Choosing a host for your new WordPress blog probably isn't your highest priority in the early stages of development, but it shouldn't be taken lightly. Your hosting provider has a big influence on the performance of your blog and, at the end of the day is in total control of your blog's destiny.
Why Free Hosting Sucks
The most critical piece of advice that I share with every new blogger I know is to Never Use Free Hosting. While the lure of “free” is tempting, there are inherent drawbacks that will severely hamper your ability to grow your audience including limited space, questionable uptime, non-search-engine-friendly pages, unwanted banner or popup advertising, ugly templates, the possibility of the host closing it's doors and you losing all your content forever… and a whole lot more.
Since decent WordPress hosting for your blog can cost you less than $8 bucks a month to start, it doesn't make sense to even consider using free hosting, if you want to get serious about blogging.
With that in mind, here are the top 5 things you should consider when choosing a web host for your blog. Doing your research ahead of time can save your time and headaches when you blindly choose a web host only to later discover all the reasons they were a terrible choice in the first place.
Disk Space & Bandwidth
Initially, your blog's disk space and bandwidth won't be a concern. These features are only important when you are handling large amounts of traffic. But if you do plan to build an audience, you need to keep bandwidth and disk space in mind. The more you have, the more traffic you will be able handle at once.
The good news is, the market price for bandwidth and disk space and been declining in recent years, making it more affordable for start-up websites.
In the simplest terms, uptime is the amount of time that a website is operational on the Internet. Ideally, your Web host server would guarantee almost 100 percent uptime, but not all servers can guarantee this. But downtime can be very damaging to your blog's reputation — if a visitor attempts to reach your blog during its downtime, they might write off your blog and never return. This can cut into your online traffic and, if you are advertising, it can almost mean a loss of income.
Although server maintenance and other housework occasionally requires downtime for all websites hosted by a server, less downtime is always better. It's one of the most important things to consider when thinking about your blog's ability to sustain traffic.
Your control panel is your user interface for a variety of technical functions on your website. Control panels make it easier for blogs to be run by a single person rather than a support team. But in order to do that, you need a useful control panel that is user-friendly and performs all of the essential functions.
The most popular such control panel is known as cPanel, which simplifies the complex processes of operating a website so that even amateurs can perform many of these duties on their own. If you are unfamiliar with control panels and running websites, it's recommended you try to find a blog host offering cPanel.
But even with great features and an easy-to-use control panel, problems are sure to arise over time. That's where good technical support comes in. Choose a host offering round-the-clock customer service — doing so will save you a load of headaches and help you solve problems faster.
WordPress Hosting vs. Managed WordPress Hosting
Sure, it would be great to support your personal blog with the best web hosting features and tools possible. Unfortunately, the bill for such a perfect situation isn't practical for a personal blog. Before making a purchase, you need to decide the value of your personal blog and what features are most important to you.
Two rock-solid hosts for your WordPress blog that make sure all the key features are provided at a reasonable price are Liquid Web, and Synthesis. They cost a few bucks more, but are superior to other hosting solutions that I've tried.
If you're a do-it-your-selfer and don't mind handling the WP upgrades, dealing with hacking etc., then LiquidWeb is a good choice for you. However, if you're not the techy-kind (like me) and need to make sure that critical updates are done immediately, don't know how to deal with scalability issues or site hackings, etc. then I highly recommend looking at a Managed WordPress Hosting solution like Synthesis. Their job is to keep your site up which lets you focus on creating content and marketing.
Find a combination of features and services that suit your needs and meet your desired price point. Investing the time into making sure you meet your greatest needs through your hosting company, will ensure your happiness with the results.