How Much a Website Costs Per Year Explained

Website Costs Per Year

So, how much does a website cost per year?

Wait for it…. it depends. 🙂

But yes – “it depends” is not helpful at all.

The Short Answer to Website Costs Per Year

Annual website cost = domain + hosting + software + labor + annualized upfront costs

  • Domain costs range from $9 to $15 per year for a .com or .org
  • Hosting costs range from $60 to $240 per year for shared web hosting
  • Software costs range from free to $100 per year for backups & security to much higher
  • Labor costs range from free to thousands of dollars
  • Annualized upfront costs are how you want to budget upfront costs like design & themes

I highly recommend “annualizing” your upfront costs because that is a big consideration in how you want to approach actually building a website.

If you use a “hosted website builder” like Wix, Weebly or WordPress.com, then you’ll be paying all these costs in a single bundled subscription price. Your annual costs are elevated, but predictable.

If you build your website a la carte with self-hosted WordPress (even if it’s with a “builder“), then you can control a lot of your costs and get access to a lot of features that a hosted website builder might take away (e.g., actually having a custom domain or SEO features).

The Long Answer to Website Costs Per Year

But here’s the thing, your annual website costs really do depend on your choices & goals. I’ll break down how much a website should cost, and what variables you can play with to make sure your costs fit what you want to get out of it.

Consider a few websites that I have personally been involved with.

Website #1 cost $0 upfront and now costs $8 per year to maintain. It is a single page and written in HTML/CSS that I wrote. It lives on a Google Cloud account with a $300 promo credit with my low-traffic website generating all of pennies worth of traffic every year. It runs on a custom domain name that is $8/yr to renew. That’s it.

Website #2 cost $20 upfront and now costs $0 per year to maintain. It is a personal photo blog that lives on WordPress.com. I bought a nice premium theme at the beginning for $20. Now I keep it on a free *wordpress.com subdomain with limited ads & links to WordPress.com in lieu of annual fees. That’s it.

Website #3 cost $120 upfront and now costs more than $1500 per year to operate. It started with a free WordPress theme and a year of shared hosting plus a custom domain. Now, it requires a VPS server with secondary backup & security software in addition to premium software plugins and a small budget for a few hours of developer / designer time.

Website #4 cost $300,000 upfront and now costs $30,000 per year to operate. It started with custom branding & design in addition to extensive custom development and deployment to dedicated hosting (now moved to cloud hosting). It also requires monthly staging for software updates, in addition to technical maintenance, and a extensive suite of 3rd party plugins for email, A/B testing, etc.

So there’s a lot of factors involved in website costs. But that’s not a reason to throw up your hands and just say that “it costs what it costs” – or worse, get started on a project and have to quit after a year because it’s more expensive than you wanted the project to be.

Let’s look at the factors individually, how they work, and how they add up.

And while we look at each factor, I’m going to use an analogy that has worked well for readers in my other post about ecommerce. I’m going to compare building a website to building a house since most people are somewhat familiar with what goes into living in a place.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

To start, begin imagining a hosted website builder like a townhome in a gated development. You have more control & say over your house than a Facebook page (a hotel room in the analogy), but a lot of things are taken care of with a Homeowner’s Association or Condo fee. A self-hosted website will be a detached single-family home in a neighborhood. There’s no recurring HOA or condo fee, but you are responsible for everything.

Domain Costs

Unless you want your website as a subdomain on someone else’s domain, then a custom domain name is the one critical cost variable for your website.

In our real estate analogy, a domain name is like your street address. You technically don’t need it…unless you want people to be able to find your house / website.

Thankfully, an annual domain does not cost that much. Even if you maintain a WHOIS privacy add-on, a .com domain should not cost more than $12 per year from somewhere like NameCheap which specializes in cheap long-term renewals.

In fact, many hosting companies will usually bundle a free domain for a year with the purchase of a hosting package. And other domain companies like GoDaddy will do very deep discounting (though will be more expensive at renewal). Some hosted website builders will bundle a domain name as well.

Either way, you really only need one, unless you have strong reasons to buy extras.

I’d budget $12 per year for this annual cost.

Hosting Costs

Hosting is where your actual website files live. Whether you are bundling with a website builder or self-hosting on your own hosting account, it’s a cost that you can’t really get away from.

In our real estate analogy, your hosting account is like your land / property. You not only need it, but it can dramatically affect how much of a headache / cost your website is.

Think about land in the real world, sure, there is plenty of super-cheap or even free land…but it usually has some tradeoffs. The land might be distant from highways or it might not have the best neighbors or it might not come with water or electricity.

Hosting is the same way. You can get super-cheap hosting for your website. But you will generally get what you pay for. In fact, paying for a good host can make a lot of your other costs much, much cheaper.

Many hosting companies include domain names, drag & drop tools, high-touch customer-support, and security / backups that take pressure off your domain, software, and labor costs.

For example, the host that runs this site (InMotion Hosting) has WordPress plans that are a bit more expensive than typical web hosting plans. But they come with a subscription to JetPack (speed, security & backups) in addition to high-touch support and a drag & drop design tool.

InMotion Support

 

And plenty of other hosts offer similar setups (like SiteGround, Bluehost, and others). But, of course, the extras can only go so far since hosting costs will likely be your single largest annual cost. Thankfully, it’s also a cost that will generally only rise as your number of visitors rises (and so, presumably, your ability to pay for it).

