Today on “Mark’s Free Tech Support”, someone has asked me how to transfer a free WordPress.com website over to a paid WordPress.org installation. Why, it’s easy as pie and I will show you why.

WordPress.com is when WordPress gives you some free hosting space to launch a basic website with and help you start your own web presence. But if you want to break into e-commerce or look a bit more professional generally, you will eventually want to switch to your own domain using WordPress.org.

After all, markoneill.org is a LOT more professional looking than say marksbooksblog.wordpress.com.

But if you have built up a lot of posts and pages on your WordPress.com site, how can you seamlessly transfer it all over to your new domain without losing anything? Thankfully, WordPress has you covered on that score.

First Stop – The WordPress.com Website

I haven’t used WordPress.com in a long time but for the purposes of this demonstration, I set up a test site at marksbooksblog.wordpress.com. We are going to transfer all of that over to my regular domain at markoneill.org/wordpresscom.

After logging into your WordPress.com dashboard, go to “Tools” in the left-hand dashboard and select “Export”.

If you are planning to export the entire site, choose the first option – “Export your content”. This will also bring with it the media library, so doing both here is not necessary.

If for any reason you want to separately download your media library, it will be delivered as a compressed TAR file. You can open this using the free 7-Zip.

You will now be told that a download link has been sent to the email address registered on your WordPress account. Go there to download the Zip file.

When you have downloaded the Zip file, open it up and extract the single “xml” file from it.

Second Stop – Your Shiny New WordPress.Org Domain

I’m going to assume that you have already set up Wordpress.org on your domain. How to manually set it up is way beyond the scope of this article and in many cases, web providers offer automated solutions to set it up for you. If in doubt, just ask the customer service department of your web hosting company.

OK, so in the new installation of WordPress that I have just made, go to Tools–>Import–>WordPress. Click “Install Now”.

A few seconds later, that “Install Now” link will change to “Run Importer”. Click on it.

Click the “Browse” button and navigate to the xml file on your computer. Now click “Upload file and import” to begin bringing in all of the posts, pages, tags, and so forth.

Since my WordPress.com site is brand new with virtually nothing in it, the import process took seconds. But if you have hundreds of posts and pages, expect this to take a while.

It will now ask you to assign your WordPress.com blog posts to a particular user on your new WordPress.org domain. Choose or create a user. Decide if you want to import file attachments (I would say yes) then click “Submit”.

Eventually it will tell you that everything is finished and you can now view your site.

What Should You Do With The Old Site?

I can’t tell you what to do with your old site at wordpress.com as that is obviously up to you, but I can tell you that Google will look upon it as “duplicate content” and penalize both your sites accordingly.

Therefore my personal recommendation (which you obviously don’t have to follow) would be to delete the old site and let Google’s algorithm update your links to point to the new site.

It may take a few weeks for things to update but better that than Google handing out a red card for two sets of duplicate webpages. And besides, it would confuse your online visitors no end to see two identical sites!