Confused about what web host to get or how do you choose a blog host?
Make no mistake choosing web hosting service can be confusing, especially if you’re starting out.
If you look around, there are tons of providers around. All seemingly offering the same thing.
Yet, they offer plans at different prices.
…And so many features!
What’s up with that? How can you tell the difference?
More importantly which one is better.
Worry not, this article will help you demystify all that. By the end, you’ll know the different types of hosting plans available. And, how to choose for your needs when you’re a beginner, intermediate or big blogger.
What is a Blog Host and Why Do You Need to Get a Good One?
Blog Host = Web Host = Web Hosting.
All these things mean the same thing. They’re the computers (servers) that allow your blog to be seen online. And to do so, your websites files, including your posts, about me page, images and everything else are saved there.
The simplest (and cheapest) way to get this done is through a web hosting service like BlueHost.
You could do it yourself. But that means setting up an internet network, buying large servers and doing all the techie stuff yourself.
Unless you’re Google, Facebook or some other up and coming startup, it’s not worth your time and money.
…Especially when a reliable blog host like BlueHost costs just $2.75/month.
Why Your Blog Host is Very Important for Your Online Business
Simply put, it’s the foundation of your blog.
- If the hosting service goes down or experiences technical problems, your website goes down as well. That’s lost revenue for your online business since visitors can’t access your blog.
- If your web host is slow, a good percentage of potential visitors will leave and just check out another site.
- If your blog hosting service isn’t user friendly or has bad customer support, installing, updating and managing your website will be a nightmare.
This is why choosing the right hosting service is CRUCIAL for your online success.
How to Choose a Blog Host
Now that you know why picking a good blog host is important, it’s time to get on to the checklist.
Below are main things you should consider when choosing a blog host. I’ve split them up into 4 main groups to make it easier to remember.
- Knowing what you need
- Important features to consider when choosing a web host
- Simple technical stuff
- The more techie stuff
Know What You Need
This is the most important section.
That is, understanding where you are in your blogging journey. The reason this is critical is it allows you to choose the “right” web hosting service for your needs.
Simply put, as you progress through your blogging journey, your needs will change. This happens because your blog’s traffic gets bigger, you may want to add extra features or require more backend analysis to optimize your site.
But, as with all services, the more features you get, the more expensive the plan gets.
So, it doesn’t make sense to pay for more when you don’t need those extra features yet.
The Best Hosting for 95% of Bloggers
When you’re just starting a blog, you don’t need all the extra upgrades and fancy features.
At least not yet…
Right now, these are the things to look for:
- 1 domain (unlimited domains if you want to create more than 1 website/blog)
- Large storage space (anything over 10 GB for 1 website is way more than you’ll need)
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Shared Hosting
- Free SSL certificate
- Free Domain
- 99.9%+ Uptime
- Fast Loading Speed
The Best Blog Hosting Service for Beginners: BlueHost
From my experience, BlueHost is the best web host for beginner bloggers.
That’s because it’s very affordable. They offer 99.9% uptime and fast website loading speeds. Plus you get all the features I mentioned above.
That said, web hosting is very competitive. To the point where you can say it’s a commodity.
If you look at the shared hosting plans of different providers, you’ll see they offer very similar things. Some as cheap as $1 per month while others as much as $10-15 per month.
But, after trying so many of these hosts, BlueHost is what I suggest if you’re starting out.
- It’s fast
- It has good uptime, ie. your website won’t be offline or “can’t be reached” all the time
- Customer support is excellent (chat is invaluable since you can quickly solve a problem, other hosts only offer email support or make you hold for 30 minutes to chat)
- One click installations (perfect if you don’t like techie stuff)
In my experience, the first 3 items on the list are what differentiates all the similar web hosting services. And, you that you’ll quickly discover it once you choose a bad one.
I’ve done so more than I care to admit. Believe me, they’re a total waste of time and money. Plus, they’ll stress you out.
Best Web Hosting for Beginner to Intermediate Bloggers: SiteGround
If you’re a beginner with at least a few months of blogging under your belt, or an intermediate blogger who needs extra features, you’ll want to go with SiteGround.
By that I mean,
- It’s faster
- Have their own built in tools and interface to optimize things
- The #1 customer service I’ve ever seen. Support staff are very knowledgeable. And, response time is super fast. Plus, if things get a little technical, they’ll do it for you for free so you don’t have to go through the hassle.
