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You’ve got a business idea, a plan and all you need is a domain name and website. So where to get started? Read through our advice on how to pick a web hosting company that fits your needs or jump straight to the recommendations. Want a list of companies to do your own research? See the full hosting directory listing here.
How to pick a website host as a new entrepreneur?
Picking a web host as a new entrepreneur is tough. There are hundreds of them. Web hosting companies are also not the most transparent people when it comes to pricing. They mix and match services in a confusing way and tell you that you need to buy them, some of which you don’t even know what they are. All of them say they’re the best and the fastest. So what to do?
The basic rule for new entrepreneurs is to always buy the simplest shared hosting plan. Always. Don’t buy expensive plans, don’t upgrade to WordPress specific hosting for your very first blog that might not get many visitors, and don’t get into longer than annual contracts. If the business takes off, then worry about upgrading. Website hosting should never cost you more than $100 a year if you are just starting out.
Web hosts compete on price, service, and discounts (freebies). Generally, you should go with price and service when you pick a host. If a host is offering freebies, it means they plan on making the money back somehow. However, sometimes the freebies are very attractive, in which case feel free to go with it if it will help your business succeed. For example, GoDaddy gives you one free year of Office 365 email.
Additional tips for buying web hosting services:
- Web hosts always offer discounts for the first year, but that discount hosting per month cost is not the same as what you’ll pay to renew it the second year. Most hosts (at least the ones we link to) are upfront about how much renewal costs, even if it is written in tiny text.
- Set up an SSL certificate from the start. Google penalizes sites that don’t have one, meaning you won’t be showing up in searches if your site is not secure. Don’t buy hosting that doesn’t include it.
- Since ICANN controls the price of domain names, no one will give you a free domain name unless you also sign up for something else, so if you see an offer free domain offer, assume they plan on making at least $9 back from you somehow.
- If you can, buy your domain and hosting from the same company at the same time. Most companies will connect things up in the background if you do this that will save you a lot of technical headaches.
- Know the lingo: Shared hosting is the basic offering from most companies. It means you share a computer with other people’s websites, sometimes hundreds of other people. If another website on that computer gets popular, it might use more of the resources and your website might slow down. Nowadays most hosting companies have ways to mitigate this and shared hosting is a good deal for almost everyone starting out. Once you reach the limit where you have thousands of visitors a month, you can move up to nicer hosting.
What makes our recommendations valuable?
We are affiliate marketers (duh), and we don’t mess around. Cheap and fast is how we roll, and we want service to fix things when we run into trouble. We spin up blogs and websites quickly and we don’t want to deal with the hassles of wading through marketing speak. Most technical marketers will use Digital Ocean to spin up a website quickly, but those of us that want outstanding support also use regular hosts. Our overall winner is who we use because it’s fast and cheap and fixes our problems. Yes, we could probably make more money recommending someone else but we don’t.
Best Overall Web Host for New Businesses
- Namecheap: This is our host (it would be weird if we didn’t use the best, so think about that when you read other people’s lists of the “best”). Commonly recognized as having great tech support, which we can attest to. You can host up to 3 sites and no visitor limit on the cheapest plan, which is cheap.
Why do we love them?
They are fast, their chat support is amazing (seriously), and their cheapest free hosting plan includes everything a new entrepreneur needs to get started, including a free SSL certificate, easy WordPress install, and free email hosting for up to 10 email addresses. They have the least amount of upselling and the least BS. We have a guide for new entrepreneurs to get started with them with screenshots walking you through everything.
- Runner-up: Siteground. Known to be fast and cheap, what more could you want?
This is a list of other hosts that offer freebies. You can find a larger list of hosts on our hosting directory page if nothing strikes your fancy. You will eventually pay more for the extras over the long term, but sometimes they have what you need.
- GoDaddy: Free domain for one year if you buy an annual plan. Free year of Office 365 Email.
- Bluehost: Free domain for one year if you buy an annual plan, free SSL certificate. Get $100 Google Ad credits when you spend $25.
