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So, you’ve decided that you want to start blogging. Maybe you have an interest that you know a lot about and want to share that knowledge, or you have heard that having a blog is a great way to earn a little extra money. Maybe it’s just a way to keep friends informed of what is going on in your family.
Regardless of the reason, it is exciting to be starting on a new venture. But after the decision is made, and you start doing some research, you realize that you don’t have the slightest idea as to where to start. Even worse, you start to notice that there is a lot more to blogging than you originally thought.
Yes, there are a lot of things that you are going to have to take into consideration when starting a new blog including web hosting.
Every blogger you talk to is going to tell you why they think that they host they use is the best. But of course, “best” is a subjective term, because what is best for one blogger may not be best for another.
We are going to tell you about seven different hosting companies that are generally the most “user-friendly” for new bloggers. You will obviously need to do some further research to see which one will most accurately meet your personal needs.
Here are some questions you will need to ask yourself when looking for the best host for your blog.
What Do I Need in a Hosting Company?
This should probably be your number one consideration for a new blogger. As a beginner, you are going to want something that is uncomplicated and easy to install with simple add-ons and plugins. A host offering a free domain name and good media support may also be important.
Basically, you want something that will do most of the work for you as you learn the ropes, but that you can easily (and cheaply) expand as your blog grows in popularity.
As a newbie, you are going to have a lot of questions. Instead of having to go to the internet for general answers, you want a host company that has easy-to-access customer and/or tech support. Whether it is via chat or e-mail, you want to make sure your questions can get answered quickly.
With all of the breach of service incidents you hear about in the news, and the rise of identity theft via viruses on the internet, security of your information has to be a legitimate concern.
If you choose to make money on your blog you also want to be sure that the host server will not crash if there is extra traffic. That could be a double loss to you: money lost from a sale or connection, and readers lost due to your inability to serve them. Speaking of servers…
There are four types of servers to consider:
It is exactly what it says: a dedicated server that is all your own. This is generally only beneficial to a large operation, as renting the server can be very expensive.
Again, no mystery here. You are sharing a server with several other websites. This is usually the cheapest type of server, and the choice of most beginning bloggers.
3. Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A VPS is pretty much right in between a dedicated server and a shared server. With a VPS, there is one shared physical server, but it has multiple virtual machines.
This is very similar to VPS, except instead of a physical server, there is a whole network of computers served by a virtual machine. This seems to be what more and more hosts are utilizing.
As we mentioned, a shared server will be the cheapest for you to start with, but if you want to learn more about the different types of servers, Hosting Facts has details to help you sort it all out.
You may find a host site that seems great and offers free services, but they are a start-up, or haven’t been in business too long. Tread carefully, because you do not want to invest your time and effort in something that will not give you the services that you need.
What Do I Want in a Hosting Company?
This goes right along with “Flexibility” from above. The type of blog you want to have will help you determine what features you want your host to have. For example, you may start a blog about a subject you are passionate about and find that your friends have shared it and your following has grown.
If you decide you want to turn your blog into one that has more interaction capabilities, you want to make sure that your site supports the interaction. You may also just get bored of your layout, and want to be able to change it up; therefore, you want access to different themes, fonts, and plugins.
Find a blog host that allows for a discounted domain over time, basically giving you ownership of your blog. There are some hosts that will offer you your domain totally for free, but keep in mind that “free” might not always be the best choice. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
There are many reputable host companies that will give you the first year free for your domain, and then you will have to choose which level of service will best fit your blog beyond that. This is a good deal, because it gives you the opportunity for some trial and error, and allows you to see if the host fits your blog in the long run.
Storage and E-mail
If you are planning on lots of pictures or other media on your blog, or if you plan to have a lot of interaction where readers can e-mail you, make sure that the host supports these functions – and confirm any fees that might come along with these features.
As mentioned above, even if you didn’t start out with the intention of making money on your blog, there may come a time that it becomes something you want to pursue. You want a blog host that will support all the types of scripts necessary to serve ads on your website.
While we are on the subject, let’s take a quick detour and talk about cashing in on your blog’s success.
