How much does a website cost?
Way too much for me to give one as a gift, you say? Not really.
When web hosting is on sale, as it is the weekend after Black Friday, and many other days leading up to Christmas, you can pay around $100 or less to get a domain name and web hosting for 3 years.
Isn’t it complicated to set up a website?
Not really. Most hosts offer automatic or one-click WordPress installation, and if you can use Word or Google Docs, you can probably use WordPress. And if you buy a hosting plan using one of the links below, I’ll get a commission and you can email me and ask me questions if you get stuck. Or if you need lots of help, you can pay me to set up the website for you.
Which host should I choose?
Here are some I recommend:
- InMotion Hosting — This is the host that I use for my website. They have true 24/7/365 customer support by phone. True story: when I originally signed up for hosting with InMotion Hosting, it was 11:55 pm on Christmas Day. I ordered online and was turning off my computer to head to bed and They. Called. Me. They call to verify that you’re a real person. And they were in the office on Christmas Day. Really.
- Bluehost — This well-respected hosting company doesn’t have sales very often, so when you see a good deal, you should grab it.
- HostGator — I used this host for many years and most of my web design clients still use it. It is one of the few budget hosts that allows monthly billing. If you are looking for the absolute lowest price for hosting that uses a top-level domain name, this is the one.
- SiteGround — This is the other host I considered when I switched to InMotion Hosting and the only host on this list that I have never actually used for myself or a client. I do have a friend whose opinion I trust who uses it. They have data centers on 3 continents so they are a good choice if you will have an international reach for your website. They have a discount for students and free class websites for teachers, and they have a good price on Ecommerce sites using PrestaShop.
If you need a truly free website, realize that it means your domain name with be what’s called a sub-domain. Instead of MyDomain.com, it will be Weebly.com/MyDomain or Mydomain.Weebly.com. This may be fine if it’s just for fun, but won’t be taken seriously by Google or your visitors if you want to use it for a business. There are some excellent hosts listed on my Web Design Resources page that offer starter plans that are free.
I’m Confused About All the Choices
Like I said before, if you need help, ask me. Add a comment below or fill out the contact form at the bottom of the home page. But here are some general points that should apply to most people looking at web hosting for the first time:
- You may very well be fine with the lowest priced plan. Unless you want to have several websites, the lowest price point is a good place to start. All of the hosts listed above offer plans at all prices so there is room to grow and upgrade when you need to.
- Do I need something that specifically says WordPress Hosting if I want to use WordPress? No, all plans will let you use WordPress and there will be no extra charge. Some of the WordPress Hosting plans are just marketing, or the hosting company feels that their specific mix of features is best suited to WordPress, but you can choose a lower priced plan if you want. Managed WordPress hosting may be worth the extra price if that includes complete site setup, including theme and plugins, and monitoring it to keep everything up-to-date. Read the fine print to see what you’re getting.
- What about Cloud Hosting? This may be another marketing term, but it refers to the kind of server your website will be on. The ones they call Cloud Hosting are faster and supposedly more reliable, and you’ll notice a difference in price.
- Can I use a domain name I already own? Absolutely, and you probably don’t have to transfer it to the host. It’s easy to have a domain name registered at one place and hosting at another place. The help files of the hosting or registrar will help you set the domain’s DNS setting correctly so it works.
What to watch out for:
- Do you get a domain name included in the price? Some plans include this and some don’t. A domain name will cost you anywhere from $10-20 per year if you buy it separately. But since it affects the overall price, you need to be clear on what you’re buying. You need both a domain name and a hosting plan in order to have a website.
- Does the hosting plan include email addresses? Most plans do, so if you want email using your domain name, pay attention to that.
- What is the regular price of the plan you’re buying? This is important to know. The sale, or introductory price, applies to the first transaction only. That’s why it’s best to buy as many months as you can afford. At the sale prices that are running as I write this, you can get 3 years of the lowest price hosting plans at most of the hosts listed above for less than $100 for 3 years. But then the price goes up. If you will want to keep the site after the initial time period, you need to understand what the cost will be. And realize that you’re agreeing to automatically being billed again when the plan expires. You can easily cancel or change the billing cycle increment, but if you don’t, you may find you’ve been billed for another 3 years.
If you have questions, feel free to ask!