Website Hosting for Photographers

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This is a guest post by certified geek Chris Aram, one half of Webster Park Digital, a digital marketing agency based in the United States. They work with many photographers and have researched and reviewed the best website hosting for photographers. 

You’re a photographer and you probably already know that a great website is essential to bringing in prospective clients. More than ever before, you have an abundance of choices in bringing your vision to life; the options can be overwhelming!

Chances are, you got into photography because you loved, you know, photography.

Sure, maybe you really were a Linux system administrator, copywriter, conversion rate optimization specialist and graphic designer in your past life, but most of you reading this simply don’t have time or the inclination to develop a detailed expertise in building, managing and hosting your digital experience.

As with many important decisions, it pays to measure twice and cut once. The right choices can multiply your marketing efforts; the wrong ones can cost you a small fortune, both in sunk costs and lost opportunities.

Best Website Hosting for Photographers in 2018

Image Product Details
shk2-table__imageWebster ParkOUR #1 CHOICE
  • Offers elite WordPress performance
View Price →
shk2-table__imageSiteGroundBUDGET OPTION
  • Offers lots of features
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shk2-table__imageFlyWheelALSO GREAT
  • Strikes a terrific balance between price point and feature sets
View Price →
shk2-table__imageLiquidWeb Managed WordPress
  • For websites with massive resource needs
View Price →

 

When it comes to bringing your digital presence to life, your first choice is the most important:

Do you want to own your website or rent it?

As you might expect, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Do you want to own your website or rent it?

{Spoiler alert: we think it’s better to own it.}

When you build your website with popular platforms like Squarespace or ShowIt, these providers retain ownership of the underlying source code.

There are real advantages to this approach: namely, a highly polished, easy-to-use interface and the fact that they handle a vast majority of the technical maintenance for you.

There are, however, two critical disadvantages to these platforms.

First, if and when you outgrow their feature sets, your only option is to do without or start over somewhere else.

Second, if there is ever a problem — a technical error, a billing dispute, an unfavorable policy change — you’re beholden to them and them alone to resolve the concern to your satisfaction.

For these reasons, we at Webster Park typically counsel our clients that it’s best to own your website, via an open-source platform. In almost every case, we recommend WordPress.

[Related: how to start a photography blog]

best website host for photographers

Own your website; use WordPress

WordPress has come a long way in a short time. With WordPress, you can do anything, whether via an off-the-shelf plugin or in some cases, hiring an agency like us to develop it for you.

If and when your theme, plugins or host no longer meet your needs, you can simply take what you’ve already built and make adjustments.

Before jumping into specifics, I’d like to address a common misconception; WordPress isn’t free.

Sure, it’s open-source and free to download; you can select from thousands of themes and plugins at little to no cost.

But as with many things in life, you get what you pay for. Doing WordPress well decidedly isn’t free; you should expect to spend more money up front for elite performance.

In WordPress, there are really two primary decisions to consider:

  • Choice in WordPress theme and plugins. The vast majority of themes and plugins are frankly, mediocre. In particular, 99% of themes offer a “paint by the numbers” design in which you are constrained to filling in whatever blanks the theme author provides you. While we have our own preferred blend of theme and plugins (starting with the game-changing Beaver Builder), we also work with many photographers who prefer ProPhoto, FloThemes or Divi.
  • Choice in Host. Think of hosting as the foundation of your digital home; you want elite speed and rock-solid reliability. First impressions matter; a website which is slow to load, defaced (hacked) or altogether offline undermines your professional credibility. There’s no sense investing hundreds or thousands of dollars into a professional website — to say nothing of countless hours of your time spent blogging your sessions or making other updates — just to stick it on a discount host and let it rot. You need a host who has your back.

For the remainder of this post, we’ll turn our attention to the question of finding the best wesbsite hosting for photographers.

Web Hosting for Photographers Reviews

Because WordPress is open-source, it is easily hosted by any provider with a basic LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack.

This means that there are tens of thousands of potential website hosts out there to select from. However, as you might’ve guessed, there are only a few we’d recommend.

Before I explain why, it’s important to understand a few more details that make for a great website host for photographers.

There are many different “types” of hosting available today; for simplicity, they’re traditionally categorized as follows:

  • Shared: All websites on a server draw from a pool of shared resources.
  • VPS: Websites share a server but are each allocated their own subset of resources.
  • Dedicated: A website is the sole tenant of an entire server and enjoys access to all resources.

