I’ve made quite a few websites in my lifetime, believe it or not. It’s gotten so much easier to get a site up and running in no time at all, at least a homepage and a few posts. When it comes to advanced widgets and things like e-commerce, well, it still can get rather complicated.
Very few companies offer thorough tutorials or actual training on how to actually get it working with analytics, social media, e-commerce and email lists.
I’ll be looking at one hosting and one building platfom to compare them. I’ve tried both so I’ll give more in-depth knowledge about them as we go.
The Difference in Web Hosting vs Web Builder
The difference between a web ‘hosting’ service and a web ‘builder’ is not so obvious to those that haven’t done this before.
Web hosing services are usually for those who have a base knowledge of website design. They may have a builder that they use, usually a proprietary software program unique to their service, but many don’t really have that. It’s mainly a framework for you to build your site from scratch or to import an existing site into.
It’s mainly a blank slate for you to create with.
If you have the training and know how, this might be your first choice but if you’re just beginning be prepared for a lot of trial and error, reading many ‘how to’s’ that may or may not work for your particular needs or shelling out money to your web hosting’s design team to do it for you (and you will be contacted by them multiple times, whether you are successfully building your site or not).
A website builder is more beginner friendly. It generally has themes for you to choose from with various modules and widgets you can use to personalize the user experience. Some have included tutorials to help those of us who have no knowledge of website development but sometimes they can be hard to follow and not really touch on the actual portion we’re having issues with. My biggest pet peeve is when the platform has changed, but the tutorial is outdated and not for the current version. That’s always a pain.
Another big difference is that web builders often have ‘free’ hosting. Mind you, it’s not high quality and you will not be number one on their list if you have issues and need help, nor will you have your own domain name (for example, my domain is www.rebel-entrepreneur.org your free website name would be something like www.somehostingcompaniesurl/freesite/whateveryouractualwebsitenameis.whateversuffixtheydecidetogiveyou). Ok, so that example is ridiculous but I swear a couple of my early sites had addresses that long!
Web Hosting services often do not have anything free. The lowest cost plans are, again, not high quality and you are the last on their list if you need help. Also, my experience is that you get emails and calls telling you about their specials and web building team in order to upsell you on more of their services or a higher tier of hosting from them.
You may also get emails from other hosting companies trying to lure you away from your current hosting servce, depending on who they sell your information to. It’s a cut throat business, you have to decide wat’s right for you because they are not looking out for your best interest, trust me on that.
Or don’t. You don’t have to take my word for it but anyone who’s been doing this long enough would tell you the same thing. It’s not personal, it’s business.
((Keep in mind that this will not be an exhaustive list of webhosting/bulding services. I just want to show you what to look for, what to expect and the differences between the two services are. I may do actual reviews on specific companies later as their own posts but that is not the purpose of this particular post.))
Let’s Get Specific!
Web Hosting Service
We’re going to examine the web hosting service ‘GoDaddy.com’ first. I’ve actually used their service and when I had a site with them I noticed the lack of tutorials and general help without contacting their web building specialists was very limited. I was often stalled on building because I had to send an email or give them a call (and be pit on hold for who knows how long) in order to get the help I needed.
I did not stay with them long. I hope they’ve improved.
Let’s look at their plans:
So, we have Economy, Deluxe and Ultimate.
With the Economy plan ($1.00/mo for 1 year, $8.99/mo after that) you get:
This was the plan I had.
1 website – I would hope so. That is why we’re here after all.
Unmetered bandwidth – which means that they don’t limit the amount of storage and bandwidth your site can use as long as it doesn’t go against the Hosting Agreement. The interesting part is that if it does conflict with the agreement you can upgrade, probably at full price, or they’ll limit your resources. They assure you that this rarely happens but will you be the one it happens to?
100GB of storage – Pretty interesting that the above statement mentions that they don’t limit your storage but for Economy class, they’ll make an exception.
Free Microsoft Office Business email for a year – That’s great if you have Microsoft Office. If you don’t that part is fairly useless. Feel free to disregard.
Free domain with Annual Plan – I love ‘free’ things.
Overall, not bad as long as you don’t threated the stability of their servers or need more than 100GB of space.
With the Deluxe plan ($7.99/mo for 1 year, $11.99/mo after that) you get:
Everything stated above plus these goodies:
Unmetered storage – There’s that unlimited storage they mentioned in the little tooltip you get if you click on the little ‘?’ thingy! Of course, like the unmetered bandwidth, if your site singlehandedly threatens doom upon their entire network you’ll need to be sequestered to a private server, at your cost of course.
And…. that’s it. The storage is what makes it Deluxe.
