Free blog hosting sites such as Blogger and WordPress.com have their advantages. They make it relatively easy for just about anyone to have a web presence. If you’re not the least bit interested in fooling around with HTML or CSS and just want to get your writings out there, then sites such as Blogger, Livejournal, and WordPress.com are good choices. And they’re free, which is always a plus.
More Control Over Your Blog
However, if you really want total control over your blog, the free sites generally won’t cut it. In particular, WordPress.com has severe limitations: You can’t use your own templates, and you can’t even modify the ones WordPress lets you use unless you pay for the privilege. You’re only allowed so much space to upload images, you can’t install many of the really useful plugins out there, and you can’t post your own HTML feedback forms.
There are so many walls you can hit, which can be incredibly frustrating to anyone who wants to do just a little more with their blog. That’s when it’s time to think about going with paid web hosting for your blog.
But there are so many web hosts out there; it’s hard to know which is the best one to go with. Answering that question requires a little research.
Web Hosting Research
When you start reading up on web hosts and what they have to offer, you don’t want to just settle for reading what they have to offer on their websites. Web hosts want your money, and they’re going present themselves in the best light possible. Like any business, they’ll emphasize their excellent service and fantastic deals. In reality, they may have a lot of unhappy customers who regret the day they fell for the sales pitch.
One of the things you can do is read up on web hosts on WebHostingTalk forums. It’s full of reviews and recommendations from real people who have had both good and bad experiences with various web hosts. You’ll probably have a difficult time finding a web host that has a perfectly clean record, but if there are far more bad reviews than good, you’d want to take that into consideration.
If you want to read opinions from people who have paid hosting for their WordPress blogs, you might want to explore the forum on WordPress.org. You can try searching words and phrases like “good web host” or “recommended hosting.”
In that same vein, Lorelle has a very relevant post on her blog: I Hate My Web Host. Lorelle was having problems with her web host and asked her readers to recommend some good alternatives. There are some glowing recommendations there, as well as rebuttals from those who had bad experiences.
Once you have got a good list of web hosts you’re seriously considering, you can help narrow things down even more by contacting these companies and asking some questions. It’s one way to test the quality of their service before you commit. Do they get back to you quickly? Are they polite? Do they answer your questions clearly? Would you be happy with this kind of service after you’ve signed up with them?
Double Check Features
Finally, be sure that the web hosts truly offer what you need. It helps when you have an idea of how much space your site will need, whether or not you need to run Perl or PHP scripts, etc. If you want a web host that will run WordPress, be sure it supports the features WordPress needs to work: PHP and at least one MySQL database.
With a little time and effort, you’ll be able to find a web host that’s right for you.