The Move to WordPress.com

I switched this site to WordPress.com last weekend — it had been self-hosted since 2005, on Dreamhost.

Things went very smoothly — I followed instructions in the WordPress.com Support documentation and in various dashboard screens, and they were very helpful. I especially was impressed with the Google verification steps and how easy it was to add MX records for my Google Apps integration.

Probably the most annoying thing was waiting for propagation after updating nameservers, but there’s not a lot I could have done about that anyway.

A few hiccups:

  • Old email subscribers: I had to email my old list to ask them to subscribe again on WordPress.com (I was using FeedBlitz before).
  • Link importing: I had to split up the OPML file to import with categories, otherwise I’d have a flat import with no categories.
  • I used Textile on my old blog, so I had to run a small PHP script to update the content in posts/pages to plain old HTML.

The plugins I’m going to miss the most are:

  • Readernaut, which I used to list books I’m currently reading in my sidebar, as a widget.
  • Broken Link Checker, used to find broken links in my old posts.
  • Live Comment Preview: I love this feature, I often used it myself to make sure my comment is good to go before posting it.

For my theme I’m using Twenty Eleven with the Custom Design upgrade, including some custom CSS and Typekit fonts for the blog title and all headings.

Here’s a detailed description of what I did.

Before the switch:

  • Review all plugins, make a list of those I can’t live without.
  • Review custom functionality that I would lose in the switch.
  • Register a WordPress.com blog to use as the placeholder.

A few weeks went by in between. On the switch day, I started out by changing my nameservers at my registrar (GoDaddy). I knew I’d have access to both sites during the switch, so I started the process immediately.

During the DNS switch:

  • Export all my self-hosted WordPress content and import to WordPress.com blog.
  • Export OPML for links, import one category at a time into WordPress.com blog.
  • Set up contact form in new page, using the contact form shortcode.
  • Create a custom menu for top-level navigation.
  • Set up General Settings (reading, discussion, time zone, et cetera).
  • Clean up Textile in posts and pages. (I used a quick PHP script to read content, change it to HTML, and save it back to the database).
  • Enable new theme —Twenty Eleven — and purchase Custom Design upgrade.
  • Set up Gmail and Google Apps to work with domain mapping at WordPress.com (support docs). Specifically, under step 8, add my DNS to WordPress.com.
  • Changed some settings for other sites and services that relied on the domain, simpledream.net, going to Dreamhost.
  • Moved Subversion repositories, backups, archives, tools, and several self-hosted web apps to a new domain that I’ll keep at Dreamhost.

After the switch:

  • Verify my site with Google Webmasters.
  • Make sure stats are working on WordPress.com.
  • Test posts and pages.
  • Have a cold drink.

I don’t think I’ll miss updating my plugins and core WordPress files; it’s awesome to just concentrate on publishing content.

Author: Lance Willett

My name is Lance, I am a blogger and web craftsman specializing in software quality, testing, and bug triage. México-born. Excellence Wrangler at Automattic. I love WordPress.

15 thoughts on “The Move to WordPress.com”

    1. Firstly, and most importantly, I want to use WP.com for my personal sites because I work on it all day, and want to feel the pain. And then fix things I find, like theme bugs. I think it will help make WP.com better if I’m using it personally.

      Secondly, it frees up time to create content for my site instead of fiddling with my self-hosted install.

      And lastly, WP.com is faster and more reliable than my previous host.

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  1. Lance – it wouldn’t be as slick/nice/cool as the widget you mentioned, but Readernaut does have some RSS options – I remember using them with the RSS widget…

    CM

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  2. Hmm, I just moved my self-hosted HTML site over to WordPress last week, for some of the same reasons that you mentioned. I got comfortable using TwentyEleven for a blog this summer and decided that I could live with the limitations of WordPress.com in re-building my website. Adding the Custom package helped a lot, especially with the fonts, and there is still some tweaking to do, some variations to explore. But the focus is definitely on building the content and I’ve done more in a week on WordPress than I’ve done in 5 years on my old site.

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  3. I used to run WordPress.org platform for my sites with renting hosting, and am thinking of moving this my site into it. but I change my mind after reading this information. Thank you for the sharing. Btw I love Twenty Eleven either, it’s easy to customize.

    Like

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