How Can I Make Money with My Blog?
There are several ways to do this, some that are easy, and others that take a little bit of time and patience. But if you are willing to put in the work, you should be able to use it to generate a little income.
It should be noted that none of these are going to make you rich quickly. If you see anything that claims it will, it is most likely a scam. As with anything on the Internet, make sure you do your own research before you join any program or start a new venture.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Have you ever seen offers where a business will give you a bonus, a discount, or a product if you bring a new customer to them? This is affiliate marketing. It is a highly prevalent marketing tool online, and that is why we mention it first.
Basically, if you are signed up with an affiliate marketing program, you recommend a product on your blog and provide a link to that product. Then, if someone clicks that link and buys the product from your link, you get a small percentage of the sale as a return.
There are so many products out there, you may have a hard time choosing what to focus on. There are a couple of ways that you can do this.
Find Your Niche
Simply look at the target audience of your blog, and then think of products that your audience would be interested in. Most major retailers have some kind of affiliate program, so partner with one who you know your readers will appreciate and buy products from.
If you don’t have a blog that is for a specific audience, then partner with an online retailer that sells a multitude of different products. Of course, the first one that comes to mind is probably Amazon, but big box stores like Walmart and Target also have good programs.
It goes without saying that you can partner with as many businesses as you want to keep to track of. You may also want to consider using a performance marketing site like ShareASale; they have lists of merchants who have affiliate programs.
Some merchants, like Lowe’s, have outsourced their affiliate programs to a third party, requiring you to sign up with the third-party and join the affiliate program through them. You have to decide for yourself if you want to deal with a third-party or if you want to stick with programs where you deal direct with the merchant. Again, do your research and see what will work best for your situation.
2. Direct Sponsorships
Sponsorships on your blog work the same way they do in real life: a company pays you to promote their product through your blog. This could be through talking about it, representing it (i.e. posting pictures of yourself wearing their apparel or using their product), or reviewing it (this can also be a moneymaker on its own. See #4).
This is one of the methods that would require some legwork on your part. Any brand that would be worth representing is going to want to know what they will be getting out of the deal. You should have the stats for your blog (traffic, demographic, social media links, etc.) prepared, as well as a clear idea as to how their product will benefit from being featured on your blog.
Once you have all of that together in an easy to understand information sheet or press kit, then you can approach the companies with your pitch to gain their sponsorship. If you eventually make a deal, be sure that you have everything you both have agreed on in writing and signed legally.
3. Sell Ads on Your Blog
There are two main ways to go about doing this. The first takes more work to manage, but the second has limited earning potential. Keep in mind, as well, that many people find ads annoying, and use ad-blocker software – so consider this one carefully.
Direct Sale of Ad Space
This is a direct connection between you and the company advertising on your blog. It requires more work on your part because you have to negotiate to determine price, terms of the agreement, and you have to be responsible for the invoicing and keeping track of other information.
However, this method allows you to set what works for you, so if you have a high traffic, wide-reaching blog, you might be attractive to companies wishing to advertise.
By using a program like Google Adsense, you sign up, add a script from Google, and start displaying ads. This pays less than the direct sale of ads, because you will be getting paid a set fee every time a reader clicks on one of the ads. These are CPC ads (CPC stands for “cost per click”). There are also display ads that pay you a small fee every time a reader views an ad.
In addition, you are locked in to whatever their fee is, and you have to rely on your readers to click on the ads or to view enough of the ads to make any significant money; this could be a tricky prospect (as mentioned above), and you could find yourself with a blog full of ads and nothing to show for it.
4. Write Reviews – Get Paid For Them
This is different from the reviews mentioned in the direct sponsorship section above. You would still do best to pick products that your audience will appreciate and use, but instead of promoting them, you would write reviews. If you can strike a deal, the company will often let you try the product for free in exchange for the review.
Alternatively, you could write reviews about products and use affiliate links to make money.
If you are confident in your blog’s audience and pick the right products, this could turn your love of writing (which you’re doing anyway on your blog) into a money-making prospect.
5. Cash-Back Sites
If you are thinking about directing your readers to buying products (whether through your recommendations or as an affiliate), consider signing up with a site like Affinityy that gives you cash back on your purchases.
If you already have an online presence, say on Pinterest, for example, you can also use your boards to help your blog get up and running. This can be especially beneficial if you have pinned products, crafts, or other items that will catch the attention of your readers.
Start small and see how your cost/time/benefit works out after a few months before trying a more involved plan to monetize your blog. Just don’t get so caught up in the money aspect that you lose sight as to why you started your blog in the first place.
Now that you have some idea of what to look for in a host, let’s look at the ones out there that will meet most of these considerations for you. We will also include some of the pros and cons of each one to help you decide.
The Best 7 Hosting Companies
It should be noted that there is no particular order to this list, but that the first ones listed are the ones that have the most to offer new bloggers, at least in the terms that we have discussed above. In addition, except where noted, these web hosts focus on supporting WordPress blogs.
There are several reasons that BlueHost has become the “go-to” for new bloggers. They currently host over 2 million websites, which is a pretty good indication of general customer satisfaction.
They have 3 plans for hosting, Basic, Plus, and Business Pro, each with nominal fees. But the fees are misleading, because they are based on a commitment of three years of hosting; the prices go up if you only want one or two years, and the minimum plan is for one full year.
Features & Flexibility
This is one of the most user-friendly sites out there. Their platform is fairly straightforward, the controls and directions are easy, and does not require you to know how to code like some others.
They have a lot of plugins and add-on integration that will allow for your blog to grow and change as needed. Many apps can be installed directly from their own dashboard, which means that you do not have to go searching for compatible apps.
BlueHost has over 750 people providing hosting services 24/7, so customer support in some form is always available. If you have any issues, you can e-mail (or call and leave a message), and someone will get back to you. Note that if you choose to wait on the phone, you might be on hold for a while.
Some users have reported being placed on hold for anywhere from 20-45 minutes. This could obviously be frustrating, but you have to decide whether the wait is worth it to have your question answered more quickly than waiting for an e-mail.
BlueHost carries all of the required safety certificates, along with some extras, that will keep your data safe. They also have anti-Spam modules built right into the platform itself.
Domain and E-mail
If you choose them, you will get a free domain name, up to 5 e-mail accounts (with 100MB on each account).
BlueHost offers a tutorial for building your website, which could be an invaluable time-saver as well as saving you from a lot of trial and error headaches.
If you are thinking about making money on your blog, BlueHost has some e-commerce tools that are easily integrated with e-commerce websites.
BlueHost also comes with a one-click WordPress install.
WordPress is popular choice for beginning bloggers for many reasons. The combination of BlueHost and WordPress, however, is one that has been used by literally millions of people.
When all is said and done, BlueHost is an excellent way to get your feet wet in the blogging arena.
Everybody has seen those Danica Patrick commercials, right? She helped put GoDaddy on the map, but their award-winning service has helped them stay there.
They offer shared, VPS, and dedicated servers, and you will pay accordingly, just like the other sites with multiple hosting possibilities.
GoDaddy has 4 rate plans: Economy, Deluxe, Ultimate, and Maximum. The Economy plan, starting at $7.99/month will be the best bet for a beginner. It allows for one website with 100GB storage, and free business e-mail for the first year.
(As with several other host sites, initial costs are low and/or free for the first year and then remain available for a charge beyond that. Be sure to look at the long term prices when making your decision).
Features & Flexibility
GoDaddy’s GoCentral is an all-in-one building site that has a lot of drag and drop options for designing your blog. There are many industry specific designs, all of which are mobile friendly. The website builder also has sets of tools that can enhance your blog.
Want to link to a Facebook account? There is a tool for it. Enhance SEO or create e-mail marketing? Yes, tools for those also. They also have an Online Store (see below) that will integrate right into your existing GoCentral site, so if you decide to monetize, this could be a very big asset.
GoDaddy has an extremely detailed Help Blog that contains articles, listicles, and how-to videos. You can go in search of your own answers and hopefully find what you are looking for.
