Resetting Nameservers at WordPress.com to a New Hosting Service

In my last post, Taking WordPress to the Next Level, I described my transition from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, this past summer. The one part of the process I didn’t mention was resetting nameservers at WordPress.com to a new hosting service.

The main part of your blog URL is its domain. An example of a domain is “wordpress.com.”  When you make the transition from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, you must first reset the nameservers at WordPress.com (available through the Domain Manager) to point to the servers, at your new self-hosted service.

At the time, I stumbled through the process, a bit clumsily.  I prepared the instructions below, based on my experience over the summer. Hope it might help anyone, making a similar change.

Resetting Your Domains

To reset your nameservers, complete these steps:

  1. From Settings>Domains at WordPress.com, set a password under Domain Administration and note your customer number.
  2. Click the Manage Domains link.
  3. From the Secure Login Screen, enter the Customer # or Login Name and password.
  4. Click Secure Login. The Domain screen appears in the Domain Manager.
  5. Click your site’s domain name.
  6. Under Nameservers, click the Nameservers link.
  7. In the Set Nameservers screen, select the option, “I have specific nameservers for my domains.”
  8. Enter the respective nameserver (provided by your web hosting service) in the box for Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2. For example, in my case:
    ns1.blogs-about.com
    ns2.blogs-about.com
  9. Click OK.

Now your domain points to the servers at your new hosting service.

If You Are Unable to Reset Your Domains

Initially, I wasn’t able to reset my nameservers. I entered the new nameservers multiple times, but the default WordPress nameservers remained. When I asked my web hosting provider why this might be happening, she advised that it can sometimes take up to 24-48 hours for domain changes to take effect.  If the domain servers did not fully change in that time frame, she advised it would be a good idea to contact WordPress.com Support and ask why their system wasn’t allowing the changes to occur.

Contacting WordPress.com Support

I ended up contacting WordPress.com Support (support@wordpress.com) and was happy with the fast response. According to my “Happiness Engineer” (what a great title!), the WordPress.com domain provider implemented a fix for the name server change issue I was experiencing. I was advised to try my changes again, which this time, I was able to make successfully.

Importing Content  

From there, for a small fee, my new hosting provider used my WordPress.com credentials to make a copy of my WordPress.com blog, install the latest version of WordPress, and import my content.

My new hosting account was ready to go.

In hindsight, I wish I had installed WordPress and imported the content myself (just to get the experience), but I was simultaneously working with a designer on customing my theme, and I took the easier route because of time constraints. If you want to try installing WordPress and importing your WordPress.com content on your own, Tom Johnson’s webinar demos how easy it is to install the WordPress software. For complete instructions, you can also see Installing WordPress, at the WordPress Codex.

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Understanding the Differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

In my last post, I mentioned various blogging services available, including the service I am currently using at WordPress.com. Initially, it usually takes people a little while to fully understand the differences between the free, hosted service at WordPress.com and the paid, self hosted service at WordPress.org, so I’ve compiled a quick summary of differences between the services.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a freely hosted version of the open source package, where you can start a blog in seconds, without any technical knowledge.

According to the site, “[a]lmost everything on WordPress.com is free, and things that are currently free will remain free in the future, but we do offer paid a la carte upgrades for things like CSS editing and custom domains.” Through the upgrade option, WordPress.com also lets you increase the space of your blog.

As I wanted to get up and running very quickly, I decided to start out blogging, using WordPress.com. So far, I’ve been very pleased by how easy the WordPress.com service is to use as well as by the many professional themes available. By using the hosted WordPress service, I have been able to focus mostly on content, without worrying about the technical details. I have also been able to quickly build up search engine equity, which I have read takes a bit longer with self-hosted services.

However, even in the short while I’ve been blogging, I’ve already upgraded my WordPress.com service, as I wanted my own domain name, which to me seems more professional. For example, previously, this blog’s domain was pegmulligan.wordpress.com, but with the upgrade, which only costs $15.00 a year, it’s now pegmulligan.com.

According to the HubSpot post, 7 Beginner Blogger Blunders and How to Avoid Them,  it’s best to get a “real” domain name, so you do not lose your link juice, if you ever change services later. “At least this way, if you decide to switch later, you won’t lose all the search engine optimization (SEO) that you’ve built up.”

In a webinar hosted by the Society for Technical Communication, Tom Johnson mentioned that when your needs require, it is possible to move your WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org. Johnson also stated that you can import Blogger and Movable Type blogs into WordPress, but the code does not always map exactly.

WordPress.org

If you are interested in applying WordPress Premium themes, or extending its functionality through its more than 4,000 plug-ins, then WordPress.org is the right service for you. Though the blogging software at WordPress.org is open source, it does require your own Web hosting service.

