If you are planning to start a new blog, the first decision you need to make is about hosting.
Do you want a self-hosted blog or you want to use any of the free platforms like out there like WordPress.com?
You can do a lot of thinking for this but at the end its boils down to, if you are blogging as a hobby or are you serious about it.
If you are serious about it, you will be looking for a self-hosted blog.
And here you will be greeted with another important decision – What kind of hosting should you get?
For a novice, it can be really a daunting task to figure out which one works best for you. For a long time, I have been an advocate of using shared-hosting to start a new blog.
If you are just starting out, and this is your first blog, shared hosting provides a cost effective way to test and see if you can actually sustain your blogging enthusiasm.
If down the line you feel that this is not your cup of tea, you will not lose much. You always have an option to upgrade your plan to a VPS or dedicated server in case you need it.
We are now at the middle of 2017, most people are talking about mobile apps, PAAS, IAAS, SAAS. Do you still think that shared hosting has the same value?
Lets take a look at some of the hosting solutions and options available for your new blog:
This was my preferred way to start a blog till now. Most of the hosting provider offer shared hosting.
A single server is shared between multiple accounts, though you will not know your neighbors. Some hosting providers even allow multiple sites in a single account. Typically these are the cheapest options available running around $5 a month. You can get 30-35% discount if you decide to signup for longer terms. But if you have ever used a shared hosting, you might know the pain associated with them.
For starters they are certainly not the fastest servers around! Also, if there is one bad neighbor sharing the server with your blog — the party is spoiled for everyone. Page speed is one of the most important criteria for Google as customers are not ready to wait too long and shared hosting takes a hit in this area.
You still need to know about WordPress management and backend installation. Most of the hosting provider provide a simplified installation tools to handle that.
WordPress Managed Hosting
There are more and more hosting providers who have started to offer WordPress Managed Hosting. Ms. Ileane is currently using Site-Ground for this and she recommends them highly. (aff. link)
Get more information: SiteGround Anti-Bot Protection, SEO Ranking Factor Quiz, Future of Site Ownership Replay
StudioPress and some other vendors take it up a notch by offering all-in-one packages including paid themes and plugins, so that bloggers can focus on content writing.
There are some providers offering shared hosting but with a commitment that the only CMS running on those servers will be WordPress. They will also manage WordPress installation including some standard plugins. They also prevent use of the plugins that are known to wreak havoc on WordPress blogs. Automatic WordPress updates and warnings about outdated plugins can be a life-saver and really help you keep the security tight. These providers try to make sure that each server is tuned to WordPress requirements which might reduce the chances of you getting stuck with bad neighbors.
These all in one solutions can be little costly for a new bloggers, but if you have a budget and you don't want to spend time on setting things up, these can be good solutions to explore.
VPS or Dedicated Servers
Virtual private servers (VPS) or dedicated servers are another hosting solution where the server is only used for your site.
Most of the providers offer multiple site installation on a single VPS or dedicated server. VPS is still a shared hardware with restricted boundaries, so bad neighbors will not affect your installation. A dedicated server is a most costly option as it reserves the hardware for your use and you have to manage everything in there.
These are expensive options and you should invest only if you also intend to invest significant effort towards your blog or if you have a plan to monetize it.
Even if you have the budget to invest, there is a always a good chance that it will be underused at the start of the blog. Traffic generation takes some time and blogs usually grows organically, which means if you take high end server, you will end up wasting lot of money at the start.
This is the latest hosting solutions offered by companies like Microsoft, Google or Amazon. Most of the solutions provide the flexibility in terms of pricing with an assurance to handle any huge surge in your blog traffic. Several cloud solutions offer pay per use charging model, so you end up paying the amount based on the usage and your blog is able to handle significant traffic.
Now this is a major concern for many bloggers as this is a very open-ended pricing model. You don't know your expense at the start. Also technical expertise is needed to manage the infrastructure.
Amazon has changed this now with their Lightsail service. Lightsail service is targeted for people who wants close ended pricing with the ability to handle surge in traffic.
What is Lightsail? – Lightsail is the implementation of Amazon EC2 technology of implementing virtual private server on demand basis with a fixed cost and resources.
They have plans starting at $5, which provides 1TB of bandwidth and 20GB of SSD storage. That should be more than sufficient for any starter blog.
Also most of the web application including WordPress can be installed easily on Lightsail.
Once the traffic starts coming in, you can keep the same server and pay for any extra outgoing data or have an easy way to upgrade to higher plan.
Not only that, Lightsail has included Static IP Address, DNS management, Backup and Recovery in the same plan. So you don't need to spend anything extra for those services. This plan has become one of my preferred hosting solution for new blogs because it offers the flexibility of VPS on a shared hosting cost.
So which hosting would you like to use for your new blog?