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The Best Hosting Options for Online Business

The Best Hosting Options for Online Business 

liveworkanywhere_best_hosting_for_online_business

Conducting online business means staking out a domain name and then finding a service to host it. Everything on the internet has to physically exist on a server somewhere, and unless you have thousands of dollars’ worth of high-end computer equipment in your basement, you’ll need to look for external hosting from a third-party company. Don’t fly into this decision blind, though. Take some time to decide which hosting options is best for your online business. 

What are hosting services?

A website is really a collection of files, images, buttons, forms, etc that communicate with servers.  

All the data it takes to run a website has to be stored on a server somewhere. If you’re like most small business owners, you don’t have these mighty servers hiding in your basement, and so you’ll need a company to host your site for you.

A good web hosting service will have strong customer support, trustworthy security, the ability to scale with your business and guaranteed uptime for your site, meaning it never crashes.

Types of Online Businesses

First, you’ll want to identify just what kind of business you’re running. Are you going to be selling things in an eCommerce store? Making money off affiliate links on your blog? Or something else? If you’re still looking for inspiration in this area, see our guide to all the different online businesses you can start.

Each business has unique needs, and you’ll want to keep yours in mind as you pick out a hosting service. 

What kind of site do I need for my online business?  

Depending on the type of business you plan to launch is how you’ll select your host.  

If you’re looking to start a blog, you’ll want a WordPress site. My favorite hosts for WordPress are Bluehost, WP Engine, and Kinsta. See how Bluehost and WP Engine match up.  Also, see why I’m switching to Kinsta for one of my sites.  

First, just a quick overview on the types of hosting.  

Types of hosting services

Hosting has four main flavors: shared, dedicated, managed, and all-in-one. There is some overlap between these terms, so let’s dig into them one at a time to clear things up.

What is shared hosting?

Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like. You and a number of other sites are hosted on the same server. Think of it like having a bunch of roommates all on the same wifi. You can save a lot of money by splitting costs, but if one of your friends starts downloading and entire library, it can slow down whatever you’re trying to do. 

For just getting started and a low budget, shared hosting is the best way to start, and you can upgrade as you grow.  

What are the best shared hosting options for my online business?

Bluehost

$2.95-13.95/month

Bluehost offers hosting starting at $2.95/month if you sign up through this link. 

If you start with Bluehost on a shared plan, through this link, you also get a WordPress installation. 

HostGator

$2.75-5.95/month

Another good option is HostGator, which offers only budget options. That doesn’t mean the hosting is sub-par, though. They have similar uptime to other providers and offer solid performance. Where HostGator shines is in their customer support, which is very good, especially for a budget option. Hostgator offers multiple real-time ways to communicate with customer support like live-chat or phone in addition to the traditional ticketing system and email options. 

HostGator does not offer the same scalability as Bluehost, however. If your company grows, you’ll have to switch hosting providers at some point. 

What is dedicated hosting?

Dedicated hosting is the other side of the coin from shared. The entire server is dedicated to your business. This type of hosting is typically going to run you hundreds of dollars a month, making it not a very good choice for a business starting up on a smaller budget. Dedicated is when you run a large scale operation. 

However, more popular are cloud hosting services like AWS (Amazon Web Services) that allow you to quickly scale up, or scale down, based on the amount of traffic you have.  

You probably won’t be in the market for dedicated hosting until your business is much larger, if ever. For the purposes of getting your online business off the ground, we’ll stick with the basics: managed and shared hosting.  

What is managed hosting?

Managed hosting is an all-in-one package for a company to manage your site for you. This takes a massive load off of you and can be the difference between going strong and burning out, especially if you’re working alone or with a very small team. Delegating the management of your site to a trusted hosting service frees up your time to focus on growing your business.

Bluehost also offers a fully managed solution.  I use a managed solution because it includes things like: 

  • Automatic daily backups 
  • Security – SSL certificates – making sure my site is secure
  • Plugin updates
  • Dedicated support

You won’t have to think about what you need or install anything extra, it’s all … well, managed.  

What are the best managed hosting options for my online business?

If you have a larger budget, there’s no reason not to get started with managed hosting. As your business grows, you will want to get a managed solution eventually to free up your time and energy for other things. 

Bluehost

$19.95-49.95/month

Bluehost’s managed WordPress options are their newest hosting option. Right now they only offer options for managing a single website. 

Kinsta

$30-1,500/month

Kinsta’s more expensive packages are enterprise solutions for companies needing dozens or even hundreds of different sites managed. For a single website, Kinsta is very affordable. 

WP Engine

$25-241/month

Like Kinsta, WP Engine is a WordPress-exclusive hosting company. This means more specialized tools for WordPress sites, but you cannot host a non-Wordpress site with them.

Site Ground 

$6.99-14.99/month

Site Ground has the cheapest managed hosting option on this list, however, their $6.99 tier lacks a staging site, an important hosting feature. 

Does my WordPress site need hosting?

Yes! As we’ve established, hosting is one of the two key components of a functional website, along with a domain name. When you set up your website via WordPress, you will still need hosting. Now, whether or not you get that hosting externally is up to you. 

First, is your website on WordPress.com or WordPress.org? This is a big difference. 

Setting up a site on WordPress.com is like renting or borrowing a website of your very own. You don’t have to worry about the hosting. You’ll be stuck using a WordPress subdomain, and there’s no plug-in integration, which severely limits your options. This is a setup that may work well enough for someone running a personal blog with limited advertising needs, but it won’t be able to keep up with the demands of a scalable eCommerce store or other business. 