If you cannot find the answer there, they also have a great support team that can help you regardless of what your issue is. Available 24/7 by phone, they can do everything from offering advice to answering tech questions.
A GoDaddy GoCentral site will be automatically encrypted using an SSL certificate, which will keep all of the data private. This will be especially important if you do eventually choose to monetize, because you will want to ensure your customer’s bank or credit card information is secure.
E-Commerce & Marketing
As mentioned above, the GoCentral Online Store is very helpful for people just getting started in e-Commerce (this would be you). It is easy to set up, and easy to use, with options for selling physical goods, payment options (like PayPal) and other aspects that can help you expand a business (if you so choose).
It should be noted that GoDaddy has a Managed WordPress hosting plan as well as their regular web/blog hosting services. The Managed WordPress Hosting plans range from $8.99 – $24.99 per month.
The Basic Managed WordPress plan allows for 1 website and 10GB of storage. It includes a drag-n-drop page editor, social-media sharing, and mobile friendly themes so that your blog looks the same whether viewed via desktop or mobile device.
In addition, GoDaddy has modified servers specifically for WordPress, which will give you specific security and speed you might not get from their general site-hosting. They also automatically update WordPress for you, so you don’t have to worry about being out of date.
If you go the WordPress route, you can still sell products using GoDaddy. GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress plans include a WooCommerce plugin, which enables you to sell both physical and digital products. This is not necessarily as user-friendly as the storefront available if you chose the GoCentral Builder.
To be clear, you can choose to host your blog through either GoDaddy GoCentral or the Managed WordPress Host. If you were planning on using WordPress anyway, you would certainly be better off with the Managed WordPress plan.
But if you want to go out on your own and build a little bit more from scratch, you can’t go too far wrong with the GoCentral Builder either.
This web hosting service has four service categories, Cloud, WordPress, VPS, and Dedicated, each with their own set of plans. The cheapest they offer is the Cloud Hosting Hatchling plan, at $4.95/month.
The most expensive is the Dedicating Hosting Pro Plan at $129.00/month. And there is something for just about everything in between. Each type of hosting and plan has its own benefits, so you would have to take a closer look to see which one fits your blog.
Features & Flexibility
They have a very easy-to-use interface, so learning their methods will not be too hard. There is a lot of built in integration, and they are compatible with other sites. For example, if you already have a WordPress site, you can set it up on Hostgator with just one click.
Here is a place where they really shine. There is a customer support portal that has multiple options: live chat, phone number, and create a support ticket to name a few. In addition, they have many customer forums where you can find the answers you need quickly on your own.
Hostgator uses extensive custom firewalls and network level flood protection, and their physical datacenters are in restricted access, highly secure facilities. They are also well-protected against a DDoS (Direct Denial of Service) attack.
Like many host sites, however, they do emphasize that a user is responsible for certain aspects of securing their websites. These include the typical suggestions like keeping apps up to date, and practicing password security.
It is easy to be impressed by Hostgator’s numbers: they host over 9 million domains, have hundreds of thousands of users, and employ hundreds of people to keep everything running.
They are very confident in their services, as they take an unusual step in offering a 45-day, money-back guarantee for whichever service you want to try. This gives you ample time to explore and see if what they offer works for you.
One note about their pricing, however. The costs mentioned above are generally introductory rates which will eventually disappear, so be careful to take a look at the long term cost of a plan before jumping in head first.
Hostgator has a longstanding reputation for blog hosting, and they stand confidently behind their product. Their multiple services give a new blogger a lot to choose from.
The “.com” domain of WordPress is an actual hosting service created by the co-founder of WordPress. This is one reason people often confuse the two, or don’t even realize that it is two totally different platforms.
There are 5 plans for the WordPress.com hosting service: Free, Personal, Premium, Business, and VIP. If you are just starting out, the highest you would want to go is probably the Personal level (currently at $36.00/year). It must be said, that you will not be getting a whole lot for your money.
Features & Flexibility
Like its “.org” counterpart, WordPress.com is easy to use, and you do not need to know code to get setup. However, unless you are willing to pay to have a higher level of service, the items offered at the free level may not make it attractive.
