Photography website are a little difference to your average blog or service based website. With thousands of photos, and often in excess of 30 photos per blog, the budget packages from many hosting companies simply don’t stack up.
2020 is my 15th year in business as a wedding photographer. I’ve tried many different hosting packages at different companies, and I’ve had dealings with many many more through my work as an SEO consultant with hundreds of photographers all over the world.
This guide to the best website hosting for photographers is based on my personal experience of working with many website hosting companies over the last 15 years.
Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, for which I may receive a commission.
First up, lets talk about the type of features that are really important for photography websites:
- VPS (This is a type of virtual dedicated hosting where more server resources are allocated for you)
- Dedicated IP address
- Server-side caching
Bluehost WordPress Hosting
Based in the USA, Bluehost was the first-ever company I hosted my wedding photography website with, back in the day. The get some bad press – and I think this is a result of people perhaps misunderstanding their packages. They were recommended to me via my ProPhoto theme, but there was no guidance on which package would be best. Everyone that I have worked with who has had a performance-related issue has been on the cheapest shared hosting option and this is really only suitable for hobby websites, not professional business websites and certainly not image-heavy photography websites. I too was on a shared hosting option (shared plus) and it was pretty poor.
Suitable for Wedding Photographers?
I do not recommend them for wedding photographers – but perhaps not for the reasons, you may think. Bluehost offers a wide range of packages, and they describe them as being unlimited in terms of size. When you dig into the depths of their t’s and c’s you’ll discover ‘unlimited‘ has a fair usage policy. That fair usage policy was an amount lower than the size of my website back in 2012.
If you breach this fair usage policy, your site may be throttled to avoid it using an unfair amount of bandwidth, and finding out if it has been throttled or not is easier said than done. I discovered my website had been throttled back in 2012 and it was so slow it was barely operational.
However, I think the higher end VPS hosting packages on Bluehost hosting are ok and would be perfectly adequate for photography websites in genres other than wedding photography, as your average portrait or family photography website has significantly fewer photos than a wedding photographer website.
What I love about Bluehost? The 24/7 support, and the full access to C-Panel
What I hate about Bluehost: Tech support does not seem to be experienced enough to be able to offer advice to clients about being on the wrong hosting package.
Best hosting option? Bluehost VPS Hosting costing $29.99 per month. (There’s usually a special offer intro rate).
Tech support experience: 24/7, but hit and miss in terms of quality. I’ve had better tech support in the last year than in previous years though.
Recommended? Not for wedding photographers.
Siteground WordPress Hosting
Siteground are one of the most popular hosting companies for photographers at the moment. All hosting at Siteground is shared hosting, there’s no VPS option. I’ve dealt with Siteground more than any other hosting company over the last few years, usually sorting out all manner of crazy website issues, so I have spent many many hours speaking with their tech support. Their max package is 40GB, so unlike all the other options, you can’t increase the space as you grow. This did used to be 30GB though, so the recent increase was much needed, as I’ve had wedding photography clients who had to leave as they had run out of space.
What I love about Siteground: The 24/7 support is really fast and generally good.
What I hate about Siteground: There’s no VPS hosting option.
Best hosting option: The Go Geek package costing £29.99 per month. (They offer an intro rate of £12.99 at the moment)
Recommended? Yes for small photography websites, not for wedding photographers.
34SP WordPress Hosting
34SP is the company that I host my wedding photography website with. I have been with them for over 5 years. They are based in the UK, and offer fast hosting that is VPS. VPS hosting is where you have more resources available whereas, on shared hosting, you are sharing resources with all other websites on the same server as you. The hosting has a bunch of inbuilt security features to help minimize the possibility of being hacked. However, this does mean some plugins don’t work as expected, so it’s worth speaking to their tech support about your plugins before you migrate. Making a staging site at 34SP is the simplest process of any hosting company I have experienced. The process is simpler and more straightforward set-up compared to Siteground.
What I love about them: Fast hosting and super simple staging site creation.
What I hate about them: Tech support is not 24/7 and only available during UK business hours. Dealing with them has at times been a frustrating experience.
Best hosting option: the WordPress hosting option, which is VPS and starts at £9.99 per month for 25GB.
Tech Support experience: Limited to UK business hours. My experiences have varied a bit over the last 5 years from infuriating to them being really helpful, so it’s a bit of a mixed experience.
Recommended: Yes, but only if you do not use the Narrative plugin. I’m on a 35GB package so I have plenty of room for all of my wedding photos. My site performs pretty well, although it has got slower recently and they have no idea why. Overall though, it’s pretty good.
I’ve saved the best to last! Lyrical Host is very different from every other hosting company I’ve worked with. Being a client of Lyrical Host is more like being part of a kind of work-family. For a start, the hosting services offered are ‘managed hosting‘. This means you don’t install WordPress yourself, you email tech support, and it’s installed for you. The experience means that there’s no wondering what to do or feeling lost. Help is only ever an email away.
In addition to awesome and friendly tech support, there’s a welcoming Facebook group and a ton of freebies. An example of this is the complimentary speed optimization course, and free stock photos every month. There’s also a Slack group that is designed for coworking, so you can hold yourself accountable to what tasks you plan to do each week.
Shared vs VPS Website Hosting
Lyrical only offers shared hosting, and at first, I was a little skeptical about this. My preference is VPS due to the typically better performance. When I spoke to Lyrical Host about my concerns, they reassured me the hosting was optimized to perform like VPS.
I’ve seen clients who I have recommended to Lyrical Host get good performance scores, but I’ve been wanting to test out the performance for a while in a more controlled way, and had the opportunity to do that recently with my launch of a non-photographer SEO brand website. This website uses the same theme as the Photo SEO Lab website and has a very similar page design, same plugins (although is aimed at a different market).
As you can see from the screenshots below, the website hosted on Lyrical Host has a far better performance score. I used Googles’ Lighthouse tool (Available in the Chrome extension store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lighthouse) to test both websites.
What I love about Lyrical Host: So many things! The quality of hosting is very good, and at a great price. I love how welcoming the facebook and Slack groups are. Being a member of those has provided many learning opportunities I would not have got otherwise. I really enjoy being part of that welcoming community.
What I hate about Lyrical Host: I’m struggling to even think of anything! My only bugbear is that because it’s managed if you want to delete anything hosting related (e.g. Say you want to delete your whole site), you have to send in an email request rather than do it yourself. But honestly, this does stop me from making impulsive decisions at 3am. So this is probably another benefit.
Best hosting option for photographers: The Tiny package has a whopping 40GB of space and is only £9.99 per month. I pay for the Boss package which has unlimited space and up to 22 WordPress installs. This is perfect for me as I like having space to test out and practice with some of the themes I use within my SEO work.
Tech support experience: The company is based in Nottingham, UK. They provide support during regular working hours and late into the evening, so if you’re based in the USA, this could be a fit for you.
Recommended? Lyrical Host is by far the best WordPress hosting company out of all of the companies I’ve worked with over the last 15 years. From the spec of their packages and the levels of support to all the extras, make them my preferred option. I’d highly recommend Lyrical Host – being a client of theirs is a pretty wonderful experience. Use discount code: photoseolab to get 10% off of your first payment.
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