When new affiliates are building their first WordPress website, web hosting is one of the key features they neglect. Many inexperienced affiliates will often simply opt for a free hosting plan, which provides minimal, if any, support. Or worse, they pay too much for a substandard hosting package from their domain name registrar.
In some cases, everything works out fine. But lately I’ve heard from affiliates who have had mysterious issues with the WordPress websites, issues that were not the fault of the site owner, but the fault of the host. And in most of these situations, the offending host did little, if anything, to resolve the problem
As a beginner, it’s important to know the specifics of the hosting package you’re signing up for: email, the amount of sites you can host, disk space, and bandwidth. But it’s even more important to choose a host that’s experienced with WordPress, one who can provide great service in the rare chance that something goes wrong with your site.
Here’s a guide on what you need to look for, and some hosts we use that provide great service.
The basics of WordPress hosting
If you want to run WordPress, you can do it on any site, you just need a couple of things:
Dreamhost makes it easy to install WordPress and several other applications with just one click.
And one of the other features you should look for is a simple install of WordPress. While some hosts use a script called Fantastico, others use their own proprietary script. Regardless, of what it is, a simple install process makes it easier to launch your site, so that you can focus on creating great content.
What do you really need?
Some hosts offer unlimited sites, unlimited email accounts and unlimited disk space and bandwidth. While it’s great to have so much flexibility, very few website owners really take advantage of the unlimited hosting plans.
If you’re planning on scaling your first affiliate site into a business of 10-20 sites, you’ll want unlimited sites. Otherwise, you can safely select a smaller plan that allows you to grow and expand in the future.
For disk space, most WordPress sites will do fine with about 100 MB of space. But if you’re using a lot of imagery and video, you will need more disk space than that.
This screenshot of Bluehost’s homepage shows how they aggressively market their “unlimited” accounts.
And as far as bandwidth goes, you never know. Your site might be doing well, cranking along with a few hundred visitors each day. But if a blog post of yours becomes a featured item on Digg, hundreds of visitors can turn into thousands very quickly. That’s when you’ll want a host who provides unlimited bandwidth, and backs that up with a guarantee.
Web hosts we recommend
So if you’re just getting started and don’t have a host, here’s a list of web hosts we recommend.
Bluehost – Bluehost’s auto install promises that new WordPress updates are available within 24 hours of release. You can get an account with lots of features, no hidden fees, and great service.
Dreamhost – Dreamhost hosts more than a millions domains. I host many of my sites with Dreamhost and one of the features I like best is the easy “one-click” integration with my Google Apps for Business account.
Hostgator – Like Bluehost and Dreamhost, Hostgator is a large host with lots of features. I’ve had good luck with them and often use Hostgator for my clients’ websites. Their customer service, however, is somewhat hit or miss. While they are great with customer service 95 percent of the time, they are occasionally misinformed.
Media Temple – This hosts promotes itself as being ready for Digg traffic spikes. And if you ever have a site go down because of a spike in traffic, you’ll know how important that is.
Who hosts your sites? Do you take advantage of unlimited hosting packages? Let us know in the comments below!