WordPress.com is not only a great place to start blogging but it may even be your last stop. When you self host a WordPress.org install you are on your own. Managing your own install isn’t a cake walk. The learning curve is steep and takes lots of time – time you won’t be spending on content creation. I’ve been there, done that and returned.
A back of the envelope calculation for a domain name, reliable hosting, a decent theme, and a couple of premium plugins comes out at anything between $250 and $450 for that first year. An equivalent site on WordPress.com would cost between $150 and $250 for a Pro site with a premium theme whilst SquareSpace costs $250 for unlimited storage, bandwidth and a custom domain. via 7 Reasons Why Novices Should Not Self-Host WordPress – WPMU.org.
The pros and cons of being free hosted by WordPress.com or self hosting WordPress.org software are summed up very well in WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
Don’t lose track of the fact that you don’t have to purchase a single upgrade to establish a successful free hosted WordPress.com blog.
Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org means you will be responsible for all software, theme and plugin installations, all WordPress.org software upgrades, all backups and all troubleshooting.
Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org means you will have additional responsibilities and if something goes wrong with the software, plugins, etc. or your web hosting, then you have to figure it out how to fix it and/or how to get your blog up and running again.
You will be losing the expeditiously delivered, hand holding technical support provided by the long suffering Volunteers and Automattic/WordPress.com Staff in the WordPress.com support forums. As a WordPress.org blogger you will be expected to search first and to RTFM (read the flipping codex and previous support threads), prior to posting for help to the support forums. If you have not done that and post anyway then you will find yourself twisting in the wind, while waiting endlessly for help or you will simply give up and hire help.
Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org means your blog will no longer be a part of the WordPress.com community ie. your published posts will not automatically appear in the WordPress.com Reader and your content will lose the traffic it previously received from it.
Moving to WordPress.org to make money
The most common reason for moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is the desire to make money from advertizing and/or affiliate sales. In reality if your WordPress.com blog does not currently attract 1,000 – 1,500 unique visitors every day, and your traffic stats do not demonstrate a growth trend, then it’s unlikely that you will earn much more than what’s required to cover web hosting costs, so don’t hurry into self hosting thinking you will be handsomely paid for the effort. Note that WordPress.com does have the WordAds advertising program which is open to blogs on their own domains that have a enough high traffic flow to qualify for acceptance.
Moving to WordPress.org to use different themes
The second most common reason for moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is the desire to customize a theme. You cannot build or use your own custom theme built from scratch at WordPress.com, but you can customize an existing theme, either a free theme or a premium theme by purchasing a Custom design ie. CSS editing upgrade. Also note that many “free” WordPress.ORG themes require a magnifying glass examination by a coder before uploading them.
Moving to WordPress.org to use plugins
The third most common reason for moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is the desire to use plugins, especially SEO plugins. The pagerank of WordPress.com is 9/10 and the Alexa rank is 15! In truth the SEO derived from being hosted on this WordPress.com domain is HUGE. Yet the SEO myths still abound. All blogs hosted here benefit from that ranking, and believing that installing an SEO plugin on any self-hosted WordPress.org install can beat it is unrealistic.
I think many bloggers are in a hurry to get self hosted WordPress.org installs and they don’t recognize what a good thing we have going at WordPress.com, where we have:
- reliable free hosting (no downtime);
- no bandwidth limitations for text;
- generous free space allotment for media;
- no software upgrade hassles;
- traffic from the global tags pages;
- great support from Volunteers and Staff when we need it;
- many free features;
- a variety individual upgrades;
- a choice of free blogs without upgrades or Premium bundles or Business upgrade bundles.
WordPress.com may even be your last stop. However, if it isn’t for you, then here’s a brief summary outlining the steps involved in moving:
- Purchase a domain and hire a web hosting provider;
- Register a WordPress.org account and locate resources;
- Download a FTP Client;
- Upload the most recent self hosting version of WordPress.ORG software into your new site;
- Select and upload a theme;
- Select and upload plugins;
- Export and Import your WordPress.com content into your new site;
- Import your Links (blogroll) into your new site;
- Purchase a site redirect upgrade or if you have domain; mapping then update the nameservers;
- Transfer subscribers and stats;
- Change the privacy setting to make your WordPress.com blog visibility private (use it as a backup blog).
For more details read Moving Your Blog from WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org: Resources and Tips.