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Episode 3: My favourite website hosting companies after 10 years working with WordPress
Best website hosting services in 2021
What means best? Best in price? Best in reliability? Best in speed? Best in…? What is actually really important about a hosting provider? I guess all of the above in a way, but there is something which I find makes all the difference and that you’ll find out when there is a problem or a crises.
I think it would be impossible to say who are the top 4 hosting providers in general as there are over 300,000 hosting providers worldwide so it’s impossible for someone to know them all and many of them probably doing a good job. However, after working with dozens of different hosting accounts over the last 10 years there are a few hosting providers who I find stand out of the crowd with first-class customer service.
‘How to start a blog 2021 – The ultimate WordPress tutorial series’ step-by-step to start a blog or a small business website on a budget:
How to start a blog 2021 – The ultimate WordPress tutorial’ will cover
- What kind of options you’ve got for each WordPress topic (free and premium)
- Advantages and disadvantage of each and what to look out for
- Where it’s worth spending some money and what you can do yourself easily (even for WordPress beginners)
- I include lots of written and video tutorials for each topic so it’s easy for you to follow
This is a full-blown tutorial series on how to build a small business website for beginners and getting into niche blogging, with individual detailed posts for each topic. The index makes it easy for you to find what you’re interested in, skip parts you don’t need and go back to parts you might like to do later.
What makes a good web host?
Most providers offer what it says on the tin, they offer a place for your website and it’s fine as long as it all works. However, the day your site goes down or you experience errors, your site gets hacked or affected by malware, that’s when you will realise what a good hosting provider can do for you and that’s when excellent customer service will make all the difference!
Shocking customer service
I have dealt with certain hosting providers over the years whose customer service was so shocking, that it’s difficult to comprehend why they still have clients.
A few years ago, I was taking on a client’s website and they had issues with certain security protocols on their site. I reviewed their site and researched resolutions to their issues, read FAQs and support documents but to no avail. So I sent an email to their support, told them exactly what I needed help with, everything I tried already, the FAQs and support documents I read and followed but that it still wasn’t working and asked them if they could please look into this and help me to resolve it.
They did reply but that was after 48 hours (that’s very long if your site is down or you have issues with checkout and you can lose valuable clients in that time) with an auto-reply thanking me for contacting them and a link to their FAQs!
They did not read my email or cared how I would get the issue resolved, they just sent out standard replies and probably hoped that the client won’t reply again. Unbelievable and very frustrating, and that’s why I believe that customer service is one of the most important factors – after reliability – in choosing a hosting provider for your business, as it can make all the difference when you need them.
4 best website hosting services with excellent customer service
After working with dozens of different hosting providers over the last 10 years I think I can distinguish the good from the bad. I do a lot of corporate training, i.e. I offer staff training customised to the specific company website. As these clients find me individually and are not coming from an agency, each website is built by a different developer and hosted by their preferred hosting company.
Therefore, I have seen it all – good and bad – and I believe I’m certainly in a good position to recommend certain hosting providers over others ;-).
Which Web hosting is best for beginners? Bluehost – cheap, easy to use and friendly support: Blue Hosting
If you’re just getting started with WordPress and you’re not planning on building a massive big website that can cope with thousands of visitors all at once, you could choose a large reliable hosting provider such as Bluehost. Blue hosting is one of WordPress recommended hosting provider. I have worked with Blue Hosting accounts regularly for years and always found Blue Hosting admin area quite user-friendly and easy to use and their customer support very quick and helpful. You can check out this step-by-step video tutorial on ‘How to get started with WordPress and Bluehost’.
The video is very easy to follow and shows you every step including how to install WordPress to your account, you can pause the video to follow it easily. They are one of the few hosting providers who are recommended by WordPress directly, so that’s a very safe recommendation. Blue hosting plans start at $3.95/month if you opt for a 36 months contract.
Bluehost – up to 60% discount!
They also offer regular discount packages like the one below. You can find all current hosting and other WordPress related discounts on our WordPress Discounts page. But in case I miss one you can check out any Bluehost discount packages here directly and then right below the ‘Get Started’ button you can view any current discounts.
|Currently, Blue Hosting offers a kick-off Spring web hosting discount! Starting March 29th, they will be discounting ALL term-lengths on all of their Shared Hosting packages:|
|Basic – $2.95/mo* (12/24/36mo)|
Plus – $5.45/mo* (12/24/36mo)
Choice Plus – $5.45/mo* (12/24/36mo)
Pro – $12.95/mo* (12/24/36mo)
|That means the 12 months Basic package ($2.95/mo) will have a $35.40 in cart value that includes a free domain name for the first year and SSL. You certainly won’t get it cheaper than that, that’s a deal that has never been offered by Bluehost before! It’s a WordPress recommended hosting provider, so you can’t go wrong with it. If you’re just getting started with blogging check out my step-by-step video tutorial on how to set up your Bluehost hosting account and install WordPress.|
|Limited-Time Discounted Pricing is Available: |
between March 29 12:00 am. MST and March 30 11:59 pm. MST.