Simply put, there is not a lot of wiggle room on the WordPress.com platform. You can’t upload plugins. If you are using the Free Plan, you only get their built-in features that are pre-activated. You cannot use any custom themes, and have only limited free themes to choose from.
All of this makes customizing your blog extremely difficult without paying to do so.
They have multiple avenues of support, on a page that is well laid out, so it is easy to find help for whatever issue you may be having.
They do have reliable security that is built-in. Because they are such a large company and host sites from all over the world, their servers are spread out across the globe. They have the standard certificates and use strong encryption practices.
They also have multiple firewalls and extensive processes in place, including monitoring suspicious activity. As with the others mentioned above, they emphasize user-responsibility in securing their own sites as well.
There are a lot of restrictions placed on a WordPress.com account. If you have a free plan, they will place their own ads on your site, and you have no control over what the ads are. You will also have to pay per year to have an ad-free site.
In addition, you cannot sell your own advertising on your site unless you guarantee a certain amount of page views per month. If you do receive the required number of views, you can apply for a special program; if approved, you can use your own ads, but have to give them 50& of your advertising revenue.
WordPress.com is NOT WordPress.org, and there are a lot of differences between the two. WordPress.com does have some benefits, but be careful to know exactly what you want before choosing the .com domain.
Like other sites, SiteGround has a special price for people just joining them which is a marked difference from their regular monthly fee. The StartUp Plan is for one website with 10GB of space, among other things (see Features & Flexibility).
They are currently running a special price of $2.98/month, which sounds great until you see the fine print that says that the promo price is applicable for the first invoice. After your initial term is over, you shoot straight up to the regular price of $11.95/month.
The StartUp is more than enough for a beginning blogger, but just for comparison, the GrowBig plan goes from $4.98 to $19.95 and the GoGeek jumps from $8.68 to $34.95. If you are looking at possible expansion in the future, you should probably take this into consideration.
Features & Flexibility
Because they are primarily a WordPress hosting site, most of the features are based in WordPress. For the bare bones StartUp Plan, you get what you pay for, which is very basic. Go to the SiteGround WordPress Starter which will take you step by step through launching your site.
You can choose from over 30 design options, add in functions like a photo gallery or eCommerce store, and then the starter will automatically install the features and plugins you chose. They do make it simple.
Take note though, most of the extra features they offer, such as manual development and a staging tool that makes updating your site easier are only available if you pay for their highest plan.
They have a fairly good 24/7 support system in place, claiming that their protocols allow them to meaningfully address most issues within 5 minutes. The support team can be contacted via phone, chat and through submitting support tickets.
Note: they do say right up front that their premium customers, those with the upper two plans, will receive priority service. So even if you called in first, they may receive assistance first.
They are especially proud of their security, stating that they have both power and hardware redundancy in their data centers. This means that if their servers go down, they have the capability to minimize the duration of the outage, which in turn means your blog will be down for a shorter time as well.
They have also setup their servers so that if one becomes vulnerable, others are not affected. This makes their shared host system nearly as secure as a dedicated server. They also have the typical Spam prevention, and are proactive about updating firewalls.
Domains & E-mail
With the Start Up plan you get the one hosted website, but unlimited sub and parked domains. This means that you could build a separate website under your main domain name. If you eventually want to diversify, this expansion could be useful.
Likewise, you have unlimited free e-mail accounts with SiteGround. You can also use aliases and forwarders (sending to other e-mails) with their program. If you build your blog to a brand where you eventually need other people to help out, this could be an extremely beneficial feature.
According to a poll taken in 2017 by the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group, SiteGround was the number one rated host. This is largely due to their security and their e-mail/domain capabilities and the ease at which WordPress can be launched or migrated.
If security is your concern, they are certainly one of the most secure host sites available. If you’re looking for greater flexibility with design, you may want to look elsewhere.
This company is like GoDaddy in that does allow for regular webhosting if you wish to do your blog from scratch, but, like SiteGround, they have features specifically designed for WordPress.
