WordPress Hosting: Make the Right Decision

Server Room Photo

Server Room

Making the right decision on hosting is a challenge for many small business owners. As with any space where a few large brands are well-known irrespective of their service quality, it’s easy to default to GoDaddy if that’s all that you know. The purpose of this post is to inform you of your options and to offer some perspective on why you might consider making a more substantial investment on hosting regardless of where your current business is.

When you get in your car and begin driving, we make the assumption that our driving, the time of day, the condition of our vehicle, and the attentiveness of other drivers are the primary influencers of our safety. But the truth is that our tires comprise the bulk of our relationship with safety and predictable transportation. Not the entire tire; just the part of the tire—the contact patch—that’s making contact with the road at any given moment.

A few square inches.

Would you trust the safety of your life and the passengers of your car to a company selling tires with a history of defectiveness and quick wear? Of course not. Why do you think it it that so many businesses invest top dollar for design and consulting but put very little thought or research into a proper hosting plan?

I have a few ideas.

One of the challenges is being an advocate of quality hosting is that most hosting plans are considered good enough. And the truth is that they are…except when they’re not. It’s just like insurance plans: all of them impact your life in the exact same way except for when you need them. And it’s these moments of crisis that we begin rethinking our decisions:

“I knew I should have gone with company X instead of company Y.”
“I told myself we would upgrade out hosting after a few months but we never got around to it.”
“Why does this have to be complicated? I just want my site to work.”

Generally speaking, there are three pretty general buckets under which hosting plans fall: shared, virtual, and dedicated. Here’s a quick reference for you:



  • Low cost
  • Novice-friendly
  • Tech support readily available
  • Easy to install software and setup websites


  • Availability/performance of your site is (to an extent) contingent upon other users not having an active site
  • Lack of control over the hosting environment
  • Your hosting is only as secure as the competence of the company’s engineers
  • Not many options for high traffic sites



  • Fast, powerful, and flexible
  • Complete control over the server
  • Can handle significant traffic very easily


  • Significant learning curve for novices
  • No protection against wiping your site out
  • Significantly increased responsibility



  • Extremely powerful; capable of handling significant traffic
  • Setup is typically handled for you
  • Hands-off maintenance (by you) in general


  • Very expensive
  • Overkill for most businesses
  • Costs associated with hardware failure
  • Requires full-time oversight (typically included in your contract)

My site is hosted on a VPS at VPS.net and I launched a site for a client on one this weekend. It’s been my experience that VPSes—despite an initial learning curve—provide the best value in terms of speed, cost, and (for lack of a better phrase) scalability.

With that being said, I host dozens of sites on a shared hosting account with Bluehost and find them to be perfectly fine for most businesses. One of the reasons I prefer not having my personal site on a shared hosting plan however is the lack of control. I’m able to customize every aspect of my server with a VPS, whereas a shared hosting account leaves me at the mercy of management decisions made long before my site was built.

I have yet to see a situation that required a dedicated server, although the sites I typically work on and launch are low to medium traffic sites.

One of the things I value most in a hosting company is a personal connection. It would be impractical to expect them to call me weekly and ask how things are going, but there are human elements that can be included in emails and tweets that instill a sense of trust and respect in customers. These relationships often lead to long-term business relationships and referrals for web hosts. An example of this loyalty in action can be seen with the Atlanta-based company that hosts this site — A Small Orange — and how they are sponsoring this conference. Mike Schinkel (the co-organizer of this conference) has been with ASO for 5+ years. In the world of technology, that’s an eternity.

So there you have it! A quick, opinionated overview of hosting options. Hopefully this will be a primer for your hosting considerations, and I’m happy to address any specific questions you might have. I hope to see you at the conference tomorrow!

Photo courtesy of torkildr on Flickr.

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More than Just Websites: Two “WordPress Strategies” for Business

Image of a Plug

WordPress Plugins!

WordPress Strategies,” eh? Sounds high-falutin doesn’t it? I mean, WordPress is just a blogging website platform, right? Where does this “strategy” idea come from? Well there any more ways for a business to leverage WordPress than just launching a website that uses it.

1.) Offer a WordPress “Plugin

With there being over 13 million self-hosted websites running on WordPress, and rapidly growing, one great WordPress Strategy is to offer “plugins” for some of those sites. Much like how business people today are falling all over themselves to launch an iPhone App,  a B-to-C strategy, launching a WordPress Plugin is analogous but as a B-to-B strategy. And some businesses can reap huge rewards for doing so.

What types of companies can benefit from offering plugins? Franchisors, Software-as-a-Service companies, Newspapers and Magazines, Real Estate Brokers, Distributors, and more. Any organization that can benefit from integration with other organizations in their industry, especially data aggregation across-like companies can potentially benefit from offering or using WordPress plugins.

Want some examples? Here are just a few:

While companies have been doing website integrations for years, offering a WordPress plugin means that it’s usually no harder than a point and click endeavor for a non-technical WordPress website owner to incorporate into their website.

2.) Host Websites for Your Businesses’ Constituents

A second WordPress strategy is to offering hosting for websites for an organization’s constituents using the new multisite feature of WordPress, especially when they would rather spend their time running their businesses instead of maintaining a website.

For example, a franchisor could offer all of their franchisees a websites with tons of functionality specific to their business. A restaurant distributor could offer restaurant websites for their customers that have ordering integration built in. A real estate broker could offer all their agents their own websites, but aggregate all their content on the main site.   A newspaper could offer all of it’s columnists their own online magazine brand, and sell advertising on top of them. A vehicle manufacturer could offer websites for it’s exclusive dealers. And the list goes on.

