If you’re new to operating a blog or website, or you’ve had a free plan for some time, you might hear about blog hosting. Free plans are great on the likes of Wordpress or Blogger, but they’re limited. If you want more control of your site and to get more from it, blog hosting can be a very worthwhile investment. Here’s a little look at what it is and what to look for in a provider.
What Is Web / Blog Hosting?
Blog hosting refers to the service of storage for your website data and ‘hosting’ it on the internet. The host provider essentially rents storage space, getting your website onto a server so it can be accessed online. When a user types in the URL (website address) into their internet browser, their computer connects to the server your site is being hosted on and the data stored there will be sent to the user’s computer.
A host service pertains to not only the storage and ‘hosting’ online, but issues of uptime, bandwidth, customer service, email addresses, and website security.
If you want to run a website or blog, chances are you might want to be considering a host provider. This will then mean your site is self hosted. In the case of Wordpress, bloggers not wanting to spend anything can choose their free plan, but it’s limited. If you want to be able to use your own theme, have adverts and earn a little money from your blog and get your own unique domain name, then getting it hosted will give you more choice and control. Wordpress offers a paid-for plan but you might find cheaper options with a third-party provider if you shop around. I personally went to being self-hosted via a third party and never looked back, but I also did so by using cheaper plans.
Related Reading : 14 Tips For New & Current Bloggers
Types Of Hosting
There are a few types of hosting options. For example:
- Wordpress or Blogger Hosting – A package specialised in hosting Wordpress or Blogger blogs.
- Shared Hosting – A package with shared server space between different websites. Users won’t have much server control and slowing/overload is possible.
- Dedicated Hosting – You and your website will get full server control and root access, so you can install any software and expect minimal chance of overload.
- VPS Hosting – A server shared between you and other users, providing a mid-way point between dedicated and shared hosting. The server is shared but you’ll have your own access to resources.
What’s The Difference Between Wordpress.com & Wordpress.org?
If you’re using a free Wordpress package and you don’t self-host, you’re using Wordpress.com.
If you self-host through Wordpress or a third party, then you’re using Wordpress.org.
The difference is a bit like property – with .com you’re renting and with .org you’re owning.
Wordpress dot com is an easier, quicker way to start, but many want to move on to dot org and self-hosting for the ownership, flexibility and freedom.
Wordpress Hosting vs Third-Party Self-Hosted
Wordpress.com offers a basic free package for all users. Bloggers have the option of taking up a paid package with Wordpress, but don’t jump at this before looking at your options. Upgrading with Wordpress directly to a premium or pro account can be quite pricey. You might get access to more themes and plug-ins and advert options, but you’re still tied into some Wordpress limitations.
With third-party hosting, which can often be more cost effective, you own your data and you’ll hopefully have more say in what you do and what you use.
Benefits Of Going Self-Hosted With Your Blog
Blog hosting isn’t for everyone. You might be happy to use a free plan with the ingrained limitations because you don’t want a large audience, more flexibility, advertising and so on. You may not be sure how long you want to blog for, so you could reconsider third party hosting further down the line. Other bloggers may want to take their site to the next level, get more, do more and feel a greater sense of ownership.
Going self-hosted will allow you to use different themes and upload other plug-ins. You’ll have control over the customisation and analytics without the constraints of free Wordpress.com plan. You’ll be able to work on marketing by making use of affiliate and advert programmes if you want to earn and make money from your site.
You’ll be able to optimise your SEO and boost your Google rankings, which could open more doors if you want to work with companies on sponsored posts, product reviews or other forms of brand collaboration.
You could get more storage and bandwidth to allow for more content and a larger audience. You’ll be able to get reliable backup of your site and the better host providers will have advisors on hand around the clock to help with queries or technical problems. You’ll learn more as a blogger and pick up new terminology and knowledge along the way.
While separate to blog hosting, you can also purchase a domain name (the URL you type into the web browser) to make your site more personalised and professional. Many host providers also sell domain names, but you can always use a dedicated domain provider should you wish. It’s good to check the price of both first. You might want to use the personalised email address the host party can provide that’ll match your blog’s name, which enhances that professional edge.
In short, you’ll have more control and freedom over your website to make it your own.
How To Choose A Wordpress Host
What host provider you choose will depend on your needs and the type of website or blog you have. There are a few things to think about when choosing a provider, for instance:
- The bandwidth required
- Expected traffic
- Long term expansion projections
- Contract duration
- Your budget
- How much customer service you might need
- Website security requirements
There are a few questions to keep in mind and to find answers to when assessing your options:
- Can they guarantee a minimum 99% uptime?
- Is their site mobile-friendly?
- What’s their reputation like?
- What are the user reviews like?
- How much experience in the industry do they have?
- Do they offer 24/7 customer service, and if so what are the contact options?
- Can you upgrade your package at any time if required?
- What back-up do they provide?
- What website security is offered?
My Blog Host Experience
I opted for 3rd party hosting after finding the free Wordpress plan alone too restrictive, while premium Wordpress seemed too pricey and still rather limited. I found a cheaper 3rd party provider for hosting and the domain name, bought a theme separately, and never looked back. Doing it this way has given me more independence and freedom over my blog, with greater customisation and control possible.