WordPress.org on the other hand allows you to buy your own domain and get outside hosting. So unlike the .com option where WordPress was hosting everything for you, with a WordPress.org site you’ll need to get that hosting on your own via Bluehost, WP Engine or another option. 

I don’t have WordPress, do I have to use a hosting provider?

The answer is no. There are many all-in-one site builders that act as a sort of “complete package”, eliminating the need for separate hosting. So instead of creating a WordPress site and then looking for a hosting site like Bluehost, you can commit to an all-in-one package. 

Companies like Weebly function much like WordPress.com, allowing you to build your site with user-friendly tools and then doing the hosting for you via a shared platform. The biggest difference is that while WordPress uses open-source templates and themes, sites like Weebly may use proprietary ones, which can limit your design options.

The best hosting option for your online business may be a site builder

You may want to choose an all-in-one package from the start, before you have even designed your website. Using a comprehensive site builder can help keep things simple and get your site up and running even sooner.

Squarespace 

$12-40/month

Squarespace is really popular for its user-friendly interface. They also have extensions, SEO tools and access to experts to help you. You can view Squarespace’s available templates here.

Wix 

$14-39/month

What sets Wix apart from Squarespace is that it is unstructured. This means you can drag and drop elements anywhere on the page, while with Squarespace they “snap” into place, limiting your options. 

Wix can be chaotic at times and a little bit harder to get to grips with than Squarespace, but it remains one of the most common website builders for a reason. Wix also has more templates to choose from, though Squarespace’s templates are a bit more polished. 

Weebly

$6-26/month

Weebly’s biggest advantage is its lower price (Weebly also has a free plan which Squarespace does not).  Weebly’s other major selling point is that it is incredibly easy to use. If you’re not tech-savvy and the idea of designing your website seems daunting, it may be worth giving Weebly a try. 

If you have advanced technical skills you can build full scale web applications and apps on some of these no-code builders like Webflow and Bubble. 

Disadvantages of comprehensive site builders

So if Squarespace or Wix will do it all, why would you ever choose anything different? Well there are some disadvantages to the all-in-one platform. 

With complete site builders, you have less control. Your choice of themes, while broad, is still limited to pre-built options. Ultimately, a site created with these tools won’t be as scalable as one you create using a hosting site. Remember, the best hosting option for your online business is one that grows as you do. 

Should I use an all-in-one site builder or a separate hosting service?

If you’re just starting out, you want to choose a website option that won’t overcomplicate things. You want to focus on getting your business off the ground, finding your audience and starting to make sales. A website builder that comes with hosting can definitely save you some time.

However, you will have more control and customization options with separate hosting. So there’s no right or wrong answer. You just need to know your business and your own comfort level.

Conclusion: What is the best hosting option for my online business?

You want to keep it simple when you’re just starting out. Getting too tangled up in expensive hosting options can hamper your new online business. If you need to get off the ground really quickly, choose an all-in-one site builder with built-in hosting like Squarespace. 

If you need a little more flexibility but still don’t want to be overwhelmed, then Bluehost is your best option. Through them you can get managed or shared hosting and can get hosting for non-Wordpress sites, as well. 

And remember, you’re not locked in to a hosting service for life. If your business grows or changes, you can adapt along the way. So don’t panic too much over what your hosting needs might become, and instead focus on getting your site off the ground and running today. 

Disclaimer – affiliate links are used on this site as a way to pay for hosting and occasional snacks.  

liveworkanywhere_settingupawebsiteforyouronlinebusiness

Setting Up a Website for Your Online Business

liveworkanywhere_settingupawebsiteforyouronlinebusiness

Once you’ve decided what online business you want to run, you can focus on setting up a website for your online business. 

Your website is your business’s home, its virtual place on the Internet. Having a well constructed and user-friendly website lends you credibility. Setting up your website is a chance to build your own unique brand, as well as earn revenue.

You’ll need two basic building blocks to get your own website up and running: a domain and a host. Once you have this setup and out of the way, you’ll be able to focus on designing and promoting your site.

Setting up your site and getting it hosted doesn’t have to be confusing or expensive. Even if you’re completely new to the game, you can get up and running in a single business day. In fact, the trickiest part about setting up your website is just choosing which site and hosting options are best for your business and budget.

Does my Amazon store need a website?

Yes! A lot of eCommerce sellers get started on large third party seller sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and others because of how easy it is to get started there. However, once you’re comfortable with your third party storefront, you’ll still want to set up your own site. There are numerous benefits to selling on your own site including a more professional image, no listing or selling fees, and more control over your layout. 

Setting up a website for your online business

You can set up your website and get started growing your business with four steps:

  1. Acquire a domain
  2. Get hosting for your site
  3. Design your site
  4. Promote your site

Domain

When setting up a website for your online business, you’ll want to first pick a domain name. As long as you choose one no one else is using, you can buy it and get your website off the ground. 

How to pick the perfect domain name

Until someone knows your brand, they will have to remember how to type it in, how to spell it, etc.  Remember, the point of setting up a website for your online business is to make it easier for people to find you, not harder. So in terms of easier searching, you may want to choose something that represents what your brand will offer or even the exact name of your business. If you already have a name for your business, this will be easier. If you’re starting from scratch, try to think of something unique but uncomplicated. This is what people will type into their browsers to find you, so make it easy for them to do so!

Also think about the long term. If your domain name is too specific, it can limit your business’s potential. For example, you may start off selling dog food, and so registering dogfood.com seems like a good idea. But then what will you do when a few years down the line you start offering leashes, toys and dog beds, too? Your name will no longer be accurate. For this example, something like allthingsdog.com or dogsandmore.com would have been better choices.  

