Tuesday, 17 December 2013

How to Find the Right Web Host for Your Business

In order to carve out your very own place on the internet, it's important that you first establish and set up a domain from where you can announce, inform and persuade others about your ideas and products. Whether you're a growing business with a lot of potential, an entrepreneur seeking fortunes through internet marketing and affiliate programs or just a lone freelancer who wants to get noticed professionally and be taken seriously, then you NEED to start thinking about developing a blog or website to shelter your content, thoughts and products.

For affiliate marketing in particular, you need to establish a credible base by which you can attract visitors with useful content and then later encourage them to click through your affiliate partners' links and buy from their company websites. Blogs can also be leveraged for affiliate programs, but just don't have the same power as your own independent theme-based (niche specific) website.

Below are a list of steps (not necessarily in chronological order) that you can expect when finding and signing up for the right host for your business.

1. Choosing Your Domain Name

To begin with, you need to first find the right companies providing domain names. You must decide whether you will be going for a custom or top-level domain (for example, www.amazon.com) or a sub-domain name using the names of the service providers like Blogger, Wordpress, Weebly, Geocities, etc. (like www.frontierfreelancing.blogspot.com). The choice is up to you. However, as a rule of thumb, if you want to go for the independent and professional look, then buy your own domain - after all, for any growing business, you want others to take you seriously and have the conviction that you can at least pay to keep up your site!

For searching available domain names, you can either use
search engines like Google or Yahoo or you can go directly to a domain-providing and web hosting service like DreamHost or GoDaddy and click on their domain search tool to instantly find all available names that match your queries (it can be further filtered through .com, .co, .net, .us and other domain TLD extensions.

Buying a new domain usually costs around $5-10 to maintain for the whole year. As another option of giving birth to your own proprietary domain, you can also buy out an existing domain from others - with the cost dependent on the domain name's popularity.

2. Hosting Your Website and Email

Most web hosting companies offer a range of services under their web hosting plans, ranging from:
 domain registration and maintenance, number of domains, disk space, bandwidth, email accounts (POP3 and/or IMAP) and storage, FTP accounts, Site Builders, instant app/plugin/widget installation, template designs, photo albums, up-time measurements, firewalls, MySQL and other database systems, CMS features (Hootsuite, Joomla, Wordpress, etc.), DNS, SSL certificates and customer support options.

It's usually standard practice for web hosts to provide you with separate servers for your web pages and emails. Your hosting plan can either be shared (cheaper, but fewer available resources and allocation) or dedicated (more expensive but more data-intensive and multimedia rich). However, with recent advances in cloud storage, sites like Dropbox have made it easier for individuals and companies of all sizes to send and save their content without having to worry so much about storage issues or costs.

Some of the major web hosting companies/domain registrars include (in ABC order):

BluehostDreamHostFatCowGoDaddyHostGatorHubJustHostiPageIX web hostingRegister.comWebhostingpad and Yahoo! Domains

Aside from the technical aspects, you should look for hosting services that offer the full range of standard features as well as some handy extras. Look for those hosts that provide the best bang for the buck and deliver exceptional value. Scour other websites for in-depth reviews of web hosting companies and find out if they match your requirements. Are you looking for more high-end solutions like DreamHost or Yahoo Hosting? Or are you more interested in ease-of-use and support-based hosts like GoDaddy or HostGator? Make sure to do your homework before you click that sign up button.

One of the biggest factors that sets one host apart from another is in costs. Depending on your requirements and need for resources, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3-50 per month to maintain your domain and its hosting and email servers. If you're looking to pay the bare minimum needed to run and operate your site with no-frills than hosts like iPage and Just Host work just fine. If you're more interested in having the right balance between cost and performance then look for Bluehost, DreamHost or HostGator. Higher-end solutions like Yahoo and Register will obviously provide with with advanced features but will demand higher prices in return.

3. Other Related Costs

Apart from purchasing a domain name and signing up for a hosting service and use of its web and email servers, you will have to incur other costs in order to run your website.

You might need to pay for such extras like:

- Content management systems (otherwise known as CMSs). We have all heard of software like Hootsuite, Joomla and Wordpress. These systems enable the design of website and blog templates, menus and other visual elements found in websites. Many such themes are free to download either directly through the CMS website itself (ie www.wordpress.com) or through third-party websites. Of course, there will also be premium themes which will cost money ranging anywhere from $10 to over $100 and is usually oriented for niche purposes - that is, if you have a news blog or website, you would be more interested in buying a specialty newsy theme.

- Graphics and images. You might need to distinguish your business and brand as it gets better. Sometime or another, the need for a custom logo, tagline and other branding elements will become pressing. You can choose to either design them yourself (as I have crudely done for this blog!) or refer to specialty branding agencies (whether brick and mortar or exclusively online) or even outsource the job to freelancers on oDesk, Elance or other freelance marketplaces. When looking for images to paste on your posts, press releases, sales letters or other content, you can either copy them from websites with GNU (free to use and redistribute) rights or to seek permission or purchase them from proprietary owners. The cost of buying images on istock, photobank,etc.varies with the usual range being anywhere from $1-5 according to the size and resolution.

Then of course, you have other costs that are more related to the upkeep, promotion and growth of your site like advertising (pay-per-click through AdWords or AdCenter, banners, social media marketing), content management (article writing, press releases, sales letters, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.) and affiliate marketing costs - but such costs do not factor in to the direct cost of selecting and purchasing a web hosting service.


As mentioned before, do your research before rushing out to buy a chunk of digital space for your website or blog.

Personally, I always like to strike a balance with everything. That certainly goes double for finding the right web hosting service. Always look for value and affordability without sacrificing on performance and dedicated service.

Personal Recommendations:

- Affordability: HostGator. Their plans start from as little as $3.96/month (they have 3 available plans starting from "The Hatchling Plan") and comes with all the standard features like unlimited disk space, email storage, bandwidth as well as some nice extras like e-commerce functionality and database support. HostGator is ideal for those who want to focus exclusively on 1-2 websites for their businesses or blogs. Another great affordable hosting service is iPage (as of now, the cheapest solution out there).

Performance: DreamHost. If you are seeking greater resources (like 100% uptime, advanced customization, more scripts, virtual private server and cloud integration), then DreamHost is right for you. Their plans start from $8.95 a month and includes a 97-day money back guarantee in case you are not totally satisfied with their service. You can also check out GoDaddy's selection of plans which provide both performance and won't burn a hole in your budget.

Be sure to check out Lifehacker's High Five review for the Top 5 Best Web Hosting Services (Spoiler: both DreamHost and HostGator are on it).

Of course, the ultimate decision lies on you. So choose wisely and be sure to compare and contrast each host's pros and cons before making your decision.

Hope this article helped you clear up any confusions and have led you to making a better, more informed decision (or maybe even switching to a better hosting service)!

Feel free to message us here or email us for any further questions or queries you may have regarding the often confusing world of web hosting. We'll be happy to help!

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