Choosing hosting for your WordPress blog or website, is a minefield if you don’t know what you’re looking for. When I started this blog, Simply Hatch, I struck lucky with my hosting company.
I’ve had numerous websites in the past including a big eCommerce site with a 7 figure turnover. Unreliable shared host, sleepless nights and ruined holidays taught me that cheap isn’t an option when it comes to hosting. This blogging 101 guide will demonstrate, you get what you pay for...
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If your blog or website goes down you don’t make any money. If it’s too slow, customers don’t stick around.
Speed, security, and reliability are the three amigos of website hosting.
Ignore them at your peril!
Choose the Best Website Hosting For Your Needs
The needs of a large established blog or website are going to be totally different to someone blogging for a hobby. Now you may be at the start of your blogging journey but I’m assuming you’re here, reading this blog post, because you want to make money.
Free WordPress Hosting
Making money rules out free web hosting. It’s unreliable, usually involves running someone else’s banner ads on your site and it’s almost impossible to monetize. Just don’t go there.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re really short of cash or you just want to try out a few ideas before starting your blog for real. In which case Blogger is your best option. I suggest you avoid WordPress.com. Yes they have a free version, but you’ll quickly be sucked into their paid plans. These are both restrictive and expensive.
Shared WordPress Hosting
Most hosting you’ll see advertised is shared hosting. It’s the most affordable and can be good for new companies starting out. Shared hosting means you share a large server with a lot of other sites. It means hosting providers can offer some really low rates for their hosting services.
But there is a catch. Many shared hosting providers offer unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth. This just isn’t possible. They are relying on most of their clients having small blogs and using small resources. Often hosting companies will oversell server space. This will affect your website loading speed.
Plus, if your blog post goes viral, you’ll suddenly be asked to upgrade your hosting and move to a dedicated server. Often not very politely.
Shared hosting is still a good option for your startup blog, especially if it’s a side hustle and you’re testing the waters before committing full time. It can be a win-win normally for both you and the hosting company just because a lot of new sites don’t fully use their hosting allocation.
I recommend Bluehost if you’re looking for the best affordable option starting at just $2.95/month. It comes with a free domain name which is really helpful when you’re starting your first blog.
Think of your domain name as the address of your site. For example, mine is simplyhatch.com. Use the tool below to check if your domain is available.
Another recommended option for hosting is HostGator. They’re a great choice if you’re expecting to grow quickly. HostGator has a wide selection of plans and options making it easy to upgrade as your traffic increases.
I use SiteGround hosting for my lifestyle blog LoveLifeBeFit. SiteGround is rated as one of the best shared hosting sites available and I can’t fault their service. Their support is fast and brilliant. No question is too trivial.
UPDATE: I’ve had three viral pins since launching my lifestyle blog less than two months ago. SiteGround has coped wonderfully.
WordPress VPS or Cloud Hosting
These types of hosting are similar. Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a way of partitioning a physical server into smaller virtual sections. Each virtual section runs as if it’s a dedicated server.
The upside is you can have a lot of control over how your VPS server is set up. On the downside, they are less reliable. If a physical server fails, every VPS on that server will fail.
You can also have one site hogging resources on the physical server and affecting performance.
I’ve experienced both situations.
- A VPS server that failed and left my tech support scrambling to install backups on a new server.
- Having a gut feeling that performance wasn’t up to scratch on a VPS server. Eventually found out that another site on the same server had unexpectedly high traffic. In theory this shouldn’t happen. You should have dedicated RAM all to yourself. But it did, so be aware!
The alternative in this price bracket is Cloud hosting where resources are spread over a network of physical servers. It’s more reliable and flexible but customisation options can be limited.
For most people, it’s hard to see the benefits of VPS compared with Cloud hosting. Cloud hosting is rapidly becoming the top choice for growing a blog or website where you’ve outgrown your shared hosting.
WordPress Dedicated Server Hosting.
This is where you get your own dedicated physical server from the hosting provider. It’s all yours and the amount you pay will depend on the power of the server. For dedicated servers, we’re in the realms of extremely high traffic blogs.
Managed WordPress Hosting
If you’re beginning to think it’s all getting very complicated, don’t despair. Perhaps you just want someone to take care of the technical stuff so you can write your blog.
I totally know where you’re coming from.
That’s why I’m so pleased I chose WP Engine for this Simply Hatch blog.
WP Engine provides Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting. It means you can start off small, (I’m on the StartUp package), and as you grow, using more resources, you’re just moved onto the next package. Nice easy steps and WP Engine take care of all the technical stuff. They optimise your site for performance, make sure your site is safe AND take regular backups. I mean who remembers to take backups!!! So pleased someone’s taking care of mine…
Read on for my lowdown of recommended hosting providers.
Top of the list of ‘WordPress Officially Recommended’ hosting provider comes Bluehost. They’re an all round winner for affordable hosting if you’re new to blogging.
One of the big advantages with Bluehost is you get a Free Domain with even their Basic startup plan. This makes Bluehost a good choice if you’re on a tight budget.
With 24/7 support, a free SSL certificate and an easy to use site builder, Bluehost wins out for beginner bloggers.
- PROS Affordable hosting for beginners starting at just $2.95/month.
- PROS Top recommended WordPress hosting provider
- PROS FREE Domain Name + FREE SSL + 24/7 Support
- CONS Support can sometimes be a little slow
HostGator are a giant in the industry hosting over 8 million domains. They’re a top choice if you’re looking to grow your site quickly.
HostGator is known for their top support and will migrate an existing site over for free. Advantages include a free SSL certificate, 1-click WordPress install and for a limited time period, they’re offering a free domain.
