One of the first big questions that comes up when someone starts a blog or website is who to choose for hosting. Almost invariably people ask for recommendations for cheap website hosting rather than the best website hosting. (Some people choose a free site they do not own such as Blogger or WordPress.com, but we do not recommend that for a variety of reasons.)
Most people go for the cheapest option they can find for one of two reasons. One, they are just starting out and not fully committed so they want something cheap in case they don’t follow through with their new endeavor. Two, they are on a very limited budget as they bootstrap their business and want something cheap.
Over time, I’ve come to see how this choice is a mistake in a number of ways.
Our Experience with Cheap Website Hosting
Allow me to give you a bit of our story so I can save you the trouble of making the cheap website hosting mistake.
We used cheap hosting for a number of years. We purchased our domains through a particular company and it was quick and easy to just set up hosting with them as well. And it was good.
Until it wasn’t.
As my website grew both in terms of traffic and complexity, it became more and more of a problem. Even when we tried to “upgrade” to one of their “better” hosting options (two day nightmare) or add on another “service” that they assured us would fix all our problems, it still did not work properly. It finally culminated in not being able to use my own website dashboard for hours at a time because it would never completely load. I was being throttled.
If you aren’t familiar with the term throttling, it is when a hosting service deliberately slows down your traffic. If you are on shared hosting of any kind (and you are if you have a cheap plan), you are only allowed to use so much of the service even if you have “unlimited” bandwidth. Once you use too much in a day or a week, they make it impossible to keep pulling as much. It is basically a penalty for having a successful website. Your site is forced to slow down, even if you have a popular post bringing a lot of traffic. They don’t assist you in your success. They penalize you for it.
The Hidden Costs of Cheap Website Hosting
The reality is that cheap hosting actually costs more in the long-run. While you might be saving a few dollars a month, you will pay that cost eventually. And not only will you pay financially, you will pay in many other ways. Here are some of the hidden costs of cheap website hosting.
You will lose traffic when your site reaches a certain size because your cheap host will begin throttling your site. When people attempt to access one of your posts, they either won’t be able to get on or the site will load so slowly that they will give up and surf on.
You will have repeated down times, but won’t be aware of it. It won’t be obvious as though your site suddenly shows up with an error page. It will be there, but it won’t work. As we were preparing to move my site’s hosting, I could see stretches of fifteen to thirty minutes at a time on my stats when no one was accessing my site during the busiest time of day. Tons of lost traffic and lost potential readers.
There is never a convenient time to switch hosting. Even the best case scenarios take time. Switching hosting never goes absolutely smoothly and there are always things to fix afterwards.
The bigger and more complex your site, the more potential for problems before and during your switch. Our hosting switch was a nightmare. It took days longer than it should have. It wasn’t the fault of the new host. It was the fault of the old host. My site was so large that the transfer kept timing out on their end. What should have been a quick 24 hour process turned into almost a week as my old hosting was incredibly uncooperative.
You will lose sales. I realize now that I have probably lost many sales in my printables shop over the last several months I was on cheap hosting. If people can’t access my site, they can’t buy. Those lost sales would have more than paid for the difference between the cheap hosting and the quality hosting.
The bottom line?
While you might save a few dollars a month at the start, you will save nothing in the long-run. You will, in fact, lose money with cheap website hosting.
Why Do Big Bloggers Recommend Cheap Hosting?
This is a question I’ve seen come up time and again. Why do successful bloggers and online entrepreneurs recommend cheap hosting if there are all kinds of problems with it? I think it happens for a number of reasons.
One, the bloggers and website owners do not use the service they are recommending. They probably do not realize how bad the service is. They have so many irons in the fire, they don’t investigate the service properly.
Two, there have been major buyouts of smaller, quality companies by large ineffective hosting companies over the past couple of years. Some of those bloggers may not be aware of the quality control issues that are now rampant with many of the cheaper hosting companies. For example, one company that was highly recommended a few years ago and loved by many was bought out by a huge company. Last Christmas that formerly beloved company was down for over a week. Bloggers and website owners lost out on sales, traffic, ad revenue and more. It was a huge, incredibly stressful disaster for many.
Third, bloggers are paid a large affiliate bonus for every person who signs up with their hosting. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with earning from affiliates! We are affiliates for many great companies, including the web hosting service we recommend. But, we made the decision we would not recommend a website company unless we were also using their services. While we could make lots of money sending our clients and people who read our blog posts to cheap hosting, we would rather recommend quality hosting that costs a bit more but that we have confidence in.
Fourth, I think a small percentage of them don’t care. Recommending certain companies is a gravy train for some bloggers and website owners and they don’t care if they are sending people to a great or bad company.
We Recommend InMotion Hosting
So who did we decide to choose? When we realized we needed to make a change immediately, I dug in and started researching. I scoured Facebook groups I’m in and read every discussion I could about hosting. We narrowed it down to four and then researched everything we could online about those companies. We then spoke directly with customer service reps from three.
In the end, we chose InMotion Hosting. They had excellent reviews, options that worked for us, and a reputation for outstanding up time. They have plans for every level of blogger or website owner. If you are starting out small, they have reasonably priced shared hosting plans. If you are a medium-sized blogger like me, you can move to a Virtual Private Server. Or if you have a huge blog, you can move to a dedicated server. Each step of the way as your website or blog grows, you can easily grow with InMotion.
As you embark on your online business ventures, choose wisely. Learn from our mistake. Skip the cheap hosting and go with the best quality you can afford. You will be so glad you did!