We agree that Weebly is a wonderful solution when starting out in business. Who doesn’t want to drag blocks around and build a website in under 1 hour? Weebly is also free (to start with), making it a seriously seducing proposition!
However, as your business grows and website performance and functionality becomes important, Weebly’s constraints will become more evident. Clearly, we do have a bias for WordPress, but let’s keep it real: Using a platform like WordPress can help you increase your website’s potential by leaps and bounds over a service like Weebly. After all, WordPress is the world’s number website platform powering 27% of the internet. It’s a modern wonder or a perhaps even a standard for web design and development.
What are the advantages of using WordPress?
Before diving into the migration process, I think it is important to clarify what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the platform and especially point out the features that WordPress does not offer.
- You own your website: At Weebly, you are a tenant in their property, while with a self-hosted WordPress website you own your website right out.
- SEO: Let’s not compare apples and oranges!
- Functionality: In Weebly, a website’s functionality can be extended with an app which are available in the app store. With WordPress, you will be using plugins and there are currently over 45,000 plugins offering solutions to all fields of business from reservation requests, agency listing to e-Commerce.
- Flexibility and Scalability: There is not limit to the customization that can be carried out on a WordPress website (granted the technical knowledge). As such your website can also grow and adapt to your business needs. Do you know that just about every fortune 500 company uses WordPress (talking about scalability) ?
- Website design: One of the most obvious drawbacks of Weebly is the lack of professionally designed website templates. Good design is good for business. As you will see in our theme recommendations, the design’s offered for WordPress users are simply second to none.
- Availability of a talent: To keep it short, you will never run out of professional services who will fiercely compete for your business.
Perhaps the word “disadvantage” is misleading, I would rather say features that Weebly offers but WordPress does not.
- WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get editor – also a known as a front end editor): With WordPress, changes are made in the admin area or back end and are not visible until they are saved and you visit the front end.
- Service and Maintenance: Weebly takes care of all your maintenance concerns, you don’t even have to think about it! There is also a support desk for you to contact if you have an issue. With WordPress, there is no centralized support. You are in charge and you will need to contact the faulty party which could be the hosting company, theme developer, plugin developer or even your own WordPress developer.
- Learning curve: The WordPress is admin panel is efficient and ergonomic. However, you will need to invest more time than Weebly to learn how to properly administer a WordPress website.
Now that we have clarified the pros and cons of Weebly and WordPress let’s get moving with the transfer!
Before the Transfer.
Before transferring your website to WordPress, you will need:
- A web host
- A fresh installation of WordPress
- A WordPress theme
To save you some time we have included some of our recommendations, which we have personally tested and worked with. We do not use affiliate links, therefore we have not financial gain !
Our recommendations for hosting a WordPress website:
SiteGround.com – One of the best WordPress hosting solutions. The company offers the famous cPanel control panel which allows you to host your own emails and forwarders. A great choice for DIY users who want control over their hosting environment.
FlyWheel – FlyWheel offers a managed WordPress hosting service. Installing WordPress with FlyWheel is easier that creating a Weebly website (seriously). They also offer a free SSL certificate, dedicated IP, update reminder, daily back-ups and they also take care of website security and caching (speed). It’s really a hand’s off approach but it’s also pricier starting at $15 per month.
Our recommendations for themes:
StudioPress – StudioPress are the creators of the famous Genesis Framework. Their themes are very minimalistic and we recommend them to users intending to develop custom websites. (Our website is based on the Genesis Framework)
Elegant Themes – The developers of the Divi page builder and the most popular WordPress theme shop of them all. This is a great solution for the DIY non-technical and no customization users.
WooThemes – WordPress’s e-Commerce extension currently operated by Automattic (WordPress’s parent company). We recommend them to anyone who is building an e-Shop.
A shopping cart can be added to any WordPress theme. This is not a feature exclusive to Woothemes.
Weebly’s Conversion Options.
There a three options when converting a Weebly website to WordPress.
Replicate the design and functionality of the entire Weebly website in WordPress.
As of this moment, there is no automated solution for you to replicate the entire website. You will need to hire a developer to create a custom WordPress theme replicating the design of your current Weebly website. If this option interests you please review our Weebly to WordPress Conversion Service and inquire for a free quote here.
Manual conversion into a new WordPress theme.
This option assumes you have found a WordPress theme you like and installed it on your server. The simplest approach (and our recommendation) is to simply copy and paste your content from one website to another, especially for smaller websites!
Weebly allows you to export your blog posts RSS feed (blog posts only). This especially helpful when copy and pasting is not a reasonable option. Please continue reading for a step by step guide.
Where to start?
Before you initializing the transfer. We recommend installing WordPress on a temporary domain or address provided by your hosting company in order not to lose any traffic.
Importing Weebly’s Blog Content into WordPress.
Log into your Weebly website and visit your settings page and in the blog tab set your blog’s posts per page to 25.
Using the website editor, open a blog post. In the elements section, select the “blog feed” option and add it to your website’s sidebar as in the screenshot below.
Click on the RSS feed and don’t panic! We are going to save the file by right clicking.
Login to your WordPress website and click on tools > import > RSS. Run the importer by uploading the .XML file we just saved!
If everything went smoothly, your posts will have been imported. However, your images are still hosted on Weebly’s server so we will install the import external images plugin and import our images.
Notice: This is the simplest approach to importing your posts. You may have noticed that some details like categories and meta descriptions are missing. For an advanced RSS import, you will want to install the WP All Import Plugin. Click the following link for an introduction to their plugin and video tutorial.
Export a .ZIP archive of the entire Weebly website
Weebly does offer the option to export the entire website (that is the HTML, CSS, JS and Image files). Unless you are a coder converting a custom Weebly design into a WordPress theme then there is really no use for this option.
In your Weebly site, visit the General settings page and scroll down to the archive section. Weebly will ask you to enter an email and will send you an email with a link to a .ZIP archive of your website.
I am finished Importing my content, what’s next?
The final step in the conversion process is to transfer your domain name out of Weebly. If you registered your domain with Weebly contact customer support and inform that you would like to transfer your domain to an external domain registrar like Godaddy.com, Name.com and, Namesilo.com (our recommendation). If you registered your domain with an external registrar, all you need to do is update your domain’s DNS settings to point to your new web host.
Finally, you will need to update the temporary WordPress address provided by your web host by visiting your WordPress settings page.
Pro Tip !
In order not to lose any traffic from your blog posts, it’s best that you keep your post URLs identical. Weebly structures its URLs in the following format:
While WordPress structures them like this:
The “/blog/” part is missing, but don’t worry we can easily add it! Visit your website’s settings, click on permalinks and enter the following details:
It’s official your Weebly website just evolved to self-hosted WordPress website. Now, you are ready to rock the web with WordPress! If you opted for a regular web host (not a managed WordPress hosting service), we advise you to invest the time to learn how to increase the SEO performance, speed, and security of your website. You may want to have a look at some of our plugin recommendations here.
On the other hand, if you got stuck somewhere along the way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or post your experience in the comments below.