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I learned about cheap website hosting when I was 7 years old (I’m 29 now). I fell in love with the web in elementary school because I didn’t have a computer at home. I sure as hell didn’t have any cash either, but I did have friends who were willing to share their cheap hosting.
Hosting websites started as innocent curiosity, then became a hobby, and eventually turned into my career. I publish websites and data for thousands of libraries in eight countries. My team puts links to ebooks and audiobooks into apps and search results. I also help artists create stops to sell their art and book clients.
I’ve learned SO MUCH about the web since I was a kid. I know how easy it is to create and maintain websites. And I’m here to help you! This post explains everything you need to get set up hosting a cheap website quickly and cheaply. We’ll also talk about when it’s not okay to cut corners and skimp on costs.
Why would you want cheap website hosting?
Think of your site as real estate on the web. It’s like a tiny house! Or a really big house if that’s your style. You’ll need two things to get started:
- HOSTING SPACE
- A WEB ADDRESS
To get space, you need to buy a hosting package. To get an address, you need to buy a domain. If you already own a domain, you’ll need to point it to your web hosting provider. For example, my domain name for this website is glowcreatively.com and HostGator provides my web hosting.
Like any other type of real estate, hosting and domains cost money and get really expensive. And there are so many other expenses when starting a business. Don’t let that stop you from getting started though because there are plenty of hosting options available that give you room to start small and grow over time (even if you want to start with multiple websites!).
What is “cheap” hosting?
When you buy hosting you can get your own property (dedicated hosting) or you can split the cost with neighbors (shared hosting). I consider shared hosting to be cheap. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a great fit for your needs though! You just need to understand the tradeoffs you make for using cheap website hosting. There are also a few helpful things you need to know to cover your ass and make sure you don’t end up paying more money later.
If you’re accepting credit card payments, I do not recommend using cheap DIY website hosting.
Why? Because of PCI DSS, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. PCI compliance provides a set of security standards designed to make sure that ALL companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information are maintaining a secure environment for their customers.
Shared hosting is great for creating blogs, podcasts, portfolios, and any other kind of site without credit card transactions (donation buttons that link to third party services are run by other websites).
If you’re not accepting payments, the key to the cheap DIY hosting I have for personal use is HostGator’s shared hosting packages. I’ve been using HostGator since 2012 because they have plenty of affordable plans that are perfect for spinning up creative sites on the spot to experiment with friends, share ideas, and show our work to the world.
Shared hosting makes your real estate affordable. Like your electricity, you share hosting with neighbors on servers that Hostgator manages. This means that the heavy lifting is done for you. If you only plan on having one web domain, then all you need is the Hatchling Plan. Back in 2012 when I started using Hostgator the Baby Plan was the perfect place for me to start building my own sites and websites for friends. The ability to create unlimited domains makes it easy to experiment with new ideas or change the name of your brand over time (maybe that’s why the Baby plan is the most popular).
Now I partner with an agency to run secure, dedicated hosting for artists with their own shops. But there are still SO many reasons that I use HostGator and recommend it to friends:
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited email addresses
- Free SSL certificate (super important for security!)
- Easy admin control panel
- 1-click WordPress installation
- Free Google Adwords and Yahoo/Bing credits
- Friendly support available 24/7
Need to update your sites PHP? Don’t know how to make your site secure? Or set up an email address? No worries! Chat with HostGator’s support and they’ll hook you up. I’ve learned a lot from their support team over the years. With 1-click installation, you can make a new WordPress site in less than 10 minutes. And here’s what I love most: HostGator doesn’t monitor your bandwidth, storage, or email usage.
You also have access to 100% of your systems and code. All this helps avoid additional fees charged by other hosting providers (cough cough… Squarespace…). Speaking of Squarespace, HostGator also gives an easy drag-and-drop editing interface if you prefer that option to WordPress. The free cash that HostGator gives to advertise on search engines helps boost your visibility on the web when your site is ready to launch.
Once you figure out which package you want, click “Buy Now” to add it to your cart.
Shopping Cart Step 1: Choose a Domain
From here you can register a new domain name, or click the second tab “I Already Own This Domain” if you are only buying hosting.
Make sure you keep Domain Privacy Protection checked. This masks your information in ICANN and replaces it with HostGator’s, so you can maintain their privacy online. This is super important because if you don’t select it, your address will be publicly listed.
Scroll down to step 2. Here you’ll need to enter a user name and password that you’ll use to manage your hosting account with HostGator.
Enter your billing information in step 3.
Choose any additional add-on services you’d like to purchase in step 4.
Finally, click that you agree to the Terms and Conditions, then the big yellow Checkout Now! button.
Congratulations! You’re now the proud owner of your very own real estate on the web.
How to Install WordPress
The next step is installing WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging platform, so you can get to work writing.
You can follow along with this video, or follow the steps I outline below.
When you completed your purchase, you should have received an email from HostGator with your control panel (cPanel) username and password. cPanel is the portal you’ll use to manage your web hosting. The cPanel link is unique to you, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference.
Time needed: 10 minutes.
How to Install WordPress with Hostgator’s Cheap Website Hosting
- Log in to your Hostgator cPanel
- Click “Build a New WordPress Site”
- Select the domain for your installation
- Enter the subdirectory you would like the site to load from if desired.
You can leave this blank. Example: Should you wish your WordPress URL to be mydomain.com/site instead of just mydomain.com. Your site will always display this extension if you enter one.
- For Blog Title, enter the name of the website.
This is what will appear in the header as the name of your site.
- For Admin Username, enter your preferred user name.
For security purposes, DO NOT use “admin” as a username.
- Enter your first name or pseudonym
- Enter your last name pseudonym
- For Admin Email, enter an email address where you the admin to receive the password.
Make sure this is a working email address.
- Click Install WordPress when you’re ready to use your cheap website hosting!
A progress bar at the top of the page will let you know when the installation is complete. Once complete, you will be able to start working on your WordPress site. Check your email for your an email from WordPress with a link to your dashboard. Store the login information somewhere secure. It may take a few minutes for your installation to finish up. If you step away from the computer for a while it’ll be ready when you’re back!
Welcome to the World Wide Web, my friend!!!
Now Don’t Forget to Up Your Website Security
After your site is installed, download and activate these plugins: