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SquareSpace is a great tool to get started on. It’s easy, user-friendly and looks nice straight out of the box, but as you grow your blog, you might start to feel limited. Okay, very limited by SquareSpace’s capabilities. Jess started out on this platform and will tell you without hesitation that she wishes she had started on self-hosted WordPress, and that if you’re on SquareSpace now, make the switch asap!
Moving your blog to self-hosted WordPress will give you far more control over your site and give you the ability to completely, 100% own your site. Since SquareSpace hosts your site on their servers, you don’t really own that asset and you don’t have much control over it. The biggest difference with self-hosted WordPress is that you’ll now host your own site.
This step-by-step tutorial will walk you through moving your blog from SquareSpace to WordPress, and give you tips to not lose out on old traffic!
1. Get Started
First thing’s first! You’ll need to find a WordPress hosting company, and we highly recommend Bluehost. It’s the host that both Jess and I personally use, and also the one that hosts this site! If you’re just getting started, Bluehost throws in a free domain. If you already have a domain, that’s fine too, you’ll be able to transfer it if you like.
2. Install WordPress
Installing WordPress might sound scary, but we promise it’s super simple! We have a great tutorial here that walks you through the steps to get your hosting set up properly and shows you EXACTLY how to install WordPress on your own so you don’t have to pay anyone else to do it for you! Once your hosting is set up and you’ve installed WordPress, we’ll move onto transferring your content!
3. Export Content from SquareSpace
Pat yourself on the back! You’ve already done so much! The next step is actually moving your content from SquareSpace to your new WordPress site. SquareSpace has limited transferring capabilities, and depending on how much or what type of content you have on your site, all content may not transfer. For anything that doesn’t transfer with the migration tool, you can simply copy and paste it.
Let’s go ahead and export the content so you can see what you’re working with.
Login to your SquareSpace account and navigate to Settings > Advanced (located under the tab called Website).
Once you’re on the Advanced tab, click on the Import/Export link. Click the Export button to get your files. FYI, a popup will appear that tells you that SquareSpace’s export file is only compatible with WordPress—perfect!
Once you hit export, you can watch the progress bar to see how much is left. If you have a lot of content, it might take a while, so just be patient!
Once you’re export file is complete, click on the button that says Download, and save that to your computer, because you’ll need it for the next step!
4. Import to WordPress
Okay, next comes the good stuff, getting your content into your new WordPress site!
Login to the backend of WordPress and navigate to Tools > Import. On this page, you’ll see a list of different platforms and you’ll notice that there’s not one for SquareSpace—don’t panic! SquareSpace exports their file into a WordPress compatible XML file, so we’ll be using the WordPress importer tool to import our SquareSpace content.
Click Run Importer under WordPress, and a new page will open that prompts you to choose a file for upload. Select your file and then hit Upload file and import.
If everything looks fine with your file, WordPress will then prompt you to select some settings. Select an author from the dropdown or create a new one. Typically we recommend just using the one that’s already in there! Check the box to import attachments. Disclaimer—sometimes this doesn’t work. When we tested it, we found that it worked on some attachments, but not all.
Hit submit and wait while your content starts importing! When it’s complete, you’ll see a success message at the bottom.
5. Troubleshooting Images
Unfortunately, the importer does not do a good job of pulling your images over from SquareSpace. We found that it worked on some images, but the majority were left as broken images—oh no! Thankfully there’s a fix for this.
Install and activate the plugin called Import External Images. Go to Media > Import Images.
We selected all files, hit Save, and then hit Import Images Now button. If you read the copy above the button, you’ll see that it only imports 50 posts at a time, so once those 50 are done, hit Refresh and then Import Images Now button until all of them have been imported.
6. Fix Permalinks
The default permalink structure for WordPress is different than that of SquareSpace. So, if someone clicks on a Pin that was linked to your old SquareSpace site, it will take them to a 404 error page because the links are different. You don’t want to miss out on that traffic, so we need to fix it. Thankfully there’s an easy way to do this in WordPress!
Navigate to Settings > Permalinks. From here you’ll see a bunch of different options, and you want to find the one that’s closest to your old permalink structure. For SquareSpace, the Day and Name option is the closest. So, click on that! You’ll notice that when you click on one, it populates the custom permalink area with the new information.
We just need to make one more change here to fit your old permalink structure. If you look at the permalinks on your old SquareSpace site, it might look something like, but with your URL before it…
So, in the custom permalink area, all we need to do is add ‘/blog’ in our permalink structure so that any old links will link properly to the new site.
Hit Save Changes.
Congrats! You did it!