- PROS Top choice for a growing business
- PROS FREE Site Migration
- PROS FREE SSL, One-Click Installs + 24/7 Support
- CONS Renewal fees are higher
If you’re starting out and looking for terrific support SiteGround is your answer. SiteGround frequently comes out top for support in the shared hosting category. They’re an official ‘WordPress Recommended’ hosting provider.
I managed to set up my lifestyle blog with SiteGround very quickly. If you want, you can hop on their support and get the SiteGround staff to set your site up for you.
SiteGround is extremely popular amongst its users with good speed and security systems to make your site as fast and secure as possible. It’s reliable hosting. Since testing out SiteGround my hosting has been up 100%. This isn’t unusual. They have an average 99.99% uptime. Love it and so should you…
Their Startup package, at about the cost of just one cappuccino a month, includes a free SSL certificate, free Email, and free daily backups. (You do have to pay for backup restores and backup on demand but you get these FREE with the GrowBig package).
- PROS Excellent Beginner Support, Fast & Reliable
- PROS FREE Site Migration, FREE SSL
- PROS Officially Recommended by WordPress
- CONS No FREE Domain and Renewal Fees are higher
WP Engine Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting
Recommended for growing business websites and blogs. WP Engine is for businesses that already have an income stream or are serious about building their business quickly.
Here are the benefits…
The problem with cheap hosting is that your blog will be hosted on a shared server and these servers become overloaded. Your site speed becomes slower and slower…
Not the case with WP Engine. Their platform is built for speed plus they only host WordPress sites making them practically the authority on WordPress. They have their own custom built user portal, dedicated to WordPress, where you can check your page performance and get tips and advice for improvements.
WP Engine provides a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for FREE. A CDN is a collection of servers located around the World. It caches static content on your website and sends it to the network of servers. When someone visits your site, they’re served content from the nearest server.
For example, if your website is hosted in London, a customer in Washington will view your website from a server in the US rather than waiting for a version from London to load.
If this sounds complicated don’t worry. All you need to know is that CDN makes your blog super fast.
Unless you’ve been living on a different planet recently, you’re probably aware that cybersecurity has become a huge issue. With WP Engine you can relax. The platform has some advanced security features that other hosts don’t offer. I could get very technical here but I won’t.
Just accept that these guys know what they’re doing. I had a problem with a third party trying to hack my user login recently. The WP Engine support team helped me shut it down.
WP Engine has a list of Disallowed Plugins which will be automatically disabled by their system scanner. Some people see this as a downside to WP Engine’s managed hosting but for me, it’s a big plus. The plugins on the disallowed list affect performance or security. Why wouldn’t you want this?
They also include an SSL certificate for FREE. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a key that encrypts all transmitted data. You need this to reassure your customers and get the secure padlock symbol on browsers when customers visit your site. WP Engine makes installing an SSL certificate super easy.
You can be set up with a secure https URL address from the word go. (The full web address for Simply Hatch is https://simplyhatch.com. This means my whole site is secure and visitors don’t get any “site not secure” warnings in their browsers).
There is nothing worse than site downtime caused by your hosting platform. Believe me, I know from bitter experience. Since launching this blog my up-time with WP Engine has been 100%.
You’re running a business – you need your business to be open online 24/7.
WP Engine has fantastic support. (They have 6 Stevie Awards for Customer Service). It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night or how technical your problem, just jump on LiveChat and get an immediate answer. Yes, I did say “immediate”.
With WP Engine you don’t have to make sure you’ve got plenty of time to spare before contacting support. Their LiveChat hooks you up with someone who knows what they’re talking about straight away.
You won’t be palmed off with someone following a set list of answers. WP Engine support staff are all technical experts. I have been blown away by how good their support is.
WP Engine is built around giving you the best support system. They take care of backing up your site daily and when you install updates you get a little reminder to back up your system first. This back up on demand facility is usually an expensive extra cost for most hosting platforms.
You also get a staging site so you can test out a redesign of your blog before launching.
As you build your blog, you’ll start using plugins to improve your site. These plugins need to be compatible with your theme and your version of WordPress. The good plugins get updated quickly to keep your site running smoothly.
But every now and then, a plugin update will break your site.
With WP Engine – not a problem. Just get in touch with their support and POW your site can be restored to your latest backup version.
Free StudioPress Themes
Just about every online business will invest in a theme and if you’re like me you’ll test out different themes until you find one that really suits your site. This gets expensive!
With WP Engine you can test out all 35 of the StudioPress Themes at no extra cost. (I’m not suggesting you do this but it’s good to know you can).
When I signed up to WP Engine it was before they teamed up with StudioPress. I paid extra for their AuthorityPro theme, then changed my mind and purchased their Mai Lifestyle Pro theme. It cost me $172.37 in total on these themes with the Genesis framework.
Including the StudioPress Themes with WP Engine is a deal maker for a new business blogger. Their StartUp plan is $35/month and you get 2 months FREE with annual prepay.
If you’re serious about your business that’s about the cost of 10 cappuccinos at your favourite coffee house. Think of it as renting a shop on the Worldwide High Street for just $35/month.
Unlike other hosting platforms, their StartUp plan gives you access to all benefits such as CDN, terrific server architecture, SSL certificates and on-demand backups at no extra cost. Add all these extras up and you’re getting far more bang for your buck.
You won’t regret it.
- PROS Excellent Support, Super Fast, Secure & Reliable
- PROS FREE Site Migration, FREE SSL, FREE Backups
- PROS FREE StudioPress Themes
- CONS No FREE Domain and Expensive for Beginners
Ready to start your blog?
Hop over to my Set Up Guides: