Web hosting for freelancers isn’t all that much different from very generic hosting. At the same time, due to the nature of freelancers’ work it helps if a host has as wide a diversity of tools as possible. This helps give freelancers the agility they need to support a wide variety of clients on a single platform.
Hosting Features Freelancers Need
The challenge however needs to be to their skills and not of the environment working against them. Because of the wide diversity of needs that may occur from one client to another, freelancers would do well to find web hosts that have vast potential.
- Performance – Being in the middle of a client and a service provider is never easy. The better the website performance in terms of speed and reliability of a host, the less problematic a freelancer’s life will be.
- Scalability – Freelancers work with clients of all sizes and being able to work consistently with one host can make a difference.
- Rapid Development & Deployment – Having the tools to quickly design, build, and launch customer sites can incredibly boost a freelancer’s bottom line.
- Development Environments – Different projects may require different environments for development and a host which is more agile in this area can be helpful.
- Partner Programs – Different clients work in different ways. Ideally, a good host for freelancing has great partner programs that can handle both clients and referrals from freelancers.
Best Hosting for Freelancers
Wix is less of a web hosting provider than it is a website building tool that offers web hosting. Their main sell is on their drag and drop visual builder which is extremely impressive. They are also one of the top names in the business which means they must be doing something right.
Why Wix is right for freelancers?
When it comes to freelancers, Wix is something like a dream come true. It enables you to quickly build a range of websites that can vary greatly in terms of utility. A static site that has the basic few pages can be thrown up in a matter of minutes if you’re familiar with the environment.
It can also extend functionality using apps, which is similar in nature to the WordPress plugin system. For those who need customization, you can also embed custom code in Wix sites. This makes it a very versatile and freelancer friendly system.
One thing to note about Wix is that it doesn’t allow you to export sites from their system. This may or may not be an issue for potential customers of yours, depending on their intentions for their website.
Tip: Wix is recommended for small to medium businesses, photographers, restaurants and designers. Read further in editor’s review.
WixRatings & Performance
- Over 500 beautiful pre-designed themes
- Powerful drag-and-drop website builder
- Customize mobile site designs
- App Market lets you extend site functionality
- Wix ADI guides your site creation
- Backup system creates restore points
- Handy all-in-one solution
- Allows animations and video backgrounds
- Corvid by Wix allows developers to build APIs
- Free domain with Combo plan and above
- Limited bandwidth on Combo and Connect plans
- Connect plan displays Wix ads
- Difficult to migrate away from Wix
Wix Past 30 Days Response Speed
Where Wix is a powerful tool to use as a site builder, Weebly is of the same nature but has managed to edge past Wix in terms of market share. Weebly too offers many similar functionalities as Wix but doesn’t restrict users from exporting their websites.
It is priced very competitively and even has a free account for basic use which you can use as your test bed for customers. Once you’ve built and gotten your mock-up approved, you can simply hand it over to your client and have them upgrade the account to deploy the site.
There are many freelancer-friendly features here including the ability to easily build your own templates. Perhaps best of all, it has client management features which allow you to isolate and administer each client individually from a single dashboard.
You can even custom design a login screen for them to directly access their site to make certain updates on their own if necessary.
Tip: Weebly is recommended for small to medium businesses, retail outlets and online businesses. Read further in editor’s review.
WeeblyRatings & Performance
- Free domain name (except on free plan)
- Free customizable responsive templates
- Easy to use drag-and-drop site editor
- App Center useful for quickly adding features
- Integrated site statistics tracking
- Mobile editor let’s you work on the go
- Multi-user support
- SEO tools included
- Drag-and-drop blog option
- Ability to add own HTML code
- Can handle marketing newsletters
- Cheapest plan still has Weebly ads
- Drag-and-drop customization slightly limited
- Almost no developer tools
Weebly Past 30 Days Response Speed
Hosting is more of a traditional web hosting provider than either Wix or Weebly. It has the standard web hosting packages available but also comes with a website building tool to help with those rapid deployment requirements.
For developers, there are several interesting things to take note of here. Hostinger has a very interesting access management system that allows account owners to create access accounts. This can work for you in two ways – either you own the account and allow your client access or vice versa. On the developer side, if there are multiple accounts you have access you, you can move between them from your unified access panel.
Hostinger has more limited offerings when it comes to specialized developer environments. For example, their shared web hosting plans do not support Perl, Python, Node.js or many other popular scripting languages.
Yet as mentioned, those are very specialized needs and there will be many clients who can live with what Hostinger has to offer. Even better, they have lots of room to scale.
Tip: Hostinger is recommended for small to medium businesses, consultants and retail businesses. Read full Hostinger review here.
HostingerRatings & Performance
- Highly competitive pricing
- Seven different data centers available
- Good spread of hosting plans
- Free domain name on Premium and Business shared hosting
- User-friendly custom cPanel
- Wide range of payment options accepted
- Git environment available on shared hosting
- Free website builder
- VPS plans start from only $3.95
- Full root access and live chat with VPS plans
- No site migration assistance
- High renewal pricing
- Only Business Plan gets free daily backups
Hostinger Past 30 Days Response Speed
GreenGeeks, as the name implies fills, a very niche area of web hosting. They were early pioneers of the green web hosting era and purchase three times the renewable energy credits consumed by their servers. This makes them very environmentally friendly in an industry that sucks electricity like it was going out of fashion.
Before you ask why you would need to be concerned about that for, many businesses today are increasingly becoming aware of the environmental impact of what they do. So much so that some have made it part of their bylines that their partners (potentially you as a freelancer) and solutions need to be environmentally friendly as well.
