Export – Signup – Import – Setup
Here’s a fun scenario, let’s say we have a blog on a self-hosted site but we want to transfer its contents to WordPress.com. How would we do that?
The first step would be to export the content from our current site. Most content managers have an export tool, WordPress.org sites have many.
In your WordPress dashboard, look on the sidebar and find the Tools tab, then select Export.
On the following page you will be asked which content types you would like to export, I chose All Content, though you could export them one at a time.
When you’re ready, click Download Export File and save it to a location of your choosing.
Now, boot up WordPress.com and create a username or login. Once you’re successfully logged into your account we will go ahead and create a new site.
Follow the four step wizard. For step one I chose to use a business site, there really isn’t too much of a difference, so choose something close to what your end goal is.
Then, select a great name. This will be your free WordPress.com subdomain, i.e: mycoolsite.wordpress.com. You will have the option to add a custom domain at a later point.
On step three you will be asked to choose from three WordPress.com themes, feel free to skip this part, you can always add your theme once you’re set up and have access to the full theme showcase.
Step four will show you the different plans offered for WordPress.com. If you are just starting out, you may wish to begin with a free plan and upgrade later. The upgrades offer powerful features such as larger storage, video hosting, ad placement, and free custom domains. For this exercise, I will choose a Premium Upgrade.
You can pay with credit, debit, or Paypal. If you have a coupon code you can enter it by clicking the ‘Have a coupon code?’ option on the left. Complete the checkout process then continue on to the next page.
The next page offers a few suggestions on what to do next depending on the upgrade you choose. With the Premium Upgrade, I can choose from hundreds of premium themes, add video and audio to my posts, use the WordAds platform to monetize my site or use the $100 credit towards a Google Ads campaign.
Let’s import our content from the old site and then set up a custom domain.
If you click on Back to my site or the My Sites tab in the upper left-hand corner, you should be brought to your Site Admin:
While we are on this page, scroll down a bit further to find the Import and Export settings. Click on import:
On the import page, click Start Import, then drag the .XML file you exported or locate it through the explorer by clicking on the upload area.
Importing can take a few minutes depending on how big of a file you are uploading. We can now navigate safely away from this page and work on something else while we wait. Let’s go ahead and create our custom domain. Click on the Domains tab in the left-hand menu.
From this page, you can check your Plan details, see the different Plans, set up your email preferences and manage your domains. Since I purchased an upgraded plan I received a credit for a free domain, I can use this credit by clicking Claim Free Domain.
This button will take you to the same page that Add Domain would.
Enter in any domain you like and see if it is available, if you do not have a free credit then the associated price for the domain will be displayed. If you already own a domain from a different registrar like Namecheap or GoDaddy, then you can map this domain to your WordPress.com site by clicking Already own a domain?
You may wish to add a custom email to your WordPress.com site. By default, your WordPress.com site will redirect any contact form submissions to the email associated with your account. But if you would like a fancy email@example.com or something similar, you will need to set up a third party email host. G Suite is a great option and is offered for $5/month/user, if you sign up on this screen you will get two months free. Otherwise, click no thanks and we can take a look at a free option.
On the last page, you will be offered a privacy feature for $8.00/year. If you are using your free domain credit then this option will also be included for free. I highly recommend this feature. When you register a domain your domain information is registered with ICANN. This is a standard for domain registration. The drawback is that your information becomes public and spammers will crawl ICANN for this information and then begin calling, emailing, and attempt to contact you to sell you products. If you select the privacy option you can hide this information.
Once you are finished you should land on this confirmation page. Domains will typically take 48-72 hours to fully propagate, otherwise known as finish being set up. Your domain may become active immediately but sometimes it may take a bit of time. Just keep an eye out and soon enough it should begin working as expected.
If you go back to the Domains page you should see a green Primary Domain tag next to your new custom domain, this means that we selected this domain as our domain for this blog.
If that is not the case, you can manually set your primary domain by clicking on the desired domain, then click Make Primary.
Now that our custom domain is setup, let’s go ahead and add a subdomain and point it towards a tumblr blog page. A subdomain allows you to create a specific section of your site that is a bit different than the regular site content i.e. tumblr.wp08012017.com. I would use wp08012017.com to talk about one topic while the tumblr portion would direct you to my tumblr page which will be separate from my WordPress blog. You often see subdomains used with e-commerce shops that are hosted on a service outside of WordPress.com such as Squarespace.
First, click on your custom domain and then scroll down to Name Servers and DNS. On the next page, select DNS Records.
From here, change the type to CNAME, then enter a subdomain such as tumblr. Then, for the alias of portion type in domains.tumblr.com. Click Add New DNS Record.
Now head on over to your Tumblr account and log in. If you do not have one, create one. Go to your desired Tumblr blog and adjust the settings on its front page like so:
Click the pencil icon next to your username and select Use a custom domain. Add your subdomain from the DNS record we just created on WordPress.com. Click Test domain and you should see a green check mark icon appear next to the subdomain. Click Save.
Now when I type in tumblr.wp08012917.com I should be brought to the public facing side of my Tumblr blog. Cool!
While we are in the domain records, let’s add on a free email service called Zoho.
Go to Zoho.com. Create a profile and work through the setup wizard and choose the free plan. You will eventually reach a page that looks like:
Click on Setup yourdomain.com in Zoho. On the next page you will see a code under Name/Host/Alias/CNAME starting with zb, copy this code and go to your WordPress.com Domains tab. Click on your custom domain, then go to Nameservers and DNS records. At the bottom click on Zoho mail:
Add your zb code where it says Zoho Mail CNAME zb code: then click Set up Zoho Mail.
Then, click on Add Domain:
On the next page, select WordPress from the list, then copy the zb code from here.
Back to WordPress.com, under DNS Records -> Zoho Mail we can add the zb code and click Set up Zoho Mail. You should see a green “Hooray” success notification.
The next step is to click CNAME Verification on Zoho to verify the CNAME record we just added to our WordPress blog.
This process should have automatically created your MX (Mail eXchange) records, go to DNS Records to double check. Your MX Records should look like this:
If not, go ahead and add an MX record for the following:
At this point your custom email should work, go ahead and send an email from Zoho and also send an email to your new address and check your inbox on Zoho.
Suppose the XML file we are importing to WordPress.com is for a client and they do not know what their theme is. One easy way to find this information, also supposing we could not access their admin section, is to right click on their website and go to Inspect (if you’re in Chrome). From the Chrome Inspector, we can press Ctrl/Cmd F and search for theme. This should usually allow you to see their theme file structure and glean what the theme name is:
Now we can search for the Argent theme on WordPress.com and activate it.
When you activate a theme you will have to change a few settings in order to recreate the look and feel of the old site. Sometimes you will run into issues where images did not correctly transfer via the XML file. Other times you will notice that some custom CSS was added to make the header look a certain way. Occasionally, the theme may activate a few widgets as placeholders, these may need to be removed or changed.
A change from a WordPress.org site to WordPress.com is usually easier than transferring the data from a different CMS software. If the content is from another software, you may need to redesign the site which would require a bit more work. Look through the theme repo and try to find a theme that closely mirrors your old site’s features and style, then try to adjust as you go.
This was a long post, but we managed to cover a decent amount of the WordPress.com environment. Let’s recap:
- Added a new blog
- Upgraded our account to Premium
- Set the blog visibility to Private
- Added a subdomain and pointed it to our Tumblr page
- Added a Custom Domain
- Created a custom email with ZoHo
- And discovered/setup the Argent theme
Not bad! Feel free to post any questions in the comments.