So this is a bit off topic for me, but I thought it might interest some of you.
I have had the chance to check out a number of host providers while setting up a number of WordPress blogs and I am here to tell you not all host providers are created equal. Let me share with you the ones I have dealt with recently, in case you (like everyone else) you want to start a blog of your own.
The main three I have had the chance to deal with are 1&1, Aplus and Bluehost, there are of course many, many more but you have to start somewhere.
Don’t use 1&1 for web hosting, domain or otherwise!
Whatever you do, don’t use 1&1 there customer service is definitely outsourced outside the country and it shows. I say that not because I think outsourcing is necessarily bad. I mean frankly if I am getting awesome customer service I don’t really care where it is coming from. But it is pretty clear that the people on the other end of the line (wherever that may be) could care less and in their defense I don’t think the “first tier” support team is told much of anything, AT ALL. To make it worse you can’t get past the first tier support, but they are happy to hear your complaints via an email address (and oh yes I did email them).
All I wanted to do was move my domain from 1&1 to Bluehost. All providers say it’s easy to make a domain move….well don’t believe them. For some unknown (to me) reason it takes a really long time (long in cyberspace time) 7-10 days in my experience to move domains from one provider to another. To do it you have to switch things off from one provider and then approve the requests back and forth and then somewhere in the process no one can really tell you who has control of what or when the actual switch will happen. And then magically when you have given up all hope it’s switched.
Well 1&1 were never really able to tell me clearly what was going on and of the 6 people I talked to and emailed there I got different answers and suggestions. All I can say is that I am really happy I no longer need them and I recommend you stay very far away from them.
So I will say this from the get-go. I am a huge fan of Bluehost. I first heard about them from Pat Flynn and his blog Smart Passive Income. If you are considering blogging and want to earn money at it his is a great resource for checking that out. So because of him I used Bluehost and was REALLY happy with their service.
It is super easy if you are staring from scratch (meaning you don’t already have a domain name you need to move). You will need to come up with a website name and yes there is a whole science to that, which I have ignored a bit, but assuming that you have the name you want and it’s available you can literally get the bare bones of your blog set up with name and hosting in about 5 minutes. (And seriously check out Pat Flynn’s blog for details on just about anything to do with doing passive income stuff online with blogs).
So far the customer service with Bluehost has been really good. They are nice, not condescending or impatient and actually seem interested in helping you with your problems or locating the person that can. It’s sad to say but that is sort of service of few and far between these days that it really sticks out. Again I can’t more highly recommend Bluehost for blog hosting. It’s simple plug and play with them. Check out Bluehost here for hosting your blog.
Aplus.net/Deluxe for Business – So far so good, sort of.
So I have literally been using these providers for my Mom’s website since 2002. I think I had heard about them or used them for an old job once upon a time and just stuck with them. When I started with them and I just had a basic html site, nothing fancy at all. Time moved on, they have been bought and sold or have at least changed their services and look quite a bit over the years. So when I went to visit my Mom we talked about changing her website and because I am so gungho about WordPress talked her into going that way with the her website. WordPress is, by the way so much simpler to manage than other types of websites. I LOVE WORDPRESS! Because I didn’t want to experience the trauma of the domain move and everything I decided to see what Aplus offered in the way of WordPress installs. Because if you are not a total nerd and don’t like to torture yourself, you want a hosting company that offers a nifty WordPress install button. Not all do and trust me you don’t want to install it manually, unless like I said you are a total nerd and enjoy that sort of thing.
So Aplus did have an WordPress install button, but for some idiotic reason you couldn’t install it in the main folder so it wouldn’t show up correctly when your base domain name was put in, you had to make a sub folder, blah, blah, blah. AND…get this you were then asked by WordPress to enter your ftp access to install or make any major changes, which when entered didn’t work anyway. SO all of this led me to have to email and then call tech support to have them do some special magic install that only they can do so everything would work. Long story short, they did their magic thing and it’s now all installed and I have my Mom’s site well under way. So Aplus , if you’re listening, don’t offer a WordPress plug-in if it doesn’t actually work.
I will say in their defense, their customer support was really nice and people were totally helpful. But, if you like to do things yourself and hopefully not have to mess with tech support, don’t use them, use….yep that’s right, Bluehost. Aplus has been a good host provider over the years, but I don’t think their forte is blogs and definitely not WordPress.
So to wrap up here are few things to keep in mind if you want to have your own blog
- Really seriously use Bluehost for website hosting, they are (at this writing) cheap, fast and easy…all the things I like in my host provider
- Use WordPress, it will get you the most flexibility so you can add all the nifty plugins WP has to offer.
- You can blog for free on WordPress on their servers or host on your own and pay. And if you are unsure what to do at this point start with free and then export your site once you get brave and you can move to your own domain and host. WordPress has a handy page on explaining the difference. You can blog for free through WordPress, but there is a generally a big difference in what you can do and how you can customize your blog. If you can swing it, host it yourself which means you sign up with host provider and install WordPress.
- If you already own a domain name and want to move it be aware it will take some time. (7-10) days at least. And make sure you are checking your email frequently to respond to the back and forth emails that will come up during the process. You have to initiate and approve a bunch of things along the way from both providers if you are moving domains. When in doubt call customer service before doing anything to make sure you are the right track and your domain floats in around in cyberspace in places unknown for a few days.
- If you have an old website that needs updating, seriously consider WordPress. It is a much easier way to manage a website and kicks butt over any other hosts built-in “web builders” (GoDaddy I’m talking to you).
- Have fun, it is totally fun to play with all the settings and see your blog come to life. I am still figuring out what it can do and there is so much more to learn.
- Hey if you need a hand, let me know I am happy to give advice.
Thanks to anyone who is still reading this. I need to nerd out sometimes.
If you would like to see some of the other tech geekery products I recommend, check out my recommended products page.