Who should host your blog is a vital question. Nearly two years ago GobbledeGoox talked about finding a hosting plan for your blog. It had always been the intention to add to that article and further review choices.
Hardly a day goes by without someone questioning what are the the best choices to host your blog. There are a large number of service providers available, so how do you decide which is best? It is a question I am asked almost daily. The reason for exploring this whole process. The question isn’t simply about who should host your blog. It includes, who should host all your web services.
Business System Needs
To determine the best supplier, will depend on your business needs. Do you need to add a blog alone? Can you include it in the same plan as your website? You need to consider both together.
Before thinking about your website, let me ask how are your business systems performing? This is a question high on the agenda for most business owners. Much depends upon:
Site design and goals.
The size of your site.
Whether it is linked to your business website.
Most small businesses use a local service provider to host computing needs. They are effective at responding to and fixing computer problems. They also manage the servers well. Can they host your website and blog? I don’t recommend using these companies as a host. The reason, their services are not geared to mass web-based traffic.
About your budget. Define one! It should be realistic based upon the costs associated with setting up and running your site. The hosting service is not the only expense you will have. Before you are ready to buy test your budget, which should include:
Themes (often, it is necessary to pay for a good one)
Plug-ins, especially SEO tools.
Ask other business owners you know for some guidance, or call an expert.
When you have a budget, keep it a closely guarded secret. Getting the best price is vital for your business in each area. Try to negotiate. Sometimes it is possible to delay spending till the site grows — do that.
The Dedicated Blogger?
Are there specific needs a blogger has?
Many bloggers are experts wishing to educate readers. They will have many of the same questions as a small business looking for a company to host their sites. Who should host your blog is a vital question. The financial criteria discussed in the rest of the article apply equally to the blogger. They need a budget.
In the modern era, businesses host most computer services off site. There are few, if any, servers in most small businesses. Engaging a managed services provider ensures they don’t have to worry about maintaining systems. Nor hiring staff to support them. Backups, maintenance releases, system support is no longer the headache of the business owner. Contracts even cover personal computer support.
It means a specialist takes care of:
All support and maintenance.
IT services, and
All of this is often bundled into a single monthly bill at a fixed price. Good news for the business owner.
Your managed services company performs regular maintenance. If it closes your server between midnight Friday and midnight Sunday it will not affect your business operations. What about the website or blog?
What About the Web Site?
Nothing discussed on this page is about the development of your web page. Simply the way to find the best host. Managed service companies, generally, do not host web sites or blogs. Who can host your website? Who can host your blog? These are two vital questions.
Your blog and website are the way you show the world what you do. You must consider performance and throughput. Consider, your site is available 24 * 7 * 365. You may be in bed at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, dreaming of a white Christmas. But someone is looking at your website thinking about hiring a business like yours. That is the way websites and blogs should work. Help prospect, sell, or answer questions when the sales-people are asleep.
Web hosts target 24 * 7 * 365 hour uptime. Their servers include monitoring and automatic switching when failures happen.
Impact of Server Failure
Close your website and it can lose sales. This is true whether, or not, you have any on-line purchasing facility. The web site goes down and orders stop — it is that simple.
The website and blog have different considerations to business systems, like accounting. They need to be up as close to 100% of the time as possible. It is vital to seek minimal failure. When a potential client sees an error they may think you have gone out of business. Those pesky “404 Not Found,” “Server Not Found,” or “Unable to Connect” pages send a shiver down the owner’s spine.
The website may be up and working again in 5 minutes, but the damage is complete for that customer.
Impact of Blog Closure
It is clear that closure is not an option.
A failure for your blog may not have the same financial impact as the closure of an e-commerce website. But, if it links to your website, it can have a bad impact. One reason hosting decisions cover both the website and the blog.
The blog demonstrates expertise. Those articles prospects and customers see bring business. They may not be a hard sell, but they do attract prospects who value your expertise. They may use a competitor’s product currently, but the expertise you provide will make them a future customer. For this reason failure of the blog can be devastating.
Best Blogging Software?
The software used to build your blog are mostly free. Most will, however, need themes, plug-ins and tools, to provide optimal performance. Choices include:
According to Make A Website Hub “The best way to find the right platform for your needs is to understand whether each platform focuses on beginners or experts, how much it costs to use and how much customization your audience will demand.”
Tools for content management and can be deployed for both websites and blogs. All are programable to include special capabilities, like credit card purchases, etc.
If a host is looking to charge to install or use this software then you should be looking for someone else to host your blog.
A Note on WordPress
Please understand there are two varieties of WordPress.
