Don’t be fooled by “free hosting” offers!
You can pay thousands of dollars per month to have your own in-house hosting solution. You can pay hundreds of dollars per month for “business hosting.” But most small businesses simply aren’t in the market for expensive hosting — at least not when they’re first starting out.
What about WordPress.com and Blogger?
First, let’s explain the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. They are related, but they are different, and the differences are important.
WordPress is free, open-source software, which means anyone can use it, distribute it, and modify the source code. WordPress.org is the official home of this software and information about it.
- WordPress.com is owned by some of the same people who developed WordPress, and it’s a hosted version of WordPress. There’s no self- before “hosted” because the hosting is all on servers controlled by WordPress.com.
- Instead of renting server space where you install the WordPress software, you sign up for a free account on WordPress.com, and you get a hosted version of the WordPress software that is installed and maintained for you.
Sound good? A free WordPress.com account is a great deal for non-commercial websites. But for businesses, the trade-offs are too great. If you are running a business online, you want full control over everything about your website, and even the paid add-on features of WordPress.com don’t give you that control.
Blogger.com is another popular free service, and the same reasoning applies. If you’re running a club or a hobby blog, and you are happy to trade full control for hosting and maintenance, Blogger.com is a wonderful service. But you’re in business, and your website needs to be owned and controlled by you.
Self-hosted WordPress websites, using the software you can download at WordPress.org, offer maximum versatility and flexibility.
We recommend you create a self-hosted WordPress site with the software you can download at WordPress.org. Having full control over your website is worth paying for. And fortunately, you can have that control, plus good customer service and support, for a surprisingly low price.
The pocketbook-friendly solution: Budget hosting
Budget hosts charge budget prices — less than $10 per month. You’re paying such a low price because you’re sharing server space with other budget hosting customers. This is why budget hosting is also called shared hosting.
Even though the server is shared, no one can access your hosting control panel but you — and you can’t see who else is on your server.In sharing server space, you’re taking the risk that someone else on the same server will experience a traffic spike and bring down the whole server — and subjecting your server-mates to the same risk if your latest blog post goes viral. Good hosts will at least attempt to balance the server load to prevent these events, and they also respond quickly when it does happen. They also offer tools and upgrades to help you as your site traffic grows.
No host, no matter how much you’re paying, is error- or outage-free. We feel that budget hosting is “good enough” for most small businesses.
So how do I choose a host, anyway?
Now that we’ve defined hosting, and explained why self-hosting is ideal for businesses, you’re probably wondering how to choose a web host. After all, there are thousands of hosts out there, and every single one of them has both raving fans and former customers with horror stories to tell.
We’ve come up with a checklist of nine tests your WordPress web host must have, and we’ll share it with you in the next lesson.
Check your email tomorrow to learn the nine must-have features of a good WordPress web host!
If you made it here from Twitter, Facebook, or a link from a friend, why not go ahead and pick up the complete series of tips? This is lesson #5 in a free 9-step course on setting up your first website the easy and smart way. Click here to get the free course.