You can also use your name (i.e. johndoe.com) but if you want to sell your business someday, you won’t want your name to go with it.  

Try first for a .com domain name, but consider other options, as well. While .com is the biggest player right now, other endings have become more popular, like .co, .net, and .io. So if you don’t find the perfect domain on a .com these domain extensions are other viable options. Just remember to stick with something that people will find easier to remember and also that google and other search engines will find friendly for searches. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO or ranking your site a great blog to start with is neil patel’s marketing blog, neilpatel.com 

Buying your domain

Getting a unique domain name isn’t free, you’ll have to buy it. But don’t worry about digging into your savings, because you can typically license a domain for around $10-15/year, and with many hosting providers, the domain is free. 

There are many different domain options, but .com is the most common and you should try to get a .com domain if you can. Right now, nearly 50 percent of all websites end in .com. This means most people will assume .com and use it automatically when looking up a website.

Does my domain name affect SEO?

Don’t stress too much over perfecting your domain name for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In the past, search engines like Google used to prioritize domain names when loading results for people’s search queries, but that isn’t the case anymore. While having an important keyword in your domain name can certainly help, content is the name of the game now, and populating your site with SEO-friendly content is what’s going to get you seen on search engines. 

Other factors like how often your site is updated and how user-friendly it is are also much bigger influences on your search rankings. So pick a domain name that’s catchy, memorable and tied to your brand.

How to find a domain 

Before you get too attached to a domain name, you’ll want to make sure it’s available for purchase. I prefer Bluehost’s domain checker for this.

It’s incredibly simple. Type in the url and the search will tell you if it’s available.  You will get a list of potential domain names. If your domain name is already taken, there will be suggestions which may help get your creative juices flowing.  

Many hosting companies will also allow you to register a domain with them, and also host your website.  

Hosting 

After you’ve secured your awesome domain, the next step is hosting. Hosting simply refers to the servers that store all your site’s data. 

This can sound complicated, but it’s really very simple. There are a wide variety of hosting options, ranging from a few dollars each month to a few hundred. When you go looking for a hosting company, you might be overwhelmed with options. 

Shared or dedicated hosting

You will have the choice to opt for shared hosting or pay extra for dedicated hosting. Shared hosting means you are literally sharing a server with a bunch of other websites. 

The price difference between the two options can be quite extreme. Shared hosting may run you less than ten bucks a month while dedicated hosting is usually closer to a hundred dollars or more. 

There is nothing wrong with choosing shared hosting to get your site off the ground. As you grow, just know that you can change your hosting later if you need to. 

Managed hosting

Another option you’ll see is managed hosting. Managed hosting just means that there’s a team at the hosting company that has your back. Managed hosting plans have extra security and support. Each plan is different, but you’ll probably get backups and extra marketing tools. Managed hosting can be shared or dedicated, and this will affect the price. 

Below are Bluehost’s prices for shared managed hosting:

liveworkanywhere setting up a website for your online business

Compared to their dedicated hosting prices: 

liveworkanywhere setting up a website for your online business

Site-specific hosting options

You may also come across hosting services that cater towards a specific type of business. Some hosting providers tailor their services towards specific kinds of sites like e-Commerce sites, WordPress sites, online courses, etc. 

Setting up a website for your online business using Site-Builders

All-in-one site builders like Wix and Squarespace can also offer you a quick, drag-and-drop site builder with hosting included. These effectively bypass the need for the two-step process of creating a site and paying for separate hosting. The trade off is that you have much less control and fewer customization options. 

Which hosting is best for my online business?

So are the more expensive options better? And do you need one of these specialized hosting services? Not necessarily. The best online hosting is whichever option is best for your business. Depending on the type of website and business you’re running, you may have specific needs. For example, an eCommerce site may be best served by Shopify or another hosting provider that caters towards online storefronts. With an online blog, you will probably want to start out on WordPress.

However, if you’re looking for a good starting place for almost any online business, I’d recommend Bluehost. While other hosting options may have more specialized benefits, Bluehost is a great way to get your site up and running with minimal costs. They’re easy to use, secure and you can always upgrade to another host provider later if your traffic grows and your needs change. 

If you want to learn more about your options for upgrading, you can check out our in-depth hosting comparison. But for now, just know that Bluehost is a good place to start. 

Design: Setting up a good-looking website  

There is more to setting up a website for your online business than just the technical elements. You’ll need to design your site, as well. If you went with an all-in-one site builder, then you’ll be limited to drag and drop design elements. If you’ve decided to design your own site from scratch and pair it with Bluehost or another hosting provider, you’ll have a lot more options. 

The easiest way to design your own site is to pick a strong theme and build within that. There are several sites where you can find themes, such as 

Some themes are free while others might cost some money. Again, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a free theme for your new site.

What should I include in my online business website?

This will vary depending on your brand. However, most themes will provide you with a pretty standard set of pages and building blocks. So you’ll be able to effortlessly create a main page, contact page, and pages for your blog or products, as well. 

Good video and written content is essential for your site. You want high-quality, SEO-rich writing and solidly produced images or videos. Remember, the more professional your site looks, the more trustworthy your business will seem to potential customers. Consider colors and fonts carefully. 

Focus on making your site easily navigable and streamlined. A cluttered or confusing design is one of the top reasons why people leave a website. 

If content creation and web design isn’t your thing, don’t panic. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr offer a way to commission website content from freelance professionals for a reasonable cost. These sites can also set you up with professionals who know how to create branded colors and fonts, logos and marketing content.

Promoting your site 

Now that you’re done setting up a website for your online business, it’s time to make sure people see it! There are almost 400 million active websites out there. How do you make sure yours stands out? 

Promoting your website is an ongoing task, but here are a few quick ideas to get you started:

  • Use webinars to your advantage

Webinars are a great way to connect with others in your industry and to help get your name out there. 

  • Produce traditional ads

Google and Facebook ads can be very useful if you can get them in front of your target audience. Ads are another thing you can commission from professionals online. 

  • Create organic content

For long-term site promotion, you’ll want to fill your site with a robust amount of online content that encourages search engines to show your website to people. This can also help you build brand authority. So consider starting a blog, writing eBooks or white papers, or creating infographics. 

  • Sell on a third party website

If you run an eCommerce business, it’s worth selling on multiple platforms. So once you have your own site, you should consider starting an Amazon store (or eBay, Etsy, etc.) if you haven’t already. 

These third party sites are where many people first look for products, and they can work as effective marketing efforts. If someone finds your product on Amazon, they will be led directly to your website. You may consider offering special deals to people who choose to purchase directly from your website. 

  • Promote on social media

You should have a social media presence for your website. Choose platforms that your audience is likely to use. For example, don’t waste all your resources managing a Twitter account if your target audience hangs out on Instagram. 

Conclusion

Setting up a website for your online business can seem like a monumental task, but if you break it down, it’s very simple. 

  1. Pick a unique domain
  2. Sign up for Bluehost to host your website
  3. Enlist freelancers to help you design your site and business brand
  4. Promote your business
  5. Grow your business! 

Don’t forget to enjoy your business as it grows. Running an online business lets you take your job wherever you go. So whether you need to be close to family, or you’re just eager to abate your wanderlust, your online business will help you live and work from anywhere.

Is your website set up to start earning you passive income? Check out our complete guide to earning passive income online!

 

Bluehost vs WP Engine: Best web host for your online business

Bluehost vs WP Engine: which is best for your WordPress site? 

A website is essential if you’re conducting business online. If you’ve created your website through WordPress, you’ll want to use WordPress-optimized hosting. Both Bluehost and WP Engine can get you the hosting you need, but which is the best web host for online business? Let’s compare Bluehost vs WP Engine

Bluehost vs WP Engine: which is the best web host for online business?

Bluehost has been around longer than WP Engine, and has garnered a positive reputation over the years. Originally just providing regular hosting, Bluehost began to branch out into WordPress hosting options as WordPress began to surge in popularity. (WordPress now accounts for over 455 million websites, which equates to approximately 37% of all websites and 63% of all content management system (CMS) sites. WordPress is no longer just a blogging platform, but is now a viable option for those considering serious online business. 

WP Engine, on the other hand, was built from the ground up for WordPress hosting. As WordPress began to grow, companies like WP Engine recognized the need for managed WordPress hosting that could address all the specific needs of WordPress sites. 

WP Engine is the higher-end option here, completely optimized for WordPress. It’s one of the most well-known managed WordPress hosting options. Bluehost, on the other hand, has garnered much of its business by offering more flexible and affordable hosting plans and a new WordPress-specific managed plan.  

What is managed WordPress hosting? 

There are a lot of hosting options out there. Managed WordPress hosting is an all-in-one hosting service where the hosting company handles your SSL installation, sets you up with a domain and manages backups as well as your CDN and any security needs. 

These are all features that you can handle yourself if you go with regular site hosting, but for those without an IT team or the time to devote to balancing all these site needs, managed hosting can take a huge load off your shoulders. 

While WP Engine offers exclusively WordPress managed hosting options, Bluehost has a whole catalog of hosting options, one of which is managed. 

There’s no clear “best” between WP Engine and Bluehost. However, there is definitely a “best” for your particular website needs. It’s not about finding the hosting option that is objectively better, it’s about finding the option that’s best for your business.

Let’s see how Bluehost and WP Engine stack up against each other in the following areas: 

  • Cost
  • Speed/performance
  • Security
  • Customer support
  • Features

 

Cost

Is Bluehost Cheaper than WP Engine?

In short, yes, but not so much if you do a true one-to-one comparison. WP Engine offers managed WordPress hosting while Bluehost has plans that are managed as well as plans that are not. Bluehost’s shared hosting is significantly cheaper, but their managed hosting is much closer to WP Engine’s lower-cost package price. The best web hosting for online business is not just which has the most features, but which gives you the most bang for your buck.

So if you want managed WordPress hosting, the cost points are similar and the difference boils down to available features. However, if you are interested in shared hosting, Bluehost is a very cost-effective option. 

Bluehost: Shared hosting plan: $3.95/month (promotional) $7.99/month (regular)

 

Bluehost vs WP Engine Shared Liveworkanywhere
Bluehost Shared Hosting Pricing

 

Image credit: Bluehost

 

Bluehost Managed WordPress Hosting Pricing Liveworkanywhere

 

Managed plan cost: $29.99/month ($19.99 promotional)

Image credit: Bluehost

 

WP Engine: $25-$241/month (custom plans available)

best web host for online business WP Engine price Liveworkanywhere
WP Engine Hosting Pricing

 

Image credit: WP Engine

Speed and Performance

With WP Engine, you do get greater load speeds and a generally sleeker performance. The difference isn’t a deal breaker, and you’ll still get a sturdy site using Bluehost, but if you’re able to afford the extra speed and performance, there’s no reason not to. 

