OT: My blog migration from wordpress.com to self-hosted

As you have noticed, I’ve just moved from my warm house on wordpress.com to a self hosted blog here on skarredghost.com (using wordpress.org, as usually bloggers say). I’m writing this post just to express my considerations on how this process happens, the difficulties, the emotions, etc…

Wordpress logo
It’s all about WordPress (Image by WordPress.org)

I was pretty scared about moving my blog. Automattic has made wordpress.com really a safe place, where you create a blog with a single click, then you have great bandwith, automatic backups, optimal SEO and a lot of awesome features. And all of this for free. Moving to self-hosted means that you are the only manager and owner of your blog, you have to deal with all the hassles and plus you have to pay money for hosting and all other stuff.

So, why did I go to self-hosted? Because I was tired to have a blog that ended in wordpress.com… in my opinion skarredghost.wordpress.com gives the readers the impression of a less professional blog: it may seem that someone that doesn’t even invest $50 in a domain, is the first one that doesn’t believe in what he writes. Don’t misunderstand me, there are lots of awesome blogs that are hosted in free spaces, but 90% of them are just little blogs of people blogging in their free time, as a hobby. They’re usually not professionals.

If you, like me (thanks to you all), start seeing your blog gaining traffic, then wordpress.com conditions starts seeming too strict for you: you just want to install all plugins you want, adding advertisements (and gain some money), offering a newsletter and such. So you decide to go self-hosted, but this is like when you start growing up and you decide to leave your home: it’s a decision you have to take, but this means you have to leave all the comfort of having the mummy keeping your house for you.

So, I bought a web space and made all the porting. Let me tell you one thing: it is super-simple, really. Automattic has wrote itself an awesome tutorial on how to make all the process: you can find it here. You just follow all the provided steps (don’t forget to follow all the details!) and in the end you find yourself with a self-hosted website identical to the previous one, with even all site stats exported! Spending $13 for each year, you can also have the automatic redirect from your old website links to the new website ones, so you don’t even lose your SEO.

wordpress self-host
When importing your new blog, don’t forget to select this flag, or everything will come to a catastrophic end (image by Automattic)

But… is it really so painless? Well, not completely:

  • First of all, when you move the website from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, usually you don’t simply move all the website and stop. You start adding all the things that you thought that were missing in your previous website: in my case the newsletter, the social buttons, advertisements. Then you start thinking that maybe you should give your webspace a more modern layout and find a new WordPress theme. Then you start thinking at all the awesome things that you can add to your new brand website. In the end, you finish spending lots of time continuously adding features. My advice is starting with a little set of new features and then continue adding new ones step by step when the new website is already live… to avoid sticking yourself inside a perfectionism endless loop. So, choose the most important new features and implement them before you go live… the less important ones can wait;
  • Self-hosted blogs are usually slower compared to wordpress.com ones. I mean, usually a blogger like me doesn’t buy a top-notch $999/year hosting, so surely performances are not that optimal. On wordpress.com, everything was faster. Because of this, my advice is not to buy a super-cheap hosting service: I spent a little more to have BlueHost hosting, because I know it’s very good for WordPress blogs;
  • I’ve lost the improved editor that I had on wordpress.com;
  • As I’ve said, there are some details that I’ve to handle now, like updates of wordpress, plugins, backups, etc…;
  • Some images got broken in the exporting/importing process. The problem is that I can’t spot where this happened… I realise this only when I go to a post and find some problem with images;
  • Importing of website had some problems. Luckily I found this blog post that offered me a solution. I mean, in the new wordpress installation I imported the exported pseudo-XML file of my old blog and the process broke after some minutes with a failure message. Only posts until December 2016 had been imported and I panicked a bit. Luckily that link offered me the solution… but not the main solution that you find in the article… but the one that there is in the comments. It seems that due to timeout reasons, wordpress is not able to process the whole file, but only the first part. The solution to that? Re-import the same file! WordPress is smart enough to skip the posts it has already imported and to actually start from the point it broke up. In the end, after three re-imports I had my whole website on this new place.

    old skarredghost virtual reality blog layout
    Previous layout of my blog… how many memories…

If you want to know how many days I needed to do all of this… well, 2-3 days. I advice you to let some web-experienced friends to help you: Massimiliano Ariani gave me a great help in all the process… and also Matteo Piotto gave me lots of advices! Cheers to these guys!

I’m very happy I’ve taken this step, I feel more free now… and even more professional as a blogger. I’m still a bit scared, but this quite normal when thinking about the future! I hope that you’ll continue liking this website…

UPDATE: First of all, if you add Jetpack, you can still have WordPress.com advanced editor, even if you’re self-hosted! Yuhuuu!!

Then, about site stats: migration led me to lose visits. It is because for the search engines and all other ranking websites, the new domain is just a new one popped out from nowhere, so it has no credibility, no traffic, no whatever. Old domain will redirect new visitors to the new website, but you’ll have anyway a little loss. Mine has been around 15% of daily visits 🙁 . The advice is spamming more than ever on all socials to increase ranking of the new domain.

 

Skarredghost

AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I've no idea what I'm doing. I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I've still not waken up...