I’ve had my wordpress.com site for over 5 years now, and I finally made the jump and decided that I wanted my own .com site. If you’re reading this, that means it worked! However, making the move gave me headaches. As someone who knows nothing about webhosting and only the bare bones of domains (a.k.a. I only knew the definition of the word), finding all the steps to allow this website to come live was definitely a challenge. Many of the tutorials I found skipped critical steps that would allow my site to actually work, so I’ve written this tutorial in order to help those who are making the same jump.

Shortcuts:

What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Basically, WordPress.com is a free service where you can post your blog or website. Your blog/site is hosted on their servers for free, but the URL is BLOGNAME.wordpress.com. You are also limited by theme selection, theme customization, and plugin selection.

WordPress.org is hosted by you. You can buy hosting and domain names directly from WordPress.com, or like me, you can buy hosting and domain from any webhost (I chose hostgator). You can upload your own theme, customize it to your liking, and choose from over 19,000 plugins that help your website do everything you hoped it would. You also have options to add e-commerce options, if you want to sell things on your site.

So I bought my domain and hosting, now what?

  1. Alright, you can now log into your hostgator customer portal.
  2. Click on the tab at the top that says “Hosting”.
  3. Now, under “Most Popular Links,” click Launch Quick Install.
  4. Under Blog Software, click WordPress. Click continue..
  5. Fill out your information. Under admin email, make sure to use the email where you want to receive account information. I made the mistake of thinking that would create an email address for me (like judy@judskii.com). I was so wrong.
  6. Now this is the part that I could not figure out how to do anywhere! You have to visit this website: http://register.hostgator.com?manage . You might have to log in again. Click on your domain name. A little window should pop up.
  7. Click on “Name Servers”. Then, in a dropdown menu, you have to “point” your domain name to your hosting service! That way it tells the Gods of the Internet that your “domain name” is pointed to a “hosting service” and that’s the only way it will work.

Now that you’ve installed WordPress and pointed your domain, your site is ready to go! You can log into wordpress with your credentials at YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin or whatever url you had used to when you filled in your information at QuickInstall.

How do I move my existing WordPress.com blog over to my new site?

This part is easily found anywhere on the internet. But since you’re already here, I’ll tell you!

  1. Go to your old blog site’s dashboard (YOURBLOG.wordpress.com/wp-admin).
  2. Hover over the Tools button on the left side near the bottom and click on “Export” when it pops up.
  3. When the page loads, click Export (the free one).
  4. Choose All Content (or just selected content, if that’s your deal.) Download the export file.
  5. Now, go to your new wordpress site at YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin, login.
  6. Go back down to the same Tools button but instead of clicking Export, you want to Import the file that you just downloaded.
  7. A list of different blog platforms will show up. Scroll down to near the bottom and click on WordPress.
  8. Find the file that you just downloaded. Hopefully you saved it somewhere you can easily find it. Import the file.

Ta da! Your blog is now ready to be added to. But wait, don’t you want to customize it with a theme?

Changing and customizing the look of your blog.

I am not at all a web designer, so I browse and find free WordPress templates that are available all over the internet. Generally by googling some form of the words “free,” “wordpress,” “theme,” and “template.” My current theme is called Flat by YoArts.

  1. Once you find your theme, they will prompt you to download a .zip file of the theme. Do not open the zip file. Instead, go to your wordpress dashboard (YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin).
  2. On the left bar, hover over the Appearance button and click on Themes.
  3. At the top, near the header, you can click on “Add New.”
  4. Find the .zip file you downloaded and install the theme. That should take you back to the theme page where you can Activate your new theme.

You can also browse WordPress’s collection of free and readily available themes.

You can now customize your site by going to “Customize” under the Appearance buttom. That will allow you to change the colours, backgrounds, etc. I recommend spending a couple of days clicking around in Widgets, Plugins, and Customization, as well as your menus so that your site will look exactly how you like it! This will help you get acquainted with the platform so you can work with it more efficiently.

And there you have it. A successful jump! I hope you found this as useful as I think I would have. Comments? Questions? Post them below! I would love to hear from you. However, like I said at the beginning. I basically fumbled my way through this, so I might not be able to answer more advanced questions!

This post is part of my Know Things mission for January 2015.