With the Ultimate plan ($12.99/mo for 1 year, $16.99/mo after that) you get:
Everything covered above plus:
Unlimited websites – You can unleash an army of Hello Kitty websites upon the world just like you’ve always dreamed! Just kidding (well, not really, you could if you wanted to). There’s no fine print here. Build your website empire, they’ll support you.
2x processing power and memory – No specifics here. Unsure what the base power and memory are so I’m unsure what this really means. ‘Better, faster, stronger’ is the message I get here (but without specifics? Hard to prove).
Free SSL certificate (with restrictions) – I’m going to quote them here because I don’t want to get this wrong: ‘A $79.99/yr value, GoDaddy SSL Certificate keeps transactions with your website secure using strong 2048-bit encryption. SSL Certificate is free for 1 year with purchase. After the initial free year, SSL Certificate will automatically renew at the then-current price until canceled. You may cancel automatic renewal at any time in your GoDaddy account.’ Hm. What are the restrictions?
I did some digging and it seems the restrictions are that you have one SSL certificate on one domain. So, you can encrypt one of your Hello Kitty domains but not the other fifteen. However, all 1,150 of your Hello Kitty Adventure blog posts on that one domain are covered by that SSL.
(It’s for e-commerce sites. If a site has a valid SSL certificate it means that your transaction is encrypted and your information is as safe as it can be online. Unless a breach happens, but that’s a whole other thing.)
Got it? Good.
If you type in ‘GoDaddy Reviews’ you will see many sites with a wild swing in ratings. From as low as 1.3 stars (ouch!) to close to 5 stars. If you haven’t guessed, I trust no one, so I’m assuming the truth is somewhere between 2 – 4 stars. Average ratings, really. Nothing absolutely awful nor a world changing boon to the internet.
One site pretty much of summed up my experience with GoDaddy:
Yeah, that was pretty much it. It’s all good until it’s no good.
So, that was the big ‘Daddy’ of hosting services, let’s take a look at an equally popular and prominent web building service: WIX.
My experience with Wix was actually pretty good. I didn’t dive too deep, but I really liked some of their animated themes. Their web builder is pretty easy to follow but the actual customization left a lot to be desired.
For example, I liked my header and how the animation played in the background but I hated the way my posts presented themselves in weird boxes on the foreground. I actually preferred another themes’ carousel effect for the posts… alas, I was never able to marry the two worlds and get what I wanted. It just wasn’t possible the way the themes are created.
Honestly, that’s the issue with themes: they are only so customizable if you have limited knowledge of the code used.
I’m not an expert on web building. I used to know some HTML at one point in my life. It was how to make a certain banner on a certain site (I think it was a Yahoo site actually) and I found the code with instructions on some Yahoo forum on building websites.
My knowledge of HTML and coding equates with my knowledge of French. Being able to say, “Bonjour mon ami, comment ca va?” does not mean I speak fluent French.
If you know code, by all means use it to modify things. Mind you, if the theme is proprietary you may not be able to.
Let’s look at the plans, shall we?
Oh dear… they have plans for websites and for business. I gather the regular websites cannot be e-commerce sites but let’s look anyway:
There was so much listed on the VIP and Pro plans that it wouldn’t fit on my screen but I’ll be going over them point by point.
Keep in mind that you can build a free site on WIX using their templates and such, they are very basic and don’t include all the extras you get if you sign up for a paid plan.
We have Combo, Unlimited, Pro and VIP for just websites.
With the Combo plan ($13/mo) you get:
2GB of bandwidth – Limited bandwidth but this is just for one site, I guess.
3GB of storage – Limited storage
Connect your domain – I guess if you have a domain you can connect your Wix site to it. Makes sense if you want to quickly build a site and then pop in into your domain.
Remove Wix Ads – That’s one thing with ‘free’ sites; they use your real estate to advertise. Honestly, I’d rather use my site to advertise for my benefit with affiliate links but I suppose if you don’t pay with money you pay by working for them.
30 video minutes – in case you want to host videos on your site
Free domain for 1 year – I guess that’s in case you don’t have a domain to connect to. I wonder how much the domain is after that year is up?
Ok! So as we can see after the first year your domain will be $14.95 per year (less if you sign up for multiple years). Then again saving a dollar a year isn’t much, if I’m being honest.
Now that that mystery is solved, let’s move on.
With the Unlimited Plan ($17/mo) you get:
Unlimited bandwidth – This is a big deal to them, apparently. I mean, they named this plan after that one point.
10GB of storage (I feel like they bold the things so I should follow suit) – WOW! 10GB?! Dang… Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than the Combo plan but it’s still not a lot.
