Web hosts are necessary if you plan to sell anything. Whether it's a product or a service, it's beneficial to your business to have a web presence, even if it's just information about how to contact you.
In the same way, email marketing services help you keep in contact with your clients and customers. They ease the organization of your lists into groups, campaigns, and segments to better deliver your message.
I conclude this toolkit series with Web Hosting and Email Marketing.
If you missed the first three parts, they are Part 1: Project Management & Productivity and Part 2: Communication & Scheduling, and Part 3: Business & Finance.
While I'm a big fan of DigitalOcean, they are difficult for me to recommend to non-technical folks. However, it's one of the most user-friendly cloud platform services available (other examples being AWS and Linode).
Due to the nature of their business, you will need some developer chops or cloud computing knowledge in order to use it successfully. Alternatively, depending on your budget, you could hire someone to set you up a server. If set up correctly, your private server could last you for several months or years with minimal maintenance.
Purpose: Web Hosting
Cost: Starts at $5/month
Drip is one of the more pricey email marketing services because they specialize in drip campaigns and transactional emails (i.e., massive amounts of emails).
Their interface is a bit on the unintuitive-side, especially for someone who isn't familiar with email marketing (i.e., me 😬). That said, it is very powerful, and I would eventually like to explore some more of the advanced features once I get to releasing video courses (e.g., determining users who only get through 50% of a video).
Personal note, I moved this newsletter list from Drip to MailChimp last week because I felt like this type of email campaign (i.e., simple weekly newsletter) was more in MailChimp's wheelhouse.
Purpose: Email Marketing
Cost: Starting at $0 for up to 100 subscribers
While most may know MailChimp as a dead-simple email marketing campaign service, they can also help you automate your business email in other ways by integrating with many existing services such as Eventbrite, Shopify, WooCommerce, and many more.
MailChimp's free tier features and limits are somewhat decent. As you grow past 2000 subscribers, MailChimp can get on the pricey side.
Purpose: Email Marketing
Cost: Starting at $0 for 2k subscribers and 12k emails
I'm a huge Netlify fan. I'll admit, they are more geared towards developers. However, with a little dev training, you could release a free landing page or static site complete with SSL/TLS, and global content delivery. All for free!
You can also add on services such as forms (e.g., a contact form or survey) and serverless functions (e.g., process payments or send transactional emails). These add-ons start for free and subsequently are priced based on demand.
Purpose: Web Hosting
Cost: Starting at $0
WP Engine 🖋
If you have a WordPress site, I think WP Engine is the only web host to use.
While on the expensive side for hosts, their migration process is top-notch. You could move all of your data and files away from another hosted WordPress site by using only their plugin. It will take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours depending on the size of your site and is completely automated.
I hear WP Engine's support is quite good. But, I'll be honest, I've never had to contact the support because everything has always worked well. 🤷♂️
Purpose: Web Hosting (WordPress only)
Cost: Starting at $35/month
Web Hosts on My 💩 List
"You get what you pay for."
This well-known quote is particularly accurate for some web hosts in existence these days.
Unfortunately, due to the number of options available, it's a somewhat predatory environment. My best advice is to do your research and tread lightly. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a horrible web host that either shuts down your site for no reason or holds domains for ransom.
These are my experiences. Be careful out there.
I've heard a lot of praise for Bluehost. In fact, I was a user for over 5 years and have many friends and colleagues who still use and swear by them.
However, after they shut down my website for several days last year due to an issue on their end, I can't recommend them.
Long story short, Bluehost insisted there was malware on a client's site but couldn't provide any information as to why they thought so. There wasn't any malware on the site. And due to the outage for the client, I was forced to move everything while their support took several more days to approve. When they finally verified there was no malware, the site was already transferred. Bye, bye Bluehost! 👋
I've never dealt with the level of horrible support as with HostGator. They use some very seedy tactics to try and prevent you from canceling services or move domains away from them (e.g. they require you to purchase a hosting plan in order to change a name server and don't allow for quick approval of domain transfers). I'm currently in a battle with them for a client's domain name, and it's beyond frustrating.
I don't recommend them at all.