Getting Started With Web Hosting
You’ve been wanting to create a website for your small business for a long time, and you finally decided to go for it. First of all, congrats on taking the first step toward growing your company’s digital presence! Committing to the process is half the battle. But now you have to do it. You must select a domain name and make a decision about how you will handle web hosting.
Web hosting can be pretty confusing for anyone who hasn’t dealt with it before. Our clients are often unaware of the costs associated with keeping a website published on the internet. At BlueGood Design, our goal is to teach clients as much as they want to learn about the world of web design and web hosting. We reject the idea that the process should be shrouded in mystery so business owners must depend on the “specialists.”
On that note, let’s talk a little bit about web hosting, so you can decide the best solution for your small business.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
The concept of web hosting can be illustrated with a simple analogy of real estate. The domain name or the address of your website is like the house. In addition to a house, you must also have a piece of property on which the house sits. This is similar to the relationship between your website’s domain and your web hosting.
Your domain is the house and the web hosting is the property on which the house sits.
While purchasing a domain is simple and inexpensive (usually about $15/year), purchasing and setting up web hosting can be much more complicated and expensive.
Typically a hosting company like GoDaddy, Bluehost, or HostGator will charge you one lump sum each year to rent space on a shared server where your website can live. Often the first year is relatively cheap (usually around $100/yr and up), but when renewal time comes around the price can jump significantly.
This type of web hosting arrangement is considered an entry-level solution for self-hosting a website. It’s often referred to as shared hosting because you are sharing a server with hundreds of other website owners. For a beginner small business website, shared hosting is perfectly acceptable. It will do the job.
Your hosting provider will usually grant you access to the website’s root files and you will need to create a database for your website where all the content and code for your website is housed. Then, when a customer types in the domain name for your website, your hosting provider will serve the files from your shared hosting account to the customer’s browser.
Every time someone clicks a link on your website, the server has to perform an action and send data to the browser. This is why web hosting requires an ongoing fee. As long as your website is live, it will always need a server to host the files and serve them to the browser.
Can I DIY My Web Hosting?
This is the big question. Are you willing to commit to learning the skills and doing the work needed to set up and manage your own web hosting?
It’s not terribly difficult nor is it particularly labor-intensive once you know what you’re doing. You will certainly save some money by self-hosting your website. The question you must answer is whether it’s worth it to learn the skills, or is it better to hire someone to take care of it. The answer is different for everyone and depends on a number of factors like your DIY ethic, your free time, and the cash flow of your business.
With a self-hosted website, you will also want to familiarize yourself with creating and installing database backups and web security, since catastrophes can happen occasionally. Again, it’s not prohibitively difficult–you just need to have the time to invest in learning and maintaining it.
At BlueGood Design, we strive to be transparent about the costs associated with web hosting. If your business is getting started with a web presence and you aren’t getting thousands of visitors a day, there’s no reason to invest in expensive web hosting.
We offer a starter web hosting package for Kentucky small businesses that covers everything from domain to design to hosting on our private server for just $49 per month. For some business owners, this affordable package makes more sense than going the DIY route because we take care of everything.
However, if you’re interested in learning about self-hosting your website, feel free to give us a shout. We’re happy to help and we even teach a class on the subject!