While at Web Summit where literally thousands of startups were exhibiting, I had the chance to talk to many of the people behind these startups and get to know their businesses better.
I was happy to note that the vast majority were using WordPress for their website. I didn’t meet any startups that were using WordPress as the platform for building the product itself, however it was clear that the company’s website was very important to them. Making a good impression through their website could mean getting investment, or for those further ahead it might make or break their sales figures.
Apart from building the website itself and promoting it, the other major headache is clearly the technical aspects of it. Basically, startup owners were not sure which host they should be going for. Should they be going for a cheap shared hosting plan (since their startup did not have loads of cash to burn) or should they go for a dedicated server (the most technical option)?
What kind of WordPress Hosting does a Startup Need?
Having been in the WordPress business for many years, here’s my take on WordPress hosting for startups.
Being an entrepreneur myself and having built several successful products, I totally understand the need to be frugal in the initial stages of a business. The good news here is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money for WordPress hosting, at least not in the beginning.
On the other hand, you must be careful and avoid crappy hosts. Being frugal does not mean skipping the research and purchasing the cheapest plan that shows up on your first Google search for ‘WordPress Hosting’.
The key for choosing a quality web host is choosing a host that offers well-priced plans but has the ability to handle your growing needs as your product/website becomes more and more successful.
Do you currently have just a landing page as your site? That’s fine, most shared hosts will handle it just fine. But what happens when you are publishing a lot of great content on your blog and the traffic starts to rise? What happens when you’re featured on Product Hunt and you get a deluge of traffic at once? Going further, how secure will your site be when you decide to implement e-commerce features and start selling your product?
These are all typical stages in a startup’s life, and you want to choose a host that can handle all that right from the start. Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of over-complicating things by spending a lot of money for a dedicated server, when they might not even have the technical expertise on board to make sure it’s tuned perfectly for WordPress and is as secure as possible.
Again, the key is to find a host that can grow with you.
I’ve had my own share of horror stories with hosting, but thankfully after a rough first few years I learned my lessons and for the past 5 years I’ve been using some really awesome hosting companies that have not let me down.
So here are my recommendations for WordPress hosting if you own a startup (the same applies for bootstrapped entrepreneurs and solo founders):
Based in Austin, this company has grown tremendously in the past few years. Their US-based crew know how to service their customers like few others. What impresses me most about them is that they can handle any type of customer, from the small website owner who wants a fully managed experience to the most hardcore enterprise website. They won’t balk at any requirement and maintain their wonderful uptime, security and support levels throughout.
Based in Bulgaria, SiteGround have been very active in the WordPress community during the past 3/4 years, and have driven a lot of innovation both on a hardware level and on a software one. Their live chat is the most responsive of any host I’ve ever tried, in fact you can expect immediate connectivity to one of their support people at any time of day. Support tickets are usually answered within ten minutes or less. How’s that for responsive support?
SiteGround hosts the website for our plugin WP RSS Aggregator. We run a full e-commerce platform on that site and handle thousands of customers without a glitch. SiteGround have always gone out of their way to help with not only hosting related issues but also problems with WordPress plugins. They are not only great at hosting but also very knowledgeable about WordPress, hence they are the perfect partner for a young startup that wants to concentrate on developing its product rather than fiddling around with WordPress and its nuances.
Media Temple is a hosting company that needs little introduction. They have been around for more than ten years and have maintained a rock solid reputation as a great host. We host some blogs with them and they have provided a very strong WordPress hosting platform that we have really enjoyed using.
One final thing to add is that all the above hosts offer staging server functionality. What this means is that you will be able to create an instant replica of your site at the click of a button. You can then perform changes on the replica and then push back to the live site. This allows you to try out new plugins and make changes to your site’s design on a safe server and only push to live when you are absolutely certain that everything works. We all know that startups need to make a lot of improvements to their products and sites on a regular basis, so this is a very valuable feature to have.
Leave a comment below if you have any further questions about WordPress hosting for startups and I’ll be happy to answer them.