What Is the Best Web Hosting Provider for Online Entrepreneurs?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, because I get questions from freelancers all the time about the tools I use to run my freelance writing / affiliate marketing business (eg, who’s your newsletter provider, what’s your web hosting company, who does your ebook covers, etc.).

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

The Best Web Hosting Company? Here’s My Review of HostGator.

Here I’m going to tell you — in detail — why I recommend them. Web hosting is one of the most critical decisions you’ll ever make about your online business. Choose wisely or it can be costly, as I’ve learned the hard way over the years.

FYI, here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a WordPress blog with HostGator.

Using Free Web Hosting Like Blogger, WordPress, Etc.? STOP Now

First let me start by saying, if you’re using free sites for your web hosting (eg, wordpress, blogger, etc.), GET OFF THEM NOW! Spend the few bucks it costs to get your own name and web hosting for your online business. This can be done for less than $10/month — really.

That way, you won’t log on one day and find all of your posts gone, which happened to a friend of mine once. Over 200 posts — poof . . . gone with the wind, literally. Luckily she had them on her hard drive, but months later, she still hasn’t re-uploaded all of them. It’s also happened to me.

I Lost My Entire Site Because I Was Using a Free Blogging Platform

I lost my blog — after migrating it from one free platform (blogger/blogspot) to another (wordpress). This was a turning point for me in that it was finally when I realized the value of being self-hosted. Following is what happened, as I detailed in this guest post on Meryl.net.

I migrated from Blogger to WordPress on 30 April 2008. On 19 May, I logged on to this notice from WordPress: “This blog is inactive.” And, nothing more -– just a white screen. I received a notice from WordPress when I logged into my control panel that said, “Confirmation required: Your blog is inactive. Please contact us to confirm your account details.”

After contacting them and waiting almost a full day for them to get back to me, the problem still wasn’t resolved. The next day, on 2- May, I received the following email (after two more interactions): “Hi, Your blog was made inactive because it broke the Terms of Service. One or more of the following apply: . . . ”

The email went on to list four different scenarios — none of which I thought applied to my blog. I wrote back asking if they could tell me EXACTLY which Terms of Service rule I had broken.

They never did tell me exactly which tmers of service I violated, and I was never able to get my blog back. In fact, to this day, this is the message you receive when you try to log onto my old blog on the free wordpress platform:

inkwelleditorial.wordpress.com is no longer available. This site has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service. For more information and to contact us please read this support document.

Luckily, I hadn’t taken my site down from blogger (blogpost), so still had all of my content. I paid for hosting, hired a web design firm to handle the site migration for me, and haven’t looked back since.

Stuff like this, by the way, is just one reason NOT to use free hosting. Others are professionalism, having clients take you seriously, control over design, monetizing your site, etc. With that being said, following is …

How I Came to Be a HostGator Customer

If you’ve been a reader/subscriber of this site since at least October of 2010, you know the problem I had with someone falsely accusing me of copyright infringement, and having my site taken offline.

Until this point, I had no idea how very easy it is (really, really easy) for someone to have your site taken offline. I make my living completely online. So when my sites are down, I’m not making any money.

When Bluehost took my sites offline – without even notifying me first that someone had filed what was a false copyright infringement notice against me – I was furious.

And, since I had almost all of my sites hosted under one account, when the main account went down, all the other ones hosted under it did too.

What Happened to My Income When Bluehost Took My Sites Down

There went ebook income, Google AdSense income, affiliate marketing income – everything!

Site Taken Offline? No Email for You!

One other thing you should know is, when your sites are taken offline, you won’t get your emails either if you’ve set up your emails via your web hosting provider (which most of us do).

At first when I discovered my site was down, I thought it was a simple technology glitch. It didn’t take me too long to discover that that wasn’t the problem.

You see, Bluehost didn’t notify me – before or after my site was down. I had to notify THEM. So, not only did they take me offline without notifying me FIRST, they didn’t even send a courtesy email to let me know that my site had been taken down AFTER it was done.

I’m not lying y’all. This is true.

Once I finally found out what the problem was, I was like, “But I can explain, this is a false report and I can prove it.” Bluehost was not having it. They would not reinstate my sites.

Why Most Host Companies Won’t Help You, Even When You’ve Done Nothing Wrong

I understand their point, to a degree. I mean, they’re not a court so they don’t litigate complaints.

As an aside, host companies don’t take sides (ie, litigate disputes). That’s what courts of law are for. So, even though someone unjustly filed a copyright infringement notice against me, it wasn’t Bluehost’s job to decide who was right and who was wrong. But, this wasn’t my issue with them.

Note: Copyright infringement/violation wasn’t even the right charge for my accuser to level against me to begin with; it should have been slander/character defamation. But a web hosting company would never take a site offline for that because it’s free speech, hence protected by the First Amendment.

But, back to my issue with Bluehost . . .

My problem with them was that they didn’t give me a chance to respond BEFORE taking my sites offline. All the person who filed the false copyright infringement notice against me had to do was send a simple email saying that I’d violated their copyright – and voila – down my websites went.

Imagine if I’d been off in the rain forest on a two-week hike with no internet access (I travel a lot). I wouldn’t have known about this at all.

Accused of Copyright Infringement? Site Taken Down? Here’s How to Get Back Online Quickly

One thing it’s important to point out is that I could have gotten my sites back online almost immediately if I’d agreed to remove the content in dispute. As it was NOT copyright violation (if you’ll remember from this link above, which points you to the disputed content, it was a disagreement I had with another webmaster about his business practices), I flatly refused.

To me, it was a matter of standing up for my rights. No one can subvert the First Amendment (right to free speech), so I said, “No, I will not remove this content.”

So Bluehost told me that I’d either have to remove the content, or go to court and prove that this wasn’t copyright violation and then my sites would be made live again (if the courts agreed with me and I presented documentation to that effect).

I was incredulous!

This is How Easy It Is to Have Your Site Taken Offline If You Use the Wrong Web Hosting Company

Someone tells a lie about me (ie, files a false copyright violation notice) and I’M THE ONE who has to go to court to prove my innocence? I told Bluehost, “In effect, you’re punishing me.” This means that anyone who has a grudge against you can just file a copyright infringement notice and have your site taken offline. It’s that simple.

So, I sent out a tweet with a  link to my newsletter explaining the situation and asking subscribers for recommendations on choosing a new web hosting provider. I described what had happened to me and hands down, HostGator was the number one recommend site.

One respondent emailed me back, simply stating: “HostGator. Period.”

The following email is the one that really convinced me to sign up with them. It’s from Ruth Barringham of Writeaholics.net, who I wound up writing a copyright infringement ebook with because of this debacle. She said:

I was so sorry to hear about your problem with your host company. That really stinks and the stress of the situation must have been unbearable.

I don’t know if this will help you but a few months ago I had a real bad problem with someone lying and bad-mouthing me all over their website.

It all started when I filed a copyright infringement notice against them. They had published 3 of my articles and signed their own name to them. I left a comment on their blog twice to ask them to take my articles down  but they deleted my comments. So I contacted their hosting company who notified them to either take the articles down or file a counter claim. They chose to take the articles down but then decided to slander me.

I complained to the hosting company but they said they were not responsible for the site’s content. I even rang them and argued my case but they kept quoting the 5th? 4th? 3rd? amendment (or whatever it is) and kept saying that their client had a right to freedom of speech and that if what I said was true, and it was slanderous, then I would still need a court subpoena before they would remove the offending pages.

So I had to employ an attorney in America (at great cost) to go to court on my behalf and get a subpoena. Before the court case the attorney went and met face to face with the hosting company to ask them to take the pages down, but they still refused and insisted that without a court order, they could not violate their clients right to free speech otherwise their client could sue them. Blah, blah, blah.

The name of the hosting company is HostGator. No doubt you’ve heard of them. I am thinking of using them  myself next time I want to host a new website. They are definitely on their customer’s side, if my experience was anything to go by. But for now I’m still so angry with them.

Ruth Barringham

Ruth’s email solidified the deal for me with HostGator.

How HostGator Protects You from False Copyright Infringement Notices

You see, it’s not easy to file a copyright violation notice with HostGator, but it’s not so difficult that if you’re truly the victim, you wouldn’t take action. While this can be a pain if someone really is stealing your content, it protects you because it means that someone with a grudge can’t just send an email willy nilly and have your sites taken offline.

HostGator also makes clear the penalties for filing a false copyright infringement notice, writing:

Please note that you will be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys’ fees) if you materially misrepresent that a product or activity is infringing your copyrights.

And, because the documentation required by HostGator is written and signed by the accuser, if you’re falsely accused, it’s documentation you can use in court to prove that the other person lied. So you can not only sue them for lost sales, wages, etc., you can sue them for slander and a whole bunch of other crap a good attorney can come up with.

And this is exactly why scammers and unethical people who resort to this type of behavior won’t go this route. When my site was taken offline (November 2010) Bluehost apparently required none of this. What they did do was give ME the runaround — having to fill out legal forms and send emails to their legal department. It was a mess!

And, they never did restore my account — telling me that I’d have to go to court to prove that it wasn’t copyright infringment, and if I won — then and only then — would they reinstate my account.

HostGator to the Rescue — AGAIN!

As I wasn’t about to be bullied into removing said content, and after having all of my sites offline for almost two weeks, I moved my main money-making site (this one) to HostGator. And get this? The guy behind this whole debacle immediately filed a copyright infrintment notice with HostGator too. But, HostGator’s response?

Subject: Ticket [KJX-14213098]: Complaint Regarding InkWellEditorial.com
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 12:35:28 -0600

Hello Yuwanda,

I left you a voicemail earlier today regarding your domain inkwelleditorial.com The complaint appears to be ‘multi level’ one where as they claim that you are harassing, stealing their trademark and copyright infringement. I am only forwarding you what we’ve received. The complaints dont appear to be valid as the complaining party is not following proper protocol.

No action will be taken on our part. (emphasis mine)

Halleujah! I responded back:

Thank you. This is EXACTLY why I switched from Bluehost to you guys. This person has been harrassing ME and stealing my content. Bluehost took my site down with no warning; thank goodness you all don’t do that.

Not only did they NOT take my site down, but they even picked up the phone and called me AND they notified me via email of what was going on — going two steps further than Bluehost did.

I’ve had my main site (this one) hosted with HostGator ever since. Ready to get your HostGator site?

Copyright Infringement Ebook

As I stated above, after all of this happened, I co-authored a book with Ruth about this whole copyright infringement debacle. As her email outlines, she had been on the other side of the “copyright violation” equation – someone stole her content and she petitioned the host company to have it removed. They refused.

Guess who that web hosting company was? You guessed it . . . HostGator.

So, I immediately transferred my main over. Note: I still have a few minisites with Bluehost, because I now know the importance of not having all of your sites with one provider. But, this one — my main one — is with HostGator.

What to Do If Someone Accuses You of Copyright Infringement and/or If You Want to File a Complaint Against Someone for Stealing Your Content

Note: In the ebook, Ruth and I detail the exact steps to take – whether someone steals your content and you want to file a report against them for copyright infringement; or if someone unjustly accuses you of copyright infringement just to get your site taken offline.

FYI, many unethical people online are quick to file these types of notices because they know that it will result in your site being taken down. That’s why having a host company like HostGator is so important. You at least want a chance to defend yourself before this type of drastic action is taken.

Why Your Content Is In More Danger Than Ever of Being Stolen

I believe that copyright infringement is only going to get worse – especially in light of Google’s constant algorithm updates, eg, in this case, Panda.

Content truly does rule on the web now – more than ever. And, those of us who produce it (eg, freelance writers, videographers, podcasters, illustrators, cartoonists, bloggers, graphic designers, etc.) are in more danger than ever of having their content stolen. This is because many are just too lazy to do so.

Many people who do business on the web are out for a quick buck. So, they won’t spend two hours on a Saturday morning to research, write and upload a blog post (which I did for this post).

They won’t take a half hour to create a graphic that perfectly complements a blog post (which I do all the time).

They won’t spend time filming and uploading video to YouTube (which I need to do more of).

Why do all of this when your perfectly good content is just sitting there, waiting to be stolen?

No More Content Theft: Happy Days are Here Again!

As I produce a lot of content, and have my content stolen all the time (a lot of it stuff that I give away for free anyway), I couldn’t be happier with HostGator. I know I have real solutions if I’m the victim of copyright infringement, while at the same time I’m protected if someone falsely accuses me.

About HostGator’s Customer Service

Over the years, I’ve interacted with their customer service department on numerous occasions. I like that you can get someone on live chat. Or, you can open a support ticket (if you’re a customer) and someone will usually get back to you within 24 hours (normally, it’s less).

Also, I’ve found the reps I get to be patient and very knowledgeable about all that tech stuff that just gives me a headache.

One Thing I Don’t Like about HostGator

If you want to be an affiiliate for them, you have to go through an application process, and if your site doesn’t have enough traffic, you will be denied. This used not to be the case when I first started with them in 2010. But in 2015, I was kicked out of the program because my site had taken a dive in traffic (I didn’t get it mobile friendly until 2016).

I was pissed because I’d done ok with them and I had my affiliate link throughout a lot of my ebooks, and this website. So it was like all that work was down the drain. I applied again in 2016 once site traffic started climbing again, and was accepted.

Note: If your website is not mobile-friendly, trust me you’re losing a TON of traffic. So if it’s an old one, you want to get it mobile friendly now. If you’re just starting out and get a WordPress site (which I totally recommend), then you won’t have to worry about this. It will automatically be mobile friendly.

They Will Transfer One Site for You for Free!

One final thing . . . HostGator has been very responsive. I told them why I was switching from Bluehost. They answered all my questions and even transferred my main site (this one) over for FREE. This was huge as this site has hundreds of pages and I had no clue how to do it.

If you’re looking for reliable web hosting, sign up to get your HostGator site today.

P.S.: Learn Why You Should Never Register Your Domain Name with Your Web Hosting Company

P.P.S.: Here’s How to Quickly Create a WordPress Blog on HostGator

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