How much faster is WP Engine?

Some of your load time is going to depend on how you’ve set up your site, however, WP Engine’s baseline performance is stronger here than Bluehost’s. 

Bluehost vs WP Engine speed test comparison Liveworkanywhere

Image credit: Winning WP

Load time may be the single most important stat on your site. There are a lot of factors that impact load time, including what content you’re hosting and whether or not you’ve optimized your website code. WP Engine has a clear advantage for speed when it comes to loading WordPress sites, loading almost twice as fast as Bluehost’s shared hosting. 

A slow loading website can affect how much a user trusts your site or business. Ideally your site should load in under three seconds, and for every additional second it takes, you could be losing up to 7 percent of your potential traffic.

If speed is your utmost priority, you may want to look at some of the newer hosting options available that may perform even better than WP Engine.

Which hosting service has more solid uptime, Bluehost vs WP Engine?

Uptime measures the time your website is online and functional. If your site goes down, you’re not making any money off it, and users may not return after experiencing problems. So it’s vital that your site has little, if any, downtime. 

best web hosting for online business uptime comparison Liveworkanywhere

 

Image source: Theme Isle

Both Bluehost and WP Engine have comparable uptime performance. As you can see on this chart above, their uptime performance is identical. The difference between the two really comes down to load times.

Security 

Security issues are part of what prompted hosting providers to start offering WordPress-specific hosting options in the first place. It’s vital that your information as well as your users’ data is protected when they visit your site. 

Comparing security features: Bluehost vs WP Engine

Both Bluehost and WP Engine provide secure hosting for your site. However, WP Engine definitely makes security one of their main priorities, and they offer additional security features that Bluehost does not. 

Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting provides malware protection and removal. 

 

  • Web application firewall
  • SSL/TLS
  • SiteLock Security

 

WP Engine has Global Edge Security, which includes:

  • Enterprise-grade threat detection and prevention via managed a managed web application firewall.
  • High network capacity to protect against distributed DDoS attacks
  • SSL/TLS
  • Global performance via Cloudfare’s CDN

 

This is in addition to the security features on WP Engine’s platform, which include:

  • Managed core updates
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Daily backups
  • Automatic deactivation of non-secure plugins

 

As you can see, security is important to both providers, and you won’t be signing up for un-secure hosting with either option. However, WP Engine has put a lot of emphasis on security. If security is a big concern for your site, then WP Engine may be worth the investment. For example, an eCommerce site where you process a lot of personal payment information may benefit from WP Engine’s extra security measures. 

Customer Support

Choosing the best web host for online business means more than just comparing raw stats. You’ll want to look for a service that’s user-friendly, as well. Customer support is vital to smoothly running your site. There are going to be problems that come up with any website and being able to quickly and easily get them resolved is so important. With poor customer service, you could end up wasting hours of your time on fixes that should only take a minute. And every hour you waste waiting on support is another hour your site isn’t working at its best. 

Both Bluehost and WP Engine offer customer support, but WP Engine’s options are a bit more robust. Their starter plan has 24/7 chat support and higher tiered plans ($95/month and up) get phone support as well. While Bluehost also offers chat and phone support, they have discontinued their email-based support, making it difficult to solve more in-depth issues.

Half the battle is getting a hold of customer support in the first place, followed closely by making sure you’re talking to someone who knows what they’re doing. 

Features

As we’ve discussed, the managed hosting plan for Bluehost isn’t much less expensive than the lower tier options from WP Engine. So if you’ve decided on managed WordPress hosting, which provider you go with is going to depend on what features are most important to you. 

Here are the most prominent features that differ between the two companies.

WP Engine

WP Engine supports site migration

While I migrating your website to a new hosting service can get tricky, it is more than doable with the right tools. And as a general rule, migrating from Bluehost to WP Engine is going to be easier than the other way around. This is because WP Engine subscriptions come with a plugin option that automates nearly all of the migration process for you.

So if you’re not starting from scratch, but are instead updating the online business you’ve already started, then WP Engine will offer you a smoother experience. You can pay extra at Bluehost to have their employees run a complete migration for you, and the price tag is $149.99 for up to 5 websites. So it’s up to you if you’d rather spend that money on a one-time migration or several months’ worth of a premium hosting service.

Note: Bluehost also offers a one-time free site migration with each hosting package, however, only some websites qualify for this feature. 

WP Engine has daily backups

WP Engine creates a backup for your site nightly. This is extremely important so you don’t risk losing data or progress. Bluehost also backs up your site daily, weekly and monthly. The difference is that Bluehost does not guarantee these backups and you should not rely on them.

WP Engine offers a dedicated content delivery network (CDN)

Having a CDN means a static copy of your site is held on multiple servers within a diverse network. This basically means that people all around the world can access your website faster, and this is one of the ways WP Engine gets a leg up over Bluehost in site performance, speed and access. 

However, if your site is small, does not have a large amount of media files or you are only targeting an audience within a single country, having a CDN may be a bit like paying a limo driver to take your child to school every morning. 

WP Engine has a customizable plan

While Bluehost offers more pre-packaged plan options than WP Engine, that doesn’t mean WP WP Engine isn’t flexible. They do have a custom plan option where you can speak with a specialist about your site’s specific needs. This option is targeted towards web teams working for larger companies rather than a small one-person operation. 

Bluehost

Bluehost has options for shared hosting

If your site is low-traffic, then shared hosting is a reasonable way to save a lot of money. With shared hosting, you can expect slightly slower load times and a bigger risk of downtime as you’re sharing the server with many other websites. However, you can still get decent hosting services through Bluehost using this method, and you’ll be free to use your choice of plugins and you can even host sites that aren’t WordPress. 

