Hosting for Beginners: 4 Easy Steps

Here’s a complete guide on how to host a website for beginners.

Table of Contents

How Hosting Works

First, you need to understand how it works. Let’s use the analogy of a phone.

Your phone service consists of two parts:

  1. The telephone number to identify you
  2. The telephone service from a carrier like AT&T

Similarly, your website also consists of two parts:

  1. The website name (or domain name) to identify you
  2. Web hosting from a web hosting provider

When you start a website, you typically buy the domain name and hosting service from the same company – just like you often get your telephone number and carrier service from the same place. But you don’t have to.

How to Host a Website of Your Own

Here’s a step by step process on how to host your own website from scratch.

Step 1: Buy a Domain Name

First we need to purchase a domain name. You can typically purchase a domain name as part of the hosting package. It’s like choosing your telephone number when you sign up with AT&T for phone service.

A domain name is your website address without “www” or “http” or “https”. It looks like this:

example.com

It has two parts:

  1. The part before the dot (.) – in this case “example
  2. The part after the dot (.) – in this case, “com”

“2” is also called a Top Level Domain (TLD). These days, you can buy all kinds of TLDs – “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, “.biz”, “.edu” etc. Each TLD has a different price range.

Many providers offer a free domain with the initial purchase of web hosting.

Step 2: Choose Your Web Host

Purchasing web hosting is essentially buying space for your website on a server. Your website needs the following resources to work:

  1. Space to store all the website files, images, and information
  2. Bandwidth to show these images and files to your visitors
  3. Processing power to generate your website

The price of web hosting depends on how much of these three resources it delivers. As your site grows, it will need more and more processing power, space, and bandwidth. The cheapest web hosting plans are ideal for starting out. Most web hosts allow you to slowly upgrade your service as your site grows.

Step 3: Decide Between Shared, VPS, or Managed Hosting

Here’s a rule of thumb. If you consider yourself a “small” website, then you should go with shared hosting. If you consider yourself a large website, consider either managed, or VPS hosting. There’s even cloud hosting – here’s a beginner’s guide on the difference between cloud and shared hosting.

There is also separate WordPress hosting. This is when you’re sure that your entire site will run WordPress and nothing else. Most providers offer special packages for this – here’s a pricing comparison of WordPress plans. These packages will typically have the following perks:

  1. WordPress pre-installed
  2. Special WordPress admin tools
  3. Staging for WordPress like with SiteGround

However, most WordPress packages are basically reworked shared hosting products. You’ll still be sharing your server with hundreds of others, which puts a limit on how fast your site can respond, and also makes it somewhat unpredictable.

If you have a demanding WordPress site, then opt for a managed WordPress hosting service like Kinsta. It’s not as cheap as shared hosting sure, but it’s worth it when you want stable and solid WordPress performance.

Step 4: Get SSL or “HTTPS” for your Site

These days, it’s vitally important for your site to be accessible like this:

https://www.example.com

Instead of like this:

http://www.example.com

Note the extra “s” at the end of “http”. It means your site is “SSL Enabled”. If you’re going to host a website, then this is critical.

The reason why it’s so important, is that Google has decided to mark all “http” sites as unsafe and will penalize you in the search results. Not only that, visiting a site with “http” from Chrome will show the user a big, dangerous, red warning sign. This will scare away your visitors and make them think your site is a scam. So it’s vitally important to ensure that you’ve enabled SSL.

Some providers take advantage of this and make you pay separately for expensive SSL certificates. However, I firmly believe that in today’s age, no one should have to pay for basic SSL. Which is why you must choose a hosting company that provides free SSL.

Out of all the web hosts reviewed on this site, only GoDaddy still charges for SSL. Till that changes, I suggest you avoid them, even though they might look cheaper than the competition.

Stay Away from Website Builders

For beginners looking to build their first website, services like Wix can be very attractive. But stay away from them! They hold your website hostage, and make it very difficult to move on. Not just that, but they use your website as an advertising platform and charge you hefty amounts to remove these ads. In effect, you are creating content for them to serve ads to your visitors.

Don’t fall for it.

Best Web Hosts for Beginners

Here are three recommendations for beginners to web hosting:

Hostgator

I put Hostgator on this list because of the following reasons:

  • They’re cheap
  • They have no “frills”
  • Decent quality

As a beginner, you don’t want to spend a lot of money. At the same time, you don’t want to get cheated either. Many web hosts use potent traps to make you pay more. These will end up costing you a lot more in the end. Hostgator more or less stays away from these tricks, and just gives you basic web hosting. Here’s a complete Hostgator review, where I compare all the features to other web hosts and give you the pros and cons of each.

And here’s the complete Hostgator coupon code list when you’re ready to start shopping.

NameHero

NameHero is a web host that stays with you for life. Unlike Hostgator, they’re slightly more expensive. But in return, you get a whole lot more. The most important addition is backups. With NameHero, you get a sophisticated backup system that stores your data offsite in case of disaster. Plus you get security systems, access to QUIC.cloud and more. Here’s a complete NameHero review for you to learn more. And Here are the NameHero coupons to access the discounts.

What to Do After Purchasing Web Hosting?

Now that you know how to host a website, it’s time build it up! WordPress is the most common site building platform, so I suggest you get started with that.

Should I Use a Website Builder Like Wix?

No! Never use website builders. They lock you into their service, and can squeeze you for cash whenever they way. I’ve written a detailed post about why you shouldn’t use Wix. Instead, use a self-hosted platform like WordPress.

Why Do I Need a Website? Can’t I Just Use Facebook?

A website gives you something you can refer people to. You can’t just tell people to find you on Facebook, or Instagram or whatever. A website URL is easy and can be put onto a business card. Moreover, your website will tell visitors all the information they want to know right from the get go. What is your address? How much do your services cost? And a lot more!

Above all this, a website is professional. Instagram or Etsy is not.

Do I Need TLD for My Own Country? Like .CA or .UK?

You don’t need to, but it can help. Particularly if your business is local. For digital services, it doesn’t make as much sense. But a country-based TLD will give you more cred both in the eyes of your visitors, as well as search engines. That being said, it’s not a huge deal either way.

Should I Purchase My Domain from My Web Host?

It’s not really that big a deal either way. If you want the absolute lowest cost domains, you should check out Cloudflare’s domain registration service. They sell you domains “at cost”. Meaning they don’t take a profit and remit all the money directly to ICANN. It’s cheaper than any other domain provider. On the other hand, purchasing a domain from the same hosting provider allows you to manage them both at the same time.

How Easy is it To Migrate from Between Hosting Providers?

I’m not going to lie, it can be annoying. But most web hosts will transfer your website for free once you sign up, so that helps mitigate the pain. Changing web hosts isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, but you’re not locked into anything either. This is one reason why you should host your own website instead of using a website builder like Wix (see above).

How Much Should I Be Paying?

For a beginner, you shouldn’t be paying more than $4/m to host your own website. You can get better “per month” prices if you commit to hosting for a period of say 3-years. But then your initial cost will be higher since you have to pay for it in advance. On the other hand, if you choose to host for 1-year, your initial outlay will be lower, but you’ll end up paying more every month.

But still. $3-4 every month is a good range to aim for.

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!

Speak Your Mind

*

WP-Tweaks