I started hosting my WordPress-powered blog on WPEngine several years ago. They weren’t the cheapest option, but I’d had some bad experiences with super-cheap hosts and they offered service and features that I was happy with. I recommended them to many people and was generally satisfied. Unfortunately, they shifted their pricing plans over the years, and my blog’s traffic (happily) grew, such that for the last couple of years I exceeded the “included” page views per month of my plan. This was fine, as the plan simply let me pay $1 per 1000 visitors over, and so I started paying a small monthly fee for this. This seemed to me to be a “good problem to have” and overall I was content to leave the site there since otherwise I was happy. I believe my plan included 25,000 monthly page views.
This year, though, the sales team at WPEngine started aggressively trying to get me to upgrade. They claimed that my blog was overusing resources on the shared machine it was on, so they wanted to move me up to a more expensive plan that would run on a dedicated server. However, the next higher plan cost 3 TIMES more than my current plan, and was designed to allow you to host multiple sites (up to 3, I believe) with a new maximum traffic of 100,000 page views. I evaluated the option and determined that it would cost dramatically more than I was paying on my current plan plus overage expenses, and of course if they had a resource issue they could sort that out on their end, and use the extra they were charging to cover any costs involved (that is, presumably, why they charge for overages).
Then in August, they decided to up the ante by doubling the cost of visitor overages to $2 per thousand, effective September 1st. At that rate, it would cost over $100/mo to host this blog, which doesn’t make any money from ads and doesn’t have all that much traffic. To entice me to upgrade to their expensive plan that provided a lot of things I had no interest in, they offered to give me my first month at the same rate as I’d been paying previously.
It was at this point I started researching other options, and quickly found SiteGround. They have a “GoGeek” plan that costs $11.95/mo and supports up to 100,000 monthly visits at that price.
I did some research and didn’t find anything online that steered me away from them. Of course, I’m busy and dealing with WordPress migrations is not high on my list of ways I want to spend my time. But they have a full service site migration that’s included as part of the deal, at no extra charge. I was dubious of whether it would work, but I let them copy my live site over and they provided me with a custom URL I could use to check it out, and it worked quite well. One issue I did discover later is that some of the image links on some of the posts used wpengine-specific domains that I needed to manually fix to point to my own domain, but this was overall a pretty minor issue.
Why am I sharing this?
First, if you’re hosting on WordPress and looking for an inexpensive but good host, I can recommend SiteGround. This site has been hosted with them for a few months as I’m writing this and there have been no issues with downtime, performance, or security (all of which I’ve had at previous providers before I went to WPEngine). Feel free to use my referral link if you want to check them out, which will help support my blog by giving me a free month’s hosting.
Second, I want to point out how a company I was happy with and loyal toward went out of their way to push me off of their services. That just seems incredible to me. Now, it may be that their focus had shifted and I was no longer the kind of customer they wanted, so shedding me was perhaps a net benefit for them. But I find this hard to believe, since I don’t expect my WordPress blogging needs are that drastically different from the norm. If you’re running a business, be particularly careful not to push away your loyal customers. If they’re content or better yet, fans, why would you jeopardize that because they may not fit perfectly into your new pricing plan? Find a way to keep your fans, and keep them happy, and they’ll continue bringing you new business.
As for me, I’m now a fan of SiteGround, and my relationship as a customer of theirs is theirs to lose.