How to choose a web host
If a 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 right web host for your WordPress site. In this article, we'll discuss factors that come into play when choosing your WordPress web host.
WHAT'S YOUR BUDGET?
The top consideration for most site owners in need of hosting is budget. Web hosting services range widely in cost — and, the cost is typically tied to the level of service you receive.
We must admit: nothing baffles us more about the world of online business than skimping on web hosting services. Your hosting plan can directly impact your users' experience as they navigate your site, and it also can impact your daily experience as you create and manage content. Hosting and the plan you choose is related to load time, how fast your WordPress dashboard loads, and how helpful customer service is when you run into an issue. Long story short:
In the world of web hosting, you get what you pay for. So if your website is your livelihood, we 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, and/or one with lots of content (more on this below). In this case, you can get away with a cheaper plan as you start out and grow your business. Just don't forget to make upgrading your hosting plan a priority when your budget allows for it — or when your resource usage and traffic demands it.
How much support do you need?
Another huge consideration most people overlook is the level of support you need.
Support with shared hosting
With shared hosting plans, support is often the luck of the draw. We have talked to support technicians who know their stuff and go above and beyond, but we've talked to just as many who have literally Googled our questions while on the phone (or worse, offered bad advice or told us straight-up lies!). And, it's common to experience both types of support from the same hosting company — so the type of help you receive really does depend on who answers the phone.
Our Tip: 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!
Support with Managed WordPress plans
This is why we 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. We share a few hosts who offer managed WordPress plans here.
What does your site and content need?
It is imperative to consider the size and traffic of your site when it comes to choosing a WordPress host.
OUR GENERAL RULES OF THUMB:
If you have over 1,000 blog posts on your site, shared hosting is probably not going to cut it, no matter what your site traffic is.
Similarly, if you have a high traffic site, shared hosting isn't a good option for you. 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, which web host is right for you?
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. We personally use SiteGround* (affiliate link) for many of our projects, including hosting the EmPress Themes shop website and demos.
While GoDaddy is a popular choice, and does offer a Managed WordPress plan which is a great, reliable (and affordable) option, we do not recommend shared hosting from GoDaddy as nearly all of our clients who have had their sites hacked were on a GoDaddy shared plan. 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, we 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 we recommend, as the level of support you'll receive 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.
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.