For a good shared hosting plan, I’d budget $120 per year.*

*Note that many self-hosting plans allow multiple websites on a single account. If you have several websites, then self-hosting makes your per website costs even less. And again, for a hosted website builder, this cost is bundled, but is per website no matter what.

Software Costs

Software is what you’ll use to actually build & operate your website. Now, technically, you don’t need software to build a website.

In our real estate analogy, your software is what makes your actual house. It’s the framing, plumbing, electricity, roofing, drywall – the actual pieces that make the house.

You can hand-code HTML / CSS files and upload to your hosting account for no costs. I’ve done that before. It can be useful. But…almost all website owners (and visitors) want the interactivity, ease of use, versatility, and management functions of modern website software (just like you could cut down trees to make a log cabin…or you could have a house).

Website Hosting HTML Files

There are also a lot of 3rd party software that you might want in addition to your actual website. Think about the costs for email marketing software or design costs / themes or specific plugins (like ecommerce). Sometimes these costs are even greater if you go the hosted website builder route, since sometimes they won’t have native features. You’ll have to add them via a premium app.

For software, you could do $0 per year…but I’d recommend adding in at least $100 per year for backup & marketing software.

Labor Costs

Every website requires time, thought & expertise to actually build & operate. This factor is where you’ll encounter a massive range of costs that is totally up to you.

In our real estate analogy, labor is literally who builds & maintains your property. Do you want to hire an architect or build off pre-made blueprints? Do you want to hire as things come up or have someone in charge of everything? Do you want to outsource cutting the grass or just electrical issues?

If you are self-hosting your website, your software will take care of most of the “bones” of the website, but you’ll still be in charge of choosing an off-the-shelf design / theme. You’ll need to run software updates. You will have access to support via your hosting company, but some things will be out of their scope & expertise.

If you go the hosted route, you’ll have labor pre-paid for that will take care of all the maintenance…but a lot of the design choices will still be up to you. Think of it like an interior designer – most everyone does it DIY…but you can also tell who has spent the money to hire everything out.

I’ve written a guide to hiring a web designer and a marketing consultant, but I also have a guide to building a minimally viable website. There’s a lot of way to budget – all depending on your goals & expertise. I personally do most everything DIY, and spend very little on labor to maintain my website.

But last year I also paid $100 for someone to remove a hack from a client site. I paid $50 for a few image designs. I’ve also paid $500 for a custom plugin. The costs can widely vary, but it’s important to think through your ideal budget and the “what if X happens” budget”.

Annualized Costs

Annualized costs are upfront costs that you smooth out over the course of a project to get a sense of true annual cost.

In our real estate analogy, there are going to be a lot of things that you purchase upfront for a house…that you use but don’t pay for year after year even though they will need to be replaced at some point. Think about your appliances, your roof, your HVAC, etc.

With a website, your annualized costs will mainly be things like a prepaid hosting bill (most hosting companies give big discounts for multi-year commitments), a premium web design or theme, a premium plugin purchase, setup costs, course subscription, etc.

Whatever you have budgeted to spend upfront, I’d recommend smoothing that out and combining it with your annual costs so that you have a good sense of the true cost of your website project.

Sticking with a commitment is usually a mix of good habits and good expectations. I’ve seen too many good website projects start and fizzle because expectations were set too low or too high.

Adding your total website costs will help you back into what your commitment will actually require.

Adding up Total Website Costs per Year

Now, let’s talk about adding it all up. The formula is pretty straightforward. Take all your costs and add them up.

For a small blog project that is self-hosted on WordPress, you’d likely end up with –

  • Domains = $10
  • Hosting = $100
  • Software = $100
  • Labor = $0
  • Annualized = $10 (for 5 years)
  • Total Annual Costs = $220 per year

For a small ecommerce store on Shopify, you’d likely end up with –

  • Domains = $15
  • Hosting = $0
  • Software = $400
  • Labor = $200
  • Annualized = $35 (for 5 years)
  • Total Annual Costs = $650 per year

But here’s the thing. Your costs won’t just vary based on your plans, but also based on what happens.

In large organizations (like the US Army), they refer to “scenario planning”. It’s where you map out several scenarios, determine what costs go with each scenario, and assign probabilities.

It sounds complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It just means that you need to come up with a range of costs depending on what actually happens.

For the small blog project, there’s a scenario where you find out that theme editing is quite easy and you don’t need a premium theme upfront. There’s also one where your site gets hacked and you need to pay Sucuri to clean it for $100.

For the small ecommerce store, there’s a scenario where you really need custom shipping rates and have to upgrade from Basic Shopify, thus increasing your software costs. In another scenario, you get the ropes of installing apps & editing designs, so you don’t need to hire anyone to setup the store.

Add up your range of website costs – you’ll be able to figure out what the project is worth. And what you want to get out of it.

Next Steps

So the true answer to “how much does a website cost per year?” really is… “it depends.”

But there is a way to breakdown your costs with your goals and your resources.

Thinking through your own costs can set the right expectations and set you up for success.

Learn how to find the best web host here and how to find the best website builder here and the best ecommerce hosting here.

Explore my other explainers here. If you found this post useful – do please share 🙂

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Subdomains Explained

Subdomains Explained

A subdomain is a domain that is attached to a root (or main domain) that can direct browser requests to specific files on a specific server.

