Whether a writer or freelancing professional, having a web presence is an essential part of running a business. With all of the options available for doing business on the internet, anything you do to step up your game puts you ahead of the competition.
The first decision you should make before you build your website, construct your digital marketing campaign, or anything else is choose the platform that’s going to host it all.
Self-Hosted vs. Third-Party Hosting
Your web platform can make or break your business. While third-party hosting services are good for casual bloggers and hobbyists, they don’t have the security and power that hosting your own platform offers.
For one thing, you don’t even own your website once you place it on most free or low-cost web hosting platforms. Your domain name is the hosting company’s, and you’re sharing space with other businesses and blogs. That means if someone hogs all the bandwidth, your website is going to load slower.
That’s bad for business!
They’re also known for spam, DNS leaks and a host of other issues. Not only that, shared third-party hosting is less private and insecure, and you may have limits on data and storage. No one should try to run a profitable business under those conditions.
Thinking about moving your website? Forget about it. The hosting company owns it, and if you are able to move, their platform might not be supported by the new host.
On the plus side, it’s more affordable, and you don’t have to have any tech or coding knowledge to get up and running.
Self-hosted platforms (such well-known names like SiteGround or HostGator) put you in the driver’s seat. They’re a little pricier and more difficult to set up but, if you want to maintain control over your resources and provide your clients with the best possible experience, it’s a good investment.
This type of platform is not the same thing as owning your server. The hosting company still has responsibility for the infrastructure and maintenance, but you’ll get many of the benefits of having a private service without all of the hassles. You also retain registration and ownership of your content and domain.
Those aren’t the only ways that using a self-hosted platform drives more traffic into your clutches. Here are three more reasons that choosing a self-hosted platform helps bring more customers right to your virtual doorstep.
In today’s business climate, branding is everything. You don’t have to be one of the big boys to become a recognized band, either. Affordable hosting solutions that let you to use your own domain name allow you to craft a unified image from the top down and across all of your marketing platforms. Building a reputable brand is good for your SERPs, and that helps bring in even more customers.
Would you rather do business with Creativeaccounting.com or share an URL with thousands of mommy blogs? That’s what I thought.
2. Elevate Consumer Confidence
In cyberspace, consumer confidence is everything. Your customers want to know that they’re doing business with a professional they can trust to keep their information safe, that your website is going to work when they visit, with no lag times or latency issues, and that you’re not some fly-by-night operator who will take their money and run. When you use a free hosting service, you risk looking shabby by comparison.
3. Present a Professional Image
An integral part of branding and elevating client confidence is presenting a professional image. Even if you’re a one-person shop, you want your website to present a face to the public that says “I can handle your business.” When you take the time to do things right and invest money in your website, it shows customers that you care about your company and every client you serve.
What About Free Platforms?
Not every hosting solution has to cost an arm and a leg, but free services don’t always have the technology and power to provide you with the kind of environment that inspires trust. This is not to say that solid free web hosting sites that allow room to scale up a business as it grows while keeping your data safe and secure don’t exist but they’re rare.
And that “free” claim they make doesn’t always translate to a good deal. Some companies offer a free platform that has little bandwidth or storage space, and charges for extras that are normally included with self-hosted platforms.
A common trick is to wait a few months, after you’ve built a site, then decide to charge for their service. Or you might have the misfortune to hook up with a truly shady operator that goes up and disappears altogether.
You’re the Product: Free web hosts still have bills to pay. If you’re not paying them, your customers will. They’ll have to put up with annoying banner ads or being frequently redirected from your website without warning. There’s also a likelihood of your website being hacked or having your customers’ information sold to advertisers and spammers. They could even sell your URL to a link farm so that black hat operators can trade off of your good name.
In other words, you’re the product.
What Should I Look For in a Hosting Company?
There are literally hundreds of hosting services on the internet. Some are big names that have been around for almost as long as the internet has existed. Features to look for:
- Good reputation
- Reliable service
- Advanced technology
- High-grade security and encryption
- Great customer service that’s available 24/7
- Less than 1 percent down-time
- High bandwidth, speed, and storage
As a freelancer, you don’t have access to the same level of equipment as the big corporations but choosing a self-hosted platform to house your business website and serve clients allows you to fake it pretty well. Most are priced at less than ten bucks a month and include a domain free when you sign up.
The bottom line is that skipping the third-party web hosts to pay for the self-hosted option is not likely to break the bank. In return you get to present a professional image, which is worth at least a few chocolate chips. If you find an amazing free web host, let me know, and I’ll take a look at it.