Host your Blog? Make the Best Choice Available!

Host your Blog based on Fresh Start by qimono CC0 Public Domain

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

At work by FirmBee CC0 Public Domain from PixabayTo 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.
  • Your budget.
  • Traffic.
  • Future plans.
  • Performance criter­ia.
  • 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. 

Your Budget

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:
  • Hosting 
  • Back-ups 
  • 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.

Managed Services

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.
  • Security,
  • IT services, and
  • Telecommunications.
  • Storage.
Pennies by Skeeze CC0 Public Domain from PixabayAll 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

Sorry were closed by Geralt CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay
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:
  • WordPress
  • Ghost
  • Drupal
  • Joomla
  • SquareSpace
  • Weebly
  • TypePad
  • Blogger
  • Tumblr
  • Wix
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? Best web hosting
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:
  • Hosting
  • Security certi­fic­ates
  • Software downloads
  • Backup solutions
  • Themes
  • Plug-ins
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. yourweb​site​.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. yourweb​site​.com and specif​ic​-discus​sion​.blog give that flexib­il­ity. The hosting service then needs to give a cost effect­ive price for two domains.

Critical Note About WordPress​.com

Wordpress.comDo 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 in by Joenomais CC0 Public Domain from PixabayPlug-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. 

Free Hosting

Budget SqueezeEveryone 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.

Finding a Host

In prepar­ing this article I had sever­al conver­sa­tions with people at Reviews​.com. They update their reviews. The aim, to provide the latest and most relev­ant inform­a­tion. The Best Web Hosting — Reliable providers that keep your website up and running was updated while draft­ing this article. They have a lot of excel­lent criter­ia listed, which I recom­mend you read this article.
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!

wordpressThey 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.
  • Support avail­ab­il­ity.
  • 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.

The Future

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.

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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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