The next step on your journey to creating a website is to decide where to host your website.
What is a Web Hosting Service?
Now that you understand what a domain name is (and if you don’t, check out this post here), you are ready to find a home for your website.
That’s where a web host comes in.
This is where all the files for your website live. Think of it as the home where your address (your domain name) is resides.
You usually have the option to buy your domain name from your web hosting company. If you are just getting started, it can simplify things for you. But if you buy your domain name from another company, it is very easy to bring it over to your host.
How Much Does it Cost?
Web hosting companies usually charge a monthly fee, but most of the time you will pay for at least a year in one lump sum. Many companies will offer you the lowest rates if you buy two or three years up front.
Costs can vary widely. The range can be as low as $2.95 a month (usually this requires a three year commitment) to $15 a month for the lowest level of hosting.
For more sophisticated needs, fees can run about $35 a month. If you need the highest level of services and power, then fees can start running much higher.
But if that’s you, this is not the post for you.
The ground level of web hosting is called shared hosting. This means your website will be sharing a server with a bunch of other websites. Many compare the idea to an office building where a bunch of individual business all use the resources of the building.
Unless you are getting a lot of traffic to your site (meaning lots of people are coming to look at it), or you need lots of features, shared hosting should work fine for your author website.
Which Hosting Company is Best?
Most children’s book authors are trying not to invest a lot of money into creating a website. And the truth is, you could invest in very little and have a perfectly adequate website up and running pretty quickly.
There are completely free options available. But unless you are on a severely tight budget, most experts don’t recommend going with a completely free site. Even though you only need a simple website so you can be visible in the online world, you still want your website to look professional. Most free options have restrictions on design options, and they basically scream “Economy Version!” to the world.
As a children’s book author, you are in a creative space. You want your website to be able to reflect your creative talents. To do that, you will need to invest at least some money.
If you have done some exploring, you may have run across others recommending BlueHost. Some of those recommending it are highly respected experts in the online space. BlueHost offers an attractive low entry fee of only $2.95 a month (in early 2020) for their lowest-priced plan– with a three-year commitment. After your contract is up, the monthly fee goes up to $7.99 a month.
But I need to inject a word of caution.
In the last year or so, stories started to emerge about people having problems with BlueHost. Experts in the website arena began announcing they were no longer able to recommend the hosting company.
I don’t personally have any experience with BlueHost. But my research indicates the problems now stem from BlueHost being owned by parent company EIG. The same company also owns HostGator, Fat Cow, and a slew of other popular web hosting companies.
Problems started popping up because it seems EIG began cramming as many websites as they could under one server. This is a great cost-saving measure, and is a big reason why they companies could charge such competitive prices.
But low cost can also mean poor performance. After years of being the number one recommended web hosting company, more and more folks in the industry are abandoning the BlueHost ship.
Another factor to keep in mind is that BlueHost is widely promoted because they offer an attractive affiliate program. With an affiliate program, if you recommend a product or service that results in a sale, you get a commission. So far awhile, many people recommended BlueHost because they did a good job, and they gave out nice commissions. It was a win-win situation.
But if you search for BlueHost recommendations now, you will run across articles by people saying they are choosing to no longer promote BlueHost.
What to Look for in a Web Hosting Company
I personally use Web Hosting Hub. It is a sister company to InMotion, and has been in the business longer than most. I have found it to be without any problems, my website has never gone down, and they offer 24/7 support, which I have used quite a bit with great results.
Web Hosting Hub’s pricing is $5.99 a month if you sign up for 3 years for their entry-level hosting. It goes up a dollar for every year less you sign up for. So a year will cost $7.99 a month.
Right now the reigning champion for shared hosting is SiteGround. It seems all the influencers in the online world are jumping BlueHost’s ship and climbing aboard with SiteGround.
They offer very competitive pricing starting at $3.95 a month, regardless of whether you sign up for one year or three. People seem to be happy with the company, who appear to offer good service, a free domain name, and fast loading times.
How to get started
Once you decide on a web hosting company, it’s simple to begin the process of creating your website. You choose the level of hosting you want (which will likely be the lowest, and least expensive, level), and continue.
The next step is usually a window asking if you want to purchase a domain, or if you already have one. You can type in your domain name here, and either buy it (if it’s new) or you’ll be moved to the next screen (if you own it).
Next, you will likely be asked if you want them to load WordPress for you. If you already know you are going to use WordPress, then it’s fine to select this option. If you aren’t sure, you can just say no, because it is easy to do later.
You may also be asked if you would like to purchase additional services. This might include an automatic back-up, regular scans for hacks into your site, or help with building a website. It’s up to you to decide whether the add-ons are worth it, but if you don’t sign up right away, chances are good you could do it later.
After payment, you will need to create a username and password. Once you’ve completed that step, you are ready for the next step!
At this point you will need to decide on a platform for your website. Basically that means are you going to use WordPress, or something else?
If you’re interested in exploring WordPress, check out the next post in the series here.