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When I decided to start my own website in September 2020, my priority was to find a cheap and reputable website hosting provider. At that time, Exabytes provided the most value by having a hosting plan at about S$6 a month.
Fast forward to today, Exabytes approached me to write a review on their services.
For your information, we have upgraded WordPress hosting since January 2021, the current plan’s performance is much better than the previous plan. And for the price, it’s much more affordable too, providing higher specs at a much lower price, which might align with the objective of your blog.
I was pleasantly surprised as they actually read through my blog to know that I advocate saving money and consuming less.
My only experience was running a blog in secondary school on Blogspot where I don’t have to pay anything or care about any hosting. It was pretty daunting at first for me to start my website from scratch on WordPress.
So in this blog, we will see that it is not difficult to start your own website.
Planning and Deciding On Branding
You will need branding that is consistent with what your website is about. Some examples would include
- Website name
- Rough website design
- Colour scheme
- Website structure (e.g. Menu, header, footer)
- Functions (e.g. e-commerce, blog)
I did brainstorming and asked my friends to vote for their favourite logo. I changed the leaf in the end.
If you are new, make sure that you just plan for a basic website if you would like to do it yourself. You will probably get limited by the functionalities of the website builder you choose so if you are too ambitious, there will be a lot of things in your mock-up you are unable to implement later.
This should be brainstormed and written down somewhere as this will guide your entire website building process. You can do it yourself and once you grow bigger you can hire someone to spruce up your website.
The website name is especially important as you need something that is
- Easily remembered
- Not taken by other websites
- Not taken by other email addresses
Creating Your Email Address
I created this first as I wanted to make sure that it is not taken. If it is taken, I would have needed to think of a new name for my website.
Most WordPress hosting providers will let you can create a professional email address that is in the same domain as your website. This will allow for consistent branding and make you look professional. Which email address would you trust more?
sales@CompanyA.com or companyA_sales@gmail.com?
I use Gmail as it is free and will not take up server space, which is limited for my cheap hosting plan. I also created my email before setting up my website. Having a custom email address is not important to me but if you would like to do so, you can do it easily with Exabytes.
Choosing Your Website Building Platform
A website building platform is a dashboard where you control all the settings of your website like the design and content.
From my research, WordPress is hands down the most popular and pervasive website building platform out there. WordPress powers about 42% of all websites. Shopify is at a far second at powering about 4% of all websites. WordPress allows for a lot of customization and plug-ins and there is a huge community behind it which allows you to get help support for free.
There is a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com so make sure you sign up for the correct one. I have known someone who paid for WordPress.com instead. The one most people recommend is WordPress.org where you host your own site. WordPress.Org has a learning curve but it allows for more freedom and control over your website.
If you want to build fuss-free websites, you can consider Squarespace or Shopify but they are quite expensive.
When you sign up for one of Exabytes WordPress Hosting Plans, a WordPress website with some basic plugins is generated automatically for you. You will also be able to install a fresh instance of WordPress if you want to start from scratch.
Buying A Domain Name
Next, you got to choose an available domain name. Your website name should have your brand inside so that people can find it or remember it easily. I ended up choosing Consumeless.life on NameCheap basically because of the price. I remember consumeless.com being really expensive so I just looked through all the rest and shortlisted consumeless.life and consumeless.club. In the end, I chose to go with Consumeless.life after consulting with my friends.
I was really unlucky as I missed out on the Exabytes promotion where you get a FREE .SG or .COM domain and FREE lifetime domain renewal on any WordPress hosting plans WP 12 Business and above.
If this promotion was there when I started my website, I would have gone with Consumeless.sg.
I paid S$135.30 for 5 years of the domain (S$27.06 per year) and it will cost about S$39 a year to extend it after 2025. This money could have been used to pay for the upgrade of my current WP 12 Beginner hosting plan to get the free domain registration and renewal.
Some domain providers provide big discounts for the first year of domain hosting but when it goes up to the full price, it can be quite scary. Make sure you check the non-discounted prices before deciding.
