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The Price of Fame

Graffiti at Chapters, Ottawa, August 2013
Graffiti at Chapters, Ottawa, August 2013

Blogging is time consuming—all those who take the time to write articles, upload pictures or share their thoughts, skills or knowledge online know that.

But having a blog is also a financial expense.

Sure, there are plenty of free options. If you sign up with WordPress.com or Blogger, use one of the many free themes or templates and focus on open-source resources, you probably won’t have to pay a dime for your online presence. That said, you will have to live with the limitations of such platforms—third-party ads, lack of control over your content, random account suspensions, hosting limits, etc.

I started with a free account on Blogger. It was a great platform to see if writing for an audience was right for me and I enjoyed it for a year or so. But in 2007, I decided to take it a step further and I opted for a self-hosted WordPress website. As they say, “with great powers, come great responsibilities”: I had to buy a domain name (www.correresmidestino.com), find a shared hosting plan and transfer my Blogger content to WordPress. Somehow, I made it, with no technical knowledge whatsoever.

At that time, my expenses went from $0 for a Blogger account to:

  • $96 a year for a shared hosting plan with Site5
  • $10 a year for a domain name with GoDaddy
  • $59 for Colorlabs’ Arthemia theme license (a one-time payment)

Blogging was actually costing me money.

I have never regretted transferring Correr Es Mi Destino to WordPress, though. And I have never regretted investing in blogging either—it did pay off in many ways. This blog is a great way to meet people, to fuel my passion for writing and photography, to show what I do to prospective clients, to network, etc. And it’s always rewarding to see the readership grow.

But it has downsides as well.

Earlier this month, I received an email from Site5, my hosting company, claiming that my resource usage was too high to stay on a shared server plan.

Hi Juliette,

We are contacting you to inform you that your account is currently consuming too many resources for shared web hosting and will either need to be optimized to reduce resources or will need dedicated hosting. The additional usage by your account is causing a strain on your shared server, so this issue will need to be resolved within the next 5 days by reducing usage or moving to a more robust hosting plan.

“How can I be using too much resources?”, I wrote back. “This is a personal blog, I’m a drop in the ocean!”

After making sure my account hadn’t been compromised with malicious files, Site5 pulled out my stats.

Hi Juliette,

Unfortunately, resource usage is still very high on your account so we’re forced to upgrade you to a VPS package in order to accommodate your resource usage.

I reviewed your stats and this has been a problem for a long time, we honestly just have been super behind on notifying customers. Your website is too busy for shared hosting as it is receiving ~2,000 unique visitors a day and around ~6000 page views a day.

For a few days, I went back and forth with a long list of Site5 technicians, never the same person. Could I try to lower resource usage? I implemented a captcha method in order to reduce the number of spam comments (don’t worry, no need to decipher some warped letters—all you have to do is tick the “I am NOT a spammer” box below the comment area!). I cleaned up some old files and plugins. I optimized my database.

All of my efforts were to no avail.. Without waiting for my approval, Site5 migrated me to a Virtual Private Servers (VPS) account.

Now, what am I complaining about? Well, VPS are expensive, much more expensive than shared hosting. The VPS Site5 moved me to was $72 a month. Ouch. I mean, I love my blog but I’m not paying $72 a month for a hosting plan.

Besides, I was kind of annoyed with Site5. I mean, I have been a loyal customer for 5 years and suddenly you decide to move me to an expensive plan without trying to work it out? I felt they were pushing me to VPS because it was worth it to them—not to me.

So I contacted a bunch of hosting companies. Some simply sent me the link to “register NOW!” without adding anything. Other replied to me days later—a fairly bad sign when it comes to customer service.

Eventually, I had a good conversation with the folks at A Small Orange, a small-ish hosting company. They did warn me that, considering the stats I had provided, VPS was the best option. But they were cheaper than Site5 ($30 a month) and would take care of the migration for me.

I signed up.

“Fame” has a price, and so does keeping this website online.

But I enjoy blogging and I’m not quitting.

Now flock to the damn blog, and use some hosting resources—I’m paying for them!

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