Why we chose Bluehost to run our Classroom Blogs

UPDATE (Dec 2009): Why we’re thinking of leaving Bluehost.

Paying for a web host to run your own self-hosted WordPress blog is not for everybody. In fact, it’s for very few teachers out there.

If you’re new to blogging, start out with a free WordPress blog, either at WordPress.com or Edublogs.org. Try it out, create a school or classroom blog and see what you can and can’t do.

Many teachers are perfectly happy with what they are able to do with a free blog. Your students can post and comment in a perfectly safe environment using the basic templates (themes) and features (plug-ins) provided.

But some teachers will want more. And these are the people who should consider paying for some server space on a web host and running their own WordPress blog(s) off of their shared server space. Here are some ways to know if you’re ready to move up to a self-hosted WordPress blog.

We started our first classroom blog with Ontario Blogs and our first personal blog with Blogger. But 6 months later, we wanted to do more. (We basically saw what other people were doing and got jealous.)

So, we switched to a free WordPress.com account, felt limited, took the plunge and invested in a web host to run our own self-hosted WordPress blog. (WordPress software is available for free at WordPress.org)

At first, we chose the wrong web hosting company. The customer service when we needed help was horrible. The speed it took to log in to our account was horrible. Our website was down because of server problems more often than it was up. We had to install our own WordPress software and an installation that was supposed to take “5 minute” took over 3 hours of technical hell.  We had a self-hosted WordPress blog, but we weren’t happy. So, we did some more research and eventually found BlueHost.

In comparison, BlueHost is fantastic. Installing WordPress can be done with the click of a button. The customer service is efficient and the prices are reasonable. They offer free domain registration privacy which is important to us because we don’t want our students knocking on our doors. And, you can install as many domain names as you want on your BlueHost account which means that if you buy 3 domain names, you can host all 3 websites off of your BlueHost account. (Something that our other web host provider would not provide.)

Here are some things you need to know in making your decision:

  • BlueHost offers one set of Hosting Features and four ways to pay. In other words, they have one product (web hosting with all the bells and whistles) and you decide how long you want to be with them.
  • All Hosting accounts are paid for up front and in full at sign up.
  • You only have to pay setup fees if you sign up for a 3 month or 6 month plan. These setup fees are non-refundable.
  • If you sign up for a year or more, you get a free domain name for life (or at least as long as you are hosted by BlueHost)
  • If you do decide to go with BlueHost, avoid the short term plans (3 months and 6 months). They’re not worth it because you have to pay a $30 setup fee and the domain name is not included:
    • 6 month account: $99.70 Total due at sign-up [6 mo. x $9.95 mo.($59.70) + $30 Setup + $10 Domain Name Registration]
    • 3 Month Account: $69.85 Total due at sign-up [3 mo. x $9.95 mo.($29.85) + $30 Setup + $10 Domain Name Registration]
  • Instead, you should consider the yearly plans: 12 month, 24 month, and 36 months. These plans have no set-up fees, include a free domain registration which is good for the life of your hosting package, and you can cancel and receive a pro-rated refund at any time.
  • Your best bet is to go with a two year plan because a 12 month plan costs $7.95 per month, but both the 24 month and 36 month plans cost $6.95 per month.
    • 12 Month Account: $95.40 Total due at sign-up; [12 month account x $7.95 mo.]
    • 24 Month Account: $166.80 Total due at sign-up; [24 month account x $6.95 mo.]
    • 36 Month Account: $250.20 Total due at sign-up; [36 month account x $6.95 mo.]
  • What sold us was the cancellation and refund policy.
    • All accounts canceled in the first 30 Days of service qualify for a “full refund” at the monthly rate. (If you cancel within 5 days, you get a full refund and the domain name will be released. If you cancel after 5 days but before 30 days, there will be a $10 fee (for the domain name) deducted from your full refund. You keep the domain name and the hosting price is refunded. Domain names can only be canceled within 5 days.)
    • All accounts canceled after 30 Days of service qualify for a prorated refund at the monthly rate.
    • For example, if you sign up for a Two Year 24 Month Account, you would pay $166.80 at the sign up ($6.95 a Month x 24 months = $166.80). If you cancel two months into it (so, 22 months remaining) then you would be reimbursed at the $6.95 a month rate for a period of 22 months. Your prorated refund would be $6.95 x 22 = $152.90.
    • When canceling your BlueHost account prior to your accounts end of term; you forfeit the FREE domain registration [12 or 24 month accounts] and BlueHost deducts $10.00 from your final refund amount to cover our costs for registering your NEW domain on your behalf for one year. You will retain ownership of your domain until the end of it’s registered period.
  • With BlueHost, there’s room to grow. They offer additional features after you sign up: you can buy additional domain names ($10.00 per name per year), get a dedicated IP address (an additional $30 per year), or SSL Certificate ($45 per year), if those things are important to you.

Using BlueHost to run a self-hosted wordpress blog takes two steps:

1. Get a BlueHost Account

2. Set up a WordPress blog on your BlueHost account using the Fantastico de Luxe script.

Read this post for step-by-step instructions on how to set up your classroom blog using WordPress.

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