If you run a blog in 2014 then you need hosting. Not a great logo or a good design, but trusted web hosting.
Sure, you need social media traction and content and a mission statement, etc. etc. to get people excited, but avoid hosting and everything could go "poof" one day. You could literally wake up to an email saying, "We're sorry. You're screwed."
In this article I'm going to explain one story of a guy who should have had his own hosting space. It's not very likely or common, but it can be life-threatening, especially if you're a successful business person.
Which professionals should read this?
Just to make sure I'm not preaching to the choir, I guess I should be clear that I wrote these messages for:
If you're building an online product, it has to be hosted somewhere, whether it's at Amazon or on your own blog site.
2. Project managers
These people manage big-time budgets and web hosting is usually something on the receipt.
3. Freelance writers
If you create a portfolio online, you should know where it's all living.
4. Everyday bloggers
Every blog has to be hosted somewhere, whether it's at Weebly or SquareSpace or even Blogger. Bloggers stand to gain the most from having hosting, but end up using a free blog-hosting service because they're scared or don't know better.
As I said, it's bloggers who can benefit the most from some good cheap hosting. Even Sweden knows this (check out their new WordPress.org blog). Plus, if you can setup your own hosting as a solo-blogger you can pretty much do it anywhere. For that very reason, let's focus on bloggers.
Why you need hosting
Before I go into some simple hosting lessons I've learned doing business online, I want to drop off a story. If you know this kid or have a similar experience, post a comment down below. He'd get a kick out of it, and should be over all this by now.
Getting "dogged" in online business
Back in 2011, a friend of mine from economics class was running a prominent dog toy review website (a niche blog). His niche was solid -- premium dog products for New York snobs.
However, his back-end was not. When I asked him why he didn't pay for WordPress or something more stable he said he didn't believe in it: "Why should I have to?"
Sure enough, his site and the web host got some complaints from angry costumers, then he got slapped with a random spam violation. Unlike others who this happened to to, my buddy didn't have a quick fix. His site was down for four months and he lost most of his major clients.
The message? Hosting is all about ownership of your work and being responsible.
Basically when you're doing anything people count on you should own up to it. This can mean blogging for a large audience or selling things or running a forum or anything really.
When you use a free-blog hosting site, it's their name on the line, not yours. You're renting free space and if you get complaints, the host has to act swiftly to protect themselves. What happens is they often end up acting too severely.
A few things to keep in mind
Now it's time to get into the bulk of this post. Here are a few things you might want to know if you're on the fence about getting web hosting:
It's just some virtual storage space
Your hosting is just some space on a virtual server about the size of a penny off in Ohio or something. When I began I thought I'd have to climb through a sea of wires in my living room just to publish a post -- not even close.
Servers, bandwidth and uptime -- defined
Picture a server "farm." Mmm, bacon. Faster, more powerful servers generate larger bandwidth, which is like a pipe internet data can flow through. This "pipe" can get clogged, which would reduce up-time guarantee, because your site could crash. Free sites give you less bandwidth!
Free is totally relative
Free blog-hosting sites are definitely fun because you get a small arsenal of tools for free, duh. What I personally never realized is how vast the free libraries are elsewhere, like WordPress. It's sorta like playing Halo or Goldeneye or GTA III on level one for years, then all of a sudden someone unlocks the rest of the game.
As costly as a cup of coffee
Hosting isn't free (yes, this stinks), but that doesn't mean it's expensive (costs you about $4 per month at a place like HostGator). When you start to look at what you're doing online as a business, it really makes sense to pay about as much as a trip to Caribou Coffee for this sort of peace of mind.
Be the expert
Once you create your first website on hosting space you can add more domain names and host your friends websites too! You never have to worry about being taken down and can write/post/create pretty much whatever your imagination wants.
Do not underestimate the importance of hosting. I don't want to see you get dogged like my buddy and wake up in a nightmare. Take responsibility -- get it out of the way -- and join the rest of us savoring life online. Here's a quick guide to help.
Do HuffPost readers self-host?
Where is your site hosted? Are you content? I know the HuffPost audience is a savvy group of bloggers and website peoples so I'm really curious to hear your thoughts.
See you down below.
Follow Greg Narayan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gregnarayan