Starting Your First Online Business - A Web Hosting Primer
Taking the leap and deciding to start a new business venture is a huge commitment, and an extremely exciting time in any professional's life. However, for your blog, lifestyle business or other new venture to be successful, there are a lot of technological hurdles you need to surmount to be successful in today's business world. Two of the most basic of these are securing your domain name and establishing a reliable hosting provider.
If the first step you take on the road to business ownership is to do a Google search for a domain registrar and hosting service, you are likely going to be completely overwhelmed by all the options available to you. Learning what features you really need, and which ones fit in with your particular business model is vital to your success.
Luckily, this process doesn't need to be as complicated as it might appear on the surface. There are a few basic concepts that, once mastered, will ensure that you're set up with the right type of service for your business.
First though, there is one basic question that should be answered. Why does all this matter? Why do you need to negotiate these muddy waters and distinguish one provider from another? Well, it's simple...
Why Choosing the Right Hosting Company Matters
In the Internet age, the cost of starting a business is a fraction of what it is in the brick-and-mortar world. However, there are still a few areas where you will have to open the purse strings. Web hosting is certainly among these.
Remember this basic tenet: if you're operating a web based business, your entire business might as well not exist if you have a problem with your hosting. Every other feature and function that your company performs will be dependent upon your hosting fulfilling the needs you need met.
This means two things: first, that you should spend some time learning what kind of hosting will work best for your firm, and second, which features and functions provided by hosting companies will best meet those needs.
WordPress First, Hosting Second
If the world of online content development and online business is new to you, then you might not be aware of the one thing that all veterans of the online business world know. In a nutshell, this is that you want to build your website on the WordPress platform.
Yes, there are countless other options and platforms that you can use. However, none of those other options have the available templates, support and ease of use that WordPress can offer you.
One of the best features that some hosting companies offer is built in WordPress support. With a few clicks you can instantly install WordPress on your server and launch your new site. This is unequivocally the feature that you want, especially if you're embarking on you first online business venture.
Three Types of Hosting
There are three main types of hosting that we will concern ourselves with for the purposes of this article: shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting.
Shared hosting is a great economical option for people working on a bare-bones startup budget. There will be lots of other companies sharing the hosting hardware with your organization, but if you're just starting out, this shouldn't negatively affect you. The cost should roll in at under $10 per month, but what you save in money you may sacrifice in speed and reliability. Email issues are not unheard of, for example, in shared server situations.
However, these services are also usually user friendly, you don't have to be an experienced tech person to utilize them, and installing WordPress is usually a matter of a single click. In short, this is a great beginners' option.
If you're not happy with the service that shared hosting would offer you, consider Virtual Private Server, or VPS hosting. This is a service where a virtualized server will be dedicated to your website, meaning that certain resources will always be dedicated to your site's smooth operation. The security pitfalls and speed bumps that occasionally derail sites hosted on shared servers don't affect VPS hosted sites, but this comes at an added cost. Expect to pay around twice as much as you would for shared hosting.
The most elite level of web hosting is known as dedicated hosting. This means a single server is set aside for your company's web presence. To be honest, unless you're running a massive website and have a huge amount of capital to invest in your web presence, you're probably not going to need to consider the dedicated option.
The Optimal Web Hosting Solution
The number of options on the market can certainly be overwhelming, but we can help you cut through a lot of the guesswork. Unless you require a very specific set of services from your hosting, there is a good chance that WP Engine is going to meet all your needs in a way the competitors simply can't match.
This company is focused on the WordPress platform, and know how to ensure that WordPress sites are hosted and managed in the most effective way possible. The support team are experts in working with WordPress, and the company itself provides reliable hosting with lock-tight security and up-time that you can count on. The company also provides solutions that work great for growing companies, as you just have to let them know when you need a more robust service plan and they can seamlessly take your hosting up to the next level.
Essentially, if you want to run a WordPress site, want to easily manage your content, and want a great support team, then you need to seriously consider what WP Engine can offer you.
However, this service can cost close to $30 a month. If that stretches your budget a little thin, there are a few other options you might want to consider.
Great Shared Hosting Options
Bluehost and Hostgator are actually different brands that are selling the same service. That means you get a great service that makes it very easy to get your new web business up and running no matter which of the two you choose. What might be even more important to someone just starting out is the level of customer service these companies offer. If you have some tech trouble along the way, their experienced service professionals will be able to help you out of a jam.
Dreamhost might be a little more expensive than some other shared hosting options, but the option to upgrade your service to a VPS hosting service makes it great for companies who see growth on the horizon.
Registering a Domain Name Made Easy
You're also going to need a domain name to get your company off the ground. Shared hosting services usually include a domain with the purchase of a year of hosting, but if you need to use an independent registrar there are a couple of options. Hover is a wonderful bet if you want an easy to use site. It has good management tools if you're starting to compile a long list of domains that you need to manage. If you're looking for the cheapest option on the market, it is hard to beat Name Cheap, but their bare bones interface is not necessarily for the faint of heart.
A Final Word on Free Hosting
Once you start searching out your options in the web hosting arena, a lot of ads for "free hosting" are going to start popping up in your news feeds and recommended ads. Just remember, you get what you pay for. These services usually hamstring your website to the point that it is completely ineffectual as an operational business. They are usually best left to people who want to make a simple personal page to share with their friends and family, not those who are serious about launching their online careers.