I’ll be the first to admit that the technical side of starting a blog can be daunting. And it doesn’t help that you’re hit by a ton of jargon bricks once you’re ready to purchase your domain name and web hosting. Even if it is coming from Bluehost, one of the best hosting companies out there.
But have no fear! In this blog post, I’m going explain everything you need to know about Bluehost’s shared hosting plans. I’ll clarify what all those fancy words and abbreviations mean, and also give advice on how to choose the best plan to suit your needs. All in plain English. Let’s jump right in!
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What is shared hosting?
If you aren’t sure what web hosting is exactly, check out this explanation. Basically, websites are stored on servers. With shared hosting, many websites are hosted on the same server. This is the opposite of a dedicated server, which (you guessed it) is dedicated to a single website. There are both advantages and disadvantages to shared hosting.
The advantages of shared hosting:
- It’s inexpensive and ideal for beginners
- There are different packages to choose from so you only pay for what you need
- All technical maintenance is done by the hosting company, so you don’t have to worry about it
The disadvantages of shared hosting:
- The performance (load time) of your website is slower than if you had a dedicated server
- You have no control over who you share your server with. Someone else might be abusing the server’s resources
- When you start to gain more traffic, your website will begin to load slower
Bluehost offers three different shared hosting plans, each with different price points and features. I’ll be going into these in more detail later in this post, helping you decide which one is best for your new blog.
All you need to know right now is that shared hosting is an ideal place to start for beginner bloggers. As your blog grows, you can invest in more advanced hosting plans, reassessing your needs as you go along.
The great thing with Bluehost is that even if you buy a three-year hosting plan, you can upgrade or cancel it anytime you like without losing money. They also offer a 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee if you find the package you’ve selected isn’t working out. There’s nothing to lose, and the best thing to do is to just make a start. After you’ve perused the definitions and explanations below, of course.
Words and abbreviations explained
Once you’ve navigated to Bluehost’s homepage and clicked “Get Started Now”, you’ll see this information:
Here’s what it all means:
Websites – The number of websites you can have on your hosting account with Bluehost. If you plan to manage multiple domains/websites under one account, select an option that allows this.
Website space – The amount of data that can be stored on the servers per website. Unless you plan to include large image galleries on your website, blogs generally don’t require much storage space.
Bandwidth – This is the amount of information an internet connection can handle in a given amount of time. When readers access your blog, information is transferred between their device and the servers your website is hosted on. When a lot of people are clicking through to your blog, this is considered high bandwidth usage. Unmetered bandwidth means that you won’t be charged based on how much bandwidth your site uses. Whether high or low, you still pay the same flat-rate.
Performance – This refers to how quickly a website loads. The faster the load time the better, as it encourages people to stay on your website for longer. Load times are also influenced by the reader’s internet connection, something that is out of your control.
SSL certificate – SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is an international security standard for encrypting data relayed between the user’s browser and the website’s server. Basically, it increases the privacy provided by the website, ensuring that hackers can’t access personal information entered in by visitors (such as passwords, usernames, etc.). It also verifies that the website isn’t a fake. Websites with an SSL certificate have the https:// protocol (as opposed to just http://). Having this makes your website seem more legitimate and appealing to visitors.
Included domains – This is the primary domain name included in the plan. With Bluehost, you can register this domain name for free when you sign up for a year or more’s worth of hosting.
Parked domains – A parked domain redirects to the same content as your primary domain. Say your primary domain is yourname.com. You can also purchase yourname.net, yourname.co.za and yourname.me, and have all of these redirect to yourname.com. These other website addresses are called parked domains.
Sub domains – When you add a prefix to your domain name (e.g. blog.yourname.com), this is called a subdomain. These are handy for organising your website, or for creating different types of content under the same brand name.
Email accounts – Having email accounts that end in @yourblogname.com help to add that professional edge to your blog. If your blog is a one-man gig, you shouldn’t need more than 2 or 3 email accounts.
Email storage – Email accounts require storage for incoming and outgoing emails. If you manage them well, 100MB is more than adequate per email account.
Marketing offers – These are marketing credits that will help you to start advertising your blog using Google AdWords, Facebook, Bing and Twitter.
The extras offered in the Plus and Prime plans will be discussed in the next section.
Once you’ve selected a plan and chosen your domain name, you’ll be taken through to the billing area. Here you’re given the option of some add-ons:
Here’s what everything in this block means:
Account plan – This is the product you are purchasing. Although the price is given per month, you will pay the total amount once off. The longer you purchase your hosting plan for, the cheaper it becomes in the long run.
Hosting price – This is the once off amount you will pay for your web hosting.
Setup fee – Some companies charge a once-off setup/admin fee to get you started. Bluehost doesn’t.
Primary domain registration – This is the cost of purchasing your domain name. Bluehost offers your domain name for free when purchasing a hosting plan for one year or longer.
Domain privacy protection – Each domain name has whois information, which details who the registered domain holder is and what their contact details are. Anyone can access a website’s whois information. Marketing companies often target whois information to send unwanted solicitations. If you would like to maintain a level of privacy, select this option. When you purchase this service, Bluehost’s information is displayed in whois searches instead of your own.
Site Backup Pro – Backing up your site is very important. If your site is hacked and dismantled, a backup will help to restore it. While there are a number of WordPress plugins that can do this for you, Bluehost offers this service as a quick, easy, all-inclusive solution.
Search Engine Jumpstart – SoloSEO is a package that helps to improve your search engine rankings, making it easier for people to find you. While SEO is a topic for a whole other post, this can give you a headstart. It covers indexing (when data is collected, sorted and stored for fast and easy access to search engines), analytics (so you can make sure you’re getting results) and search engine optimisation (making your content easy for search engines to find). There are WordPress plugins that can do all of this for you, but once again, you can decide whether you want to take the easier, all-inclusive route.
SiteLock Security – Find – If you are planning to sell things directly from your website then SiteLock is a good option to consider. It scans your website for malware, verifies that you are a legitimate business, and makes customers more trusting and willing to perform online transactions on your website. However, if you plan to sell in large quantities, consider other hosting plans instead of shared hosting.
Savings – This shows the amount you save because you have chosen a long term plan.
Total – The total amount due, including the added on extras.
Which plan is right for you?
Now that you know what everything means, it’s time to select the best plan for your needs. Let’s take another look at the options:
This is the best option for total beginners. It’s the plan I’m currently on, and I’ve found it to be more than adequate for my needs. If you’re still learning the ropes but are ready for a self-hosted WordPress blog, this is the option for you.
If you already have an idea of how you’re going to attract lots of readers to your blog and have several blog posts lined up, choose this option. This is also for bloggers who have a definite plan on where they want their blog to go. The extra email accounts are ideal if you’re working on a team, and the added storage space is suited for large galleries and portfolios.
This plan offers the same as the Plus plan, but with a few add-ons included. If the Plus plan fits your needs and you’d like a number of the optional extras, you can save a bit of money by selecting Prime. Don’t be afraid to go back and forth between the plans to make sure you’re getting the best deal!
Feeling a bit more confident about purchasing your domain name and Webhosting from Bluehost? Then head on over to their website and start your blog today!
I hope that this article has helped take a lot of the guesswork out of purchasing Webhosting. If you learned something, consider sharing it with others to lend them a hand with their own blog. And if you have any more questions, please let me know in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading this post – I’ll see you in the next one!