If you’re new to blogging, then you’re probably going to need to sign up for website hosting. Don’t worry, it’s really easy, and it doesn’t need to cost much! This blog post will teach you what you need to know.
What is Website Hosting?
First things first, what is website hosting? If you want to create a website, and you want other people to be able to see it, then you’re going to need to sign up to a web host. The web host provides the service that publishes your website to the internet. It stores all of your website data on their server which then relays the information to the visitor’s computer.
In short, you don’t really need to worry about how website hosting works behind the scenes. All you need to know is that it’s how your website goes “live” on the internet and lets people view it from around the world!
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Do You HAVE to Sign Up to a Web Host?
Every website that’s live on the internet needs a web host. However, the web host is sometimes packaged in with the blogging platform, for example on services like Squarespace or Weebly*. The benefit of using a service like this is it’s all done for you, you don’t need to worry about signing up for a web host separately. The drawback is that you’re limited as to what you can and can’t do on these platforms. And, although there are some free packages available, if you’re going to turn your blog into a business you will need to pay eventually, and these packaged services are often more expensive.
I use WordPress myself (and I wrote a separate blog post going into more detail on what WordPress is) – I use it because it’s the most popular blogging platform out there, and there are almost limitless possibilities when it comes to building and customising your website.
It’s ever-so-slightly less user-friendly for newbies, and it means you need to sign up to a web host separately, but it’s totally worth this for the freedom it leaves you for your business to grow.
How to Choose a Web Host
So, you know you need a web host, but how do you choose one? The easiest way is to take a recommendation from a friend. Here’s what I recommend:
- Hostgator* for those just starting out (Get your first month for $0.01 with this coupon: ONECENT)
- WP Engine* for when things start to get more serious in your business
However, if you’d like to do some research into this yourself, here are a few features to look out for:
1) Customer and Tech Support: If your site goes down or you have any important questions, you need fast answers and problem fixes. And, should you be forced to shop on just one feature alone, this is where you need to focus. The best way to test and compare customer support teams from possible candidates is to actually use them. Look out for 24/7 tech support, and the different ways you’re able to contact them (phone, email, live support).
2) Uptime: Every web hosting provider goes down from time to time, and no one can provide a 100% uptime guarantee. However, the top providers should be able to show you at least a 99% uptime on average. The exact number is usually readily available on the host’s website, or you can contact them and ask. Most also have a guarantee where they will issue some form of compensation if the site goes down more than this.
3) Price: I want to emphasise that you shouldn’t choose your host based on price alone. However, price IS important, so you’ll need to take it into consideration. Most hosts offer discounts if you pay for a year upfront, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this until you’ve been with them a couple of months and know you’re happy.
4) Type of Hosting: There are different kinds of web hosting available based on your specific needs and how much traffic your site is likely to get. You’ll pay more for “dedicated” or “VPS” hosting, but if you’re just starting our and don’t know what this is, don’t worry. Starting out, shared hosting is what to go for. All it means is that your website is hosted on the same server as several other websites, so you’re sharing resources, and there’s potential for your server to slow down if someone else’s website hogs them all. But this is what most people start with because it usually works fine and its’ very affordable.
5) WordPress Compatibility: You’ll also want to make sure that your host is compatible with WordPress, and the good news is that most hosts are. I won’t go into tech details here because I don’t even understand them! The simplest way is to find it on the potential host’s website or to email their support and ask.
6) Additional Features: There are endless features available from web hosting providers, but I’m deliberately leaving most of them out because you probably don’t need them (and I am not a tech expert!) You probably will need the ability to create email addresses like “email@example.com” (although there are services like Google Apps and Zoho that can do this for you). It’s also worth asking the host about whether they backup your data regularly, or offer it as an additional service – nobody wants to lose their hard work if something goes wrong (like you get hacked!)
7) Customer Reviews: If there’s little in it, then Google is a great place to find customer reviews for any particular host!
How to Sign Up for Website Hosting
Once you’ve chosen your web host, then it’s time to create an account! You’ll need your domain name ready before you do so. If you haven’t yet registered a domain name, click here to read my post all about doing so.
NOTE: Domain names are available to buy from most hosting websites, though I usually recommend against doing this. Firstly, they usually charge more than dedicated domain name registrars. Secondly, the advice is usually not to have your domain tied to your hosting should something go wrong and you want to leave your host – you wouldn’t want your domain name held hostage too.
Just choose the package you would like to sign up for and follow the instructions. Once your hosting account is created, you’ll then need to:
These topics will both be covered in separate posts in the blogging basics series. And remember, if you want more help getting your blog set up without spinning your wheels then I actually have a FREE 1 week course to get you set up the right way…Click here to sign up to my FREE 1 week blog course... & get your blog set up the right way
That’s it! Nothing too scary at all! Congrats on taking this early step in getting your website live in front of your new potential customers! Check out the other posts in my blogging basics series for details on how to complete each step.
*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.