So I constantly see discussions about people looking for hosting companies for their eBay store fronts or other affiliate ventures. Hosting is important, and should be thought through. This post is going to be a slight rant, but hopefully some of you will be able to see the big picture from it.
Item #1. There is no ‘perfect’ host! If you’re looking for a host for your applications, you need to look at three things, not the bells and whistles they offer. Here is what you need to look for.
- Uptime and support
- Compatible software platform
- Unlimited domains
We don’t care about the gazillion bytes of transfer, the gazillion GBs of storage, the gazillion email accounts. This is a stupid trick that shared hosting account do to get you to compare offers with other hosting companies, and they know in the end you will never ever come close to ever reaching those numbers. So what happens, you begin to compare hosting accounts on these services that in the end never matter. These services is what you’re basing your decision on, which is completely wrong. Especially if you’re doing affiliate sites, you’ll have low bandwidth, no email accounts, and pretty low file storage anyway.
So the things to look for are the items listed above. Do a search in Google ‘HOST sucks’ (replace the HOST with the hosting company you’re looking at). You’ll be surprised by how many results some hosting companies will return. What we want is to find a company that’s based in the United States (and has tech support located here) that has quality uptime and excellent technical support.
Compatible software platform. If you’re using BANS you’ll want a host with MySQL and PHP.
Unlimited domains. This is important if you want to grow your affiliate network without adding additional hosting charges. Along with domains, it’s important to see if you get unlimited mysql databases, if not, you can work prefixed tables, etc… so that’s not a deal breaker.
Now, this is just talking about shared hosting, which in my opinion is the bottom of the barrel of hosting. As your affiliate empire grows, try to diversify with different hosts. I get so tired of people whining about hosting costs, etc. People spend more money on DVD rentals and fast food than they would ever spend on hosting.. and hosting returns you money in the end!!!! Quit being so cheap! If I was going to play in the shared hosting game, I would find at least 3 hosting accounts and spread my sites throughout these accounts. What will this achieve??
- Redundancy. When a host goes down, you don’t lose ALL of your sites that day.
- Experience. You’ll get a feel of different hosting companies and allows you to make good decisions for moving sites to what hosts, etc.
- IPs on different subnets. This is for quality backlinks. Part of the algorithm that Google uses (not official) is to look at IPs. If a IP of one site is point to several sites on the same IP or subnet, Google will think that they’re on the same server. By having different hosting accounts on completely different subnets and cross linking each other can give you better quality backlinks within your own affiliate empire.
Personally, I don’t like shared hosting. I prefer dedicated servers. Do you think the biggies like Shoemoney, Chow, etc are using a crappy $5/month shared hosting account? No. They’re using dedicated servers. The benefits of dedicated servers is massive.
- You get better support since you’re paying more a month for hosting.
- You can customize your server with any packages you want or need. I was asked recently about the FLV (YouTube clone) scripts, and you would need to install various PEAR packages, etc. Dedicated is the best way for this.
- You already get unlimited domains
- Server tools (ie: data and MySql backups, automated scripts — cron for tasks, etc)
Dedicated does have it’s down sides though. I’m also a Linux systems administrator by profession (along with being a professional web developer), so I’m very comfortable working in Linux systems for optimization as well as for security. So updating my servers is of little concern to me. If you’re not familiar with administering a server, then this could be daunting. You could however go with a Managed Dedicated Server or Virtual Private Server and have the hosting company install and manage your server. Some hosts offer this bundled with their dedicated hosting, while others are completely ‘hands-off’, so you’ll need to do your research.
The other downside is price. You could spend anywhere from $100/month upwards to $400/month depending on what dedicated hosting facility you go with. I personally run a few dedicated servers that cost $149/month. These costs are easily absorbed in, but it might not be the best move initially for you. I would get a few revenue generating sites on shared hosts, then when it’s time to jump, push to the dedicated with those sites. I also run a few shared hosting accounts. For instance I run my BANS sites on the shared hosting sites, due to a few issues I have with BANS.
Notice I did not plug one host, or offer a affiliate link anywhere for hosting in this post? I wanted to totally give you the tools to make the right decision vs. trying to push a company, etc. If you did find this post valuable.. please by me a beer.
Hope this article will help you make some hosting decisions. Let me know if you have any questions.