ONCE UPON A TIME
When I first started blogging, I set up a free blog on Blogger with the domain renandben.blogspot.com. It’s still there! It chronicles the first couple years of our marriage. As I grew to enjoy blogging more and more, I wanted a website name (domain) that didn’t have .blogspot in it, and something that was more general… not just specific to our family. So, I switched over to tunemyheartblog.com and I set up a self-hosted wordpress blog on Hostgator. It took me HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS of research to figure that out. (I have since boiled down that information that took me hours/weeks/months to understand into only need-to-know information in 2 short posts titled I Want To Start A Blog But I Don’t Speak Geek and A Step by Step Tutorial To Getting Your Blog Setup on Bluehost).
SWITCHING FROM HOSTGATOR TO BLUEHOST
After a year or so on Hostgator, I decided to switch to Bluehost for my self-hosted wordpress.org blog. (Read this post if you have no idea what that sentence means.) I decided to switch to Bluehost for 3 reasons.
- Every “big” blogger recommended them for beginners
- I’d had a couple frustrating customer service encounters with Hostgator
- I could try Bluehost for VERY cheap with a promo they were running
The process of switching was a HUGE hassle, and of course, the Hostgator customer service people weren’t super responsive and helpful in walking me through the process of leaving their company. It took many frustrating hours over the course of many frustrating nights.
To contrast that, the Bluehost people were SUPER helpful in walking me through the process of switching to their hosting company.
THE BLUEHOST GLAMOR WORE OFF
Recently, though, I noticed my site was kind of slow to load. (If traffic goes up, and the behind-the-scenes stuff isn’t powerful enough, the site will slow down.)
And I also noticed a few “down time” periods – meaning people got an error message when they tried to go to my site.
I also tried to figure some tech stuff out on my Bluehost dashboard, and while the dashboard is prettier/ simpler in appearance than Hostgator, it turned out to be equally as confusing for a non-techy mommy blogger like myself.
When I called into Bluehost for some tech help, it was a nightmare.
I figured it was a fluke because they’d been so helpful when I switched to them, so I called back another day. Nightmare again. (Long time waiting only to end up getting someone who didn’t know what they were talking about who transferred me to someone else who dropped the call.)
It turns out that, when you are trying to get setup on Bluehost, they’re very helpful. When you’re trying to leave, not so much.
MY TECHY HUSBAND SAVED THE DAY
My husband is a super-nerd and suggested I switch to hosting on AWS (which stands for Amazon Web Services. It’s a separate company from the Amazon that delivers everything to your door in 2 days).
Amazon Web Services is the Mercedes Benz of hosting.
The catch is – you have to know what you’re doing.
Bluehost & Hostgator have “1-click wordpress installs.” I even have a tutorial for the Bluehost setup that will walk your through it step by step. Meaning, you do click a few things, follow the directions, and voila! Your site is on the internet.
With AWS – you’re on your own. You have to know what “spinning up instances” is. And how to do something with EC2. I have no idea what either of those mean. I just overheard my husband saying them while setting up my site. And how to maintain bugs as they appear. And how to not accidentally rack up a huge bill or let the site collapse. And how to back it up so you don’t lose all your hard work. With Bluehost, all that is automated.
SO WHY DO I RECOMMEND BLUEHOST over AWS?
Well, basically, because of the paragraph right above this one.
AWS is complicated, and Bluehost is not.
It’s a case of getting what you pay for.
If you were to hire someone like my husband to host your site on AWS, you’d pay a high monthly fee in addition to a higher bill with the hosting company. It’d cost you at least 10x what you can pay Bluehost to host your site on their “shared” servers. That’s because they’ve basically set up something that runs on its own. Therefore, they maintain it for pennies. Which is why they can get away with charging you a few dollars a month.
BUT, that also means, that you will experience a little down-time ocassionally. Very little. They claim 99% up time. Even if you’re down 5% of the time, that’s really not a big deal for beginning bloggers. You probably won’t even notice it. Bluehost is a great solution for beginning bloggers who are testing the waters. The more page views you get per hour, the more you don’t want ANY downtime. As your blog starts to grow & make money, you can switch to higher quality hosting because you’ll have the income to support it. (Or you can marry someone who will do it for free…)
- My experience with Bluehost was slightly better. Even when I was trying to start paying Hostgator, it was still difficult to get through to someone. At least Bluehost has good customer service when you’re trying get it going. Their chat support was really helpful. (The customer service when I was trying to leave and go to AWS … well, that’s another story.)
- The process to get setup on Bluehost is easier than on Hostgator. I have a super-easy-to-follow tutorial on this blog. It’s so simple yo mamma could do it.
- They run a ton of sales that make it generally cheaper than Hostgator. Also, I had a weird pricing thing with Hostgator where they randomly charged me a high monthly rate. They ended up taking the charge off after several annoying time-consuming calls.
THAT’S MY HONEST REVIEW OF BLUEHOST
Like I said, you get what you pay for.
Bluehost is an amazing price for starting out on your beginning self-hosted blog. It’s often as cheap as $3.95/ month (or longer) with sales if you sign up for 3 years up front. You can sign up for 1, 2, or 3 years at a time, and they have a 30 day money back guarantee. So if the whole blogging thing turns out to be a 1-week whim, or you suddenly elope with a techy nerd who can set you up on AWS, you can cancel (though, prepare yourself for long waits on hold with customer service….)
Otherwise, you can start out on Bluehost like most beginners do, then hire someone to move your site to something more sophisticated once your traffic explodes or your business starts making more money.
ANY QUESTIONS!? WHO HAVE YOU USED FOR HOSTING?
Anything I missed? Feel free to ask questions or comment below with your experience/ recommendations with various hosting companies.
And, in case you missed them at the beginning of this post, here are my other blogging tutorials:
- Platforms, Domains, and Hosting, Oh My! I Want to Start a Blog, but I Don’t Speak Geek!
- How to Actually Start a Blog: A Step by Step Guide to Setting Up Your Own Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
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+ Parenting Tips
+ Mom Fails... because we all have them
+ Budgeting Tips
+ A Menu Plan with Recipe Links
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