In January I had a life-changing experience. OK, so that’s an overstatement. What I really had was a blog-setup-changing experience.
For a number of years now, I’ve worked at setting up websites for the almost do-it-yourselfer. Win-with-1 is for people who want to own a blog and have control over the basic functions, but don’t want to do the most technical parts of setting up hosting, purchasing domains, loading software, FTPing, customizing, etc.
This has nicely filled a need for a particular niche of bloggers.
But in January, I had an online conversation that changed everything. I learned that there is an entire class of bloggers for whom any technical work is an overwhelming barrier. They don’t want to go up the tech learning curve to setup a blog, but they also don’t want to manage the themes, plugins, and features.
What do they want? They want a blog that is incredibly easy to set up, that has all the bells and whistles ready to go, and that they can use to start to blog today — not after a few weeks of studying and researching and futzing. And they want to do it on a blog they own — understanding that building a business on a free blog that someone else has control of (and can shut down on a whim) is very unwise.
When that need became apparent, PopCred.net was born. It’s a blog network with ready-to-go blogging sites and tools and where an entire blog community works together to make money blogging.
But what if neither the PopCred model nor the Win-with-1 model suit your needs? What if you are a true do-it-on-my-own blogger? What if you want to own your site and you want to take control of all the technical aspects of setup and maintenance? What if you want to add your own HTML and CSS and PHP? What if you want to customize everything to the hilt?
In that case, you’ll want to secure your own website hosting, your own domain, and then proceed to install WordPress software and upload the themes and plugins you want to use.
If you don’t know which company to choose for your server space, check out some web hosting reviews. From my own experience, these are my suggestions:
We used to use GoDaddy as our domain registrar. Then they decided that utterly disrespecting women and using skank as a major selling point has everything to do with web services. I moved all my domains to another site and will not patronize them in any way. We don’t need more smut in the world.
In theory, I love FatCow. Their interface is clean and easy to navigate, and they have this green wind thing going on. The only problem is that there service is seriously lacking (and their customer service supports the lousy service, rather than solving problems).
As I write, this site is hosted on FatCow. And if you’re a regular reader here, you’ve probably noticed how often the site is down, or slow, or ornery. And when I get my dander up and ask why the heck my sites are down again, I get a variety of responses including, but not limited to:
- I can see them just fine
- We have some server problem that we are fixing
- Form letter
Form letter? Yes. Last week all my sites on FatCow were shut down and replaced with a page that said they were suspended. Wow, that’s professional. When I went to FatCow to ask why — no, they didn’t precede the shutdown with a letter, they didn’t even follow up the shutdown with a letter, they waited until I asked what heck was going on — I was told my sites were overloading the servers.
My traffic has stayed constant for about a year. The files on the server are the same kind that have been used for ages. Nothing has markedly changed.
When I questioned repeatedly, asking for specifics, I was told it might be something like large music or video files. Even though no music or video files are stored there.
Again a few days ago, I got another we shut you down for violating some unknown term of service letter. Strangely, the letter said that the sites were shut down because shutting them down restored the usual server function.
But here are the two problems this this assertion:
Their statement is circular. How would they know the server returned to function upon shutdown unless they shut them down before they knew the result? (In other words, they couldn’t have shut them down because of the return, since they couldn’t have known it until after the shutdown.)
They actually did not shut down my sites in the time period suggested by the latest letter. So any resumption of normal server function had nothing to do with my sites, because that time they were always working.
After all this time, I’ve got huge beef with FatCow. And I intend to transfer my sites as soon as I’m able.
So where am I taking my new business? HostGator. I’ve heard many good things about HostGator from a variety of reliable sources, so I’m taking a chance.
I built PopCred.net on HostGator and will begin transferring other sites there in the near future.
I don’t like the interface nearly as much as FatCow and I find the use of various URLs for purchase, maintenance, and billing to be odd and cumbersome. But, so far anyway, the actual hosting service has been great. And the customer service is at least passable. The wait on live chat tends to be long, but the responses are cordial and accurate.
For years and years, we actually provided our own hosting using an at-home server. We only decided we’d rather have someone else support the servers a few years ago. The three companies we have used are listed above. Other services to consider are InMotion hosting and GreenGeeks.
Having reliable hosting is imperative. If you want to be a successful bloggers, readers must be able to reach your site without any problems.