Selecting Your WordPress Hosting Company
Next, you got to choose a hosting company to host your WordPress site. There are many different kinds of hosting out there like business web hosting, cPanel hosting, windows hosting. To be honest, I have no idea what they mean. If you want to find hosting for a WordPress site, you can just search for “WordPress hosting”.
There are many hosting companies out there but I decided on Exabytes due to the low prices, plus they have a data centre in Singapore.
Most of the WordPress hosting solutions out there have WordPress preinstalled so you can start building your website immediately.
Low prices are my main priority as didn’t want to spend too much on my website. When I signed up for the WP Blogger plan (old), I paid S$221.12 for 36 months of WordPress hosting (S$6.14 per month).
When Exabytes approached me and said that the new plans are cheaper and better, I got to verify their statement and not trust them at face value. I had to bug them for the specs for the old plans are they were already legacy plans.
|WP Blogger – Old Plan||WP 12 Beginner – New Plan|
|S$6 / Month||S$3.99 / Month|
|1 WordPress Website||30 WordPress Websites|
|10GB SSD Storage||30GB SSD Storage|
|2 Email Accounts||Unlimited Email Accounts|
It is a considerable upgrade at a lower cost. Now I pay S$153.69 for 3 years of WordPress hosting (S$4.27 per month) which is about 33% cheaper.
We can also look at the differences between the old and new highest tier of WordPress hosting.
|WP Plus – Old Plan||WP 12 Ultimate – New Plan|
|S$32 / Month||S$39.99 / Month|
|5 WordPress Website||Unlimited WordPress Websites|
|60GB SSD Storage||300GB SSD Storage|
|Unlimited Email Accounts||Unlimited Email Accounts|
The highest tier is more expensive but it comes with a big upgrade. If you do not need the new highest-tier plan, the second-lowest plan, WP 12 Business, only costs S$7.99 a month and had higher specs than WP plus.
The new plans also do not come with Jetpack but since I didn’t use Jetpack for my website at all, it doesn’t affect me at all.
Some hosting companies give away free domain hosting for 1 year but now you are trapped with them as you got to pay the price of renewal which might not be the cheapest.
There is no such issue with Exabytes if you sign up now as hosting plans from WP 12 business and above give you a free .COM / .SG domain plus free renewal so quite a lot of money can be saved here.
Also, some hosting companies have cheap discounted domain hosting prices but they go back to full prices during renewal, which is really expensive.
You need to make sure to check all the trap cards before signing up for any subscriptions or else you will be in for a nasty surprise when the renewal invoices come.
I have double confirmed with Exabytes and the renewal price is the same as the price when you sign up so there are no surprises come renewal.
Singapore Data Centre
I expect that most of my readers will be located in Singapore so the hosting service I choose should have a server or data centre in Singapore. Having a local data centre lowers the loading time for the people who visit my website. Exabytes have two local data centres at Paya Lebar and Tai Seng.
Loading time matters as it is one of the criteria of website performance, which will affect the user experience plus SEO of the website. I don’t plan to run ads and promote my website on Facebook or Instagram so SEO is extremely important to my website.
Although support wasn’t a factor for me while choosing between different hosting providers, Exabytes have been responsive and helpful with their support. Their website says provide 24/7 support via WhatsApp, Email, Live Chat, and more.
I noticed they only replied my emails during working hours. I did not try whatsapping or calling them in the middle of the night to test out whether they are truly 24/7 as my issue wasn’t that urgent.
When I needed help with migration for my website, I sent many support emails to ask for help. You can get Exabytes to do the migration for you but it will cost you S$200. I am a cheapskate so I decided to do my own migration, which has created a lot of anxiety and two days of downtime.
Although I was not engaging them to do the migration for me, they still replied to try to help when I had questions.
I recommend letting the professionals perform the migration if your website cannot afford any screw-ups or long hours of downtime. I was ready to rebuild my entire website from scratch so I wasn’t too afraid of making mistakes during the migration.
Setting Up Your Website
After setting up all the back end, we finally can work on our website.
You need to pick a theme out of the many of them online. I chose Astra out of the many recommended in this article. It is one of the most popular and fastest themes out there. There is a paid version with additional functionality but the free one is good enough for me.
