Wordpress VIP Hosting a Rip-Off?

Hosting your blog with Wordpress VIP Hosting might be a rip off for most business minded bloggers.  However, for some, it may be just the trick. First of all, you might not even know about Wordpress VIP Hosting.  So just in case, it is basically Wordpress' "paid" version of hosting.  However, the price tag can be a bit much for some people to swallow.

Luckily for Wordpress, they have tens of millions of blogs using their publishing platform in both fully hosted (free) mode via Wordpress.com, and self hosted versions via Wordpress.org.  Because of their incredible reach, they have the luxury of picking and choosing who they want to do business with on a commercial hosting level.  That's where Wordpress VIP comes in.

I've been using Wordpress VIP for a little while now in another venture.  It's not terribly exciting at all actually.  It is literally the exact same thing as setting up a freebie blog at Wordpress.com. 

The added benefits include:

  • Full customization of your template and CSS (sort of)
  • Including your own advertising
  • Installing plugins (kinda sorta not really)

Otherwise, it is pretty much the same as running a blog on Wordpress.com.  The real selling point is actually the fact that you are on the Wordpress.com mega platform of servers and support.  So you get to rest assured that your site is traffic bulletproof, the security is as top-notch as Wordpress can be, and there will never be any coding shenanigans to worry about.

Let there be no question about it, for 95% of the blogging world, Wordpress VIP is not for you.  It wasn't built for you at all, actually.

The VIP service is really for the tip-top level of commercial bloggers.  These are the sites that are really pulling in tons of users, and hopefully the revenue to go with it.

For example, it was just quietly discovered a few weeks ago that TechCrunch made the switch to Wordpress VIP.  They finally abandoned the Rackspace Cloud after the site going down one too many times.  (Sorry Scoble.)

For TechCrunch, that makes perfect sense.  They are a mega site, and every second that they are down costs real dollars in advertising revenue.  Unfortunately for Rackspace, there were a number of black eyes in the form of outages in 2009.

Wordpress VIP just happen to suffer their worst downtime in 4 years the other day.  Otherwise, their performance is near bulletproof.

If you have a site (aka a blog business) that needs a world-class infrastructure behind it, solid coding, etc., then VIP is the source for you.

What's the catch?  The price.

The setup fee is something around $1,600 plus an additional $600 per month.  Again, if you are a major blog with good profits, this is no big deal.  In many cases, it may be less than what you are spending now.

Ohh, and did I mention that the $600 is a flat fee?  In most cases, that includes your bandwidth, storage, etc.  That can be huge for a well trafficked site.

Unfortunately, you lose a good amount of the "open source" vibe of self-hosted Wordpress.  Only certain "VIP Approved" plugins are allowed to be used.  Nothing that makes changes to the database structure is allowed, and many that can open up even the smallest security hole are allowed to be used.

Also, yu had better be up to speed on programs things like Subversion to manage versions of your code.  Every code and template level change (outside of the Wordpress CMS) gets reviewed by the Wordpress techs.  If there's something they don't like, it is a no go.

Granted, all of these precautions are what keeps their network squeaky clean.  Unfortunately, it can restrict a lot of the features you may be used to having.

Not really a rip-off.

If that's the kind of hosting you need to be able to support your business (notice I keep using the "b" word), it is a viable option.

For most of us, there are much better hosting options on the market.  Even though Rackspace has been getting a well deserved ass kicking lately, they pretty much are the next best thing when it comes to scalable, revenue generating blogs.   They aren't the cheapest choice on the block, but you do get some great customer service, and overall their uptime is pretty good.

It does sting that they just decided to up their base prices by 50%.  I'm calling bs on that one.  Otherwise, they are great.

So while Wordpress VIP hosting may seem like a rip-off, that's probably because it was not intended for you in the first place.

Third Rackspace Cloud Outage in 2009

Whoops. Rackspace went offline again in a glorious fashion yet again. It is a major bummer for customers (BlogCraving.com is hosted in the Rackspace Cloud) because most of us love Rackspace. Outages like this at Rackspace are felt across the web. They host some major sites like TechCrunch.

Read More

Where should I host my blog?

Wordpress Hosting

Picking which site to use when you are just starting a blog can be difficult when you have never blogged before. At the end of the day, the most important criteria in the beginning is ease of use. You want to be able to focus on the real task at hand: posting blogs.

Rather than talking about every blog site under the sun, lets focus on the top 2 most used blog sites: Word Press and Blogger. I should start by saying I have used both of these platforms and would recommend both. However, there are some subtle differences that will help you decide between the two.

If you consider yourself a "computer rookie" (great at checking email and surfing the net), I would definitely recommend Blogger. This platform is very basic, easy to navigate and provides plenty of flexibility for the "rookie". In addition, the themes, or format of the actual blog have a very useful right hand column. You have the ability to add 19 different "gadgets". This system of gadgets make it simple to add pictures, videos, RSS feed, subscription links, news reels, blog lists, polls, video bars, html, java scrip, Ad sense, and more. This area is like your own personal billboard, allowing you to add creativity, personality, and potentially monetize affiliates.

If you consider yourself more technical, and understand words like html coding, themes, widgets, plug-ins, and domain hosting you will likely be happier with WordPress. Many of the "Professional" bloggers use Word Press. Many people want to follow in the footsteps of the "successful" bloggers, and that is okay, just be ready to do a little extra learning and troubleshooting. Word Press will provide more depth, flexibility, customization, and have an overall cleaner look.

With Wordpress, you can have a free account hosted at Wordpress.com.  In that regard, it is very similar to Blogger. However, your advertising opportunities are very limited on Wordpress.com.  Also, your design options are somewhat restricted.

Luckily, (and more importantly) you can install a fully functioning version of  Wordpress on your own server.  Millions of people choose this method to create their blog.  It allows you limitless publishing capabilites.

The catch.  You need to get a host.  But don't worry, there's plenty of them out there.  Here's a list of the best blog hosts:

You really can't go wrong with any of these hosts.  Each one is a little different in terms of what they offer and how much they charge.  It changes quite often so it is a hard to keep up with the current offers!  So check out each one and pick the one that you think works best for you.

Either way you go, both Blogger and Word Press will allow you to get started blogging in 5 minutes. If you have never created a blog a few words of advice:

1) Check out other blogs in your niche, write down what you like

2) Stop putting it off, create your blog

3) Once you have created your blog, write your first blog post ASAP

Blogging is a great way to express your personality, share business ideas, develop a branded online presence. Take advantage of this free medium and you'll be surprised as just how fun and addicting blogging will become.

If you are thinking about hosting your blog with Word Press or Blogger, be sure to check out these two examples:

Word Press Blog: http://www.moneyballmarketing.com/

Blogger Blog: http://www.bkhorwitz.blogspot.com/

How To Make Your Business Website Better

There comes a time in every business owner's professional life when they realize that site they had put together back in 1996 is now worthless. Let's face it, by today's standards, it sucks. Maybe it's even worse, and you don't have one in the first place. What stopping you? I know, sometimes it feels like what isn't stopping you. Everything these days is driving your cost of doing business up.

Luckily, your website shouldn't be something that weighs your business down. As a matter of fact, with a minimal investment, you could turn that old site of yours from an eyesore into a revenue generator.

How? Well, I'm going to share some more tips and advice, so bookmark this page. You'll want it later!

First, let's kill one of the biggest myths I hear all the time: "I don't need a great site because I don't sell my products/services online. So what does it matter?"

Besides being flat out wrong, what's frustrating about that comment is the hint of laziness behind it. Most business owners know full well that they need to have a respectable website if they want to be taken seriously in the marketplace.

"It costs too much to have a good site." Wrong.

This is what derails most well intentioned business owners. Admittedly, they aren't that technically savvy, so they feel vulnerable to sleazy coders out there. To avoid that, they end up approaching huge site building firms for something that is fairly simple. Consequently, the price-tag ends up being prohibitively high. So, that "web idea" gets put back on the shelf again until next year.

The fact is, you can get great web development services, you just need to know where to look.

The first place I always recommend is people you know. Ask other business owners who made their sites, or if they know a developer they trust. Most will share the info with you as long as you aren't a competitor in the same space as them. They're often eager to tell you about their experience too.

In general, people love to tell their stories. It's likely the person was in the same boat as you before, and found their way through the fog. So they are eager to tell people how they figured it all out. Plus, if they teamed up with a good developer, they will usually want to pass that developer's information on.

Otherwise, a great place to look is a place like Rent-a-coder. RAC is a site where coders and clients meet up. In a nutshell, you create an account on RAC, and post some details on the "job" you want done. Be as detailed as you can about what you are ultimately trying to get done with your site. Set a budget or leave it open to the marketplace.

Then, just sit back and watch the bids start rolling in. You'll easily get 6 to 12 bids or more on your specific job. For each bidder, you can see their profile, job history, and satisfaction rating. You can then discuss the details of the job at hand.

Once you've settled on a coder, your payment goes into escrow. The RAC site holds onto your money until the job is done to your satisfaction. Once it is complete, RAC will pay the coder with the escrowed funds.

You're protected because all communication between you and the coder happens on the RAC website. So let's say that the coder fails to meet a discussed deadline or deliverable. There will be a record of said details on the website. From there, a RAC arbitrator will decide who is entitled to the escrowed funds. So your money is safe, and you don't have to worry about paying someone and never hearing from them again.

What's the advantage?

The advantages of using a service like this include huge cost savings, speed, and peace of mind. You'll be dealing with a coder one-on-one, many of which work for big developers and take on side projects like this. You'll also save big bucks compared to big development shops. And the service protects your money to help you from being taken for a ride.

What if I don't want to spend any money at all?

Believe it or not, there are things that you can do to make your site much better without spending any money at all. What are they? You'll have to say tuned for part two! (Read Part 2)

Blue Host Offers Good Rates

bhost.jpgIf you're looking for a good, inexpensive web host, you should consider Bluehost.com. Their rates are cheap, you get tons of space and bandwidth, and there's a bunch of nice add-ons.

Also, you can host more than one site. So maybe you're just looking to start off one site, but down the line you may want to expand. Or, you could share hosting with a friend to make the cost even less!

There's also a system preinstalled called Fantastico. It is a mega load of web applications that you can install with the click of a button. So if you are not especially confident when it comes to app installs, this does all the work for you.

They're worth a look.