One of the toughest decisions a new blogger has to face is what hosting service to get. First of all, new bloggers are often perplexed as to what hosting even is; they simply know that they need to get it! In this article, I’ll help answer 3 big questions for you: (1) What is website hosting? (2) What type of hosting do I need? and (3) My top recommendations for hosting providers.
Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links, but please note that I’d never put something on here that I wouldn’t highly recommend.
What is “Website Hosting”?
Website hosting is essentially a service that allows you to post your website on the Internet.
A standard hosted website (this is what WordPress.com does) handles a lot; they take care of the server, the updates, etc. The plus-side of having a standard hosted website is that it’s pretty quick to get up and running. They are also usually free. The downside is that you have far less customization of it (something that you will really want down the road). And the process of switching from a standard hosted website to a self-hosted website (more on that in a second) is a lot of work that you could avoid now. So I recommend going with a self-hosted website.
With a self-hosted website, this means that you pick a hosting service to house the server for your website, but you have a little more control over your site. You have more flexibility with the domain, design, and any customizations that you want to make. Please note that you don’t need to know a ton of coding or tech-lingo to have a self-hosted website. There are plenty of services that simplify this process for you. The plus side of this is probably obvious: you have more control. The downside of having a self-hosted website is that it does cost some money; however, you can get a self-hosted website at only a couple bucks a month.
Shared Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting
Once you decide to have a self-hosted website, then the next decision you’ll need to make is whether to do shared hosting or dedicated hosting (there are other hosting options, but I’m narrowing it down to those for simplicity purposes & because I find these most relevant to bloggers).
Shared hosting (the method I recommend for bloggers) hosts multiple websites on the same physical server. For example, one server might house my blog as well as a handful of other websites. I don’t know what those websites are–hey for all I know Justin Timberlake and I could be sharing the same web server.
A dedicated server, on the other hand, is a server that you rent that is just yours. That one server is housing your bandwidth, disk space, and memory. It’s all yours. In other words, you aren’t sharing your room with anyone else.
Why is Shared Hosting Ideal for Bloggers?
Shared hosting is a fantastic starting place for bloggers for a few reasons:
This is probably the #1 reason to start with shared hosting. The price point is much lower than dedicated hosting or other hosting options.
A cPanel is basically a dashboard connected to your hosting account. Through this, you can “install sites, manage databases, make backups, setup security, manage email accounts and plenty more” (Web Design). Some cPanels are better than others, but if your hosting provider has a good, user-friendly one, then this is super simple to follow.
You Don’t Have to Be a Tech Know-It-All
You aren’t in charge of maintaining the technical side of the hosting. One of my favorite aspects of the hosting services that I’ve used is that when there’s a problem, it’s not my problem! Don’t you love that!? If my site isn’t working, I call them and BOOM they fix it (or at least they usually can). There’s no way I have the technological savvy to figure that out. Ain’t nobody got time for that! My job is to specialize in my blog, not upkeeping a server!
What are the Drawbacks of Shared Hosting?
The biggest drawback of shared hosting is that the load time can be slower. Since several sites are on one server, this means the server is vulnerable to getting a little overwhelmed. Small Biz Trends puts it best:
“You see, when a hosting company says shared, they mean shared: all the sites hosted there use every resource on a shared server. That includes CPU power, memory and bandwidth. Under normal circumstances, this is not a problem however, if one of the sites sees a spike in activity, it can slow or even freeze the other sites on the server.”
In other words, another blogger could turn into a teenage sibling hogging your bathroom! Not cool! In my experience, any time I’ve experienced any kind of slowing (which has been very, very rare, but happened with a previous hosting service I used), I simply called the company and it was fixed quickly.
With a shared server, you also have limited space & bandwidth (bandwidth is basically how much traffic your site can handle). However, many shared hosting services have upgrade packages that can give you more space and greater bandwidth.
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What to Look for in Hosting Services
Here are some things to look for in hosting services:
Make Sure Your Hosting Service Can Grow With You
Most shared hosting could support a blog with 30,000 – 40,000 monthly unique visitors (Web Hosting Secrets Revealed), so really, the standard shared hosting will take you pretty far. But you at least want to make sure there’s an option for upgrading in case you outgrow your current plan. You also want to make sure that your hosting provider will handle the upgrade process for you & that during that upgrade you won’t experience downtime on your site (Web Design).
Make Sure Your Hosting Service Has Regular Site Backups
Because crap happens. Technology sometimes fails us. In the event that something bad happens to your site, you want to be sure that there’s a backup. You want to make sure that your hosting provider regularly backs up your site (ideally every 24 hours).
Make Sure Your Hosting Service Has 24/7 Support
This is important. If your site is down, then you need to talk to someone NOW. Or else you won’t sleep, right? Having someone available ASAP saves you a tremendous amount of stress.
Make Sure Your Hosting Service has SSL Certificates and & e-Commerce Compatibility
If you plan to sell from your site and/or run ads, be sure that your hosting provider offers SSL certificates & other resources to make it e-commerce-friendly. SSL basically allows information to be encrypted as it is sent to you. This allows people to purchase from your site without them having to worry about their credit card information getting into the wrong hands.
