I’d just won the biggest project in my experience. I had no expectation at all that I would win this project. Now the reality set in that I had to make the website work.
The first question was where to host the website. Historically I’ve almost solely used Flywheel Managed WordPress. Flywheel does an incredible job. This website is hosted on Flywheel. I looked at the pricing tables and I just couldnt swallow that pill for the specifications of this project. I won the bid and the budget was set so every expense would cut into my profit.
The combination of a required peak bandwidth of 20GB and minimum 20GB of storage that has the capability to expand if need be were my main two constraints. Additionally it could not have a page view limit.
With this in mind my monthly bill would have been $75/month or more at Flywheel. I looked around through Siteground but heard enough negative things to ward me off. I ended up a Managed WordPress Plan on GoDaddy because they met the specifications.
After getting the site setup, I migrated the customers data. Then I discovered that GoDaddy’s servers were having a difficult time with the site. After installing WP Rocket I saw some gains in performance on the front end. There were issues still, the backend was creeping along and updates weren’t working well between GoDaddy’s native caching and WP Rocket.
I felt hopelessly stuck. I had already purchased the server space. Performance wasn’t up to par. After many hours of discussion with GoDaddy support there was no solution in sight.
With a great amount of frustration I continued to do my research. I ended up going to Digital Ocean and setting a $20 box there and installing WordPress myself. This is one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced. Previous to this challenge, I had very limited experience working in the terminal beyond running Gulp and VVV.
I ended up trying to provision the server three times before I experienced any level of success. Eventually the site reached a point I was very happy with. I got the installation set up properly. After getting WP Rocket installed, the site had an average first load time of 2.3 seconds.
Pieces of the managed WordPress experience were still missing. Automated backups would be HUGE for this project. Through ManageWP I was able to Automate Backups every 6 hours with offsite storage for a total of $2.08/month. For security I installed Wordfence and got a license for their pro tier at $8/month. For those at home doing the math my monthly costs on this server are
$20 – Server
$8 – Security
$2.08 – Backups
This is a total cost of $30.08 per month compared to $75+ at Flywheel or even more at WP Engine.
Running the server for this project has certainly made me thankful for the companies doing Managed WordPress well. Provisioning your own server for this first time is no joke. Security is no joke. A bunch of work and stress later and I’m not spending an extra $40 a month. Managed WordPress is an incredible service, hear me say incredible, but its not right for every project.