You are currently looking at files on shivarweb.com – but more specifically, you are looking at files on the www.shivarweb.com subdomain, since I also use subdomains like app.shivarweb.com and other for experiments.

As an analogy, if a domain is like a physical address, but on the Internet, then a subdomain is like a Suite or Apartment number. Like a Suite number, they only make sense as part of the larger address, but they allow visitors to access a more more specific (and usually different) location.

That’s the short version, but there’s more to subdomains than just the definition and an analogy. I’ll cover questions like –

  • What Is a Subdomain?
  • What Is a Subdomain Used For?
  • Subdomain vs Domain
  • Subdomain vs Subdirectory
  • Subdomain Examples
  • How To Create a Subdomain

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

What Is a Subdomain

Like I wrote in Domain Names Explained, the Internet is nothing but a bunch of connected devices with IP Addresses (usually a series of numbers like 192.168.0.1). IP Addresses are not only hard to remember, but they change frequently.

A domain name is a great way to provide a memorable way to locate your information on the Internet. It’s easier to say that your website is at shivarweb.com than at 70.39.148.106

But what if you have several different Internet applications that you want to all live on your domain name? That’s where subdomains come in.

Subdomains always come before the root domain and before the top level domain (TLD). For this website, www.shivarweb.com

  • www is the subdomain
  • shivarweb is the root domain
  • com is the top level domain

A subdomain is a part of the root domain, but remains different. You can “point” different subdomains via the Domain Name System (DNS) to completely different server locations.

cPanel documentation says that it is “a subsection of your website that can exist as a new website without a new domain name.”

You can have an infinite number of subdomains and even sub-subdomains. A website can also have no subdomain. If you just see https://website.com (note that lack of anything between https:// and website) – then you are on a site with no subdomain.

That’s how companies can have their website at www.shivarweb.com and their customer portal at login.shivarweb.com and their blog at blog.shivarweb.com – these resources are all at shivarweb.com…but all in different server locations.

What Is a Subdomain Used For

A subdomain is used for providing different resources all within a single domain name, but usually the resources will need to be on a different server.

Since a domain can have an infinite number of subdomains, subdomains are often used to limit confusion, maintain a primary online brand, and cut costs (since a new domain name costs money).

For example, a small company might have an employee dashboard that they run with a 3rd party software app but they also might have a main site that they run with WordPress on their own server. They also might have a merchandise store that they run with Shopify.

All three resources need to live under the company’s domain name, but they all live in different places. They would have to setup – employee.natecompany.com and www.natecompany.com and store.natecompany.com.

Subdomain vs Domain

So what is the difference between a subdomain and a domain name? The short version is that a subdomain needs a domain name to work, but a domain name does not need a subdomain to exist.

A domain name is a core part of you and your brand on the Internet. A subdomain is more of a technical workaround. In fact, you don’t even really need the default “www” subdomain (even though it does make some technical items easier, which is why it sticks around).

As far as using a subdomain vs a domain, it’s often simply a preference. Some companies prefer to have their separate projects on separate domain names entirely. Some companies like to have a nice system of subdomains.

Subdomains can create some technical issues (ie, cross-subdomain tracking, security certificates, etc), but they also solve and simplify other issues.

It’s usually preference.

Subdomain vs Subdirectory

A subdomain is a different domain under the root domain. It appears before the root domain in the URL (ie, subdomain.domain.com.) A subdirectory is a place on a server where certain files live. It appears after the top level domain in the URL (domain.com/subdirectory/).

In an analogy, imagine your website as filing cabinets (remember those?). A subdomain would be different cabinets while a subdirectory would be a folder inside of a cabinet.

Now, there is an ongoing & complex debate on whether it’s better to use a subdirectory or a subdomain for distinct sections / campaigns / microsites.

For example, if you have a Spanish and an English language website, is it better to use es.yoursite.com & en.yoursite.com or yoursite.com/es/ & yoursite.com/en/?

Or, if you have a blog that uses WordPress (and the rest of your site uses Drupal), is it better to use blog.yoursite.com or yoursite.com/blog/?

The short, unhelpful version is that it depends on what software you are using, what your plans are, what your marketing strategy is, and what your technical skills are.

Now, based on my experience as a marketer with a focus on organic traffic & analytics, I say that unless you have a specific, firm reason to use a subdomain, then you should always default to using a subdirectory.

Why? Because Occam’s Razor – a problem-solving principle that states, “Entities should not be multiplied without necessity” or, the simplest solution is most likely the right one.

Subdomains are seem easier to implement upfront without planning. But, they introduce a lot of complexity both upfront and forever into the future. For languages, ecommerce, SEO, analytics, development, security, etc – maintaining a single website location is almost always better.

The only caveat where subdomains usually wins is online software that you want to associate with your domain…but not with your website. Customer portals, some forums, and any internal uses work better with subdomains, since subdomains inherently separate those functions from the rest of your website.

Subdomain Examples

You probably navigate among subdomains constantly and do not realize it. But here’s a few diverse examples of websites who execute subdomains well.

Wikipedia – Languages

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a heavy user of subdomains. They have subdomains for every language, and sub-subdomains for mobile versions.

Curbed – Brand Identity

Curbed

Curbed is VoxMedia’s real estate & interior design website. Due to the nature of real estate news, they have each focus city on a subdomain with its own independent publishing software. While it is debatable from a purley SEO standpoint, it is a perfect setup to capture local interest & traffic while building a national publishing brand.

NPR – Ecommerce

NPR

NPR is a radio network, first and foremost. Their main domain NPR.org has to be 100% focused on their member stations, news & content. But, they also have merchandise that they would like to sell on their domain to serious fans. A custom Drupal setup runs their content site, but they use Shopify for their shop. This setup is a perfect example for subdomain use.

Kopywriting Kourse – Customer Portal

Kopywriting Kourse

Kopywriting Kourse covers, well, copywriting. They have an extensive free section on their blog that uses WordPress, but they also have a members’ area that runs off customized 3rd party forum software. They want members to stay on the “Kopywriting Kourse” branded site, though the members’ area lives on a subdomain.

*Disclosure – Kopywriting Kourse is a client of mine. I actually helped them setup cross-domain analytics for their subdomains. Again, it was a bit complex, but worthwhile for their specific needs. We certainly considered hosting a forum or social network on a subdirectory, but ruled it out due to their business goals, technical needs, and the spam / security risks of not using 3rd party forum software.

How To Create a Subdomain

So let’s say that a subdomain is right for you. How do you actually make that happen?

To create a subdomain, you need to go wherever your DNS records live (not your domain registration). If you have a hosting company that is separate from your domain registrar, then you’ll likely go to your hosting company.

If it’s at your hosting company, then you’ll navigate to your cPanel and/or account dashboard. There will likely be a shortcut called “subdomains” where you can select your domain and add your subdomain. You’ll need to name it, and then tell it where the software lives on your server. Here’s a screenshot from InMotion Hosting’s subdomain area.

Create Subdomain

Now, that path is simple if both websites will live on the same server. If your websites live elsewhere, then you’ll likely need to edit the DNS records directly. To do this, find where you can edit the “Zone Records”. Once again, here’s a screenshot from my account at InMotion Hosting.

Adding Subdomain

You’ll notice that there will be several records that already exist. You’ll need to add a “Record” based on the software instructions from your software provider. Usually, this will involve setting an A record and a CNAME record. It usually depends on your software’s exact setup.

Next Steps

Subdomains are a useful, but often misunderstood part of the Web. They can be a cost-effective and versatile way to make the most of your domain name, but they can also be a clunky and complex solution to common website setup issues.

Either way, be sure to understand the tradeoffs and what tradeoffs your subdomain setup involves.

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Porkbun Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Porkbun Review

Porkbun is an ICANN-accredited domain registrar based out of Portland, Oregon. Their primary pitch is making the domain registration process easy, enjoyable, and affordable.

See Porkbun’s Current Plans & Pricing.

They are one of the myriad smaller domain registrars that have a dedicated but smaller following than the big brands like GoDaddy.

Does Porkbun hold up to their mission of being an “amazingly awesome” domain registrar? We recently tried them out. Here’s our full PorkBun review with pros, cons, and alternatives.

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Porkbun

Here are some of the advantages that I found using Porkbun over their direct competitors in the domain registration industry.

Straightforward Search + Bulk Search Process

Porkbun makes good on its promise of a satisfying experience, especially when it comes to their domain search functionality.

Their interface is clean, easy to navigate, and straightforward. Even with their extra bit of branding flair (like the Oink! in the search bar), their function and usability aren’t compromised — which is excellent.

Porkbun Interface

They also make it incredibly easy to search for domains in bulk, which is helpful if you’re looking for several domains at once. You can search for up to 1000 domains at once, and automatically add the available ones to your cart.

Porkbun Bulk Search

While Porkbun does offer complementary products (such as websites and hosting — more on that in a bit), their design has no upsells, cross-sells, or visual clutter. There’s no distraction form the main action, which is to search and register for a domain, and the checkout process is quick and easy to complete.

Porkbun Checkout Process

Pricing (Transparency and Value)

There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a domain registrar and having to hunt for pricing information. Porkbun is 100% transparent with their pricing. Their domain page as an extensive list of pricing for all of their available top level domains (TLDs), and even has it broken out into registration, renewal, and transfer pricing.

Porkbun Pricing

There are no hidden fees, unexpected add-ons, or any surprises. In a space where pricing policies can be, well, less straightforward than website owners may want, Porkbun’s clarity and transparency is refreshing.

Porkbun also competes well with other registrars in terms of value. Their domains are on the cheaper end across most TLDs, and their renewals also tend to be less expensive than most providers.

Variety of TLDs

Now that ICANN allows more TLDs outside of generic .com/.net/.org, website owners have to make sure their domain registrar has all of the variations they need (especially if you’re buying in bulk). Porkbun offers a ton of TLD options that go beyond generic domains, from country-specific domains for international use to category-specific, like technology, real estate, etc.

Porkbun TLDs

Upsells

Upsells aren’t inherently annoying or bad. But so many domain registrars make the mistake of bombarding customers with direct sales tactics that they do become annoying.

Porkbun is not one of these domain registrars. They position themselves as a small team who cares about making the domain purchasing experience enjoyable — and they deliver.

While they do offer complementary products such as websites and hosting, they keep them in the background. You can add them from the main navigation (which is accessible from the homepage and from your account), but at no point are you bombarded with pop-ups or forced to navigate through upsells while trying to buy a domain.

Easy Domain Management

Another pro of Porkbun is how easy it is to manage your domain once you register it. Check out how simple their domain management interface is.

Porkbun Domain Management

Again, there aren’t any bells or whistles… and that’s fine. They’re not needed. The interface is easy to navigate, even if you have no domain management experience. It breaks down everything you need in one place, and gives you the opportunity to add on complementary products from a convenience place.

Complementary Products

It’s important to remember that a domain is not a website. It’s not email or any other service. It’s merely your address online. It helps people locate where your property is by telling browsers/email/etc where to go to get whatever it wants (website files, emails, images, data, etc).

If you want to setup a website, you’ll still need to get hosting or a website builder / ecommerce provider that provides hosting.

Porkbun provides an all-in-one approach with complementary products. You can bundle your domain, website builder, hosting, and email and do it all from their platform.

And while I personally prefer to separate my hosting and domains to provide an extra layer of control & reliability in addition to cost savings, many website owners prefer to have them bundled for convenience.

Porkbun products

Another element we liked about Porkbun’s complementary products: their transparency in how they work. Check out this note they have on their shared hosting packages:

Shared Hosting Porkbun

This disclaimer applies to ALL shared hosting providers (even the best ones, because you’re “sharing” a hosting environment), but not many call it out so explicitly. It’s refreshing to see Porkbun be so clear, especially with something that isn’t even their main product.

Cons of Porkbun

There are a lot of Porkbun reviews online. Most are either super-negative or super-sunny and wonderful. I try to balance and find the actual disadvantages of a company…and who those disadvantages would apply to. Everyone has different needs & goals. Your goal as a customer is to be aware of those and find a company that matches your goals. Here’s some of Porkbun’s downsides.

Lack of Onboarding

Through and through, Porkbun is a solid domain registrar. There wasn’t much we could find that we would consider a solid “con”. If there’s one thing that stood out to us as something that could be better, it’s their onboarding.

With all software, there comes a point where you wonder, “What’s next?” Porkbun is lacking in providing that guidance and direction.

While the domain registration and management interface is simple, if you have no experience setting up your domain, Porkbun doesn’t exactly give you the next steps on how to do it.

They do have an extensive knowledge base that covers domain connection, but you have to seek out the information yourself.

If you have domain management experience, this probably doesn’t matter to you. But if you need a step-by-step process to follow, Porkbun leaves something to be desired.

Deep Discounting & Bundling

Now, on the flip side of Porkbun’s “consistently cheap” approach is that they don’t really do deep discounting at purchase like GoDaddy or other large registrars. For those who like to bulk purchase domains or grab “just in case” 99c domains…Porkbun won’t make a lot of sense.

Additionally, since domain registration is their main focus, they have a hard time competing with the convenience of hosting companies / website builders who will often bundle a free domain with a purchase of a subscription.

Since a domain name doesn’t do a whole lot on its own, Porkbun does have to make an extra case as to why you should keep your domain separate from your preferred website builder / hosting. I prefer to keep my domains separate because I own a lot and I like to have the just-in-case option to quickly migrate my site. But that approach doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a single domain owner who prefers the convenience and simplicity of using a free domain from a good hosting company or website builder.

Next Steps

If you…

  • Want a very simple domain purchasing process
  • Don’t need a ton guidance on how to set up / manage your domain or can manage it yourself with an intuitive platform
  • Want to save on domain registration renewals
  • Are looking for complementary products you can customize to your own needs

…. Porkbun could be a good choice for you. Go sign up for Porkbun here.

However, if you’re…

  • Have no experience getting online
  • Need detailed steps on how to set up / manage your domain
  • Want to keep your hosting / website separate from your domain

… there are better options out there for you (I use NameCheap). You can take my domain registrar quiz to help you narrow down which might be best for your needs.

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Domain.com Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Domain.com Review

Domain.com is an ICANN-accredited domain registrar founded in 2000 that also provides web hosting, email, website builders, SSL certificates, and other web solutions. They’re part of Endurance International Group, who owns some of the biggest names in web hosting like Bluehost, HostGator, and Constant Contact.

See Domain.com’s Current Plans & Pricing.

While their focus is on domains, Domain.com has started positioning themselves as more than just domains — but that the process starts with a great domain name.

I’ve gotten some questions about Domain.com as a domain registrar, so I decided to give them a try. Here’s our Domain.com review with pros and cons.

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Domain.com

Here are some of the advantages that I found using Domain.com over their direct competitors in the domain registration industry.

Usability (Straightforward Search, Purchasing, and Control Panel)

Domain.com’s biggest pro is definitely how straightforward the platform is.

First and foremost, they make searching for and registering a domain simple. The interface is clean, easy to navigate, and straightforward. There aren’t many bells and whistles, which for a domain registrar is just fine — we don’t need them. What we need is function and usability, and Domain.com’s interface gives us both. It’s basic and directs you to where you need to go.

Domain.com Process

And once you’re signed up, they bring you right into your Control Panel. It’s a simple and seamless process that has absolutely zero confusion. Domain.com Next Steps

And once you’re inside the Control Panel, everything is easy to find and navigate through as well.

Domains.com CP

All in all, the entire process from search to sign up to domain management is simple, straightforward, and clear.

Transparency

There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a domain registrar and having to hunt for pricing information. Domain.com is 100% transparent with their pricing. From the moment you land on the homepage, you can see what .com domains are selling for, and they have a whole page dedicated to the Top Level Domains (TLDs) they offer and their pricing.

Domain.com Pricing

They’re also very clear on their pricing terms, auto renewal policy, as well as any add-on pricing during the checkout process (like WHOIS domain privacy).

Domain.com Renewal Policy

In a space where pricing policies can be, well, less straightforward than website owners may want (I’m looking at you – Network Solutions and GoDaddy…), Domain.com’s clarity and transparency is refreshing, especially for a big corporate name brand.

Variety of TLDs

Speaking of TLDs… now that ICANN allows more TLDs outside of generic .com/.net/.org, website owners have to make sure their domain registrar has all of the variations they need (especially if you’re buying in bulk). Domain.com offers a ton of TLD options that go beyond generic domains.

TLDs Domain.com

That being said, Domain.com does not offer a wide variety of international TLDs. If you don’t have an international presence, this doesn’t matter for you. But if you do, there are other domain registrars that have more options for you.

Upsells

Upsells aren’t inherently annoying or bad. But so many domain registrars make the mistake of bombarding customers with direct sales tactics that they do become annoying.

Domain.com is not one of these domain registrars. While they do offer complementary products such as websites and hosting, they’re unobtrusive. You can add them during the checkout process or from the control panel, but you’re not bombarded with pop-ups and emails like some registrars.

Complementary Products

It’s important to remember that a domain is not a website. It’s not email or any other service. It’s merely your address online. It helps people locate where your property is by telling browsers/email/etc where to go to get whatever it wants (website files, emails, images, data, etc).

If you want to setup a website, you’ll still need to get hosting or a website builder / ecommerce provider that provides hosting.

Domain.com provides an all-in-one approach with complementary products. You can bundle your domain, website builder, hosting, and email and do it all from their platform.

And while I personally prefer to separate my hosting and domains to provide an extra layer of control & reliability in addition to cost savings, many website owners prefer to have them bundled for convenience.

Domain.com Products

Domain.com has a variety of complementary products, from hosting packages to email management to site builders, and they’re all incredibly easy to access from both the homepage and the Control Panel.

If you’re looking to package everything together for convenience, Domain.com makes it easy to do so.

Cons of Domain.com

There are a lot of Domain.com reviews online. Most are either super-negative or super-sunny and wonderful. I try to balance and find the actual disadvantages of a company…and who those disadvantages would apply to. Everyone has different needs & goals. Your goal as a customer is to be aware of those and find a company that matches your goals. Here’s some of Domain.com’s downsides.

Pricing

In terms of cons, pricing is perhaps the biggest with Domain.com. They’re not outrageously expensive — their first year discounted price for .com domains is $9.99. But you can get significantly cheaper first year rates with a discounter like GoDaddy who runs regular promo codes.

In terms of renewal pricing, Domain.com isn’t the worst ($13.99 for .com), but it’s also not the best. You can find cheaper renewal rates with a registrar like NameCheap.

But perhaps the biggest pricing disadvantage of Domain.com is their $8.99 for WHOIS Privacy. Several registrars include this for free with your domain registration, but Domain.com does not. This brings your cost to over $15 for your .com registration, which is definitely on the pricier side.

No Real Onboarding

With all software, there comes a part in the registration process where you wonder what’s next. How the provider guides you through that set up process is called “onboarding” — and it’s something Domain.com is lacking.

Aside from an email with some key information about setting up the account, there really wasn’t much information about how to actually use the new domain.

Onboarding Domain.com

If you’re experience in buying and setting up domains, this probably doesn’t matter to you. The platform is easy enough to navigate. However, if you have no domain management experience and are looking for more guidance, Domain.com doesn’t provide much of it.

Next Steps

If you…

  • Want a very simple domain purchasing process
  • Don’t need guidance on how to set up / manage your domain
  • Are looking for complementary products you can customize to your own needs

…. Domain.com could be a good choice for you. See their current plans & pricing here.

However, if you’re…

  • Less experienced getting online
  • Need detailed steps on how to set up / manage your domain
  • Want to keep your hosting / website separate from your domain
  • Want to save on your domain purchases

… there are better options out there for you (I use NameCheap). You can take my domain registrar quiz to help you narrow down which might be best for your needs.

The post Domain.com Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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How To Accept Donations Online

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The Merchant’s Guide To CVV2 And CVV Checks

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FastComet Hosting Review: Pros and Cons of Using FastComet

FastComet HostingCheck out FastComet’s current plans & pricing here.

FastComet has been in the hosting business for over 9 years, first providing professional services to private and business clients before launching their own public cloud hosting service in 2013. Their core offering is an SSD Cloud Hosting solution that is “one of the most accessible and affordable on the Web Hosting Market”, and are backed by a 24/7 support team of real people.

Due to their pricing and rapid growth, I’ve had a few readers asking what I thought of them, so while shopping for a new budget host for a side project, I decided to sign up and give them a try.

Here’s my FastComet Hosting review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinion and data are based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of FastComet Hosting

There are a lot of FastComet hosting reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. Like I mention in all my hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise.

Here are the pros (advantages) for considering FastComet.

Support Channels

Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, declaring that a company provides amazing or horrible customer service to every single customer is impossible. It’s hard to know as a single customer if you are dealing with the one amazing or the one horrible employee or if it’s the general culture of a company.

I have limited experience with customer service reps at FastComet, but here’s what I do know: they are they are available 24/7 across multiple support channels – email, tickets, chat, and phone. They make all their support channels easy to find and simple to use.

Compared to direct budget market competitors like NameCheap and iPage, that range of support channels is useful and a good way to stand out.

They also check in on you as soon as start looking at pricing plans — which is a nice bonus feature if you’re new to purchasing a hosting package and have questions about finding a best fit.

Additionally, all of their support team is listed on their website.

FastComet Support Team

Usually, when I see “24/7” support and instant chat, I think bot… but from the looks of it, FastComet is actually using a live support team to handle requests, which is a solid pro. They are likely able to provide true 24/7 support because they have an unusually global customer base.

Their customers span every continent with data centers spread out from Chicago to Singapore. There’s always someone working and someone available to help.

Relevant Hosting Extras

FastComet is fairly young for a hosting company. And you can tell with how they’ve planned out their hosting extras. Instead of emphasizing things like ad credits, guestbooks, and dedicated IPs – they have things like free daily backups, free transfers, free (and convenient) CDN and SSL integration, diverse data centers, and free self-installers with no upsells / ads.

But their best “extra” that is most relevant is their plan structure with no contract and 45 day money-back guarantee.

There’s nothing worse than being locked into a long, pre-paid hosting package only to find out that you don’t like the host you’re using.

FastComet doesn’t require a 1 or 3 year commitment. It’s all month to month. And if you want to move, you get the previous 45 days payments back. It’s a bold move and shows FastComet is confident that they can deliver on their promise of reliable hosting with great customer service. One of the toughest parts of a host is predicting customer churn (losing future revenue) and balancing that with ongoing investment (buying ever more powerful servers).

In some ways, FastComet’s extras are a a bit of a yellow flag for long-term websites (see cons) but in other ways, it makes total sense. In a world of cloud computing and super-cheap storage, their “extras” should be what you have in 2019.

Fixed Pricing

One of the biggest frustrations in the hosting industry is the confusing pricing plans. Company plans rarely match plan-for-plan so it’s hard to make direct comparisons.

Some companies cap the number of websites on the lower end, others add a bunch of bonuses to their high-end pricing. The middle (aka “Best Value!!!”) is usually a mix meant to get you to make a decision.

There are pros and cons to FastComet’s pricing. In terms of pros, the biggest is their fixed pricing models.

Most hosting companies have standard pricing that they discount based on how long you sign up for. And most hosting companies also provide a discount for the first year, and then renew you for a higher price in the 2nd year. It provides a better deal for you upfront and provides better lifetime customer value for them if you are happy with the service.

FastComet offers an upfront price and renews for that same price. It’s simple and straightforward.*

FastComet Pricing Renewals

*Now…there’s always an asterisk 🙂

FastComet does offer steeper discounts for the longer you sign up for…but they also keep your renewal rate fixed, meaning you pay the same rate you signed up at when it’s time to renew.

There are a couple of catches that I’ll mention in the cons section, but regardless, the deep discounting for a long period of time without having to worry about confusing renewal rates is a pretty solid pro.

Cons of FastComet

Like any web host, FastComet has disadvantages. There are plenty of FastComet complaints to be found online. Plenty are valid, and some are simply anecdotal. Here are the cons that I found while using FastComet for hosting.

Mediocre Performance

In addition to hosting your website files, a good hosting server will also deliver those files as quickly as possible every time a visitor goes to your domain name address.

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast your website is. You can have the fastest server in the world and still have an incredibly slow website due to issues on your end. But either way, you want to have a hosting server that is fast so that you can work on your side of the equation.

One of the best measurements for approximating performance is TTFB or Time to First Byte. Again, I know that network engineers throw a lot of asterisks here and if you know *exactly* what type of website you are running – you can absolutely ask for detailed allocated specs. My goal with my hosting reviews is to provide a narrative of tradeoffs so that you can make the call for your website.

But here’s how their data center performed with my website when I first set it up on a clean WordPress install –

Web Page Performance Test FastComet

0.612s for TTFB is fairly good, but also not in the top tier that I’ve seen. Additionally, FastComet’s tests varied wildly. I had to double-check stats with Pingdom Tools before pulling this test as the most representative. Their default memory allocations were fine. And if you are going to be serving lots of images directly from your website, then their SSD drives are a huge plus.

So FastComet is not the best performer, but it’s not the worst.

Now – there is a FastComet offers multiple server locations, allowing website owners to choose the closest location to their customers, so their website can load faster.

This is absolutely a pro for FastComet. There are not a lot of name-brand hosts (others include SiteGround) that maintain this many datacenters. If you are in Africa, Asia, or Australia – this setup can be especially useful.

Data Centers

However, I am also very curious as to why they have so many, so close together. Data centers really only matter on the continent-scale. Having 3 centers east of the Rockies in the US is not the huge benefit that they want it to be. And also, their headquarters is nowhere near any of their datacenters.

On the face of it, none of this matters – in fact, it’s a plus. They have fine performance, and everything else is a bonus. But between the price structure, inconsistent TTFB, large number of data centers – I do have concerns about whether their current structure will last for the long-haul. The hosting industry has ruthless tradeoffs and fairly thin margins unless you have lots of value-add.

If you are looking for a truly long-term host that has consistent performance over the course of years into the future, I would be wary of FastComet. But if you are ex-US and like some of their other features, then I’d take their performance & features as is and use it for your advantage.

Plan Limitations

Web hosting companies are all selling the same thing – a physical home for your website connected to the Internet – but they all have different plans with different caps, different bonuses, and different renewal prices.

For most, figuring out their true value requires a breakdown into different parts.

To compare “apples to apples” among hosting companies, I break things down into Core hosting features and Bonus hosting features. We’ve talked about how FastComet does really well on Bonus hosting features.

Core hosting features are the “3 D’s” – domains, databases and disk space. The core purpose of a hosting server is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name.

  • Domains are how many domain names you can point to your hosting account. If you want multiple websites, you’ll want to have multiple domains allowed. You’ll also need to look at email addresses per domain – sometimes those are capped as well.
  • Databases are how many pieces of website software you can run on your hosting server. A WordPress install requires one database. If you have any apps, Listservs, etc – you’ll need more.
  • Disk space is how many files you can put on your server – images, text, PDFs, etc.
  • Other features could include anything from website builder software to advertising credits to backend software, etc.

One of FastComet’s biggest cons is its plan limitations — specifically its caps across domains and disk space.

With their Starter Plan, you’re limited to one website and domain and 15GB of disk space. If you have one small website, this isn’t a huge problem. But if you want to scale, it can be limiting.

FastComet also limits disk space on their mid-tier and higher-tier plan, too.

Plan Limitations FastComet

Again, if you’re planning on creating a smaller site (AKA you won’t have much need for disk space to store images, files, etc.), then this isn’t a huge problem for you. But if you’re looking to add advanced functionality to your site — like ecommerce — or store a ton of images (like a beauty website) you’re going to want to make sure your hosting plan has the capacity to handle it.

Pricing Confusion

At first glance, FastComet’s pricing seems pretty straightforward. The price you pay now is what you renew at, and each price is associated with a package that comes with some set features. Simple, right? In fact – I count that as a strong pro in their favor.

But when you actually go to purchase a plan, things get a bit muddier. Check out what happens when we tried to sign up for the StartSmart plan:

FastComet Fees

Suddenly there’s a setup fee and the monthly price is actually higher unless you sign up for a longer-term plan. It can be pretty confusing if you’re coming directly from the pricing plan page.

FastComet Fees

So again. The ruthless math of hosting returns. FastComet is trying to position their pricing so that it’s “No Contract” and transparent…while also finding tactical ways to prevent churn (committing to a year+) and reduce trial customers (the setup fee).

All that is fair…but also makes their pricing structure a bit less innovative. After all, many other hosts will stop charging you after cancellation. And plenty of others offer an even longer money-back guarantee (like InMotion and DreamHost). And others do multi-year discounts (SiteGround).

Anyway, it’s not a huge deal in and of itself. They still have excellent pricing. But like the peformance disadvantage, there’s all these small mini-flags that make me wonder whether they have truly figured out their positioning, business model and future.

FastComet Comparisons

Out of the most well-known web hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how FastComet compares directly to each. Or skip to the conclusion.

FastComet vs. GoDaddy

GoDaddy is the industry brand name, even though they are primarily a domain registrar, not a hosting company. They’re much improved as a web host since 2013, but their only real selling point is their deeply discounted introductory pricing. And on that point – FastComet competes head-on with them – but GoDaddy provides more features. Between GoDaddy and FastComet, I would choose GoDaddy.

FastComet vs. HostGator

FastComet and HostGator have some key differences. HostGator is a much larger organization and operates out of Endurance’s Houston and Utah data centers. They have very affordable upfront pricing, but raise the renewal price so that FastComet would eventually be cheaper. FastComet has more international datacenters.

If pricing is your main consideration, HostGator has cheaper medium-term pricing and deep introductory prices with more features than FastComet. Most site owners would like HostGator better. I run most personal projects on HostGator. FastComet would be better for ex-US customers.

FastComet vs. Bluehost

Like HostGator, Bluehost is another larger competitor. Behind GoDaddy, they are one of the biggest brands in hosting. They used to (pre-2015) have a very similar pricing setup to FastComet but with a cleaner backend and better support. However, they’ve changed up their plans and moved “upmarket.” On raw pricing and basic features, FastComet is a better choice. However, Bluehost is good if you’re looking for higher quality and better options.

FastComet vs. Siteground

SiteGround is one of the fastest growing independent hosting providers. They operate out of Bulgaria with regional data centers, and have similar datacenter reach. If you want similar features at a very cheap price, FastComet is for you. If you can pay a bit more, SiteGround is a much, more established company with better performance.

FastComet vs. InMotion

InMotion Hosting is one of the largest and fastest growing hosting providers. They offer the full-spectrum of hosting services. This website uses a VPS server from InMotion. They’re more expensive than FastComet’s pricing specials, but offer a much better product on every consideration. InMotion also has a brand called Web Hosting Hub that offers entry-level shared hosting plans. They are competitive with FastComet on price (slightly more expensive), but provide a much better product and more options inside their plans. Check out Web Hosting Hub here (review here) and InMotion here(review here).

Conclusion & Next Steps

Overall, I found FastComet hosting to be good for what they are. If you have a small website, they’ll do just fine. And if you are ex-US, they’ll be a solid option with datacenters closer to your audience.

If that pricing is your main consideration (and you don’t mind the plan limitations), you can sign up for FastComet here.

If you are looking for an affordable shared hosting company with almost as intro pricing, better long term pricing and a much better product, then go check out InMotion Hosting here. You can also check out HostGator here if you want the option to pay monthly.

If you are more confused than ever – then take my BuzzFeed style WordPress Hosting quiz here, the Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!

The post FastComet Hosting Review: Pros and Cons of Using FastComet appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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