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How to Upgrade your WordPress Website

How to Upgrade your WordPress Website

Fab Giovanetti

A few months back we got this question over from the Community:

 How can I upgrade my wordpress.com account?

This is where Fab gets very picky and a bit bossy (sorry peeps) wanting you to do the best you can do for your blog. However, I am getting ahead of myself as per usual. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Did you know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are actually two very different platforms?

Often beginners confuse the two, which leads them not to make the wisest decisions when it comes to upgrading your blog. The best way to understand is to understand the key differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, so you can choose the right platform for your upgrades.


Contrary to popular belief, WordPress.org aka “the real WordPress”, is the popular website platform that bloggers boast about. It is open source and 100% free for anyone to use.

What you need in this case, is a domain name and web hosting – which is why it is referred to as self-hosted WordPress. With WordPress.org, you have full control of your website and you are free to do anything you want and customise it as much as you need.

When it comes to WordPress.org you own your website and all its data. You are in full control, and nobody can turn it off – even if I still recommend setting up a backup.  This means you can add free, paid, and custom plugins to your blog, which can support the user experience fully. You can also customise your website design as needed with top themes you can easily adapt and change.

You can also add a store, or a membership site or anything else to make up the money from your investment.

Warnings: The biggest hurdle with WordPress is that, like all websites, you will need web hosting – where your website files are stored on the internet. You are also responsible for updates and backups, which you’ll have to perform on themes and plugins.

On average, you can build a low budget website for less than £50 per year.

For 99% of users, my recommendation is always to use WordPress.org and look for a service like Bluehost to get hosting.


If WordPress.org is the real WordPress, what is WordPress.com instead?

WordPress.com is a hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg – slightly confusing, I know.

The WordPress.com hosting service has 5 plans:

  • Free – Very limited.
  • Personal – $36 per year
  • Premium – $99 per year
  • Business – $299 per year
  • VIP – starting at $5000 per month

It’s free for up to 3GB of space, after which you’ll have to pay for more storage – capping at $299/year for unlimited storage. One of the pros is that you would not have to worry about updates or backups. However, the list of cons is quite long – the first of which is the presence of ads on all free websites. Another big con for me is the fact you cannot upload plugins or themes, which limits your choice – you can only upload ‘compatible’ plugins at high paying plans.

Warning: Wordpress.com heavily controls your website, so much so they can delete your site at any time if they think it violates their Terms of Service. You also won’t be able to offer any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways.

The Verdict

When in doubt, always go for WordPress.org as it provides more flexibility and better opportunities for bloggers. Would you choose to rent a house forever, if for a small upgrade you could buy your own? Enough said.

A last aside is for people who do not have a blog yet:

Are you just thinking of setting up a blog?

I would recommend to invest in WordPress.org first and avoid any exporting and importing malarkey. Unless you are not looking to make a bigger impact and export your offerings, WordPress.org is the better option out there. To start a self-hosted WordPress website, you need a domain name and WordPress hosting. A domain name is your website’s address on the internet, and web hosting is where your website files are stored on the internet.

From WordPress.com to WordPress.org

o start with self-hosted WordPress.org, you’ll need a WordPress hosting account and a domain name.

We recommend using Bluehost as they are an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider – plus they also provide you with a domain name if you choose to upgrade yours. We use Bluehost when creating and setting up new websites or clients too.

In this video from Bluehost you’ll be able to see how to transfer an existing domain.

See Also

If you already have a custom domain name, like awesomeblog.com, there are a couple options when it comes to moving it to your new site. If your domain is registered here at WordPress.com, you can transfer your domain or update its name servers to point it to your new hosting platform (recommend checking those guides if you feel confused).

During the signup phase on Bluehost, you will be asked do you have a domain or want to register a new one. Simply select the option that I have a domain name, and insert the domain that you registered at WordPress.com. Next thing you would have to do is change the nameservers to point to the hosting provider.

Before getting started, you’ll need access to your WordPress.com account, so you can easily move all of your posts, pages, images, comments, and other data over to your self-hosted WordPress site easily.

Exporting WordPress.com content to New Website

Guide taken from WordPress.com

In your WordPress.com dashboard, go to My Site → Settings and select Export under Site Tools at the bottom to download an XML file of all of your content.  Click on the arrow next to the Export All button if you want to select specific content items to export.

from wordpress.com

Next step is to install WordPress- which is very easy to install, and it only takes a few clicks. If you signed up with Bluehost like I mentioned above, then WordPress will be automatically installed for you.

Import Content

In the WP Admin area of your self-hosted WordPress site, go to Tools → Import → WordPress. If it hasn’t been installed yet, you will be prompted to install the WordPress Importer plugin.

Choose your file, click Upload file and import, and select the option to Download & import file attachments and import your XML file.

from wordpress.com



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