Congratulations! You decided to start a new self-hosted blog! As you are aware one of the first steps when starting a new blog is setting up your web host, however, you are not sure how to choose a web host and a hosting plan. Don’t worry, you are at the right place, as here I will detail ten factors that can affect your decision of a web host provider and a hosting plan.
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How to choose a web host
Choosing a host and a hosting plan for your blog is depended on a number of factors. The most important are:
- The platform you will use to manage your blog and create content (i.e. your content management system). You will need your host to be compatible with that so that they can handle any updates and maintenance required. For example, if you will be using WordPress, then you need a host which provides WordPress hosting plans.
- If it is shared hosting or not. This means that you will be sharing a server (i.e. a building in the case of the coffee shop example I shared in the how to start a blog guide) with other websites. This is not necessarily bad but it may oppose some limitations and speed issues, especially after starting to get a lot of traffic. However, the cheapest plans are usually for shared hosting, so I would suggest starting with this option and then upgrading if required.
How to choose a hosting plan
By now you must have a clear idea of what you want from your web host. However, by considering only the above, you will still have many options to go with. So, it is necessary to shortlist the various hosts based on what they offer in their plans. Below, I list the most important factors that you need to ensure are included in your hosting plan, or at the very least are available as add-ons for a reasonable price.
The hosting plan should include an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate allows your site to use the secure HTTPS protocol instead of the traditional HTTP. This is important, as without the SSL certificate you are risking a “this website is not secure” message to appear on the screen when someone tries to visit your site. Also having an HTTPS website will be beneficial for your SEO, as Google favours secure sites.
Note that even though the plan may not include a free SSL, you may still be able to purchase it as an add-on.
The price of the domain name after your free period. On the same point should be the domain privacy, which some hosts don’t offer for free, but it is recommended to add as an add on. Basically, when a website is created, the details of that website and its owner are entered into a public database called WHOIS. Many hosts allow you the option to replace your details with their own thus protecting your privacy.
Option to have at least one free email address using your domain name (e.g. email@example.com). This will be useful when setting up your contact details and for sending newsletters. Even though you may be asked to pay to use a premium email client such as Gmail or Outlook, you should at least be able to access it through a free email client.
You may be tempted to just create a free email and don’t bother with that (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) but it will not look professional, especially if you want to collaborate with other people.
Other hosting features to consider
Realistically, most of the above are already included in many plans, so the choice really comes down to cost.
Other factors that you can consider, but are not as important when starting for the first time are monthly visitor allowance and storage space. Ideally, you should look for an unlimited number of visitors (although in practice it may differ) and for at least 10GB of storage (more if you want to have a lot of photos on your blog).
Additionally, prices vary based on the length of the contract too, so you want to check the prices after that initial period ends (usually 1 to 3 years). To get the cheapest price you should pay for the whole duration of your contract in advance (e.g. for the full 3-year length) rather than monthly.
Lastly, if you want to create more than one website, go for a multisite option, as it will come cheaper than purchasing two different plans for a single website.
Still unsure which host to choose? If you are just starting a new blog, Tips for Bloggers recommends the shared-hosting Hatchling Plan from Hostgator [AD]. It has very low prices and includes most of the above requirements. Upgrade to the Baby Plan to host more than one website.
Have you decided on your web host and hosting plan? Share your decision and reasoning in the comments to help other people choose their host. (Note, no affiliate links allowed.)
Do you need more help to start your first blog? Read this step by step guide about starting your own self-hosted WordPress blog. It has everything you need to do from getting your host, to creating your first content to making money.
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