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Take your site to the Next Level while Preserving your Existing Content

Many individuals and small businesses begin their online presence with a blog hosted at  Starting at is convenient and includes benefits such as free hosting and built in analytics.  However, as they grow their needs expand.  They often require full access to theme files, their own domain name and the flexibility that comes with a self-hosted WordPress site.  In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to transfer your site from to while preserving your original content and link to Self Hosted

Transferring a blog from to the self-hosted used to be serious business but in recent releases it has been streamlined so that it is a simple process.  However, the move to a self hosted WP site comes with a small price in that only your content (including images and files) will be transferred meaning cosmetic customizations will be lost.  Your content will take on the form of your new site and you will have to restyle it after the move.  The silver lining is that with the many free and premium themes available for, restyling your site should not be difficult to do.

Important Note:  This tutorial assumes you have an existing site, a shared hosting account and a configured self-hosted installation.  If you need help setting up your hosting account and/or installing WordPress then please see our “Beginners Guide to Starting a Self Hosted WordPress Site in 2013” tutorial.

Step 1: Export your Content

Begin the process of moving to a self-hosted WP site by logging into your account and selecting the blog you want to transfer.  From the dashboard do the following…

Select Tools > Export > Select the types of content you want to export (most likely all) > Download the .xml file to an easily accessible location on your computer

Step 2: Import your Content to Self-Hosted WordPress Site

Now that your content has been exported from, the next step is to import it into your new self-hosted WordPress installation.  If  you need help installing WP in your hosting account then check out our “Easy WordPress Install” tutorial.

Begin the content import process by logging into your WordPress admin and going to…

Tools > ImportImport your Content

There you will see a variety of links to different import options.  Select “WordPress” at the bottom of the screen.  You’ll be prompted to install and activate an importer plugin.  It may say that the plugin has not been tested with your version of WordPress.  Ignore that message and proceed with installing the plugin.

Once the plugin is installed and activated, select and import the .xml file.  Make sure to tick the box for “Download and import file attachments” if you want your images and files to transfer over as well (you probably do).

After completing the content import, your site will be live at your new URL.  The databases of your new installation will be updated as well.  From there, the next steps would be to clean out the default post (Hello World) and begin restyling your self-hosted WP site.

Preserve SEO by Redirecting your URL to your New Domain Name

If your site has been around for awhile and has a good number of readers, then you need to redirect your old URL ( to your new domain (  Doing so will preserve your link juice and lead your loyal readers to the new self-hosted site. does charge a small fee for the URL redirect service but the SEO benefits greatly outweigh the cost.  Learn more about Redirecting to your new domain name here… Site Redirect info

Take a few minutes now to watch our “How to Move from to Self-Hosted” tutorial video below…

As always, please leave any questions / feedback you may have in the comments below.

HostGator Web Hosting


  1. hey, Great post! I am trying to help a friend move from a account (she is paying for dedicated url (no .wordpress in domain name)) to a self hosted site. what would the process be to move the site while maintaining the domain name? (does that make sense?) again thanks for the great post.

    • Thanks! Glad it was useful. The transfer process will be largely the same, and it appears you need to revert your site to its name, park your domain through WordPress, then through your new host point your DNS records for your to the information provided by WordPress.

      Sorry, I realize this may be a confusing answer, but I don't have a domain registered through WordPress so it's tough to make an accurate walk through. I got most of the info from <a href="">this thread</a>, which you may find useful.

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