If your domain name is your street address on the web, your web hosting is the actual house — you need a place to store (or… host!) your files. Web hosting is essential to running self-hosted WordPress, so it’s important to choose the best WordPress hosting for your site. Let’s talk about the factors that come into play to choose the best host for WordPress.
What’s your budget?
Naturally, the top consideration for web hosting is your budget. Web hosting services range widely in cost — and, let’s be honest, the cost is typically tied to the level of service you receive.
I have to admit that nothing baffles me more about the world of online business than business owners who want to skimp on web hosting services. I’ve seen entrepreneurs who wouldn’t blink an eye at investing in a $500 ecourse, and fashion bloggers who are willing to spend the same on an investment piece in their wardrobe. But these same business owners balk at $30/month web hosting plans (which, by the way, adds up to less than that ecourse or investment piece in a year). In the world of web hosting, it’s especially true that you get what you pay for. If your website is your livelihood, I encourage you to consider investing more in your web hosting.
However, it’s totally normal — and advisable! — to be budget-conscious when starting out. When your site is new, it doesn’t require the amount of resources to keep it running like a higher-traffic site with lots of content. In this case, I definitely recommend starting with a cheaper plan as you grow your business, and make upgrading your web host a priority when your budget allows for it.
How much support do you need?
Another huge consideration that most people overlook is the level of support you need. With shared hosting, support is often the luck of the draw. I have talked to support technicians who know their stuff and go above and beyond, but I’ve talked to just as many who have literally Googled my question while I’m on the phone (or worse, offered simply bad advice or straight-up lies!). I have experienced both types of support within the same company — so the type of help you receive really does depend on who answers the phone. If the person on the other end doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about, they probably don’t. Hang up and try again!
This is why I consider managed WordPress hosting essential for anyone who isn’t tech-savvy or doesn’t want to spend time figuring things out themselves. Managed WordPress hosts tend to have support teams that know WordPress inside and out and will usually just take care of things for you without bogging you down with the details.
What does your site need?
Finally, you must consider the size and traffic of your site when it comes to choosing a WordPress host. If you have over 1,000 blog posts on your site, shared hosting is probably not going to cut it, no matter what your traffic looks like. Similarly, if you have a high traffic site, shared hosting isn’t going to cut it. It takes more resources to run larger and/or high-traffic sites, and shared hosting means you have no idea what other resources are being used on your server.
So, how do you choose the best WordPress hosting for your needs?
If you’re just starting out, are on a tight budget, and don’t mind figuring things out for yourself, there’s nothing wrong with starting out on shared hosting. I personally use Bluehost (affiliate link) for my side projects, like the podcast I started with my boyfriend. Sometimes I’ve noticed my sites on Bluehost load pretty slowly, especially given that there’s not a lot of content or traffic, but that’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept to save money on those sites. Reviews on them are mixed, but I’d say I’ve had good results from support calls at least 75% of the time.
I’ve heard good things about SiteGround but can’t offer a personal opinion. I do not recommend shared hosting from GoDaddy as nearly all of my clients who have had their sites hacked were on a GoDaddy shared plan. However, I’ve found their managed WordPress hosting to be reliable, and very affordable. You won’t get the same level of service and support from a GoDaddy managed WordPress plan as you would from hosts like Flywheel and WPEngine, but it’s a good budget option.
Otherwise, I recommend upgrading to managed WordPress hosting as soon as your budget allows it, and definitely if you start seeing problems with your shared hosting or your livelihood relies on your website. While many shared hosting companies boast “unlimited” storage and bandwidth, what this really means is that they don’t monitor your usage until their servers are unable to handle it. But most won’t tell you that your site has outgrown their capabilities; they’ll simply say you need to reduce the amount of resources you’re using. That’s when it’s time to switch.
Upgrading your plan with a shared host isn’t really an upgrade, and isn’t something I recommend, as the level of support doesn’t really change. You’re better off switching to a company that specializes in managed WordPress hosting as you’ll pay a similar price for better support and servers that are optimized for WordPress. I host this site on Flywheel (affiliate) and recommend them to all of my clients. They’ll migrate your site for free, making the upgrade a no-brainer.
Finally, don’t forget to save everything when you sign up for a new account! Take note of your logins, and also save any welcome emails from your web host — these often contain information you’ll need if you work with a developer in the future.
P.S. Once you have hosting, learn how to start your website with WordPress.