Got more examples? Let us know!

So there you have it; two strategies for existing businesses wanting to either leverage the huge installed base of WordPress websites or to leverage the multisite features of WordPress. If you have more examples of businesses that are 1.) offering WordPress plugins or 2.) leveraging WordPress multisite among their constituents, lets us know in the comments.

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Helping Non-Profits get Better Websites (CONTEST)

Non-Profits Offer the Word a Helping Hand

Non-Profits Offer the Word a Helping Hand

We here at The Business Of WordPress Conference really appreciate the efforts that non-profits to make our world a better place. We also know that they are often underfunded and understaffed yet have to “compete” for people’s attention on the web among all for-profit companies.

Knowing that WordPress is a perfect platform for non-profits but also knowing most non-profits can’t afford what for-profit companies pay for products, services and conferences we’ve decided to make it possible for up to ten (10) people representing legitimate non-profits who have at least three (3) people who believe in their mission to attend on a “scholarship” of only $49. Even better, the three (3) people representing a non-profit that gets the most support will get to attend the conference for free!

So how does this work?  Simple, just go to Twitter and tweet the following:

Our non-profit <insert non-profit name/twitter name here> really needs a better website. RT so I can attend @thebizofwp June 23rd in Atlanta.

(Also be sure to follow @thebizofwp so we can DM you the discount code if you win.)

The three (3) tweets retweeted the most by Sunday evening will get a discount code by Monday morning for 100% off the conference price for one (1) registration, and the first ten (10) tweets retweeted three (3) times or more will win a discount code making the conference cost only $49 for one person (that’s 83% off the full conference price.)

This contest is only good applicable to non-profits; if we can’t verify your organization is a non-profit we can’t offer the discount.

Looking forward to seeing lots of non-profits on Wednesday June 23rd in Atlanta to learn lots about using WordPress to drive donations for their non-profit!

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Spreading the Word

Mike and I recently spoke about The Business Of WordPress Conference with Erik Wolf and Stephanie Frost from Gravity Free Radio. We talked a little bit about why WordPress is such a great platform and content management system for small business owners. Mike also turned the tables on Erik Wolf and asked him some questions about his thoughts on WordPress, since he will be a presenter at the conference. You can listen to the conversation here.

Gravity Free Radio Interview

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Listen As We Discuss WordPress with David Cohen

Mike and I spoke to David Cohen this week about WordPress. Here is his introduction: My special guests this week are Mike Schinkel and Marna Friedman, partners in a new conference here in Atlanta called “The Business Of WordPress“, which is for non-technical business people who need a marketing roadmap for improving their organization’s brand and web presence. Mike and Marna will talk about why WordPress, why it’s no longer just for blogging, why *now* and why establishing a WordPress strategy is something your business needs to do.

You can listen to us discuss WordPress here:

Listen to internet radio with David Cohen on Blog Talk Radio
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A Site For The Times

As small and medium sized business owners struggle to contain costs, website design and development becomes a major issue.  Like a telephone book ad of the past, without a website they are unable to be found by potential customers.  And like many other decisions, they reach out to other business owners for help in making these decisions.  Many are looking for well designed, easy to navigate, informative websites, that can be online quickly.

Sounds like a tall order?  Not if they consider WordPress!  An easy to use platform with robust CMS capabilities, WordPress offers business owners a quick, cost effective way to get online.  And with the pending release of WordPress 3.0, they will have expanded functionality with custom post types, taxonomies and more new features.

Unlike other platforms that offer similar options, much time is spent in development. And if your business is anything like mine, once your site is up and running, you realize all the things you would have done differently, if you had known how the site would look and operate.  But with WordPress, changes and updates are also quick and easy.  For example, if you are a restaurant that wants to offer a daily specials feature on your landing page, you just have to go into the page and add the feature.  Then every day, just go in and update!  Could it be any easier?

If you decide to offer products on your website and make it an ecommerce site, you can use custom post types to create an inventory “database” and update it as often as you like.  Real estate sites can add MLS listings, feature properties and add as many photos to each property as they like.  Even adding video to a property listing is as easy as cut and paste!  No coding needed!

So my question would be, why would you not check WordPress out?  WordPress offers you a site for the times, any time!  And on June 22-23, you can learn how to use WordPress and what’s possible at The Business Of WordPress Conference in Atlanta, GA.

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Move Over Blogs, WordPress Has Grown Up!

Screenshot of TwentyTen the new default WordPress theme

The New Default WordPress Theme: TwentyTen

Very soon WordPress 3.0 will be released. And I believe that this will make WordPress a true contender for the title The King of Content Management Systems (a.k.a CMS.) Many people think of WordPress as a blogging platform, and while that is true it is so much more than that! Even prior to this release WordPress was being used by major corporations and small businesses as a website platform. But the release of WordPress 3.0 makes business use so much even easier.

One of the most visible changes is the new TwentyTen “theme” and it’s a great starting theme for the small business owner who needs to get their first or an improved website only. This is the new default theme — the one you get when you first load WordPress — and it offers many new features including:

  • Custom headers
  • Drop-down menus
  • Custom backgrounds
  • One and two-columns styled “templates”
  • Site-wide content areas in the sidebar and footer (via “widgets“)

This is just one of the many new features of WordPress 3.0; we’ll be covering more of them soon.

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