Their basic plan, Shared Starter, starts at $2.59 a month if you pay for annual hosting, $4.95 a month if you pay monthly. The plan provides you with one WordPress website, unlimited traffic, a shared hosting server, daily backups, and 24/7 support.
They do make it easy, however, for you to upgrade to the DreamPress plan if your blog really takes off and you need to expand. This plan starts is $16.95/month for annual, $19.95/monthly billed monthly. With DreamPress, you get a Cloud Server, e-mail hosting, more storage, and some addons preinstalled.
Features & Flexibility
They have an intuitive control panel for full administrative access to any DreamHost product you use, but they do feature one-click instant install for a WordPress site, which is convenient. As mentioned, they make it easy to switch up to their higher plan if your blog expands.
They have adequate support across many platforms. They have an in-house support staff/service team who you can contact with questions. Or you can look for answers in the DreamHost knowledge base, or even ask a question in the community forum.
Regardless of which one you choose, you can be assured that you will be getting answers from real people, not chatbots.
They have built their own add-on tool, called DreamShield, which can be added to any domain or subdomain to ensure that it is free of malicious code. It automatically scans your site upon addition, and then on a weekly basis after that.
They will notify you both by e-mail and by a message on your panel after every scan letting you know if it was a clean scan or if anything was found.
They also use the standard encryption, have hundreds of custom rules for their firewall, and offer free domain privacy as well.
DreamHost does offer VPS and Dedicated Servers, as well as the aforementioned Shared and Cloud. They really do not offer much in the way of design themselves, as their focus appears to be mostly on migrating and supporting WordPress sites.
Compared to others on the list, you do not get a lot of extras with DreamHost, but they do offer simple WordPress installation.
7. WP Engine
Once again, it is all about the WordPress. WP Engine was one of the first companies to provide the managed hosting services designed specifically for WordPress.
This is the most expensive hosting site of the ones reviewed here. The Startup plan is their lowest, and it begins at $35/month. You do get 2 months free with an annual prepay, and they do have a risk-free trail of 60 days.
With this plan, you get one site, free migrations, some tools, over 35 StudioPress Themes and the Genesis Framework. There are three additional plans that cover from 5 to 15 sites and a dedicated environment, but those are super-expensive and way beyond what a beginning blogger needs.
Features & Flexibility
Because it is in the WordPress family, everything they offer is WP optimized and ready for use. The StudioPress themes are easy to use, SEO ready, with preinstalled security features. In addition, all of the themes are Gutenberg ready, which means that design and editing is even simpler.
Their support staff is specially trained on WordPress, and there are specialty areas so that concerns or complaints can be addressed by the correct people. Their website also has several FAQ articles as well as a chat section for general information.
Live Chat and email support are available 24/7, but if you want to talk to a live person on the phone, the hours are only 7AM-7PM CST. For specific issues, they require you to log in to your account, and this is available 24/7/365.
WP Engine has extensive security measures to protect their customers’ data. They have disk write limitations, which is actually what it sounds like. The process limits what is allowed to write to disk, so if you have a plugin with a vulnerability, it is more difficult for malicious code to exploit the weakness.
They maintain and constantly update a list of disallowed plugins, meaning that if a plugin has been shown to be weak or vulnerable, they will remove it and not allow it to be reinstalled.
The also offer dedicated environments for customers, dependent on profile. Customers on the higher plans have enhanced security that does not share anything (memory, disk space, and other resources) from profiles on lower plans. As with other host sites, they use encryption, firewalls and safety protocols.
The staff knows WordPress like the backs of their hands, so you probably won’t find more knowledgeable customer service. But the prices of the plans, as well as what little guidance you actually get for the money, make WP Engine illogical for a neophyte blogger.
So there are 7 of the best blog hosting companies for you to start your blog with. All of them come with pros and cons, and all of them should be further researched so you can figure out which one fits your and your goals the best.
As always, taking the time to do your research in the beginning and picking the right host now can save you a lot of time later on, which will ultimately allow you to focus on creating, nurturing, and growing your blog through the years.