Hosting is an important part of your online business. It is the foundation that everything sits on.
Google cares how quickly your content is served to visitors and has made it a ranking factor. You need to pay attention to both desktop and mobile performance. With the new Core Web Vitals, Goggle has telegraphed that will become more, not less important.
So how should you choose a host?
You have a few options when it comes to hosting your WordPress site …
- Low cost Shared Hosting
- Premium hosting with VPS or Dedicated Server
- Managed WordPress hosting
- High-performance low cost unmanaged hosting
Low Cost Shared Hosting
Yes you can go to HostGator and many other hosting companies and get a very cheap hosting plan. As low is $3-$5 per month.
Don’t do this. This is almost always a bad idea.
You are running a business that has low cost but does have minimum investments. Decent hosting is one of these items.
These plans are ideal for non-technical users or even power-users who don’t want to spend time with C-Panel. Another benefit is that most of the managed WordPress hosts provide a staging capability.
A staging site is a copy of your production site. This allows you to test new plugins, fine tune performance, create new designs etc. with ought putting your site into maintenance mode. Or worse making major changes while customers are visiting your site. It also serves as an additional backup point (though only as current as the last time you manually “pushed” the production site to the staging site.
VPS and Dedicated Servers
VPS and dedicated servers give you a lot of control. They can meet any performance requirements and can usually be scaled on-the-fly. These typically will use C-Panel as the way that you interface with your server. This is tried and true setup. You will need to learn a bit about C-panel and other tools like WHM.
The nice thing is you don’t have a limit on number of websites or what CMS you are using. You will typically also have access to the SMTP mail server. For power-users and geeks this is an ideal setup.
My preferred host for VPS and dedicated servers is Siteground. Others like A2 Hosting.
Siteground VPS pricing starts at $25 per month.
VPS and dedicated hosting is what you move to when you outgrow a Managed WordPress provider. In teh end WPX and others are a high-performance, WordPress tuned, shared hosting provider. Sometimes you just need your own space. That’s where VPS and dedicated servers fit.
It seems a lot of the cost of your hosting server is the manpower to maintain it and support you. I am sure people can get there droplet on Digital Ocean to scream .. but it requires networking staff or time away from content and marketing.
I am fairly confident I could use an unmanaged server and save quite a bit of money and have as fast, if not faster, page loading times. The problem is two fold 1) There are not hours in the day and my time is more valuable as a writer, marketer and niche authority. 2) I don’t have the right temperament to do the required security, backup and other tasks that must be done with military precision.
Recommendation for the Typical Affiliate
As someone with many years of network & Unix experience, I am very comfortable with C-Panel type hosting but for my affiliate sites I use Managed WordPress Hosting.
- The service level is much higher
- I want a staging instance
- I want performance tuned for WordPress
- I want to spend as little time as possible on hosting issues
The top 3 managed WordPress sites I would consider are …
Kinsta is the premium Managed WordPress Host. They provide great performance and are scalable for almost any site.
At $30 per month you can get started with the best Managed WordPress Hosting at Kinsta. You also get a staging instance with this package.
Another premium Managed WordPress hosting company. Slightly less expensive than Kinsta.
Slightly cheaper than Kinsta you can get started at $25 per month with WP Engine.
WPX is the new kid on the block. They have great support and a very impressive price:performance ratio.
The nice thing about WPX is that they let you have up to 5 websites in the basic $21/mo offering. Solid performance and great support. Your staging instance will count as one of your sites.
How do they compare?
Kinsta is most expensive, then WP Engine and the cheapest is WPX. Kinsta and WP Engine only let you have 1 site (plus its staging instance) for the entry price. WPX lets you have up to 5 sites/staging.
For lightly loaded affiliate sites without membership, commerce or other heavy plugins they are very similar. In fact WPX, the cheapest of the three, often comes out the fastest. I have found WPX performance drops quickly with demanding sites. For sites with e-commerce, membership, video, etc. … Kinsta rises to the top.
Kinsta and WP Engine have a more sophisticated staging environment. You can push the staging to production or the production to staging at any time. With WPX you can push the staging to production. However the production site can not just be pushed to the staging site. To do that you must first delete the existing staging site and then you can create a new staging site from the production one.
They are all great. WPX is very quick with support.
If you have a basic affiliate site and expect to add new ones (don’t we all) WPX is hard to beat.
Pricing and Affiliates
A final word about pricing … you are an affiliate marketer! Nothing pays better affiliate commissions than hosting.
Get premium hosting and shout it from the rooftop.
Write up why you chose them or switched.
Create an email campaign around them.
Take it on as a challenge to get a few hosting sales. Walk the walk.
Just 2-3 affiliate commissions will pay your hosting for a year.
My objective for hosting is:
- High Performance
- Low Maintenance
- Reasonable pricing
For me and many affiliates, managed WordPress hosting is best.
Any of the three managed WordPress hosts discussed are a great choice.
If you have a membership, e-commerce or site with lots of plugins Kinsta is probably best.
If you want Kinsta performance and functionality for a lower price, check out WP Engine.
For most affiliates and content marketers WPX is a great value.
Go with the best hosting. Tell your story and get a few hosting affiliate commissions and spend the freed-up time on marketing and content.