This post has been included as an entry into a giveaway/sweepstakes.
Bluehost is a popular hosting provider that has been the backbone of my site since I started getting serious about blogging. I thought it would be very useful to write a Bluehost review to share my honest opinions on this web hosting company.
The Era before Bluehost
Like most new bloggers, I started my blogging journey on a free platform: WordPress.com. For the naive me who didn’t know what I was doing (though there are still lots I don’t know even today), I mistakenly thought that wordpress.com would a good fit. It was a brand that I felt I could rely on, it was easy to set up, and most importantly, it was free.
However, only about two weeks into using WordPress.com, I quickly realized the drawbacks:
Limitations on what you can do on your site
Precisely because it was free, WordPress.com places a lot of limitations on what you can do with your site. For example, you cannot join any advertising platforms other than their own, you have no control over the ads that they place on your site, and you cannot connect your site to Google Analytics to see how it is performing.
I do have to mention that you can lift some of these limitations if you upgrade to their business plan, but it wasn’t really my preference.
You have to pay money to remove “wordpress” from the URL of your site
I initially thought I was okay with “bellawanana.wordpress.com”, but the longer I stared at it, the longer I disliked it. After all, can you imagine google.com being “google.wordpress.com”? The URL itself screams unprofessionalism, which goes directly against my vision for my site. I have to pay to remove the word “wordpress”. So the free platform isn’t free, after all, if I want to customize the URL.
WordPress also had limitations on customization
As I delved deeper into the blogging scene, I came to notice that many other blogs had amazing designs. WordPress.com is pretty limited when it comes to how your site looks. Unless, of course, that you are willing to pay for their better themes, which cost a lot more than what I could shell out.
The search for an alternative – I found Bluehost
Mainly because of the above three drawbacks which quickly escalated into dealbreakers, I decided to look for an alternative. I knew right then and there that using a free platform wouldn’t be an option, because I would probably run into the same problems of getting only the most basics that wouldn’t be enough to meet my needs.
I quickly outlined several must-haves for my ideal platform:
It has to be inexpensive
As someone who was just starting and had made no money whatsoever on the blog, convincing myself to spend money on this virtual construct was a difficult step (but let me tell you six months after, it is well worth it). It just so happened at the time that a girls’ night-out got canceled. I had a budget of $150 set aside for that social event, so I decided that I was just going to redirect the money into investing in my blog. It was much more palatable for me this way, because the money, in my mind, was already spent.
Also, As I mentioned in How I have Grown as a Blogger, and as a Person, I gave up on blogging, pretty embarrassingly, twice, in my life. I didn’t know if the third time was going to be a charm (so far I have persisted!), but I knew that I had to find something inexpensive just to feel less bad about myself in case I give up again.
It has to be easy to learn and use
I am not a professional web designer. Although I have taken many coding courses, including, pretty handily, CSS, I have never had the experience of running a website on a self-hosting platform. Frankly speaking, I was just coming to understand what “self-hosting” actually meant. I knew that I needed something easy to learn and use. I also wanted a robust support system, so if I have questions, I can get the help I need.
It has to have a SSL certificate
Have you noticed the little lock symbol in front of some URLs, and how those URLs start with “https://” instead of “http://”? That’s the SSL certificate. It indicates to the users of the site that your connection to that website is secure and encrypted. I want to have the “s” on my blog, just so all my readers know that the information they enter into my site (including comments and signing up for my newsletter) is shared safely.
It has to be secure
Lastly, I want a secure service. I am looking for a reputable company, and I need my data to be safe where it is stored.
My search ended when I found Bluehost. It meets all of my criteria above and more.
Bluehost Review: What I love about it
Bluehost is inexpensive
First and foremost, Bluehost is inexpensive. Bluehost regularly discounts their plans, sometimes up to 60% off, for starters. At less than $10/Month at regular price for Bluehost shared hosting package, it fits nicely into my budget of $150.
Bluehost is a platform that is easy to use.
Signing up on Bluehost was like a breeze. It was easy as 1, 2, 3!
Here are the steps:
- Go to my.bluehost.com
- Click on “Create Account”
- Select your plan (I selected “Basic”)
- Either create a new domain or enter in the domain name you own.
- The domain name is the URL of your site. For me, my domain name is bellawanana.com. If you aren’t sure about your domain name right now, you can create it later.
- Enter your account information, and you are ready to go!
Once you sign up, navigating through the Bluehost platform is also very intuitive. Here is what it looks like for me. They even have a list of recommended steps for you to take to set up your site properly. As a newbie blogger, these steps were immensely helpful for me.
Bluehost is secure
Bluehost is one of the largest website hosting providers out there. It is the backbone for over 2 million websites and is recommended by WordPress. I feel safe hosting my site with Bluehost. So far, it hasn’t proven me wrong!
Bluehost came with a SSL certificate for free
Even though Bluehost was already fairly inexpensive, they did not charge extra for the SSL certificate. It was a big help for me because I had a very tight budget.
I do have to note that it doesn’t come automatically enabled. You do have to go through the process of enabling it yourself. However, it is fairly straightforward, and Bluehost has a guide on how to activate the free SSL certificate.
Bluehost offers free new domain registration for a year
When you are just starting out, a year can feel like a long time, but I think it is an adequate time to figure out if blogging is truly your calling. With Bluehost giving a free domain name for a year, you do not have to worry about additional expenses upfront. I received a free domain myself for the first year, and it really helped with my cash flow.
Migrating from WordPress.com to Bluehost was not difficult
This was a pleasant surprise. Although I knew that Bluehost was recommended by WordPress, I did not expect the migration to be as seamless as it turned out to be. To be honest, I was ready to abandon my old free WordPress site altogether, despite the 10+ blog posts that I had already written. I was planning to manually copy all the blog posts to a Word document, and then upload them to my new site.
Of course, Bluehost was one step ahead of me. They actually provided a guide on how to migrate an existing wordpress.com site. Here is the article that I followed to make the migration happen. I do have to admit that I spent a few hours, because I was so new and because I was quite paranoid that I would break something.
If you are too nervous about migrating the site yourself, Bluehost will even do it for you! Just follow the steps here, and you can sit back and relax!
The seamless integration between Bluehost and WordPress
If you are used to the WordPress layout, you will love the seamless integration. The control panel is easy to navigate. Once you are logged into your Bluehost account, which is as simple as entering your domain name and your password, you can enter into your website directly by clicking on “manage site”. Your website will be presented to you with the WordPress layout that you are familiar with.
Great customer service
All accounts have access to technical support 24/7. You can access them via live chat or phone calls. For someone like me who isn’t super technical in the online space, the support system provides some assurance in my mind.
30-day money-back guarantee
Last but not least, Bluehost offers a 30-day money back guarantee. This means you don’t have to pay for the first 30 days! I didn’t use it because I became a happy customer, but if you are a bit worried, this policy should put your mind at ease.
You can easily upgrade
Of course, Bluehost’s shared hosting plan is just the starting point. You may find yourself outgrowing the plan as your blog grows. When that happens, it is seamless to upgrade!
Services Bluehost provides
Depending on your needs, you can choose from many Bluehost hosting plans.
Bluehost offers three tiers of services, shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated hosting.
Shared web hosting (perfect for beginners)
Within shared hosting services, there are four sub-tiers, which include
- Basic shared plan (50 GB website space)
- Plus plus
- Choice Plus plan
- Pro plan
The plans differ based on number of websites, performance, limited or unlimited email accounts, whether it offers domain privacy protection, etc.
Because of the integration with WordPress, I do believe this is one of the best shared WordPress hosting services you can find in the market.
Here is a chart showing you the differences among the four different sub-tiers. As you can see, some of the higher-tiered plans offer unlimited websites, email storage, and subdomains.
VPS hosting plans
These plans are one level above shared web hosting. You can enjoy increased power, flexibility, and control for your websites with a virtual private server.
Dedicated server hosting
This option is for site with a lot of traffic. I am not there yet, but I certainly hope to get there one day!
All the plans offer unmetered disk space, monthly data transfers (unmetered bandwidth), which means you are not charged based on how much usage you have. This flat rate makes it easy to budget your spend.
Bonus: WordPress plans
In addition to the above three tiers, Bluehost also has a new special managed WordPress hosting plan. This plan has the following benefits:
- Multi-layered caching to boost speed
- Fully redundant WordPress platform
- Auto-scalability to handle traffic surges
- Advanced analytics
- Multi-tiered security, including auto-updates
- Centralized social media control
Note that Bluehost used to have cloud hosting plans. These plans have been discontinued.
Other interesting facts about Bluehost
While researching for this topic, I also learned quite a bit about Bluehost as a company.
Bluehost is actually a subsidiary web hosting provider of Endurance International Group (EIG). Bluehost servers located in Orem, Utah occupy a 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) facility. It is one of the 20 largest web hosts, collectively hosting well over 2 million domains.
Alternatives to Bluehost
There are also many other web hosting companies out there. Below are a few:
- DreamHost web hosting
Bluehost is one of the top hosting providers today. It is budget-friendly and easy to use. For WordPress users who are looking to change to self-hosting, you can also hit the ground running as soon as you finish migrating instead of learning about a new platform. I hope web hosting reviews like like this useful in helping you evaluate Bluehost.
Bella Wanana is the blogger behind bellawanana.com, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. She loves sharing with her readers the best tips and tricks on personal finance and how to live a balanced but fulfilling life. She is also a freelance writer, and she has been featured on sites like MSN.com, Reader’s Digest, The Financial Diet, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates.