How Expensive Web Hosting Lowered My Quality of Life

I made a choice a few months ago that turned out to be an expensive mistake. I upgraded LifeReboot’s web hosting service to a dedicated server plan that costs $250/month. When I shared this operating cost for my blog with fellow blogger John Wesley, he said simply:

“You’re paying WAY too much for web hosting.”

In this article, I’ll discuss how paying $250 each month to keep LifeReboot on the web lowered my quality of life.

I never planned to pay this much to run a blog, it just turned out this way. When I began LifeReboot in February ’07, I paid only $10/month for a shared web hosting plan. Unfortunately, the moment my blog was made popular by Digg, this inexpensive hosting service protected their other customers by suspending my account.

Anxious to get my blog working again, I quickly signed up for a high volume hosting plan that cost $75/month. After migrating LifeReboot to its new home, I was convinced that my bandwidth problems were over.

Sadly, they weren’t. Two links to LifeReboot were featured on the front page of Digg on the same day. The resulting traffic spike crippled the high volume server, and caused my host to firewall all traffic to my site (i.e., suspend my account). At this point, I believed that I needed a dedicated server in order to run a blog that was “Digg-proof.”

Since dedicated server options started at $250/month, I was terrified about making this upgrade. Regardless of how scared I was, I still dared to do it because I was convinced it was my only option. I imagined that this upgrade was an appropriate “next step” towards my dream of becoming a successful blogger.

The reality, however, was that I took a considerable step back. I started penny-pinching — and the sacrifices I made to “save a buck” lowered my quality of life.

I stopped going out to eat; I figured I could no longer afford it. I stopped going to the library every day; I figured I should save on gas. I stopped having date night every Friday; I figured it wasn’t necessary. In short, I cut out a lot of luxuries so I could save money.

At first, it felt like prioritizing: Since my heart was in my writing, I would cut back on other aspects of my life in order to put writing first. Ironically, reducing my life to nothing but writing left me with little to write about.

Consequently, I spent four months holed up in my apartment struggling with writer’s block. The act of writing shifted from recreation to obligation as I became increasingly worried about producing new content for my blog.

If I didn’t produce new content, I would lose my audience. If I lost my audience, I would lose my revenue. If I lost my revenue, I would lose my freedom from the 9 to 5.

The monthly operating cost of my blog transformed into a 250-pound gorilla on my back. Thankfully, I received some advice that helped remove it:

“Not all web hosts are created equal.”

John Wesley of PickTheBrain uses MediaTemple to host his blog. He pays only $20/month and “a Digg has never taken the site down.”

I should have done more research before paying for a dedicated server. Without knowing that other (better) options existed, I ended up making a thousand-dollar mistake.

Having basically wasted $1000, I keep imagining different ways I would rather spend it. After all, $1000 could just as easily be used to buy:

  1. Round-trip plane tickets (for Thanksgiving dinner with my folks)
  2. 2-3 times more presents than I planned to buy at Christmastime
  3. One year of Piano Lessons
  4. A Brompton Folding Bicycle
  5. Four YEARS of web hosting.

Oh well. I wasted it on only four months of web hosting. Live and learn.

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21 Responses to “How Expensive Web Hosting Lowered My Quality of Life”

#1 RJ on 19, Nov, 2007 at 3:52 am

Yeah I was wondering what happened. You said that you would try to write every day, but your posts have become less frequent over time. Its a shame cause I try and read your site every day and have been getting bored!

Irregardless of that I still really like this site. I think its crazy that you spend so much to share your journey with your readers for free. You say you are terrified but I think you must be confident to do what you do. I think most people couldn’t.

I hope that you write again soon!

#2 Anirudha on 19, Nov, 2007 at 5:48 am

I’ve done this kind of investment a couple of times myself without doing much research.
Lesson learned – a quick and simple market research before putting the cash can save the cash!!

#3 László Monda on 19, Nov, 2007 at 3:20 pm

I’ve already told you about better hosting options, but you didn’t listen to me earlier. Now you can see the truth after wasting so much money.

#4 Dan on 19, Nov, 2007 at 3:40 pm

I think everyone should digg this. Its a very important lesson. I too have wasted quite a bit of money on hosting. Ironically due to my errors I lost a ton of visitors and now am just hosted cheaply on dreamhost.

#5 Yvonne on 19, Nov, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Laszlo Monda: Shaun admits he made a mistake and it’s clear he regrets it. Try being less insensitive. I’m sure it was hard to come to terms with this and even harder to admit it publicly on his blog. The last thing he needs is for you to tell him “I told you so.”
Keep writing Shaun! I believe in you!

