Many people have written thorough articles on this topic, but I figure I should share my experience of the process with readers since I’ve moved CarrieBrummer.com and have just moved ArtistStrong.com as well. Moved them where, you ask? I was hosting them via WordPress.com, and now I have moved to WordPress.org.
First, why this move? Most importantly, I feel greater ownership of the blog in its design. I’m no coder, but if you have patience and are good at a Google Search you can find step by step online resources to walk you through the process. I no longer have advertisements being posted by WordPress.com on my page without my input and I have more flexibility with themes and layouts. Overall, it feels more professional to me. (Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t bugs I need to work out as I’m learning! For example, I’ve selected a design where I have to reformat EVERY SINGLE previous blog post. It’s going to take a little time…)
So, first thing you have to do is back up a copy of your wordpress.com blog. Steps to this are walked through via multiple websites. This beginners link moves you through all the steps to move your blog over. Have patience! Buggy things happen, small mistakes or errors can take place. But you can get through it. With time and gumption, that is! However, if you are really worried about it and you have the dough, you can pay someone to manage this whole thing for you. I can’t help it, I’m a DIYer, sometimes to a fault.
After I did my backup I set up an account with BlueHost (Affiliate link), as recommended by the above website. What I didn’t fully understand is that one BlueHost account can actually host multiple, separate websites. How? Because you can have what I believe is an unlimited number of separate databases (or a subdirectory, I get a little confused on the terminology) on the account that hosts each individual blog or website you create! (What does that mean? Don’t worry, I’ll find that how to for you as well).
First, this site walks you through setting up a BlueHost account and a WordPress.org blog. Check it out. The same guy has a great video that shows you how to set up multiple domain names (your many different websites) on the one account.
Now, I bought my site name through GoDaddy. This guys explains exactly this scenario, which is either reinforcement from the first video, or another way to clarify the step for those of you feeling confused.
Are some of these terms confusing? No worries! Check out WP Gal, She gives some basics of vocab and things to know, as well as starts to talk about SEO strategies, which is definitely something I’m only beginning to understand (for you keeners who want a little more).
Still feeling confused? Here are some additional resources that might help you through. I read through most of these and waited a few days, then read them again before I started tweaking my websites. Your brain needs time to process new information! Go slow and steady, and you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it!
A key bit to note… some of these changes can take a few days to take effect. Learn from me and don’t spend an entire day installing and uninstalling your WordPress.org account because it isn’t working immediately! (But I pressed a button, it should be ready NOW!) If you think you’ve done every step you need to leave it for a day or two and then see if you are having the same problem before you make drastic choices.
A few resources:
Now, I did say I’m no coder. So once WordPress.org was installed and all of my data moved, I did some research and found some themes for purchase that I can use for my website. The agency I found with good design and reasonable prices was Elegant Themes. They have great tutorials on their website and you can buy membership to have as many themes of theirs as you wish. And again, it depends on your DIY nature how complicated your design becomes. You can use the themes with little manipulation, or a lot.
Once WordPress is installed, as are your themes, there are things to learn in WordPress.org. But again, there are plenty of Help opportunities to help you through your problems!
Having websites that I feel greater ownership of has been the best decision I could make for myself. I want to succeed, I want to grow and I’m taking steps to make those things happen. There were days of “sailor cursing” as I was impatiently sorting out small issues (like what the heck is a Favicon?) but you can do it. I assure you. Give yourself a couple weeks to read through the resources and grow more confident and it will only take an afternoon of fiddling (that was really all it took for me anyway). I hope this can help those of you thinking about maintaining your own artist/creative site.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Is your website doing everything to support your online branding as a creative?