If you are a musician, you should have your own website. That has been my personal philosophy for many years, and I know that other music marketing experts like Andrew Dubber or Bob Baker would heartily agree.
Based on a recent experience with my now ex-web host, however, I have to add a few stipulations…
First, make sure that you can absorb the costs
Shared hosting is usually quite affordable ($3.95 to $9.95 per month is pretty standard). However, I am starting to discover that some hosts don’t scale very well.
Does your provider have plans that range from $3.95 all the way up to their most expensive plan ($249.99 per month or similar)? Or is there a big difference between their most affordable option and the plan above it (i.e. a 100% increase in price)?
If you end up exceeding a bandwidth or file transfer limit, chances are you’re going to have to upgrade (web hosts generally consider it a breach of contract if you exceed pre-determined limits). As your site grows, this is an inevitability.
Having to jump from $3.95 to a $19.95 price point probably won’t seem like that big of a deal. But what if your host doesn’t have an “in-between” plan? What if their next most affordable plan based on your needs is $129.99?
Perhaps you could find a way to cut back on file transfers and stay on the shared plan, but if your website’s audience is growing, you can’t do much about that. So you’ll be forced into upgrading, whether you like it or not.
This is pretty much exactly what happened to me earlier this year. I went from paying about $7.95 per month to suddenly paying $129.99 per month. Sure, my host put me on the cloud plan, but as I would soon find out, even that would prove insufficient for my needs.
Somehow, I ended up exceeding a 10GB file transfer limit after migration. At the end of September, the site went down for several days. I talked to other web hosts who could barely even comprehend why that would happen.
In short, ask around before you commit.
Second, find a plan that’s right for you
This goes hand-in-hand with my last point. You need a budget for your hosting plan, but you also need to make sure that your plan is serving your current needs.
Frankly, I probably didn’t need cloud hosting, and I knew that. I even voiced that concern to my previous web host. They didn’t really have any other options for me, and that should have been a red flag.
This isn’t to say that I won’t need dedicated hosting in the future, but it wasn’t matched to where my businesses were. I needed something “in-between”.
If you can find a plan that has quite a bit of headroom, you’re probably not going to exceed it overnight. On the other hand, if you’re on the verge of using more bandwidth than the plan guarantees, you’re going to have to upgrade.
If you don’t know what your needs are, then talk to your web host. Or, if you don’t have a web host yet, ask around. It will become pretty obvious who cares about their customers.
Third, find a host that cares
I was with my previous host for 10 years. Yes, 10 whole years!
Did that stop them from shutting me down when I could no longer keep up with the ludicrous costs? No way! They were gracious enough to give me three or four days to back up my data, but beyond that, they weren’t going to do me any favors.
I did attempt to negotiate new terms (entrepreneurs are problem-solvers, right?), but they didn’t go for any of my ideas. Too bad; we might have been able to continue our long-term relationship. And maybe they would still be on my resources page too if they had consented. No longer.
Look for a host that cares about your business. Look for one that puts customer service above their own agenda.
I may tell the full story of how things went sour with my previous web host another time. Suffice to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed.
I hope the suggestions I’ve made here will help you in finding a web host that’s right for you. Don’t forget; there is always the possibility that your current host does not do what you need it to do (and you just haven’t found that out yet). Keep the lines of communication open, and be ready for when you need to make some changes.