Recently, Camp. Golf. Eat migrated to Bluehost for self hosting. It was not an easy transition and a lot did not work properly but you can learn from our experiences. This post will only talk about migrating from WordPress.com to Bluehost along with WordPress.org.
Why We Moved From WordPress.com
This one is easy to answer: ability to add plug-ins and monetizing our blog.
Plug-In’s. WordPress.com does not allow you to add plug-ins. What is a plug-in? Think of them as mini programs that are specific to your needs or request.
Examples: See those cute Social Media icons to the right? You can’t add those cute icons on WordPress.com. You are stuck with what they give you. This might seem like a silly example but it’s one of many. Another good example is our recipe pages. It is specific and customized because it’s a plug-in. You can’t do that on WordPress.com.
Monetizing. Absolutely possible on WordPress.com IF you have tremendous volume of viewers AND if WordPress.com approves your application to SHARE the money. Trust me, it ain’t much! Once you Self host, you can place ads, sell content, Blog for money all without permission. Why would you need permission?…..
Ownership. I will throw in one little tiny other reason: On WordPress.com, you do NOT own your content. You think you do but you do not. If WordPress.com does not like your content, they CAN AND WILL SHUT YOU DOWN. It’s at their whim. Now, I doubt that WordPress.com would have an issue with Camp.Golf.Eat’s content but you never know. Our fear was if we gave a bad Campground or bad Golf Course review, who knows what could happen. On WordPress.org, you own ALL of your content.
We went with Bluehost because it was recommended as the best and easiest transition from WordPress.com to self hosting. If that is accurate, I am not sure who is voting. More on that later. Honestly, do your research and select the one best for you. Bluehost is the least expensive.
WordPress.com to WordPress.org
Once you self host, you will “kind of, sort of” leave WordPress.com and migrate over to WordPress.org. They are different businesses and easily confused. Their Dashboard will look identical to add to the confusion. Here are the basic differences: WordPress.org allows you to customize, you own ALL your content and you can monetize. Wordpress.com is a quick and efficient way to blog IF that is all you really want to do (and there is nothing wrong with that!).
If you want to make your blog more of a business, go with WordPress.org.
If you want to make your blog more of a hobby, personal blog and to join a community of bloggers, go with WordPress.com.
Please note that it takes a TREMENDOUS amount of blogging, social media cross promotion, dedication and work to become a successful PAID blogger. It ain’t easy. If you do not want to pay, yearly, for Self Hosting and a Domain, just stick with the free WordPress.com.
Hint: WordPress.org provides wordpress software. It does not host or manage your website. Your website uses software from wordpress.org. Your self hosting company likes you to use WordPress.org’s Dashboard to write your blog but there are ways to do it through WordPress.com if you transfer your domain to your self host. Confusing? Make it easy on yourself: if you self host your WordPress.com blog on Bluehost, just download and use WordPress.org’s Dashboard.
Exporting from WordPress.com to Import to WordPress.org/Bluehost:
We were unsuccessful after a dozen attempts. Sorry. We almost ditched Bluehost over this. Contact their customer service if this happens to you. We decided to start fresh and just copy/paste each post from our WordPress.com blog. Not fun but easy.
Transferring your Domain from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
HERE is what NO ONE tells you, pay attention because this is THE MOST IMPORTANT part about migrating over to self host: If you are transferring your Domain (ex. campgolfeat.com NOT campgolfeat.wordpress.com), Bluehost WILL give you a temporary URL (ex. 126.96.36.199for your full domain. DO NOT CHANGE THAT DOMAIN NAME UNTIL AFTER TRANSFER! We changed it and our entire new blog disappeared along with the WordPress.org Dashboard. I couldn’t even gain access to change the URL back to the temp one. After a chat screen session (always a minimum of 8 minutes to wait), an extremely nice rep had to totally reset our site.
Wait until AFTER you have received Domain Transfer Verification from Bluehost to change your Site URL and Home URL to your full domain.
BUT… and this is a great BUT, while you are waiting the 72+ hours for the Domain Transfer to be verified, you can start blogging, adding plug-ins, customizing themes, etc. on that funky temp URL. It’s ok! Everything will remain once your change from the example 188.8.131.52 to www.example.com.
After Domain Transfer Verification
Once you received your verification, go ahead and go to your Bluehost Cpanel, under WordPress, select Settings. Go ahead and change your URL here.
One Last Step
Once you change your Domain URL to your official and true domain, you will probably go check it out to make sure it worked. The answer to this is YES…. and NO. Yep, another quirk for us non-programming type of Bloggers that Bluehost does not tell you about. It involves the HTAccess. If you know how to fix this, great. But, the easiest way to fix this is to bring up a chat screen with Bluehost Customer Service, tell them this:
My Domain Transfer has been completed and I need my HTAccess fixed.
Why? Because your Home Page will come up BUT NOTHING ELSE WILL. Let me tell ya, I was hot, red, angry, disturbed and about ready to throw my laptop when I saw nothing but 500 Errors. The only thing I knew was that it was NOT ON MY END but it was on Bluehost’s end. We have no access to their servers. Whew! I contacted Customer Service (and not very politely) asked them to fix my website or else. Such a gentle, calm rep easily handled the situation and made it all better. Another Whew!
We hope this helps someone along the way. We had searched and searched for answers and could not find any. Most of the fixes were so easy if only they had been documented BEFORE we messed up.
We want to leave you with another resource if you still have questions about WordPress.com or WordPress.org: Click Here for Another Blogger’s Opinion.