Moving your site from a subdomain to a new domain (part 1)

An image showing different domain extensions for when you have to decide on the name and address for your site.

As you all might know by now, I host the weekly meme Wicked Wednesday which runs (by the end of this article: ran) on a subdomain of my main site Rebel’s Notes. Where some hosts offer SSL for the main domain as well as all subdomains, my host only does that for the main site, and I have to pay for a SSL certificate for subdomains.

For some weeks I walked around with the idea to register a domain for Wicked Wednesday, and last week I finally did it. I wanted to share the experience with you, the steps I took to move the site from the subdomain, to its own main domain.

Some hosts will move your old site to the new domain for free, but many hosts (like mine) ask a fee for this, so I decided to do this myself. It also gave me the opportunity to really have a good look at my site, and clean up some things.

A new domain and hosting for said domain

My first step was to decide on a domain name. Now you can register a domain anywhere you like, and then move it to your hosting, but I chose to register the domain through my host. In my hosting account I clicked on the domain names already registered — which was only — and there was an option to register a new domain. I typed in ‘wickedwednesday’ and wanted the dot com version, but this was already taken. I tried some other combinations such as ‘wicked’, ‘wickedwed’, ‘wickedw’, ‘wednesday’ and some more, but all of the dot com versions were gone. And honestly, I really wanted ‘wickedwednesday’.

I went back to that, and checked the other extentions. Many were still free, such as dot nl (but Wicked Wednesday is not only Dutch), dot site (quite expensive, especially from the second year onwards), and dot info (expensive too, but it’s not an info site either). My eye fell on dot net, and instantly I knew this was good, because Wicked Wednesday is a network of bloggers.

I clicked on ‘register’ and next my host gave me the option to add it to my current hosting package (I didn’t know this could be done) or arrange new hosting. I decided to try the first, and was surprised that I could add a new domain to an exisiting hosting package. See, you learn something new every day!

Installing WordPress on the new domain

Since a couple of months my host went over to the Plesk platform for the hosting manager. It’s pretty straight forward, but I still have a lot to learn. My first step was to install WordPress on my new domain. I found the button, clicked it and a screen popped up.

In that screen I had to create a username for the website (with which you will log in on your WordPress dashboard) and a username and password for the SQL database of said website. You also enter your email address, and only a couple of minutes later I had an email that signaled that WordPress was installed, and the site was ready. I clicked the link, entered my newly created username and password for the site and was into the totally clean WordPress dashboard.

SSL certificate

Now since this was really the primary reason I wanted to move the site, the first thing I did was to activate the SSL certificate. In Plesk I have already seen that I can choose a SSL certificate, and I did. Next I went to the WordPress dashboard and installed the plugin Really Simple SSL. I activated the plugin, went to its settings and clicked to activate SSL. Unfortunately, I got a cURL error.

Now my host is reachable by Whatsapp, so I sent them a message, and within half an hour they came back and said they had activated “Let’s encrypt” on my new domain. It took another ten minutes for the tiny lock to appear in the address bar of my browser. Finally that very desirable tiny lock was there. Wicked Wednesday was finally a secure website!

Installing plugins

Note: From here on I will be talking about the “old dashboard” (Wicked Wednesday on subdomain) and the “new dashboard” (Wicked Wednesday on the new domain).

I already had the new dashboard opened, but I now also opened the old dashboard. To be able to switch between the two using “Alt-tab” I dragged the old dashboard to be in a separate browser than the other. One by one I checked the plugins on the old dashboard and installed them on the new. I didn’t want to activate all plugins immediately, as sometimes you install plugins, use them in widgets on the front end for some time and then you delete the widget and can’t remember which plugin it was. At least, that’s if you’re like me! This was a great way to clean up those plugins that I wasn’t using anymore.

Two plugins I did activate right away were Akismet (this plugin is already in your WordPress dashboard on installation, and is to filter spam out) and Jetpack. I checked which features I had activated on the old dashboard, and activated all of them, except the publicize feature which would share posts to Twitter and Facebook. Reason for the latter is that I didn’t want to possibly flood either timeline when I imported content from the old to the new site, so this feature will only be activated when I am done importing content to the site.

While installing plugins I came across two plugins that weren’t available anymore. For one I installed a new, and the other I didn’t think I would need anymore.

To be continued… Moving your site from a subdomain to a new domain (part 2)

Image from Pixabay

One thought on “Moving your site from a subdomain to a new domain (part 1)

  1. this is going to be such an informative step by step guide that will help people starting a site as well as moving one as you did
    May x

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