I’ve done this enough times to figure out how to do it without screwing everything up.
Suppose you start a project on a free WordPress.com, and, as it grows, you want to move it to a self-hosted platform version of WordPress, like I did with this site and NEast Philly and my thesis and others.
So, in case you need to do the same, here are the steps:
- From the Tools option in the WordPress.com sidebar, choose to Export.
- Download the XML Export file, being mindful that all fields in the drop down menus are chosen, so you are downloading everything.
- Open in Wordpad and change your file extensions with a Search and Replace. i.e. So, in the XML file from my thesis site, I replaced ‘phillypolitics.wordpress.com/’ with ‘thesis.christopherwink.com/’, meaning that the links would then associate
- *Make sure permalinks are the same from your WordPress.com to your new site.
- From the Tools option in your new self-hosted WordPress platform, choose to Import.
- Browse and choose to Upload the XML file that you downloaded from your WordPress.com and then edited in Wordpad.
- **Easy-to-miss step** Upon selecting your XML file, under ‘Import Attachments’ be certain to check off the box next to ‘Download and import file attachments’ so that your photos and other uploaded media will be transferred to this new database. (I’ve missed this step before to much frustration).
- Delete the old jawn — Take down the old WordPress.com or, if you want to transition some search engine love, you can block the WordPress.com from being picked up by search engines but keep it alive for old links with a post pushing to the new site and eventually delete.