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First WordPress Job: Choosing a Host for a Client

The (cash-strapped) client is starting a fishing guide business and wants a site for business promotion and a blog. They'll probably be using the gallery pretty heavily and I'm not sure how much space that might eventually take. I want to do a good job for this client and leave them in a secure situation. They're not planning on running shopping carts or ecommerce so far as I can tell. If I'm not kept on retainer to update things, would the safety of a managed host (WP Engine of some such) be worth the extra cost?

Any thoughts on a good hosting solution?

I'm kind of shy of WordPress.Com. The client wants something "simple;" but I'm paranoid that the client will still want to do something impossible there or get nickle-and-dimed over commonly free features. SEO is big for the client and I see WordPress.Com holds Google Analytics hostage to their $200+ Business plan (maybe you can get it ala-carte with an "upgrade" fee; but that's not how they advertise it).

1 Answer

Kevin Korte
Kevin Korte
28,148 Points

What's their monthly budget for hosting per month? Wordpress.com has a lot of restrictions that the self-hosted version does not have. I'm not sure that's their best solution when hosting can be so inexpensive.

How much traffic are they expecting right away? Is the site just going to be a few pages, and than an ever evolving and updating photo gallery/blog?

Sites can be moved, and hosting resources can be added as needed, that way hopefully as their hosting costs grow, so will their profits.

Your analysis is pretty much my understanding: A few static pages about their sevices plus a consistently updated blog and gallery. As for traffic, I couldn't tell you for sure. They're brand new; but they're gung-ho about SEO, promoting themselves on Facebook, etc. They didn't tell me their specific budget and I don't think they have a lot of knowledge in this domain. My contact said he wanted a WordPress site and mentioned wordpress.com. When I asked whether they wanted the wordpress.com or a hosting solution, he said he was leaving it up to my judgement. He'd been advised that wordpress was the best for SEO and editability. Other than that, the had given me a link to a fishing-guide site they wanted to look like (but nicer).

I think their overall budget is kinda tight. The first time they contacted me, they were looking for a veteran SEO guy and someone to manage ppc. This time they didn't mention that requirement and I'm being paid in trade .

I'll communicate with them further on whether they're looking for a continuing relationship, etc. I certainly want to do right by these folks and set them up to prosper. I grew up thrifty, and tend to gravitate toward a $50/year plan with a reputable host; but I'm cautions about being penny-wise/pound-foolish; especially with other people's money.

Kevin Korte
Kevin Korte
28,148 Points

I'll give you my opinion. I know these guys are gun-ho about SEO and marketing, but the first little bit is going to be slow for them, even the mostly wildly successful start ups started growth slowly over the first few months, even year. With that said, I think something like wpengine is a bit overkill for their needs, and also more than they need to pay.


I've heard fantastic things about A Small Orange for hosting. I'd like to try their platform out, but haven't yet. Of course there are also your big hosting providers like godaddy, hostgater, etc. I personally have a cheap $10 a month hostgator account and it's fine, but I don't deal with their customer support. I know how to edit my WP site, core files, set up FTP etc myself. Going back to A Small Orange, if they are going to upload pictures often, they should at least start on the small shared plan. That gives them 5gb of storage. Rough numbers, a picture from a 12mp camera on my computer comes in at 4.5mb. Ideally, that photo would be rescalled for web, and therefore it's file size made smaller. In any event, I could upload 1,100 4.5mb pictures on the small shared plan for only $5 per month. A Small Orange should easily be able to help upgrade the account if they found they were needing more. If they started experiencing really good success, the startup plan for $20 a month would be great! Which is still cheaper than WPengine's cheapest plan.

Image Storage

Let's say they really want to go crazy on the image uploads, and they go on fishing expeditions and want to upload 200-300 pictures at a time to their site. We'll than they could consider storing the pictures on Amazon's servers, not their web hosts servers. They could use Amazon S3 to store the pictures. At this point, their storage space is completely endless. They would be charged by Amazon by how much storage they require, and how many requests are made. S3 pricing is here. I will say though, I would not set up Amazon S3 for picture storage out of the gate. If they need it, images can be moved to it later. It's way too much work to try to do it at this time. They may also never need it.


If you decide to go this route, I highly recommend they use the Business plan for $299 a year, since they're likely not going to like the restrictions of the premium plan. Even with the business plan though tread carefully, I believe there are still limitations as to what can and can't be done on a Wordpress.com site, where as if you use the self hosted wordpress.org version and go get your own host, you can pretty much do whatever you want to the site, and install whatever you want. Ultimately, I would not go this route.


Also make sure they understand Wordpress is not a magic beanstalk for SEO. Actually, wordpress and SEO aren't even related. SEO is SEO, regardless if it's wordpress or not. However, wordpress does have some great plugins for SEO, and it does to a good job of making sure everything that should be there for search engines, is. I highly recommend the Wordpress SEO by Yoast plugin for their site. It does a lot, has decent preconfigurations out of the box, is quite customizable, and makes SEO easier to understand for us normal folks. They'll have to learn how to use the plugin to SEO optimize each post they make, but this plugin will give suggestions, and even give each post a red, yellow, or green SEO rating. They'll want to make sure they have a Google Webmaster account, verify their site, and connect their webmaster account with this plugin. From there, this plugin will generate a XML sitemap, submit it to Google, and each time they make a new post, this plugin will update the sitemap, and inform Google of the new post automatically, which will imitate a re-crawl of their site by Google. Just make sure this stuff doesn't happen overnight, and it may take awhile before they start appearing on search engines. There are similar steps to be taken with Bing, and Yahoo as well if they want to be well indexed on those search engines. They should also be aware that there are "black hat" SEO tactics, that if they try, will get them black listed from Google or other search engines, possible for good. I would warn them of that. If they're not careful, they can do more harm than good in SEO.

I'm also a thrifty guy. Whatever path you recommend to them, know and explain to them that if their business grows there may be a series of hosting upgrades, or even changing of hosts to accommodate their growth. Growing pains basically. But no reason to pay too much today for a hosting plan that is way overkill. Every site, and every company in history has added servers or resources as they grew. It'll be no different here. Moving a Wordpress site isn't really that bad of a deal. The first time you try it is always the hardest. Most hosts will also offer services to move your site for you if you are moving to them.

Good luck!

Thanks Kevin! I went with A Small Orange. Good points on the SEO.

Initial impressions of ASO:
I've bugged their online chat help already. They seem like a great choice for a first host.

Their site gives a great "simple" impression. A lot of that is credit to their designers; but the content seems to back it up. It's certainly distinct from the experience at all the other hosts I've looked at.

Plans seem pretty straightforward. No weird limitations for things that don't cost them. No aparent trickiness with the priceing. (One other host I checked out had a page listing only promotional prices with only an asterisk to let you know that wasn't your future deal.)

There's a disturbing bit in their TOS about having the right to shut you down for any reason without liability (is that pretty common?); but I trust that's not likely to happen to a mom-and-pop fishing guide site. :-)