Perhaps we’d better start from the beginning. Blogging can be a fun and profitable endeavor, but before you write even one sentence on your new WordPress site you need to take care of a few administrative tasks.
But even before that, there’s choosing a right web host for your blog.
It is the first step of creating a blog, and because it can affect your blog greatly it requires time and attention. It’s not the most glamorous of tasks, but getting it right can save headaches in the future.
Why your web host is important ?
Before we dive into the process for finding a web host, a quick word on why it’s important to find the right one. This is probably best accomplished in list format.
- Anyone reading BlashO has financial motivations behind blogging. If your blog has trouble staying online, it will be exceedingly difficult to make money. Pick the wrong host, and you could be dealing with significant downtime.
- Dealing with downtime means spending time on the phone with the host. That’s time you’re not actively making your blog better and making money.
- The host is essentially offering you data center services, and so you want to make sure that their actual data centers are acceptable.
- As your blog grows your needs will change. A good host will help you grow. A bad host will hinder you and put you offline. That loops us back around to the beginning.
- For your web hosting directly affects your blog loading time.
Essentially, picking the wrong host can throw a huge wrench into your business plans. Finding a good host means not worrying about hosting and focusing on what will make you the most money. It’s worth the time and effort to get it right.
Researching your host
It might seem obvious that you should research web hosts before you purchase a plan. Any time you spend money you should do at least a modicum of research, and web hosting is no different. Yet it’s not as simple as running a simple Google search or asking a friend.
- For starters, there are many issues that go into web hosting, and that makes it a personal choice. What works for a friend might not work for you.
- Second, there are so many biased views of web hosts out there that it’s tough to mete out what’s genuine and what’s financially motivated.
The former point is pretty simple. You might have friends who host blogs, and they might have their preference for hosts. Maybe they’ve been through a few and speak from deep experience. You should absolutely ask your friends and acquaintances which hosts they recommend. But don’t act directly on their advice. What works for them might not work for you. Additionally, it’s tough to tell whether their experience was general or isolated.
Additional research will make clear to choose an appropriate hosting for you.
Starting with simple Google searches makes sense, but you need to dig deeply in order to find the truth of a host. Many hosts have affiliate programs, which pay bloggers who refer new users. This isn’t a problem in itself, but it does mean that you have to be wary about any website recommendation. If they’re making money off potential sales, they are incentivized to say good things about it. Maybe they use said host and speak from experience. But you have to click around further to know.
On the flipside, many negative reviews can be just as disingenuous. People have a tendency to write scathing words when they feel wronged. And, honestly, there’s not a host out there with a completely clean record. Hosts screw up, as do all humans and companies. That means they’re necessarily angering some percentage of their users, and those wronged users are more likely to write a review than someone who has received quality service.
Reviews should be taken only so far when conducting research. You might find an interesting nugget or two, but no decision should be based solely on reviews, just as no decision should be made on personal recommendations. But now that you have both, you can start to dig into what the company offers.
What to look for in a host
Now that you have your reviews and recommendations in hand, you probably have a handful of hosts in mind. When researching them, though, you shouldn’t necessarily be looking for features that benefit you currently. Most hosts, good and bad, offer basic services. You should be looking for a host that will allow you to grow.
When you first start your blog, you’ll be on a shared server with many other small blogs. Most of the time you won’t experience any issues. You’re not using a ton of bandwidth, so there are little chances of an overload. You’re also not using many resources in general, since your databases aren’t very big yet.
But it’s when your blog grows that the host becomes more important.
Clearly you plan for your blog to grow. Once you reach a certain level your host will move you to a virtual private server. This is still a shared server, but it is shared among fewer sites. When you conduct your research you’ll want to find out prices for this level of service. You might want to also find out how much bandwidth they allow at that level and other statistics, so you can compare them to others.
It might not be of great importance to you right now, but it will be as soon as your blog starts to grow.
You can also take this opportunity to think big and look at dedicated hosting prices from these hosts. It might be a long way off — you need considerable traffic and bandwidth consumption to justify a dedicated server — but it’s always nice to know you can continue growing with a company.
- That’s really the key to this all: finding a host that will let you easily move up the ladder. That will make life much easier now and in the long run.
Changing hosts is a pain
With one of my blogs, I thought we had it right. We found a host that we knew was reliable, from multiple recommendations and plenty of research. In fact, when starting a different project I didn’t go with this same host, and I regretted it. They had quality virtual packages, and we felt we could grow with them onto a dedicated server. Alas, that was two hosts ago.
We actually tried to switch hosts, to a dedicated provider, at one point along the way. That went terribly. We lacked the technical knowledge to make the switch ourselves, and the money to pay someone else wasn’t in the budget. And so we had to eat the three-month contract we had signed.
Still, the need to switch was there, and so in late 2010 we did just that. Things went well enough at first, but eventually we realized that the hosting package we paid for was not sufficient for our needs. That meant we had to pay more than we had intended for the service.
For all this money we were paying, we were told the host would help us optimize the site so we could stay within our bandwidth limits. That never came, and it led to more downtime than we ever imagined. In late 2011, we made yet another change.
I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s a long, drawn-out process that almost always involves a price increase. Moving the site is also a process that necessitates downtime. And yes, chances are you’ll have to pay someone to take care of the move for you — though if you pay your new host enough they’ll probably take care of it for you. We can only hope that this last server move is the right now.
The point is, we never had these problems in our halcyon days. The entry level package was easily good enough, and even our jump to a virtual server worked out well. It’s only when we really started to grow that it became an issue.
- Learn from my mistake: do your research up front so you can stick with the same host for as long as possible. No one wants to make the move, whether they know it now or not.