Oh man. This is the question I get asked SO MANY times when we start to discuss website design with clients. What is website hosting? I bought my URL through google, I think I’m set. Oh, how I wish it was that simple!! But, I’m here to make it just that simple.
What is a URL?
URL stands for, Universal Resource Locator, but it is also known as a Web Address or domain name! You can buy your URL from a lot of places. I buy all of my URL’s from Bluehost because that’s also who I host through as well. It’s just easier to keep them in the same spot for me. However, I’ve worked with people who have bought their URL’s through Google, GoDaddy, and a few other places, too! Domain names typically cost about $15/year, plus any security features you add. I tell people to plan on about $30/year for a URL.
Your URL is what your guests type into their web browser. (ex: hirschicreative.com, target.com, talkingwordy.com) It’s what they click on when searching somewhere and Pinterest or Google or Instagram, or wherever, and it takes them to your site. However, just OWNING a URL, will NOT get your website up on the internet! Even if you have a website designed. It will not be seen. That is where website hosting comes in.
Here’s an analogy for you. In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort thinks he is the master of the Elder Wand, simply because he has it in his hands. Voldemort thinks he gets all the power that comes with the death stick. However, Harry knows that’s not enough, Harry knows that you have to be the true master of the Elder Wand to use it for all that it’s capable of.
“You still don’t get it, Riddle, do you? Possessing the wand isn’t enough! Holding it, using it, doesn’t really make it yours.“
-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The same is true for domain names. You can buy your URL, you can own it for years, but until you have hosting, you cannot truly use it for all that it’s capable of.
So what is website hosting?
Website hosting is the home for your URL. It’s how everyone can see your site. It’s the money that you pay a hosting company so that users can get to your beautiful website, and get to know your products and/or services.
Some websites will host your site for you. Places like Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix, you pay yearly or monthly for them to put your site up and for the design of your website. This also includes your web address most of the time. These are great options! But may not fit your needs like they didn’t for me.
Why don’t these fit your needs you ask? WELL, I specialize in Shopify and WordPress websites. So when I’m designing with Shopify, yes, this fits mine and my client’s needs. However, anytime I’m designing with WordPress, which is quite often, we need hosting!
Who to host through
I will say this forwards and backward forever and ever. I LOVE Bluehost! I’ve been hosting with them for over 5 years now and have never had any problems. No sites have crashed, and all questions have been answered. I’ve never been frustrated with them. I’ve used a few different hosting companies in my day. Both for myself with new ventures and for clients, and I’ve always come back to Bluehost and continue to recommend it to my clients.
You get your domain name free for the first year, SSL certificate is included, and one-click WordPress install!
How much does hosting cost?
So that all just depends on who you go with, how long you host for, and what kind of things you need with your hosting company. I would say, plan on about $100-$150 a year for hosting. If you sign up for month-to-month, it’s more expensive than say buying a three-year package deal.
If you’re my client, hosting costs you only $50 a year. Yes. Let that sink in! That is a super affordable bill for putting your website on the internet!
I use Bluehost’s Choice Plus Hosting plan. It’s unlimited URL’s and websites, (which as a designer that’s super nice), it’s roughly $6/month when I signed up for a 3-year plan. If you’re a web designer, I HIGHLY recommend getting hosting that you can host your client’s websites through. It makes designing a lot easier PLUS you can charge them and make a bit more income to help pay for your hosting account. I started doing this because I had people ready to hire me, but they didn’t know how to get hosting started and up and going. So by offering that service to them, it ended up saving us A TON of time going back and forth, logging into their hosting account, waiting for them to purchase hosting, blah blah.
PLUS it saves my clients time AND MONEY. Win-win.
Things to consider
Adding an SSL certificate: Secure Sockets Locker, AKA a very safe way to send information over the internet. If you’re selling anything, or want to make people feel comfortable on your website, I would suggest having one of these. This is purchased/comes with your hosting company.
How long of a commitment: Can you commit to a 3-year plan? Do you need to go month to month for a while to see how sales go? If you can commit to a longer plan you can usually save some money!
Startup costs: Do you have the funds to get a website up and going? If you’re going the DIY route for your website, I would tell you just to get on the internet you’re looking at around $500-$1,000 depending on your design etc. But a plan like Shopify allows you to design and launch, then start paying when you launch per month. It’s more expensive per month, about $30, but the startup costs are lower for your website.
Redirects: Do you have an old website you want to be redirected to your new website? I work with a lot of people who want to have two separate URLs that go to the same website or have an old website that they want to be directed to their new site as well. In this case, you may want to buy two domain names!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read all about what is website hosting!
I hope this helps you. I know there are so many things coming your way as a new entrepreneur. It’s hard to take it all in and understand what you need. Contact us today for a free consult on your new website and we’d love to help you get started!