As a part time web builder, I help my clients decide which hosting is best for them. I provide web hosting and maintenance, but I don’t require or push this option. I never like to pressure clients, and want them to make the choice that feels best for their situation. Most of my clients are new small business owners with young children, and it really depends on the amount of comfort, time and curiosity a person has, whether it is better to self host or hire someone to take care of all the site maintenance.
The client who inspired this post operates a personal assistant business, so I suggest she go with self hosting. Why? As a personal assistant, it may help her business to be able to assist and advise her clients concerning their websites. Self hosting is also the most economical option, which also means it is the most time consuming.
Watch out for “sticky” hosting and domain providers
If you self host, I recommend you thoroughly research your web host options. Many web hosts are downright dodgy. I have spent hours, and days and weeks wrestling with “sticky” web hosting and domain providers so I can build or just host a website for a client. I’ve learned to recognize the signs of a “sticky” host. They usually charge extra for every little thing, or only offer it free for a limited time. It’s usually really hard to reach a person, or even find the login page. They usually do not offer 24 hour chat support. Also, they tend to have more expensive tiers than the good guys.
A good self host web host offers:
• free WordPress. This means there will be no additional charges for WordPress or different WordPress “tiers”. There are no WordPress tiers. WordPress is open source. People devote hours of their time to make web publishing free. Don’t let a business profit off of that. You can pay for hosting, but not WordPress. Be wary of any webhost that offers access to free WordPress plug ins. One hosts boasts “unlimited Woocommerce listings” through their most expensive WordPress “tier.” Umm. Woocommerce is always free and listings are always unlimited.
• free @yourdomain.com email addresses- even after the first year.
• free SSL
• spectacular and easy to find and always accessible tech support. If you have to dig to reach a person, this company makes their money by essentially trapping their customers.
• An option to host multiple sites. Self hosting led me to host sites for my web building clients. You want to be able to grow.
Hosting with Maintenance
For most small business owners, I recommend hiring someone else to worry about your website. If you don’t know the difference between a domain and domain hosting and aren’t curious about the distinction, you can pay to remain blissfully unaware. You won’t have to log in to your web hosting account, back up your site, update your theme and plugins, troubleshoot to figure out which plugin is interfering with your other plugins, reinstall the backup if anything goes wrong, or spend any time chatting with tech support about your SSL certificate.
A cost of $500-1000 per year for hosting with maintenance is reasonable. Each business will offer their own different perks. One full service web host I know offers 30 minutes of web site changes per month with their hosting package. I offer free @yourdomain.com email that forwards to your current email account. When you work with a web building company, you get room to grow without constraints, plus you benefit from their knowledge and experience. I’ve started several businesses, and I’ve built websites for nearly 2 decades. I have a lot of insight to share, and I share it at no extra cost.
What About Shopify and Squarespace?
These can be good options if you’re going to build your site yourself. If you want someone else to build your site, you’ll find more flexibility finding a web host who uses WordPress. And, if you’re going to build the site yourself anyway, why pay upwards of $40 a month for Shopify, when you can self host a Woocommerce shop free with the cost of a self hosting plan (less that $10 per month)? Squarespace is less expensive than Shopify, and it seems like a good options for people who want to built their own sites, but who don’t want to self host or pay for hosting with maintenance. The only concern is that customer service reports are iffy.
Which Should I Choose?
In my opinion, If you’re doing the web building, then get into self hosting, too, and bypass Shopify and Squarespace rates. Self hosting rates for one site is often in the neighborhood of $5 per month, and includes many perks like, free WordPress, free ecommerce and free @yourdomain.com email. If you’re not going to build your own site, then hire a local business to build and host for you. One of the most frustrating experiences as a business owner is the disconnection we feel to so many of the interfaces we rely on every day. As we use email, review sites like Yelp and Google Business, and manage our facebook business page, there is no one we can talk to. It’s faceless and cold. I choose human interaction and relationships whenever I can.