How do we start this? Maybe with: I don’t like spending money unnecessarily. Especially when it’s a matter of recurring costs… keeping those down is totally up my alley.
So decisions like spending money on WordPress hosting could be made super simple:
Spending $5 per month versus $30 per month for “the same thing” – not even a decision right? Right.
But: the difference between what you get for $5 and for $30 is more than worthy mentioning. It goes as far as saying it’s “not the same thing” at all.
You with me? Hear me out. Here are a couple of things to consider when making the hosting decision.
First of all: what’s the difference?
What are we comparing here? We are looking at how entry price web hosts compared with managed WordPress hosts.
The entry price web hosts are the typical “shared hosting packages” that are being offered everywhere. Whenever you pay around $5 per month, we are talking about that kind of hosting (note: simply paying $50 per month doesn’t automatically mean you are getting more than that – you could simply be paying too much). Just to mention some well known hosts in that category: Hostgator, Bluehost, Site5, 1&1, Strato.
Shared hosting means that you are renting a small chunk of a hard drive of a computer that is always online (server). 10 GB for example. With those 10 GB, you can do almost anything you want. For example you can install WordPress. And it’ll work.
Now as an alternative to that principle, in the last few years services have been popping up that offer “managed WordPress hosting”. These providers have names like WPEngine, Flywheel, Pagely, Synthesis.
By the way, some start a bit cheaper than $30 (e.g. $15), but $30 is a good number to calculate with for sites that are not super low traffic.
What they are doing differently is: Instead of renting you a chunk of a hard drive, they rent you a working WordPress installation.
While that alone probably doesn’t sound exciting enough to make you pull out your wallet, let’s go into the manifestations of that difference. Why the heck would you pay for that?
5 Reasons Managed WordPress hosting might be worth it for you
1. Speeding things up
For a variety of reasons, you want your website to be blazingly fast. Short version: human users as well as machines (Google) will love it. Even though you may think it might not matter if your site loads within 4 seconds or 2 seconds – it does matter a lot.
(Keep in mind that there’s not only conscious perception, but also subconscious!)
Managed WordPress hosts win that round for a simple reason: their infrastructure is optimized for WordPress sites. This includes features like caching which is typically done “in-house”.
Now, of course not all managed WordPress hosts are the same, and some might simply sell you a preinstalled WordPress site on a shared host. So watch what you’re buying. The ones I was mentioning earlier, and will do so again later, are no doubt way faster than the $5 hosting package from next door.
In times where mobile has taken over the world, this is more important than ever!
2. Enhanced security
When offering “WordPress as a service” instead of “web space”, lovely things can be added to that service package. For example things related to security.
Managed WordPress hosts do a couple of things here:
They typically perform malware scans on your WordPress installation, and warn you if there is an infection of some sort. WordPress, being the most famous content management system, is known to be an interesting target for those malicious attacks. Imagine it like an anti-virus for your website.
In addition to that, the software of your website is kept up to date automatically. This is not only convenient, but a security provision. The number one reason for updates, after all, isn’t only new slick features, but fixing security issues.
3. Daily backups, for worry-free messing around
The title already more than suggests it. Daily backups, that you can restore with one click, make working on your site a lot more worry-free. Awesome, no question!
Now, as with many other features, it’s not impossible to implement them into a cheaper hosting package. But you have to do it yourself – they often come with additional costs (no one stores your backups for free!), or at least maintenance.
4. Capable of making your content viral
Now, this might be a little less intuitive than the technical facts above. But it also comes down to infrastructure:
On a normal shared host, your site will go down if a certain number of people visit it at the same time. And that number is surprisingly low. It depends on a couple of factors, for example what the other sites you share the hard drive with (remember: “shared hosts”) are doing. But one can say that trouble starts already at ~100 visitors at the same time. So if your content marketing is finally being picked up by some folks at reddit, or goes viral at Facebook, your site might simply wave good-bye. At least for the time being, when there are several hundred requests at the same time.
Do not underestimate the quantitative traffic potential when something goes viral – we have already seen sites go down for that reason way too often.
Managed WordPress solutions have the infrastructure to handle those things. That’s why large blogs are never found on shared hosts.
If you’re thinking big, there’s no way around spending a bit more on hosting than the typical $5.
5. Staging and add-ons
There is more. Depending on which provider you go with, they often include things like:
- Staging environment: You can copy your site to a parallel universe, edit it there, and then push the edits to the live site. So you can mess around without anyone seeing it, and make it live whenever you’re ready. With a only couple of clicks.
- Simple SSL: Want (or need) HTTPS instead of HTTP? For example for having a Stripe checkout on your own site? Most of the time you can simply “switch it on” and enter your SSL certificate. Note: might cost a couple of extra bucks per month.
- Simple CDN: Another 3 letter abbreviation. Content Deliver Network. Do you want to load your images and other resources from a location close to the visitor, even though that’s Korea? Content Delivery Networks help you do that automatically, and therefore improve site speeds tremendously. Again: a couple of clicks, and extra costs usually.
Bonus: They don’t lie to you
Now, I can’t say that a certain category of companies never lie. But what I can say is: most of the shared hosters do.
Let me explain:
No matter if you go to Hostgator, Bluehost, or even Site5 (which we usually recommend if we can’t convince you that you need managed hosting): they all state that either traffic and/or webspace is unlimited.
This is never true.
Read the fine print. Ah no, save your time, don’t read it. Let me tell you that they have limits there, and when you approach them, they’ll ask you to pay more. Potentially much more.
Now, that’s not something you might experience with a 5000 visitors per month site. But: traffic and webspace are limited resources, and no one has found a way to offer them in an unlimited fashion yet.
And that’s why I appreciate the upfront honesty that usually comes with managed WordPress hosts: They tell you the limitations that their plans have. Quite precisely. And they can be shocking. But at least you know about them!
Let me tell you about our favorite
The following part is subjective. But backed by a couple of years of successful collaboration.
The company that unites all of the above-mentioned benefits beautifully, doesn’t overcharge, has good customer support, and also offers a good and pretty interface is:
We recommend them non-stop, and have done also in times where they didn’t have an affiliate program. Simply because we use them ourselves, they have a lower entry price than their competitors, and all the clients we have taken there are super happy.
Their main competitors are: WPEngine, Pagely, Synthesis.
The only accepted exceptions (where you shouldn’t pay more than $5)
So, do we push all our clients into managed WordPress hosting? No. I hope we can convince even more to go down that road, and I’ll also use this post as a reference for doing so. But there are cases where we don’t even try to be convincing.
That is: When the business model still needs to be validated.
(And when the business model doesn’t rely on page speed too much)
Or phrased differently: When people are starting out with a new project, and therefore are trying things out without being profitable yet.
$15 per month (the entry pricing at Flywheel) adds up to $180 per year, which can be a significant investment, if you just want to try to find out if your blog or product is getting some traction.
As soon as the project is generating enough money to easily cover those fees, be smart enough to reinvest that money accordingly. I hope I have stated enough reasons for this in the previous paragraphs 🙂