Website Hosting: How I Saved Money AND Got Better Service!

WARNING: If this seems a bit over the top with praise and adulation, that’s because it is! I couldn’t be happier with my new website hosting situation!

I am such a blogging rookie. If veteran bloggers hazed newbies I’d end up with my head shaved prancing around in a pink tutu. That being said, after making the decision to start blogging, I simply followed what seemed to be the recommended setup. I decided to use WordPress as my primary platform for blogging and picked Bluehost as my website hosting provider. Why Bluehost? Well they were prominently displayed on WordPress as a preferred host and were pretty cheap, or so I thought! Little did I know that this would end up being a rookie mistake!

Fast forwarding a couple of months, I was already experiencing trouble with Bluehost. Towards the end of March, after twice seeing my website go down with server issues at Bluehost, I sought out a new host. Surprisingly, I didn’t need to look far. While on twitter attempting to confirm the server issues with a couple of other bloggers, I saw a tweet by Andrea at Nuts and Bolts Media. Immediately after I began to communicate with her, she impressed me with her responsiveness to my inquiries.

Who is Nuts and Bolts Media?

Website Hosting - N&B logoNuts and Bolts Media is a boutique design and hosting firm located out of Greenville, KY. Founded in 2011 by Andrea Whitmer, Nuts and Bolts Media strives to provide clients with outstanding service while customizing and designing websites to match the look and vision they desire. The internet is dynamic and constantly evolving, and Nuts and Bolts works to foster the long-term relationships required in order adjust to these changes.

Nuts and Bolts Media provides a variety of services including design, both a la carte and full-site, site consulting, and hosting services. At this time, and with my almost non-existent budget, my main focus was find a better hosting solution, although I would love to check out some of the design services they provide.

Saving Money on Website Hosting

This wouldn’t be an investing/personal finance blog without finding ways to save money! When creating a self-hosted blog using WordPress, three different host providers were recommended: Bluehost, DreamHost, and Laughing Squid. When I first reviewed all three of these options, Liquid Squid was out because they didn’t offer domain registration, and would be more complicated as a result. Left between the last two, I just defaulted to the WordPress “preferred” option of Bluehost, which at the time cost me $83.40 for a year of prepaid hosting.

After experiencing the aforementioned challenges with Bluehost, and making contact with Andrea, I looked into how much Nuts and Bolts Media would cost for hosting. Much to my delight, the same one year of hosting cost $50.00! So while saving $33.40 per year doesn’t sound like much, the difference in service has really maximized that savings!

Better Service for Less

Hell yes. It isn’t even close to comparable. Have you ever been somewhere so much that the employees count you as a regular? You walk in, and they know exactly who you are and what you need? Well that is how I feel at Nuts and Bolts Media. With any question, concern, or just plain bugging Andrea with awesome rookie issues, the response has always been prompt! Just as an example, the other night I was curious to see if she could run another speed test on my blog (the fastest one pictured below! :)) and boom, less than 10 minutes later she was responding!

Speed is Everything

Let’s be honest, in today’s world we are juiced up, instant gratification folks. You can deny it, but this is true even if we are the type of person who is careful with our money, and know it will take YEARS of wise decisions to get us our intended financial destination. We understand the whole ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ concept as it relates to life. However, that being said, even those in the personal finance world still want websites to load quickly! No one loves a slow site, no one.

As I’ve already alluded to, the performance of my blog isn’t even close to what it was previously. Below you will find an image of blog’s load speed prior to switching from Bluehost.

Website Hosting - Before Switch to NB

Load speed before switching to Nuts and Bolts Media

Yikes. A load time of 2.5 seconds! While that isn’t the slowest out there, I have a pretty slimmed down blog that doesn’t require a bunch of heavy lifting in order to load. Below you will find two different speed charts pulled after the switch to Nuts and Bolts Media. The first is from immediately after the switch a few weeks ago, while the second is from a couple of days ago.

Website Hosting - Immediately After Switch to NB

Load speed immediately after switching to Nuts and Bolts Media

Website Hosting - Couple Weeks After Switch

Load speed taken a few weeks after the switch

As you can see, the speed improvements have been phenomenal. No other way to describe it! The difference has been very noticeable, even when I’m working on the back-end of the blog.

A Host with the Most

At the end of the day, if you are serious about your blog and its performance, finding the right hosting provider is crucial. While cost is an important factor, service is just as important. With Nuts and Bolts Media I have found a wonderful combination of both.

While this post might read like a blatant affiliate compensation grab, none of the links in this post are monetized. I write this as a supremely happy customer!

What website hosting solution have you found for your site?

**UPDATE** – There have been a couple of comments about not being able to switch due to a contract with Bluehost. Bluehost provides prorated refunds for all customers should you cancel and switch to another website hosting provider. In my case, I was approximately two months into my 12-month contract. Bluehost refunded the remaining days in my contract within a couple of days of my notification of cancellation. Bluehost has a helpdesk page titled Cancelling the Hosting Account, where they detail the process of ending your hosting relationship with them. Hope this answers your questions!

***UPDATE #2*** – Unfortunately due to a personal attack on her hosting services, Andrea has unfortunately had to stop her hosting services. That being said, her customer service STILL kicks ass. She will absolutely help you if you have hosting questions, design projects, and anything else WordPress related. Just because Bluehost and others seem easy, there are smaller, more customer service friendly options at close to the same price! As always, do your research and ask around!

