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Building your own website doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right tools and resources, you can host a professional website even if you have no knowledge of web development and design.

If you’re a beginner and want to learn how to host a website, this guide is a one-stop resource that can help you achieve your goal.

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is a service that enables you to make your website accessible online.

When you host a website, all web files will be stored on a computer system called a web server. This web server serves as an intermediary that connects your device with a user’s browser.

Put another way, the web server allows users to access and communicate with your website. Your hosted website will be assigned an IP address — a unique identifier that facilitates the connection between users and your web server.

You don’t want users to have to type your entire IP address into their address bar to access your website, though. Instead, they can visit your website by typing a domain name associated with it.

Web hosting may sound complicated if you’re a beginner. But you don’t have to be a techie to host your own website unless you opt for self-hosting, which involves setting up your own web server.

What you need to host a website

Web hosting requires two essential elements:

  • A domain name.
  • A web hosting service provider.

Domain name

A domain name is a digital address visitors can use to identify and locate your website online.
A domain name is made up of two parts — the actual name you choose (e.g., “mywebsite”) and the domain extension (e.g., “.com” or “.net”).

You can acquire a domain name through domain registrars, i.e., companies that specialize in registering and managing domain names. Choosing a memorable and relevant domain name is crucial to the success of your brand, as it reflects your online identity and conveys professionalism.

Web hosting service provider

A web hosting service provider is a company that offers server space and resources so users can access your website on the internet. These companies host your websites in exchange for a small monthly fee.

Popular hosting platforms, like Bluehost, not only provide reliable hosting services but also offer a free domain name for the first year, helping you lower the cost of starting your new business.

How to host a website

Learning how to host a website is a lot easier than it sounds, especially if you follow the right steps.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to get you started:

The steps on how to host a website.

1. Define your website goals

To give your website the right hosting environment, you need to define your goals first.

Whether you want to build an online presence by publishing thought leadership content or selling products via an eCommerce platform, defining your website goals is a critical step to success.

When hosting a website, making strategic decisions comes with the territory. By outlining your website goals, you can get more insights into what you’ll need (e.g., features, resources and functionalities) and set up your website for hosting in a way that helps you accomplish these goals.

2. Get familiar with the different types of website hosting services

After outlining your website goals, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of hosting services. This way, you can make decisions based on your website’s specific requirements and your level of expertise.

Here are the different types of web hosting:

Comparing the different types of web hosting.

Shared hosting

In a shared hosting plan, your website shares server resources with other sites. While this can lower hosting costs, it also means that the server’s performance is divided among multiple users.

Shared hosting may slow down your website, especially during high-traffic periods or when other websites on the shared server experience traffic spikes. Due to its affordability, this hosting plan is suitable for small businesses with moderate traffic.

Virtual private server (VPS) hosting

VPS hosting involves hosting your website on a virtualized server that gives you more control than shared hosting. This hosting environment allows you to customize settings and install specific software, making it a logical upgrade for businesses that have outgrown their shared hosting plans.

VPS hosting is a great option for resource-intensive websites that require a higher level of control but may not yet warrant a dedicated server.

Dedicated hosting

In a dedicated hosting environment, your website gets its own server. Since you have exclusive access to server resources, your website can operate at peak performance.

This setup also offers full control and maximum security, making it suitable for high-traffic websites and resource-intensive web applications that need to comply with specific security regulations.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting uses multiple virtual servers working together as a single system. With this setup, your website can tap into additional resources as needed. This allows your website to handle unexpected traffic spikes while ensuring excellent uptime.

Cloud hosting is suited for websites with variable resource requirements, such as big eCommerce sites and media streaming services.

Managed hosting

With managed hosting, the hosting provider handles the technical aspects of owning a website, from server maintenance to security updates. While this hosting plan is pricier than other options we’ve highlighted, it allows you to focus on core business activities, leaving the technicalities to your web host.

