How to Choose a Web Host
As budding web entrepreneurs, we get ideas in our heads and make a snap decision to set up a website…or three. In our haste to do so, we may not take the time to figure out which hosting platform is the best fit for our ventures. We may put all of our eggs in one basket, only to find out that the platform we chose has major limits as our goals and growth change. Or, if you’re like me, you might have chosen multiple platforms, leading to a confusing mess.
Choosing a Web Host for a Personal Website
When I set up my personal website, I went with a WordPress.com premium plan at a cost of $99 per year. Looking back, I probably should have gone with their personal plan, at a cost of $48 per year. The personal plan includes domain registration, removes advertisements (except for the WordPress branding in the footer), 6GB in storage, and has access to hundreds of themes.
It does not include access to monetization through WordAds, which is WordPress.com’s built-in ad platform, but I don’t need this on a personal website. My personal website is simply a representation of myself on the web. It showcases my portfolio, shares my resume and tells interested parties how to contact me. Your personal website is not likely to get enough hits to make monetization worth it, nor should you necessarily monetize a personal website beyond some affiliate links if your content and products are showcased elsewhere. Plastering advertisements on a personal website is tacky and unprofessional.
Choosing a Web Host for a Professional Website
When I started setting up some more websites which I thought might have the potential for monetization, I went with more WordPress.com premium accounts. However, as I generated more content and grew the sites, I started to realize the limitations to WordAds. WordPress decides where to place the ads, and what goes in them. Beyond affiliate links, you are not allowed to insert more ads into your site. Even an upgrade to the business plan at nearly $300 per year does not allow outside advertising.
Then, I discovered this wonderful thing called WordPress.org. This is the same platform, but it is no longer hosted by WordPress’ servers. The platform is installed on another host, activated and all the great WordPress tools are available, minus the WordPress.com limitations. You get the ease of setting up a website with WordPress, but you can now insert as many outside ad programs as you wish.
I went with GoDaddy.com for Vaal Web Properties, my corporate website. This came out to about $120 per year for the deluxe plan, which includes one website, 15GB of storage and capacity for 100,000 visitors per month. So basically, way more than I need right now. WordPress is included, and I have virtually unlimited freedom to monetize my site to my heart’s content. But then again – should you necessarily monetize your own corporate website? Probably not! In fact, after accessing the site and its purpose, I came to realize that this site would likely have only slightly more viewers than my personal website. After all, the bulk of my content (the valuable stuff) is still located elsewhere!
If you’re aiming high, this GoDaddy plan might work for you. But for my needs right now, it’s just too much.
My latest website is Adult Student Resource Center. I have big plans for this site, even though it’s not my top performer at the moment. However, instead of upgrading my current GoDaddy account to add another site, I went with BlueHost, which so far, has been the best possible deal for my needs at the moment.
I noticed that BlueHost has a ‘prime’ plan which offers a lot more for the same price as my GoDaddy deluxe plan. Unlimited websites and unmetered storage for about $120 per year? Anticipating that I might want to set up more sites, and possibly get out of my WordPress.com hosting, I jumped on this. I am currently in the process of moving my top performing site from WordPress.com to BlueHost so that I can have more freedom with advertising.
What can we make of this story? Always take your time when setting up a new website, and determine your existing needs and your goals. If you are only looking to set up a personal website, a WordPress.com personal plan is probably best for you. If you’re looking to start and build, I’d go with BlueHost, and then maybe compare with GoDaddy once your traffic and content have grown. If you have multiple sites, consolidation is not a must, but it might be nice for you.
Disclaimer: this article contains an affiliate link or two.