For many of us, starting our own business can be extremely overwhelming and the last thing that many of us want to even contemplate in the beginning is setting up our own website.
Nowadays with so many platforms to choose from, lots of new ventures begin by testing the water by using one or more of the well known outlets such as Etsy, Amazon, Ebay or perhaps Booking.com or Air BNB depending on your product or service.
Another option for digital products and services are the sales funnels and landing stores such as Linktree, System i.o or Stanstore, but I genuinley believe that we should never build our entire house on someone elses land. In effect we are giving control of our buisness to a 3rd party and in many cases we end up working for them rather than the other way around.
Take a look at my blog on this very subject just here.
Once we become established, the best way to make sure that you have full control over your online presence is to set up our own website but If your anything like me, your great Uncle Geoff probably has more tech knowledge, so for me this prospect was daunting to say the least!
I had no idea where to start and with so many options available I quickly became engulfed in the online sea of hosts and providers.I became totally overwhelmed but after lots of research (and strong coffee) I eventually found what I believed to be, the right package for me.
In this article, I will share the findings that I came across when setting up my own website. Obviously there are many solutions available and you must do your homework to make sure that you also get the right one for your business.
One of the main considerations to initially prioritise the right host and provider for you, is to be clear on what you need a website to offer for your business, not only now but also in the future. If you are looking to primarily host a blog site and nothing else then there are certain providers which will be more beneficial for you than others. However, if you are initially starting a blog but would perhaps like to monetize it later on then that would need to be taken into account now rather than later.
Although it is possible to transfer your website to other platforms depending on certain factors later down the line, this was something that I just didn’t want to consider, my motto is think twice and act once!
One of the things that I found most confusing to begin with was the difference between hosted and self hosted platforms.
Web hosting is similar to renting a storage facility for your business. Inside is stored all of your site’s elements and files. A server is a physical computer or virtual system that provides information and data over a network.Where and how your site is hosted has an impact on its performance and security. So, you need to make sure that the web hosting service you choose is secure and reliable.
If you opt for a hosted solution then in effect your website, hosting, security, performance, speed ect. is all taken care of under one roof which is a good option for beginners. There are generally free plans available which make them a cost effective way to get your business up and running. However, there are drawbacks. Although a limited domain name and the package available may be a good fit in the beginning, when the time comes to scale up your business and expand, the add on functionality to do this can be costly so you must be clear on your needs from the start.
A self hosted solution means that you will have the choice of your own domain name and it will be hosted by one of a number of web hosting providers who make server space available for self-hosted sites of all kinds. As well as a hosting solution, you will also have a website source too. Generally self-hosted sites are much more flexible and you are free to make changes to the site files in order to customize the website and add any needed functions as you need them. The self hosted plans can be a little more expensive in the beginning as depending on your host and provider but on the up side, many features can be added for no additional charge giving you the option to grow your website along with your business.
One of the best examples of hosted V self hosted can be found here WordPress.org and WordPress.com
Here are my top considerations for hosts and providers depending on the product or service that you are looking to provide to your customers.
If you are looking to set up an online store then I found Shopify to be the best all round choice for beginners.
With customised templates and lots of themes to choose from, you can get your brand off to a great start.
Shopify is a hosted solution and there are currently no hidden purchases for web hosting or software to use it. Described by some as an online store ‘out of the box’ because it has everything that you need to get started including templates, a payment processor, a content management system, a blog and hosting.
The platform also offers over 4000 plug ins for its users to maximise your website, In effect a plug in is rather like an app that you download onto to boost your website with additional features such as Search Engine Optimisation, Google Analytics, E Mail subscription templates & so much more.
With competitive pricing solutions starting at just £1 per month for selected plans and a free trial to get you started this would be my choice for an e-commerce solution for physical and/or digital products.
If like me, you are looking to set up a blogging website with potential to monetise later down the line, give consideration to WordPress.com.
After much research I found that WordPress is a go to platform for those who are serious about blogging! Its user friendly making it a good choice for beginners and has various themes and templates to choose from to customise your website without the need for coding.
There are various tutorials online to help you get started just like this one here and with no technical experience whatsoever, with a little time and patience I managed to create a website that suits my business needs both now and in the future.
Like Shopify, WordPress also has various plug-ins which can help maximise and customise your website.The plug in store has everything from anti spam to affiliate management tools which manage your links in one place. There are also various security and performance plug ins available.
The basic packages for plug ins are generally free to install but there can be costs involved to get access to the full features available. There is also the option to add WooCommerce if you are looking to sell products later down the line.
For a good all rounder whether your looking to set up a website for professional services, blogging or e-commerce then my choice would be Wix. This option is a good choice for beginners and has lots of templates to choose from to customize your website suited to various industries making set up even easier.
Wix is a cloud hosted site so its all under one roof and there are various pricing plans available to suit your budget.
There are a range of marketing tools available to maximise your business including user friendly e-mail editors to turn your visitors into subscribers. To take a more detailed look please head over to the Tooltester website review here. To take a look at the plans on offer you can head over to the Wix website here.
After driving myself stir crazy with comparing different options, I decided to go with Ionos as my website host.
I found that overall Ionos offer competitive pricing plans and I was able to include my WordPress requirements into the package which made set up much easier, they also offer a website builder service at really competitive prices if you would prefer.
For speed, security and processing times they perform well for my business needs and I have found their customer service to be fast and helpful. There are various packages available to suit all budgets and I found that they also offer deals and discounts on their popular and premium packages.
If speed is on your wish list the fast loading WP Engine would be a good option, they are also the number 1 choice for WordPress sites.
Offering shared hosting plans and advanced hosting solutions, they offer a user friendly experience with good customer support as well as a range of useful features such as automatic backups and security scanning.
This option is slightly more pricey but WP Engine does contain a fair amount of bang for your buck! You can read a more detailed review here Although they are at the higher end when it comes to pricing, check out their latest offers by visiting the website here.
For a budget friendly option, Hostinger is a popular choice for small and medium business making them a sound choice for beginners.
Although they do not have customer support available over the telephone they do offer a 24/7 live chat service. With start up, premium and business pricing plans available all at competitive prices theres something to suit all budgets.
Please note that although I use some of these services for my business, I am also affiliated with some of the recommendations on this page and as such may receive a commission at no additional cost to you for any qualifying purchases made through the links. As always I will only recommend products and services that I feel are beneficial to my readers.
This article is based on my own findings and opinions and is in no way intended as advice. Always do your research and make sure that you only choose the right options for you.The review links are independant and I would always advocate that you look at several before making a decision.