Many bloggers will be satisfied with the free platform WordPress or Blogger provide and the facilities available there. It is true both offer a great platform for starting your blog, for many it is all they will ever need, but for some there is a need for something more, hence the need to move to to a hosted solution, perhaps to monetise the site or perhaps to simplify the web address.
If you have decided a move is necessary then where do you start?
Update via WordPress.Com?
One option is to upgrade your site using WordPress.com’s native features which will include a custom domain name, extra storage space, removal of ads, access to premium themes, but to monetise your site requires the selection of the more expensive premium option. The monies spent may be comparable with paid hosts but those hosts also provide other options not provided through WordPress.
What is your Budget?
In looking for a host one of the first things you will need to decide is your budget. What are you prepared to pay? At one time there used to be a formula that to create a web site you had a budget of approximately $10 to buy the domain name and approximately $100 per year for hosting, but things have changed over time and it is even possible to find free hosting solutions. You will need to perform a little research to find what solution is best for you.
I Like FREE!
We all have tight budgets and pressure to tighten our purses. I have to admit that I like things that are free, it is a sexy price. However you must be aware that in the software industry not everything that is advertised as free, really is free, many “free” products offer only limited free trials. For your website or blog it is my view that you need certainty do not need a limited trial, it is the move you may make now that will support you well into the future. Indeed this also contains a lesson for whatever solution you decide to purchase, you must peel back the layers and understand what you may pay after the initial offer expires, also you should check how long it applies for (e.g. can you purchase 3 years at that price?)
There are free web hosts, but you will have to purchase the domain name or website that you will be using to publish your blog on.
The primary choices include:
- freehosting.com Provides the resources needed for creating all kinds of websites.
- byet.host Provides a choice of free and paid services.
- 000webhost.com Zero cost website hosting with PHP, MySQL, Cpanel & no ads.
- x10hosting.com Cloud hosting that’s free and unlimited.
If you wish to search for other free options then enter “free web hosting” into your search engine and analyse the results for yourself, some may also exist in your locality.
To understand the capabilities offered by each it is important to read the features that are available for your blog you will need access to one-click installers for WordPress or other content management solutions. You should also look at the advanced facilities including the control panel, file uploads, FTP services, email boxes etc. You should look to ensure you site is ad free, banner free, link free (except for the ones you add yourself).
Perhaps the two most important question to understand is how much storage space and bandwidth do you get? 10 GB of storage would be considered sufficient for your blog whereas 250 MB would not. 50 Gigabits of bandwidth is a start, but it is better the bandwidth be unlimited. You should be aware that free hosting services will be slower in general than paid services and there is a reason for this, being that more sites will share the same server and the computers used are likely to be older.
But Maybe it is Best to Pay
A reliable web host is a must for all blogs and websites, but access to such services doesn’t have to cost a fortune, in general the advantage of paid for services is one of speed and access to support services when things do go wrong. Free services don’t generally provide any live support. Of course before purchasing you must understand exactly what you are buying, check out the features provided.
The primary hosting services you should consider include:
- Bluehost Which includes a free domain, free site building software, and free WordPress installation.
- Host Metro The lowest price package is set at $2.95 for life, but you have to pay extra for domains.
- A Small Orange Shared hosting utilising enterprise class server hardware, including script installer.
- A2 Hosting Which provides shared hosting for 1 website or blog.
- Fat Cow Includes a free domain, unlimited disk space and easy install for WordPress and other content managers.
- I Page Unlimited disk space & email addresses and a free domain.
There are many other hosting services available and I may not have mentioned the one that advertises regularly on your local radio station, but the point about utilising any service, free, or paid, is that you have to analyse the features offered when finding your best deal, that local company may be the best value but its bandwidth may be low, you should look for potential pitfalls with each choice.
When looking at prices you should translate them to your local currency so that you are aware of the full cost at the time of your purchase.
GobbledeGoox was recently transferred away from WordPress.Com and I selected one of the listed hosting platforms, I have also used some others over time as a part of supplying customers with specific services, but have no experience using free hosting services, but it may be something I try in the future.
Ideally we would like guarantees that our website will be available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (called 24*7*365), but even the most expensive corporate servers will occasionally fail. The other requirement is that the server be able to handle the thousands of people who will be coming to see your site every second of every day :-). The reality is that bloggers do not need the same type of service as the average corporate server, having the server down for an hour in the middle of the night will neither be spotted nor matter to most bloggers.
Albeit with these things in mind there are some crucial features you will need to seek as a part of your package, these are:
- Large amount of storage (preferably no file size limit).
- Large bandwidth (preferably unmetered).
- High speed servers or Enterprise class server hardware.
- Known monthly or annual fees, that do not change.
- 99%+ up-time guarantees.
- WordPress script installation.
- 24 * 7 support for paid solutions.
- Email accounts.
- Automatic database and file backup included.
- Offers scalability (should you wish to do something more with your site in the future).
- Social media connectivity.
Ideally you are looking for the provider that has the largest storage space, largest bandwidth and reliable high speed servers, but these things are hard to test, unless you have computer systems knowledge. The location of the server should not really matter as most blogs will get visitors from all across the world.