In this third article of the series, we’re going to look at web hosting options for the photographers who choose to go the route of self-hosted blogs.
Articles in this Blogging Basics for Photographers series include:
1. Deciding Whether to Start a Blog for Your Photography
2. Blogging Software and Services
3. Web Hosting and Blog Set Up
If you decide to go with a self-hosted platform like WordPress or Movable Type, then you’ll need some space to store your software and content at. You need a web host that will be available 24/7.
The good news is that there are some great hosting options out there that they are very affordable. Unless you are going to be delivering hundreds of thousands of page views each month, you can probably get away with a “shared” server. A shared server means that your blog will be stored on a server that also has several other websites on it.
If you are going deliver several hundred gigabytes of data every month (or if your photos end up on Digg.com often), you may need to think about a VPS or dedicated server, which puts you in your own server space. I just mention this to make you aware of it. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which works for you.
For mere mortals, most can live with shared servers, which are the cheapest kind. Two hosting services that are very appealing and receive high ratings right now are Hostgator and Bluehost. You can get server space with either in the $5 to $8 per month range.
What you typically see with web hosting rates is one that’s quoted if you pre-pay for a 2-year period. For example, I have a Bluehost account for other blogs that I pay a lump sum of around $180 every two years, which works out to a rate of about $7.50 per month. If I didn’t pre-pay for the 2-year period, it would cost me something like $10 per month, or $240 every two years.
While hosting providers want to get you signed up for as long term as they can, there’s really not much of a downside for committing to lump sum payment for web hosting so long as you choose a reputable host.
I’ve had personal experience with Bluehost and have to say that I’m pretty pleased with their services. Both Hostgator and Bluehost use a backend management platform called Cpanel. This allows you to perform otherwise technical tasks with a few clicks of the mouse. For the sake of user-friendliness, I highly recommend choosing a hosting solution that offers Cpanel.
Installing Your Software on the Server
In order to get your blog up and running, you have to get WordPress on the server and connect it to your domain name.
This isn’t hard.
Now, you can get all fancy with FTP uploads, setting up a database, and so on. WordPress.org has instructions for manual installations.
Or, you can just use the included tools from hosting providers like Bluehost and Hostgator. Both providers offer a streamlined approach for installing WordPress blogs. I like Bluehost’s Simple Script integration a little better than Fantastico Deluxe, which I believe Hostgator still uses (someone let me know in the comments if I’m wrong about that).
Either way, anyone can install a WordPress blog with just a few clicks of a mouse on either hosting provider.
I highly recommend going this route for WordPress installations. Not only for the sake of the installations, but the upgrades are so much easier this way as well – a single click generally takes care of it.
Wrapping It Up
So, that pretty much covers the basics of web hosting for self-hosted blogs. Most people who are starting out will do fine on a shared server, which can be had for well under $10 per month.
My recommendations for hosting providers would be Bluehost and Hostgator. I have personally used Bluehost and have been very happy with the service and support provided. I recommend Hostgator based on their positive reputation and recommendations from others.
If you have something to add, feel free to drop a line in the comments below.