You may already have a FB page for your business, which is great!
But you really need a website. It’s professional, shows off your brand and holds the attention of your audience.
Someone visiting your FB page might get distracted by all the other shiny things on FB so their attention will eventually shift away from you.
If you can get someone over to your website, you have a better chance of holding their attention.
I started with a free site on WordPress.com. It’s a managed host so getting everything set up and styled was pretty simple.
As I was learning more about what I wanted for an online biz, and the tools I needed, I started to feel restricted.
Managed hosting just doesn’t offer the freedom self-hosting does. You can’t upload any plugin you want, you can’t always upload custom themes. And if you want to upgrade, it’s kind of pricey.
Not exactly new-biz friendly.
I eventually upgraded from free to premium and discovered that there wasn’t really much difference other than my domain not having “WordPress” in it and having a few extra themes to choose from.
I couldn’t use Google Analytics, which apparently is THE tool to use for analytics tracking. And I couldn’t upload other plugins that I wanted, like Monarch or Share This.
So, I decided to go self-hosted and switched to Siteground.
I still use WordPress as a CMS, because it’s honestly the best content management system available, but by being self-hosted, I have more freedom to design and customize.
Now, I knew literally nothing about websites when I first started.
I didn’t even know there were options for free websites other than wordpress.com.
I’ve learned quite a bit since I’ve started. But I want you to know, you don’t have to be a certified web developer/designed tech master to go with self-hosting.
To get started, all you need to know is
- How to Google things
- How to watch YouTube videos
You know you need the right tools to run a successful business. Whether you’re a brick and mortar, online biz or in direct sales; your website is really one of the most important pieces so you need to pick a host that works for you.
Choosing Between Managed and Self-Hosted
This is what you need to consider before you choose between managed or self-hosting
- How much traffic are you anticipating?
- What plugins will help you with analytics, spam blocking, social media sharing, and sign up forms?
- Are you concerned about load times?
- How will you protect your site from hackers and spammers?
Traffic. High traffic can cause a website to crash. Yea, that’s true. If you’re anything like me, you probably think the internet is a force to be reckoned with. It’s unbreakable! I mean it has glitches, sure, but it can’t be overloaded….Wrong. It can be. And that’s no good. Your page will crash and the traffic will leave.
So if you think you’ll have 10,000 site visitors or more each month, you really need to go with top-line hosting. A free WordPress account will absolutely not cut it. And if you’re planning on scaling to 10,000 at any point, just go with the right host from the beginning.
Cost. I know if you’re just starting out, the idea of spending money on a website probably makes your stomach turn. I was making zero dollars writing so I was pretty much going negative by purchasing a site. I didn’t even tell my husband because I figured he’d be pissed that I was spending $89 on a theme and $47 for hosting without pulling any money in. But, spend money to make money, right?
Analytics. You do need to track analytics if you want your site to be successful. And it’s really not that hard. The word ‘analytics’ can be intimidating but most of the tools give you simple graphs and numbers, so it’s easy-peasy.
Tracking my sites ‘page views’ per day helped me understand what marketing techniques were working and tracking post clicks helped me understand what headlines caught people’s attention. Because I tracked, I was able to tweak and improve. When I realized how simple it was and what an impact it had, I wanted to use better tools than wordpress.com’s and they didn’t offer anything at the premium level, like Google Analytics.
I also wanted to improve my SEO to increase organic traffic. Yoast SEO is perfect for this, but again, not available for wordpress.com. Being able to use these two plugins was a big factor in my decision to move away from managed hosting.
Code-level Access. Managed hosting also doesn’t offer code level access. There are a few areas that you can plug in some CSS, but for the most part the web pages are structured and the CSS makes minor changes.
If you want to custom design various parts of your site (and you should- otherwise it will look like a basic template), you need code-level access. Self-hosting allows you access to the backend of your site. You can change image sizes and placement, font sizes, you can place ads where you want them, add in photo cred, and a whole slew of other techy things that I haven’t bothered to learn because I plan on hiring web designer at some point. But my main point is that code-level access provides you with the freedom to be creative. And if you decide to hire a web designer- they get to be creative! Don’t bother hiring a web designer to work on a managed theme, they won’t be able to do much.
