Compared to running a traditional brick-and-mortar business, the costs of launching and running an online business are considerably lower. You don’t have to pay “rent” in the traditional sense, you don’t have to worry about heat and water (aside from the basic utilities you’d be paying for anyway in your home), and there is practically no physical maintenance to speak of either.
At the same time, you can’t possibly assume that your online business doesn’t need any infrastructure at all or that you don’t have to open your wallet in order to turn a profit. And one of the most critical backbones of any online business, regardless of type, is web hosting. Choosing the right hosting solution is positively crucial, whether you have a blog, an affiliate marketing channel, an e-commerce store, or a system-as-a-service.
Web Hosting for Your Business
Before we go any further, perhaps we should first address a fundamental question: what should you look for in a web hosting provider and plan? In the context of buying a car, you might look at some of the convenience features, fuel economy, looks, performance, and warranty. What about web hosting?
The good people over at Hongkiat.com put together a handy list of factors to consider when choosing a web host. In that guide, they go over such considerations as technical specifications, areas of focus, customer support, add-ons, and hardware.
It’s important that you look beyond price, as you could regret jumping on the most economical offer. This is your business. Treat it with respect. For example, exceptional technical support that is very responsive 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is incredibly valuable. You can’t make money if your website goes down for whatever reason. You want those issues to be minimized, monitored, and rectified as soon as possible.
The Internet is inherently global, so it’s also important to look beyond your borders for the best solutions too.
As an example, you might look at a business solution from the land down under, as would be the case for web hosting with iiNet. Going back to the previous section, you’ll want to look over the areas of focus for your web hosting provider.
In the case of iiNet, it’s obvious enough that they are putting online business front and center. The page talks about providing a “rock-solid solution for every business size,” offering “a simple solution for establishing your internet presence.” They’re not catering to casual users with motivations based in vanity; they’re catering to people who see web hosting as a fundamental business service and expense.
The Features You Need
Of course, your individual needs are going to vary. It’ll depend on the kind of website you want to run, the level of security you desire, the amount of traffic you expect, the amount of self-guided control you desire and so on. As an absolute minimum, however, some of the web hosting features you’ll want include:
- Adequate storage space
- Adequate bandwidth allotment
- Enough support for the number of domains and databases you need
- cPanel access (or equivalent control panel)
- Key software support
- Uptime guarantee
- Speed and reliability
- The option to scale up or down as needs change
Most of us would like to have full FTP access with a proper file manager. Having easy one-click installation (and maintenance) for WordPress and other content management systems is a plus, as is the ease of managing email accounts on your custom domain. You’ll also want to remember that hosting providers who claim to offer “unlimited” storage and bandwidth can’t really live up to that claim.
The Price of Doing Business
So, how much can you expect to spend? Web hosting is one of the most important costs of running a blog. You don’t want to try and save a couple bucks if it means choosing an inferior provider and service.
For the most part, you’ll find that the majority of web hosting plans are based on the amount of storage and bandwidth that you need. They can also vary based on the number of databases supported or advanced options provided.
With small business web hosting from iiNet, prices start at $16/month for 10GB of web space, 100GB of monthly bandwidth and two databases. Discounts are provided when you prepay for a full year in advance.