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Building a Writer’s Web Site Series: How to Choose a Web Host

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Last week, we talked about how to choose a domain name for your writing Web site. Once you have purchased your own domain name, you need to have it hosted somewhere. Today we’ll talk about how to choose a Web host.

Choosing a Web Host: Hosting Packages

Before you can choose the best Web hosting company for your needs, you need to know what your needs are. Do you just want a small site to showcase your writing samples? Then you probably won’t need an expensive package that includes high levels of bandwidth. If you need hosting for a high-traffic blog or plan to have free downloads available for your visitors, you’re going to need a more comprehensive package. Make a list of features that you absolutely need and features that would be nice to have. You can use this list to compare different hosting packages and choose the one that’s right for you.

Choosing a Web Host: Identifying Potential Hosts

When you are choosing a Web host, I recommend getting referrals from your colleagues and friends. Hosting companies are a dime a dozen, so it’s nearly impossible to research and compare them all without losing your mind. If none of your friends have their own sites, check out some of the blogs you visit frequently. I know several people that I link to here have recommendations for hosting posted on their blogs or sites. Develop a list of ten possibilities so that you can get information about each host.

Choosing a Web Host: Comparing Web Hosts

Once you have your list of ten possibilities, get ready to do some online research. Visit the Web site of each hosting company and find out what packages they offer. Compare their hosting packages with your hosting needs to determine what level package you need. You will find that some hosts on your list do not offer the features and capabilities that you desire. You can eliminate these hosts from your list and concentrate on hosting companies that do offer what you need.

Narrow your list down to three possibilities, but be careful not to make price your main consideration when making your selections. It’s important to save money, but it would be a lot better to pay $10 per month and get stellar customer service than it would be to pay $6 per month and have no way of contacting your host if you had a problem.

Once you’re down to three potential hosts, do some additional research. Use a search engine to find information about each company. Is contact information available? Does the company make it easy for you to report problems, or are you going to be on your own if you experience any technical issues? Check Ripoff Report or similar consumer sites to see if any negative reports have been filed against the company. One report is probably not indicative of a widespread problem. In some cases, customers whose hosting has been cut off for non-payment file negative reports just to be vindictive. However, several reports can indicate that the hosting company has serious customer service issues.

Once you have information about price, hosting capabilities, technical support, and customer service for each company, make your choice based on this information. You may choose a slightly more expensive host that offers more features and excellent support, or you may choose an inexpensive host for your basic Web site. Once you have chosen a host, you will need to follow their directions for pointing your domain name to their servers. Once you have done that, you will be ready to move on with building your writer’s Web site.

In the next post in this series, we’ll talk about making the decision to hire a designer or using templates to create your own site. If you have any Web hosting recommendations, feel free to post them in the comments.


Written by lzaykoski

October 20, 2008 at 2:22 pm