How to transfer a website from wordpress.com to self-hosted WordPress

This guide will show you how to transfer a website build on wordpress.com to a self hosted WordPress install. Transferring sites from wordpress.com isn’t 100% smooth, in that a bunch of features are considered part of wordpress.com only and don’t transfer, but usually it only takes a bit of tweaking after to fix that kind of stuff!

Not sure what the difference is between wordpress.com and self-hosted wordpress (also called wordpress.org)? Learn all about the differences by clicking here!

Obtain data from WordPress.com

  1. First you need to sign in to your WordPress.com account and go to your blog’s dashboard. From the left column, you will need to click on the WP Admin link to open your blog’s admin area.
  2. Visit the Tools » Export page and choose the free option by clicking on the ‘Start Export’ button.
  3. On the next screen, you will be asked which data you want to export. Select “All Content” and press the Download Export File button.

Now you have all the site content on your computer.

TIP: While you’re still in the WP Admin on WordPress.com, go to Appearance > Themes and take note of the theme you’re currently using. You’ll need this info at the end of the process.

Install Self-Hosted WordPress

The next step is to install WordPress at your self-hosted WordPress hosting provider.

  1. If you already have a hosting account with Websavers, and already have WordPress installed, skip down to the section on importing your data
  2. If you already have a hosting account with Websavers and still need to install WordPress, click here to learn how to install WordPress.
  3. If you don’t yet have a hosting account with Websavers, follow the steps in our how to create a wordpress site guide until your hosting account has been created and WordPress is installed.
  4. If you’d prefer to host your WordPress site elsewhere, that’s no problem, but you’ll need to consult your host’s documentation to learn about the quickest way to install WordPress on their hosting.

Import WordPress.com data to self-hosted WordPress

Now that you have self-hosted WordPress installed, we’ll need to import your page and post content that we exported from wordpress.com. Here’s how:

  1. Login to your WordPress admin. If you’re hosted with us and you’re not sure how, you can learn how to do so in the very first stage of our learn how to use WordPress guide here.
  2. In the WordPress admin, go to Tools > Import. Then choose to do a WordPress Import.
  3. You can then select the export file we created at the start of this guide on your computer and proceed with the import.
  4. When requested, make sure to select the option to import any images or media, otherwise those images and other media will remain hosted on wordpress.com and, when it comes time to take down that website or blog, all your media will disappear from your website!

Once the import process completes, you will find all of your pages and posts in the same state they were in on wordpress.com, but now in your self-hosted WordPress install.

Apply the same or similar theme

Because wordpress.com’s export function only allows you to export your content, the styles / theme you were using there will not transfer over in that process.

In the first stage of this guide, while you were exporting data from wordpress.com, we asked you to take note of the theme you’re currently using on wordpress.com. If you skipped that tip, you can always log in to wordpress.com and check. Many of the themes on wordpress.com are also available for wordpress.org, although sometimes they have different functionality.

  • In your self-hosted WordPress admin, go to Appearance > Themes and choose Add New.
  • Search for the name of the theme you were using on WordPress.com. If it’s available, go ahead and install it. That should ensure your website looks very similar to how it looked on wordpress.com
  • If the theme is not available, you can simply set up a new theme to use. You may also wish to take a read over our guide to selecting a WordPress theme here as selecting the right theme at this stage of the process can make for a much better long-term relationship with WordPress.

That’s it! Please let us know if you encountered any problems with this guide or have any questions using the comments below.

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About Jordan Schelew

Jordan has been working with computers, security, and network systems since the 90s and is a managing partner at Websavers Inc. As a founder of the company, he's been in the web tech space for over 15 years.

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