Ok cool, you’ve decided you’re ready to build a blog or a lifestyle business.
Regardless of what kind of business that is, there’s one constant: you’re going to need a domain and you’re going to need web hosting (at least eventually).
And obviously, you’re going to want to the best hosting service for your blog and individual needs, right? Right.
If you’re just getting started, this can be a scary, daunting process. Many of the hosting services look the same, and if you don’t know what you should be looking for in a web hosting service, then it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like everyone is out to get you.
Never fear, this post is the only one you’ll need to make sure you get setup with the right blog hosting service, as quickly and easily as possible.
How to Choose the Best Hosting Service for Your Blog
In this post we’re going to look at all of the following:
- The One Thing More Important than Hosting
- The difference between shared, VPS and dedicated web hosting
- What the pros and cons are of each of the most popular hosting companies
- What features you should be looking for from any hosting company you choose
- How and where to buy your first domain
Want some help setting up your new blog? Check out our step by step guide to starting a blog.
Why is Good Web Hosting Important?
If you’re building a business online or online asset, there are very few upfront expenses that you have to make – at least for the type of businesses we’re advocating on this site.
That said, there’s one area where it’s worth spending a little bit of money: hosting.
Your hosting is the foundation for your entire business. If your hosting goes down, your entire business goes down. If it’s too slow, people will look elsewhere. If it doesn’t have the features you want, you’ll get stressed and frustrated.
Because of all of these reasons, it’s generally worth spending a little bit of time really figuring out which hosting service is right for you.
If you truly have a very limited budget, then the shared hosting solutions we talk about in this post will be fine – after all, that is what I personally had for years.
But read on, and really think about where you’re at and what’s right for you.
The Only Thing More Important than Web Hosting
So it’s clear hosting is a really important component to your online. That said, there’s one thing that I dare say is more important.
If you’re just getting started online, this is the most important word for you to understand.
WordPress is a blog/content management platform that makes it incredibly easy to build and manage a good looking website. There’s a huge support community, plugins that can do anything you want, and thousands of beautiful themes and templates.
When I first started online I built a site on Drupal, and then Joomla thinking they were the best platforms. I was an idiot. (If you’re new, just ignore those terms altogether – you don’t need to know anything about them).
Start whatever you’re doing on WordPress and you’ll be glad you did. Most hosting companies have one click WordPress install, so it’s even easier to get going.
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s move onto the next step.
What Makes a Good Hosting Service?
There are so many factors that go into this, and things you can get confused by, so I’m going to make this as simple as I can for those of you who are just getting going.
Something you should realize is that most web hosting providers are all going to be relatively similar with the same features at the lower level.
Your natural inclination is going to be to go with the value option, something that is affordable, yet has some good features and offers plenty of customer service.
If that’s what you want, go with Bluehost. It’s affordable, and their customer service has always been fantastic (a very important thing if you’re just starting out).
However, before we can look at exactly what hosting company to use, it’s important to understand what the different types of hosting are. Let’s take a look at your options.
Why You Don’t Want Free Hosting
Let me tell you right now, you don’t want free web hosting. Sites like Wix or Weebly, which offer “free online website builders”, will give you zero flexibility, and pretty much make it impossible to actually run a business on your site.
Only use this if all you want to do is create a site that you’ll never update about your uncontrollable love of poodles.
In other words don’t even think about going this route, I promise you it’s not worth it.
Free Hosting is Best for: People that don’t know any better.
There’s a good chance this is where you’ll want to start if cost is an issue for you. Shared hosting means that your website is hosted on the same servers as hundreds if not thousands of other websites.
While inexpensive ($3-10/month), this can cause all sorts of other issues. Namely, it can cause your site to potentially be pretty slow, can cause issues with email deliverability if you’re using email services through your hosting account, and security isn’t as high due to so many sites on the same server.
That being said, there are quite a few benefits on top of price. Most shared hosting providers have one click WordPress installs, an easy to manage backend, good support, and limited database access.
Best for: People with brand new sites with growing traffic, are on a budget, and need good customer support.
With shared hosting you have thousands of sites on one server, dedicated hosting essentially means you have an entire server just to yourself. It’s fast, expensive, and if you’re reading this article, it’s not for you, so move along.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting
VPS hosting is a cross between shared hosting and dedicated hosting, and is the next logical step up from shared.
Think of VPS as your own little mini-server within a server. You don’t have the whole thing to yourself, but you have a portion of it that’s totally dedicated to you and your sites. So all of the downsides of shared, such as viruses and traffic slow down, don’t effect you as much with a VPS solution.
This is going to be more expensive than shared (obviously) but still isn’t outrageous.