That’s where a host like GreenGeeks comes in. They do offer a drag and drop website builder as well as other atypical hosting features. One thing to note here is that they also have extended developer tools. This means you can not just access multiple versions of PHP but also use Perl, Python, Git, Drush and more.
Tip: GreenGeeks is recommended for small to medium businesses, online businesses, consultants and retail businesses. Read full GreenGeeks review here.
GreenGeeksRatings & Performance
- Returns power consumed with renewable energy credits
- Unmetered resources
- Free domain name for the first year
- Free Wildcard SSL
- Choice of five server locations
- Free white glove site migration
- Complete SSD solution and HTTP/2 enabled
- Free drag and drop website builder
- All plans support Perl, Python and Git
- Automated daily backups
- Account solation and Secure vFS
- Premium plans have one dedicated IP
- Root access, control panel and cPanel/WHM included
- Limited scalability
- Relatively low VPS uptime guarantee
- Slightly lacklustre customer service
GreenGeeks Past 30 Days Response Speed
5. InMotion Hosting
InMotion started out as a small business themselves and as such are painfully aware of the trials and tribulations that these businesses face. Yet today they have not only survived but thrived and build a reputation for excellence in all that they do.
For freelancers, they offer a major benefit in the form of BoldGrid, a great website builder that is based on the WordPress platform. This gives it the best of both worlds – access to a world-class Content Management System (CMS) as well as an easy to build on the platform.
Aside from that, there is also the added advantage of getting a free domain name and, for freelancers, you can take advantage of their staging facilities to edit, preview, and deploy sites with the minimum of issues.
Tip: InMotion Hosting is recommended for business blogs, small to medium businesses, online businesses. Read full InMotion Hosting review here.
InMotion HostingRatings & Performance
InMotion Hosting Pros
- Extremely scalable
- Choice of website builders
- 90-day money back guarantee
- Free website migration services
- Free domain name with all plans
- $150 worth of free advertising credits
- Free AutoSSL
- Safe application rollback
- Managed and Cloud VPS plans available
- VPS plans come with three dedicated IP addresses
InMotion Hosting Cons
- eCommerce features only on POWER plans and above
- Only US-based data centers
- No instant account activation
InMotion Hosting Past 30 Days Response Speed
Should Freelancers Host Client Sites?
Although many web hosting providers have reseller programs, personally I would advise freelancers to stay clear of these. As far as possible, ask your client to apply for web hosting or do it on their behalf – explicitly separating design and development (and possibly maintenance) with hosting support.
In short – build and maintain your client sites but leave the support to the web host. They have entire teams of experts to do this and by taking on that role, all you’re adding to that relationship is becoming a middleman. That will end up in slower responses to the client and additional work for you, much of which is out of your hands in the first place.
Why Hosting Matters to Freelancers
Because freelancers often work with multiple clients at a time it helps if as many of them as possible are based on the same client. Having to hop all over the Internet can be troublesome and using the same platform will allow you to quickly learn the ins and outs of it.
To do this however there are various things you need to be aware of. The first is the nature of your own skills and what services you can offer. The second is the variety of customers you typically get. Once you’re aware of these two areas, the rest is a balance of features;
Host performance will affect your reputation
At the end of the day, even if your customer is applying for the web hosting account themselves it will be likely based on your recommendation. As such you are taking on the onus of vouching for the web hosting company.
This means your reputation is staked to theirs. Choose a brand that is reliable in as many areas as possible – from general reputation all the way down to customer support. The fewer problems a host gives a customer, the fewer headaches will be in the mix for you.
It affects your capability to handle clients of different sizes
The more clients you work with the more likely it is that you will be managing sites of different sizes and capabilities. A host which has a strong range of hosting options can make your life simpler.
With hosts that have strong scalability, you can use them as a one-stop solution instead of having to work with multiple web hosting accounts.
Good hosting supports rapid development & deployment
If you only provide basic web design and development, then practically any host will do. Ideally, these hosts will have easy software installers for you to quickly deploy common web applications. Many company sites today are built on popular web applications such as Drupal or WordPress.
Many web hosting providers today have ‘1-click installers’ like Softaculous that will allow you to deploy any of thousands of web applications in a matter of minutes.
It would also be a plus point if you can find a host that offers a good web builder tool. Not all clients need agile, dynamic sites like those built on WordPress. For clients that need only basic static websites, a site builder tool can help you design and deploy in the blink of an eye.
Business sites may need you to offer custom design services to help make them unique. Web builder tools can still help make your life much easier by providing you with a ready framework to drop those designs in to.
You Need Your Scripting Needs Met
In some cases, you may need to work on some specialized scripts to support various features customers may request. If you’re not using a web application or if the chosen web application doesn’t support the function requested – you’ll have to build it.
In these scenarios, you may have to code and deploy – something not all web hosts accommodate on their shared hosting plans. Some shared hosting plans do, so take note of exactly what they support and consider if that fits in with your existing skill sets.
Partner Programs Give Great Agility
Although many freelancers would prefer that clients get and maintain their own hosting, this isn’t always possible. However, some web hosts have a solution for this in their excellent partner programs.
With these, freelancers can have administration access allowing them to manage multiple client web hosting accounts from a single point of control – even for billing. This gives freelancers a great deal of flexibility in managing customer needs.
Verdict: It’s a Freelancer’s World
The world has changed a lot over the past decade and freelancers today are respected for the specialized skillsets they offer. This is especially true to small and medium businesses who need to leverage web skills that very likely aren’t part of their core businesses.
As such the ecosystem has changed and many service companies are offering more benefits to freelancers, hoping to entice them to use their platforms to deploy client solutions on. The five hosting companies we’ve listed here have gone the extra mile to prove that.
The keywords in this area are ease of use and agility. Both of these are important not just to you as freelancers but also to be passed on to your clients.