Bluehost offers free domain registration

You get your domain name for free even with the lowest tier Bluehost subscription. While domain names are usually not very expensive, the hassle of navigating a site like domain.com or godaddy.com and avoiding all their upsells can be a hassle. Think of this as a nice little perk, like the coupons that you find at the bottom of a fast food receipt. 

Bluehost offers site staging

While WP Engine offers this service, as well, it’s worth noting that most shared hosting options don’t usually offer staging. On your staging site, you can give all changes to your website a sort of dry run, hopefully spotting any mistakes before your customers have a chance to see them. Getting this feature from a lower-cost hosting service like Bluehost is a great deal. 

What sites should use Bluehost?

Bluehost is the clear winner for low budget projects. If your site is lower traffic, then there’s no need for an expensive WP Engine plan or even one of the pricier Bluehost options. 

Because Bluehost offers cheaper shared hosting options for both WordPress sites and other site types, it gives you the option of starting cheaply with them and then upgrading later if your site begins to grow. Bluehost can take good care of you if you run one of the following sites:

  • Personal site/blog
  • Affiliate site
  • Lower traffic eCommerce store

You can sign up for a Bluehost plan for only $3.95/month.

That said, if you have the budget for WP Engine, there’s no reason not to start off with managed WordPress hosting. If you can afford it, then I highly recommend going the managed route as it will save you a lot of time and headache down the road. 

What sites should use WP Engine?

WP Engine can get pricey, and while it is powerful, a lot of its bells and whistles may be largely unnecessary for someone looking to start an online business without the backing of a whole dev team. WP Engine is a great hosting service for enterprise-level websites and high-traffic blogs or eCommerce stores. You should strongly consider WP Engine if you:

  • Run a large business
  • Are starting a business you expect to scale exponentially and quickly
  • Need a unique customized plan

Conclusion: Choosing the best web host for online business 

Both Bluehost and WP Engine offer great WP hosting options for blogs, eCommerce stores and general websites. The difference really does come down to size, scalability and budget. What are your long term needs? 

WP Engine is going to give you more room to scale right off the bat and offers no budget options for a smaller site just starting out. Bluehost has more options, many of which are cheaper, but does not offer quite as many bells and whistles as the higher-end WP Engine plans. 

Choosing Bluehost

Go with Bluehost (shared hosting) if you:

  • Have a small budget
  • Do not need managed hosting
  • Want to install and manage your own themes and tools

If you don’t mind installing themes and other website tools on your own and doing a lot of extra legwork, then you can save a significant amount of money with Bluehost. But again, if you’ve got the funds then managed hosting from WP Engine is the better bet. 

A more mature business, for example, would definitely want to go with WP Engine. A small business just starting out on a shoestring budget should probably sign up with Bluehost. Bluehost is also a viable option if you want to get your hands dirty in the nitty gritty of running a website. And remember, Bluehost does offer managed WordPress hosting services, which you can migrate up to later on down the road. 

Choosing Bluehost Managed

Go with Bluehost (managed hosting) if you:

  • Smaller budget  
  • Site that your business doesn’t doesn’t depend on 
  • Usability 
  • Additional security options aren’t necessary to run your site 

Managed Bluehost hosting works really well if you run a coaching or consulting website or if your business is blogging. Bluehost is a very friendly option with a high level of usability. 

Choosing WP Engine

Go with WP Engine if you:

  • Have a larger budget
  • Own a business that is 
  • Need faster speeds 
  • Need more robust support services
  • Want a completely managed hosting experience right away
  • Need a customized plan

WP Engine, on the other hand, may be the smarter choice for more advanced businesses with greater bandwidth needs and slightly higher budget. If you want speed, security, and backups all baked in from the start, WP Engine has more of the bells and whistles that make things run seamlessly. 

WP Engine is the best web hosting for an online business if you’re starting out with a web development team and you have the need and time for WP Engine’s more robust features list. WP Engine is a slightly safer choice if your business’s livelihood is directly tied to your website’s functionality, security and uptime.  You can sign up for WP Engine here

Remember, your website is the face of your online business, so take your time and choose the hosting option that’s right for you. You can check out our hosting comparison piece to learn more about hosting options and all-in-one site builders.

liveworkanywhere_howtomakepassiveincomeonline

How to Make passive Income Online

How to Make Passive Income Online

Learning how to make passive income online can help free you from the traditional daily grind of 9 to 5 work. Passive income is a wide topic that encompasses everything from selling a few eBooks to managing real estate.

The Internet makes passive income even more accessible to those looking to break free of regular paychecks. With 90 percent of adults online regularly, it’s no wonder that people find online passive income ventures to be so tempting.

Setting up and maintaining avenues of passive income can seem daunting, but there are a lot of options out there to fit with any lifestyle or background. Here we’ll go over some of the most helpful types of passive income for those looking for reliable sources of income that aren’t tied to a 9 to 5 time sheet. You can experiment with these different options until you find the passive income path that’s perfect for you.

What is passive income?

A great way to get started with earning passive income is to define just exactly what it is.

Passive income technically refers to money made from real estate or a business that you are not directly involved in. For the purposes of this article, we’ll broaden the definition just a bit to include any income you make without being directly involved on a daily basis. This means side gigs / side hustles and online businesses where you’re getting paid without having to clock in every morning after a grueling commute.

