Part IV - How To Start A Blog Free Advice & Bluehost Affiliate Program Reviews Call Out
Welcome back to the next installment in my blog series on how to start a blog. In the last segment, I delved into domain names and all the nitty gritty details that are part of that conversation that you probably didn't think mattered until you read through that post. However, having explained in detail all the considerations that go into the domain now it is appropriate to transition into it's complimentary better half.. the hosting.
What do you mean by hosting.. more commonly known as website hosting ? Well I know that when I got started several years ago I had no idea what anyone meant when I was told I needed good hosting for my website. If you're a novice like I was.. a domain was probably all you thought you needed to get things rolling. To explain it is to basically state that hosting is what gives you the ability to make your website or blog accessible by others through a central location where the data for your blog is housed. Without the hosting, your website will not be accessible by anyone so the hosting is a mandatory requirement for your website in order for it to be seen online. The hosting that we'll be talking about for the sake of this blog post is dedicated hosting. This type of hosting doesn't require that you retain any hardware other than your computer, but does require that you familiarize yourself with server administration once you've chosen a solution that is right for you. I can tell you first hand that exploring the administrative end of your hosting account does take a little getting used to but it's not that complicated to navigate with a little practice.
There are three solutions that I will recommend and discuss with you in this segment. While I know there are far more than 3 options online for website hosting, I prefer to only speak about companies with which I have dealt with personally and in this case one other from a blogger that I respect and thereby feel confident about that particular recommendation of which I will get into later. Nevertheless, the information provided here is solely for the sake of providing good recommendations to you.
As you have discovered in other recommendations and reviews I've made on this website, I consistently air on the side of recommending services I have used first hand that will provide value and benefit to my readers. So with that said, my three website hosting solutions to discuss are the following: Squarespace (which is currently used to host this website), Bluehost website hosting and 1&1 hosting. Now with that said, everyone has their own opinion about what is the best web hosting provider and the purpose of this information is not to "sell" you on either recommendation. I intend to layout information that will help you make a more informed decision regarding what you feel may be the best option for your own website. Even if you elect not to choose any of the following solutions I've had experience with, I can tell you confidently, particularly for our purposes that these hosting providers are consistent and solid so without further adieu let's discuss each one.
- Blogging Web Host Provider- Squarespace
Squarespace as I mentioned above is the website host that I chose for the candidwriter website. In regards to a few positives, Squarespace has a good reputation for being visually appealing. What has helped them reach the notoriety they've received is in part due to how appealing their themes are. As a blogger this is important to you because visuals are a huge aspect of the work that you will be doing. A blog without visuals that grab the attention of your visitor is a blog in trouble.
Another area where Squarespace excels, while at the same time considering the recent news of the mobile friendliness algorithm implemented by Google, is the disclosure they made on their own blog that they are indeed "mobile friendly" (e.g. MF) meaning it passes Google's mobile friendly test in the wake of the new algo. This is important because websites that are deemed mobile friendly are ranked higher than those that are not and that's great news for Squarespace users.
Additionally, using Squarespace allows you to perform all necessary SEO related tasks such as changing your url slugs, titles, description information that is looked at by the search engines, the ability to change or add to the existing code on your website, connect social accounts, the ability to edit your content "on the fly" without switching in and out of an editor and provides other popular integration options as well and even more importantly when you need assistance, you always get a timely response from their support department.
With respect to cons to using Squarespace, it's lacking a more competitive feature set in the area of exporting of your website, but for the sake of not getting too wordy and nerdy on this one.. just know this is might be a deal breaker for some. Additionally, Squarespace does not make it easy at all to make your blog or website multilingual. There are some workarounds but it's no simple task by any stretch of the imagination. I also want to note that if you're going to use this web host, there are no free plans and for those that want to add a shopping cart.. Stripe is the only option for handling payment for now.
Bluehost is a hosting solution that is well known and used by popular blogger, Pat Flynn. With that said, I have composed a video to demonstrate being able to set up a Wordpress blog using Bluehost in just 6 minutes. It's a LIVE video from getting your domain to actually writing up a brief "first blog post" on your new Wordpress blog. So for those that are on the fence about how to actually get going from step 1 to completing the process, it serves it's purpose as a place of reference if this is the solution that you choose. As a bonus, you can get it half off their regular monthly fee here: Bluehost at 50% off of their regular monthly fee.
This one is a web host provider I've used for a couple websites before trying out my current web host provider. For those that have experience in hosting, you may think I've gone bonkers recommending 1&1 with their mixed reviews, but I do so because I have personally never had any issues through 1&1 and in my opinion, it is another solid solution for your web hosting needs. 1&1 is also one of the more well known hosting solutions around since they've been in the business since 1988.
The nice thing about 1&1 is that they are consistent and they are trusted because of their longevity. I will reiterate again that having used them personally I've never had any bad experiences and their support was always responsive to any questions I had. Their server response times seem to be on par with what I've experienced with Squarespace and there were never any lags in page loading performance that raised any red flags for me.
1&1 is also pretty inexpensive for those looking for very affordable website hosting at .99 cents a month on their best deal. So for the reluctant buyer, this is a way to get your feet wet without making a dent in your wallet. It may not have all the bells and whistles of Squarespace but it's a great introduction to website hosting.
Now, what you may not love so much about 1&1 is that for some reason they haven't jumped on the live support bandwagon so there's no live support through this platform. If you need support you will have to call them directly which is not a problem, but it's still something worth mentioning upfront. The other area that you probably won't fall in love with is their interface on your administrative side.. It's definitely lacking in that arena.
While I start to close this segment, I'd like to add this... that as a word of note and caution.. in spite of them being "extremely" affordable, I "have not" heard good things about Hostgator. I have not used them personally so I can't use my own experiences to verify this statement, but given the overwhelming poor feedback regarding this hosting solution.. if you consider it.. you're using it at your own risk. Now if I'm wrong about Hostgator, I will retract this statement in this blog post. So in conclusion.. if you've had positive experiences with this provider, I would certainly invite you to share in the comments section as well.
Stay tuned for the next segment.. there's more to talk about in this blog series on how to start a blog with 500% success rates.
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