The first, the service hosted by wordpress.com. This is one of the most popular free blogging platforms available. It is popular, used by millions worldwide. WordPress.com can also host your blog on a dedicated domain.
The second a hosted WordPress service, known as wordpress.org. Both have many of the same features, but the “.org” version offers most flexibility. It is what business blogs use. It is the long-term choice if you intend to use WordPress.
A Hosting Solution that Works?
Reviews.com offers a recent update of the best web hosts. Study each of the links provided here before making your purchase.
Any choice has to be tempered by the budgetary constraints of your business. There are high-quality solutions for less than $3 per month. Look for a 3 year package, you will pay for the whole term via credit card. Many deals include free time or add-ons. Vital for a startup business? They can be helpful, but analyse them and understand whether you are likely to make use of them.
The Costs to Host your Blog
When looking at your budget, find out the cost of:
One further word about costs. Please, take advantage of all discount prices and introductory offers. Speak to the provider they can often provide a better deal than on the website. BUT, you need to be aware of what the full price is when you renew your service. If the price doubles, it may be uneconomic. One thing to avoid is changing hosts in the future.
Web & Blog Hosting
If you are hosting the blog under your main website e.g. yourwebsite.com/blog then buy one domain. Often, it is better to have two separate sites. The Blog is not necessarily limited to the scope of the website and the products you sell. It is about expertise and advice. Two domains, e.g. yourwebsite.com and specific-discussion.blog give that flexibility. The hosting service then needs to give a cost effective price for two domains.
Critical Note About WordPress.com
Do you use wordpress.com? If you have a blog and the name of your site is like myblog.wordpress.com then you have such a site. It is likely you have considered an upgrade using their services. Wait! Consider the following before taking another step.
WordPress.com is run by a company called Automattic, run by co-founding developer of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg. It provides a “restricted” free blog hosting service.
There may be hundreds of themes, it may be mobile friendly. BUT!!! This version of WordPress has serious limitations. Themes and access to features, are more limited than on hosted versions. Hosted sites use software from WordPress.org. With the .com version limits exist, even the paid version. There is no access to plug-ins and only limited ability to monetize your site (if that is one of your priorities).
Not so Automattic!
Plug-ins are the lifeblood of WordPress. They allow you access to millions of customisation options.
Consider the copyright impact. Part of the terms and conditions grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free licence. They may use and adapt your work for promotional purposes.
You don’t have access to the HTML source. On the surface this may sound good. You cannot damage the code. But it also means you cannot extend site capabilities. One impact is inability to alter page structures. Custom design upgrades also cost extra.
WordPress.com is not a good hosting choice.
Knowing all the Costs
Here is where the knowledge of an experienced blogger is useful. Of course you could call an expert, like myself. An excellent choice! There are also hundreds of pages offering similar advice, including some referenced in this article. Blog articles can at best give general advice, an expert can look at your specific issues.
Plug-ins can be as useful to WordPress as power is to the electric car. One plug-in I recommend for business sites charges $90 per site per year for their premium edition. Another $29.90 per month.
For personal blogs the free version is normally adequate. Small business may also build their blog for a few years using the free version. Yet, at some point the premium version becomes essential. One element the paid version offers is significant automation. It reduces the steps and checks a writer has to make before publishing each page.
There are many plug-ins where the free options are all anyone needs. The key is knowing when to pay and when to continue using free options.
Check their Performance
One thing about web hosts is that change is the watchword. I could recommend a company today, yet next month their performance is very poor. You will have to do some research to ensure what you have been told remains true. Take a look at Web Hosting Stuff for the latest uptime performance data. It monitors all hosts.
Look at all the statistics about the company you are considering to see how they perform. You may also be tempted to look at some of the reviews, although these sometimes need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Comments like “Their servers were down 6/12/17 at approx 14:50 EDT and was down for about 40 mins” are unhelpful. Every once in a while servers do crash. It is a fact of life. No hosting company can avoid that, despite their best efforts. But not all downtime is server related.
It is rare for all servers to crash at the same time. They may have 50 (or more) servers on the site, of which only one crashed. Protocol is to move affected sites to alternate servers when a crash happens. The aim have sites back up in minutes.
Catastrophic failures do happen. The worst aspect is from communications failures, e.g. from a traffic spike. Often something outside the control of the host, like a naural disaster. How the host responds is a vital part of knowing whether you have a good host.
Everyone loves “Free” but is it really possible to find a good free service? It helps when budgets are tight. Free normally has limits, such as storage or bandwidth or both. The other challenge with free is reliability.
18 months ago I setup a site on free servers, to test how good these services are. The claims of most free hosts for up-time are lower than their paid counterparts. Most claim only 90% to 95% up-time.
