Choosing a reliable, trustworthy web host for your WordPress-powered food blog is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a food blogger.
The decision has a big effect on easily overlooked but foundational elements of your food blog, including security, site speed and more.
In this post we cover:
- The 3 best web hosts for food bloggers
- The different types of WordPress self-hosting
- Managed WordPress hosting and if it’s needed
- Criteria to look for in a web host
- How to handle a host migration
The 3 best web hosts for food bloggers
Our list of preferred providers is based on our experience providing Wordpress support to new and seasoned food bloggers who use, or have migrated to/away from, dozens of different hosts.
The following 3 WordPress web hosting providers have been hand-picked by our team:
Choosing a professional, credible web host is only step 1 though. Once you pick a quality provider, you need to determine the type of service(s) your business needs.
The different types of WordPress self-hosting
With a self-hosted platform, you purchase space with a hosting company, install your own content management system (i.e., WordPress), plugins and theme, and manage all of the site maintenance on your own. There are four different types of WordPress self-hosting:
When you choose a web host for your food blog, make sure you know which type of WordPress self-hosting you’re signing up for.
With shared hosting, the monthly fee for the service is typically very low because you share server resources with other sites on that server. This pack-em-all-in approach keeps the price per month down, but it’s often done at the expense of other things, like site speed.
For food bloggers who are just getting started, a shared services web host is a good get-off-the-ground option. However, a high-traffic or quickly growing food blog is going to require more expensive web hosting because of the increased load.
Virtual private server hosting
A step up from shared hosting, with a virtual private server you get a virtual portion of a server to yourself, rather than sharing a pool of resources with other sites.
With a virtual private server you have greater administrative freedom and control than in a shared hosting environment, but in our experience, to make the most of the freedom you need a developer’s skill set.
Cloud hosting is an increasingly popular WordPress hosting option. Instead of your site living on a physical server, it lives in the cloud.
With most hosting providers you pay a monthly free regardless of if you use all of the server resources or not. With cloud hosting you only pay for the server resources you use.
The ability to scale server resources up or down based on spikes and dips in traffic is why cloud hosting is becoming increasingly popular in the food blogging community.
Dedicated hosting is when you pay to rent an entire server for just your site.
The benefits are there—high performance, excellent up-time, security and a ton of freedom and control—but it comes at a cost.
Managed WordPress hosting: is it needed?
Contrary to what a lot of people think, Managed WordPress hosting isn’t actually a type of hosting.
It’s a service that layers certain types of features and interfaces on top of shared services, virtual private server, cloud and dedicated web hosting.
A Managed Wordpress host that’s proactive and professional can take care of a lot of maintenance-related tasks on your behalf, such as ensuring you’re operating the latest version of PHP (an open source programming language) and the most secure version of FTP and more.
In most cases, it’s beneficial.
Criteria to look for in a web host
To help save you time, we’ve compiled a shortlist of what to look for (and what to ask for!) before you sign-up with a host for the first time or migrate to a new host.
Let’s dive in:
- Version of PHP
- Free SSL certificate
- Version of FTP
- Support for HTTP/2
- Does the host have a Cpanel or dashboard you can access
- How responsive and knowledgeable are the front-line support people
- How are spikes in traffic handled? What’s the overage rate?
- Does the host offer Cloudflare add-ons?
Working with a web hosting provider that operates the latest version for PHP is an absolute must. PHP is an open-source scripting language used for WordPress and the version of PHP run by a web host plays a significant role in site speed and performance, or the lack thereof.
Free SSL certificate
Running https, also known as SSL (secure sockets layer) is a must. A professional, credible web host will hand out free SSL certificates without batting an eye.
Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)
This is a more secure version of FTP, file transfer protocol.
HTTP/2 is a communication protocol that allows requests for multiple resources to be downloaded from the server in parallel over a single connection. Most browsers also require SSL in order to use this protocol, so making sure your host is using HTTP/2 is not only good for site speed and performance, but also security. This is the defacto standard for most reputable hosts, but something to ask about if you are using a lower tier provider.
Cpanel or a hosting dashboard
Many Managed WordPress hosting providers have a cpanel available or a custom dashboard that makes it relatively easy (we say relatively because some cpanels and dashboards are better designed than others) to complete certain server-related tasks on your own. At a minimum, you should be able to login and comfortably navigate the web host’s user interface.
Quick customer service with proactive support
The responsiveness of a web host cannot be overstated and should 100% be a factor in your decision making. Online chat is a must, and the friendliness and expertise of front-line support personnel should be tested too. Before you commit to a web host, go on live chat and ask a few curve ball questions and see how support unfolds. The results will be very revealing.
Example questions to ask include:
- How often do you conduct malware/virus scans?
- What’s your downtime history? Or, what’s your uptime score?
- What is your back-up policy?
- How many customers are on a shared server?
- How easy it is to scale up/down?
Also, read user reviews to get a sense the quality of support provided by a web host or ask a few food blogging colleagues for a review of their web host.
As the saying goes, the cream rises to the top.
The ability to adapt and scale
Choosing a WordPress web host that can handle the monthly traffic volume you get today is very important. But what’s equally important is the host’s ability to adapt and scale to a sudden increase in traffic or a quickly growing visitor rate.
There’s nothing more disheartening than having a post perform really well, but all of a sudden your site goes down because your host can’t keep up with the sudden increased load.
Ask how are spikes in traffic handled; and, what the fee is if you exceed the monthly unique visitor threshold for your plan (i.e., is it $2 per thousand overage visitors?)
Does the host offer Cloudflare add-ons?
Affordable Cloudflare add-ons are a great way to optimize your site performance.
Purchasing a Cloudflare add-on through your web host can help reduce the cost of Cloudflare’s services due to your web host’s buying power. Both BigScoots and Cloudways offer customers reasonably priced Cloudflare add-ons.
How to handle a host migration
Before you migrate away from a host, ask the new host how a host migration is handled.
Example questions to ask include:
- How many days will it take?
- Who handles the migration?
- What kind of bumps should you expect?
- What should you do or who should contact if you notice a post is missing after the migration is finished? Or worse, if you see duplicate posts?
Stay involved every step of the way!
It’s your business and no one will notice the little misses and mistakes like you. Even the smoothest host migrations experience a few small bumps along the way.
Note: Foodie Digital participates in affiliate programs for select recipe card plugins and hosting providers. The opinions we share are based on our own in-depth research, and the ongoing need for our members to use SEO tools that are future-proofed, credible, professional and well supported.