Blog Hosting 101: Why I Left Bluehost for Siteground
When I decided to take blogging seriously, I decided I wanted to switch from the Blogger.com platform to WordPress. I had no idea what I was getting myself into – I just knew that I wanted plugins! So, I jumped into the process head first, made a lot of mistakes (like signing up for wordpress.com instead of wordpress.org – YES! There is a difference) and spent a lot of extra money that I didn’t need to if I had just done more research.
So, today, I’m putting together as much information as I can about self-hosting your blog, along with why I left Bluehost for Siteground in hopes that I’ll be able to help both new and seasoned bloggers!
What is Self-Hosting?
I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible because it was beyond me for a really long time on what the difference was between self-hosting and hosting on a site like blogger or wordpress.com.
Self-hosting is when you pay a company to put your site live on their servers, but you have access to ALL the files and where those files are stored. You have complete control over the backend and frontend of your site and can completely customize it the way you want. You can also monetize self-hosted sites completely (with affiliate links, and selling your own products) while you cannot do most of those things on a site that is hosted with through a free service (blogger.com and wordpress.com.)
What’s the difference between self-hosting & domains?
A domain is what someone types into the URL box to bring them to your site (so, for me, it’s www.heytherechelsie.com.) However, it is super important to note that you can have a domain and not have a self-hosted site! Places like wordress.com and blogger.com allow you to buy a domain and have it point to your free site, but it does not mean you are self-hosted.
I made this mistake when I moved to wordpress.com. I bought a domain through them and thought that I had finally figured it all out. Then, I spent hours searching for how to add plug-ins, only to find out that wordpress.com sites do not allow plug-ins and that I had signed up for the wrong WordPress platform!
Why should I Self-Host when I can have a free site somewhere else?
There are a bunch of advantages to having a self-hosted site, and like I stated before, one of the biggest is having complete control over your site. With a self-hosted site, you can code and design everything, buy and install pretty themes, add plug-ins to expand the functionality of your site, and you can monetize it completely through adds and check-out options.
For many of us, blogging is a side-hustle and/or hobby, so putting money towards a self-hosted site might be hard to want to do. However, I really wish that I had started out on a self-hosted site because I had a lot of headaches moving from blogger to wordpress.com to wordpress.org and could have saved a lot of time and money if I had just done it at first.
But the biggest reason why I think you should pay to self-host your site? Because your self-hosted site will be the ONLY thing on the web that you OWN – and that’s a pretty big deal. Read more about why it’s so important to OWN your website here (and why you shouldn’t rely on free platforms or social media.)
What hosting did you start with?
When I first started looking into self-hosting, EVERYONE and their dog recommended Bluehost. Without pausing to do any research, I signed up and began the nightmarish task of transferring my blog over to my self-hosted site on my own. It was #badnewsbears all around and took me several days to finalize everything.
For the first 6 months, things were great. I had no issues with Bluehost and my site flourished and grew. And then…my site started going down here and there. My site wouldn’t be down for too long, and it would come back within an hour, but it was happening once every few weeks, so it definitely was frustrating. It usually took me about 40 minutes to get through to a customer service rep to check in about the status of my site and I was never really impressed with their answers. At the end of the year, my hosting was up for renewal, so I called Bluehost to ask what I could do to make sure my site wouldn’t keep going down. They said that in order to have more stable hosting, I needed to upgrade my servers and pay X amount more. It was a lot more expensive, but I decided to do it because I thought it would solve my problems. Wrong. My site continued to go down for extended amounts of time and it happened even more frequently than before.
And then, my rebrand happened. I did a ton of research and had called several times before pulling the trigger to switch my domains to make sure that I wouldn’t have any issues redirecting Life with Rosie to Hey There, Chelsie and I had been assured that it would be a piece of cake. So, I was a little concerned when I called to finally pull the trigger on the domain redirect and the customer service rep I was talking to seemed to be completely oblivious to what I was trying to do. He didn’t know what a wildcard redirect was or how to do one – but after talking to his supervisor, he assured me that he did it correctly.
And then my site broke. Totally locked out of the back end, totally locked out of my front end and totally helpless. So, I called Bluehost again, in sheer panic, and waited on the phone for TWO HOURS to be connected to a customer service rep. And when I finally got on the phone with someone and started talking to him, the call dropped. So I had to start again.
By the time I got in touch with someone, it was 2 AM in the morning and the service rep I was talking to was again, completely oblivious to what my problem was and what was wrong with my site. Just as I was about to completely lose my sh*z, my husband stepped in and requested to speak to a manager, who fixed my problems within 10 minutes.
It was by far the most unpleasant experience I’ve had as a blogger, ever. After that night, I knew it was time to start looking into other hosting companies because I was NOT going to go through that again.
Why did you leave Bluehost?
I came to find out down the road that the reason why everyone recommended Bluehost was because they had an aggressive affiliate program. Once upon a time, Bluehost did have amazing service, but because their affiliate program paid out well and they were getting promoted so much, their servers couldn’t handle the amount of people coming to them. And unfortunately, even though their services started going downhill, a lot of bloggers were promoting them because they were getting paid on their referrals.
So, after doing some extensive research and asking around my blogging communities, I decided to switch my hosting to Siteground during their Black Friday deal in November. And let me tell you, the difference has been night and day.
First of all, a day after I signed up for Siteground, I received a phone call from a representative to simply THANK me for choosing them. It was such a pleasant surprise and made me feel so important!Siteground transferred my site over for me without me having to lift a finger. The only thing I had to do was log into my Bluehost account and point my domain to their servers –
Second of all, Siteground transferred my site over for me without me having to lift a finger. The only thing I had to do was log into my Bluehost account and point my domain to their servers – which was something I was a little nervous about. So, I logged into their chat help system and prepared to wait at least 20 minutes to have someone respond to me as their queue was 54 people. Within two minutes, someone had responded to me, gave me thorough step by step instructions on what to do and WAITED until I had finished the process to make sure I didn’t have any questions. I’ve never had a customer service rep wait for me to finish my
Another amazing feature that comes with switching to Siteground? My site automatically became SSL certified (meaning it has HTTPS:// and is a secure site for sharing information) and I didn’t have to pay for it or go through a third party app process to get it SSL certified. I simply contacted customer support, they had me install the Siteground Plug-In and they did all the work on their end and explained in simple terms what they were doing so I wasn’t completely oblivious.
Finally, I have not experienced my site going down once since switching to Siteground. It’s been absolutely amazing to not worry about my site going down!
And, in a (not so) shocking turn of events, Bluehost’s parent company just announced that they are laying off over 440 of their employees here in Utah. So, basically, if you are on Bluehost, you should consider jumping ship now – and moving to Siteground!
I’m hoping this post was helpful for those of you who are just starting out blogging and those who have been around the blog block for a while! Let me know if you self-host below, what your experience has been, and what your plans are for the future!