In reality, these lines are usually blurred; there are many hybridized offerings and configuration (both hardware and software) is often the most influential factor.

For example, at Webster Park, we offer “shared” hosting which is objectively as fast as most VPS or even dedicated servers, but for a fraction of the price.

The bottom line is that unless you’re getting ready to make an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, chances are you don’t need a dedicated server – the right shared or VPS package is all you need.

Always remember: in technology, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

For example, I haven’t personally been in a serious car accident, but I wear a seat-belt because I want to improve my odds if it were ever to happen.

Similarly, it’s important that you take steps to protect your online presence before a mishap occurs. The vast majority of hosts on the market today do not take many, if any, significant preventative measures on your behalf.

Six core features of the Best Website Hosts

No matter who you host with, we strongly urge you ensure that they provide these important benefits as standard operating procedure:

  • Speed, speed and more speed. Faster websites are just more enjoyable to use; various studies also suggest they convert better. Look for hosts which use, at minimum, PHP 7.x (PHP 7.x is significantly faster and more secure than PHP 5.x) and SSD (solid state drives are faster than old-school platter drives).
  • Managed updates. WordPress is regularly patched to improve functionality and tie off any recently discovered vulnerabilities. A minority of hosts will update the WordPress core for you as updates are released; at Webster Park, we also update your theme and plugins.
  • Free SSL. Charging for an SSL certificate is soooo 2005. SSL (the green padlock in your browser’s address bar) is a trust signal to your users (their information is safe with you) and a minor ranking signal to Google besides.
  • Continuous, automated, daily backup. In technology, things happen. We can’t always predict what or when; it’s enough to know that the unexpected can and will eventually occur. In the event of an unforeseen incident, these critical files can get you back up and running within hours. Look for access to at least two weeks of backups.
  • 24/7 uptime monitoring. If something does go wrong, wouldn’t you rather find out within moments, as opposed to three days later when your friend emails you to let you know your website is down?
  • Free migration. You could spend hours brushing up on your FTP, SSH and MySQL … or you could hand your login off to an expert and let them take it from there.

It’s worth re-emphasizing: you will get what you pay for.

You can be certain that any host who offers you something like unlimited storage for $4.99/mo is cutting important corners you don’t want to cut.

Better hardware (modern processors, more RAM, SSD), retained backups and skilled support staff all cost money.

We encourage all of our clients to weigh the investment of higher monthly fees against the potentially catastrophic expense of rebuilding your entire site from the ground up in the event of data loss.

SiteGround

If your available budget is extremely tight, consider SiteGround.

In general, we don’t recommend use of a “budget” host; performance is often inconsistent. But for their comparatively low price, they still offer lots of the features we described above. SiteGround also happens to be the preferred website host of Flothemes, for whatever reason.

Do note that in their fine print, they describe a practice of “throttling” resource usage which can have the effect of slowing your page load speed.

Click Here for More On Siteground

FlyWheel

FlyWheel strikes a terrific balance between price point and feature sets.

In the past, I’ve found their administrative panel to be very intuitive and their support to be top-notch.

Click Here for More On Siteground

Webster Park

We created our hosting platform because we wanted to offer truly elite WordPress performance, reliability and support at an affordable rate. We believe that all business owners should demand all of the features we outline above.

We’re proud to host Shotkit and founder Mark Condon’s other websites, including his wedding photography website.

[Editor’s Comment: Chris and the team at Webster Park offer the most personalized, comprehensive and competitive website hosting that we’ve ever encountered… and we’ve experienced many hosts over the years. I highly recommend Webster Park for any website, big or small, and especially websites for photographers.]

Click Here for More On Webster Park

LiquidWeb Managed WordPress

For websites with massive resource needs, LiquidWeb offers that and all the bells and whistles.

Click Here for More On Liquid Web

Website Hosting for Photographers | Final Words

I hope you found this introduction to finding the best website host for photographers useful.

Remember what I said at the beginning – it’s crucial to invest in a good website host to ensure you’re doing your photography work justice. Whether you’re trying to find the next client, or simply want somewhere to show off your latest photos, user experience is paramount.

Having a fast, reliable website comes from choosing a great website host.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop em below or reach out to us directly and I’ll answer.

Chris Aram is a certified geek and one half of Webster Park Digital, a digital marketing agency based in the United States.

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