Web hosting used to be a service that can be had through an intermediary. But as more and more individuals go into self-publishing with blogs and personal websites, the more intrepid home-based publishers are now being presented with a myriad of choices on where to host their blog or website.
My advice is to seek three things. Price, guarantee of availability, and word-of-mouth recommendation.
Price is always a consideration, as self-publishing may not necesarily be expensive. Shared hosting will meet your needs, but you need to know that it means that there may be more of you sharing the same webspace than you think. The downside here is if you chance upon a webhost that is not as secure as the average provider, your site can go down even if its another site that gets hacked.
Guarantee of availability is knowing how often in a year your site can go down within the stated service level agreements presented by your potential webhost. Self-publishers do not really need webhosting that can offer 99.999% uptime reliability with the accompanying hefty price. Cheap web hosting doesn’t necessarily mean frequent downtime. A web hosting service that guarantees 99.6% uptime means that you can be down only for as long as one weekend in a year, and that they’re going to get your site back up by Monday morning.
But if you know several other people who have gone out and actually bought hosting on their own with their trusty credit cards and have been blogging or publishing for more than a year, go ahead and ask them for their stories. They can tell you their own experiences with a particular webhosting service. They will be as valuable to you as you make the final decision of where to host your own blog or website. Knowing who to avoid is almost as good as knowing where to go.