Migrating from Free WordPress to Self-Hosted Site: The Nitty-gritty

In my last post, I wrote about my reasons on moving from a free WordPress blog to a self-hosted site. I also detailed a bit on how I did the big move. Now I’m going to show you the whole process of my blog migration.

So after getting a domain and hosting package from Pangalan.com and installing WordPress, I was ready (albeit very nervous) to move all the content of my WordPress.com blog to my dot-com self-hosted blog.

The first thing I did was to export all my content from the free WordPress blog. On the left menu, that’s TOOLS > EXPORT.

Wordpress - Exporting Blog Content

WordPress will give you the option of a free export tool or a guided export tool. Since the guided one costs a hundred dollars, I went with the free export.

There was an option to download all content or just posts, just photos, etc. Downloading all content was pretty much a no-brainer for me. The post, photos, and comments were important for me, so I ticked “All content” and then “Download Export File.”

WordPress exported my blog content into an XML file, the link of which was sent to my email address (the one I use to manage my blog). Actually, the link they emailed me was a ZIP file. So I guess I had a lot of content, huh?

I just downloaded and extracted the ZIP file — and discovered it contained two XML files! Okay, so that probably means a lot of posts, images, and everything. Well, my blog was eight years old before I went to migrating it…

So then, it was time to import. On my self-hosted WordPress menu, I clicked on TOOLS > IMPORT and chose the WordPress importer located way at the bottom.

WordPress Import - Blog Migration

Running the importer was tricky, because the XML files should be 2MB in size or lower. Now, my files were at 4MB and 2MB. I emailed my hosting provider and they were able to allow me to import bigger XML files.

Unfortunately, when I tried uploading my XML files, I got a “500 Internal Server Error.” Waaah! I looked for a solution and found the WXR File Splitter. Seriously a lifesaver.

To ensure that I won’t have a problem while importing, I split my XML files using the WXR File Splitter. I opted for all of the split files to have either 0.75MB or 0.5MB size so I can upload all my content without a hitch (got a total of 8 XML files to import then).

WXR File Splitter

A few times, I encountered the 500 Internal Server Error, but I just refreshed and refreshed the page. And then, lo and behold, one by one, the XML files were imported to my self-hosted blog. Yay! The next step was to assign myself as the author of all the posts uploaded.

After importing the content, I imported my Blogroll, too (even if I don’t show it publicly anymore). But first, I had to get the blogroll links in OPML format, which is basically my old URL appended with /wp-links-opml.php. I saved this on my desktop, installed the WordPress Link Manager plugin on my new blog, and imported the links via TOOLS > IMPORT, choosing Blogroll in the list.

For a non-techie like me, migrating a blog would seem unnerving. Well, it was at first. But after a while, I felt like I was getting the hang of it. Of course, I had a few resources I went to like WPBeginner and my hosting provider. WPBeginner had very helpful tips (the WXR File Splitter was amazing) and Pangalan.com was prompt in their responses.

Recalling my very long process in migrating my blog, I realized that getting a self-hosted site from the onset is best for a blogger . But, if like me, you went with the free version of WordPress (or even Blogger) first, migrating — while kind of a big word in internet jargon — is less scary than you thought it would be. It’s true! If I can do it, so can you. 🙂

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