I was only a couple weeks into blogging, when I realized that long-term, I really want to move my WordPress.com blog to the WordPress.org service, to take full advantage of the Premium themes that would give my blog a better customized look and feel, more like a web site than a blog. Long-term, I also want to use the many available plug-ins there, including a well-known WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plug-in, which would help my blog’s Google ranking.

Choosing a Hosting Service. WordPress recommends these Web Hosting Options. In his STC-hosted webinar, Tom Johnson mentioned Lunarpages and DreamHost, as his favorite hosting services.

Installing WordPress. In his recorded webinar, Tom Johnson demos how easy it is to install the WordPress software. For complete instructions, see Installing WordPress.

Choosing Themes. Lots of free WordPress themes are available, as well Premium themes. According to Johnson, “the premium themes are usually more complicated. The code gets pretty advanced when you want to change a string.” New WordPress.org Users Beware: It is possible to blow away your entire blog site, if you are not careful about the changes you are making to the code.

Through the water cooler on Twitter (including recommendations from professional bloggers Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse), I’ve heard that Thesis is one of the best Premium WordPress themes available for non-coders. On Twitter, I’ve also heard good things about the Thesis Theme User’s Guide.

Using PlugIns. Over 4,000 WordPress plug-ins are available.

In the STC webinar, Tom Johnson mentioned examples of plug-ins that have been helpful to him:

  • Akismet: Blocks spam.
  • All in One SEO Pack: Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization).Lets you make a generic title for Google, but a catchy title for your visitors.
  • Audio-Player for Podcasts.
  • Contact Form, with name & e-mail address.
  • Favicon for Admin Page.
  • Google Search Widget.
  • WP Related Posts: Shows all related posts in your archives.
  • Video Plugin: Lets you embed YouTube videos.
  • WP Super Cache: Generates static html fies from your dynamic WordPress blog.

For an excellent WordPress resource, see a complete list of all the plug-ins Tom Johnson uses in his highly informative I’d Rather Be Writing blog.

Recommendation and Additional Resources

For most nontechnical users, I recommend a phased approach to blogging, concentrating first on building your site’s content, and learning basic WordPress functionality. When you start to outgrow WordPress.com and want the more advanced functionality, moving to WordPress.org will probably be a natural progression for you. However, if you want to avoid the web hosting fee and have no desire to understand the technical details, then the hosted service at WordPress.com can continue to serve you. For users who choose long-term to stick with the WordPress.com service, the available Advanced Services may help meet your evolving needs.

In the meantime, here are some helpful blogging resources:

Photo credit, nbachiyski

Related Links

  • Choosing a Blogging Service
  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Chris Brogan’s Post: Thesis is My Favorite Premium WordPress Theme

Choosing a Blogging Service

As a beginner blogger, I was trying a few months ago to decide which blogging service to choose. I asked for guidance from the Twitter community, and the “tweeps” who responded there recommended that I should use WordPress. I’m grateful that I followed the advice, as subsequent, informal research confirms that WordPress is a good choice, and so far, I’ve been very happy with the free blogging service provided at WordPress.com.

I later found more specific advice from HubSpot, a provider of inbound marketing software, on why it’s better to choose WordPress, over for example, Google’s Blogger, at least in the case of business blogs. According to HubSpot, if you ever decide to migrate to another site, Google does not let you redirect your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) value.

If you currently have a blog that is something like mybusiness.blogspot.com and you build a ton of inbound links to the site, Google [via Blogger] does not let you redirect that SEO value to a new site (like your company website).

Basically, Google has seemingly made it intentionally difficult to migrate off of their platform. If you’re looking to build a successful business blog that will help you find more clients and grow your business, you should find a professional blogging platform that is designed for your needs.  HubSpot has one such offering (it’s a piece of what we do).  But, if all you need is a blogging tool, we’d recommend WordPress.

In his recorded webinar, Tom Johnson from the Society of Technical Communication, also recommends WordPress, because of the flexibility WordPress offers through its widely available themes (both for free or at a reasonable cost, through Premium themes), as well as its over 4,000 plug-ins.

Once I chose WordPress, I had to decide whether to use the freely-hosted service at WordPress.com, or self-hosted service, at WordPress.org.

I’ll discuss the differences between these WordPress services more fully in my next post, Understanding the Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Your Experiences with Blogging Services?

If you are currently using a free, hosted service other than my WordPress recommendation, such as Blogger, or if you have any additional thoughts about the freely hosted WordPress service, I’d be happy to hear about your experiences, in the comments. (TypePad is another hosted service, though it does require a monthly fee.)

How about those of you who are using self-hosted blogging services, like Movable Type, “Serendipity,” and WordPress.org? How do you rate your experiences with those services?

Your feedback is especially helpful, both to me and any other readers here, who are sorting through the choices. In one article, I learned that with Blogger you can add Google AdSense ads to your  posts to generate revenue, which seems like a potential benefit to that free service.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog