If you are the owner and creator of a small business online (or really any kind of business, of any size), one thing is for sure – you can’t afford to make an uninformed decision about hosting.
I’ve been involved in internet entrepreneurship for a while, and as I built my business, I eventually realized after a painful period of trial and error, that I needed to actually research the answer to the question: what is the best website hosting for a small business?
This is what my research has led me to. The best options in each category are listed at the end.
Understand Why It Matters!
The first thing that you NEED to understand when researching a hosting service is why your choice matters.
There are a lot of options out there, but these are some things to consider first:
- Website speed is absolutely essential to your success online
- When it comes to hosting cheaper does not always mean better
- There is NOT a one size fits all when choosing a hosting service for your website
These are just a few of the statistics from 2017 on internet business, e-commerce, and the importance of fast hosting:
- Slow loading websites cost the U.S. e-commerce market (and affiliate marketing) more than $500 billion annually
- Over half of U.S. shoppers online named slow site loading time as their reason for abandoning a purchase
- In 2010 a 6 second loading time would decrease conversions by 40% on average. Currently that percentage is at 50% and growing
In other words, the ability of a website or webstore to run smoothly and efficiently, with no down time or lagging, is 100% essential to your sales. It’s the difference between making money… or not.
So why are online business owners only spending $1 on conversions, for every $92 they’re spending just on getting traffic. You can have all the click-throughs in the world, but if none of them are converting to customers, what good is it?
It may be unfortunate, but the average human attention span is now measured to be shorter than that of a goldfish. That’s a whole problem in of itself, but ultimately it leaves you with just 8 seconds or less to convince a website visitor that you and your business are worth their time.
Not all hosting services are created equal. The best hosting service for you will completely depend on your business, and what you’re doing with it. But no matter what, a speedy and smooth-running website is not a secondary concern.
So what are your options? Let’s break it down.
What Kind Of Hosting Do You Need?
That graphic above ties in with the old adage “you get what you pay for”. This idea usually applies with picking a hosting service for your website. But there are several different kinds of options to suit different needs.
These are the 4 most popular:
- Free Web Hosting
- Shared Hosting
- Virtual Private Server
- Managed Hosting
I’ll break down how these work!
There are also different kinds of online businesses:
- an e-commerce or webstore business
- an affiliate marketing blog
- a company website/brand website
What you need will depend on the kind of business you are running.
Free Web Hosting
There is rarely such a thing as free. Especially when you’re looking for something of decent quality. There are, however, some free web hosting services in existence.
When you are just starting out online and looking to initially build your small business website, you can use a service like Word Press (the most popular), Weebly, SiteRubix, Square Space or Wix, which are all excellent resources to initially build your website and design it.
They require that you have their name in your domain name, something like www.yourwebsite.weebly.com, and usually require you also have their ads on your site.
While the idea of free hosting is appealing, it is absolutely NOT sufficient for running any kind of business that will generate decent income.
Again, these are excellent sources to initially build a professional looking website for your business! But long term it is only ideal for casual bloggers, looking to just write opinion posts or fun articles.
It is not designed to handle significant traffic, sales, or data. So while starting off with a free host is perfectly fine, a sustainable business will require more advanced hosting
Shared hosting is the cheapest option to start an active business with.
This doesn’t mean that it’s bad, at least not for beginners, but look into the details.
A shared hosting platform, on average, will run you less than $5/month. Essentially, you share space with (in general) up to 5,000 other websites that are all pulling from the same pool of resources.
The upside is that you are able to develop your website in its early stages on a VERY shoe-string budget. There are several good shared hosting sources that I will mention below which are sufficient to run your small business as it first yawns, stretches, and spreads its wings.
As your business expands you may find extreme flaws within the shared hosting system. It’s like living in a VERY overcrowded apartment, where everyone is fed on rations, and if one is more gluttonous than the rest, rations are… let’s just say… a little scarce.
You face these issues:
- limited resources spread too thin
- low security and bandwidth
- You have to pay for many additions that are simply included in more advanced hosting, like an SSL certificate
- Your website runs the risk of slowing down
When you are starting out, and have a very small business, the best among the shared hosting companies are viable options.
But REMEMBER that as you gain more traction, traffic, and sales, your website’s functionality is in dire straits in a shared hosting platform.
$3.99/month has its advantages to be sure, but headaches, damaged reputation, and loss of customers is not worth penny pinching.
Virtual Private Server
The virtual private server is the next level up from a shared server.
These hosting options tend to cost a bit more (starting at around $10-$25/month), but they afford your WordPress site, blog or webstore a more effective option.
You still share space with a group of other websites, BUT rather than a group of 5,000, it’s more like 20. That gives you a lot more room to build out your site and drive some traffic, right?
There are pros and cons to this.
- It’s a big step up from a shared host
- Your website is not effected by other websites
- Higher security
- More resources and speed
- Even though it’s higher, you STILL have a limited allotment of resources
- You will still need to do a lot of the leg-work manually which eats up valuable time
- Your website still runs the risk of going down if you max out your resources
Consider this a much greater alternative to a shared hosting network. I personally skipped using shared hosting within a week of starting my online business, and invested in a VPS system.
It was worth it.
By far, the greatest and most powerful option for hosting your webstore or “small” business is through a managed hosting format.
The lightning speed, security, and self-running efficiency of managed hosting can power a business well into its multi-million dollar heights. These often handle hundreds of thousands of website visitors, all without missing a beat, slowing down, or dropping.
Managed WordPress hosting is specialized for WordPress sites.
It’s designed to run almost all tech for your business autonomously. This means it constantly updates, provides backups for your content daily, includes anti-hacker security measures to rival Fort Knox, and keeps your website running at top speed, regardless of traffic levels.
Managed hosting also has immediate, usually 24/7 support, and access to specialists.
This is definitively the ideal hosting for an established online business. A successful business owner seeking to scale their business and profits can hardly afford NOT to utilize managed hosting. Many hot products and new e-commerce brands crash and burn just as they’re taking off because their hosting service was not equipped for scaling.
But managed hosting is not suitable for everyone.
- No crashing, no slow days, no capacity limits
- You don’t lose valuable time manually maintaining your site’s hosting
- Dependable Service
- Perfect for larger or actively growing businesses
- Generally the most expensive (could be as much as $100/month, or more)
- Only designed to host and operate WordPress sites
- The constant adjusting of plugins may be helpful for site speed, but the lack of control can be frustrating
So What Are The Best Web Hosting Options?
Best Free Web Design/Hosting
My experience with free web hosting is pretty limited. I knew from the start that I planned on building a sustainable business, and it was quite a while before I really had time for a hobby blog.
You can check out my own hobby blog HERE to see what a basic WordPress site can look like in mere minutes.
You can use WordPress ==> HERE to start a website or blog that looks like these; clean, professional, and sharp:
Similarly, you can find a good starter service at Wix, right ==> HERE! And create a beautiful site to start your brand off right, with sites like this one:
Or this one
Best VPS Hosting: For Young Affiliate Marketing Business Or Webstore
Once you have actually established a business, and not just a hobbie blog or a landing page for your local business, a VPS hosting option is necessary.
The best shared or VPS hosting resources that I have found, based on my experience, research, and general consensus that I have found online are these:
This is one of the most reputable hosting sources for a small business.
The WordPress hosting Business Plan is only $5.98, and the VPS plan (far better and faster than the shared plans) starts at only $19.95, which are good prices for the value.
HostGator is easy to use, cheap, has diligently responsive support, AND you get a 45-day money back guarantee.
The bandwidth is unmetered, meaning that you will never be charged extra for an overage on the resources. Keep in mind, however, that if your business is already experiencing a lot of traffic and sales, HostGator is not the best option for scaling into bigger territory, as you still have limited allotments of bandwidth for basic plans, and there are better companies for more advanced plans.
Before you sign up for HostGator MAKE SURE to skim through this post on Ebates, and sign up for it. It’s a free coupon service that will give you up to $30 BACK on your HostGator sign up, and another $10 just for using their website. It’s literally free money on your hosting!!
Wix: Ecommerce Solution
Making pretty websites is not the only strong-suit of Wix.
When you’re starting to gain traction with an E-commerce business with a Wix built site, you will find a solid array of options among the Wix premium plans.
The price ranges can be seen below:
It not only allows you a fast and effective hosting platform, but an array of tools to advance your E-commerce business.
Not only can you easily accept online payments, among other business operations, but the more advanced plans will allow you “ShoutOuts”, a boosted email marketing feature.
If you’ve had experience with sales, as I did selling insurance, you know that follow up through things like email marketing are where you land big-ticket sales.
But for the best hosting and e-commerce solutions, you need to look to the managed resources below.
Managed Hosting Plans: For Successful Scaling of Blogs and Ecommerce Business
Without a doubt the best and most effective hosting platform available for managed hosting is a young company called Kinsta.
It’s second to none for scaling a business.
If your online business, whether it’s an affiliate marketing blog, a webstore, e-commerce business, or anything else grounded in a WordPress base is ascending towards profits of 6-figures or more, Kinsta is a state-of-the-art force of technology that you can’t top.
Kinsta is based in Google Cloud, and is designed specifically for advancing websites, featuring:
- Plans with capacity for massive numbers of website visitors, upwards of 3 million
- Constant lightning speed (using Nginx, PHP 7, LXD containers, and Maria DB)
- Unparalleled support
- Impervious security (DDoS Detection, Uptime monitoring, Hardware firewalls, SSL support)
- Automated scaling
- Daily backups
- A website that functions as if you had hired a support specialist to optimize your website daily
- Free migration if you want to move your domain onto Kinsta
There are still downsides to Kinsta, which are namely these:
- Advanced hosting is expensive. Plans start at $30/month, but range as high as $900/month (getting this yearly is far more economical, and includes 2 months completely free). Bear in mind, if you have need of a $900/month plan your business should be averaging 1.5 million+ monthly visitors and $100,000+ per month in profit, so hosting costs are beyond absorbed
- This is only specialized in WordPress sites
If you are running a lucrative online business, and want the peace of mind that your tech is running autonomously, consistently, and powerfully, you can find no better than Kinsta.
Shopify: The Ultimate E-Commerce Platform
If you’re in the physical products business, or have ever even considered developing a webstore, then it’s likely that you’ve at least heard of Shopify.
It is not only the most comprehensive and valuable investment you can make for your dropshipping business, but also happens to be an excellent source of managed hosting as well!
For an in-depth review of Shopify have a look HERE!
Shopify hosting is ideal for:
- entrepreneurs in the dropshipping business
- Amazon or Ebay sellers looking to integrate to a solid webstore
- owners of brick-and-mortar business realizing a need for an online presence
If you are in the E-commerce sector specifically then Shopify hosting is perfect. Shopify plans start at $29/month, start with a free 14-day trial, and unlimited bandwidth hosting comes with it!
In other words, you are able to buy a subscription for a service, at an affordable rate, that can not only develop an amazing webstore for you, process payments of almost every kind, boost your SEO, and run almost all of the technical details of a webstore on autopilot, but it also gives you one of the most powerful and reliable hosting platforms available.
It even gives Kinsta a run for its money, and given that it’s less costly, and comes with an endless array of tools and options, it’s nearly immaculate for E-commerce and dropshipping entrepreneurs specifically. My experience with Shopify has been one of the best I’ve ever had.
Last but certainly not least…
Wealthy Affiliate: Ideal for Affiliate Marketing
My experience with Wealthy Affiliate has been one of my most positive on the internet. I started off in affiliate marketing, and while it may not be the equivalent of Kinsta, Wealthy Affiliate hosting is one of the strongest assets of the program.
If you aren’t familiar with it, Wealthy Affiliate is a program that educates new entrepreneurs on how to create lucrative blogs, through affiliate marketing. You can read a more in-depth review HERE.
It is not as fast, or as powerful as Kinsta, but it is a secure and effective choice for hosting, and has been my host from the very earliest stages of running a blog/business.
As with any managed hosting, it saves you immense effort and time by managing the hosting and tech FOR you. Like Shopify, Wealthy Affiliate provides a whole host of valuable tools in ADDITION to hosting up to 50 domains.
All of this can be obtained for a monthly cost of $49/month, or less than $360 per year.
Wealthy Affiliate is ideal for:
- bloggers of any level
- advanced bloggers not ready to afford Kinsta
- affiliate marketers looking for community support and additional tools
- WordPress ONLY support (like Kinsta)
For a younger business, I would recommend HostGator, or if you have a Wix website a Premium plan through Wix.
There are hundreds of options out there for hosting, but make sure that you are investing wisely. Cutting corners will be felt by your (potential) customers, so investing carefully in a host that is going to handle your business, and work well, is absolutely essential.
There is no better opportunity to build a business, or even to build wealth, than through internet businesses. This is more true than ever.
But do your homework! And for the love of your business… get a good host! Your customers and your income will both thank you.
If you have any questions please comment below, and I will try my best to provide more details. 🙂