Confession: I Recommended Bluehost for Way Too Long – and Here’s Why I Never Will Again

bluehost-suck

I recently went through my entire website and all my courses obliterating any mention of Bluehost. That’s the hosting company I used to recommend to new freelance writers who wanted to get their websites up and running. And now I’m here to issue you with a warning about why you absolutely should not sign up with Bluehost – no matter how trustworthy the famous blogger recommending them to you seems.

If you’ve thought about starting your own website or blog, you’ve probably heard of Bluehost. It’s the hosting service everyone recommends. No matter where you look, it’s Bluehost Bluehost Bluehost people are telling you to sign up with. Wow, they must be super fucking good if all these popular, successful bloggers are recommending them!

Hahaha, yeah. No. That’s not why everyone recommends them. The reason every blogger out there recommends Bluehost is because Bluehost offers the best affiliate program. That’s it. If you sign up to Bluehost using a blogger’s special affiliate link, that blogger will get a payout of at least $65 and probably more. Bluehost routinely sends out emails to bloggers offering to increase the amount of their payout if they publish a special guide about how to create a website or blog that includes links and recommendations for Bluehost. They sent such an email to me. They offered to increase my payout to $90 per referral. And, I don’t know, maybe more popular, well-known bloggers get even more than that.

No one else offers that much. I know, because I’ve looked. And for a long time, I recommended Bluehost too. And yeah, I even took them up on their $90 offer.

Now, in the beginning the reason I recommended Bluehost was because I actually used them. Like, they were good, once upon a time. I even talked about how good their customer service was in my course materials… because it was. But now? Not so much. See, they got bought out and evidently the new owners did not – do not – give a shit about their lower-end customers, aka the ones who sign up for the cheapest plans, aka most of them.

About a year ago, my site went down for three entire days. It was still hosted on Bluehost at the time. Now, admittedly this was not technically Bluehost’s fault, since they were subjected to a DOS attack. But, well, you’ve got to wonder why they were targeted, haven’t you?

Anyway, this three-days-down period was the final straw for me. I had noticed Bluehost getting steadily shitter over time, but it was nothing too bad. My site would go down for a few minutes at a time every now and then. I could still get through to the live chat service almost instantly and get my problems resolved. But that three-day period? It happened during the registration period of one of my courses, so that was actually potentially lost revenue for me. That can’t happen when you run a business, you know?

And even if the downtime wasn’t Bluehost’s fault, I couldn’t risk it happening again. So I decided to leave. I asked for recommendations from other bloggers and friends. I instigated chats with customer service reps. And, yes, I investigated the affiliate programs of various other hosts, because, well, I am still running a business here, and affiliate income can be a nice little earner. Not something I rely on, but you can’t really complain when you essentially get money for nothing, right?

So I switched to SiteGround, who have been excellent. Their customer service reps know their shit and will even crack a joke or three with you and, best of all, my site hasn’t been down at all since I made the switch. I once came close to an outage when I was using more than my allotted bandwidth, but SiteGround actually sent me emails to warn me this was going to happen if I didn’t do something. Which meant I had time to act – and my site didn’t go down. The thought of Bluehost issuing this kind of warning is utterly laughable. They’d just let your site go down and fuck it, you could get it back online after a few hours (or days?) of chat with incompetent customer service reps. If you were lucky you might even make it out with your sanity intact and without having smashed a single piece of crockery.

So yeah, I made the switch to SiteGround. But for a while there I was kidding myself that it was still okay to recommend Bluehost because they were cheap and good for beginners and, god, the worst part – most people who sign up will never make much (or any) effort with their websites or businesses, so did it even matter? Surely it was better to recommend the cheapest of the cheap to the masses if they weren’t going to put the effort into making their businesses work? At least that way they wouldn’t waste too much money.

And then I realised how backwards that attitude was. I was smacked in the face with it recently when students in my Facebook group were bitching about how bad Bluehost had gotten. Because of course the people it was going to affect were the ones who were successful, the ones who did care about making their businesses the best they could be. And THOSE are the people I should’ve had in mind when making my recommendations. And they are who I am thinking of now.

Here are a few of the complaints that surfaced in my Facebook group about a month ago:

Does anyone else have problems backing up with Bluehost? I’m so tired of their shit service I’m about to switch. But that’s just one more headache, switching over somewhere else. Anyone else just kinda hating Bluehost at this point?

Bluehost can lick the sweat from a dead man’s balls. The worst downtime I’ve ever experienced with a hosting service. I’m forever getting Jetpack notifications telling me my site is down, and then back up 30 minutes later. It was only pure laziness on my part that let the renewal come and go. They can tuck into my arse with a spoon if they think I’m letting it renew again. Shite-hawks.

