I have successfully migrated my blog to SiteGround. Easy peasy. If you haven’t noticed anything I followed the right procedure. Or you did and didn’t mention it to me. Or you aren’t following my twitter feed as I announced it there.
But what about the again you might ask, well this is the second time I moved my blog. Actually, the first time was a complete move of the platform as well, going from Tumblr to WordPress.com. But now I redid it to go from the somewhat free WordPress.com to a hosted WordPress.org at SiteGround. Same activities involved in the first one. So one plus two equals….ermmm….that I want to describe the process so that a) maybe you can use it as well, and b) I can use it again when a future me thinks about moving a third time *sigh*.
Hold your horses, why move anyway?
I was on WordPress.com. Worrying about hosting, installation and so on are not mine, I just got the software as a service. And that was great for the last couple of years, April 2014 to now to be exact. Free WordPress.com service with an annual domain mapping for my external domain at 13 Euros. Default the free plan options are great, you got a lot of the tools to host a blog. And the plugins, for example, JetPack essentials features, and themes that are in there by default are awesome for beginning bloggers. However, you want to go past the default image (audio, videos, screencasts), storage, control of parts of WordPress and plugins (there are a lot, but tables for instance or sponsors) you must upgrade the WordPress.com plan. If I want to have the options named you would have to and add the Business plan at 279 Euros per year. Okay, investment, no biggy when growing. But that also calls for comparison. When I looked around a hosted WordPress.org is much cheaper than that while giving me the needed options with basic plans. And room to grow until I reach that business plan price of WordPress.com. And I could have some control over the hosting bits as well, from what part of the world my site is hosted for example. Hey, I am still a techie.
While talking with some other bloggers and reading about some excellent experiences, I choose to go with SiteGround. Because next to the previous reasons, they have a hosting deal at 57,35 Euros per year where I can do the same and more than the WordPress.com business plan. Signed up.
Migration Plan and caveats
Okay, migration starts with a plan and activities. The following activities are needed to be done:
- Find new hoster and add hosting plan. I set up a basic hosting at SiteGround.com.
- Setup WordPress.org. A basic setup can be done by yourself. But with the hosting at SiteGround.com you also get one website transfer where basic setup is included.
- Install your theme, plugins, and widgets. You can move your content, but themes and widgets cannot be moved. So you’ll want to set up the same or a new theme for your site. If you do the website setup and transfer via SiteGround support you will do this after the content is moved over. Most of the widgets used in WordPress.com come from JetPack. However, JetPack will not be configured when you are on a temporary site, and can only be configured after the domain has been transferred.
- Plan when to move content and start migrating your content from WordPress.com to your own hosted WordPress. Plan to have no new content on until the migration is completely finished. You can use the export of WordPress.com and import via the WordPress importer plugin (that is actually what SiteGround support will also do).
- Check content on the new site. Check your wp-admin and setup your hosts file to point to your new hosting IP (for Mac sudo vi /private/etc/hosts and add the IP and domain name). For me, it was to recreate menu’s and recreate some categories at blog posts (the categories were there but the posts had only one or uncategorized). Some of the widgets I use on my blog I could not yet add as they are part of JetPack, these will be added a little later on. If you have a custom SSL add it here. If not and like me want to use the free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate you will have to wait for the DNS to be transferred to the new hosting as this is checked and will fail when on the temp (IP) site. Install the JetPack by wordpress.com plugin, but not configure it yet.
- Connect your domain name. The easiest way is to change the nameservers of your domain to point to the hosting provider’s nameservers (check in your control panel what they are and if required records are there). Do note: it will take some time to have the records expire on the Internet and all visitors to reach your new location. This can take somewhere between a few hours to 48 hours. Check whois for your domain name entries and keep an eye of visitors flowing in. And inform your readers you are moving.
- Remove your client’s host entry if you set this up. And after a few hours, you can add Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate and configure JetPack with a WordPress.com account. Enable the JetPack widgets on your site as you are used to, enable socials and items that use statistics (counters and best read posts).
- You will probably have a different site ID with your new hosting. You will have to move subscribers and statistics to your new site. Well if you like, of course. Subscribers you can do by yourself on WordPress.com via https://jetpack.com/support/subscription-migration-tool/, for the statistics contact JetPack support to have them merge these at the new site.
- That’s it. Continue to look at your visitors flowing in the new location and the visitors counter on the wordpress.com go down. This takes about a day, depending on when you started the migration. Take some time to set up new functionality like Cloudflare, configure accounts to plugs and add some other plugins of interest. I have left my domain mapping on my wordpress.com site, so people hitting my wordpress.com site (username.wordpress.com) will be directed to my current site. Same goes with for example search engines that have username.wordpress.com and point to your wordpress.com site, and you like to show some content there. Alternatively, you can set your WordPress.com site to private.
And that’s all folks! Well no, I lastly have to test if I can add a blog post and that is correctly added to the new location with all the socializing setup. Let’s see how that goes in 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1…….