Starting a Blog Step Three – Choosing a Web Host
In the first post in this series, you found out how to get and register a name for your blog. The next step was to determine what to look for in a company to host your blog. Step Three is to actually choose a host, and based on our experience and extensive research, we have some recommendations for you to consider.
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If we could only recommend one host, Inmotion Hosting would be it. InMotion has quite a few things going for it. Unlimited storage and bandwidth on all its plans, SSDs for speedy website response, daily backups, and more. However, rather than go into the technical details, we’re going to look at some things someone just starting out will find useful. It has been in business since 2001, it is employee owned, and it has an industry leading 90-day money-back guarantee. We transferred this site based on InMotion’s reputation, and have been extremely glad we did!
As we mentioned, pricing changes constantly in web hosting, so you will want to visit InMotion’s website to find current pricing. We can say InMotion is reasonably priced – not the cheapest host, but far from the most expensive – and you get a lot for your money. This is especially true if your blog is based on WordPress, because their managed WordPress hosting is the same price as regular hosting. Other web hosts will often charge more for managed hosting. With managed WordPress hosting, you concentrate on your content and InMotion takes care of the behind the scenes stuff like backups, security, and updates, so this is an appealing feature for those starting out.
InMotion Hosting is Full-Featured
Since you are starting out, you probably don’t need to worry about Virtual Private Servers (VPS) or Dedicated plans. Shared hosting is suitable for most bloggers and small businesses, and InMotion offers three tiers or plans in shared hosting. Depending on your needs, you could start with the lowest tier, Launch, and easily upgrade as you grow.
The feature that will be most impressive for beginners is InMotion’s customer support. It is second-to-none. Any time we have had to contact support, the response has been extremely fast, friendly, and very helpful. It’s a pleasure to talk to staff that know what they are doing and aren’t just reading a script. And with a number of contact options (including chat) available, you can easily get in touch when necessary.
There are two other features that users will find very helpful – staging and the website builder, BoldGrid. Staging allows you to experiment with your site until you have it the way you’d like, then take it live. Your viewers don’t see your site while you develop it in staging. After your site is live, you can make modifications in staging without affecting your live site. Play with colors and styles as much as you like!
BoldGrid is a drag and drop website builder that makes creating a website a snap. It comes with themes that you can use as they are, or easily modify to your liking. The advantage BoldGrid has over similar builders is that it is free on InMotion and it is based on WordPress, so you don’t have to learn any other programs. Once your site is built, it is yours, and can be taken with you if you transfer hosting companies – something many other website builders don’t allow.
Another full-featured hosting company that offers managed WordPress hosting for the same price as regular hosting is SiteGround. At the time of this writing, SiteGround is very similar to InMotion in pricing. Like InMotion, it has excellent customer service. SiteGround is our fall-back option if anything ever happens to InMotion.
The speed a site loads is dependent on a number of factors. Even so, SiteGround is ranked as one of the fastest web hosts around. Speed is important because studies show that almost half of all web viewers abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. SiteGround sites consistently load in 1 to 2 seconds, faster than InMotion – although InMotion is faster than most other hosting companies.
Where InMotion has unlimited bandwidth and storage (remember that term is conditional), SiteGround has limits on both, but the limits are generous. The lowest tier is suitable for those starting out with one website, and again, you can upgrade as your needs grow.
Highly Regarded by Many, WP Engine and Fly Wheel
We have not personally used either of these two hosting companies, but our research shows that WP Engine and Fly Wheel consistently get high ratings from WordPress users. These companies are considered premium WordPress hosting companies and are quite a bit more expensive. However, they strictly focus on providing optimized, managed, and worry-free, WordPress hosting. One reason they can boast of some of the fastest load times for web sites in the industry is that they have content servers and data centers around the world to deliver your web pages to your viewers. Though both provide excellent customer service, Fly Wheel’s access is limited to office hours Monday through Friday (except for emergencies). The prices are higher, but the reliability, service, and features are such that companies like Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, and Yelp use WP Engine, while companies like the Washington Post and the Boys and Girls Club rely on Fly Wheel hosting.
These are but a few of the choices for web hosting you have available. Once you have a host, the next step is to set up WordPress. If you choose one of the hosts we recommend, this will be a painless process, even for someone just starting out. We’ll walk you through it in our next article in this series.