A lot of people start their WordPress blogs hosted right at wordpress.com (yourblog.wordpress.com), and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, as you expand and want to install plugins, themes and otherwise customize or monetize your site, you will be very limited with the hosted solution at wordpress.com. The alternative is to pay for hosting. For many people this sucks and they will not fork about a lot of money just to host a blog online. Some people might say that if you’re not willing to pay real money to get a blog going, you have no business doing so. I disagree because many people just want to experiment or share their ideas without using the wordpess.com platform.
Free Hosting at WordPress.com
There are a lot of features at WordPress.com: http://en.wordpress.com/features/. The biggest downside is that you don’t have absolute power over your blog. With a hosted solution you have almost complete power over your website. Here is a breif explanation of the differences between self hosting and hosting at wordpress.com (http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/).
If you choose to host at WordPress.com, you won’t benefit much from this website. All of the tutorials take advantage of leveraging plugins, theme customizations, etc. I don’t use wordpress.com so I won’t be able to explain to you why things are broke for you but not for me.
The Costs of Hosting
The magic # is $3-15/month and $10-20 domain registration fees for most big hosts. This includes GoDaddy, HostGator and all the other big names. On top of that, most of them make you pay 6-12 months up front to get their cheap rates. This could out you $70-160 right off the bat. I have a chepaer option though: Nearly Free Speech, which I will discuss after I mention GoDaddy and HostGator.
A month ago I would have told you to use GoDaddy. They have fantastic customer service and WordPress specific hosting packages that are easy to setup. But today, I won’t even put a link to their page on mine because they supported SOPA in December of 2011. I won’t get into the details of this, if you’re interested you can search Google yourself. Don’t use GoDaddy.
I’ve used about a half dozen different hosting providers, both low end and high end LiquidWeb, Rackspace, GoDaddy, DreamHost, NameCheap, HostGator and others that I don’t remember the name of. Rackspace is the best, but they don’t have low end hosting packages. HostGator is the best bang for your buck, it will cost you $22 to setup a new domain and a month by month hosting package. It will cost you $7-9/month after that, depending on the coupon code available at that time. If you pay for a year in advance you can get a much lower monthly rate but you’ll be out of pocket a lot more initially.
HostGator has an affiliate program, which pays people like me to promote them. This is probably part of why they are so popular and definitely part of why they charge so much. If you sign up with them you can use my link and give me credit for referring you by clicking here. But I have a much cheaper solution for you in the next section.
Nearly Free Speech
Nearly Free Speech is a very simple and low overhead hosting service that only charges for what you use. Other than the $9 to register your domain you won’t pay anymore than a few bucks up front. You can get shared hosting very similar to GoDaddy and HostGator for only pennies per month. I pay 30 cents/month for basic hosting, 30 cents/month for privacy protection finally 60 cents/month for database hosting. That’s $1.20/month for the hosting and then I pay based on how much bandwidth I use:
|After you’ve transferred||You get|
|up to 1 GB||1GB / $1||($1.00 / GB)|
|10 GB||2GB / $1||($0.50 / GB)|
|100 GB||3GB / $1||($0.33 / GB)|
|1,000 GB||4GB / $1||($0.25 / GB)|
|10,000 GB||5GB / $1||($0.20 / GB)|
This works out to be about $1.00-$1.50/month more for a graphic intensive site with 1,000 hits per day. The more traffic you get the smarter it will be to use HostGator, but if you’re just getting started Nearly Free Speech will be a lot cheaper. Especially if you start a lot of small sites over a long period of time, working on some and forgetting about others.
* prices are as of January 2012 and are subject to change
Remember when I said Nearly Free Speech had low overhead and that’s why it was less expensive? If you don’t have some basic understanding of FTP and SSH you might have a rough time setting up a Nearly Free Speech WordPress Site. But I have created a tutorial that explains, step by step, how to setup a WordPress blog at Nearly Free Speech.