Blogging 103 – The Idiot’s Guide to Changing from a Free to a Paid Blog


two people looking at a map and a compass

So. You’ve gotten your blog set up and it’s chugging along wonderfully. You have a respectable number of hits per-day, and engaging, entertaining content that keeps people coming back for more, more, more!

You’ve been like this for so long that perhaps you think it’s time for a change? You want to do a paid domain, not just a free one, so that you can start doing more things with your blog, and perhaps start making money off of it, right? So, how do you do that?

Important Considerations

The most important thing to consider about switching from a free blog to a paid blog is that you are basically starting over.

Even if you move all your content – posts, pictures and whatever else, from your old blog to your new blog – you still have all kinds of things to deal with which will probably be new and scary – the most obvious of which will be that you’ll have to build up your visitor-counts from the ground up, all over again!

Another important consideration is that not everything will operate the same way.

You’ll have to learn new ways of doing things, and understand that not everything will be quite as it was. There may be different terms used to describe different actions, or even different terms to describe the same action as what you used to do!

This can be confusing, so don’t rush (you probably won’t have a choice, anyway) and build things up slowly. This can be daunting, intimidating, even, but take a deep breath and give it a shot.

Browser bar with the URL throughout history.com

Getting your Domain

The first thing you need to do is to set up your domain. This is the actual structure of your site. Its home where it will live.

To do this, you need to find a web-hosting site. This is a website which will host (serve as a base or home) your website, and from which it will grow. The hosting website is like the massive foundation block on a house.

Having found a suitable hosting website which you can wrap your head around, and which isn’t too complicated, the next thing you need to do is to build your domain – the scaffolding and framework of what will eventually be your new website.

GREAT CONSIDERATION should be taken into account when doing this! Once a domain has been created, it CANNOT be changed!

So take as long as you need to decide what your website will be called, and what it will look like. Your website will be something like: www.yourwebsite.com. Deciding what goes between the ‘www’ and the ‘.com’ is important – it has to be short, punchy, relatable and easy to remember! Especially short!

Multiple pairs of red boxing gloves hanging on hooks on a white wall

Don’t forget that you’ll be typing this domain name out dozens and hundreds and thousands of times by the time you’ve set it up.

Keep it short! Two or three words at max. This is a lot more challenging than you might think! It’s surprisingly difficult to sum up the essence of your website in two or three words, but it must be done, otherwise you’ll have a headache later on.

Having decided on your web-host and your domain name (let’s keep it short and cute and call it fuzzybunnies.com), the next thing you need to do is to actually set up the domain.

This will involve you putting in details such as who you are, how to contact you, and what web-plan you choose. How much will it cost per-month? And how do you pay it? Usually it’s done through paypal or credit card, so you must have either of these payment options available.

Take as much time as you need to do this. One mistake can screw it all up, so double and triple-check absolutely everything.

While you’re taking a break from setting up your new domain, you should go back to your old blog and start downloading the content. Content is stuff like your pictures, posts, visitor-comments, ratings, etc, etc. Think of this whole project like you building yourself a new house, and now you’ve got to move all your furniture and other stuff out of your old house and into your new one.

Computer screen displaying a "Socks" website home page

How Your new Domain Will Operate

Having run your old blog a certain way for a long time, now you need to decide how your new blog will operate.

Blogs run off certain systems or templates which operate or provide services/options in different ways. Not all hosting websites provide these services. This will be one of the deciding factors in which hosting website you eventually choose.

For example, I chose BlueHost.com, because it gives me the option to use Wordpress, a blogging system which I’ve been using for a very long time. It’s a simple matter of adding it to your options as you set up your new domain. Keeping things simple and familiar is one way to make the transition smoother and less terrifying.

It will also make the new blog easier to operate once you finally get it going.

So don’t try something new just because you think you have to. Where possible, keep things as much as they were, prior to your big change-over. You have enough things to worry about, without having to learn a whole new way to run your blog! That’s something I think we all agree, we could do without!

A couple moving an orange chair up a flight of stairs

Moving Into your New Domain!

Now that you’ve successfully downloaded all the content from your old blog (there should be options in the back-end, administration-panel of your old blog to allow you to do this), you need to upload your content to your new blog.

Again, there should be options in the administration panel or ‘dashboard’ of your new blog which will do this for you. Keep in mind that you’ll be moving a LOT of stuff. Every picture, every word, and every post you’ve ever uploaded, typed or posted. So this can take a while.

Once you’ve uploaded all your old content, you can start doing all the pretty, fun, cute things that you used to like doing on your old blog. Like picking a theme or website background, putting in pages and uploading pictures. Things are fun and happy now, right?

Ehm…not quite.

You still have your old blog, remember?

Moving Visitors

Having set up your new blog, you need to decide what’s going to happen to your old blog. Will you keep it and use it for something else? Delete it? Or will you put up redirect-pages and posts indicating that the address for your content has changed?

Which one of these courses you take is up to you, depending on the outcome you desire.

As I said, moving or changing a blog from a free to a paid service is a lot more than just moving a blog, it’s much like rebuilding an entirely new blog from the ground up. This means that you will sort of be starting from scratch, except, not really.