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Advice needed for moving to WordPress.org and advertising please!

  1. I have been running a blog on WordPress.com for nearly 2yrs now (it is actually my "dog's blog") and it has been growing steadily in traffic. When I started the blog, I chose to register a separate domain name (www.bighoneydog.com) through WordPress.com and map it to my blog URL (www.bighoneydog.wordpress.com) through the paid upgrade - and I have also set up the blog with a static front page & other pages, so that it looks more like a website.

    I recently received an offer from a pet insurance company asking to place a banner ad on my site. I know that advertising is not allowed on WordPress.com sites and therefore my only option is to move to WordPress.org if I want to start including advertising. I went to the WordPress.org site and read through their FAQ's - however, I am still a bit confused about certain aspects of moving across and I would be very grateful if someone could help me:

    (please bear with me if these seem like stupid questions as I don't know much about domains & web hosting - I have always been very happy to have WordPress.com do all the work for me but as I invest a huge amount of time writing content for my blog, I also don't want to turn down the opportunity to earn money from it if possible)

    1) since I purchased my domain name through WordPress.com - could I still keep that? Or do I need to "buy it again" through another server? Would I therefore be buying it from the web hosting service I choose to go with? Or from someone else?

    2) I'm not sure I understand how the domain mapping works if I move my blog over to WordPress.org - does my WordPress.com blog still exist? Because surely I would simply be importing and transferring the content across to the new self-hosted blog?

    Also - because I have always had the separate domain name & mapping from the beginning, people have never actually typed in the WordPress.com URL to find my blog - they have always thought that my blog address is http://www.bighoneydog.com for the Home page and then if they want the specific blog page, they type in http://www.bighoneydog.com/honeys-blog
    So would I still need mapping? What happens if people type in "www.bighoneydog.com" AFTER I move over to WordPress.org? At the moment, they are redirected to "www.bighoneydog.wordpress.com" - but after I move to the self-hosted blog, will they need to be redirected? Or will they go straight through to the new blog because that will be carrying the same old domain name?

    3) While I know a bit of HTML (and have adjusted the code on some of my posts), I am not an web design expert by any means and have never attempted to alter the CSS stylesheets for my templates so far - another reason I've stuck with WordPress.com so far as I don't feel confident tinkering too much with the code, although I am happy to learn. So I am wondering - if I need to insert a banner ad for the advertiser in my new self-hosted blog, will this be something that's relatively easy to do with a bit of reading up on instructions?

    4) I noticed in the info I read that I will have to do all backups for my self-hosted blog and that I might mess up and lose the entire blog. This scares me a bit. Will this be difficult or will there be plugins etc to help me do this regularly and easily?

    5) Finally, I just paid last week for the No-Ads upgrade (because WordPress.com was putting ads on my blog from companies I didn't approve of) - which I assume is a year's subscription - if I move over to WordPress.org now, I presume I will lose the upgrade...is there any way I can get a refund on this since I only just paid for it? If I had thought I was going to move over to WordPress.org, I would not have paid for the upgrade.

    Sorry for so many questions and thank you in advance for your help. I am actually very happy on WordPress.com and wouldn't otherwise leave, other than for the fact of advertising - but this seems too good an offer to waste, especially as I am keen to get a return for all the time & effort I invest in writing content for my blog. A lot of blog friends who self-hosted have been urging me moving to self-hosting, saying it gives much more control and is "vey easy" - but I am just a bit scared of what it could involve. I would really appreciate any clarification on just how complicated or how easy it really is.

    Thanks again,
    Hsin-Yi

    The blog I need help with is bighoneydog.com.

  2. 1) yes, and WP is the cheapest reliable domain registrar I've seen. Just renew with them annually.
    2) yes, the WP.com blog still exists, but its address is the one with "wordpress.com" in it. My advice is to take all the actual posts and pages private except one static page, which you set as the landing page and which says "We've moved, so go HERE for our new site!" with the link to the new site. Everyone going to your unique URL will go straight to the new site. I did this recently and it's easy-peasy.
    3) It's relatively easy as far as "tinkering with html" goes, but there are easy ways to insert ads and hard ways to insert ads. Your best bet is to get a theme that is already optimized for ads, and to use the Advertising Manager plugin.
    4) There are plugins, and it's not hard. Do it weekly at least.
    5) You can contact staff and ask for a refund if you bought it very recently; I believe the details are on your Upgrades page. Contact them via your dashboard. If it's past the deadline, they may be willing to move the upgrade to another blog of yours, a personal one for example.

  3. Thank you so much, raincoaster, for your quick response!

    Sorry - hope you don't mind if I clarify a few things:

    1) so if I keep my domain registration with WordPress, how do I move it onto a different host? I thought you always had to get your domain name from your host? I thought because WordPress.com are hosting my blog now, that's why I'm getting my domain name through them...

    2) you said everyone typing my unique URL ( http://www.bighoneydog.com ) will go directly to the new site anyway.
    But what if they type in one of the "sub-pages"?
    For example, the page which shows my blog has the URL: http://www.bighoneydog.com/honeys-blog - which still doesn't have any "wordpress.com" in it. So will people who use that URL go straight to my new blog too? (As long as I have created a corresponding page in my new blog?)
    What about if they use the URL for a specific post? eg. http://www.bighoneydog.com/new-post

    The reason I'm confused is because no-one has ever used my blog URL (with the "wordpress.com") from the beginning - I have always started it from the beginning using the domain mapping so that everyone simply thinks my blog URL is just plain http://www.bighoneydog.com - which takes them to the Home Page (landing page) - and then they can click a link to the Blog Page to view all blog posts (or click one of the "Recent Post" entries in my sidebar).

    So I guess what I'm asking is - would I have to do what you suggested about making all the posts private and putting a message directing people to the new blog? I would really rather now - I'd prefer the whole thing to be seamless without people realising the change - and I wonder if this could be possible because nobody ever used the URL's with "wordpress.com" in them in the first place.

    Thank you again!
    Hsin-Yi

  4. 1) You can buy your domain from someone other than your host, unless your host has rules against it.

    2) Every page that was reachable by bighoneydog.com is still reachable when you move, provided you don't muck with the permalink structure.

    You don't HAVE to make all the posts private and leave the other one up, since you began with the unique domain mapping. But be sure to set the WP.com blog as private, so Google doesn't see duplicate content on both sites and think you're a spammer.

  5. Thanks again, raincoaster - I understand better now.

    When you said "provided you don't muck with the permalink structure" - does that mean the words in the URL address for a post or a page?

    So what you're saying is if I keep the URL for my blog page as http://www.bighoneydog.com/honeys-blog - then this will still work when I transfer to a self-hosted blog - people won't notice a difference when they type in the same URL - they just arrive at the same place as before, even though in reality they are no longer being directed to WordPress.com but to my own self-hosted site - is that right?

    Thanks,
    Hsin-Yi

  6. When you set up your WordPress.ORG based site one of the options is the Permalink structure - the default is ugly - something like "?P103" - just look at the Permalink options and pick the one that looks like what you see here at WordPress.COM and save the new one BEFORE you import you site from WordPress.COM

  7. On the new self-hosted blog, under settings > permalinks you want to select "Day and name" for the permalink structure. That will match the permalink structure here at wordpress.COM.

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