Lesson 3: Hosting and domains

This lesson will guide you through setting up the web services you need to get online.

Whether you’re building a blog, a website, or a portfolio, most WordPress hosting will meet your needs. Where things get more complex is when you have high-traffic sites, complex site setups, large sites, or big eCommerce sites. That’s when you’ll need faster, more powerful, hosting, with additional specs and features. 

But for today, here are a few pointers for choosing a WordPress host:

What kind of hosting do they offer?

Most entry-level hosting is shared hosting, which is like renting a storage locker in a big storage facility. You, along with a bunch of other tenants, each have your section of the space. Pros: It’s the most affordable hosting you can get. Cons: Shared hosting is usually slower and has more security weaknesses. Support is usually less responsive because you get what you paid for.

Dedicated server hosting is like renting the whole storage building for your stored personal items, and cloud hosting is like having little copies of your stuff in the cloud, that you can access at any point.

Cloud hosting is by far the most advanced and high-performance option on the market, but it also costs more. 

What are the reviews like?

This is where the real juicy stuff is. Look at websites like G2, Trustpilot and third-party review sites. Pay close attention to how people review the support offered by the hosting company.

Do you want to bundle email, hosting, and domain registration in one?

Not all hosts do this, so you might want to decide if that’s a dealbreaker for you from the start. 

How much does it cost?

Watch out here, since some hosts will give you an amazing deal on the first year, and then charge you three times as much the next year. Make sure you always read the fine print and are aware of the full price. 

What’s included?

Things like domain privacy, which hides the name and address you used to register your domain, SSL certificates, a Content Delivery Network, and website backups.

Bluehost is a very common shared hosting provider, with competitive rates for first-time website owners. Kinsta is my pick for top-tier cloud hosting, with some of the fastest load times on the market. I’ve been an employee at Kinsta since January 2020 and although a bit pricey for beginners, they deliver great results.

WordPress.com is not the same as WordPress

If you are googling WordPress and find a website called WordPress.com, you’ve found a product from a company called Automattic. This is an online platform where you can host and build a website using a version of WordPress maintained and controlled by Automattic. They offer all-in-one pricing. This is a great place if you want a new site that is easy and simple to spin up and manage. But keep in mind, this is not ideal if you want total control over your site. WordPress.com is a website-building platform and is not using the Open Source version of WordPress. That means that you can’t easily download your content and move your WordPress site to a different web host. In a nutshell, WordPress.com is a website builder, and installing WordPress on the host of your choice is called “self-hosted”.

Buying a domain

I host my websites with Kinsta, a Premium cloud-based hosting company, so I’m going to use my account to demonstrate how to set up a brand new WordPress site. I’ll point out where the experience will vary from host to host, and what to expect. 

Because Kinsta doesn’t have email hosting or domain registration, I like to use a website called Hover to register my domains. If you’ve chosen a hosting provider that offers domains, email, or both with your hosting bundle, you’ll want to use their service since you’ve already paid for it. 

With Hover, I’ll look up my first choice domain and see if it’s available. If it isn’t, it’ll suggest some alternatives including different spellings, and top-level domains. Once I’ve picked one, I’ll pay for it, and I always check off Private domain registration, so people can’t look up who registered the domain. I like to be mysterious and also privacy concerns. 

Hover has a few email options, so you can choose the one that suits your needs. If you want something very professional, choose the works. For the super simple option, you can choose email forwarding, and for a free option, bypass this entirely and continue using your current email provider like Gmail. 

In the next lesson, we’ll install WordPress and start building! See you then!