If you've ever started a new Internet business, you're probably
quite familiar with the siren's song of cheap web hosting. But
while most webmasters simply wrinkle their noses at the merest
suggestion of budget hosting, I prefer a more holistic approach
to the topic.
Every business decision is a balance between cost and benefit.
For the neophyte webmaster, it's easy to forget this principle
and blindly follow the well-intentioned advice of industry
veterans. Normally, this is a good thing to do. But no advice
should be followed blindly, especially when it comes to your
business. For all their experience and expertise, none of those
gimlet-eyed webmasters have the perspective to say exactly what
is right for your particular set of circumstances.
Before you cast aside cheap web hosting as a viable option for
your site, consider this: Very few eCommerce sites see much
traffic at all in their initial start-up period. Much of the
work you'll be doing over the coming months and years will be
largely experimental - testing traffic and consumer response
from a number of different advertising sources, honing and
tweaking your site, and generally figuring out how to build your
During the initial phases of any new online venture, I always
host my sites on a cheap web host. For me, there's no need to
buy an expensive dedicated server or rack space for a project
that very well might not pan out at all. Even if it does pan
out, I find very little benefit in paying the additional cost in
those early months when my traffic is practically nil. The key
for me is choosing a low-cost hosting plan that has a decent
reputation for uptime and service, and leaves room for growth.
In short, I walk the web hosting line. I don't overbuy hosting
for any of my web sites, I buy what they need. For a new site,
this generally means shared .NET hosting in the $10 per month
range. As the sites grow, I add on a-la-carte features such as
SSL certificates. When traffic or disk space begins to stretch
the bounds of the original plan, I look to upgraded packages
wherever I might find them. With a bit of shopping around, you
can sometimes find really good deals on hosting - I recently
found a VPS plan that was cheaper than my current shared plan.
Which brings me to my next point - Don't be afraid of migrating
to a new web host. When done properly, the switch can be made
quite seamlessly and with no downtime (I'll cover the exact
procedure I follow in a later article.) Being able to change web
hosting providers easily and effectively is one of the simplest
ways a webmaster can shave dollars off of his or her hosting
budget. I recently had a site hosted on a shared Windows server
for $4.99 per month with unlimited bandwidth. That sounds like a
great deal unless you happen to know (as I do) that this
particular hosting company has a tendancy to shut sites off that
consume too much bandwidth. When I found that my site was
starting to garner more and more hits per day, I simply switched
it over to a new host. The money I had saved in the meantime
allowed the site to be profitable, and that always makes me feel
good. And the best part is that I accomplished this with no
interruption of service and very little effort.
The bottom line is that cheap web hosting isn't necessarily
bad. If your site isn't pulling in that much revenue, your
hosting costs could be the only thing that stand in the way of
profitability. All it takes is a little research into the
hosting company you plan on using. Make sure that it has a good
reputation as being reliable (look it up on my web hosting review
site to help with that) and that it gives you JUST enough of
what you need to start out. Make sure you keep a very close eye
on it, and have your next move planned already when it gets
close to migration time.
I have just one final note to offer. Don't for a minute assume
that because a plan is priced higher than a competitor it is
automatically more reliable or robust. In my many hours of
comparing, aggregating, and reviewing hosting plans I have found
that price is usually the least reliable means of comparison.
Always look to quality above all else, and your site will be the
revenue producing machine you've always envisioned.
About the author:
Nate Landerman is the founder and CEO of iNetpublication, a site
dedicated to providing webmasters with the tools they need to
create and maintain successful websites.
Walk the (Web Hosting)
© 2005 iNetpublication.com
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