Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org


Hi lovelies!

One of the biggest questions I get via my Blogging Resources page is about switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. As you know from my previous posts, I started off with the free version (WordPress.c0m) and highly recommend starting off the bat using WordPress.org.

Today, I’ve brought in Jim, who runs the show here in the backend of LCK, and who helped me make the switch seamlessly.

This post will be able to guide you through the switch and hopefully help you in a big way! So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Jim!


Hi all, my name is Jim Sabellico from J. Louis, we’re the web design and development team working with Lexi to keep this awesome site up and running for you all.

One of the most common questions we get from people is how to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, so I wanted to share this post with you all here hopefully to make it super easy for you to do – because it really should be.

So .com vs.org – what’s the difference?

The main difference between .com and .org boils down to three things – hosting, themes, and advertising

With WordPress.com you pay nothing to host your website, but the tradeoff here is you are limited to what themes you can use, and you are unable to place ads on your site. Putting ads on your site like AdSense can be a huge boost and really help to offset the cost of running the site.  

Usually people will get started on WordPress.com to build an audience because it’s ‘easier’ to get started there, but then will want to switch over to WordPress.org once they get a bit bigger to have some more control and help monetize their efforts.

I say ‘easier’ with quotes because the difference is really super minimal, and you should be able to get started on WordPress.org within minutes for a few bucks a month to host your site. Plus, most people will eventually make the switch, and in the end it would have been simpler just to start off with WordPress.org rather than having to make switch later. 

Ok, so how do I switch?

This part may feel intimidating, but I promise you it is super simple. I’m going to explain it as simple as possible but with as much detail as possible, so this may look like a lot but it’s really just broken down as easy as I can to make sure it’s easy to follow.

It really just boils down to a couple quick steps, basically you are exporting the content from your WordPress.com site, and importing it into your WordPress.org site. Simple.

Step 1 – Setup your new WordPress.org site

The first thing you’ll need before you get started is somewhere to import everything to, so you’ll need to setup a new site using WordPress.org

You can choose from a ton of places to host your website. A hosting company is really just somewhere your files are kept so people can see your site on the internet.  Bluehost is a popular choice for a lot of people because they offer good service and cost in the ballpark of $7-10/month for basic hosting.

Alternatively, you can go the managed hosting route, which is a “worry-free” service we offer that provides WordPress hosting, plus backup and anti-virus protection all inclusive for $14/month. If you did go this route, you can stop reading this post because this service also includes free migrations, so moving from WordPress.com to .org would be taken care of for you at no cost.

If you go the Bluehost route, you’ll be presented with a dashboard after you sign up, with a pretty simple button to press and some prompts to follow to install WordPress. 

Step 2 – Export from WordPress.com

Login to your WordPress.com dashboard, and navigate yourself to the site admin section. From there you’ll see a tab on the left side menu called ‘Tools’ and underneath that you’ll see a button labelled ‘Export’.

 Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Click on the ‘Export’ button and you’ll see a screen like below. You want to export ‘All content’, so make sure that box is ticked, and then hit the blue ‘Download Export File’ button.

Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Once you do, WordPress will go to work preparing that export file for you and send you an email once it’s ready to download.

Step 3 – Import into WordPress.org

Once you’ve downloaded the file that WordPress.com prepared, you can head over to your new site and import it.

To do so, you can navigate to that same Tools section of your dashboard, but now instead click on Import.

Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

 You’ll be brought to a screen which prompts you to choose what you want to import.  You’ll pick WordPress from the list, which will then prompt you to install and activate their WordPress Importer plugin.

Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Once this is activated you’ll be prompted to choose the the file to import (this is the one you just downloaded), so simply select the file, then hit the blue ‘Upload file and import’ button.

 Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Once you upload the file, WordPress will start importing all of your posts, and put them into your new site.

That’s all there is to it!

From here, you can begin choosing a new theme, setting up whatever type of plugins you need, and whatever else you need to make your site look just the way you want.

A word of caution here, a lot of the free themes and plugins are free for a reason – either they’re trying to get you to buy the full version, or they’re just very limited and poorly built, so exercise some caution when installing things onto your site, and don’t be afraid to look at buying a premium theme from somewhere like ThemeForest – this will usually be a great way to get a high end look for about $50 or so.

On behalf of everyone at J. Louis, I sincerely hope that this post was truly helpful for you in figuring out what the difference is, and how to make the switch when you’re ready, but if you do have any questions about this or any other topic, please feel free to leave a comment here, or just reach out to us directly and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Running a blog should be fun, not terrifying, so don’t freak out if you don’t know what to do, just ask and we’ll be happy to help guide you in the right direction.

Questions? Leave them below!


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10 comments on “Switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

    • Hey Sinnead, if you click on ‘My Site’ which should be on the top left – on the lower left side on the page that comes up you should see a menu option called ‘WP Admin’. This will bring you to the admin section of your site. Any questions let me know!

  • Hi there!

    So I’ve been in the process of migrating for the last couple of days. Yes, days. I’m writing in hopes you’ve come across this issue before and can provide some insight. I keep getting an error message upon import saying my file is corrupt. I’ve made many attempts, starting from scratch even and the same message appears. My media alone will import, and then the main content error still occurs – saying corrupt file. I’m assuming this is on the wordpress.com side, but I can’t seem to get a straight answer from their online support.

    TIA for your help!

    Also Lexi – love your name and your site!

  • This is so helpful! I just started using WP and it has so many limitations, so I’m looking into switching to .org However, I don’t think I’ve ever been so confused before. I just wanted to test a few themes, but it seems as though I need to have a server or host set up first? Even when I download WP.org it just gives me a ZIP File…. can you tell me what I’m even supposed to do with that? Thanks so much!

  • Thank you so much for your advice of the blogging subject. It finally motivated me to start one and see where it takes me.

    I did have one question….and it is probably such a dumb question but I signed up with Bluehost and had WordPress through that site. I don’t have a WordPress login at all through the actual WordPress site. So, I am confused if this is the WordPress.org version or if I have the free version? I bought a website template and everything but I didn’t want to get too far in without confirming which version of WordPress I have.


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