Hosting Your Niche Site – Support, Speed and Value

It is good business to keep your overheads low when starting out creating niche sites. There are a number of shared hosting options out there that can set you up for your first site for less than $5 a month!

Sounds like a great deal right? A lot of people have thought the same, jumped in, and then been burnt by dodgy services that over promise and under deliver.

It is important that you look at more than just cost if you want your first hosting experience to be a smooth one. In order to truly assess value we also need to consider the following:

  • Support
  • Speed and Reliability

Once you have a clearer idea of what you need, you can then make an informed choice as to what represents value for you.

Support

If you are creating your first site, chances are that you have little experience with most technical issues that you are going to run into. Even the terminology used can be foreign when you start out.

You can search tutorials on Youtube, and your host’s knowledgebase for answers. But often there is assumed knowledge in their delivery and you can get stuck on the smallest detail. This leads to many lost hours, frustration and sometimes a complete halt in your progress.

Fast and supportive tech support is at the top of my list for what I look for in a hosting service.

Speed in Responding to Tickets

A slow response to a question can hold you up for days! Then if your answer isn’t what you were after you may have no choice but to just get back in the queue.

Time is your most valuable asset. Wasting it on technical issues that are not part of your core expertise will result in inertia. Yes, you need to learn the basics to get by, but you should not have to labor over glitches that you need specific training to identify.

Quality of Support

Most hosting companies will have well documented online manuals that you can refer to in order to fix most issues. What is frustrating for me is when tech support just refers you to these manuals as a resolution.

Obviously I am stuck, or I wouldn’t have contacted tech support!!

A willingness to go above and beyond to help you solve your issue allows you to get back to worrying about the non-tech things that will help you grow your website.

Without being too precious about this, the tone in which they help you is also worth noting. A support agent who is happy to help you will ensure a seamless experience. I have experienced support reps that make you feel like an inconvenience to them and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Ease of use

Speaking of knowledgebases, some companies will make it near impossible to actually submit a ticket. You have to navigate a labyrinth of auto responses and knowledgebase manuals that are designed to minimise the human involvement.

I can understand why companies do this. 90% of their support tickets are probably easy to fix. Still, that is not what I look for in a service. If it is a simple issue I want it solved as quickly as possible so I can move on. When forced to do a deep dive into a series of process manuals I might spend hours trying to fix something that should take two minutes.

My time is worth more than those few extra dollars that I could spend on superior support.

Speed and Reliability

With people growing more impatient by the day, your site speed needs to be on point. A slow site will lead a higher bounce rate, lower time on site, and can be a red flag to Google in terms of your user engagement.

Shared hosting is usually slower than other solutions, but you have to start somewhere. So you are looking for reasonable performance here.

Most hosting companies will be fairly vocal about their uptime guarantees. A promise of 99% reliability can sound impressive, but when you look at a 365 day year that 1% of down time adds up to 3.65 days. The traffic and earnings this can cost you are potentially massive!

So skimping on your hosting will lead to a drop in these critical performance measures. You may save a few bucks up front but lose many times that through user disengagement or downtime.

Value

The final measure is value for money. I have resisted just labeling this as cost.

Everyone will have a budget to stick to and some sacrifices will need to be made. If you are technically savvy then the support may be less important. You can then try and maximise speed and reliability for your money.

It is up to you to determine what value means to you so you can get the best deal for yourself.

Recommendations

I can only comment on the experiences that I have had personally, so the list will not be a long one. The positive side of this is that if a hosting company has done a good job for me I have stuck with them. Those that have done poorly I have dropped like a hot potato.

There are some affiliate links in here. If you would like to support the site feel free to purchase through them. If not, that’s ok too. I hope it is helpful nonetheless.

Note: One point I would like to make upfront is that I will not add affiliate links for anything in the section on what I wouldn’t recommend. I feel that this would be bad form on my part and I am not comfortable doing so.

Premium Shared Hosting

WPX (formerly Traffic Planet)

I recently moved every one of my sites over to these guys. They are amazing!!

Initially, I signed up to the Business plan and moved my main money sites over. This was more expensive than my previous hosting, but the included site migration saved me a stack of cash up front anyway. Previously I had paid someone to do this for me as I know I would stuff it up.

My money sites were instantly faster, and have had 100% uptime ever since!

I had one issue with a site where there was a database error. After I notified support of this they fixed it within ten minutes, and the site’s traffic recovered overnight.

For me, this was the real point of difference. The support is always fast and very friendly. No matter what the issue they are enthusiastic to help out and will usually just fix the issue for you. This is a big time saver and allows you to keep your momentum going when working on something and get stuck.

Oh, and the free SSL certificates are not bad either. I had procrastinated on this for a long time as I knew it would be expensive to move all my sites to HTTPS. The day after I moved all of my remaining sites over, they were all updated to HTTPS with the click of a button. Easy!!

Pros:

  • Done for you site migration
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Lightning fast support
  • You will be prompted in the back end to contact support if you are doing something that could hurt your site, and do not know exactly what you are doing. They will then do it for you.
  • Site speed went up a notch on my sites
  • There is no cPanel. I have found the back end user-friendly and far more intuitive than cPanel.

Cons:

  • They are more expensive… Duh! But worth every cent.
  • If you know and love cPanel then you might not like the back end.

>>> Check out the WPX Hosting plans here

Site Ground

I have not used Site Ground personally, but up until recently AzonHacks was hosted with them and Drazen speaks highly of the service. I have included it as an option for your own comparisons when looking for the most suitable plan.

Shared hosting on Site Ground is much cheaper than WPX. So this might be a good option for those not able to stump up the $24.95 a month for the starter plan with WPX. You get similar features, but I cannot comment in detail on the service because I haven’t used them yet.

>>> Check out the Site Ground Hosting plans here

Budget Shared Hosting

Blacksteel Hosting

For entry level shared hosting I would not hesitate to recommend Blacksteel. They handled my sites for two years when I first started out and it was

The business plan I thought was great value. You can start ten sites before you have to upgrade for $11.95 a month. The next plan up from that gives you unlimited sites, but with data restrictions, for an extra $6.

I found this to give you plenty of freedom when starting out and you want to try out a range of ideas. Your traffic and data requirements are minimal so it would take you a while to get near the bandwidth or data limits.

The site speed is not great, but not terrible either. You can give things a boost with a decent CDN if you notice any problems. This is not a high priority until you start seeing money your users and revenue starting to grow. At which time you can afford to upgrade anyway.

Pros:

  • Support is also very fast. They are not as hands on as WPX though in solving the problems, but I found them to usually be ok with talking you through a problem step by step.
  • Good value for those starting out who need to keep costs down.
  • Support is fast and usually very helpful.

Cons:

  • Site speed was slow at times, and my sites did go down briefly a few times. Never for more than an hour (that I was aware of).
  • I hit the disk quota of 5GB before I used up the allowable ten sites on the business plan.
  • Once I had a support rep who sounded annoyed at the question I had asked. For the typical user of entry level shared hosting I think this is very inappropriate. It was only once though.
  • No extra services included like free SSL or migrations.

>>> Check out the Blacksteel Hosting plans here

A2 Hosting

This is another company that Drazen has recommended as a good option for cheaper hosting. Again, I am including this for a quick and easy source for your own comparisons.

The free SSL option would put this ahead of Blacksteel in my eyes if i was to be starting again with this level of hosting. The turbo speed option for the highest shared hosting plan also looks to be a very reasonable price. I just havent tested it yet and want to be as transparent as possible with that.

>>> Check out the A2 Hosting plans here

caution sign

Hosting I Wouldn’t Recommend

Hostgator

I used Hostgator for the best part of a year. This was a VPN service which is a level up from the regular shared hosting plans. It was expensive and I found the service average at best.

Pros:

  • The site did not have any down time

Cons

  • Trying to lodge a support ticket was near impossible! I have not seen a company go to as great lengths to discourage asking for help.
  • SSL certificates are expensive (compared to free) and installing them on your site is complicated –at least it was for me.
  • The site was slower than what I would have expected for a VPS.

Bluehost

This is one of the more heavily promoted hosting services out there. It makes up a big chunk of the income reports for many of the big earners in the internet marketing world.

It is also one of the best paying affiliate programs out there! Coincidence?

I cannot speak for the experience that others have had with their service, but I would never promote it for one reason.

 

There have also been a number of reported issues where their network has been hacked or gone down altogether. So it fails on reliability too.

I have never heard a long time user say a good word about Bluehost… that wasn’t an affiliate for them anyway.

Final Word

This is by no means a comprehensive guide on what hosting is out there but does give you a couple of recommendations that will start you off on the right foot for your Niche sites.

If you have the budget for it, WPX has done the job for me. If you are not ready for that yet then Blacksteel is a great starting point to start building out your portfolio.

I will continue to update this post as my preferences change so you can be sure that you have my most up to date recommendations.

The world of hosting is massive though so if you have had a good or bad experience with any of these companies, or any others, then please comment below so we have a consolidated resource for everyone looking for guidance.

 

About the Author James Treloar

Corporate Debt Collector turned internet marketer. I run a successful portfolio of Amazon niche sites, an FBA business, and a content agency.
The Amazon opportunity has been life changing for me, and is so big that there is enough room for everyone to carve out their niche. The hard part is getting started!

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