Managed hosting is not only ideal for non-technical users but also for business websites that demand mission-critical availability, top-notch security and optimal performance.

Note that some web hosting providers have specific types of managed hosting. For example, Bluehost offers managed WordPress hosting that provides all you need to build a WordPress website with ease.

3. Choose a web hosting provider

Now that you have a general understanding of your website’s needs and the types of hosting plans, your next step is to choose a web hosting provider.

With countless options available, choosing a web host can be challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. You may need to compare several companies to find the best fit for your needs.

To make the right choice, here are five key considerations when choosing a web hosting provider:

Key considerations when choosing a web hosting provider.
  • Uptime: Website downtimes not only lead to missed revenue opportunities but also tarnish your brand’s reputation. Choose a web hosting company with at least 99.9% uptime to avoid disruptions and reinforce your credibility.
  • Support: Ensure your web hosting provider has accessible customer support and can offer quick resolution whenever your website encounters issues.
  • Features: Choose a hosting provider that offers all the features you need to support your website goals. These may include sufficient storage space, bandwidth, business email accounts and compatibility with the technologies or applications you plan to use.
  • Scalability: You need a hosting provider that enables you to scale server resources as your website grows. This is crucial if you anticipate an increase in traffic or plan to expand your website’s functionality.
  • Security: Protecting sensitive data and providing a secure browsing experience for users is vital if you want to earn the trust of your target market. Choose a web hosting company that offers robust security features, including firewalls, SSL certificates and malware detection.

In addition to these considerations, seek customer reviews on platforms like Trustpilot, G2 and HostAdvice. After all, what better way to gauge a web hosting provider’s performance than through the experiences of users who share your pain points?

4. Pick a web hosting plan

Many web hosts offer different hosting plans to cater to each type of user. If you have a limited budget and are launching a website for the first time, it makes sense to choose shared hosting.

While it doesn’t offer as many resources, bandwidth and storage space as dedicated hosting, it can accommodate your website needs while helping you save costs.

As your business expands and attracts more web traffic, you will want to upgrade to a higher shared hosting plan. When your website eventually attracts a massive audience, you might want to explore dedicated hosting.

Dedicated hosting, like the one Bluehost offers, provides an entire server exclusively for your website. This is ideal for resource-intensive websites that require optimal performance and full control.

5. Register a domain name

Securing your domain name is a crucial step in establishing an online presence for your business. While you can buy a domain name after purchasing a web hosting plan, you can also secure it beforehand to prevent others from claiming it.

Choose a recognizable name that aligns with your website’s content or business goals. This way, your target audience can easily recall your domain name when they want to visit your website.

Your domain name will be your website’s permanent address on the internet, so choose wisely.

To officially own and manage your chosen domain name, you must first register it through a domain registrar. While .com is the most common domain extension, consider other top-level domains (TLDs) such as .net and .org.

You can also opt for industry-specific extensions based on the nature of your website. This allows you to choose from several options if your desired .com domain is unavailable.

6. Connect your domain to your hosting account

If you purchase your domain name and hosting plan from the same provider, linking your domain to your web server is a seamless process.

You only need to enter your desired domain name and complete the registration process during signup. Once that’s done, the hosting provider will link your domain to the hosting server.

However, if you buy your domain name from a separate registrar, you’ll need to update your domain name system (DNS) settings manually.

To do this, log in to your domain registrar account, locate the DNS management section and input the DNS information provided by your hosting provider.

With this done, your domain name will be linked to your hosting account. It may take up to 48 hours for the connection to be established. But once it’s done, users can access your website by entering its URL in their browsers.

7. Install a content management system (CMS) or a website builder

Now that you’ve connected your domain with your hosting account, it’s time to build your website. This is where your web development skills take center stage.

But you don’t need to build a website from scratch. Despite your level of expertise, you can create, manage and update your website using a CMS or website builder. Beginner-friendly options include WordPress, Wix and Drupal.

Most hosting providers offer one-click installations for popular CMS platforms, simplifying the setup process. However, you may not get this feature if you opt for a free web hosting service.

Free vs. paid web hosting: How to choose

Choosing between free web hosting and paid web hosting.

Choosing between free and paid web hosting is one of the toughest choices you’ll make when deciding how to host a website.

If your budget is limited, chances are you’ll be tempted to choose a free web hosting service. However, while free web hosting will leave you with more bucks to spare, it might cost you more down the line.

Before you sign up for free web hosting, consider these limitations that may impact your website’s performance:

Limited resources

Free web hosting offers limited server resources, which means less storage space, bandwidth and computing power. If your website starts gaining momentum and experiences traffic spikes, it might slow down or become temporarily unavailable due to insufficient resources.

By contrast, paid web hosting offers more generous resources, making your website more capable of scaling up as your website grows.

Limited support

Free hosting services don’t offer much in the way of customer support. If you encounter issues with your website or have any questions, it may take a while for customer support to respond — if they do respond. That’s not the case with paid hosting, which typically offers more responsive and helpful customer support.

For example, Bluehost offers 24/7 live chat and phone support, ensuring you get prompt assistance and expert guidance whenever you need it.

Security concerns

Free hosting services might not prioritize security features as much as their paid counterparts. This could make your website vulnerable to cyber attacks, such as malware intrusion and unauthorized access.

Paid hosting often includes robust security measures (e.g., regular backups, SSL certificates and advanced firewalls) to keep your site secure.

Paid services might cost you a little each month. But with data breaches costing a global average of $4.45 million in 2023, the potential savings you gain from avoiding security breaches are well worth the investment in the long run.

Limited features and customization

Free hosting plans typically offer limited features and customization options. If you have specific requirements or want to use advanced tools and applications, a paid hosting plan is your best bet, as it offers more flexibility and diverse features to meet your needs.

Low uptime

Uptime is a critical metric for every website owner. After all, outages frustrate users and harm your brand’s reputation.

Did you know that 60% of outages result in total losses of at least $100,000? This shows why you must prioritize web hosting providers with a proven record of high uptime.

Unsurprisingly, free hosting providers don’t guarantee high uptime percentages, which could lead to frequent downtimes. Paid hosting services often offer better reliability and great uptime, ensuring your website is always accessible.

As with most free services, there’s always a catch. In the long run, you’re better off paying a small monthly fee if you’re getting real value. Besides, many reputable web hosting providers offer cost-effective services that give you a big bang for your buck.

How much does it cost to host a website?

The cost of hosting a website ranges between $150 and $150,000, depending on three key factors:

  • The pricing plan of your chosen hosting provider.
  • The specific hosting package you opt for.
  • Any additional services you include.

When considering costs, take into account the hosting provider’s pricing structure, which varies based on the features and resources offered in each plan.

Additionally, your chosen hosting package plays a crucial role — more extensive plans with greater capabilities often come with higher costs.

Don’t forget additional services like domain registration, SSL certificates and automated backup services. These services add up in terms of overall costs, but if they result in a secure and reliable website, you’re getting your money’s worth.

Many hosting providers offer discounts and promotions, so you might want to be on the lookout for them.

The goal is to strike a balance between cost and value. If you know which aspects of your website to prioritize, you can make informed choices that agree with your budget and ensure a well-rounded online presence without unnecessary expenses.

Final thoughts: How to host a website in 2024

Hosting a website might sound overwhelming. But you can streamline the process by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks. By defining your specific goals and requirements from the start, you can build a professional website that enhances brand credibility.

Whatever your website goals, you need a hosting infrastructure that can help you achieve them.

This is where Bluehost comes in. We offer a variety of hosting plans, ensuring you get the hosting environment your website needs. Add that to our 24/7 support, 99.98% uptime and robust security features, and you get a hosting environment that positions your business for success.

Start your web hosting journey on the right foot with our hosting plans today.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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