Of course you always need to be involved to some extent.  People over-glorify passive income to make it sound like you can just sit back and collect checks from the beach. But the truth is no business or venture is completely hands off. There’s always some level of management.

Just how “passive” is passive income?

Let’s say you have a property management company running your house, but that doesn’t mean you can throw your phone away and disappear to a jungle without ever checking back in. You would still need to be actively involved in managerial jobs like:

  • Managing repairs and remodels
  • Managing employees and contractors
  • Keeping up with legal requirements

Online passive income can come from two different sources. You may be earning money online in an online business or simply working in an online industry. We’ll go over both options here. Some ways of earning passive income online are side gigs, while others are fully-fledged online businesses.

What are the most common ways to make passive income online?

The world is your oyster here, and you can make passive income on just about any corner of the Internet. You can rake in some extra cash from online ventures. Or you can start taking in a regular paycheck from an online business that you start and run yourself from the comfort of your own home office. Don’t worry if it sounds daunting, there are scalable options for every skill set and budget.

Ways to earn passive income

Here are some of the most common passive income ventures and what you can do to earn passive income online.

  1. Sell informational products
  2. Sell digital goods
  3. Affiliate marketing
  4. Build an affiliate marketing niche site
  5. REITs
  6. Day trading
  7. Savings account
  8. Amazon
  9. Dropshipping
  10. Ads on your targeted niche website
  11. Rental income

Sell informational products

You’ve spent most of your life accruing unique knowledge and skills. Now it’s time to put that information to work for you! This can mean writing and publishing eBooks, creating online courses or selling other informational materials. You can sell your online classes via sites like Coursera or Skillshare, or you can run them through your own website.

Teaching isn’t just for university professors. People from all industries and walks of life can make money online by helping others hone their craft. As long as you can deliver solid information in a professional manner, you can sell a course on just about any topic.

Tip: Some informational products, like eBooks and white papers can double as marketing tools for your online business. You may even consider giving them away for free to qualified leads. This eliminates their use as passive income but turns them into high quality marketing tools, instead.

Sell digital goods

You can sell more than just eBooks digitally. A digital product is anything that exists virtually, with no physical components that need to be assembled or shipped. Examples run the gambit from media like podcasts and eBooks to web software.

The advantage of digital goods is that once you’ve created the product, you can sell as many as you want without increasing your costs, unlike traditional products which require raw materials for each copy made.

You can always choose to sell your digital goods through your own personal website, or you can opt into an established sales platform like Etsy.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn passive income online.  It is especially great for those who already have an established online presence with traffic and an audience.  By linking to products in your blog or on social media sites, you will get dividends from the sales those links attract.  However, you don’t have to have a site with a ton of traffic to get started in affiliate marketing.  There are several niche sites you can create to promote others products.

Amazon is known for its affiliate program and other sites like eBay and several online brands.  You can also select products from an affiliate network like Commission Junction, ShareASale, and so on.

The rule for affiliate marketing overall is simple: be honest with your audience and sell a product you genuinely care about and is useful to your audience.

Build An Affiliate Marketing Niche Site

Your website can take in money from multiple avenues, not just traditional ads. If you’re curious to try your hand at affiliate marketing, you’ll be pleased to know it’s incredibly easy to sign up for most affiliate programs.

Typically affiliate programs are free and you simply click to receive the special link for use on your site. The hard work comes into the picture when you have to actually design and maintain your site.

Going niche is ideal. Picking a niche topic will help you establish brand authority and give you more room to rank highly for keywords. What defines a niche site? Specificity.

Let’s say you’re crafty. Instead of trying to start up a website or blog about all things arts and crafts, focus instead on something more specific. For example, crafts that can be made from used clothing. Then you can pump up your content with targeted keywords related to recycling clothing. You’ll also be in a prime spot to use affiliate links for crafting tools or sites that let people sell their finished creations.

REITs (Real Estate Investments)

If you want to get into the real estate game but don’t have the capital or the desire to start buying and managing properties, you can look into Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). These are companies that manage real estate ventures and you can buy into them much like how you might purchase dividend stocks. To further simplify the process and lower the barrier to entry, you can try eREITs, or online funds, that are crowdfunded.

I invest in Fundrise, an online investment option that you can buy into for lower minimums (typically 500-1,000 dollars). I have seen returns between 3-15% (and that 3% was during the height of COVID!). A much better investment than the bank and a one of the most passive ways to invest and watch your money increase.

I am a fan of investing in the real estate market over stocks due to real estate always increasing on average 3%, even with the upcycles and crashes. Stocks have much more volatility and are not asset-backed so if you lose money, you lose money. Also companies can go out of business or lose market share, whereas housing never loses its position as a necessity.

Day Trading

That being said, a lot of people are able to earn great passive full time or side income by trading stocks online. Sites like Forex.com allow you to try your hand at day trading.

Getting into the Forex market can be intimidating, but fortunately there are demo accounts for beginners. It’s advisable that you start with one of these limited demo accounts to get the hang of properly closing deals and managing leverage.

Savings account

Not everyone’s a big risk taker, and that’s okay! There are still opportunities to put your money to work for you and you can earn passive income online without risking your whole savings. A less risky venture than stocks or REITs is a simple savings account.

You have a ton of options in this area, so take some time to shop around for the best deals and lowest fees. Betterment Cash Reserve is one option that offers a competitive APY with no fees.

Amazon

You can earn passive income online by selling through Amazon or a similar site, such as eBay or Walmart.com. You have a lot of room to play around on these sites and design a custom online store that matches your lifestyle.