#6 Lauren on 20, Nov, 2007 at 12:18 am

Oh wow! I was starting to worry, but I’m so glad you found a solution. I think we should hang out more often – maybe Matt and I will inspire you 😉

#7 Super Mike on 21, Nov, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Dr. Phil: “It’s OKAAAAAAY to pay too much for hosting. It’s OKAAAAAAY to be uninspired. It’s OKAAAAAAY to learn from our mistakes. So now that you know what you know, you won’t do that again, right? Can you sign a pledge to that effect today before our live audience?”

#8 Lodewijkvdb on 23, Nov, 2007 at 5:58 am

Good to hear you learned from your mistake. It happens to the best of us…

A while back Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home had a similar experience and wrote an insightful post on the dynamics of hosting a wordpress powered website. You can find the post here: 5 WordPress Hosting Lessons

It taught me a lot about WordPress. Now only to get featured on the frontpage of Digg 😉

#9 Bibi on 29, Nov, 2007 at 2:45 pm

You have been silent for a long time, miss reading your blogs.

#10 Jinno on 29, Nov, 2007 at 8:56 pm

I must agree, you talk about how it was the paying too much that caused your writer’s block. Now that you’re not paying as much, it seems a little absurd to claim that’s the cause of your writer’s block. I highly doubt that it’s complacency, so something must be going on.

#11 Collin on 30, Nov, 2007 at 2:15 pm

If you can afford to pay 250 a month for a website, or even consider doing so, you should definately stop complaining that you are to poor to be a write, and not beg for our money.

Get a notebook and 3 pencils. That can’t take more than 2 bucks, and I will personally donate that amount if you explain to me why I should give you money, instead of the other way around.

#12 Swombat on 30, Nov, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Yeah, what’s up with the silence? Keep it up man 🙂 I enjoy your writings, even though I’ve taken a different way out of the corporate grind (starting my own business… the best way to make real money 😉 ).

And even for a dedicated server you can get MUCH cheaper hosting… ServerBeach are only about $60/month for a dedicated self-managed box!

#13 Zeyad on 02, Dec, 2007 at 3:07 pm

or try, 200GB space, 2TB transfer for as low as $10.49/mon (for 36 months)


#14 Danielle Gibbings on 02, Dec, 2007 at 4:12 pm

As for the writers block – the best cure is to pick up the pen or pencil and start writing. Give yourself permission to write crap. Just because you write it doesn’t mean you have to publish it. Sooner or later something will come out of all that crap that you’ll want to share.

#15 Ethaen on 04, Dec, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Hey Shaun. Hope you’re just taking some time off to recharge your batteries. I like reading you and hope you’ll be back soon to let everyone know how things are going.

#16 Keara on 06, Dec, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Danielle, good advice!

Not to mention if you give up now, you are guaranteeing failure and feeding the trolls!

#17 matt on 11, Dec, 2007 at 3:34 pm

well, after almost a month with no new posts, i’m forced to unsubscribe. it’s a shame – this blog had a lot of potential.

#18 Shaun Boyd on 11, Dec, 2007 at 7:58 pm

I won’t make excuses. It’s my fault I haven’t published anything for several weeks. I need to stop psyching myself out and just start writing again.

#19 Xi on 12, Dec, 2007 at 2:39 am

Hi Shaun

I’ve been a pretty dedicated reader to your site. You write well and offer good insights when you decide to post. Ever since your notice from a little over 20 days ago that your moving servers, I have yet to see another post. I hope things are working out for you and that you will start writing soon. I certainly do miss reading this blog.

Best of Luck
Happy Holidays

#20 Albert | UrbanMonk.Net on 12, Dec, 2007 at 11:01 am

Man that pricing is insane. Heard good things about Media Temple though.

Agreed with Xi above, hope you come back soon!

Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

#21 Mavrick on 13, Jul, 2009 at 12:06 am

I am interested in how much monthly transfer they were giving you?

Now I get 10Gb per month and pay $2 per extra 1G over that. I use a third of my 1G web space.

Recently I quit being a web hosting company customer. I don’t pay monthly and I don’t pay anually either. I am part of a group and I own a piece of a server with a 10 year service contract. I made one $385 payment and I never get my credit card “dinged” monthly, when we all know we are trying to pay our credit down these days.

I am actually running my main domain for free up to Christmas this year (2009) because you have to have an inside referral, since the company is in pre-launch. I got the special pre-launch rates as well.

It is not hard to understand. You are a customer when you want to pay retail hosting at any price on a monthly basis. You are an owner when you use your server for free after you cover your fractional ownership amount. The typical server with a 10 year contract costs $250,000 and more.

Anyway I thought that would be interesting to know about, that a relatively new much more affordable wholesale method of being online is here now. I’m happy.

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