Top Blog Hosting Options : How to Choose the Best Blog Host
So you have been itching to start a blog for a long time and finally it’s time – you are all set to launch your blog. Maybe it’s a food blog, maybe a travel one or maybe you just want to blog about how you are raising your kids. Whatever.
If you’re still learning about how to start a blog, here’s a video that will bring you up to speed real quick:
Once you have registered the domain, it’s time to look at the two most important services that you need to setup and run your blog. The blogging platform and the hosting.
Assuming for now that you will be using the WordPress blogging platform since it’s the most common one used for blogs, we’ll only be focused on WordPress blog hosting.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the most widely used content management platform on the internet. And it’s most commonly the choice of bloggers because it makes building and managing a visually appealing blog extremely simple.
Over the years, WordPress has built up a large online support community, numerous plugins that help you shape your blog any which way you want and thousands of classy, beautiful themes – both free and paid – that make your blog wear the right look for your intended audience.
There are other CMS platforms like Joomla and Drupal but none of them matches WordPress in the sheer usability and support. So my recommendation would be to go with WordPress as the CMS for your blog.
Also, since most hosting companies let you install WordPress with a single click, you will not have to worry about installation at all.
So now that WordPress will be your blogging platform, lets move on to the hosting of your blog.
Choosing a Host for Your Blog
When you are starting a blog you don’t need to shell out a lot of money to set it up. If you are not willing or able to spend any money at all, you can go with starting a blog at WordPress.com or any of the top free blog sites like Blogger, Tumblr etc. All you need to do is create a free account with them and – presto – you will have a free blog of your own.
Here are the pros and cons of running your blog on a free blog hosting service:
1. It’s free
2. Very simple to start a blog and be blogging in a few minutes. There’s very little chance of anything going wrong
1. You don’t own the blog. So if it becomes famous and a lot of visitors do start coming in, you cannot ever own the blog. The free blog hosting will always own it and it’ll be their asset. So if your blog does become popular, all you’ll be doing is building yet another asset for them.
2. You have limited options in how the blogs looks and works. e.g. if you sign up for a free WordPress blog at WordPress.com, you cannot install most of their plugins and you also have a very limited number of themes you can use. Also, they are entitled to sometimes show advertisements on your blog in order to recoup some of the expenses of giving you a free blog.
3. It’s hard to get Google love as Google doesn’t consider free blogs to be a high quality resource so it already discounts your blog because it’s on a free host.
Free hosting is good for a small hobby blog or a personal blog that you just want for the sake of it. If you’re serious about blogging and want to really grow your blog and expand its reach, you should not go with the free option.
Why is Good Hosting Important?
When you are starting a blog that you intend to seriously work on, you do not need a lot of money to get blogging. Just a lot of elbow grease.
But since you are beginning something that you expect to grow big one day and be financially rewarding as well, you do need to spend a little money. And money is well spent if you do not skimp on the hosting.
The hosting is what holds your site up for people to visit and engage and then re-visit. It is the foundation and if it is unreliable or goes down too often, your visitors will stop returning to your site.
That is why it is best to spend a little time figuring out what kind of hosting would suit you the best. If you are on a tight budget you can always start with shared hosting – the least expensive of the paid hosting option and then as your site grows, you can continue to upgrade your hosting.
Choosing the Best Hosting Service for Your Blog
Selecting the best blog hosting takes into consideration many parameters, and some of these can completely confuse you if you are not a techie so I’ll make it simple to understand and follow. So stop worrying that you’ll soon be tied up in circles. It’s really quite simple.
One thing you should know when comparing blog hosts, especially when you are looking at the entry-level or starter-plans of these blog hosts, is that at the beginner level most plans of the blog hosts will be quite similar. A little difference here or there but mostly the differences are negligible.
For most people who are just starting their first blog, the natural inclination would be to choose the cheapest plan and run with it. That’s probably because most are on a tight budget and also because they don’t really know what makes one plan better than the rest.
If you are on a tight budget, you most probably would want to start with shared hosting. That’s not a problem. Shared hosting is fine for beginning blogs that hardly have any traffic at the start. In shared hosting, your blog would be sharing space with hundreds if not thousands of other websites.
Shared Hosting is the cheapest of the blog hosting options available and you can get a plan starting from $2 to about $10 a month. That being said, there are quite a few benefits on top of price.
Most shared hosting providers have a single-click WordPress install along with an easy to manage backend as well as good support. But other than these positive points, it mostly has negatives associated with it.
If you have a small blog it might not matter much in the beginning but eventually you’ll come to realize that the shared hosting is slowing your site down and can cause email deliverability issues if you are sending email through your blog hosting account.
Also, due to hundreds of sites present on the same server, the server security is not very good.
Some of the most common shared hosting providers are Host Gator, Bluehost, Dreamhost and Host Monster
Shared Hosting is best for people with brand new blogs with little traffic, and those who are on a small budget.
This is just the opposite of shared hosting. In that you share your blog hosting space with hundreds of other sites, while dedicated blog hosting means that you have the entire server to yourself.
It’s really fast and much more secure but it is also more expensive than the rest of the blog hosting options.
You also need to know about configuring your server as in dedicated servers there is no one-size-fits-all option. So either you need to know how to administer your server, install software etc or hire a geek who will do it for you.
If this is the first time you are hearing about dedicated hosting and do not have the budget to hire a web programmer, then you can simply pass over this option. It’s not for you.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is the next upgrade from shared hosting and stands between shared and dedicated hosting.
The Virtual Private Server is your own small virtual server within a larger physical server. Unlike a Dedicated Server, you don’t have full use of the entire server but you share the server with others.
But unlike shared hosting, you get a specific dedicated portion of the server for just your websites. So unlike shared hosting, your sites don’t get affected by other sites on the server and hence there is no slow down of traffic and no chance of a virus affecting your part of the server.
A VPS definitely costs more than shared hosting (it’s an upgrade, remember?) but it won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
A VPS is best for those who want better speed and reliability than shared hosting but have a smaller budget than what is required to get a dedicated server.
The Best Blog Hosting Option
If you visit the online web hosting forums to figure out which one is the best blog hosting service, you will receive lots of suggestions. You will also notice that every host that receives positive votes will also receive lots of negative ones.
That’s the case with almost every blog host – a combination of good and bad reviews. But there’s one blog host who have a really good track record and generally receive very good reviews.
You can’t compare this host with others on price because it’s not cheap. But if can stretch your budget a little, then WP Engine will probably be the best blog host you can sign up for.
Here’s why –
There are a number of reasons. WP Engine markets themselves as “managed WordPress hosting” . This means that if you are hosting a WordPress blog with them, then WP Engine make sure everything is optimized and running as fast and secure as it can. They are experts at WordPress so there’s no WordPress related problem that they cannot solve.
So once if you are hosting your WordPress blog with them, they make sure it works perfectly for you.
And just in case you need their help with anything, they have an excellent support team who know WordPress inside out.
Their basic plan is $29 which can be upgraded at any time. So if your blog becomes really popular and you need more bandwidth to handle the extra traffic, they can upgrade your plan with a click.
WP Engine features a built in CDN (Content Delivery Network) so if your sites have a lot of images and/or video files, you can use this service. Having a built-in CDN really reduces costs as this service, taken alone, costs upwards of $20 per month.
WP Engine is best for those who want the best hosting service for their WordPress blogs, who want to deal with support staff that knows WordPress thoroughly and who do not paying extra for the peace of mind.