Setting Up Your First Blog: Choosing a Web Host

Hi there, and welcome to our May 2016 series on setting up your first blog. In a series of 4 posts this month, Ian and I will take you through how to start your own blog. From choosing a web host and setting up WordPress, to writing your first blog post, I hope this series will be helpful for beginners getting into blogging and also for advanced pros who’d like to pick up tips here and there. Without further ado, let’s move on to our first step: choosing a web host.


Choosing a Web Host: Self Hosting VS Using a Hosting Platform

So, you want to setup your first blog? You’re faced with two choices: hosting your own blog using a CMS like WordPress.org or Ghost on your own server, or using a blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress.com. Some blogging platforms are free (Blogger is) or offer a free plan (WordPress.com), are hosted on high-quality secure servers, and may even rank higher in search engines (if you plan on using a “.blogspot.com” domain name).

So, what’s the catch?

Well, you don’t *actually* own the site. See, Google reserves the right to take down your Blogger blog anytime, and horror stories like this has happened to many people where their revenue sources (their Blogger blogs) were taken down – often without explanation. Also, you get more control when you self-host your blog. WordPress.com restricts bloggers from placing ads on their site, and instead places their ads on your site (it’s only fair though, as you’re not paying). There are also more customization options – this site, Nukeblogger is built on WordPress, but is customized in many ways that would never be possible on a blogging platform. These two reasons combined, is why almost all of the serious bloggers host their own blog.

Here’s a great comparison of WordPress.com (hosted) VS WordPress.org (self-hosted).

Web Hosting Terminology

There are often many types of hosting out there, and the terms can often get very confusing. So here’s it in simple terms.

Every website on the internet is hosted on a server somewhere. A server is basically just a powerful computer that is also connected to the internet, containing files for websites. For example, when you load nukeblogger.com into your browser, your computer sends a request to the server that contains the files for Nukeblogger, and the server sends over the files for Nukeblogger’s homepage, which is then displayed on your browser window.

Shared hosting is when multiple websites are hosted on the same server, thus “sharing” the server.

Dedicated servers/dedicated hosting is when you get to get the whole server to yourself. You are usually able to access root-level permissions, and more importantly, you have complete control over your server – you are not sharing it with anyone.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are dedicated servers that have been divided into many parts, and you effectively control your “part” of the dedicated server. These are a cheap way to have more control over your server (usually for optimizations, etc.), without having to pay the cost of an actual server.

Reseller hosting is basically shared hosting, except that you will be allowed to create more “accounts” under your main account, and sell shared hosting to others.

For most bloggers, a shared hosting plan will be enough. If your blog has grown a lot, you can also consider upgrading to a VPS. This post will only be about choosing the best shared web host.

Choosing a Shared Host

So, with all that out of the way, what *is* the best host?

Unfortunately, there is no “best” host, only the one that fits your needs. I’ve tried out many hosts and done tons of research on choosing the best host. I’m going to recommend different hosts for different needs.

Best Host in General: SiteGround

SiteGround is an independent host known for its great support and server quality. If you look around the web, you’ll see that the feedback SiteGround receives is nothing short of being excellent. However, their price is a little higher than its competitors.

Best Host for Small, Personal Sites

Do you own a small site for friends and family to read? Perhaps an online journal to jot your thoughts down from time to time? For these, I would actually recommend you to stick to a blogging platform like Blogger, as those usually suffice. They’re free, they’re easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about technical issues.

Best Host for WordPress Users

There are many hosts that especially tailor to WordPress. However, recently one that has really stood out and caught my eye is Traffic Planet Hosting. Here is a review from RankXL, one of my favorite blogs about internet marketing/SEO.

Best Premium Host

SiteGround is already a relatively premium host, so I’d recommend you buy in 1 year or more to enjoy discounts. If you want to go one step further and enjoy even higher speeds, you can try MediaTemple. Their shared plans start at $30/mo.

Endurance International Group

For those of you who don’t know, EIG stands for Endurance International Group, a public company that owns some of the largest brands in hosting. Their brands include iPage, Bluehost, Justhost, Fatcow, Hostgator, etc. Most of them are known for sub-par support and oversold/crammed servers. In general, many of them provide a bad experience, and have a bad reputation in the hosting industry. I wouldn’t recommend any of them myself, although I’ve seen bloggers having a good experience with them.

And, that’s it for today! Hope all of you enjoyed the first post of our may series, setting up your first blog. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below.

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