I’ve used a couple of hosts and I’ve found that customer service is surprisingly important, especially when transferring your provider to a new one or if you encounter any problems during your service.
Going self-hosting was very daunting at first, and it still is when considering moving to another provider. Thankfully Google throws up plenty of help if you get stuck on something technical. It’s worth shopping around a little before picking a provider and take note of reviews and suggestions from other bloggers. I’ve left my suggestions below for those interested in learning more.
The freedom granted by third-party hosting means I have a greater sense of ownership and flexibility when it comes to what I want to do with InvisiblyMe. I don’t have to stress quite as much as Wordpress glitches or losing content because I’ve got back-up from my provider. The problem I have these days is simply not having the time or physical ability to keep up with my blog and writing content. Sadly, a blog host cannot write your blog for you, which is a shame!
I do think that the benefits of going self-hosted have been worth it for me, even just for getting a self-bought theme to customise the blog. It has opened up more options for what I do, like working with brands on reviews. I don’t like spending money, partly because I don’t have it, but I’ve been careful to pick the cheapest packages. It might not always be possible as my disk space allowance is getting rather cramped, but most basic and mid-level bloggers could probably fare well just on the cheapest package.
What Are The Best Wordpress Hosting Sites?
There are numerous hosts offering their services online. Always read the fine print and check out the user reviews, and don’t forget to cross-compare prices to see whether you’re getting a good deal.
I would recommend HostPresto as I’ve got personal experience with this provider, but BlueHost is also very popular. Everyone will have a different experience, but both of these have some decent offers.
HostPresto – Worldwide
I previously used HostPresto for about two years. Migration was quick and straightforward, and there were no problems with my site afterwards or any major issues to report. Customer service is often fairly responsive, but at in the last few months I was with them, when I actually needed assistance with more general aspects, I wasn’t really getting it. I did pay so very little for the package in comparison to other providers so price-wise it was great, but still, I wasn’t getting much other than the very bare basics. For new customers, prices went up. I moved because I needed a bit more disk space and a smidge of support for general issues would be good. Sadly, my experience with the next host, Lyrical Host, turned out to be appalling. I would go for HostPresto any day over them.
They have reasonably competitive package prices, free migration, 24/7/365 support, 30 day money back guarantee, 99.9% uptime guarantee, free set up, free SSL certificate, and discounts for longer terms along with various packages.
I’m in the UK but they offer these services worldwide. You can check out what HostPresto offers here.
BlueHost – Worldwide
BlueHost is a popular host provider offering website hosting, including Wordpress specific packages, along with domains. They might have new sign-up offers like an initial discount or a free domain for the first year, as well as a 30 day money back guarantee, 24/7 support and free SSL certificate.
Check out what BlueHost offers here.
Any To Avoid?
>> Lyrical Host – Worldwide (Personally Don’t Recommended <<
I moved to Lyrical Host in January 2022, hence updating this post to include this provider. By April 2022, I was desperate to leave. It’s disappointing because they get some great reviews, and yet I wasn’t the only person at this time to have this poor experience. It seems the problems affect some but not all.
The “tiny” package for Wordpress hosting actually appears more generous than the basic package I had previously. You’d hope so, considering it also cost 5x more than what I was previously paying. Part of that is the hopes that you’re going to a smaller company, one that will look after you well and provide stellar customer service.
At first blush, from initial contact with the company and their responsiveness on Twitter, I would have said they were kind and helpful. That’s about where my positivity ends I’m afraid. Instead of a migration where they get on with it, where it’s very speedy and you can just pick up after they’ve finished, the Lyrical migration took 22 hours. Little did I know that I had to get rid of my current Pipdig theme because they won’t have it on their servers, so then it was a last minute rush to buy a new one and spend even more money because I didn’t want to lose the flexibility of a full theme after spending so long getting the last one set up. Then they deleted some of my plug ins, replaced with ones they liked, and all it went to pot.
The site was painfully slow to load. Like 10 minutes slow or it would simply time-out before loading. It was riddled with errors, I couldn’t log in to my site, new posts weren’t loading on the homepage or the WP Reader, it was ridiculous. I spent hours back and forth with them as they asked me to do everything but a handstand to test out what the problem was, often getting no real resolution. The main gripe for me? That Lyrical took no responsibility whatsoever for the problems they caused, preferring instead to blame it on me, my internet, my devices. When another lady got in touch to say she was pulling her hair out and then described the same things I was facing, I knew we had to jump ship.
Like I said, some people have a good experience with Lyrical and maybe you will if you choose to risk it. I found my experience – the sheer stress and hassle and countless hours lost right at the worst point it could have all happened – to have put me off wanting to blog or having the guts to move to another provider.
Blog & Website Hosting In A Nutshell
Don’t be deterred if the technical aspects go over your head. Third party hosting could also be cheaper than you might imagine, offering you greater flexibility to grow and nurture your blog or website as you wish. Once you get an understanding of what a host does and what your website needs are, you’ll be better placed to make the decision of whether to go self-hosted, and if so, what to look for in a provider.
If you self-host your blog, have you found it beneficial? If you don’t currently self-host, is it something you’re interested in or do you have further queries?