What is web hosting? (Explained in simple, non-techy terms!)

by May 12, 2022Getting Started, Web Hosting

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably in the process of figuring out how to build your very own website. You might be aware by now that you need a minimum of two things to start: a domain name and web hosting.

Sound like you? Click here to get my free ebook: the ultimate beginner’s guide to building a WordPress website in 9 easy steps to kickstart your website building journey.

Frustrated woman looking at her laptop screen with test: What is web hosting? (For non-techy people!)

What is web hosting?

I know that when you’re just starting out on your website building journey, it can quickly get confusing and overwhelming. (Been there, done that myself!) My goal is to explain things in a way that doesn’t require you to have a degree in tech-babble to understand it!

With that in mind, let’s start with the basics: your web hosting, domain name, and website.

Imagine you’re hosting a party at your house. You have to give out your address because not all your friends have been to your home before and you don’t want them to show up at the wrong party! Your house is built on a lovely plot of land that boasts lush green grass in a secure neighbourhood.

In this analogy, the house is your website and the plot of land it’s built on is your web hosting. Your address is the domain name of your website.

Summary: your website needs hosting to be available on the internet.

Infographic explaining the difference between hosting, website and domain name

How does web hosting work?

Without getting too technical, web hosting is space that you rent on the internet so that your website has somewhere to live.

Web hosting stores all the files, images and programming that make up your website and sends all of that information to visitors when they use your domain name to visit your site.

Summary: if you don’t have web hosting, your website has nowhere to live and won’t be available to view on the internet.

Maggie's Mildly Interesting but Ultimately Irrelevant Facts:

You can technically host a website yourself, but it’s a very technical and involved process (not to mention expensive), including setting up hardware, equipment, software and managing ongoing maintenance… That’s where the convenience of web hosts comes in handy! They take care of all the hard stuff!

What type of web hosting do you need for your website?

Getting web hosting can be confusing at first glance. There are all sorts of different types of hosting that cater to different usage cases. Shared hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, reseller hosting, dedicated hosting, and more!

Which one should you choose?

To keep things simple and in the context of most small business websites that are just starting out, I’m going to explain the differences between shared hosting and WordPress hosting.

Shared hosting is pretty self-explanatory. You share the “space” that you are renting out with other people who are also building their websites in that space. All the websites in that space use the same pool of resources.

WordPress hosting is very similar to shared hosting. The main difference between them is that WordPress hosting can be a bit more expensive than shared hosting because it comes with extra functions specifically geared towards WordPress websites. These can include daily backups and automated updates, as well as other functions depending on the web host. They also boast optimised performance for WordPress-specific websites.

All in all, because they are so similar, they share the same pros and cons.


    • Cost-effective, perfect for small websites
    • No technical knowledge required, perfect for beginners


    • Your website speed might slow down if other websites in the same “space” get lots of traffic because you are sharing the same pool of resources

Shared hosting or WordPress hosting will be perfect for most simple small business websites just starting out. If your website needs to expand in the future, your web host will make it very easy for you to upgrade your hosting!

What to look for when deciding on a web host

There are some key things to look for when deciding on the best web hosting service for you.

    • Email accounts included (you@yourdomain.com)
    • Storage amount – minimum of 5GB
    • Free SSL certificate included
    • WordPress one-click install
    • Website backups (generally only offered with WordPress hosting rather than shared hosting)
    • 99% uptime

If a host doesn’t have all of the above, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a good hosting provider. For example, most shared hosting plans don’t include website backups (whereas WordPress hosting often does), but there are free plugins that you can install on your website to run backups.

Maggie's Super Useful Tips:

If looking for web hosting seems a bit confusing and complicated, why not check out the hosting I personally use from Bluehost. They offer inexpensive shared hosting and WordPress hosting plans that can get you up and running for less than $40. PLUS, they’ll give you the domain name for free for the first year!

How much does web hosting cost?

The answer to that question is a bit like the answer to “how long is a piece of string?”

It depends.

For the purposes of the average small business website using shared hosting or WordPress hosting, you’re looking at around $40-$80 for the first year. Keep in mind that most hosting providers will give you a big discount for the first year, so check how much your hosting is going to cost per year after the initial first year.

Just to be clear, the average cost of shared or WordPress web hosting after the first year is around $120-$180 per year, but it can be higher or lower depending on your hosting provider and the type of hosting you’ve chosen.

Want to know more about building your own website?

If you’re ready to get started, click here to download my free ebook that walks you through the exact 9 steps you need to follow to build your perfect website.

I hope I’ve been able to explain what web hosting is and how it works in a non-techy way that’s easy to understand. If you have questions, problems, or just wanna say hi – let me know in the comments!

Maggie Duncan profile pic

Maggie Duncan

Self-taught WordPress web designer
I love to help others build their own perfect website by taking away the tech overwhelm and simplifying the industry jargon. As a self-taught web designer, I believe that anyone can learn to build their own website and it doesn't have to be difficult!

Who am I?

Hi! I'm Maggie and I've been building websites for others using WordPress for over 8 years. I'm a self-taught developer and truly believe that in this day and age, anyone can build an amazing website themselves.
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