- Hostgator: Free SSL certificate and a free domain for one year on an annual plan.
- Dreamhost: Free domain for one year if you buy an annual plan. Free SSL certificate.
- InMotion Hosting: Free domain, email, and SSL on the annual plan.
- Scala Hosting: Free SSL and free migration and domain with an annual plan. Has an EU data center. Pricing.
- Hostinger: Very cheap if you need a single site that’s not visited much. Free SSL and 1 email.
Best host for very small sites
Siteground offers some fast hosting, even on their cheap plans, but limits the number of visitors. If your site is not going to get many visitors it is a great option. Namecheap has no limits on the number of visitors so it is a good fit for people who are worried they might suddenly get popular.
Best Host for WordPress
Most regular hosts have WordPress installs with a few clicks, so you don’t need a WordPress specific host unless you plan to have a lot of traffic and want something specialized or plan to run an e-commerce store plugin such as WooCommerce.
- Winner: EasyWP. Owned by Namecheap, they have the same great service and some great introductory pricing.
- Runners-up: WP Engine or WPX Hosting. Both are premium services so be prepared to pay, but you get strong service. Both include free migration for existing sites.
See a larger list on our WordPress hosting directory page if you want to do more research into WordPress hosting.
Best Host for Technical users
If you know what you’re doing you can save money by setting up a lot of things yourself. These hosts cost less per year than most hosting plans.
- Winer: Digital Ocean: A very popular choice for people who wanted something more than shared hosting. You get a lot of speed and a lot of control. Allows quick WordPress installs.
- Amazon Lightsail: a low-cost option that lets you build a lot of things on top of it. You can get a 1-month free trial. They have a pre-configured WordPress installation. For static sites, you can get an almost free site using the AWS Free Tier.
- GitHub Pages: a free website from GitHub, it requires technical ability to set up. If you don’t know what GitHub is or what a git is, this is probably not for you. It is a great option for a static site such as a software developer’s portfolio or CV site. Has an option for connecting a custom domain name.
Best host for a set-it-and-forget-it website
Sometimes you just want a website out there that won’t get many visitors, but you don’t want to keep paying monthly fees. Maybe it’s a landing page for a product you’re developing that won’t be ready for a few years or a page for your side gig. Either way, a pay-as-you-go option is valuable
Winner: NearlyFreeSpeech.net: A (very) old school pay-as-you-go option for people who don’t want monthly bills. Very cheap, but it is a bit technical to set up. Probably the cheapest option for someone who has a rarely visited site other than setting something up on AWS free tier. They don’t have an affiliate program so they don’t get mentioned much on other “best hosting” lists, but they’re simple and good.
Best Website Host for a Free Site
Sometimes you want things to be free.
Best Host for Free Speech.
- Winner: NearlyFreeSpeech.net: sometimes the things you say upset others. This is not an anonymous web host, but they don’t take sites down.
Now that you have a host, get started on the rest of your business by picking out business software in our directories or visiting our blog for entrepreneur tips and guides. We also have coupons and deals in our monthly newsletter.
Check out other posts from the No-Nonsense blog
- Email Marketing Vendor AWeber Launches a Free Plan
- How to Calculate the Cost of Hiring a New Employee
- How to Use a Payroll Service Provider to Take the Fear out of Hiring Your First Employee
- A Roundup of the Current Top Website Creation Tools and Fast Prototyping Page Builders
- Square Updates Pricing Plans on Square for Restaurants and Square for Retail
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Revenue Disclosure: We’re upfront people, so we want to be upfront with how we make money. We make money through affiliate links and ads. How do we NOT earn money? We DON’T get paid to add companies to our categories or sell email addresses. That means no one can pay us to put them on the list in any category, move them higher up the list, or change what we say about them. We want small businesses and entrepreneurs to trust us to point them in the right direction, and we’re proud of the fact that this is a guarantee you won’t see on other websites.