How to Choose Website Hosting

When I first ventured into the world of blogging, I was completely clueless! I had never heard of hosting or SEO or widgets. And I’ve had a steep learning curve to climb my way up to where I am now. At the beginning of this year, I decided it was time to take my website to the next level. I still have a lot to learn before I’m playing in the big leagues, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far.

There are many different types of hosting, but today we’re going to focus on shared hosting. For a run-down on the different types, check out thebalance.com.

 Graphs and models on monitor

Website Hosting

Through my blogging journey, I’ve tried free hosting and paid self-hosting.

Do you know the difference?

 

hosting console

Free Hosting

There are websites that offer free hosting: Blogger, WordPress.com, Weebly, Medium… My experience is with WordPress.com, so I’ll be referring specifically to this one platform. I originally chose free-hosting because it seemed to offer everything I needed to start out.

Extremely Affordable

If you don’t mind having wordpress.com in your domain name, then your hosting will be truly free. My daughter, Hadley, chose to use the free hosting option for her blog, hadleyslife.wordpress.com. She wanted to make sure that her interest in blogging would continue long enough to make the cost worthwhile. I chose one of the paid options, which allowed me to have my domain without the wordpress.com subdomain, and offered more customization options and storage. Even the paid option was only $10/month, paid yearly, but it can be as little as $5/month.

Simple to Set-Up

Setting up my blog was incredibly simple. Even someone as technologically challenged as myself could easily have a blog up and running in under an hour. There are enough options for you to personalize your website without making you feel overwhelmed or lost.

Simple to Maintain

Not only is the set-up simple, but publishing your blog posts or creating landing pages can be as simple as you want to make them.  WordPress.com takes care of all the background maintenance for you. You don’t have to worry about updates, back-ups, security, or current HTML standards.

 

Balanced business budget

Paid Self-Hosting

After a year of using “free” hosting, I made the decision to switch to self-hosting. I had been running into more and more roadblocks that were limiting what I could do with my site. (A post on the process of switching is coming soon)

More Customization Options

WordPress.com offers a 100+ select themes and no widgets. Whereas, self-hosted platforms offer hundreds of themes, with the option to upload other third party themes. Your own imagination and technical capabilities are your only limits to what you can do with your site. You also have access to all free and paid widgets which can improve security, SEO, social media, email marketing, analytics, etc… Again, the sky’s the limit!

Complete Freedom to Use Your Site As You Wish

If you’re looking to monetize your website, you will be limited by WordPress.com. You can only use disguised affiliate links or direct “hire me” pages. With self-hosting, you are free to add whatever ads or links you choose, opening the world of on-line business and passive income. Of course, check the laws and regulations where you live to know what restrictions you legally have.

Truly Own Your Website

Last and most importantly, you want to have full ownership rights to your work. When you go through a free-hosting platform, you are at the mercy of that company. They can shut your website down at any time, for any reason. You have to work within the confines of what they designate. It’s like renting an apartment. You can call it your home, but you can’t paint an accent wall or change the light fixtures, and your landlord is free to evict you without cause.  And if you were lucky enough to have a landlord who allowed you to make changes, when you move, the light fixtures and accent walls stay there.

 

Victory man with sunset

And the Winner Is…

Depending on your level of expertise, amount of time you have to devote to your website, and business plan, free hosting might be the best option for you.

After working within the confines of free hosting for a year, a realized that I needed the freedom and ability to do more. I quickly saw that self-hosting was what I needed to take my blog and business to the next level.

Coming soon: The Process of Switching Hosting Platforms (In case you didn’t choose the right one in the first place, like me).

Pinnable Website Hosting Image
Pin this, so you have it available when you’re ready to get started

 

32 thoughts on “How to Choose Website Hosting”

    1. Thanks! Switching over was a pain! But I’m also glad I did. Sometimes I regret not just starting out with self-hosting, but then I wouldn’t have this knowledge and experience. That’s life!

  1. If blogging is just a hobby and used only as a creative outlet, using a free platform to host your blog should do just fine. In fact, sometimes you might get more traffic since bloggers tend to follow each other on those platforms.

    You’re definitely right, though, that if you plan to grow your blog into something more and monetize, having your own self-hosted website is a must.

    1. I love the control, too! I almost think of my blog like one of my kids, and no one gets to tell me how to raise my kids either 😉 But really, it is my baby and I want to make it into something that makes me feel happy and something I can be proud of.

    1. Haha, me too! I’m pretty sure I even saw something about different hosting types, it just didn’t sink in at all. It’s never too late to switch, should you decide it would be best for you.

    1. I know it can seem overwhelming, but if you ever need to figure it out, I’m sure you’ll be able to make sense of it all! Pin it, in case you need it for later.

  2. There is lots of great advice in this post. It will surely help a lot of bloggers out who are thinking about going self hosted.

    1. Thank-you! I tried to do a thorough job representing what’s works well with each option, even though I am a little biased now that I’ve made the switch.

    1. Thanks! I’ve been learning as I go the whole way along, too. It works, but it sure is nice when someone can just spell it out for you!

  3. Finding a good hosting is sometimes such a pain. I never cheat on my trusted one when I do new projects, I’m just not sure if other might be as stable

  4. Choosing a hosting is probably the first technical question every blogger is confronted with. Thank you for the great tips, I’ll refer a couple of friends to it.

    1. I’m glad you found it useful and I’d love it if you shared this with anyone who might benefit from it! I certainly had my share of people who helped walk me through the process.

    1. Yes, for sure there are pros to both! And they can each be better for some people, depending what their goals are. I’m glad you’re making it work!

    1. Thank-you, I also had so many questions when I was first starting out, some of which I didn’t even know to ask.

  5. I just went through this! I actually love using a local web guru because he can fix all of my problems with me just telling him what is wrong. Ha!

    1. Lucky! Living on our small island, I’ve asked around and I can’t find anyone who can help me more than Google. Haha!

  6. I’m really a fan of WordPress and the monthly fee is so worth it. I even get bonus motivation points from all of the options available to me. Thumbs up for a beginner-friendly article!

    1. I just left WordPress.com and I’ll admit, there are definitely things I miss. They make it so simple and intuitive, and provide opportunities for blogger community. Thanks for reading!

    1. Haha, I just switched to GoDaddy. I’d be interested to know why you are switching. What don’t you like about them? I’ve had only good experiences with them so far. The switching hosting post will be up later this week. If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll never miss another valuable post 😉

    1. JollyLeaf looks like a trustworthy hosting provider, I’ve heard good things about them. I’ve been loving the options of plugins with my new, paid hosting!

  7. It’s difficult when you’re a new blogger because you don’t know where to even begin. This is great for those who need to know the difference or what web hosting even means!

  8. That’s just it, not knowing where to begin. When I was starting out, I had no clue. I’m hoping this can help someone find a place from which to start.

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