If you are creating a website for your business, researching hosting services and choosing the best one for your needs should be at the top of your to-do list.
I know. This means you have to actually put some thought into this endeavor and do some research. OH the agony!
How serious are you about growing your business?
Yes, I know! I’ve mentioned before that I totally dislike it when mentors, coaches, mastermind leaders/hosts pull that card. But I’m not pulling the “how serious are you” card to be condescending and demeaning.
I’m pulling the “how serious are you” card to put things in perspective.
If you can’t put in the time and effort to figure out what you really want when it comes to putting yourself and your business on the internet, then … seriously … why are you here?
Why not just start with a free service?
There are plenty of “free” hosting services or platforms out there. Blogger and Wordpress.com are two of the most popular ones. Read their terms of service. KNOW what you are getting into.
For a good comparison chart on these two platforms, Minterest.com has a great post called Blogger vs. WordPress: The Ultimate Comparison With Pros & Cons.
My 4 top reasons for not using “free” platforms:
- No FTP access
- No control of your site — unless you pay for premium services, defeating the “free” purpose
- Limited space, file sizes, and file types — again … unless you pay from premium services
- You get what you pay for … or rather what you don’t pay for.
Honestly, the “free” platforms are okay for hobbyists or people who are just testing the waters.
But if your goal is to create a thriving and profitable business that supports you and your family, then I suggest bypassing the “free” platforms all together.
What you need to know about hosting services
Most hosting services offer low-end packages.
Just know that those low-end packages are always on shared hosting servers. That means YOUR site is on a server with 100’s, 1000’s and maybe even 100,000’s of other sites.
That also means that YOUR site will be affected by the actions taken on those others sites, just as those sites will be affected by what happens on your site — as far as security on the server and hosting level, speed and other Server level issues that can happen with shared hosting.
NOW, I’m not telling you to spend high-end prices for hosting you don’t really need. BUT I am telling you to do your research.
HostGator, BlueHost and 1&1 are all owned by EIG. So regardless if one is better than the other in any one person’s opinion, they are ALL run by the same people.
FatCow and Dreamhost have their own versions of a cPanel that can be completely frustrating if you are used to cPanel, but they offer a free domain with their hosting packages.
Most hosting services are NOT experts in WordPress. And they will most always blame issues with your WP site on WordPress, themes and plugins. In many cases they will also try to convince you to pay a higher premium either for WP specific packages they have or dedicated servers that have far less users or just you.
That’s a lot of stuff about hosting services but all this information I wish someone had told me over the years.
5 things I think good hosting services should have
- Up to date servers and systems — If their systems and servers are NOT current or updated regularly that means your site is not going to running well.
- Good customer service — If they can’t answer your questions before you sign up with them, how do you think they are going to treat you after you give them your money?
- cPanel — I prefer actual cPanel over a custom panel like Dreamhost offers. cPanel is straight forward and easy to find what you are looking for. Custom panels are totally different with different names and just gets muddled up and confusing if you decide to switch.
- Fantastico or One-click Web Applications — WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. This makes it easy to install and set up the application of your choice. Mine is ALWAYS going to be WordPress.
- Backups — a simple way to create a full back up manually or auto backups done that I can download to my computer
I’ve also been hosting my own sites for over 10 years so there are other things I look for.
I prefer hosting services that include 1 free domain with 1 year of service, free transfers with no hassles, unlimited websites (I have 5 domains that need webhosting), plays well with WordPress, server monitoring, backup services that I don’t have to mess with – just download the zip file, easy restore services if something does happen to site, CS support via chat, phone, or tickets, and SSL certificates for eCommerce.
You get what you pay for
Ask questions. Talk to other people. Read reviews. Get recommendations.
Then … call those hosting services. Ask them questions. Remember … How they respond to your questions before you even pay for their services is a good sign of how you will be treated after you are a customer.
Putting your site on a free hosting platform or paying as little is possible is like hiring a shady contractor who disobeys the safety laws by cutting corners and using shitty materials. Guess what? That building is not going to pass any safety inspection and it’s going to cost you a shit ton more money than if you had done it right the first time.
In other words — your hosting services expense should be treated with a certain level of importance. It is the foundation of your online presence, after all.
I’ve learned my own lessons in getting what I paid for when it comes to hosting in 2006. It didn’t help that I trusted people and still got burned, but that whole thing helped shape my decision-making paradigm that I have today.
Do you have any hosting experiences you want to share – good or bad?