A ‘how-to-transform-your-blog’ post
After the transfer completed I ran into a sticky situation. I began thinking I was in over my head, that I had way too much work cut out for me. Poor me. Just my freaking luck. What happened? I finally got my domain transfer completed and my self-hosted account set up, then went to download WordPress for my website. What do you know? They had recently updated it to version 4.7 and the WordPress importer isn’t updated for 4.7. I thought, “now I get to install WordPress version 4.6 manually so I can import all my content from the blog into this new site,” (note ‘get’ instead of have, life is all about ‘getting’ to, not ‘having’ to). All for the sake of a new appearance. Well there are a lot more reasons for the switch than that, but, jeesh, at the time it felt like too much work to be worth it. I could have gone and made a new post for all of my previous posts, though that would have been extremely long and tedious. Plus, I would not have even learned anything new. The entire overarching purpose of moving the website myself was to learn something new!
Wait, let’s backtrack here. In my ~1-year+ of blogging, I began to get more and more annoyed with how clunky my original blog looked on WordPress’ 2014 theme. The customization options were limited and I wasn’t happy with it. I began to research new themes, particularly looking for ones that looked good and had high functionality for blog-type websites. When I came across the Hueman theme, I knew I had a winner. Unfortunately, when I tried to find it on wordpress.com, it wasn’t available. That was the moment I discovered how shackled I truly was. I’m not completely certain about the details of upgraded wordpress.com plans, but the free version limits what themes you can use and what customization you can do with them, on top of many other limitations. I quickly learned that wordpress.com was not the same as wordpress.org and that to have the freedom I was looking for, I would have to move to a self-hosted website running WordPress, instead of having my site hosted on wordpress.com. It’s like owning a home versus renting one. Welcome to the big leagues. Now that my site is self-hosted, onespiritualpitcher.com is truly my home base for online involvement.
So where did this long process begin? There were many places to start, but I decided on starting the transfer process for my domain. The transfer process goes like this:
- Unlock your domain and get an authorization code sent to your email
- Go to your new hosting provider and start the transfer process
- Then, in your wordpress.com profile, update the name servers on the domain you previously had hosted with wordpress.com.
When the transfer is in progress and after the name servers have been changed, your domain no longer acts as your ***.wordpress.com website. The emails I recieved informed me that my transfer would take place within five days, though it ended up taking eight (probably because Santa doesn’t deliver domain transfers 😉 ). Meanwhile, once you’ve selected your hosting plan with the new provider, you can access your snazzy website control panel in order to install WordPress. The whole point of WordPress is to provide you with a platform for building your site. I have absolutely no clue as to how it would work if you did it from scratch. A bunch of .html files strung together? Lol.
How did I learn what steps I should take and where to begin? All from other online how-to articles, support forums, and walkthrough videos on youtube. A youtube user called wpSculptor has a wonderful tutorial for how to create a website by hand using HostGator as your hosting service and Hueman has your WordPress theme. Many of the how-to resources I found mentioned HostGator as a one of the best (if not the best) hosting services for someone like me (not much experience, looking to blog, doesn’t know exactly where their website is going, etc.). After taking a look at other options like Bluehost and GoDaddy, HostGator seemed like the best choice based on performance, support, reliability, cost, and their easy to navigate account control panel.
It has turned out to be a solid decision thus far. I had two outstanding experiences with their support team when I chatted online and then later called about my domain transfer. They resolved my issues, answered my questions, and I even learned about a cool thing called https://kproxy.com/ to get around the cookies/cache of your internet browser remembering the wrong things. Anyway, with the hosting account set up, I then installed WordPress and ran into the 4.7 vs. 4.6 version issue. After acting like a plebian and uploading all the WordPress 4.6 files manually into HostGator’s file manager instead of unzipping them, I finally got the previous version working. It was time to export my content from wordpress.com and import it into my new site!
A pretty nifty plugin, the WordPress exporter creates an XML file with all the information from the old site and then the importer parses through the file to create posts with all the text, formatting, pictures, links, categories, comments, and tags that you previously had. This saves tons of time and effort, that would have been spent duplicating everything on your own. Imagine doing that! The technology we have today never ceases to blow me away with how much more productive it makes us. Literally, I barely acknowledge it on a day-to-day basis because it’s such a mind-blowing factor that my brain can’t really handle it. Imagine typing this on a typewriter, fixing mistakes by hand. Feelings of awe wash over me as I picture what a titanic effort it would have taken to write an entire novel with one. Okay, back to the website. With all the posts copied over, I only had to spend a bit of time tweaking the format of them specifically for my new theme.
All in all, I’m glad I did this entire process manually because I ended up learning a ton about websites. There were numerous headaches, times where I thought I was stuck, frustrations, and glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand why people spend upwards of $100 to get their websites moved, transformed, or upgraded. My situation was about as simple as it gets and it took me dozens of hours of research, as well as execution, in order to get it completed. Many people don’t have the interest or the time to dive into this kind of stuff, but me, I’m a renaissance man lol 😉 In all seriousness, outside of becoming the best pitcher I can be, I’m using my 20s to gain as much life experience as possible, learn as much as possible, and develop myself. Hopefully, this quasi-how-to post can help any readers out there who want to move from wordpress.com to a self-hosted platform for their blog. I’m probably more technically-minded than the average person, but probably less so than the average person who creates their own website. I tried to write all of this in layman’s terms that almost anyone can understand. Comment with questions if you got ‘em and I’ll answer with my layman knowledge or point you to the resources I would use to find the answer. May all our 2017s be filled with action-taking, positive change, and satisfaction after a job well done. Suerte.