If you use the free website hosting on toastmost.org, which is part of the WordPress for Toastmasters project, you may eventually want to graduate to hosting at your own domain.
There are tradeoffs (more responsibility for technical details), but you also get more control over the site setup and potentially a branding advantage from hosting at your own domain. For example, my home club, Club Awesome, is clubawesome.org. Toastmost sites all have a subdomain address like op.toastmost.org for my own beloved Online Presenters Toastmasters.
If you decide you have outgrown your toastmost.org site, you can move at any time. The process I recommend is:
- Get yourself a new WordPress website, which might cost you a couple of hundred dollars a year from any reputable web host. (It can’t be a free WordPress.com site because it won’t allow you to install the WordPress for Toastmasters software).
- Install and activate the RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters plugins on your new website. I recommend you also install and activate any of the other optional plugins you have been using because if they’re not active, that can cause problems with the import process.
- Optionally, also install the Lectern theme and select one of the standard Toastmasters International approved logo banner images.
- Transfer your member account and speech record data from your toastmost.org site to your new site (explained below).
- Export your website content from your toastmost.org site and import into the new site (explained below).
Transferring Member Data
Way down the end of the Toastmasters menu on the administrator’s dashboard is an Import / Export screen, which among other things allows you to export summary member data to a spreadsheet.
A recent addition to that screen is a new feature for transferring member accounts to another computer.
Rather than having you download a file from one site and upload it into another, this is set up so you can transfer the files directly from one site to another.
You do this by copying a coded link from the old site to the new site.
The code that allows you (or another webmaster you are working with) to copy over the member data expires after 24 hours. You can reset it if necessary.
This does NOT copy over passwords, so one chore when you start actively using your new site will be resetting member passwords. There is a section of the Add Members screen that allows you to “re-send” invitations to members, which you can use for that purpose.
Export and Import
WordPress provides a standard mechanism for downloading an export file from one site and importing it into another. I recommend using a modified version of that approach.
Two problems I’ve run into with the standard WordPress export / import:
- The size of the export file often exceed the file upload limit on the target new website.
- RSVPMaker event posts may not import properly, and this is particularly true of multiple events with the same title (like your weekly meeting agendas), which it thinks are duplicates.
I recommend using the Export RSVPMaker screen under the Tools menu instead of the standard Export screen. If you export your RSVPMaker posts using this method, then import them using the standard WordPress import screen, they will come over to your new site properly.
The default is to copy over future posts, templates, and other special documents (like agenda layouts) but not past events. Optionally, you can also export your standard WordPress content (pages, posts, menus etc.) at the same time.
In the process, you can specify a file size limit so you will not exceed the file upload limit of your new site. The export feature will generate several smaller export files rather than exceed that limit.
Instructions from WordPress.org
To import from a WordPress export file (WXR) into a WordPress blog follow these steps.
- Log into that blog as an administrator.
- Go to Tools → Import in the blog’s Administration Screen.
- Click “Install Now” link under the “WordPress”
- Click “Run Importer” link.
- Upload your WXR file using the form provided on that page.
- You will first be asked to map the authors in this export file to users on the blog. For each author, you may choose to map to an existing user on the blog or to create a new user.
- WordPress will then import each of the posts, comments, and categories contained in the uploaded file into your blog. In addition, you can import attachment by checking the “Download and import file attachments” option.
The order stated above is important. You want your user/member accounts set up on the new site before you import content. As part of the import process, WordPress will prompt you to specify which authors from the old site should be associated with which user accounts on the new site.
The “Download and import file attachments” option mentioned above should work to copy over images and other files in your media library such as PDFs. However, it doesn’t necessarily automatically change the links or image urls in your blog posts and pages.
I’m trying to do my part to make this as easy as possible, but there is still work involved.