Based on monitoring provided by Jetpack, my site consistently failed. The up-time was between 85% and 88%. In the first 3 months I had no problems. Then failures happened regularly. Some days worse than others. There were as many as 5 server failures per day, each lasting between 5 and 20 minutes. Part of my testing was to test outage times — the worst being 97 minutes. Remember, there is no support line to call with a free host.
So, I am less optimistic about free hosting than in my original report.I cannot recommend using free hosts today. Toby Sembower from Hosting Advice does offer a view on the best free hosts for 2018. If you wish to take the plunge then analyse his report. But remember my experiments, they are a cautionary tale for a live site.
Low Cost Hosting
When free isn’t viable then we need to be searching for closest thing to it. This ranges from $0.99 up to $3.95 per month. Remember to look at the longer term prices not just the short term deals. “$7.99 $0.99/month” sounds good. But is it? The $7.99 being crossed out means that is the money you pay after the introductory offer finishes. When does the deal end? You only find this out after signing up. By comparison $2.95 a month for 2 years, reverting to $4.49 per month thereafter is a better deal. The costs are clear.
Please take advantage of the deals, but ensure the long term costs are within your budget. Call the company, ask questions before taking any deal. Find out the duration of the deal in all cases.
The key aspect of hosting is knowing what services you will need from the company. An on-line gaming company will need a different set of features to an accounting firm. The gaming company is more likely to make use of specialist services. Dedicated servers, VPS, and cloud hosting may be an immediate concern. Truth is there are many global corporations that pay for services they don’t really need.
Web page Top 5 Hosting Sites provides an updated list of low cost options. Each offer a variety of hosting packages. You need to check yourself to ensure all information is accurate. Prices change at a moments notice.
One of the key criteria they used for assessing web hosts is access to an knowledge base and support. They point out that BlueHost has 15 different contact points to help customers. Knowledgeable and helpful staff is a vital aspect. Video tutorials is another important aspect. This is where top pick FastComet excels. The fact that they have servers located around the globe matters. As does their clear pricing structure helps their case. Their second choice, GlowHost, had the best customer service. Their pricing structure, though, is not the most competitive.
Reviews.com also supports my view that all costs should be clear and up-front. They also state “GoDaddy took the prize for least helpful”. That matches my experience with the company.
Don’t Pay for WordPress!
They also state “We preferred companies that didn’t charge us for WordPress”. I agree! WordPress.org offers the software freely and anyone can download it. There is no reason to charge. To make a charge is taking advantage of small business owners that have no technical knowledge. Worse it is blatant profiteering.
WordPress is open-source software. Thousands of talented people have developed and tested it. Development continues this way today. Please be aware that global corporations use open-source software. It is part of the foundation of modern computer systems. Versions are stable and reliable. Best of all, they are free.
For your blog you will make use of many software components, such as plug-ins. Many of which have no cost. If you like what you use then please help developers continue their work. Make a small donation, $5, $10.
How to Choose a Service
As with anything technical selecting where to host your web and blog depends on your needs. Think about:
Your hosting needs.
Styling and look of your site.
Expected web traffic.
Service reliability, look for 99.95% uptime.
What tools you need.
Managing system updates.
Upgrade options so you can scale up to higher power services.
Knowledgeable local expertise.
Are special versions of software needed?
This article started by question your needs for your website or blog. Those needs are paramount for deciding where to host your site. Look at blogs like this (and those pages linked to) and garner all the free advice you can muster. Asking an expert is often vital. They should help in making a decision. But, ignore their view when it hinders the decision making process.
What does the future hold? Predicting the future is a complex process. The reason for raising this question is because you are likely to pay 3 years charges up front.
Certain questions may help you decide who should host your blog. How do you expect your business to grow? What types of services will you put on-line? Now, in 1 year, in 5 years. Getting these answers can help you plan your future hosting needs. That can help answer the question: who should host your blog? Plan for the future.
Remember, future needs often exceed immediate budgets. So you may have to consider future site transfers. It is possible to transfer your services from one host to another, e.g. Blogger to WordPress, then to an independently hosted site. Move the site to a new domain, you will lose followers. One more reason to plan ahead and consider the future now.
Have you any thoughts and questions?Who should host your blog? If you have an existing host perhaps a note about what they do well may help. Please add a comment below. We would love to hear about any challenges you have faced with your blog, perhaps even provide some guidance in the answers.
If you like this article, we appreciate any donations to GobbledeGoox . Something more than a comment to contribute? We would love to hear from you. The images here were sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay, Unsplash or other sites.
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