Before the internet, sharing your ideas with the world beyond your immediate friends, family, and colleagues was out of reach for most people. With the rise of blogging, everyone who has ideas or artistic creations they want to bring to a wider audience now has a way to do so. But before you can start pushing your thoughts and works out into the larger world, you have to get your blog up and running.
One of the first and most basic things you need to accomplish that is web hosting.
Website hosting for a blog is one of the most essential services required if you want to reach other people online. It’s one of the main building blocks of a new blog.
Why Your Blog Needs Web Hosting
Do you know why web hosting is important? Let’s take a look at what web hosting actually does and how it influences your overall site.
We don’t often think about it when browsing the web, but every website we visit is taking up space. All the different files and elements that make up that website have to live somewhere physical.
As much as the internet feels untethered by the physical world, in fact, every word and image you see takes up a tiny amount of space in a room filled with servers somewhere.
Web hosting companies own and maintain those servers. Every blogger on the web has essentially rented space from one of these web hosting companies of their choice on one of the servers the provider owns (except in rare cases where a particularly tech savvy blogger may own their own server).
Now you understand the web hosting basics. Web hosting services are basically the online version of renting real estate for your home or business but —as you’ll be glad to learn—much cheaper.
Typical Cost of Blog Web Hosting
Web hosting plans start as low as $5 a month for the most basic shared web hosting plans. Shared hosting will be the best choice for most new bloggers.
But as your blog gets more popular, you may end up upgrading over time to either a cloud hosting plan or a VPS hosting solution. A cloud hosting plan generally costs in the range of $5-$50, whereas a VPS, costs $20-$100 per month.
In some cases, these starting rates won’t include additional features you may want or need, such as a domain name registration, SSL certificate (for security), domain-branded email addresses, or a website builder.
Make sure when choosing the best web hosting services for your blog that you review the available features for different options and factor in the costs of anything that’s not included that you’ll need to pay extra for.
Web Hosting for Blogs: Top 10 Features
While every blog will be different, the best web hosting for a blog will typically accomplish at least ten things.
Have you ever tried to visit a site only to get a message that it’s not available and to come back later? That usually means either that:
- The website has more traffic at the moment than its web hosting plan can handle, or
- The website’s hosting platform server is undergoing maintenance or facing another issue that’s taking it temporarily offline.
In either case, you don’t want that happening with your blog. You want people to be able to find your posts at the moment they’re ready to read them. Otherwise, they may leave your website and never come back.
We’ll discuss the answer to the first issue in a section below on types of web hosting, but for the latter issue, the answer is to find a web hosting company that consistently delivers on uptime. Look for a web hosting provider that promises at least 99% uptime, and check their claims against what third-party sources say.
All of HostGator’s web hosting plans promise a 99.9% uptime, a claim that has been tested and confirmed by independent reviewers as well.
Website speed is an extremely important part of user experience. Many visitors won’t stick around if your blog takes longer than a couple of seconds to load—especially on mobile devices, which are making up a bigger portion of internet use every day.
While there are a few different steps that bloggers can take to keep your blog loading as fast as possible for your users, one of the biggest factors in website speed is your web hosting. You need both the right web hosting company and the right plan to make sure your website consistently performs at the kind of speeds your visitors expect.
Make sure you choose a web hosting platform that can promise speedy loading times, and continue to test your blog out over time so you’ll know sooner rather than later when your traffic levels are slowing things down so you can upgrade to a plan that delivers the speed you need.
Hackers are always looking for opportunities to steal data or otherwise use a website for their own purposes.
Bloggers that don’t plan to monetize their blog may think they don’t need to worry as much (and certainly, any bloggers that do set up the site to accept payments need to give security extra priority), but there are a number of different ways that hackers can cause problems for you—all of them troubling:
- They can take over your website and turn it into something to promote their own scams—or worse, use it to try to blackmail you into sending them money.
- They can slip spammy links into your website that hurt your authority and potentially lead your visitors to dangerous other websites.
- They can hijack your website’s traffic and redirect it to other spammy sites.
- They can load malware to your website so that it infects the devices of your visitors.
- They can steal visitor information that’s been submitted through forms on your website (e.g. names and email addresses)
- Most serious of all: if you do accept credit card payments for donations, information products, or blog subscriptions, they can steal your customers’ financial information.
Look for a web hosting provider that has a good reputation for security, offers SSL certification as part of their web hosting plans, and works with reputable security software like Sitelock.
4. Ease of use
Most new bloggers don’t have a ton of technical skill, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you choose the right web hosting platform. You will probably need to learn some web hosting 101 stuff about how to use your web hosting company’s cPanel, loading your files with FTP, and using the main features your web hosting plan provides.
A good web hosting plan for a blog will make most of that pretty intuitive and provide a number of resources to help you learn the ropes when you get started. Take some time to peruse a web hosting provider’s support resources and customer reviews to get a feel for how they fare when it comes to ease of use.
Selecting a web hosting platform that’s easy to use will save you time and trouble in getting your blog up and running.
5. Customer service
Even if you find your web hosting provider’s setup easy to figure out, you may need to get in touch at some point to get their help.
