Coming from a self-hosted WordPress site?
Welcome to WordPress.com! Nice to see you.
Thanks for joining us; you’ll be up and running in no time. Pick a topic to learn more, and let’s get started!
- Migrate your content to your WordPress.com blog.
- Connect your domain to your new blog.
- Customize your theme.
- Connect to your other social networks.
- Post some new stuff.
- Engage with the WordPress.com community.
- Apply to be a WordAds publisher.
Migrate your content to your WordPress.com blog
The migration process transfers your content (comments, tags/categories, text, photos, and other embedded media) to your WordPress.com site.
First, you will need generate an export file from your self-hosted WordPress site. Simply log in to that site’s dashboard, then go to Tools→ Export, and follow the instructions to download your export file. Be sure to keep the old site live until your content is completely imported.
Importing your content to your WordPress.com site is just as easy. Log into your WordPress.com blog dashboard, then go to Tools → Import, choose “WordPress” and follow the importer instructions to upload your export file and migrate your content.
Note: Your import will not include theme, custom domain, or personal user settings. You will set those up below.
Connect your domain to your WordPress.com blog
Use Domain Mapping to connect your domain name to WordPress.com. Domain mapping is a paid upgrade that costs $13.00 per domain, per year, and is a three-step process:
1. Update your nameservers to point to WordPress.com.
Right now, your domain is linked to your old host, so you’ll need to update your nameservers — specifically, your DNS settings. We’ve got instructions for doing this with the most popular domain registrars. Set your DNS to ns1.wordpress.com, ns2.wordpress.com, and ns3.wordpress.com. (If you have trouble, your domain registrar can help.)
2. Add the Domain Mapping upgrade to your WordPress.com blog.
Navigate to the Domains page. Click on Map an Existing Domain and follow the instructions to add your domain. Note that the change may take a few hours to go live.
3. Set your newly mapped domain as your blog’s primary address.
When the purchase is complete, go back to the My Domains page, check the button next to the domain you just mapped to your blog, and click “Update Primary Domain.”
If you use an email address with your custom domain, there are a few more steps. First, you’ll need an email host, like Google Apps or Zoho Mail, and then you’ll need to create some custom DNS records — find detailed instructions here.
A note on permalinks
Sites on WordPress.com use the following Permalink structure:
You may have a custom permalink structure in place on your self-hosted site which is different to the above. In general, the WordPress software will try and match the old URL to the relevant URL on the migrated site.
For example the URLs:
will all resolve to the WordPress.com URL:
Even just using the following will match the correct URL (presuming there is only one post with ‘sample-post’ in the URL on your WordPress.com site)
As a result, there’s no need to worry about broken links from other domains due to differing permalink structures!
The one main exception to this is for sites that use a post-id structure, like the following:
Customize your theme
Pick a theme
We have hundreds of themes at WordPress.com, with new ones added weekly. Explore your options in the Theme Showcase. Click “Find a theme” to sort by appearance or feature — minimalist themes, grid-based themes, themes for photographers, themes for wedding sites, three-column themes, you name it. You can activate a theme directly from its Showcase page.
To test drive themes, go to Appearance → Themes in your dashboard. Choose a theme, and select “Live preview.”
The live preview opens the Customizer, which also allows you to customize your theme to set a header or background, upload your logo, create a static home page, and other options (depending on the theme you choose).
You also have the option to experiment with fonts, colors palettes, and custom CSS. Please note that these features are in “preview mode” only, and the option to save and publish these changes require a Custom Design upgrade, which you can buy from within the Customizer.
Add some widgets
WordPress.com includes dozens of widgets — check out the full list. To add widgets, go to Appearance → Widgets. To use a widget, just drag and drop it to a sidebar; it’ll update on your blog immediately.
Many widgets have configuration options like “number of items to display” (e.g., the Recent Posts widget) while some will need or other information from you (e.g., a link for your Flickr stream). Others, like text and image widgets, are free-for-alls. If you tweak a widget, be sure to click “Save” to cement the changes.
We assume you want your blog to look good on mobile devices, so we’ve taken the liberty of checking off the “Enable Mobile Theme” box, found in Appearance → Mobile. People reading your site on a mobile device will see either:
- A responsive version of your theme, if the theme you’ve chosen is responsive. Every new theme we release is responsive, and a number of existing themes are as well — see which ones.
- Minileven, if your theme is not responsive. Minileven is a version of our Twenty Eleven theme designed to be clean and quick on phones. Readers can click the “Full Site” link to see your regular theme.
Feel free to turn the mobile theme off, but be aware that disabling it will make your site slower to load on phones and tablets, and it might not look the same (or very good).
Connect to your other social networks
WordPress.com includes a tool called Publicize that automatically shares your posts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Path, and LinkedIn — it’s also part of the Jetpack plugin, so you might have used it on your old site. Use the valuable minutes you save to bake us some cookies (we like oatmeal raisin).
To enable it, head to Settings → Sharing. Click “Add new X connection” and follow the prompts to approve the connection:
Once you’ve enabled at least one service, you’ll see Publicize information when you write a new post in your dashboard. You can opt out from any of the services for a particular post, or include a custom message (the default is post title). Get all the details here.
