You already know the basics of setting up your blog. You even have a great name picked out. Now it’s time to get down to business – it’s time to get that blog up and running. At this point, we need to start talking about hosting your blog, which is essentially the process of finding a home for it on the web. Separate from finding a domain name (the blog’s web address), this is the part of the process that will help you to determine the first steps of how your blog is going to be accessed.
Free vs Paid: The Eternal Debate
There are thousands of articles out there about hosting your blog, but most of them tend to tip-toe around this part. Maybe it’s because it’s not polite to discuss money so bluntly, but the first question about blog hosting you need to ask yourself is this – how much money do you think your blog is going to make you?
Determining how much money you think your blog will make is the driving force between choosing between free and paid hosting options. The cost of paid hosting might seem steep for a hobby blog, but the cost might seem more reasonable if that blog is helping you bring in revenue. We can actually simplify the free vs. paid debate very quickly by dividing things up:
Those who use free hosts should either…
- Blog purely for personal reasons, with no goal of attracting more traffic
- Be first-time bloggers unsure of whether or not they will continue
- Have very limited funds for the blog, or
- Should not be sure of their overall blog strategy.
- Be blogging for reasons at least partially related to business
- Need to maximize blog up-time
- Have a strong idea of what the blog is for and what it will contain
- Have the budget to pay for hosting
Is it possible that you might fall into both categories? Of course. There are a number of great, professional blogs, such as author Neil Gaiman’s blog or Yale Stewart’s delightful JL8, that still use Tumblr. Likewise, there are plenty of individuals who use hosts like Hostgator or Webs even if they have no desire to grow a brand. If there is a hard and fast rule, though, it is this – if you are just trying to have fun, go with free hosting. If you want to make money, pay for a host.
What You Should Expect from a Hosting Company
Paid hosting is the best option for the majority of the readers out there, and one that I endorse for those who are not just hobby blogging. Figuring out which hosting company to work with can get a little complicated, but you can use the following to guide you. A great host should fulfill the following:
- Be reliable
Reliability is what sets free and paid blog hosting platforms apart, and you need to make sure that your paid host is going to keep your website up and running as much as possible. I am almost always a fan of local hosting businesses, but working with the big names like Bluehost, HostGator or GoDaddy will provide you with the best infrastructure, creating the best space for your blog.
- Be economical
Choosing a paid hosting option does not mean that you have to overspend. Every blog host seems to run specials for the first year, but these can be safely ignored. Instead, look at what’s included in a typical yearly hosting package along with the cost. I was once suckered into using a hosting service that looked like it offered attractive pricing, but very little was included with that price.
- Have great customer service
Finally, check out customer service reviews of each host. Your blog will, at some point, have a problem. You need to work with the host that will be able to resolve it with the fewest issues.
If you choose paid hosting, I would definitely recommend going with Bluehost. The company is very straightforward with pricing, and they have great customer service. Once you get your blog hosted, we can move on to the next step – figuring out exactly how you are dealing with content management. Believe me when I tell you this: we are about to get to the really fun stuff!
What are your thoughts on blog hosting? Any tips that you can add to the conversation? Let us know by leaving a comment below.