As in any industry, your experience with a web hosting company can change completely based on the quality of their customer service. If you have a hard time getting ahold of someone when you need their help, or if they don’t provide the help you need once you do, you’ll end up frustrated and dissatisfied.
Look for a web hosting provider that offers 24/7 customer support. And do some research into the company’s general reputation for customer service. If other customers have had issues getting the answers they need, then you may well experience the same.
6. Backup features
The more work you put into your blog, the worse it would feel to lose it all in one fell swoop. Just like your computer or mobile devices, your website needs to be backed up regularly to save you the trauma of losing all your work.
Many web hosting providers offer automated backups as an affordable add-on to your web hosting service, so you can focus on your blogging, confident that all your work is saved and easily accessible if something happens.
7. SEO tools
If you want readers to find your blog, then doing what you can to show up in search engines for relevant keywords should be an important part of your blogging strategy. Taking a few basic SEO steps can make a difference in how discoverable your website is, and the right web hosting platform can offer tools or features that make those steps a little easier.
Namely, you want an easy way to customize your URLs, fill in meta descriptions, and submit your website to search engines. Even better is a web hosting plan that offers SEO analytics and reporting features to help you track your SEO progress over time.
8. Monetization features
Many bloggers hope to reach a point with their blogging efforts when they have enough devoted followers to start making money from their blog. If that’s your goal, or something you want to at least keep your options open for, then you need a web hosting provider that offers the proper features for accepting payments down the line.
That means proper security features (although, as previously discussed, you should want those anyway), ecommerce features if you’ll be selling products, and compatibility with common payment processing options such as Paypal or Stripe.
9. Website builder
You’re ready for your blog to be up! You don’t want to spend weeks building it before you can publish your first post. The easiest way to get your blog ready to go without having to hire a professional or spend a lot of time learning how to code is with an easy-to-use website builder.
While there are many website builders you can subscribe to separately from your web hosting, you can cover two needs at once by going with a web hosting provider that also sells a website builder.
A good website builder for blogging will include a number of responsive blog templates for you to choose from, easy drag-and-drop functionality, and handy multimedia and SEO features. It will help you get your blog looking just how you want it without a big time commitment, so you can get straight into sharing your thoughts with the world.
While some blogs will reach a point where they start to make money, for most bloggers, making a profit is unlikely. That means you probably want to spend as little as possible to get your blog going and keep it maintained.
Web hosting services bill on a subscription basis, so you can expect to pay either monthly or yearly for the length of time you have your blog. Consider both the upfront costs of a web hosting plan and the ongoing costs.
If you start with basic shared hosting, also take a minute to research the cost of upgrading with your web hosting provider down the line. Sticking with the same provider will make your life easier, so you want to know that if your blog takes off you can afford to switch to their cloud or VPS plans.
The Different Types of Web Hosting for Blogs
We’ve touched on the different types of hosting briefly in the previous sections, but new bloggers can benefit from having a better understanding of what the main types of web hosting for a blog are.
Shared hosting is the most affordable web hosting plan and usually the one that makes the most sense for someone just starting out.
As the name suggests, under this type of plan you’ll be sharing a server with a number of other small websites. Since none of the sites sharing the server have just a huge amount of traffic, the server should be able to easily host all of them.
If your website starts to see a significant increase in traffic down the line though, you’ll want to upgrade to a hosting option that’s better equipped to handle it.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform out there. It’s easy to use and perfectly designed for blogging.
A WordPress hosting plan is designed with features that will make it especially useful for any bloggers using WordPress, such as a WordPress cloud interface that’s more intuitive for WP users than a typical cPanel might be, one-click scalability for when you experience traffic spikes, and faster load times.
If you’re building your blog with WordPress, consider a hosting option that’s specifically designed with your needs in mind. In order to have a successful website down the road, you need to find web hosting for WordPress sites that works with you and can adapt to your goals.
Cloud hosting moves your web hosting into the cloud, which makes your website instantly more scalable and faster.
If you expect (or at least hope) that your website traffic will grow quickly and want the flexibility to grow with it in real time, cloud hosting is a good option. It typically costs a bit more than shared hosting, but can manage higher traffic without slowdowns or interruptions.
A virtual private server, or VPS, is the next step up from cloud hosting. When you invest in a VPS, your website will no longer be sharing a server with as many other sites. You’ll have a much bigger share of the available bandwidth. That both means your site can handle more traffic, but also that you have more storage to work with.
It’s worth noting that there is one more option beyond a VPS, a dedicated server, but most bloggers are unlikely to need that level of web hosting when just starting out. Usually dedicated servers come into play for enterprise businesses or especially popular media sites.
That said, if your blog does become an internet sensation, it’s an option you may want to consider down the line.
Get Web Hosting for Your Blog
No matter what, to have a blog you need web hosting. Web hosting is an important element of any website. Which provider and plan you choose will depend on your particular needs and preferences, but making the right choice now will make building your blog and keeping it running for years to come easier.
If you have any questions about how to choose the best web hosting for a blog, HostGator has skilled support staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get in touch and we’ll do our best to guide you toward the right decision for your blog.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.