds of mail services. The first one, is a service like MailerLite that you use to send emails to your subscribers to let them know you have a new blog post or offer them a product or service. The second kind of email service is one like gmail. But, instead of using using a free email address, you can pay to use Google Suites. The cost is $5 per month.
Google Suites gives you the ability to create multiple email addresses for your website. For example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then when you send emails through MailerLite, you can put that the email is coming from your branded email address. This makes the chances of your email going into a spam folder lower and makes you more professional.
Pro Tip: Use an email spam tester before every email you send out. This will tell you the likelihood of your email being sent to spam. One major factor they check is whether the email address of the sender is branded. You can test up to three emails per day for free.
What is a beta site on Bluehost?
If you want to redesign your website while your old website is still active, you can do this on Bluehost. Basically, you make a copy of your website in the Bluehost platform. Then make all your changes. Once it's ready to click a button to make it active and the old one will deactivated.
Do I really need a self-hosted website?
Moving to a self-hosted website on Bluehost was the best decision I made for my online presence. The cost is minimal when you compare with what you receive. There's no limit to your creativity and you will instantly become more professional. It's easy to make the switch and you won't regret it.
How do I login to my new self-hosted website?
This confused me at first. You can now login to your new self-hosted website either through Bluehost's portal or through WordPress.org. If you want to login directly through WordPress.org (it's faster) all you do is type in your website's domain/url and add login.
For example: https://www.lovemysite.com/login
As a way to say thank you for visiting Pen and Parent, don't forget your FREE PRINTABLE Craft & Promote a Perfect Blog Post Checklist
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Other Great WordPress Tutorials
What we covered:
If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below. I would love to help you. I know how frustrating using technology can be.
If you don’t have a website or blog and want to set up one, read How to Make Lots of Money Blogging. You’ll be on your way.
We are an affiliate of Bluehost and MailerLite. We do make a small commission at no cost to you, but this allows us to keep making free content.