Like a car without an engine, your website can’t go anywhere without a webhost. While this isn’t the sexiest topic on making money with your website, it is the most essential element to getting started.
Everyone needs a web host. Whether you are just starting out, or you are looking to change to a different provider. These are a few important factors that you are likely looking for in a good web hosting service:
As a starting blogger, your operating expenses are likely limited, so you really want to know what is the best bang for your buck? I’m going to give a comprehensive review of two web hosting services today. These are hosting options that I researched extensively when I picked my host. After all the research was done these were my first and second choices. While there are other good web hosting services out there, I felt these two companies were the best. Don’t feel that you are limited to these two companies because they were my choices, there are other good web hosting options out there. However, you should keep the above qualities in mind when you are searching for a good web hosting service. With these thoughts in my, let’s take a look at my two finalists:
I started my search for a reliable cost effective hosting provider and I decided to go with iPage. (I’ve since switched to Hostgator) Several years ago, I had a bad experience with a web host provider. They had no customer support and hid their cancellation page, so it was a very difficult process to cancel the service. With that experience in mind, one of the things that I look for is a clean navigation layout and good support. iPage has a simple no frills sign up page that doesn’t sell you a bunch of other stuff and they use an easy to navigate cpanel. Their price is right, they offer domain registering with their web hosting service and their support has been excellent for me.
The hosting package breaks down to as low as $3.50 a month. Part of the way that they are able to give such low pricing is that you do have to purchase the plan in a package. The smallest being a year long which comes out to $42.00 for the year. Some of you may not want to buy such a large package, especially if you are just starting out, but I wanted to plan on being around in a year’s time. Plan for success, not failure, right? Besides, I figure that I get a year’s value for the price of dinner and a movie.
The second thing to consider, is that they give you a free domain with your web hosting service. Normally one would pay anywhere between $7-12 to register a domain for a year, so I figure that’s a bit of a discount. Not only that, but I figure it simplifies things for me if I can work with one web hosting service instead of having to work with someone else to get my domain registered as well.
Finally, if anyone is concerned about having a lengthy contract in case there were any issues and you wanted to switch to a different web hosting service at some point in time. Unlike other companies that typically offer 30-60 days money back guarantees, iPage offers an anytime money back guarantee prorated for the time you’ve already used.
I can no longer recommend iPage due to its reliability issues. The problem with iPage was that their servers were just not reliable. They were slow to load my website and were down frequently. While the downtimes appeared to resolve quickly, the frequency of the occurrences were an annoyance. In the beginning, it was more of an occasional annoyance more than anything, but I felt that over time as the blog started to grow, it was hampering the growth of the blog.
Their support was adequate. Every time I contacted them with an issue, they responded quickly and effectively. Like I said earlier, I never had any extended downtime. However, with support, beyond some minor issues, I would really prefer not to have to contact them so much. They should run effectively and efficiently in the background. Available when necessary, but not contacted so much that you feel like you’re on a first name basis with them. That said, they are friendly and responsive.
This is really the least important aspect of a good web hosting provider. The primary concerns should always be pricing, reliability and support. However, I am interested in knowing what I’m getting for my money as well.
The first extra, I’ve already mentioned. iPage provides a free domain with their service. To me, this is the most important one. If I can eliminate having to go through another company, I want to do so.
iPage also offers a few other things, but these are common with most web hosting services. They give out a total of $400 in ad credits, between adwords, yahoo, Facebook and a few others.
Hostgator is another good web hosting provider. They’ve build a name for themselves as being a solid hosting provider with competitive pricing. Hostgator is now my provider of choice. While iPage was passable, I just needed more quality service. Hostgator is a little pricier than iPage depending on their package. If you sign up for the longest commitment of 3 years, you’ll get a substantial price break. However, I just signed up month to month which is $8.95. I’m earning enough from the blog to now cover that expense, and I figure it’s about the price of going out to lunch. So I can skip going out once a month to make up the difference. A month to month contract gives me some flexibility if I need to make any changes. Since my switch, my blog has been running faster and more reliably. I’ve seen the difference reflected in a surge of rss feed subscribers and daily traffic. For me it was definitely worth the switch.
Hostgator has plans starting at $4.67. Be aware that their pricing is tiered depending on the length of the contract. So their cheapest plan at $4.67 is with a 36 month package. However, you can select a month to month contract with them at $8.95. While this is a bit more, the month to month payment may be attractive to some people. You can also use the coupon code “richescorner” to get $9.94 off the price, which essentially makes the first month and half free.
They guarantee a 99.9% uptime for their servers. The site itself is easy to navigate. All my research would indicate that the speed and reliability of their servers are solid. After my experience with iPage, I definitely have a basis for comparison. In this case, Hostagor is faster and more reliable than iPage. I haven’t experienced any slowdowns or downtime. (though I did get some downtime due to the nameserver change which has nothing to do with Hostgator)
The biggest indicator for me of the difference in reliability is the surge of growth in traffic that I’ve had on the blog since I switched to Hostgator. My traffic has almost doubled since the switch and I can see daily growth. Before, I had wild fluctuations in people subscribing and unsubscribing. I haven’t really seen any drop in my subscriber count since I switched and it’s gone steadily upwards. I think that previously people were unsubscribing because my site was constantly slow or unavailable. Now, I’ve eliminated those issues by switching to Hostgator. This is by far my strongest testimonial for their service.
Again, when I was researching for a good web hosting service, I found that Hostgator took pride in the quality of their service. When Hostgator launched, they made an effort to get right, what many of the other hosting services were doing wrong. It may seem simple, but aside from quality hosting, they focused on having a service that actually answers their phones, replies to their emails, and responds to live chats. Their popularity and success really goes to show that they got this formula right.
I had already heard many good things about the Hostgator support. I’ve had a great experience with them when I switched from iPage. I simply contacted them to transfer my site. I heard back from them within a few hours and they transfered my site for free within a couple of hours. I also changed my domain registration over and that went seamlessly as well. Whenever I had any questions, I contacted their support and they emailed me back right away with an answer to my questions. It’s been a great experience overall.
For anyone switching from a different host, Hostgator offers free transfers for new accounts and the process really couldn’t be easier.
Hostgator gives $100 in google adwords credit. They also come with a 45 day money back guarantee. Again, I would emphasize that you shouldn’t chose a web host because of the extras that they offer, but it’s nice to know that they give are competitive in this area as well. Overall, Hostgator is a solid choice.
These were my top two choices in hosting options. I could have listed some of the other hosts that I researched, like bluehost or justhost, but I wanted to give you a detailed analysis of my winners instead of just a list of hosts. As I said earlier, don’t feel constrained by my choices, there are many options out there, but make sure you research them for the qualifications that I described.
In the beginning, I had gone with iPage for their better prices. My experience with iPage was passable. For a new blog, they were sufficient to start. Although I would definitely recommend using a content delivery service to help with load speeds and the downtime. However, as your blog grows, iPage simply hampers that growth. Over time, it was unfortunately unsatisfactory.
I switched over to Hostgator and am very happy with their quality. That quality has really translated over tangibly to more traffic and more subscribers. It really makes a difference and frankly well worth the price. I think that if you are looking at long term growth and sustainability, at some point you need a reliable hosting service like Hostgator.