Worried about whether your CBD website is going to be shut down?
Depending on how you have set up your hosting, you might be right to be concerned. Many of the easier hosting options for CBD sites in the UK aren’t available, so site owners need to make savvy, informed decisions to future-proof their CBD businesses.
Solutions That are Problematic for CBD Site Owners in the UK (Wix, Shopify, and WordPress.com)
Platforms like Wix, WordPress.com, and Shopify have grown in popularity for small business owners wanting a simple website solution that makes it easy to build and host a site at no cost. But with these options, the platform’s host and therefore have control over whether your site stays live.
And, importantly, for CBD site owners in the UK, they aren’t an option. The reason for this is a bit complicated. Basically, these international sites take their lead from federal government regulations in the US that until December 20th, 2018, deemed hemp and hemp-derived products to be a controlled substance. Hemp has now been officially removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and it is deemed to be an agricultural commodity, not to be confused with a controlled substance such as marijuana.
But, unfortunately, platforms like Wix and WordPress.com have been slow to react to the change in US federal law so, regardless of where you are in the world (and despite CBD is completely legal in the UK), they won’t allow you to sell CBD while using their platform and hosting.
An excerpt from WordPress.com shows their stance on the matter, “Although the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, the production and sale of hemp remains highly regulated. At this time, we do not permit the sale of CBD oil […] As such, your site will be permanently suspended if CBD substances continue to be made available for direct purchase through your site. If you’d like to proceed with this type of store, you might consider a self-hosted WordPress installation.” Along a similar vein, Wix has listed the sale of CBD products as a restricted and prohibited business.
Shopify is slightly different, they will allow you to sell CBD, but their integrated payment gateway, which is underwritten by Stripe, does not permit the sale of CBD products. So, to prevent your merchant account from being shut down, you need to integrate a third-party payment gateway which is expensive.
Just a quick note – there is a difference between using WordPress.org to build your site (using it as a CMS) and using WordPress.com to host your site. WordPress.com offers free hosting for sites like “websitebusiness.wordpress.com” (not available for CBD sellers), while their CMS is available for sites that have their own hosting such as “websitebusiness.com” (which is available for CBD sellers).
What’s the solution? You’ll need to host your website yourself…
Before we get into the more technical details, these are some terms that you need to understand:
- Host – the company that stores your website
- Hosting – the process of storing your website (either on a single computer or network of computers)
- Server – a computer that stores (hosts) websites
- Network – multiple servers (computers) that are linked together and share resources so that they can run like a single server. Networks are able to host more websites as they have more resources available than a single computer server. In most cases, a network will be made up of many servers linked together.
- Cloud – Multiple networks set up in different locations work together to operate in a similar way to a single server. The term ‘cloud-based hosting’ refers to large-scale networks of computers that share resources and can include networks of servers from around the world.
Different Hosting Options for CBD Websites
There are many different types of hosting that are available for CBD sellers to self-host their websites. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each before making a decision, including factors such as active human monitoring, security, support, resource allocation and more.
The most common options are:
Shared Web Hosting
Here you share your hosting with a number of other websites on a single server network. This means that your site shares resources with other websites which can impact load speeds if the server is oversubscribed (i.e. too many sites are hosted on the same server), or if other sites have traffic spikes. This could throttle your traffic if they hog resources or even lead to downtime if the spikes crash the server. They’re also less secure as it’s easier for a virus on another site to infect your own site.
Less secure, slower, and less reliable.
Cloud-based hosting is essentially shared hosting, but there are pre-allocated resources for your website. The hosting occurs across multiple servers in different countries – good examples of this option include Google and Amazon, both of whom offer website hosting in the cloud. Copies of your website are available on servers across the world so if an international user searches for your site; they will be served a copy of the website from the closest server.
Faster load speeds (especially internationally), increased security.
More costly, not easy for an amateur to set up without help.
Here your website is hosted on a virtual private network where you have close to complete control over your website, which gives you a similar level of control as a dedicated server. This is a good thing if you are confident in your ability to set up and maintain your hosting.
Full control, dynamic resource allocations that scales as your website grows, good security.
It is difficult to set up and maintain; it is also an expensive option.
Dedicated Server Hosting
With dedicated server hosting your site is hosted on a dedicated server. Here you have set resources on a server (or network), and you don’t share them with others. You can customise the server requirements including the CPU, RAM, disk space and software.
They’re flexible, can scale according to your needs, and are safe and secure.
They’re expensive and require some understanding of how hosting works.
For website owners that want a fast loading site but don’t want to worry about the details of setting up or managing their own hosting, managed hosting is a good choice. With this option, your host server is actively managed, which offers protection against crashes, attacks and other threats. There is also a human point of call if you have site speed issues or similar. Managed hosting is human-monitored private hosting offered by an individual or company.
Good security, assistance with issues, good site speed.
Which CBD Hosting do We Recommend?
That’s a difficult one to answer because we’re biased. Our CBD website clients trust us to host their sites where we can actively manage the resources and security of each site. And, because it’s a managed hosting solution, it’s easy for our clients to use and doesn’t compromise on-site load speed.
If you want a solution that you manage yourself, cloud hosting is a great option – it’s reliable, secure, and fast especially if you want to tap into an international market.