Website hosting services for growing businesses
Of course, there are many other hosting providers I worked with over the years and with most of them I never had an issue. However, there are a few hosting companies who stood out and I’d be very happy to recommend them especially if you’re looking for a web hosting plan for a growing blog, a business website with spiking traffic or for if you’re looking for more personalized customer service. All of the featured WordPress hosting companies here have always been an absolute pleasure to work with.
Spiral Hosting – an Irish website hosting company with a global presence (and Irish friendliness)
First of all, SpiralHosting! Spiral Hosting is an Irish hosting company with data centres in the UK, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe (Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam) and the USA, they’re an Irish company with a global presence. They are around since 2006 and well established with a lot of experience and extensive knowledge of web hosting.
I have a couple of websites with them now for years and I don’t think I will ever leave them, their hosting service is great and affordable starting at $59 a year and domains for less than $10 per year. However that’s not why I’m so happy with them – their customer support makes all the difference; they are always so lovely, quick and helpful. I really love chatting with them :-).
Spiral Hosting shared hosting plans are great for a personal blog, a small development site or for start-up entrepreneurs who need an online presence while their business grows. All plans include cPanel (the world’s leading hosting control panel), 1 free domain registration, and a basic SSL certificate for your website.
Spiral Hosting’s excellent customer service – even out of hours
If I ever get stuck with something I use SpiralHosting’s live chat facility and they always – even on weekends and out of office hours, not sure if they ever sleep – get back to me within minutes.
Their usual reply is something like this:
“Hey Julie, thanks for your query. That’s no problem at all, I have changed/added this for you on your website. If you ever need to change this again you can do so at (…specific instructions…) or just send me a quick message and I’ll do it for you.”
They are always super helpful by not just doing the task but also explaining how to do it in case I want to do it myself next time – most support teams would do one or the other. Really, they are a pure pleasure to deal with – thanks Peter, Eric, Joyce and everyone else at SpiralHosting.
SiteGround – best hosting company for growing projects who can cope with a spike in traffic
Then there is the well-known hosting company SiteGround. Their plans are a little more expensive starting at £5.99 per month for the first year when signing up for an annual account, so still very reasonable. You can see all their current discounted plans here.
However, you get so much for your money with them – they are really fantastic for projects which have the potential to grow one day soon, even at short notice. So if you think you might need more performance down the line, they would be your best choice for hosting as all their plans are extremely flexible. You can quickly and easily upgrade to either their cloud or dedicated hosting plans to cope with a spike in traffic without much notice (it might be that the Christmas period is very busy for you or you are planning to run promotions at specific times of the year).
Siteground hosting flexibility and discounts
You can switch between different plans on a monthly basis which usually is not possible with most hosting providers, with most hosting companies you upgrade on an annual basis. This is great for your customers as they won’t experience a slow or crashed website, and it can save you a lot of money as you can downgrade back to a cheaper hosting account once your sales period is over.
I have a couple of accounts with SiteGround hosting too and always found them very easy to work with. Their customer support is always quick and really helpful. They are also one of the recommended hosting companies by the maintenance provider WPBuffs – you can read here a full review on WordPress maintenance companies and how they can make your life so much easier by saving you tons of time every week.
SiteGround also makes it very easy for novice WordPress users with their setup wizard that installs WordPress for you, to purchase your domain name and as I mentioned before they offer fabulous support if you ever need help.
WPEngine – top-notch award-winning hosting company – the fastest and most reliable one
And then, last but not least, there is top of the notch award winning hosting provider WPEngine.
They offer 24/7 support, free access to WordPress Genesis & StudioPress themes, the best site management tools on the fastest and most reliable hosting platform for businesses of all sizes. They power over 1 million websites in 150 countries. They offer daily backups, continuous monitoring of your site, automatic updates, and managed upgrades for excellent security. They have won multiple awards for their customer support and services. This is really a top-notch hosting provider who can handle any website project of any size and the best part is that their plans start at $25/month if you pay annually.
WPEngine – get 3 months WordPress hosting free!
And remember, if you use this link to sign up for any of their annual plans you get 3 months WordPress hosting free! This offer is valid for new customers purchasing any Startup, Growth, or Scale plan. Unfortunately, it’s not valid for existing customers, upgrades, or any other product purchases. So if you don’t have an account with WPEngine yet, grab it quick before it’s discontinued.
You can give them a call, or use their chat facility if you’re outside of the US, to speak to their really nice and helpful support staff. And of course, they are another one of WPBuffs’ recommended hosting providers too, so you know they work really well together and your website is in safe hands – here you can find a full review on WordPress maintenance plans.
