Choosing A Blog Host – 9 Factors To Consider
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Your blog host is the foundation of your blog, sadly it is often overlooked. Make sure you consider these 9 factors when choosing a blog host.
The Foundation of Your Blog
Your blog host is the foundation of your blog; it protects the content you create, your reader’s data, and it allows you to provide a great experience to your audience. But sadly, choosing the right blog host is often overlooked by most new bloggers. So before you jump into writing your first post, make sure to choose the right blog host using these nine factors.
Why Is Having Good Web Hosting Important?
Web hosting is one of the many unsung heroes of any good website. Though it is easy to see all of the beautiful website designs, fantastic writing, and great images, it is a bit harder to see the web hosting that keep your favorite websites up and running. Think of your blog host as the engine of your website. Without a good motor, your website is not going to go very fast, and it’s going to break down all of the time.
Why You Need To Avoid Free Blog Hosts
It is tempting to save a quick buck when starting your blog and use free services such as Wix, Weebly, or Blogger. But if you are serious about starting a blog and building an audience, it is imperative that you have your own domain name and host. You cannot expect a reader to take you seriously or trust you if you cannot even be bothered to spend a few bucks each month on hosting. Additionally, most free hosting services make it very hard to migrate away from them when you do start to grow.
Little Coffee Fox initially started on Wix, and it grew fast. Which was great until suddenly, our site stopped loading properly when people visited the site from Pinterest (our biggest traffic driver). We spoke with people at Wix and were told there was nothing they could do, so we decided to move to Dreamhost. Sadly, we quickly learned that we could not just export our site to the new host. This led to Shelby and I pulling several all-nighters copy any pasting over every single article on the site.
This is just one of the many problems that come from cheaping out on hosting. But the truth is, it’s even simpler than that. Using a free service makes it harder for you to take your blog seriously. Spending a little bit of money to get started goes a long way towards helping you stay motivated.
9 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Blog Host
Most blog hosts provide basic security in even their most basic packages. The one that is going to be the most important for you is whether they offer a free SSL certificate. An SSL certificate allows your domain to have the prefix HTTPs rather than HTTP. This shows readers that their data is encrypted and secured on your server. If you plan on collecting any personal data from your readers, be it credit card data or email address, having an SSL certificate is an absolute necessity. However, even if you have no plan to collect any data, it is still recommended that your site be securely encrypted. Recently, Google has stated that they are giving preference in search rankings to secure websites, and this trend is only likely to continue.
Luckily, pretty much all hosts include free SSL certificates in their paid plans. Dreamhost, which is a great host for any starter, includes free SSL certificates in plans starting as low as $2.59 a month.
Cost is obviously a significant factor when choosing a blog host, but you should be careful not to have it be the only factor you consider. You can get hosting for a couple of bucks a month, but if you are confident that you will grow quickly or you are planning on blogging for several years it may be beneficial to spend a bit extra to make sure you do not have to go through the hassle of moving your site less than a year later.
If you are doing this as a hobby, feel free to go with a lower-end plan from a company like Dreamhost. But if you’re planning on sticking with blogging for a while, a host like Siteground will give you a little more room to grow. However, if you already have a large following, you may want to consider a dedicated server from BigScoots. This site, along with several other of our sites, are hosted with BigScoots. While it is expensive, no other host has been able to compete with their performance.
Reasonable Traffic Caps & Storage
Your needs here are going to be site-specific. For instance, if you are running a large site or have a lot of traffic, it is crucial to keep an eye on what level of storage is included by your host. When running a resource-heavy site with a lot of videos and images, you may want to avoid shared hosting, as your host may not be able to provide you with the resources your site needs. They may even remove your hosting if you use too many resources, leaving you scrambling for a new host.
However, if you are worried about a plan fitting your site’s needs, the best thing you can do is to talk directly with any potential hosts about their caps to make sure they meet your needs. Doing so could save you a lot of hassle in the future.
Your site will go down at some point. The question is how long your site will be down. When choosing a blog host, it is vital to choose a host who stands by their product and has a good reputation. If a company avoids mentions of their downtime, it may be a red flag. However, a company that provides an uptime guarantee is much more likely to provide reliable service.
This factor more than any other is going to be governed by the rule of you get what you pay for. If you go with a cheap hosting service, you cannot be shocked when your site is consistently going down.
Keep an eye out for additional perks that a potential host may offer when selecting your plan. One plan may be cheaper, but if a higher plan comes with a free email address or CDN, it may make more sense to go with the higher plan. For instance, Dreamhost’s starter plan does not come with email, but their unlimited plan that is only $3 a month more comes with unlimited email addresses. At first glance, the unlimited plan may not seem like it is worth the extra money. But, email hosting through Gmail costs $6 a month, so the unlimited plan could actually save you money. Always be sure to keep an eye for small perks that may make a higher plan make a bit more sense.
Having an email address that is at your domain name is going to make your readers trust you a lot more than an @gmail.com will. But beyond that, if you want to do any email marketing (which you 100% do), you are going to need an email address from your domain name. Pretty much all reputable email service providers do not allow you to send an email blast if you cannot prove that you own the domain name sending the email.
If you do not have much experience with building a website, it is incredibly helpful to choose a blog host that either comes with Wordpress pre-installed or have some form of one-click installer.
Nothing is worse than putting in hundreds of hours of work only to lose it because something goes wrong on your server. Do yourself a favor and either get a host that comes with automatic site backups or manually back up your site every day. Backups are something you will not realize you need until it is too late. Don’t risk it; make sure your website is backed up.
Tremendous Customer Service
Something will go wrong while you are building your site. It may be your fault, or it may be your hosts. Regardless you’ll want a host with excellent customer service. I cannot speak for every host out there, but I can tell you from personal experience that Dreamhost and WPEngine all have phenomenal customer service. But BigScoots deserves a special mention here because, after many late-night chats with the BigScoots team, I can tell you they go above and beyond for their customers.
My Blog Hosting Recommendation
- New Bloggers or Hobbyist:
- Dreamhost provides a great platform for anyone just starting. Dreamhost’s most basic plans start as low as $2.59 a month and come with Wordpress preinstalled, a free domain name, and a free SSL Certificate. Check out Dreamhost here.
- New Bloggers Planning to Build a Business:
- Siteground allows you to scale your plan to fit your traffic and storage needs. Their plans start as low as $3.95 a month and include a free SSL Certificate, CDN, and Email accounts. Learn more about Siteground.
- Established Bloggers:
- BigScoots is a phenomenal host with a small but dedicated team. They have been our host for the last year, and I honestly see no reason ever to change that. They provide great value at affordable prices for the larger bloggers out there. Despite our high traffic levels, we saw an immediate increase in site speed when we switched to BigScoots. Their team is quick to offer advice as to how you can improve your site for better performance. Check out what BigScoots has to offer here.
- WPEngine Like BigScoots, WPEngine offers managed Wordpress hosting. WPEngine was our host for about a year and they were great. They provide excellent customer service and have an easy to use dashboard that allows you to do things such as clearing your cache and setting up 301 redirects. They help justify their higher price tag by offering incredible perks, such as a free premium Wordpress with every account. Plus, you can grab three months free on their annual plans by going here.
Your Blog Host is Important
It is easy to want to jump right into creating, but it’s essential to stop and think about the technical side of your site before you start. Taking the time to do a bit of research before you choose your blog host will save you from endless headaches down the road and help you create a more professional appearance to your readers.
If you need help figuring out how to start your blog, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide.