08 Feb How to Choose Web Hosting for Your Band (The 3 Best Options)
The first step to creating your website is to pick a hosting plan. In this post, I’ll cover in-depth what web hosting is, why you need it, and how to choose a web hosting provider.
Let’s get to it:
This post is part of a 14-step series on creating a website for your band using WordPress. Click here to go back to the main page.
What is Hosting?
Hosting is basically a paid plan (typically yearly but paid in one lump sum) for a specific amount of server space. This server space holds the files for your website. Your hosting company monitors these servers and keeps them connected to the internet 24/7 so that your website is always up and running.
Think of it this way, your website is basically a bunch of files (like text files, images, videos, etc.) that sit in one place. A server is like a hard drive that holds the files that make up your website and then that hard drive is connected to the internet so that anyone can access it via the web.
You could even host your website on your own computer. However, this involves some modification and expertise to set up. Also, your computer would need to be running and hooked up to the internet 24/7. So it’s much easier and almost always the preferred route to go with a hosting company. This is the simplest, and likely, the most cost effective approach for anyone building their first website.
The Type of Hosting Plan You Need
Now, there are a bunch of different hosting companies. There’s also a handful of different types of hosting like Shared Hosting, VPS, WordPress Hosting, Dedicated Hosting, and so on.
Simply, Shared Hosting is just that. You share server space with a certain amount of other customers. Dedicated Hosting is your own server space that only you use. Its resources are not shared with anyone else. As you can imagine, this is quite a bit pricier than Shared Hosting.
To keep it simple, if you’re just starting out, then Shared Hosting is all that you need. It will be the most cost effective plan and is what I would recommend. You can always upgrade in the future should your needs ever change.
Finally, I mentioned hosting before picking your domain name (your physical web address which I discuss in Step 2) because some hosting plans will include your first domain name in your hosting plan (but not always). However, don’t let this influence your decision too much because it’s not very expensive to buy a domain name (typically $15/yr with the first year being as low as $0.99) and it’s not difficult to set up your hosting with a domain name purchased from another company (actually, I recommend doing this. I’ll discuss this more in Step 2).
Top 3 Hosting Companies for Your Website
To help you in making your decision, here are my top three recommendations for hosting (the first being the hosting company I am currently using for all of my websites):
* Important Note: All of these plans jump up in price after your initial contract (for instance, if you buy a two-year plan, it will jump up in price after two years). That’s just the way web hosting is priced, unfortunately.
1. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting is the web hosting company that I currently use and so far, I am very happy with their service. They are a smaller company but seem to be quickly on the rise. They were ranked #1 in speed and #2 overall in quality by HostingFacts.com in a survey of 30 different hosting providers.
I can definitely recommend the company. One of my favorite aspects is the quality customer service. From what I can tell, the customer service team is based in the U.S. (which is not the case for some other hosting companies) and they have always gotten back to my questions fairly quickly (typically, within a few hours max).
They offer three different Shared Hosting plans; Lite, Swift, and Turbo. I purchased the Turbo plan for two years (this is all paid upfront in one lump sum payment). I chose the Turbo plan because I have multiples websites, so I required more resources and I wanted the fastest plan within my budget.
For most of you reading this post, the Lite plan (the lowest plan they have) will be more than sufficient. This plan will allow you to have one website and offers all the features you need. This plan does not, however, include a domain name (web address) in the plan price. Lastly, if you want/need more websites on one plan, you will need the Swift or Turbo plan.
If you’re in multiple bands and need multiple websites, you will need one of these plans. Or, as a way to keep costs down, you may consider going with the Swift or Turbo plan and hosting other band websites on your plan, then you can split the costs. For instance, maybe a friend’s band or another local project.
Next up is Bluehost…and Hostgator. I’m lumping these two into one (so I guess I’m including four options) since they are owned by the same parent company and are set up very similar. However, they do have somewhat different pricing and options, so I’ll touch on both briefly.
First, Bluehost was actually my hosting provider until just recently when I switched to A2 Hosting at the end of my plan. Overall, I was fairly happy with Bluehost. They have a great and easy to use backend layout and in the majority of the four years I had my websites hosted with them, ran and loaded fairly quickly.
However, I decided to switch for two reasons. The first being the quality of customer service.
Although most of my requests via customer service were answered, my most recent exchange with support was a bit frustrating. First of all, their support team is based in, I believe, India (not entirely sure but definitely not U.S. based) which can make conversation a bit difficult at times.
Two, in my last request as to why my site had been experiencing discrepancies in page loading time (sometimes taking just a few seconds and other times taking nearly 15 to 20 seconds), all I was told was that it was my files. Which was probably true to some extent but the support gave me very little info. The real reason, I believe, was overselling their shared server space which would cause such slow downs. Anyways, these two factors caused me to switch to A2 Hosting.
However, these issues may not be huge deals to you. Especially, if you’re a small band and don’t expect a lot of traffic to your site.
Agan, I would recommend shared hosting.
Bluehost offers three shared hosting plans. Again, as a small to even medium-sized band, you likely will only need the basic plan which includes one domain name (web address) in the plan price.
Hostgator, on the other hand, I have never used before. However, from what I can tell, their layout and pricing is nearly identical. They have more of an upbeat personality as a company where as Bluehost’s website is more professional. The Hostgator Hatchling plan does not include the domain (web address) in the plan price.
Finally, the last option I’m going to list is Siteground. Now in full disclosure, I have never used Siteground. However, it does have very good reviews and it was one of my top candidates when looking at hosting plans before switching to A2 Hosting.
Again, Siteground’s shared hosting pricing is nearly the same as all of the other options I have listed.
You’ll likely only need their StartUp package which does include one domain (web address) in the price of the plan.
A Few Final Notes Before You Decide
If cost is your biggest concern (and I can totally understand that as a band or musician), iPage has the cheapest hosting plan that I know of at $1.99 (again, that’s in your initial contract, it will shoot up after that). But, iPage uses an uncommon backend (called vDeck) whereas most other hosting companies use a backend called cPanel. I have never used vDeck but the common consensus is that it isn’t as user-friendly and up to date as cPanel. iPage is also not the fastest or most reliable hosts (coming in #25 out of 30 in speed according to Hosting Facts’ review). All of which add to why I do not recommend it.
Also, you may consider purchasing your hosting plan around a holiday as many hosting companies will often offer signup discounts. Now, I can’t say this will be the case for every holiday but take this past Black Friday for example. Many hosting companies were offering some serious discounts. A2 Hosting had their Turbo plan at roughly $6.67/month vs. $9.31/month at the time of writing this article. I signed up for a new plan with them a week before they offered this discount, but since I was in 30 days of signing up, they were able to refund me the difference.
Finally, one last thing to consider is whether or not the plan includes a domain name. A domain name is the actual web address of your site (www.example.com). Like I mentioned in my recommendations above, some of these plans include the domain in the price of the hosting plan. Some do not. If they don’t, you can either purchase the domain name at an additional cost (roughly $15/year) from the hosting company or purchase it from another company.
I’ll talk about the advantages of doing this in Step 2. So with that said, let’s move on to Step 2: Picking a Domain (Even if the hosting plan you want to go with includes the domain, you should read Step 2 to get a better understanding of domain names and how to pick one).