What are the Most Preferred Hosting Options for Bloggers?
Below are the options that I found to be recommended most to bloggers. These plans are simple but give the blogger room to grow. All meet the criteria that I showed you above (in some cases you need to purchase extra to get some of the options mentioned, such as eCommerce). Pros & Cons were based on comments from bloggers and reviews from PC Mag.
After a tremendous amount of time studying hosting, researching different plans, and speaking with bloggers whom I trust, I actually ended up switching my own blog to SiteGround. I didn’t expect to do that! I was pretty sure that my BlueHost was the be-all, end-all. But the more I researched, the more I found that SiteGround just had more to offer and would be better in the long-run. It has much fewer customer service complaints than my previous providers. I also loved that you don’t have to pay extra for the SSL certificate (to allow for e-commerce options). While it has a daily back-up just like GoDaddy does, I found that it had much fewer complaints about things like slow loading time & the site being down. I have to give serious kudos to SiteGround for handling the switch to them for free. It was pretty painless! I was worried that switching would be incredibly overwhelming, but they handled everything.
- Good uptime
- Free SSL certificate (some sites, like GoDaddy, require you to purchase an additional package for e-commerce options)
- Good customer service
- Daily backup
- No month-to-month plans,
- Not a lot of storage offered (however it offers 10GB and 99% of websites only use 5GB) (Hosting Manual).
Like I mentioned, I was with BlueHost before I switched to SiteGround. I found BlueHost to be incredibly user-friendly (I actually walk you through setting up Bluehost in this post). While I never had any issues with it, I have heard of many bloggers having issues with them as their blogs grew. I also have encountered many bloggers who had to wait a tremendous amount of time to speak with a customer service representative. I never want to wait a long time if my site is down! I need help STAT when something like that happens!
- Great uptime
- Easy to use
- Free domain available upon 1st hosting purchase
- I have encountered complaints from people who said that customer service with BlueHost isn’t great
- Backup time is infrequent (you need to set it up)
I had GoDaddy as my hosting service provider for years. This company has fantastic customer service, although sometimes I was bummed when I felt they just didn’t have an answer for me on how to fix a problem I was having. I also found that I needed to call them pretty often because multiple sites that I hosted through them had issues.
- Short wait time to speak with someone in customer service
- Good uptime
- Daily backups
- If you want the very basic package, you have to pay an annual fee, not a year-by-year fee
- They give you the very basics and charge you for additional features (for example, if you want to sell from your site, you need to purchase an additional eCommerce package)
What Bloggers Had to Say About Different Hosting Options
I went around asking fellow bloggers whom I know & those in fellow blogging communities to give me their input on hosting services they have tried. I want to be clear that I didn’t filter them—this is what I’m talking about: after I researched and talked to many, I did find that SiteGround was pretty dominantly praised. But with that being said, there were praises for GoDaddy and Bluehost too, which is why I include them in this article as well!
“I highly recommend Site Ground for hosting. Their reliability and customer service is amazing. Much better than Blue Host or Host Gator.” – McKinzie Bean from Moms Make Cents
In speaking of her experience with GoDaddy, Carolyn from Padded Tush Stats said,
“The site was really slow and the customer support was pretty awful (LONG wait times for chat or email responses, and not very helpful responses at that). After a ton of research, I switched to SiteGround because it had a reputation for great customer service, uptime, and site speed, and they had most of the features of managed WP hosting at a slightly lower price point (especially with the deals when you first sign up. I only locked in those prices for a year but I wish I’d done the longest term available!).I’ve bugged them about everything under the sun, and their customer support responses on email and chat are very fast. They have a built in caching system that is awesome, and since I started with them I’ve seen more and more big bloggers and tech people recommend them as a dependable host with competitive prices.”
“I used to be with godaddy but found them to be expensive and not very helpful. I switched to siteground and couldn’t be happier. Their 24 hour live chat support is excellent and I feel I get a lot more for my money. I still manage most of my domains in godaddy but for hosting siteground wins hands down. Let me know if you need any more info.” Vicki Eves from ibeatdebt.com
“I live in the UK, have been blogging for 2 years and I have experienced working with 2 hosts: Bluehost and Siteground. It was problematic and depressing working with Bluehost as my site was down very often. I was encouraged to go with Siteground. The price was much better, customer service was excellent from Siteground, and they did the transfer for me too. My blog is doing very well now at https://joleisa.com”
“I started out with BlueHost as the hosting provider for my blog. They are inexpensive and offer great incentives such as FREE domain registration at signup. After almost a year with BlueHost, I learned about SiteGround. Having heard about SiteGround’s amazing reviews through the blogging community and my own research, I took advantage of their New Year’s sale and switched. Their customer service is the best I’ve ever dealt with. Its speed and reliability are impressive, and so it’s their site protection. What finally sold me, was their incomparable uptime which is currently at an impressive 99%. In summary, SiteGround takes my vote.” – Nataly Llanes at Love and Paper Flowers
And there you have it! Hopefully, this gives you some clarity when it comes to choosing website hosting. If you are just starting a blog, you will definitely want to check out my Start a Blog Checklist. Simply fill out your information below and I’ll send it to you!
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