There are paid options like Elementor Pro and Divi which help you build a premium, beautiful website. However, when I tried the free version of Elementor, I noticed that my website is quite slow so I decided to make my website as simple as possible and just use the inbuilt options in Astra to customize how my website looks.
During your planning phase, you should have a brief mock-up of your website and this is the time to build it. There are templates you can choose and then tweak them to make them fit your branding. You should also make sure that your website is mobile-friendly as 50% or more of internet traffic is on mobile.
Plugins are add-ons for your website that adds functionality that is not included in the basic themes or WordPress. If you see that you have plugins that you are no longer using, remember to delete them. This will declutter your list and also potentially improve the performance of your website.
Here are some of the free plugins that I think that everyone should use.
Backup Plugin – UpdraftPlus
A reliable backup plugin is important as you will need to restore to a working backup if there is anything wrong with your website. UpdraftPlus allows scheduled backups to major cloud solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox. I recently did my website migration and my UpdraftPlus backups worked perfectly and restored my entire website on the new server.
SEO Plugin – Yoast
This plugin has multiple functions like checking the SEO and readability score of your pages and posts. They will provide tips on how to improve your content SEO and readability and you can adjust accordingly.
Anti-Spam Plugin – Akismet Anti-Spam
This is preinstalled in all installs of WordPress. This helps protect our websites from spam comments. Akismet checks all your comments against their constantly-growing global spam database to remove irrelevant, malicious content before it gets published and hurts your site’s credibility.
Security Plugin – iThemes Security
You can set up the plugin to fit your needs where there are 6 templates (eCommerce, blog, etc) to choose from. iThemes Security has blocked many IP addresses that have tried to log in to my website. This will prevent hackers and bots from brute-forcing your website.
Comments Plugin – Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
This plugin allows your readers to subscribe and get notified when there are follow-up comments on the post. Without this plugin, your readers will need to check manually for updates in the comment thread.
Caching Plugin – W3 Total Cache / Litespeed Cache
Caching plugins help to speed up your website by reducing page load times. They create a static page that lets a reader revisit a page without reloading the page.
I am currently using W3 Total Cache but I noticed that Exabytes is using Litespeed on its servers so I should take advantage of that and use the Litespeed Cache instead. The Litespeed cache currently doesn’t support the newest version of WordPress so I will install it when it is supported.
Total Cost Of Running My Website A Year
After migration, I pay about S$78 a year to run my website. I think this is the minimum cost of running a self-hosted website. You might be able to bring it lower if you can get cheaper domain renewals as mine is quite expensive.
If you expect higher traffic to your site or require a higher amount of space, you will need to pay more to get a better hosting plan or upgrade your cloud storage options.
|Domain Hosting With NameCheap||S$27 a year|
|WordPress Hosting With Exabytes||S$51 a year|
So What Do I Think About Exabytes?
I am satisfied with the performance, price, and technical support of Exabytes so far. The biggest attraction to me is the low price of S$3.99 (w/o GST) per month. This is all I need for my blog where I just write an article or so a week. Exabytes has one of the cheapest, if not, the cheapest WordPress hosting plans out there. If there are cheaper plans, their renewal prices will spike once it is time to renew your contract.
If you are looking for affordable WordPress hosting that has servers in Singapore, Exabytes can be one of your considerations.
Starting a website from scratch can look overwhelming if you do now know where to begin. If you do it step by step, it is less daunting than you think. Cost-wise, I spend about S$78 a year on my website which is a cheap price for a hobby. If you require higher specifications for your website, this can be done by upgrading your WordPress hosting plans.
Check out Exabytes (affiliate link) to find out more about affordable WordPress hosting plans (affiliate link). Get a free .COM / .SG domain plus lifetime domain renewal when you sign up for WP 12 Business and above.
For first-time signups, you will enjoy S$10 off your first purchase. Also, stand a chance to win an iPhone 12 monthly when you make a purchase or renew with Exabytes.
*Do check with Exabytes for the latest information on their promotions