Recently, I’ve gotten fed up with my web host.
Since I stood this site up, I’ve used MediaTemple. This was before WP Engine was around. At the time, MediaTemple had carved out a nice niche for themselves as the premium web host. Tim Ferriss also raved about them back in the day. If it was good enough for his massive website, I figured it would be good enough for me.
Everything worked great for a few years.
Then GoDaddy bought MediaTemple. I’ve never been a fan of GoDaddy for a few reasons:
- They’re super aggressive with worthless upsells within their app
- I’ve always had an impression that they’ve been a sleazy company
- They supported SOPA until there was a bunch of backlash
So I was now a customer of GoDaddy. Yippie.
I vowed to switch.
Then life got in the way, as it does.
More recently, I started to notice lots of issues on my site. The biggest problem has been lost emails. A certain percentage of emails never make it to my personal email. It’s become a major headache not knowing if someone actually responded to or if their email just got lost. Maybe this is my fault somehow, maybe it’s my host. I don’t know. Regardless, I’m going to solve the problem by revamping my domain and host infrastructure since I wanted to switch anyway.
On top of some other problems that I’ve noticed, I finally decided to carve out the time and get off MediaTemple.
So where am I going next with my hosting?
I’m not sure yet.
I’ve been doing quite a bit research this post is a great breakdown on the best web hosts.
Most of my professional experience has been with sites on AWS or WP Engine.
Way back in the day, we moved the KISSmetrics blog to WP Engine from AWS. We were doing about 700,000 visitors per month then. The switch saved our engineering team a lot of ongoing maintenance and management. Even though WP Engine can be expensive, the time we saved our engineering team was worth every penny.
Our sites at KISSmetrics used this hosting structure:
- Marketing site (kissmetrics.com) = AWS
- Blog (blog.kissmetrics.com) = WP Engine
- App (app.kissmetrics.com) = a bunch of custom stuff and a full DevOps team, that was way above my head
Personally, I liked that structure a lot for a SaaS business. WP Engine made perfect sense for a high traffic blog. And I never found a reason to move our marketing site to WordPress. A SaaS business needs to customize their signup flow anyway so engineers will have to be involved with the site. It’s not like a blog that can be installed with WordPress and then never touched again by the engineering team. I also see an advantage to getting the main marketing pages away from most of the marketing team by not having them easily editable. Once you spend the time to get that stuff right, it doesn’t need regular edits anyway.
Then I spent several years at I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
Our main site was on WP Engine by the time I got there. We were also spinning up a few other blogs which ended up on AWS for some reason. That drove me nuts, having blogs on different hosts. Especially for a growing team, it doubles the complexity of every hosting process since folks have to learn multiple methods. Troubleshooting also gets a lot harder.
Thankfully, we ended up getting all our blogs on WP Engine to keep things consistent.
We did have an internal app for our courses that got moved from Rackspace to AWS.
These days, I’m doing a lot of work on Quick Sprout which currently does about 400,000 visits per month.
It’s also on WP Engine.
From all this, I learned a few lessons:
- Blog hosting is definitely one of those items that should be outsourced, don’t try to manage it yourself. The time of your engineers is too valuable to be spent on blog maintenance. I don’t really consider hosting a blog on AWS to be a real option.
- WP Engine is a great choice for high-traffic blogs. I’d make the switch to WP Engine if you’re on track to hit 100,000 visits/month or above.
- WP Engine isn’t perfect, they have a no-man’s land in their pricing structure in the 400,000 to 600,000 visits per month where it actually makes sense to get hit with a bunch of overages instead of upgrading. The jump between the 400,000 visits and the 1 million visits plan is simply too big.
- I have been through several hosting transitions. While they’re a pain, they’re not nearly as bad as switching out a CRM or marketing automation tool. If you’re worried about the scalability of your host, I’d switch right away and get it done with. I never regretted cleaning up web hosts.
- If you have a small personal, hobby, or side project site, it’s fine to use a host that’s cheap. But as soon as you start to build a company, get your host switched to something you can rely on for the next 5-10 years. The premium hosts earn their keep by not causing problems. It’s like having an amazing IT manager. If they’re really good at their job, it’ll seem like they never have to do anything. That’s not an accident, they built everything in a way that problems simply don’t occur in the first place. Find a host that never causes problems.
To follow my own advice, it’s about time I switched.