Want to get bogged down in quicksand? Ask the question, “What is the best blogging hosting service?”
Type this search query into Google, and you’ll immediately sink into a quagmire of affiliate marketing posts comparing the best web hosts for bloggers. Every review has a Buy Now link. Every list includes Bluehost. Every SERP result is somehow longer than the one before it: 25 best hosts, 50 best hosts – and I see you and raise you to 100 best blog hosts!
I’ve become mired in the morass a few times myself. And I want to save you from a similar fate.
Here’s my basic strategy:
- Avoid the too-good-to-be-true bargain basement offers.
- Get started with cheap shared hosting
- Later, upgrade to VPS/cloud hosting.
Once you’re paying decent money for a decent host, your choice of hosting company probably won’t make or break the success of your website. You’ll make your final decision based on personal optimization factors, like whether you want a hands-off managed account, whether you run multiple blogs, where your internet traffic is located, etc.
Let’s get into the details.
A Blogger’s Introduction to Website Hosting
I solemnly swear to avoid as much techno mumbo-gumbo as possible. Because hosting, when you break it down, is really pretty simple.
Did you know you could be your own website host? That’s right! If you have a business-grade Internet Service Contract, a computer, and some Apache geekery knowledge, you could set up your personal computer as its own web server.
But for most of us, the idea of configuring a server is just as frightening as eating a bucket of scorpions or attending an elementary school musical. So we turn to companies, like Bluehost or HostGator, to do the dirty work for us.
When you pay for hosting, you’re renting digital space on a physical server. That’s where all the files for your website are stored. The server is connected to the internet, which means it can “talk” to other servers all over the world.
So when someone types in “flubblog.com,” the request doesn’t go to my home desktop. It goes to my Digital Ocean server located in New York City.
In a nutshell, hosting is the engine that powers and publishes your website. You’re renting digital space on someone else’s machine.
I think the analogy of “renting space” helps explain the upgrades in website hosting, so keep that in mind: Hosting a website is no different than renting a house. And just like choosing a house, you have options!
What Makes for a Good Blog Website Host?
Now, I told you hosting was pretty simple. And that’s true – for you and me. From the hosting company’s side, that’s a big fat lie.
You see, a hosting company is in charge of keeping your website files available and secure 24/7/365. And that requires some pretty sophisticated technology. Especially when people and bots will be trying to hack into your website a couple million times a year!
But like I said, we’re going to avoid techno mumbo-jumbo. Just be aware that a good hosting company is working relentlessly behind the scenes to keep your website up and running, no matter what.
A good website host will also have:
- Easy-to-use CPanel
- Easy-install WordPress CMS
- WYSIWYG website builder (if you prefer a Page Builder over WordPress Themes)
- 24/7 chat or phone customer support
- SSL/TLS encryption certificates for free (or cheap)
- Server uptime of at least 99.6%
- File backup and security restore
- Free (or low-cost) content delivery network (CDN)
If you’re not a techno-savvy person, or if you’re too busy with the other aspects of your business, you should check into managed hosting, which is kind of like hiring a butler for your digital house.
The Four Types of Website Hosting
Hosting varies wildly in price.
You can host a website for $0.99 a month at GoDaddy …
Or you can host a website for $139.99 a month at InMotion.
Simply put, you get what you pay for. The cheaper the hosting plan, the slower and less reliable the site.
More money buys you more speed, more security, and more storage. More money can also buy you experts who manage the backend of your site for you.
I want to walk you through the four basic types of web hosting, but let’s use the analogy of renting a house to help us understand the differences.
(I actually think the tutorial at Hostinger.com is pretty helpful as well!)
1. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is like living in a hostel. You’re all sharing the kitchen, arguing over the TV, and stealing each other’s parking spots.
With shared hosting, your website is sharing server resources (memory, processing power, and storage space) with several other websites. If one website crashes the server, you all go down. If someone else’s website goes viral, that’ll slow down traffic to your website. You’re all joined at the hip.
