The Cost of Green Web Hosting
The world wide web (W3) is a vast frontier for those within whom the web-preneurial spirit burns brightly. To open a brick and mortar business on Main Street is going to cost a pile of capital, and in this economy, who wants a second (or third) mortgage to roll the dice and fund a new gift shop downtown.
The web, on the other hand, provides all the tools you need to build and grow a business for just a few bucks a month. And, each year, the W3 becomes a more robust marketplace. In 1999, fewer than 10% of us purchased goods or services on line. In 2010, it’s projected that 60% of us will make at least one purchase on line – and that number is only going to increase. Want proof?
Take a look at your local newspaper, The Morning Rag. It ain’t what it used to be. Print, delivered to your newspaper tube, is in its death throes with advertising dollars (that’s where the money is) down 25% in ’09 alone, while the web saw a 15% increase in revenue dollars. The point? Advertisers go where the buyers go and a 40% spread from traditional print outlets to an easy-to-build, easy-to-use web site is clear evidence that buyers are employing the web more and more to buy everything from clothes to carpeting to refrigerators.
And even if you do have a store front in town, web users employ digital assets for everything from comparison shopping to snagging a printable set of directions to your store from your web site. The integration between real and virtual marketing has proved to be a boon for small, local businesses thanks to the development of local search.
Type in to your Google search box “pizza” and your zip code and see what pops up. You’ll see a Google map with pushpins showing the location of all the pizza places in town. Move your cursor over any push pin and a complete description of that pizza shop pops up with address and telephone number so you can call in your order. (Hold the anchovies, please!) And the pizza shop owner makes another sale.
So, whether you’re a budding entrepreneur selling grommets by the kilo or a well-established, local business, the world wide web is your oyster. It’s how you’ll grow your business to profitability faster by reaching the very people who are looking for you, your products and service offerings.
And all for $10 a month. You can’t beat that with a stick.
The Cost of Quality on the W3: Lots for Cheap
There are free web hosts, low-ball web hosts and quality web hosts that deliver a satchel of freebies for less than $10 a month – the cost of a couple of fast food lunches.
Now, you could go with a freebie but, as in all things, you get what you pay for. Free web hosting companies place their ads on your site, and you have no control over what’s going to appear. In fact, the host may actually place ads for competitors on YOUR free web site. So NOT cool.
The low-ball web hosts – the ones that give you a little disk space and their best wishes – might cost $3-4 a month. Not bad, but what do you get for your measly few bucks. Not much, and if you don’t know HTML code from an area code, you won’t get very far very fast, even though you save a few pesos each month.
A Competitive Marketplace Keeps Prices Down – Good For You
So what do you get when you go with a quality host? Well, a larger bill each month – but not by much. A quality hosting company charges less than $10 a month – $6 more than the low-ball sites. Six bucks more. So what do you get for that extra few bucks?
- More disk space – sometimes 2-3 times more disk space.
- More bandwidth for faster interactions with site visitors.
- A tool kit that includes templates (thousands of them), a free shopping cart and checkout, a blog and bulletin board module that bolts on to your site with a click – seamlessly.
- 24/7/365 toll-free customer service. Call any time. Somebody’s working on their web site somewhere day, night and in-between.
- Easily accessible tech support. It’s nice to talk to someone NOW when you’re having a problem, or just have a simple question. And when problems do arise (they do, sometimes) you want your trouble ticket handed off to a techie and you want the problem fixed – yesterday. Like it never happened.
- Uptime. If your site’s server is off-line, your business is off line. And, if you happen to get spidered while your site is “down,” guaranteed you’re going to get slammed by Google. Search engines don’t send users to inaccessible sites. So what do you look for? How about an uptime that exceeds 99.9%? How about uptime of 100%? You’re site is always up, even when the power is down in your server location!
- Server-side security. The freebie hosts don’t pay a whole lot of attention to server-side security. They make they’re money placing ads on your site. And those low-ball sites have to cut corners somewhere and that somewhere is often server side security.
- A quality host employs numerous layers of security to protect your digital assets: hardwired firewalls, algorithmically encrypted anti-spyware and anti-virus software, caged servers, locked server rooms and back-up power generation.
- Hand holding. Probably more important to the first-time web site builder than the long-time vet of the web wars for site recognition. A quality hosting company recognizes the value of YOUR success. That’s how a good hosting company builds a solid client base, reducing operating costs. It costs 10x as much to find a new client as it does to keep an existing client happy so smart hosting company management takes your business seriously.
- You got a question in the middle of the night? You need someone to walk you through the migration of your current site to a better quality host? Well, you want a human to answer the phone and help you plan your strategy, whether building from scratch or moving an existing site uptown.
Starting to get the picture? Yeah, you can save a few bucks and go with a free hosting service, but you won’t be happy after a few months. You also won’t see the site traffic that ultimately leads to web success.
Or, you can go with the cheapie sites but be prepared to install your own multi-layers of security software. You’ll also pay a few hundred bucks for site building software – money that could be used to market your start-up. Oh, and don’t expect a toll-free number for customer or tech support. These low-tiered hosts usually respond by email only. (Not so good when your site has vanished overnight and you don’t have a clue why.)
The bottom line is your bottom line. Web hosting is a highly competitive market segment. There are thousands of hosts from which to choose. But a quality hosting company is based on a client-centric corporate culture, recognizing that the success of its clients will, in the end, determine the success of the web host. It’s just, plain smart business.
The fact is, for a few extra bucks a month – chump change – you can partner with a hosting company that’s as interested in your on-line success as you are. These companies recognize that their long-term success is tied to the success of your web site. In effect, your web host becomes a partner in your web-based growth to profitability. These web hosts have clients who stay put.
These are the site owners who form a stable client base for the web host.
These are the site owners who recognize the value delivered for the cost of a couple of double bacon cheeseburgers.
Spend those few extra dollars and don’t be pound wise and penny foolish. You get what you pay for with web hosting.
In fact, you get a lot more than what you pay for when you choose a quality web host. Go with quality if you truly care about your business.
This is the one place YOU don’t have to cut corners, so pay the few bucks and get a bag o’ benefits for that small change. Success on the web is far from guaranteed, but you increase your chances for success when you pick a quality green web hosting service with which to partner.
Give yourself a break. Give yourself every advantage. Give yourself a better chance to achieve success on-line.
It’s money very well spent.