Best WordPress Hosting for Small Businesses & Freelance Designers

More than 1 in 4 websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. So it’s no surprise that there are tons of WordPress hosting solutions available. It’s always nice to have choices, but too many of them can become overwhelming.

Have no fear, DC Dev Shop is here to guide you. Today, we’ll look at common hosting  scenarios to help you identify a solution that’s most tailored to your specific needs.

There’s enough to keep you busy with running a successful WordPress site. You probably don’t want to worry about maintaining a server for your site to run on. That’s exactly what a hosting provider takes care of for you. We’ll dive into some example use cases, but first let’s review the types of hosting available to choose from (and how they are different).

 

What kind of hosting is available?

Before you start shopping for a hosting provider, it’s important to know what kind of hosting you need to begin with. Here are some types to take into consideration.

  • Free
  • Shared
  • Managed

Keep in mind that this is very high-level and there are many nuances involved. Those will be touched on later in this article, when we take a look at specific case studies.

Free Hosting

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Well, remember that you get what you pay for. When it comes to WordPress hosting, you are paying for speed and flexibility first and foremost. If you opt for free hosting, you lose out on both.

With free hosting, you will have minimal control over your WordPress site. You will have limited theme selection, no control over ads, and diminished control over site branding. In terms of speed and reliability, you won’t have much control there either. You are stuck with the server resources allocated to your site, but can’t do much to increase them.

Free hosting could be a good choice, but only for a very limited set of scenarios.

Shared Hosting

With a shared hosting plan, you are essentially paying the hosting provider to rent space on a server. There will be many other sites running on that same server. Because of this, performance and resource availability will take a hit.

But, unlike with free hosting, you will have full control over your site. You will all have complete creative control of the look and feel of your site, as well as with branding and ads.

The price of a shared hosting solution can be as low as $2.95/month, so it’s ideal for small sites/blogs that don’t yet have much traffic.

Managed Hosting

Managed hosting is an emerging trend in the WordPress universe. Many providers are now offering premium packages tailored specifically for high-traffic WordPress sites.

A typical managed hosting package could include a dedicated server (either physical or virtual), paired with features that enhance site security and speed. Workflow and collaboration tools are also a typical feature of managed hosting.

Managed hosting can come up at much steeper price, often as high as $30/month (and possibly much more). Therefore, it is ideal for agencies or large businesses with high-traffic websites.

Use cases: Which hosting is best for you?

Now that we’ve provided high-level explanations of the various types of hosting available, let’s dig into some specific use cases. These use cases will provide further context to help you decide the type of hosting that’s right for you.

Use Case #1: Personal website

Let’s say you want to start a blog to keep friends and family updated on your life. Or perhaps there’s a hobby/interest that you want to explore and share with the world. For a small personal website of this nature, free or shared hosting would be the optimal way to go.

The main reasons for this are cost and simplicity; if you are running a small website alone, you can forego the costlier advanced features applicable to high-traffic websites that have large teams collaborating on them.

What are some good free/shared hosting providers?

Free hosting: WordPress.com

As mentioned when I discussed free hosting above, there are severe limitations imposed by a free hosting plan. There are tons of free hosting providers, but I would strongly advise avoiding them in favor of a reputable provider.

Think of it this way: anyone can offer free server space to host your website. But they could revoke your free hosting at any moment, or populate your site with unsavory ads.

One reputable provider of free hosting, and the one I would recommend, is wordpress.com. With wordpress.com, you are guaranteed stability because it’s a well-established company that is running a huge operation.

Here are some things to keep in mind if using free hosting on wordpress.com:

  • You are limited to a very small subset of themes, so control over the look and feel of your website will be hindered
  • You will be forced to keep WordPress branding on your site. For example, a “Powered by WordPress” display in your site footer.
  • Ads will be placed onto your site, and you will have no control over them. You also will not be able to generate revenue from them.
  • You will be forced to use a wordpress.com subdomain. For example, if you wanted to have a site called dogs.com, it would be dogs.wordpress.com if using free hosting at wordpress.com. This can harm your credibility. Imagine if you wanted to buy a car, and a dealership pointed you to their website cars.wordpress.com. Would you think they are a credible brand?

I strongly advise against free hosting in general because there are so many limitations. If you absolutely must use free hosting, wordpress.com is the place to do it. Other free hosting providers may not be transparent about their own shortcomings. Additionally, you never know when such a provider could disappear unexpectedly. With wordpress.com, you can at least be comfortable knowing it is an established brand that isn’t going anywhere.

Shared hosting: GoDaddy and Bluehost

As an attractive alternative to free hosting, shared hosting can be had on the cheap. Many plans start as cheap as $2.95/month. Keep in mind that you will also have to register a domain name, which comes with an annual fee attached (but is less than $30).

Two shared hosting providers that are popular for lower price points include GoDaddy and Bluehost. Both companies also offer high-end packages, but the low-end options are perfect for small websites managed by one person.

Plans at this price point offer helpful tools to easily install and manage WordPress. And you will have full control over your website, with access to any of the thousands of WordPress themes available. You will also have full control over any ads that are displayed on your site, and much more.

Remember that when it comes to shared hosting, limited server resources are available to you. However, you can easily scale to a more expensive solution should your site grow in popularity and/or scope.

Typical cost

The typical cost for shared hosting as described in this use case breaks down as follows:

  • Domain name: $15 (initial cost to purchase), $30/year to renew after that
  • Hosting: Low introductory rates of $5/month or less for first year, can be as much as 33% more after introductory rates expire

Use Case #2: Small business/non-profit website

Let’s say you run a small business or non-profit. You don’t have the money for a dedicated web team, but your website is larger and more critical than a personal site. On most days, you get several hundred unique visitors. Your website is how people find you, so it’s a key part of your business that needs to be taken seriously.

In this case, a premium shared hosting plan would be ideal. This is a step up from the low-end solution described above, while being more economical than a managed solution. An example of a premium shared hosting plan would be Siteground’s GrowBig plan.

With a plan like this, you get all of the features of a lower-end plan plus:

  • Priority technical support
  • Improved site performance via optimized caching
  • Site backup and restore

Each of these features are incredibly important for your site’s reliability and usability.

For example, let’s say you need to add a new page to your website. There’s a chance it could go live with errors, or that it could break other functionality on the site. In case something does break on the live site, you can easily roll back thanks to the backup/restore functionality.

Features like this are not available on a lower-end shared hosting plan. But in the case of a small business website, they are more than worth paying for.

Typical cost

The typical cost for hosting as described in this use case breaks down as follows:

  • Domain name: $15 (initial cost to purchase), $30/year to renew after that
  • Hosting: Low introductory rates of $10/month or less for first year, can be as much as 33% more after introductory rates expire

 

Use Case #3: Agency with dedicated support team

Let’s say you own a website design/development agency. You currently have a team of developers supporting multiple clients, and a significant source of revenue comes from post-launch support.

You need a hosting plan that provides the tools and resources necessary to support such an operation.

Take the example of a large real estate firm, who has been a client of your firm. Three months ago, you launched their website. The firm is now working with your agency to develop a suite of online calculators for their site. Multiple members of your development team are working on pieces of this functionality simultaneously. In this scenario, how can you ensure the development workflow is optimized?

Enter premium hosting for agencies. With this type of hosting package, you will have access to tools that enable your team to be successful. These packages typically include features such as:

  • Unlimited development/staging environments, so your team can test changes effectively
  • Tools/workflows focused on DevOps (including integration with GitHub and feature branching), so your team can effectively manage releases as well as the code base
  • Automated server admin tasks so your team can focus on developing, rather than applying server-level patches and other related overhead tasks

WP Engine and Pantheon are two highly regarded hosting providers that offer this sort of package. Prices start as low as $35/month (introductory rate) but scale to over $100/month for advanced features and increased performance.

Typical cost

The typical cost for hosting as described in this use case breaks down as follows:

  • Domain name: $15 (initial cost to purchase), $30/year to renew after that
  • Hosting: $35/month for lowest tier option, quickly scaling up to over $100/month

Wrapping Up

There are many different types of WordPress hosting available. Whether you have a small personal site, own a small business, or own a large development/design agency, there are tailored solutions available. These solutions will ensure you get the features and functionality you need at a price point that you can afford.