But … it’s dirt cheap. Which is why for most new bloggers, shared hosting really is the best option. If you’re not sure if “this blogging thing” will work out, why spend the extra money? Why pay extra money to accommodate traffic that you don’t have yet? (no offense)
I, like most bloggers, started with shared hosting. I’ll talk more about this later.
2. VPS Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is like renting a condominium. You’re all in the same building, but you own your own slice of home. You can’t just add on a 2nd bathroom whenever you feel like it, however.
With VPS hosting, your website is still sharing space on a physical server, but server resources are allocated. Traffic to someone else’s website has no impact on yours. Your website files are physically stored on the same computer, but you get your own IP address. Pretty cool, eh?
A lot of successful bloggers will eventually migrate to VPS hosting. It’s not super expensive. But it’s easily scalable, lightning fast, and you’ll never worry about traffic spikes again!
3. Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated or Private Hosting is like buying a mansion. You call all the shots. You can plant flowers, install a pool, or hoard everything like the Antique Roadshow. It’s all yours!
With dedicated hosting, your website has its own server. You can configure it however you want. Literally however you want. If you aren’t intimately familiar with web servers, this can be very challenging.
But it’s overkill for 99.99% of blogs. Unless you’re getting a bazillion visitors every 30 days, you just don’t need your own fancy-schmancy mansion.
4. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is like renting multiple houses. If the pipes freeze in one, just move to the other!
With cloud hosting, you’re usually paying for VPS hosting distributed across a cloud platform. Basically, if one server kicks the bucket, your files are accessible through another VPS, usually in the same data center.
Cloud hosting used to be reserved only for Tech Giants like Google and Amazon. Modern technology has allowed anyone to take advantage of cloud technology thanks to companies like DigitalOcean and Vultr.
Cloud hosting has some benefits over VPS hosting. Uptime is better. Scalability is easy. And you usually pay-as-you-go, which can result in cost savings if your traffic ebbs and flows.
P.S. You’ll note “managed” hosting isn’t included in this list. That’s because managed hosting isn’t different technology; it’s different customer service. Think of managed hosting as being hands-off; you don’t have to configure almost anything! Like I said earlier, it’s like hiring a butler for your house.
What’s the Difference Between Hosting and Registration?
If a website is like a house, then a domain (like flubblog.com) is the land it sits on. And just as you can’t have a house floating in midair (unless you’re Jeff Bezos), you can’t host a website without a domain.
What’s confusing for new bloggers is that some providers only offer domain name registration, some offer only hosting, and some offer both.
As an example:
- Google Domains is only a domain registrar. You can buy and register a domain and manage your DNS records, but you can’t host a website.
- Kinsta is a hosting service only. They offer managed WordPress hosting, but you can’t buy or register a domain through them. You have register and manage your domains with one company and host the associated websites through Kinsta.
- GoDaddy or Bluehost offer both registration and hosting services. But here’s where things get tricky, because some companies are much better at one than the other!
NameCheap, for instance, routinely shows up on the list of best registrars for their low pricing, free WHOIS privacy, TLD options, and easy user interface. But NameCheap isn’t known for very competitive hosting.
Conversely, Bluehost is a very popular choice for basic web hosting! But as a registrar alone, it’s not necessarily the best choice, since you’ll pay extra for WHOIS privacy.
You should understand that no single web hosting provider is great at everything. Some companies offer super cheap hosting as a “loss leader,” hoping you’ll stick around when you’re ready to upgrade to their Premium plans.
When you begin blogging, it’s easiest to start with a service that offers both hosting AND domain registration. Some of the best hosting providers aren’t registrars, but you can always migrate later.
That’s why services like Bluehost, SiteGround, NameCheap, and GoDaddy are so popular. They’re easy!
And at the beginning of your blogging career, easy is most important. You need to be writing, not figuring out what the heck a DNS record is.
So How Should a New Blogger Choose a Hosting Company?
There are A LOT of hosting companies. Thousands of them.
DreamHost, Bluehost, NameCheap, WPX, SiteGround, DigitalOcean, Domain.com, Cloudways, RackSpace, GreenGeeks, Hostinger, Fatcow, Kinsta, BigScoots, FlyWheel … etc, etc, etc, etc.
So how do you choose??