A hosting bill for the year on Linode (which is where I used to have my site) is about $250.
Best for: People who want better speed and reliability from the the get-go.
Managed WordPress Hosting
So we’ve covered the most popular types of hosting, but there are a couple more that have become increasingly popular over the last couple years, so it’s worth mentioning them.
The first is managed WordPress hosting.
Since millions of sites out there are on WordPress, there are a handful of companies that specialize specifically in hosting sites that are on the WordPress platform.
These are usually a little bit more expensive, but if you’re using WordPress, and especially if you actually have significant traffic coming to your site, it can be worth it.
Some benefits of managed WordPress hosting:
- Automatic WordPress Updates – These services handle all of the updates to WordPress for you.
- Plugin Notifications – If you have plugins that won’t cooperate with new versions of WordPress, they will tell you and make sure you don’t have any site issues.
- Servers optimized for WordPress – Specifically this helps make your site faster and more secure
- Testing Platform – Most of these services all you to make a backup of your site in a testing environment. So if you want to make a big change, you can test it first to make sure it works, before implementing on the live site.
- Built in CDN – A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. Basically it means it will speed up your site if you have a lot of media or images.
By far the most popular managed WordPress hosting option is WP Engine. I used to run this blog on WP Engine, and I still run my golf site Breaking Eighty with them as well. Overall it’s been a really good solution and I highly recommend them.
Managed CMS Platform
Finally, the last big type of hosting you’ll see is the managed CMS (content management system) platform.
Essentially platforms like this combine numerous services into one large service.
I recently combined my website for my products and my blog onto one domain and did it with a managed CMS called Rainmaker.
I chose this, because my site had gotten to the point where it was big. I was using a lot of different services to run my blog and membership site, and I wanted to streamline it.
So rather than having a different company or service for:
- My blog
- Landing Pages
- Membership Site Protection
- Affiliate Program
- A/B Testing
I have one service that does all of this for me.
There are definitely some big pros and big cons to this route, which I go into detail about here.
Rainmaker isn’t the only solution like this, Kajabi and Click Funnels are also examples of similar services – but I don’t have experience with them, so can’t recommend them.
The Best Hosting for 95% of You
Ok, so that’s a lot of information and you probably got a little bit overwhelmed reading through all of the different options there.
So let’s get back down to business and make it simple for you.
If you’re just starting your website, stick with shared hosting for now.
Most good shared hosting providers will give you:
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited file transfer
- A free domain
- Unlimited emails
And you should be able to get all of this for under $50 for your first year.
Note: It might be a little more for people outside the United States.
That’s an incredible deal, and makes it a total no brainer for someone who is just getting going.
Then if your site grows quickly, or you find yourself needing other features down the road, you can always upgrade.
The Best Blog Hosting Service for Newbies
When it comes to shared hosting there is one company I always recommend over others: Bluehost.
Why do I think Bluehost is the best shared hosting out there?
Specifically, because I have experience with it. If I’m starting a new, unproven site, that’s almost always where I start it out.
Most shared hosting companies are going to have very similar features, so to many it’s almost like choosing a commodity.
However, I’ve found the Bluehost Support team to be invaluable. This is especially important if you’re just starting out. You will break something at some point, so having competent and easy to access support is huge.
Bluehost does a phenomenal job with that, so I think they’re great for those just starting out.
Also, if you’re just starting out with all of this and feeling a little overwhelmed, check out our latest course: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Lifestyle Entrepreneurship. We hold your hand and cover all the basics.
Best Web Hosting for More Established Websites
If you have a blog that is getting a decent amount of traffic (say more than 10k unique visitors a month), then I’d highly recommend WP Engine.
That’s what I use for my more established websites, and if I weren’t using Rainmaker that is 100% where I would be.
I have pretty unique needs for what I’m doing, which is why I’m on Rainmaker – but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless you have a similar business to mine.
Where to Buy Your Domain
If you’re going the shared hosting route, there’s a very good chance you’ll get a free domain when you get setup, so if you’re just starting one new blog, then go with that and call it good.
I’ve also used Name Cheap which is one of the cheaper services, but the user interface is absolutely atrocious.
For a few extra bucks one of my favorite sites to pickup domains is Hover. Their user interface is super simple and sleek, and over time when you start piling up domains, you’ll be really happy about this.
Best Web Hosting For…
- Best Hosting for Most People: Bluehost
- Best Hosting for Established Sites: WP Engine
- Best VPS (if you’re technical): Linode
- Best Managed CMS: Rainmaker
Want some more resources designed to help get your new blog up and running? Here are a few of our favorites: