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.