I put them up in the intermediate level because they cost significantly more than BlueHost. Plus, they have a more limitations when it comes to disk space and bandwidth.
That makes them more ideal if you’re already making money from your blog.
The only exception to this is if you pay for 3 year terms. Web hosting plans are often in 1-year, 2-year or 3-year terms. As the duration gets longer, the price goes down.
So, if you want to use SiteGround without spending for the higher pricing, get the 3-year terms. They come out very affordable.
Here are the differences:
Those are steep discounts!
So, if you’re going to go with SiteGround, opting for the longer term plans gives you better value.
Best Web Hosting for Intermediate to Advanced Bloggers: BigScoots
Finally, for advanced bloggers, BigScoots is my choice.
When your blog is bringing in a few hundred thousand visitors a month or more, you’ll need a more managed service provider.
But for that, you’ll also have to pay a premium.
Important Web Hosting Features to Consider
Now for the nitty gritty stuff.
In this section, you’ll learn more about the different features that most blog hosting services will list on their plans.
By understanding them, you’ll be able to decide better for yourself based on what you need.
This is the most important thing to consider when it comes to web host performance.
Uptime simply means how often you can expect your website to be up (and not offline). To do so, they use a scale of up to 100%.
100% uptime means your site is never down.
Here, you want at 99%+. Don’t get any host that doesn’t give you over 99% uptime.
Anything below that means that your site will be down 4 or more days per year. That’s lost traffic (and revenue).
Because no one can predict the future, this data is only based on historical performance.
After uptime, the next most important feature is speed.
The faster the speed of your web host, the quicker your blog loads.
This is key for two reasons:
- Visitors are not patient. About 50% of online visitors expect a website to load within 2 seconds. Just as importantly, 40% of people leave a website that takes over 3 seconds to load.
- SEO. Google prioritizes user experience. As such, it considers a fast loading website important. So, it takes this into consideration it its rankings.
Customer support is essential for new bloggers. If you’re a tech expert or hire a tech guy this may not be much of an issue.
That said, you want to be able to get help any time you need it.
Just imagine stopping in the middle of work and having to wait 24 hours or more to get a response from your web host support team.
Been there, done that… It’s a total waste of time. And, very frustrating.
So what do you look for in customer support?
- 24×7 availability
- Chat services (this lets you get immediate help, not email “wait-for-hours-and-hours” help)
Don’t forget to test the chat as well.
Some hosts offer chat but it takes 30 minutes for an agent to reply. Other support staffs don’t have the know-how and end up confusing you or telling you to look up their knowledge base for the answers.
Both are completely useless chat services.
Web host plans can vary from the very cheap ($1/month) to over $100/month.
The difference is the speed, overall performance, features and service they offer.
As a beginner, you don’t need all the extra features (which come at extra cost).
But, you do need to balance performance with cost. This is why it isn’t a good idea to get $1 per month website hosting for your blog.
Also, when it comes to cost, there are 2 things you want to consider
- Renewal pricing. The renewal price is often higher than the initial price, which is discounted. The discount is to entice you to pick them over their competitors.
- Term. I touched on this a little above. Basically, the longer the term of the plan you get, the cheaper the price per month of the hosting service.
Do check both so you know what to expect.
Pro Tip: If you can afford paying it now, do so. That is, pick the 3-year term over the 1-year term. It will save you quite a bit of cash.
This is the one piece of software you want your webhosting service to have.
WordPress is your blogging platform.
The good news is almost all hosting plans come with the ability to easily install it. I particularly like BlueHost because it lets you install WordPress with one-click.
That makes it pretty much automatic (without you having to manually install anything).
WordPress lets you design, customize, edit and publish your blog without doing any HTML coding or programming.
This lets you focus on writing content instead of handling the technical details.
Your blog host should offer you email addresses that come with your website.
That allows you to use a branded email instead of Gmail. Doing so makes you look more professional.
This will let you choose the email name and add your domain to the end, which looks something like this;
In addition, you’ll be able to create many different email addresses similar to these:
- and so on.
SSL Certificates ensure your site’s visitors that their data is secure.
Basically, having SSL installed means that data that passes your website is encrypted. This means that your visitors’ names and email address are safe from prying eyes.
More importantly, if you sell products, your customers will know that their credit card numbers, home addresses and other personal information are secure.
Most reliable web hosts will offer free SSL certificates which is all you need. Once installed you should see https before your blog name on the browser (instead of http only).