Next two points, blah blah, same as the ‘Combo’…
1 video hour – more vids for the kids!
$300 ad vouchers – Hm? Ad vouchers? What are these??
Nice! Now, this is something I can get behind. I have no idea how far $300 would get you in Google but as of right now I have exactly $0 in my budget for Google ads. This would put $300 in that budget.
Site Booster App ($60 value) – *sigh* Hang on, I’ll go look…
Further down the rabbit hole we go! The Site Booster app is a third party app that gives your site instant visibility in search engines.
What I gather is that these guys act as agents that list your site in various places (Pintrest, Whatsapp, etc) and update your information as needed, let you know when you get a review. All you do is provide them with the information you want on your listings and they do the rest.
I’m unsure they do more than good SEO and time will do for you but it sounds amazing.
Of course I found reviews!
As you can see, the newest review is not a good one. I read through and most of the reviews are either 5 stars or 1 star and the 1 stars all say the same thing: wrong details in the listing. I also saw that the company responds to these reviews pretty quickly and if they made your ad, not someone else (and maybe not you), they are happy to correct the mistake.
I mean, they do say they’ll ‘update as needed’… I’d say a mistake (no matter who is at fault) is cause for an update. No need to play the blame game with your clients, after all.
I’d want a little more information on this before I bought into it for $6.99 a month.
Whew! Back to Wix… we got a little distracted there!
Visitor Analytics App – Now this one I have covered. You can actually get Google Analytics for free for any website so I know it’s not 100% necessary and if they want you to pay after the one year is up? Say no.
With the Pro Plan ($22/mo) you get:
Everything included in the Combo and Unlimited plus:
200GB of storage – Double the storage of the ‘Unlimited’ plan. This is the most you can get from Wix for a non-commercial site.
2 video hours – even more videos on your site! Honestly, I’m unsure what this means. Most of the people I know link their YouTube videos on their website so I’m not sure if that counts or if they means a full video uploaded onto the site. I would imagine two hours of video would eat into your 200GB, no matter how bold their font.
Events Calendar – handy if you’re planning events either on your site (giveaways, video releases, posting schedule) or in your community.
Professional Logo – This is interesting as well. It makes me wonder if it’s really yours if you decide to take your site elsewhere.
….. One Sec
Ahhhh. It’s a ‘Logo Builder’ program that Wix has that is only included in a few premium packages. You just take different png and vector files, change colors and add text to make a logo. So, it is yours once it’s created but it’s nothing you can’t do with a proper image editing program.
Social Media Logo – I assume it’s like the ‘professional’ logo but works with social media platforms.
With the VIP Plan ($39/mo) you get:
Everything mentioned in the previous plans along with:
Priority Response – Buyer beware. This means anyone not a VIP is not a priority.
VIP Support – Again, unless you’re willing to pay more you are not a priority (I sense a theme with these companies).
I will be covering the Wix Business plans later in a full review!
Speaking of Reviews:
Overall great reviews from what I could see; all 4 – 5 star ratings. I have to say, Wix was definitely one of my favorites despite it’s shortcomings and it seems they’ve really build a great brand.
(The rest of the sites on the page when I searched ‘Wix Reviews’ were ads for other web builders. Go figure!)
As you can see, Wix is more of a full service platform. They have everything you need to build a brand online (and more, it seems) and if you’re having issues or don’t want to build your own site they have listings of Webmasters that will be happy to do it for you (for a nominal fee, of course).
GoDaddy is more of a self serve platform, as most web hosting services tend to be.
Onto My Current Favorite Platform!
To be honest with you, this is not a fair review as no web hosting nor web building platform can compare with my favorite go to:
No joke. Wealthy Affiliate is a web hosting and web building platform all in one plus you get training in website building, social media marketing, YouTube marketing, affiliate marketing and so much more. This doesn’t even include the amazing community at WA.
Let’s look at the details:
Here we are. There are two plans at Wealthy Affiliate, Free and Premium.
What you get with the Free plan ($0/mo) :
Live support for 7 days – Well, hm. I doubt you’ll run into big problems in a week. Then again, I don’t know you or your life but this seems short to me.
Personal Affiliate Blog – Yep, can confirm you get a blog on the platform. Most people seem to use this as a weird advertising experiment or to teach things, sometimes completely unrelated to websites, affiliate marketing or WA but it keeps things interesting.