Some people pair with wholesalers and retailers to sell a consistent inventory of products while others use their Amazon stores to sell secondhand goods. To truly earn passive income with your Amazon store, digital goods are your best bet, because you can sell multiple copies quite literally in your sleep. So while you’re doing what you love, people are buying your goods and you don’t even have to bother with packing or shipping!

For digital goods like eBooks and online courses, you may also want to try sites like Payhip, which offers a set of promotional tools different to Amazon’s. Most sites do not have rules about exclusivity, so offering your goods on different platforms can help you cast a wider net for potential customers.

Dropshipping

There are many types of online businesses that you can start, but one of the easiest to slide into without a lot of startup capital is dropshipping. When you operate a dropshipping ecommerce store, you don’t have to worry about buying and stocking inventory. When a customer orders a product, you will then order it from a third party and have it shipped directly to the customer. This way you bypass the traditional model where you store goods at your place of business or in a warehouse somewhere.

The most obvious benefit of dropshipping is that you don’t run the risk of losing money on unsold inventory. You’ll get to run your own store with none of the traditional overhead like renting out warehouse space or worrying over which products to stock the most.

How to start dropshipping

Your first order of business is to pick a niche. Dropshipping ventures are most successful when they don’t spread themselves too thin. You don’t want to try and be the Walmart of dropshipping. Instead, focus on a niche product to sell. Remember, you won’t be stocking inventory, which mitigates some of financial risk.

Next you will need to partner with a supplier. In order to keep your prices competitive, you’ll need to get in touch with a manufacturer or wholesaler directly. You won’t make much money by buying things at retail price and trying to resell them for even more.

Fulfillment by Amazon

Amazon’s advanced fulfillment options is another way of dropshipping to earn passive income online. With FBA, you are responsible for procuring your products and sending them to an Amazon fulfillment center. Then, when you sell the products on Amazon, they will be shipped directly to your customers without any additional work on your part.

This is just another way of managing a digital storefront without having to turn your garage into a product warehouse.

Ads on your targeted niche website

It doesn’t get much more passive than traditional ads. If you’ve got a website, there’s no reason you can’t make some money off of it! And you don’t need any expertise or special business skills to do it. Here are just two of your options:

PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising)

Signing up for Google AdSense means that relevant advertisements will be placed on your site. Then when people click on these ads, you get cash! Your profits on Pay Per Click advertising could be anywhere from $.05 to $5 for every person who clicks on the ad.

Directly selling ad space

Google AdSense is very intuitive, but it’s not the only way to put ads on your site. If you’d rather, you can cut out the middleman entirely and sell banner ads or other ad space on your site directly to companies. In doing this, you have more control over your pricing.

There are two ways to charge for ad space. The direct route is an upfront monthly fee that you negotiate with the advertiser based on your site’s average traffic. Alternatively, you can charge a CPM rate. This second option means you are paid a certain amount per every 1,000 monthly visitors to your site, and your paycheck goes up or down depending on your traffic.

How much money you make from posting ads on your site is going to depend on the kind of traffic your website generates. Obviously, the more eyeballs you get on your site each month, the more money you can make from your ads.

Rental income

Establishing and managing a real estate portfolio takes a lot of time and a huge amount of investment capital. But you’ll be glad to know that it’s not a zero sum game. You don’t have to be the next Sam Zell to make passive income off of real estate.

The answer is renting the property you already own, or subletting your rental. This will provide you with extra income for your travels. If you’ve embraced the idea of living and working anywhere, you don’t have to don’t have to give up your traditional “home”. If you rent out your place while you’re fulfilling your workplace wanderlust, your property can essentially pay for itself. It may even earn a little extra!

This eliminates the worry of “what do I do about my house while I’m living or working abroad?”.

Why should I invest in earning passive income online?

Establishing and maintaining passive income still takes work. It’s not completely set-it-and-forget-it. But when you earn passive income, your paycheck is not strictly tied to your productivity for that day. With passive income, you’re typically reaping the rewards of hard work laid down in the past. This gives you much more flexibility over your work schedule.

For some people, passive income makes up the majority of their salary, but for most passive income earners, this money is used to supplement a more structured job. Passive income has a lot of perks!

Benefits of passive income

  • Earn extra cash

The biggest appeal of passive income is that it provides extra money without compromising your regular job.

  • Create a “buffer” of income between job changes

That dead zone in between quitting one job and starting the next can be frightening, but passive income offers you a safety net to carry you through transitional periods.

  • Be your own boss

Most passive income opportunities are solo acts, meaning the only supervisor you’ll be answering to is yourself. It can be a nice change of pace for many people.

  • Create financial security

Passive income can tide you over on a rainy day. If you lose your job or an unexpected large bill arrives, your passive income may be what makes the difference.

  • Live anywhere

Passive income allows you to unshackle yourself from the traditional work environment. Earning enough passive income lets you have peace of mind that your finances are taken care of. You can spend less time punching the clock and more time being with your friends and family.

Conclusion

Passive income is a great way to make extra money without overloading your daily work schedule. With most passive income plans, you can choose when you put in the work to create the passive income-generating product and then continue to make money off of it even after you’ve “clocked out”.

There is still maintenance work to be done, though. So I recommend investing in passive income that you won’t mind maintaining. For example, if you go with the eBook example, write about topics you’re genuinely interested in rather than just chasing trends.

You can also delegate and outsource. You may start off as a one-person show, but soon your passive income avenues will grow. Then you will be able to create a business structure that allows you the freedom to work where you want, when you want.

There’s a whole wide world of passive income out there, find your slice of it and take it!