Website security will depend a lot on what features your web host has set up. Also, how their files are organized.
As such, it’s key to get a reputable host.
This ensures that your website doesn’t get hacked.
On your end, you can also set up Wordfence, which is a WordPress Plugin. This prevents login hacks as well as malware.
Most hosting plans regularly back up your files. This way should something happen you’ll have a “good” copy of your site to go back to.
Like your laptop files, backups are essential because you never know when your site will crash.
It can be from a new WordPress update, a bad plugin, php update or something else.
That said, you should regularly make your own backups as well. You can do this with UpdraftPlus, which is a WordPress plugin that lets you save backups of your website to different cloud services like Amazon S3, Dropbox or Google Drive.
That ensures that you always have a copy to restore should something happen.
Some (Not Overly) Techie Stuff to Understand
This section covers a little more technical stuff. But, don’t worry, they’re still fairly simple.
One-click installation allows you to click a button to install different software on your hosting plan.
You’ll want this for installing WordPress and if you want to create more than one domain.
This makes things super simple since they take away all the technical setup involved.
Easy to Use Control Panel
Majority of web hosts use cPanel, which is a software that allows you to manage the different features of your hosting service.
Your control panel lets you do everything from install software, see how much disk space you’re using, add email addresses and install SSL.
Add On Domains
This tells you how many extra websites you can install on your hosting plan.
For most webhosts, their basic plans come with 1 website.
That is, you can only use 1 website with that plan.
If you want to create more than 1 website, you’ll need to find a plan with extra addon domains.
Some hosts will specify how many addon domains you can have per plan.
Others like BlueHost and SiteGround will directly give you unlimited websites (addons) on the plan above their basic offering.
For this one, it all depends on you. How many websites would you like to create?
Type of Server
When you check out web hosting platforms, you might see a few kinds of offerings. As a beginner, some of these terms can be confusing. So, I’ll break them down for you.
Most web hosts will offer different types of server services. That is, what kind of server would you like your website hosted on.
The type of server you choose affects:
- Speed of your blog
- Price you pay per month
- Type of support you get
- Features you get
- Many more
The server hosting options include:
- Shared hosting – this is ideal for most beginners. It means many websites share one server. As such, the resources can be limited. It is also the cheapest option.
- Cloud hosting – Cloud hosting is a step up above shared hosting. Thus, it’s costlier as well. It works by combining many individual servers to make them function as one larger, faster server. This lets your site draw more resources from more servers during traffic surges.
- Dedicated hosting – ideal for big sites with lots of traffic. This means your website gets a server all to itself, allowing you to hog all the resources. This gives you faster speeds, more space and better security. But, it is also more expensive.
- VPS – VPS is somewhere in between shared and dedicated. It works by dividing each server into smaller “virtual” servers. That means while you still share on server with other sites, you have more sped, reliability and privacy compared to shared hosts.
- Managed WordPress – because 30% of the websites online run on WordPress, some hosting providers offer a Managed WordPress Plan. These are optimized for WordPress blogs, which makes them great for bloggers. The downside is that they’re expensive.
As a beginner, shared hosting is all you need. But, as your blog grows, you’ll need to go up to a Managed WordPress plan, Cloud or Dedicated hosting depending on how much traffic you website receives on a monthly basis.
The Techie Stuff (for You or Your Tech Guys to Use)
This final section is a little more technical.
In most cases you won’t need to deal with them.
But, there may be times that you do, like when you want to transfer your blog to a new domain or redirect pages.
FTP / SFTP Access
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.
Basically, it allows you to move files in bulk from one location to another.
It works by allowing your home laptop to connect to your server’s host. Then download the files from there.
With the files, you can upload them elsewhere or do other things.
.htaccess File Access
Your website’s .htaccess file is its configuration file. It comes with the Apache server which many hosting services use.
This file basically allows you to configure different settings on your website.
The good news is, you’ll almost never need to do this. And, when you do, there’s often a WordPress plugin that does the same job.
Choosing a good blog host is the one of most important things you can do to start your blog. And for that, I highly recommend BlueHost.
While all the terms and options can be a little confusing, they all come down to one thing.
Making your website function optimally.
By going through everything above, you’ll know what hosting service you should get if you’re staring out or are an intermediate blogger.
You’ll also know how to choose the “right” blog host and hosting plan for your current needs. Such that you don’t overspend for something you don’t need.
Do you have any questions about blog hosting or how to start a blog? Let me know in the comments below.