Can I set up a WordPress website without dealing with hosting and other technical stuff?
Some people find dealing with hosting, backups, software and security updates etc. just too much and are looking for an easier way of creating a website which they can update themselves, which will do well in search engines but without paying someone for an annual maintenance contract. If you feel like that, WordPress.com might be for you.
If you’re looking to set up a website, which will do well in search engines but is low maintenance except for creating content for the site, then this WordPress version is for you.
There are two different versions of WordPress – WordPress.org (self-hosted version, for which you need to set up a hosting account first) and WordPress.com. WordPress.com is not as well knows and sometimes gets a bad rep, but it can be a great solution to build a simple website without much technical knowledge.
It’s true that WordPress.com does not come with as many customisation options as the self-hosted version, but it still comes with quite a few customisation options. Also, the advantages of not having to take care of daily backups, weekly software and security updates, and no need for a maintenance plan to keep everything up to date outweigh the limitations for some people. You might like to consider this option if you’re looking to create a simple service website, so let’s have a look at what WordPress.com is all about.
What kind of site can I build with WordPress.com?
This version is hosted by Automattic (that’s not a typo, it’s a play on the founder’s name Matt), founder of WordPress.com, and it’s perfect for any service website like plumbers, electricians, construction businesses, hairdresser, solicitors, charities, non-profit organisations, life coaches, therapists, dry cleaners – really anybody who needs a website to show off their skills, services they offer, a portfolio, a news section and contact details.
You will build a site that looks great and will do well in search engines. It’s a great solution for people who don’t want to deal with too much technical stuff, like hosting, databanks, FTP programmes, backups, software, theme or plugin updates or compatibility issues. All technical stuff is taken care of, so you can concentrate on creating content and running your business.
Anything you create in WordPress is your own and you can move your content to a self-hosted version if you ever want to or even to a completely different website provider away from WordPress. It only takes a click of a button to export and import your full content, images and everything.
So if you would like to set up your own website in WordPress.com today, click the link below and let’s get started. To be able to register your own .org or .com domain you will need a personal plan which cost you €48 for a full year. That includes a .org or .com domain for the first year, your hosting, daily backups, all software and security updates.
You will have the choice of about 150-180 themes – some free, some premium themes for a once-off fee. That number fluctuates from time to time as WordPress.com engineers constantly reviewing new themes to add them to the directory but also retire old themes if they don’t keep up with WordPress.com’s high standards. These standards obviously change too to keep up with everything else in the online world.
WordPress.com get 25% discount
If you decide to get started with WordPress.com for now to get a feeling for WordPress without any technical hassle, you can set up your website you have two choices. You can go either with a free account that will have a domain something like mysite.wordpress.com and will display ads. Or if you decide to go ad-free and opt for a custom domain such as mybusinessname.com you can use this link and receive a 25% discount on your plan. I’d suggest starting with the personal plan as it’s less than $39 with the above discount applied.
Conclusion – WordPress hosting account options
As you can see there are many different options to choose from and different priorities to considers, and I hope this post has given you a bit more clarity.
If you like to get started with WordPress.com feel free to use the 25% discount code or even start with a free WordPress account.
If you prefer to go with a WordPress.org account, I’d highly recommend going with one of the hosting providers mentioned above to ensure you get the best customer service out there. Having great support will make a really big difference when something goes pear-shaped, your site runs into issues, or you need help setting up a site or customising your site.
If you decide to get started with a Bluehost account, you can follow this very easy to follow step-by-step video tutorial. I’m in the process of creating tutorials for the other hosting providers and will add the links as soon as they are ready.
Once you have created your hosting account and installed WordPress, or have signed up to a WordPress.com account you can move on to the next tutorial ‘How to start a blog tutorial – WordPress dashboard: Login and how to get started’ (link). That tutorial is applicable for WordPress.com and WordPress.org accounts. So whichever WordPress account you choose to go with, don’t skip that tutorial, it’ll make your life much easier to get the basics right.
If you’re going for a WordPress.org account, make sure to check out the post on ‘WordPress Maintenance plans‘. Why every business should have a WordPress maintenance plan and why it’s the best thing to outsource and win valuable hours back every week. We discuss the 5 most popular WP maintenance plans and the 2 most affordable packages in 2021.
What about you, which hosting account did you decide to go for and why?
Please let me know in a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
Read our last post How to find your niche, the secret to successful blogging, and why you definitely don’t need to be an expert to start a blog or How popular WordPress really is and why it’s trusted by world-renowned businesses.
Check them both out or click the button below for the full index of How to start a blog in 2021 Index- step-by-step WordPress tutorials so far and I’ll keep updating this index as the guide develops.