Having a travel blog can be a very rewarding endeavour. However the initial steps can be a bit daunting as of course we need to deal with some technical aspects before we can get to what we want to do, which is publish great content about our travels.
When Alyona came up with the idea of having a travel blog, I welcomed it immediately, and given my background with blogging about WordPress, choosing this platform for running the blog was a no-brainer. I believe that a self-hosted version of WordPress is the best technical solution for anyone who wants to start and run a travel blog with minimal costs.
WordPress itself is free, so no cost involved there. You will however need a hosting platform. While hosting can be very cheap and sometimes even free, you need to pay attention when choosing because hosting can make or break your site.
Let’s consider a few things that you need to seek from your web host:
Let’s look into each of these into more detail one by one.
You want your website to load as fast as possible, because Google considers this aspect when ranking your pages. Not only that, research shows that most visitors will leave if the site doesn’t load within the first 2/3 seconds. This is especially true when visitors are accessing your site from mobile devices. Patience tends to be lower when using mobile devices, and we must also keep in mind that in general mobile devices load pages slower either due to the device’s limitations or to those of the network being used.
Secondly, your travel blog should be accessible at all times of the day. This might seem obvious, but achieving 100% uptime is quite difficult for hosts as things do go wrong at times and will lead to your website going down. You need to look for hosts that promise 99% uptime of better. The serious hosts will not only promise to achieve that uptime but will also include a money back guarantee if they don’t.
Support is crucial. Let me explain why. Many first time WordPress site owners will just go for the cheapest hosting around. Everything runs fine until their website goes down or starts loading slowly. They have no one else to turn to as they built the site themselves, so their first recourse is to contact their host and ask why this is happening. The cheaper hosts will just reply that the problem is with the site configuration or some plugin you are using, and point you to some random link about optimizing your WordPress site. Of course, you don’t have a few days to dedicate to blindly trying things out and hope for the best. You will therefore need to engage a WordPress consultant to help you out. These issues might happen more frequently than you hope for, and the costs start mounting.
A good host will actually offer a WordPress managed server and employ staff that is has specific WordPress knowledge. Thus when you have a problem with your site they will able to test things out for you and pinpoint the exact issue most of the time. Thus you won’t to spend a dime on anything else because they will solve the great majority of small issues that will crop up from time to time. Of course, you will still need to contract a WordPress developer for more advanced things like changing the way your site looks or implementing a shopping cart system, unless you have the skills or the inclination to learn how to do so yourself.
The most important thing to keep in mind when comparing prices is to understand exactly what you are paying for. Don’t compare server specs because mostly they are meaningless marketing jargon. Instead ask around and compare the reputation of each host. There is so much competition among hosting companies nowadays that we can safely say that whatever price you end up paying, you’ll get what you pay for. We’ll give you some suggestions on the price ranges and type of hosting package to look for further ahead in the article, but for now just keep in mind that you should not be looking exclusively for the cheapest host around.
How about waking up after a year of blogging and finding that your website has been hacked and all your precious content destroyed? Stop for a moment and imagine that. Feels bad right? There is no bulletproof solution to hacking threats and under data loss potential scenarios. You could innocently install a plugin that corrupts your database or filesystem. What do you do then? The key to avoiding crisis situations is to have a solid backup plan. A good host will keep up to 30 days of backups for you. So if you get hacked or find that your site has been seriously compromised, all you need to do is restore your site to its previously backed up state. Problem solved. I can’t stress enough how important backups are. In fact I am paranoid about backups, and not only rely on the host’s backups but also take my own backups regularly to another server or Dropbox using the BackupBuddy plugin.
So Which WordPress Host do We Recommend?
We have an easy answer to that question: SiteGround. We’ve tested dozens of hosts and none of them come close to SiteGround’s offering.
SiteGround is our host of choice as they are unique in their customer support approach. I host a number of sites with them and whenever I open a support ticket I have always gotten a reply within 10 minutes. Usually I get a reply within less than 5 minutes, at any time of day. That’s amazing and a real testament to SiteGround’s dedication to offering the very best for their customers.
All the things we mentioned before are done right at SiteGround. They offer 99.9% uptime, daily backups, 24/7 support, an excellent server infrastructure and very affordable pricing.
Their main benefits in a nutshell:
- 1-Click WordPress Installation
- FREE domain name for the life of your account
- FREE template & installation
- Super fast page loads
- Server-level protection and security
- Excellent 24/7 support
- Plus a whole host of tools that will help you to operate your WordPress site!
For starting out SiteGround wins by far. They have the best value for money deals for shared hosting, and you will be able to get started for only 3.95 €/month on the StartUp plan. If you own multiple websites you can host them all under one account, in this case you would want to go for the GrowBig plan.
You will also get access to a 34-location content delivery network (CDN) – standard with all WordPress accounts – which helps images load faster than if they were stored on the same server as the site. We all know that travel blogs feature many photos, so you don’t want these beautiful images of your trips to slow done the site. Three strategically located data centres (in Chicago, Amsterdam and Singapore) and up to three levels of caching help boost speed and serve fast pages to your readers wherever they are located in the world.
SiteGround‘s uptime statistics exceed 99.99%, which is really phenomenal. Should your site be down for more than 0.1% over the course of a year, SiteGround promises compensation. How’s that for promising and delivering?
What if you already have a travel blog that is hosted with another host? Wouldn’t it be a big hassle to move it over to SiteGround? Fear not, when you sign-up for a SiteGround hosting account you receive a free transfer for your WordPress site as part of your hosting package! Let their experts do the heavy work for you and have your site migrated fast and hassle-free.
We’ve tried the free migration service ourselves and we can say that it was really painless, you only need to provide details of your current hosting account and leave the rest to the competent SiteGround support staff. You will have the website migrated within the same day that you ask for it.
We hope this guide to choosing web hosting for your travel blog has helped you in your decision making. We have been happy SiteGround customers for a few years now and highly recommend them. If you’d like to ask us anything about our experience please leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help you out. Hosting should be worry free, as travel bloggers we have better things to worry about, such as choosing our next destination and finding the right words to describe our latest exciting trip. SiteGround have been the perfect partner that give us that peace of mind that we so need in order to be able to fully concentrate on our blogging and enjoy our travels.