Post some new stuff
You can publish a post in a few different ways — you know the dashboard, but you can also post from within the WordPress.com Reader, as well as from a mobile app or by email. Here are the basics for each.
Posting from the Reader
When you’re logged in to your account, click the “New Post” button on the top right of the toolbar. Choose a post format — Text, Photo, Video, Quote, or Link — and start adding your content (Text also allows a combo of text and images).
Along with your post, add a title and some tags — tags group related posts together on your blog and in the WordPress.com Reader, which makes them easier to find. When you’re ready, click “Publish Post.” You’ll see a confirmation screen in a few seconds.
Note: when you’re posting from the Reader, you won’t see Publicize options. Your post will be shared, but you won’t be able to de-select any connections or put in a custom message. For that, post from the dashboard.
Posting from the Dashboard
Head back to your dashboard, to Posts → Add New. You can take it from there.
Posting from an app
There’s a WordPress app for just about every phone:
- WordPress for iOS (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) (Download, FAQ, Forums)
- WordPress for BlackBerry (Download, FAQ, Forums)
- WordPress for Android (Download, FAQ, Forums)
- WordPress for Windows Phone 7, (Download, Forums)
- WordPress for Nokia (Download, Forums)
- WordPress for webOS (Download, FAQ)
Install the appropriate app, and log in with your WordPress.com username and password. To post, tap on the “+” sign. You’ll be able to add a title and tags, upload photos from your library or take a new picture, preview, and publish your post.
Posting by email
To post by email, create a unique email address in WordPress.com. When you email it. your subject line becomes the post title and the email text becomes the post content.
Create your address in the dashboard: click on “My Blogs.” Next to your blog’s name, click “Enable” under “Post by Email” to generate your address.
You can also add formatting and images to posts sent by email:
- If your email client that supports HTML, your post will have as much of your formatting as possible (the Post by Email system will strip unnecessary HTML tags so that your post is displayed correctly). Most email clients support this.
- To include photos or other images, attach them to the email. Multiple images will be displayed as a gallery. If you have the VideoPress upgrade, you can also send video clips.
If you post by email frequently, there are a variety of shortcodes you can include to further control your post — change your image gallery to a slideshow, edit your Publicize settings, delay publication, add tags, and more. Learn more about post-by-email shortcodes and how to use them.
Engage with the WordPress.com community
When you join WordPress.com, you get two awesome services for the price of none: your blog, plus your Reader, which brings every WordPress.com blog together in one easy-to-search place. In the Reader, you can:
- Find great stuff to read.
- Catch up with blogs you follow.
- Post to your blog on the fly (as we just reviewed).
Find great reads
For a jump start, check out our hand-picked content at Discover.
To head into the unknown, use the topic list in the Reader — the list of terms running along the right side — to search for whatever you want. We’ve pre-populated it with some of the more popular topics, but you can add and delete topics at will to create a custom listing.
You can also follow non-WordPress.com blogs — self-hosted, Blogger, Tumblr, whatever. Click “EDIT” next to “Blogs I Follow,” and put in the URL of any site you want to keep up with.
Catch up with bloggers you follow
When you follow a blog, you can also decide how you want to get new posts — they’ll all be collected in the “Blogs I Follow” tab, or you can get them via instant, daily, or monthly email. You might choose the instant email option for blogs your particularly love, or the daily email for a blog that posts multiple times a day. If you’re committed to inbox zero, you might opt for no email at all. To change or update your email delivery settings globally, head to your Manage Delivery Settings page and choose your settings.
Apply to be a WordAds publisher
WordAds is WordPress.com’s in-house advertising network, and the only advertising option on WordPress.com. If you become a WordAds publisher, we’ll place ads on your blog and share the revenue. Like other networks you may have been a part of (BlogHer, FoodBuzz, etc), we handle all the negotiation, administration, and technical aspects of advertising.
Our WordAds team partners with major online advertisers like Google AdSense, and we’re always evaluating new ad partners. Working together, we develop high-quality ads that don’t detract from your site and bring in maximum revenue. We also optimize ads based on geography, which means ads that are more targeted for your readers (and increased payouts).
Any WordPress.com site that meets these three criteria is eligible for WordAds:
- It’s family-friendly. (Would you be comfortable with a child or co-worker seeing the site?)
- It has a custom domain (e.g., myawesomesite.com).
- It has meaningful traffic (Advertisers don’t pay to appear on sites with minimal views.)
If you think you might want to be a part of WordAds, check out this Q&A with our Ads Team Lead, or visit WordAds.co. (Since traffic is one of the criteria for involvement, you’ll want to establish yourself on WordPress.com before applying.)
Okay, you’re ready to go! Take the cash you’ll save on hosting, and buy yourself something nice. Don’t spend it all in one place.
We’ve cherry-picked the bits and pieces of WordPress.com wisdom most important for a smooth self-hosted import here. To see the full version of this tutorial, visit Learn.WordPress.com. Happy blogging!