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  1. I still need to get over to self-hosted but just haven’t got around to it yet. Mainly out of laziness and the fact that I will probably try and switch to WordPress at the same time, so the switch might take longer and have unexpected errors. Glad you were able to find a hosting platform that is cheaper and provides better service. That’s great!

    • JC – If you are thinking about switching to WordPress and self-hosting, using someone like Nuts and Bolts Media can really help. I know it would cost a little bit of extra, but they do provide migration services. My migration from Bluehost was free since I was going from one self-hosted WordPress server to another. I didn’t lift a finger during the entire process!

  2. I’m currently using blogger and google’s free hosting service. So what would be the advantage of self-hosting? The immediate disadvantage is the yearly hosting fee. I currently only pay for domain name registration at GoDaddy, around $9/year.

    • I think the biggest challenge I have with Blogger and Google hosting is the ownership of my writing. Everything you write and publish is owned by Google. They can shut your account down in a heartbeat. This is true of most all free hosting arrangements.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are a bunch of benefits of housing everything with Google, as it integrates nicely with Google’s other applications such as Adsense and Google Documents. However for me, the lack of ownership isn’t worth saving the few dollars a month.

    • I hope it’s okay for me to jump in here. :)

      The advantage of a self-hosted blog is that you own and control your content 100%. If Google ever decided you violated their terms of service for some reason, they could delete your blog with no advance warning. That actually happened to a friend of mine – she posts recipes and pictures of her kids, nothing that would set off any alarm bells – and she woke up one day to find her entire Blogspot site gone. She didn’t even have a chance to export her blog posts and transfer them somewhere else.

      You also have more/better monetization options with a self-hosted blog. For example, you can place private ads or sponsored posts if you choose to. That kind of advertising is forbidden on Blogspot or the free version of WordPress and would be considered a violation of the TOS.

      Finally, self-hosted allows you to take advantage of premium WordPress themes and plugins that aren’t available on free blogs. Absolutely anything you want to do as far as the look and feel of your site is possible, versus choosing from a list of the same templates everyone else is using.

      Cost can definitely be a factor, especially if you aren’t making money from your blog. However, most people find that they make their money back within a few months. It really just depends on your goals for your blog and your comfort level with knowing that Google owns every post you write.

  3. I love my free WordPress account! Even though I just started it, I am impressed. I have all the options I need without paying for anything. Perfect for a fun hobby, in my opinion. It all depends on what you are looking for in a blog. I don’t want to make money, just share my opinions and generate conversation.

    • Self-hosting isn’t for everyone! It really depends on what you want to get out of your blog and what sort of ownership you desire to have over your writing.

      Thanks for stopping by Magic!

  4. Great review! We moved our sites to Andrea about 2-3 months ago and could not be happier. You’re spot on with describing her responsiveness and willingness to help out. Our previous host was a friend of ours, but many things were not getting done because he really did not know WP and he devoted no time to solving our problems. My site speed has gone in the right direction like yours which was much needed. Andrea is also redesigning my site in a couple of months and am excited to see what she comes up with.

    • Thanks for chiming in John! It really has been a refreshing and rewarding change in hosting and professional responsiveness.

      I am looking forward to seeing what your new site looks like when it rolls out in a couple months. Currently, I am struggling with doing one myself as I’m not at a point where I can justify the expense! One day perhaps, and I can already tell you who I’ll use! :)

  5. brickbybrickinvesting2012 says:

    I have seen Andrea around the blogosphere and have heard/seen nothing but good things. I’m currently in a 3 year contract with bluehost but will definitely look towards nuts and bolts media when my contract is up.

    • Marvin, Bluehost provides prorated refunds for all customers should you cancel and switch to another website hosting provider. In my case, I was approximately two months into my 12-month contract. Bluehost refunded the remaining days in my contract within a couple days of my noticification of cancellation. Bluehost has a helpdesk page titled Cancelling the Hosting Account, where they detail the process of ending your hosting relationship with them. Hope this helps, and let me know if you decided to switch!

  6. I’m also in a 3 year contract with Bluehost (of which I’ve only used up 3 months!), but I’ll also be evaluating other options when its time to renew

    • Integrator, I’ll tell you the same thing I told Marvin above. Bluehost provides prorated refunds for all customers should you cancel and switch to another website hosting provider. In my case, I was approximately two months into my 12-month contract. Bluehost refunded the remaining days in my contract within a couple days of my noticification of cancellation. Bluehost has a helpdesk page titled Cancelling the Hosting Account, where they detail the process of ending your hosting relationship with them. Evaluate now, because the difference is service is night and day!

  7. Holy cow, you’ve completely convinced me. Andrea, we’ll be talking soon. Thanks for the nice review and thanks to Frugal Rules for chipping in too.

    One thing I also want to mention is how important load time is. If a site takes more than a couple seconds to load, people will move on. This alone is reason enough to move to Nuts and Bolts.

  8. Compounding Income says:

    Good information here. The article and comments are useful to anyone who blogs. However I’m going to stick with blogger since it is free. If I ever decide to get serious and try to make money off blogging it would be worth paying a little bit for a domain name.


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