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Updated July 2020 to reflect Siteground’s new pricing for WordPress website hosting.
As you may already know, I’m a website designer who builds websites using two different platforms: WordPress and Squarespace. I find that both of them are incredibly powerful website building tools, and neither is a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for some people, won’t work for others.
I firmly believe that when choosing between WordPress or Squarespace for your business website, you need to choose based on what’s best for YOU…not what your cousin’s college roommate recommends because he’s “so tech savvy”. Do yourself a favor and do what’s best for you, and only you, so you don’t get 2 months into a website build only to realize you chose the wrong platform and have to start all over.
If you’re having trouble deciding whether WordPress or Squarespace is best for you and your business, read my Unbiased Comparison of WordPress and Squarespace where I break down WordPress and Squarespace side-by-side on 7 different criteria, so you can choose what’s best for YOU.
Then, if you find that you’re destined to be a WordPresser, read on because this blog post is for you!
(My loyal Squarespacers will also learn a thing or two from this post, but know that the “hosting” portion won’t apply to you.)
Disclaimer: Before we get too far into this blog post, let me again remind you that when I say “WordPress” I’m referring wordpress.ORG websites, not wordpress.COM websites. WordPress.com is primarily intended for hobbyists and should not be used to build your business website. For a business website, you want wordpress.ORG. (Don’t worry, you can still have a .com website when using wordpress.org. Confusing, I know… but no worries, I wouldn’t lead you astray.)
Alright, housekeeping aside, let’s get to it!
Two requirements for all WordPress websites: Domain and Hosting
All WordPress websites require two things: a domain, and hosting. Without either one of these, you have no website. For each I’ll explain:
- What the heck they are (explained in a way that makes sense)
- What you should look for when purchasing
- Expected cost
What is a domain
To put it simply: your domain is your www. address on the internet. So my domain is www.heartandhustlestudio.com
Think of your domain like your street address in a GPS: it’s the “address” people type in, in order to arrive at your house, or your website. It’s where people find you on the internet.
What to look for when purchasing your domain
The first thing you want to do when you’re looking to buy a domain for your website, is to make sure it’s actually available. If someone has already purchased this domain (even if they’re not using it) you will not be able to purchase it.
The website that I use to check domain availability (and also the website I buy domains through) is Google Domains. Their website is domains.google.com.
When you arrive on their home page, there’s a search bar front-and-center where you can type in any domain you wish. It will then immediately tell you if it’s available, as well as how much it would cost to purchase.
If your desired domain is not available, try out a few slight variations.
Tips on choosing a domain:
- Keep it short – you’re going to be typing your domain out A LOT, and having a long domain name will get old really fast. Trust me, I know… ?
- Get the .com version, when possible – unless you’re from a country outside of the US, the .com version of websites are still above and beyond the most common.
- Don’t be clever – your domain is not the place where you want to have clever spellings, missing letters, or even numbers. You want your domain to be easy to say and spell, for your sake and your clients’ sake.
- Say it out loud – If your domain sounds funny out loud or isn’t immediately clear, pick something different. Having to spell it out over the phone to potential clients will get old really fast.
How much a domain costs
Domains are paid for annually. The cost of a domain is generally around $12/year. While you can find a domain for $1/year, I do NOT recommend doing this. Here’s why…
Companies like GoDaddy will offer you a $1 domain, because when you purchase this domain you are waiving your right to something called Privacy Protection.
This is a horrible idea! I know, because I did it!!
When you waive your right to Privacy Protection, GoDaddy turns around and sells your information (name, address, email address) to hundreds, upon hundreds of companies.
Not only is that sketchy AF, but it’s also setting you up for a constant Redwood-forest-sized heaping pile of junk mail delivered to your business address – in my case, my home! I was receiving 2-3 pieces of junk mail for my business DAILY, just because I was a cheapo and used a domain registrar (GoDaddy) that is known for slimy business practices like this, and I just didn’t know.