Ever since they changed their live chat and ditched the ticketing system I’ve been completely unable to interact with them. Which sucks because the live chat always worked before. Now it just tells me to wait till a green bar is loaded and then nothing happens. So… that leaves me with zero support now.

I didn’t know it had gotten this bad (it seems the chat service in particular went tits up 2–3 months ago) but still, that’s no excuse. Needless to say, this Facebook thread from my students was the slap in the face I needed to change the way I do things round here. I’d never stopped to think about how using Bluehost might be actively hampering my most successful students’ freelance writing businesses. Which is pretty fucking stupid, now I reflect on it.

So no: my conscience won’t let me recommend Bluehost any more. I can understand why other people recommend Bluehost – after all, I did it so long myself. That easy $90 is pretty tantalising, let me tell you. And most people who recommend Bluehost don’t get to know the people who sign up using their affiliate links at all – or even know anything about them except the domain name they chose – and it’s easy to not care about someone you don’t know. But I do get to know these people – pretty well, in fact, because most of them are my students and I work one-on-one with them. Fuck it, I’m even seeing one of them tonight at an Edinburgh Christmas copywriters’ do. (Sup Andre!)

If you’ve already signed up with Bluehost, don’t panic. On the whole they do ‘get the job done’. So you needn’t rush to switch hosts immediately, especially if you’ve had no problems with them yourself. But when your renewal period rolls around? Think twice before entering your credit card details. Indeed, you might want to log in quickly to make sure auto-renewal isn’t turned on. Switching hosts is much easier than you think, particularly if you move to SiteGround, who basically do everything for you and walk you through the process (if you’re annoying like me and constantly ask questions).

I didn’t intend for this to turn into a pitch for another hosting service, but it seems a bit silly to tell you not to use Bluehost without recommending an alternative. And SiteGround are really, really good. Click here if you want to check out SiteGround. (That’s an affiliate link, of course, but I promise never to recommend something I don’t actually recommend ever again. Though I hasten to add that Bluehost is the only thing I’ve ever done this with. Everything else I recommend is awesome.)

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    11 Comments

    1. Hey, Karen. Good post. No, seriously. Good post. I’ll be honest, as I was reading I started to feel seriously angry with you for recommending Bluehost to me during a recent course – I know nothing (NOTHING) about this stuff, so happily sucked up your affiliate-driven recommendation. Blindly. But you know what? I’m not angry anymore. In fact, I’m impressed. There aren’t many peeps in the world who would be so open and honest, and for that I have deep respect. Thanks for the heads-up. Really. It’s my own stupid fault I don’t know about this stuff, not yours. I’ve had no probs with Bluehost so far, but your post has made me open my eyes and I’ll think twice before renewing when the time’s right. Love your honesty. Kudos to you.

      1. Thanks Cally! I was really glad to see your comment. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was a bit hesitant to share this post. It would’ve been far easier to just quietly remove all mention of Bluehost from my site and hope no one noticed, or even to have continued recommending them! But I felt it was important to let people know the truth, especially since lately there seems to have been a resurgence of big bloggers publishing more stuff promoting Bluehost. It’s really astonishing how deeply they’ve infiltrated the market. And the trouble is, with some bloggers the Bluehost affiliate sales are the main bulk of their income so there’s no way they’re going to stop promoting them even if they do know how shit they are (and you can practically guarantee no successful blogger who promotes Bluehost actually uses them themselves). Just take a look at Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income’s latest income report – $40,000 in a single month from Bluehost sales, almost half his total income. It’s just crazy and he’s one of the most popular online business bloggers out there. https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/income-reports/my-november-2016-monthly-income-report/

        1. I had problems with Bluehost – Left it as it was (debris in the virtual world), took a new hosting with Go Daddy and for me Daddy is cool (Daddy Daddy cool – Boney M)

    2. I tried Bluehost because like you say, everyone recommends them. I was met with a tantalizing amount of integrated (bad) plugins, and an endless amount of sideoffers. I cancelled my account pretty soon, only to be met with a belittling and condescending customer rep.

      Never recommending that service to anyone. Namecheap has always worked at least adequately. Siteground is also good and WPX seems to be a great place to host WP sites.

      1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Jay! It’s really insane how deeply they’ve infiltrated the market with their affiliate program tactics.

    3. Omg that first complaint is me 😂 Ahhhh life is so much better now that I’ve switched to SiteGround. Wake up BlueHost, good lord.

    4. Fantastic post Karen!
      I’m the go-to person in my space about technology recommendations. Whenever someone novice suggests something like, “But everyone recommends Bluehost!” I can now give them your post. Sometimes, I want to go into rant mode and shout, “They’re getting paid! Follow the money!”

      Also GoDaddy. Don’t care about their service. Just their attitude. They can go suck on a lemon.

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