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There’s almost always one thing every blogger regrets after running their blog for a few years: their first web host.
Yeah, you know. The one you paid $12 a year to host your site. (Tip: If anyone actually offers you unlimited anything for $12 per year, don’t do it. Save yourself the countless headaches that come with that price tag.)
4-5 years ago, I started my own blog. I knew a bit about dedicated hosting and managing servers from my sysadmin days, but I hadn’t been introduced to the nightmare that was managing a virtual server that I had no control over. (And I had yet to experience what happens when your host gets snapped up by a larger company.)
So, I decided to go with a cheap host—mistake number one. They were right down the road and I had friends that worked there. Some research would have returned info on their talks with EIG, but I was ready to get started. I rushed into things—mistake number two.
No more than a month later, I found out we were getting transferred to “new” servers. No info on the software, the specs, or how long the migration would take, just “new servers.” Awesome.
After weeks of trying to get my site back up and running and countless hours on the phone with support who didn’t have any control over what was going on (mistake number three), I transferred back to a local data center.
Long story short, research your host. Talk to them beforehand and expect to be lied to (or at least mislead). Often. Read reviews and ask for recommendations. Be cautious about taking advice from people who only recommend one host, especially if they’re getting paid really high commission. Just be skeptical and it’ll save you money in the long run.
I wanted to talk about Siteground, because if you’re on a tight budget, SG is an absolute lifesaver. I have personally hosted websites with them (a few of my clients still host with them as well) and they have one of the best support teams I’ve seen.
The affordable hosting and good customer service is a breath of fresh air. Often times with bigger hosts, you won’t get the support you need. (Unless you consider chatting in hundreds of times for the same issue and getting a different agent every time good support.)
SG competes with Bluehost’s $3.95/month and offers far better support. Very rarely have I had any issues getting someone to understand what needed to be done. They also offer email/ticket support, which seems like common sense to offer, but some companies have dropped this kind of support. For more complex issues and for people who can’t chat in outside of peak hours, a lack of ticket support is a huge issue. (Bluehost recently dropped their ticket support for technical issues as well.)
I have not personally purchased hosting from Dreamhost, but I do manage a few sites and forums that are hosted with them. With the exception of some things that went down for a bit earlier in the year, I have nothing to complain about. I can’t say much about support since I’m not the one who contacts them, but all issues I’ve experienced on sites hosted with them have been resolved in a timely manner.
They don’t have the best uptime, but they do have a guarantee that for every hour of downtime, you’re credited a day. (But in my experience, this doesn’t happen often enough to matter.)
The only thing that wound up being a big downside for me was the web panel. I do occasionally have to do some backend work from time to time and their web panel is awkward. The menus are clunky and unintuitive, coming from someone who uses the usual cPanel that most hosts make available. It takes a bit of getting used to.
My best experience, by far, has been with Lyrical Host. I found them while I was looking for a new host to move a few of my personal sites and I am so glad I made the switch.
The selling point for me was the managed WordPress hosting. You still retain a lot of control over what you can do on the backend, but you don’t have to deal with a lot of the headaches that come with dealing with clunky services that come preinstalled with WordPress. (And they don’t upsell you on a million things like other hosts!) The only thing they preinstall is their own caching plugin.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how good the hosting is if you don’t have the support to back it up. I’ve gotten nothing but the best from them! They offer free WordPress migrations, quick and painless. (Even with my clunkier sites that had a lot of data and media files, migrations went very quickly.)
As a bonus, they offer graphic/photo resources every month—everything ranging from social media graphics to illustrations and stock photos. Click here to check some of them out.
Want 10% off your plan? Use discount code: ROADMAP for a discount on your first purchase.
Before you purchase a hosting plan through anyone, be sure to contact support to see what the best deal is. You’d be surprised what a simple chat with a host can return! Often times, they’ll get back to you with deals and discounts that aren’t listed anywhere else on the site. It never hurts to ask.
With most hosting companies, your first year will often be your cheapest. Most hosts offer a low entry fee for new customers, but rates can almost double in following years. On one hand, this allows you to try them out without paying full price, but it can be an unwelcome surprise to new website owners.
Lyrical Host offers very straightforward pricing on their hosting plans, with no surprise raises on their plans. You can get a slight discount for making yearly payments, but you won’t see any significant hikes in price after that.
Siteground and Bluehost are both very affordable in the first year, but depending on the plan you go with, subsequent payments can go up quite a bit. If you’re on a tight budget and have to go with one of these, I highly recommend going with Siteground. Their support is among the best and they’re much more willing and able to work through any issues you have. Bluehost has decent baseline hosting, but you won’t get the support you need as a new website owner (especially if you’re not technical).
Pick a few web hosts from above (or ones you already had in mind) and talk to them! Contact them and ask what deals they have going on and what packages they recommend for you. Hosting that scales with your site is incredibly important. You don’t want to get stuck with a host who can’t handle occasional traffic spikes and doesn’t support growth.
Once again, it’s okay to be skeptical. Unfortunately, we’re still at a point where we have to expect companies to do whatever they have to in order to make a sale. This sometimes amounts to being dishonest. Just expect it, and if you find they’re honest and straightforward with you, it’ll be a pleasant surprise!
At this point, you should already have a name for your blog in mind. Go ahead and secure your social media handles, domain name. Get hosting once you decide on a host. (Some hosts like Lyrical Host do require you get a domain name with them in order to take advantage of free SSL, so keep this in mind when buying a domain name. If you already have one, you can always transfer it to them later.)
And while I do highly recommend going with Lyrical Host above others, I understand that they’re not necessarily the best fit for everyone. It really comes down to what you need for your site to be successful.