Let me help you cut through the fluff.
- Don’t go anywhere near free hosting services. Nothing is free, people! Your speed will crawl, crawl, crawl. And quite possibly have random ads served on your site that you have no control over. And you’ll likely share server space with dozens of spam websites. Not good company.
- I’d stay away from the bottom-level shared hosting plans, too. These plans are just around to get people in the door. Hostinger offers an entry-level $1.99/month, but the “Premium” $2.99/month plan is the only one worth trying out!
- But also understand that a simple blog doesn’t need a GCE Data Center. You post words and pictures online, my friend. You’re not running the FBI database. Unless you become the next Joe Rogan, your blog won’t ever need its own municipal power supply.
I really think the best strategy is to launch with cheap shared hosting and later upgrade to managed VPS or cloud hosting.
- Step 1: Launch your website on a shared hosting plan.
- Step 2: When traffic ticks up, upgrade to managed VPS or cloud hosting.
There you go. It’s that easy!
Here’s how much you can expect to pay for web hosting:
- <$2/month: Worthless. Don’t do it.
- $2-$5/month: Simple shared hosting, good for blogs with little traffic (<3,000 monthly visits).
- $5-$15 month: Premium shared hosting, good for blogs with moderate traffic (<50,000 monthly visits).
- $15-$50/month: VPS hosting, basic cloud hosting, managed WordPress hosting, etc. Where many successful bloggers end up (<400,000 monthly visits).
- $50-$100/month: High-powered VPS hosting, mid-tier cloud hosting, entry-level dedicated server hosting (<1,000,000 monthly visits).
- $100+/month: The sky’s the limit! The more views you get, the more servers you’ll need.
These prices are empirical averages based on a single site. You’ll pay more for multiple sites.
But … Who’s The Best Site Hosting Service for New Bloggers?
Personally, I migrated from Bluehost Plus to Cloudways (Digital Ocean). My main sites are now all hosted on the cloud!
Your experience might be similar, but with different names.
- You might move from the HostGator Hatchling plan to the BigScoots Managed VPS WordPress hosting plan.
- You might move from the SiteGround GrowBig to the WPEngine Managed WordPress plan.
In these cases (and mine), I switched hosting providers. That was … kind of a pain, even though the company offered free or assisted site transfer.
So if you don’t want to learn a new interface, find a company that can grow with you. I moved away from Bluehost because their premium plans were more expensive than other hosting providers for similar performance.
- You might upgrade from GreenGeeks Pro shared hosting to GreenGeeks 4G Managed VPS hosting.
- Or you might upgrade from NameCheap Stellar to a NameCheap Dedicated Xeon server.
“But Andy,” you say, “You didn’t tell me who’s the best website host for a blogger?”
It’s … Bluehost!
Ooh, sorry, wrong note. It’s … Cloudways!
Cross that out, my mistake, I meant to say, it’s … LiquidWeb!
Honestly, I don’t know.
And I don’t think there is a “best” hosting platform.
- WPEngine is super-optimized for WordPress.
- A2 is famous for lightning-fast site speeds.
- Bluehost has an easy-to-use user interface.
- Nexcess specializes in business e-commerce sites.
- Dreamhost promises 100% uptime.
- WPX offers all free site migrations.
- Cloudways allows you to host multiple sites on a single server to cut costs.
I picked Cloudways because I run multiple websites and wanted something scalable. If you prefer something less tech-savvy, you might prefer WPEngine.
Is Cloudways better than Bluehost? Yes, it is! Hence why I switched. Do I regret starting with Bluehost? Absolutely not. It was an affordable way to get started, and I didn’t have to know what a server even was.
You see what I’m saying? Every website host has their own little sales pitch. This is a hyper-competitive market, and most of the web hosts I’ve named in this post have thousands of 5-star reviews.
Once you’re paying for VPS, cloud, or premium shared hosting, your choice of hosting provider probably won’t make or break your success. You just need to scale with traffic so your site stays fast.
It really comes down to customer service. Find someone you like. Find someone who prioritizes speed and security. Find someone who bends over backward to earn your business.
Just don’t expect to find it for $1.99/month.