Where to buy your domain
I mentioned it before, but the company I use for domains is Google Domains. Their domains generally go for $12/year and they include the Privacy Protection that you oh-so-seriously need! You can buy a domain from Google Domains at this link.
Now that you’ve got your domain, you need one more thing: Hosting.
Hosting is a bit more complicated to explain than a domain, but it’s also much more important. So let’s make sure you understand what hosting is, and most importantly: why you absolutely MUST use a good hosting company.
What is hosting
Hosting is essentially where your website is stored on the internet, and how your website is powered.
Hosting is a service that a hosting company offers, to store and power your website.
Think of it this way: somewhere out in the world, a hosting company has a building with a literal, physical server where your website lives. This hosting company charges you a certain amount of money to store your website on their servers and to use their power.
So hosting is where your website is stored, and how it receives “power”. Make sense?
What to look for when purchasing hosting
If you take only one thing from this blog post, let it be this part.
Choosing a good hosting company is arguably THE most important thing when starting a website.
Your hosting company controls the speed and amount of downtime (ideally zero!) that your website will experience. A crappy hosting company means your website as a whole may run slowly or even have semi-frequent downtime.
This is bad! You don’t want that.
You’ve got bigger fish to fry than dealing with nonsensical website issues caused by a shitty hosting company.
One other criteria that should be TOP of your list when choosing a hosting provider is Customer Service.
Trust me when I say, having a host with A+++ customer service is a literal godsend! Inevitably, one day you will have an issue with your website… big or small. And when that happens, your hosting company will be your best friend. So having a hosting company with a kickass, knowledgeable customer service team will be worth its weight in gold.
Trust me, I’d kiss my hosting company if I could (and if I wouldn’t get arrested). They’ve saved my ass more times than I can count!
How much does hosting cost
Unlike your domain, which has a pretty fixed and predictable cost, the cost of hosting will be different based on what you need.
Most hosting companies offer a few different hosting plans, so you can choose what you need (and not pay for what you don’t).
As a beginner entrepreneur, I generally recommend a base-level hosting package to my clients to start. Most hosting companies will allow you to upgrade to a higher level package at any time, if you deem necessary.
For the host that I use (Siteground), they offer 3 different WordPress hosting packages, with introductory rates from $6.99-$14.99 per month for a 1, 2, or 3 year term. After your term expires, the pricing increases to $14.99-39.99 per month. This is pretty standard, I just like to mention the increase because I don’t like surprises and figure you probably don’t either. ?♀️
The plan that I generally recommend to my clients at the beginning is the StartUp plan, for $6.99/month ($83.88 for 12 months).
Extra Bonus: With all Siteground hosting packages, you get a free custom email address so you can be extra legit! Picture it – firstname.lastname@example.org … how cool are you?!
Where to buy hosting
Well, there’s no surprise here who my go-to, absolute fave, love-til-I-die hosting company is.
Ladies and gents, I present to you, the real MVP of website hosting: Siteground.
I’m not even sure how I discovered Siteground to begin with, but whoever put them on my radar deserves an award.
The Customer Service of Siteground alone has won me as a lifelong customer. I use Siteground for all of my client websites (and my own!), and because every website is so vastly different, I often need help with something that I may not be entirely sure how to do.
Or, sometimes I cause my own website to crash at 11pm because I’m an idiot, and a quick message to Siteground (tears pending…) solved it all.
I swear they are miracle workers, and I’ll recommend them to everyone I know til I’m blue in the face. Siteground is worth their weight in gold, just based on Customer Service alone!
To purchase hosting through Siteground (because you totally should!) you can go to this link. (yep, that’s an affiliate link).
Time to get started!
If you’re chomping at the bit to get your WordPress website started already, make sure you have a domain and hosting locked down – the right way.
Say NO to heaps of junk mail and crashing websites – your sanity will thank you!
And if you’re looking for a designer to help with your website build (you should, because WordPress is not your DIY friend) – well, I know a girl! ?♀️ Click here to check out my website packages!