(There are a lot of the ‘Click Bait’ titles on blogs like “WA is a Scam!” but then they’re all about WA by turning it around. It’s a safe space to try your ideas on marketing or to just share your experiences on your journey. I tried the click bait title of ‘I’m Done!”, most popular blog I ever wrote. It works…)
Websites – 2 websites. Yes, fully functioning sites but not domains. They are on the ‘siterubix’ domain but they are 100% your sites.
Beginner Training Course – Honestly, if you joined WA just for this and stayed free while doing the things you learn on your free sites you’d be fairly set. It’d take more time but you could totally build a lucrative affiliate site just doing this. I did it for a while before going Premium.
Affiliate Bootcamp Training, Phase 1 only – This is the training to become an affiliate for Wealthy Affiliate itself, which is a damn fine affiliate program. It makes sense that phase 1 would be it; like a taste of the ‘good stuff’ before they cut you off. Clever.
Video Walk-Throughs – These are invaluable to me. I learn by doing, so I start one of these babies up and follow along. I pause when I attempt a step and can go back if I don’t quite get it. They’re great!
Keyword Research Tool (aka Jaaxy), 30 searches – I love Jaaxy. Like, legit love. This is what I use for my keyword research, domain searches, niche research to decide on new blog posts, etc. Jaaxy is my go to tool.
2 Training Classrooms – This is where you learn things beyond the basic training. These are classes put on by our more senior (and more successful) members.
Affiliate Program – If you want to start right in on an affiliate program for free, you can jump right in with WA’s program. You don’t get as much of a percentage as a Premium member but that’s understandable considering how much you’re getting out of a free membership.
Earn While You Learn – I’m assuming this is related to being able to jump into training and becoming an affiliate right away. How this is a legit perk though? Meh. It’s really up to you and the amount of effort you put in, it’s not like they actually give you a stipend to advertise for them. Know what I’m saying?
1-on-1 Coaching, first 7 days – Unsure what this is, to be honest. I have recieved no 1-on-1 coaching and I’m a Premium member. I guess if I needed it I’d know what it was.
With the Premium Plan ($47/month) you get:
Live Support – Unlimited. I would hope so. What they don’t say is that the support is super fast and very responsive if you go through the correct channels. Emailing the owners directly and ranting on your blog won’t do it. Gotta go through support channels; let the nice customer service agents do their jobs.
Private Messaging – I haven’t used this yet. I mainly communicate with other affiliates via our blogs but I guess it has a reason for existing other than the canned messages I get from Kyle, Carson (the owners) and my ‘personal coach’.
((I have no idea if my personal coach is an actual person or just an algorythm that’s programmed to send me a pre-made message once in a while. He never posts anything on his blog or on my blog, I never see any activity from him whatsoever and you can BET I’m following his pixelated ass to try and figure it out!))
Unlimited Websites – Yes folks! The dream of your very own army of Hello Kitty websites is within reach here at WA. I know that gets you excited.
Website Security Package – Wait a minute. Hold up. You mean the free ones aren’t secure? Well, that sounds bad…
Website Backup – I know this is just a redundancy feature, actually. WA is continuously storing the sites and has many systems installed so nothing ever happens to your site and you have zero downtime. No joke. Kyle mentions it repeatedly in training videos. However, it is nice to be able to back all your hard work up onto your own hard drive for safe keeping. (That reminds me, I gotta do that again.)
All Phases of the Bootcamp Training – The Bootcamp is great. It’s kind of a fast track training to get you bringing in money asap. I really am enjoying it.
Live Video Classes – These are on Friday evenings but if you miss it they’re all on the WA site. Haven’t even touched them yet. Soon…
Unlimited searches on Jaaxy – This is keyword searches, not the other modules. You get full access but limited searches on some of the other things. It’s okay though, I still love me some Jaaxy!
12 Training Classrooms
2x higher payout for the Affiliate Program – Cha ching!
Unlimited 1-on-1 Coaching
Well, I’ll be honest: the only reviews I could find by searching were by my fellow affiliates and those are obviously biased. The one I thought had promise (as it wasn’t 4-5/5 stars) had incorrect information about WA.
So, I’m just going to make a shameless plug and direct you here: My Wealthy Affiliate Review
Now, I’ll never say WA is for everyone, that it’s easy or perfect. It’s not.
You get out what you put in, sometimes it takes a long time to see results, sometimes people are annoying, the automated messages from Kyle and Carson (and my ‘personal coach’) bug me… but overall I really love it.
Honestly and truly, I really do and that’s worth the monthly payment.
Mind you, when I start pulling in enough to pay that monthly due I’ll love it even more!
I’m going to close by asking you for your experiences with web hosting vs web builders. What did you like? What did you hate?
Catharyn /Fascinatura – The Rebel Entrepreneur