First-Time Web Hosting Pitfalls and Suggestions

If you’ve never hosted a website before, you need to go slowly and not get carried away with big promises. You’re going to make mistakes, and sometimes start over. So here are the criteria for a web host if this is your first rodeo:

  • Needs to be cheap
  • Have a short billing cycle
  • Must be flexible
  • Shouldn’t have vendor lock-in
  • Has a standardized interface

Let’s go over these criteria one by one.

It Has to Be Cheap

There are plenty of premium web hosting services out there. They boast super high reliability, excellent customer service, unique value propositions, and more. But when starting out for the first time, you want cheap, yet solid web hosting. Nothing fancy. Just the basics with cPanel, and preferably with a free domain.

Out of all the hosting providers, I haven’t found anything cheaper than Hostgator that doesn’t also compromise in other areas. While you won’t get a lot of bells and whistles, it’s exactly what a first-time web hosting customer needs.

So while I would normally recommend something like SiteGround for experienced web hosters, I wouldn’t do the same for someone just getting started. SiteGround is premium web hosting, and isn’t cheap.

Choose a Short Billing Cycle

As a first time website owner, it’s important that you don’t commit yourself to a long billing cycle where you pay for 3 or 5 years in advance. That’s why I don’t recommend Bluehost because its discounts are only available if you sign up for three years in advance.

Once again, Hostgator is ideally positioned. They have the cheapest 12-month hosting package, and even have “1 cent” hosting for 30-days so you can try them out. Here are all the Hostgator coupons. You can choose the one that gives you the highest discount for a short time period.

Flexibility is Important – Nothing Specialized

Web hosting providers tend to differentiate themselves by specializing their offerings. As a result, you have dedicated WordPress hosting by providers like Kinsta, dedicated WooCommerce stores by Liquid Web, and others.

But when you haven’t done this before, you just want ordinary web hosting. You need to learn how to use cPanel to install WordPress, how to update it on your own, and how to back up your site regularly. This is a crucial foundation in using the tools that will serve you well in the future. Later on when you’re confident in your hosting skills, you can opt for some of the more specialized services.

But right now, just ordinary shared hosting is what you need.

No Vendor Lock-In

The worst thing you can do as a first-time website owner, is to lock your website into a proprietary platform. Products like Wix for example, hold your site hostage, and remove your ability to migrate out to another hosting provider. This means that if your site takes off, you’re essentially stuck with them for life.

If you check online, you’ll see dozens of tutorials on how to migrate from Wix to WordPress, and all of them are a complicated mess. Take my advice and avoid all this from the start. Just opt for ordinary shared hosting, and not a branded proprietary platform.

Use a Standardized Interface

Once again, for a first-time web site owner, you need to get used to the most common tools in the industry. Right now, that happens to be cPanel. So choose a hosting provider that uses it as opposed to their own set of tools. I’ve already mentioned Hostgator earlier, and they use cPanel, so it’s a good place to start.

This is another reason I don’t recommend SiteGround for a newbie. They recently migrated their dashboard from cPanel to a custom interface. I like the direction they’re going, but it’s not a good idea if you haven’t hosted a website before. You need a solid grounding in the basics, and for that, there’s no substitute for cPanel.

Choose WordPress as Your Publishing Platform

I’m just going to come out and say it – WordPress is the best content creation platform there is right now. There are many competitors out there, but the sheer volume of WordPress tutorials, forum posts, answered questions, and tens of thousands of plugins make it ideal for a first-time website owner. It’s free, open-source, and is backed by a profitable corporation that develops it actively.

It’ll probably outlast all its competitors, and so isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. It’s a good long-term bet for your new website. All web hosts big and small support WordPress (it would be suicide not to), so you’re guaranteed to have the freedom to move to another provider whenever you want. It might seem unfair to just dismiss all other products so cavalierly, but I’m just calling it how I see it.

WordPress is a super solid bet, and you can’t go wrong.

Finally, Don’t be Afraid to Switch

If you’ve taken my advice and purchased cheap web hosting on a short billing cycle, you won’t lose too much if you decide you want to move to another web host. So if you find something you don’t like, you can always switch to another provider. It’s a competitive market, and most web hosts also offer free migrations for first-time customers.

So go ahead and play the field. It’s an exciting journey you’re on, and I wish you the best of luck!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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