First of all, this is not an in-depth “how to” post, but there are plenty out there who can walk you through the ins and outs of setting up a blog hosting site. This is a post about how I started my blogging journey and the importance of testing out your blog hosting package carefully before committing to a hosting partner.
I will tell you, I debated on whether to create this post because I am fairly new to this space, but I found it was very difficult to choose a hosting company and get a good understanding of what I needed in a hosting package. As my research led me through the maze of advice and admonishments, I decided I had to share my experience with finding a hosting company for my blog to be helpful to all who wish to begin this journey with me.
My blogging journey started just a few months ago, but I have learned a lot about blog hosting companies, namely, I love working with my current host, SiteGround, and there are few others I would caution new bloggers to test carefully before committing.
I didn’t start out with SiteGround. I actually tried out two other very popular hosting companies. I chose them because all the advice sites seem to be praising them on Pinterest. Since this is where I began my journey into blogging, I followed along, but I am grateful for my first website experience because I knew I needed to test their support and reliability during my trial period. I already had a website with a more traditional web hosting company, so I understood how to buy a domain name and arrange hosting, but since this is my first blog site, I wanted to go with a hosting company which was a bit more blog friendly.
When choosing a hosting partner, it is very important to test out their services thoroughly. I knew my first host wasn’t the right fit the first day. I had some questions about moving an existing domain name and spent over an hour on chat line hold. I will say installing WordPress.org was a one-click installation and was easy as they said it would be. However, there is no support for WordPress.org on this site, so if you have any issues, you are on your own.
Next, I started getting spam and calls to my phone because I didn’t activate the site protection. This is my fault, but it would have been helpful if they had specified it was not part of the package, as it was automatically included at my last hosting provider for my website. However, it took me another 45 minutes waiting for support before I learned what the issue was and resolved it, so I decided to walk away within my 30-day refund window. I knew that the time it took to get support for relatively simple questions meant that more difficult questions, later on, might be a significant issue with this organization. When choosing your host, be sure to use the help lines and ask questions to gauge how difficult it will be to resolve issues in the future.
I decided to transfer my site to another popular hosting package with good rates for a beginner. I was able to transfer my newly created WordPress site fairly easily, but support again took a minimum of 10-15 minutes to get assistance through their online chat lines.
At my new hosting company, I went with the mid-range hosting package, enough to grow my blog with room to spare. I found it easy to customize my site and it was easy to post, add plug-ins, and navigate their administration pages. However, as I continued to build my site, I ran into issues with the server not being available. I used the JetPack plug-in to monitor the site and received nearly daily warnings that my site was unavailable. I recommend adding posts and pictures, trying out plugins, and choosing different themes as you test out your new site so see how response times and up-time is affected.
I wanted to give my host the ability to solve the issue before canceling my service, so my first round with their support specialists identified the issue as a “bad plug-in.” I removed the plugin and the site seemed to be working fine, until the next day when I saw it had been down several times during the night and morning hours. I spent another few hours on the chat line and thought the issue might have been resolved. During this time, I was turned down for an affiliate advertising opportunity because my site was repeatedly “unavailable for review” in the timeframe. After several days of trying to resolve the issue, and getting various levels of helpfulness from the chat line, which took 15-20 minutes minimum to get through, I decided I should find another host before my review period ended. I will say their review period was very generous – 60 days, but in this case, I knew that if I was experiencing issues before my blog even formally launched, it was not a good sign for the future.
Finding the Right Blog Host
So, I researched hosts again. By now, I knew I wanted a hosting partner who was responsive to questions, had excellent uptime, and who could provide support for both hosting and minor questions about WordPress.org. This time I looked at both smaller companies and larger companies and I was willing to pay a bit more to get a better product. I finally settled on SiteGround, based mostly on other blogger reviews from some of my favorite Facebook groups.
I knew SiteGround was different from day one. First, when I clicked on the help button to reach online chat, their response was within 60 seconds. Their customer service personnel were helpful, walked me through moving my site, and offered helpful suggestions on backing up first. My site was transferred quickly and efficiently and I lost nothing in the transfer.
But, it gets better. Once my site was up and running, I found I could ask their customer service questions about the WordPress installation itself, not just hosting. Their personnel are wonderful at explaining how to upload and install a theme, how to troubleshoot plug-in problems, and even provide tips on where to find additional help. The online chat service is quick to answer and rarely takes more than a few minutes to respond to questions.
I have had zero downtime since moving to Siteground. They even have this neat little testing area where you can test their site speed averages. I chose a Genesis theme for the final version of my blog and it has worked wonderfully with their hosting package. I will state I am not on their basic plan, I chose to go with their medium-sized plan (GrowBig) since I plan on scaling my blog in the next year and I also decided to move my existing website to their hosting platform as well. If you need to host more than one website, the GrowBig plan allows multiple websites under a single hosting package with custom email addresses provided for each site. I love this option because I use both a blog site (this one!) and I have a separate website for my freelancing business.
It is a very cost-effective hosting package – there are others that are a bit less expensive, but for the time I spent in waiting on support and trying to figure things out for myself, the extra money is well spent. So, if you want a hosting service which is reasonably priced, responsive, and has great customer service with the extra benefit of hiring people who not only understand hosting, but also know a little bit about the packages they host (such as WordPress.org), SiteGround is for you. If you click here and sign up for a hosting package, I will receive a small payment, at no cost to you, for recommending their services as an affiliate. I only recommend products or services I have tried, used, and believe in for my readers.
Again, I encourage you to try out your hosting partner and take advantage of the refund period. I posted several test posts, added a bunch of pictures which were oversized, and generally tried to break things just to see how to fix them before I had to do it on a “real” site. Contact support channels and ask questions to see how long it takes to get a response and whether the responses are helpful to your level of expertise. If you do decide to create a SiteGround site, I have listed their simple three-step process below to serve as a general guide.
Three Simple Steps to Set Up a SiteGround Website
SiteGround’s Hosting Options:
SiteGround has three plans to fit your current blogging needs and their customer support is really great at helping you choose the right package. They include:
- The StartUp plan – perfect for new bloggers with one website and very cost competitive with other hosting providers
- The GrowBig plan – great value and offers the option of hosting multiple websites. The SuperCacher improves WordPress website speed.
- The GoGeek plan – great for e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration (too techy for me – but if you are into that sort of thing…)
Choose a domain:
SiteGround allows clients to buy a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain. A free domain transfer is included in the SiteGround hosting service.
Sign Up for Hosting:
Unlike many other hosting providers, if SiteGround is advertising a discount, it applies to any of the initial periods (for example, only one year, two years, or three years) chosen during the sign-up process, not just the longest sign-up period.
That’s it. Once you are signed up, if you want to use WordPress.org, it is a one-click installation and their support specialists can help you through it.
I wish you the best of luck on your blogging journey and I hope your beginning is much smoother than mine. I encourage you to try out your hosting company carefully before making a decision. Most offer 30 or 60-day trial periods and it is important to be comfortable with your hosting package before you truly launch and begin actively working on capturing your audience.
If you decided to move forward with SiteGround, click here and then let me know in the comments below what your new blog is called. I would love to link up with you in the future and follow your digital journey!
This post does contain affiliate links. If you click on any of these links, I will receive a small commission, at no cost to you, in exchange for promoting their services on this blog. I only recommend products and services which I have used and believe are beneficial to my readers.