Domain email. This was one of the best features in switching to Siteground, for me. I now look like a total pro because I can say, “email me at email@example.com.” I look totally legit! AND, I recently discovered, that if you’re planning on building an email list, your messages are less likely to end up in spam with a @domain email address. If you use @yahoo or @gmail, your subscribers may not see your emails. Huge opportunity miss right there!
Do You Have Time to Invest in Building a Site?
Web Design. How much time can you commit to creating a website that showcases you and your brand? This is a really important factor in deciding what kind of host will work for you.
If you’re going to hire a designer, don’t restrict them with a managed host. They won’t be able to flex their designer muscles and you won’t see the results you want.
If you’re designing it yourself, how much time do you have to read posts and watch YouTube videos? It took me quite a while to build my website. And then I tweaked it many times over. The one thing I loved, was that I could tweak each little thing I felt made a difference. If I was using a managed host, I would have their templates available and could basically only do what the template allowed.
No matter how much you try to personalize, a template will always look like a template.
Themes. There are some really amazing themes out there. I love Divi because of the drag and drop feature. It works kind of like a Weebly or a Wix but it’s for WordPress. And WordPress is best. Love.
Pick a host that allows YOU to pick your theme. I couldn’t upload a theme on my free WordPress site so I was limited to their options. WordPress is a content management system, not web design, so almost every theme available looked like a newspaper page.
Plugins. You can download whatever plugin you want with a self-hosted site. Most plugins are free but if you want to upload to a managed site, you have to have the right package. This is actually the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was struggling with themes, I was ok with analytics, but when I couldn’t upload Yoast SEO, I was ticked off. I switched to self-hosting that day. I had been chatting with a rep in WordPress about why I couldn’t upload Yoast and he said that I needed the business level account which was like $200 a month!! $2400 a year for a website? Yea, right. I didn’t even know if my business was going to make $2400 a year.
Support. Dun, dun, dun. Support is one of the reasons many people like managed hosting. If you don’t know how to do something or need a little coding to tweak something, you can open up a chat box and speak directly to a support tech. They’re amazing, they can recommend themes based on what you want, they can provide custom CSS, they will look directly at your site and help you out.
With Siteground, they do have a chat option for support, but it’s for backend support. They don’t do themes, plugins, color change, pic uploads and resizing. They are only there for web host help.
Divi doesn’t have a chat option at all. Which I really don’t like, but I love the theme enough to let it slide. You literally have to post your questions in a forum and wait for a response. It can take days. There is no immediate fix option. You can Google or YouTube a solution but they are not really customized to your problem. You have to find a similar problem and give that fix a try. I’ve done it, it’s exhausting.
So, why do I recommend SiteGround?
Siteground has the fastest load times and the fastest performance times. When compared to the top 12 hosting sites, they ranked number one.
Now, why is page load and performance important? Because slow loading = lost sales. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to sell something or not. If you want people to read your content, sign up for your freebies, and generally stick around your site; you need to have quick load times. Don’t make people wait. People hate to wait. This study explains more.
And, Siteground guarantees protection. You don’t want hackers, spammers or internet bad guys gaining access to your site and stealing your email list, copying payment transactions or doing bad internet things. It’s no good for you or your reputation. Go with a reliable host and you know you’re protected.
Siteground has really great customer service. They offer a chat service, which is great, and they have a phone line. So whatever you prefer, get in touch and your problem is fixed in under 10 minutes. There may be problems that take a bit longer, but most of the time, it’s an immediate fix.
I actually had a non-host related issued and the service rep in my chat worked with me to fix it and suggested terms or phrases to Google so I could find a fix. There chat profiles explain expertise and give star-ratings. Each rep I’ve communicated with has had a five-star rating. At the end of the chat, they ask for your input. I’ve never given less than 5 stars because it’s really that good. They’re super helpful and will explain techy stuff to someone like me, who doesn’t truly understand what she’s doing.
So, like I said, a FB page is good. But a website is better. If you have a business you need a website. There are some things to consider but coming from someone who is brand new to the online space, Siteground is amazing.
If you sign up through my affiliate link now, you get a special discount! Feel free to contact me with questions, I am always happy to chat and give my honest feedback. → pro status firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. here’s a quick tutorial for you to get started 🙂
They offer a free website transfer (which is what I did because the process was scary!)