The quick answer is either when you have a very loyal following or right at the beginning when it’s all nice and clean with few or no followers to lose.
Whether you are at that decision point or not the following post is worth reading so you know for future use whether to stay or go.
I have chatted with people who have left at the wrong time and the stories are always the same. ‘Boy it’s lonely out here!’ The move has usually also been complicated by having to transfer lots of previously accumulated posts. Then they find that the culture outside of WordPress.com is very different.
There really is little point in moving if you can do a better job of building your readers on WordPress.com than out there in the cold harsh internet all by your lonesome. WordPress.com is at least based around a community which allows you access to people quite easily. (I’m sure most of you will know that WordPress.org is the paid version and people jump ship there mainly to have full ownership of their blog and domain name).
The other platforms like Blogger or Tmblr or even WordPress.org have a whole other vibe to them which may or may not suit you. I would not abandon WordPress.com until I have experimented with other platforms and I am sure that I could do better elsewhere. A lot of folk like to blame their tool for lack of visitors and wonder if moving to another platform would solve the issue. The truth is, the issue is not always the tool but often the user. If there is a problem with your marketing, SEO, or traffic it will follow you to wherever you go if you don’t deal with that specific problem head on.
Remember, plenty of people have succeeded on paid platforms and plenty of people have succeeded on free platforms.
There is a fairly big difference between a free blog platform like WordPress.com or Blogger and a paid one such a WordPress.org. Apart from the money (which if you are aiming to do big things is really negligible), being on WordPress.org is like paying a mortgage for a home you ostensibly own.
WordPress.com is like renting a room and has the same kind of limiting limitations from the landlord!
- a) You can’t place ads of your choice.
b) You can’t play with the overall coding or look of your site from what your template and their system allows.
c) You can’t SEO your blog as freely and comprehensively as you can on WordPress.org.
d) You can’t access full stats as freely and comprehensively as you can on WordPress.org.
e) Plug-ins are extremely limited on the free platform with swathes of choice on the paid one.
f) If you are ready to branch out and earn from marketing, brand sponsorship, affiliation or advertising opportunities certain platforms will not work with you if you have a WordPress.com account because of it’s limitations.
Plus there are some various other rules about what you can and can’t do which are not imposed on a paid platform.
Now if you are a newb this will not bother you one jot. But as you start to learn about the possibilities of blogging and your confidence and audience starts to grow you may start to rub up against those WordPress.com limitations and feel that you need to stretch those wings and own your own home. And as I said, if you are halfway in your journey with neither a particularly large audience or a particularly small one, but you have committed to quite a number of posts that are important to you, switching platforms has been known to be a little stressful technically to say the least.
The cleverest thing to do?
A lot of people who make a clean transition from WordPress.com to WordPress.org start to feel the cold reality – the harsh wind and the blowing tumbleweed of isolation. But actually, there is no reason that states that you have to make a sharp blogxit! <—topical! 🙂
I would suggest tapering things off and testing the waters before you make the big move. Think of it like leaving your parents home as a young adult, but they allow you to keep your bedroom as is …you know…just in case.
So what you do is keep writing for your WordPress.com base and invite your existing followers to visit a few posts on your new WordPress.org blog from time to time.
You can simply start your post on .com and then have them click to your .org to complete it. Often people just say ‘I’ve moved – here’s my new blog, click here’ which actually gives very little incentive for a passer by to ‘click here’. But if you wrote a post that was exciting, interesting, funny, moving or informative, who wouldn’t click through to read the end of it? Who doesn’t want to hear the end of a knock knock joke…even if it isn’t funny!
I would repeat this over a number of months, some posts for .com some for .org. If your audience follows you to your .org posts repeatedly then you know you have a loyal readership who are willing to follow you to your new home permanently. If they don’t, then you know you have much more work to do to build that loyal readership.