I’ve helped several clients move their sites from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog. In some cases, they’ve already got their domain pointed to the Blogger blog. This makes it a bit trickier to set up the WordPress site on another host. If you try entering the domain name in the “General Settings” area, when you try to access WordPress you’ll be sent to the Blogger site instead.
Sometimes you can get around this by using the news host’s IP address amended with a folder that includes the user name for the hosting account. Such a link would look something like this: 126.96.36.199/~myusername However, not all hosts are set up like that. Some require that you have the domain pointing to the host before you can access the account via the web. Unfortunately, you don’t want to point the domain to the new host before the new blog is set up, and you can’t set up the blog until the domain points there, locking you in an endless loop.
There is a way to escape, though! You can edit the hosts file on your computer. Before daring to do this, be sure to back up a copy of the file. It’s not something you want to screw up. Your hosts file is located in a different location depending on your operating system and edition. This Wikipedia entry tells you where it’s located. I use a Windows machine, so that’s the process I’ll explain.
Windows doesn’t want you accidentally mucking around in your hosts file, so you have to open your text editor with admin privileges. To do that, right-click on the Notepad icon in your start menu and click “Run as administrator.” Then open the hosts file from the location linked to above. You might need to select “All files (*.*)” from the drop-down to be able to see the file in the list. Your hosts file should look something like this:
Editing this file will tell your computer (and only your computer) to look for the domain at an IP address of your choosing. Do this by entering the IP address of the site and then the domain name in the format displayed in the file. Hit save. That’s it! You don’t know the site’s IP address? It should have been listed in your host’s welcome email. If not, ask customer support for it.
Now when you visit the domain in question you should be pointed to your new site. You might need to clear your browser cache before you’ll get this result, or you can open up a different browser where the site isn’t cached and visit the domain there. You should be able to set up WordPress now just as if the domain were already pointing to the new site. No one else will see it until you update the domain servers via your registrar.
This can save you a lot of hassles because you can include the proper domain name in all the site settings instead of having to substitute it with the temporary IP address link which you’d have to change back after launch. Once your site is ready to launch, remove the new line from your hosts file or just comment it out. It’s pretty easy and it saves you a lot of trouble!