This very site (FollowJoshua.com) is hosted with WP Engine and has been so since the day it was created, so this review is as real as it gets!
Because you’re looking for someone who actually uses WP Engine, not just talks about it. Not just with one website, but a portfolio of commercial-intent websites that demand performance.
Let’s set the record straight
I’m going to relay my own experiences using WP Engine for THIS VERY SITE because most of the other reviews state that “Woo WP Engine is great” only to offer their affiliate link. With others, you’re essentially reading one massive sales pitch.
This is much different. In fact, you won’t even see an affiliate link here. Because I’m simply sharing a real user experience without the kickbacks. Trust me – I make more than enough already with my other niche websites.
I use WPEngine for this website, plus a range of other internationally-based websites too. This is because I’ve selected the North American data centre.
I use Flywheel for my Australian websites, given that the data centre is locally based.
Proof tastes good! I am a WP Engine customer with one of the only user experiences shared online. I’m glad you landed here.
So let’s get into it.
Why did I choose WP Engine?
There are many hosting companies seeking my credit card details. I should know – I’m pitched by them constantly on a few of my websites.
When looking at WP Engine, I was already with the following hosting providers:
In order of recommendation. 🙂
So why WP Engine? That’s easy – Genesis framework. If you’re looking to become a professional at WordPress, then you need to get on Genesis.
StudioPress was the company that essentially gave birth to Genesis. In mid 2018 it was actually acquired by WP Engine for a multi-million dollar price tag.
This very website of mine uses a popular Genesis theme. Once you gain complimentary access to StudioPress via WP Engine, you’re opened up to some pretty epic WordPress themes. Each theme generally retails for $100+ so full access to almost 40 themes represents excellent value for money.
The 2nd most intrinsic advantage was the fully managed WordPress environment. I was previously used to Hostgator, then got hit with a lead magnet for Flywheel months prior on how to best manage the portfolio of sites I used. I eventually signed up (with an affiliate link of a value-driven fellow blogger, of course) to move into a managed environment.
I’m glad I did! It’s significantly easier to manage a portfolio of websites through this approach. In fact, I wish I transitioned much sooner.
If you’re serious about building a digital empire, then you need premium hosting from one of the big 4 – Flywheel, Kinsta, WP Engine and SiteGround. All of these compare
Advantages of WP Engine
There were some value-adds that I scored through moving on to WP Engine with some of my sites. Yes, I continue to use the other alternatives mentioned prior.
Let’s see now:
WordPress updates that are automatic
I love no longer having to update my sites one by one. This means I spend more time writing epic content.
Your website will (almost) always be up to date with its WP install package. I say almost, because the team always checks first to ensure the latest version is stable for their clients, before deployment.
You do have the option to turn off automatic WordPress updates with WP Engine. This adds both a time-cost and a security vulnerability with your install.
One downside is that plugins are not automatically updated. That said, you should, at the most, only have 10 plugins at any one time, unless you want your site to crawl very slowly and gain little to no SERP traffic.
There is an impending launch of the WordPress 5 version and Gutenberg’s editor that has many experienced professionals wary of automatic updates. Personally, I’m mostly sold on Gutenberg.
Superior support team
A key reason why I consider any premium WordPress hosting package is the support. Can I get someone at any time?
Right now, it’s 8:45pm on a Saturday night. I decided to reach out to WP Engine’s own chat support.
Yep! Less than 2 minutes on this test.
Actually, this was the longest I waited.
Knowing there is someone there to help out when I break stuff is crucial for me. I’m as far from a web developer as you’ll get!
Now, it’s likely that some of their support is based offshore, especially with a name like ‘Orla’ though I’ve had mostly western people who were able to resolve problems quickly. That said, I didn’t want to simply display just the best-case scenario for this review, in order to maintain its transparency.
By the way… they didn’t have any swag left…
Automatic website backups
Every night your WordPress install is automatically backed up. This is not just protection from exterior forces, but also yourself! I once deleted an entire site that was earning me a significant amount of income. Luckily, Hostgator does have 7 day backups.
WP Engine goes a lot further with their 30 day backups. This is inclusive of all of your themes, database, content, photos and plugins. If you find a significant fault with your install and need to restore a backup, it’s often an easy process.
Not only are there automatic WordPress backups, but you can also backup manually. Sometimes when I install a new plugin or theme, I will backup my entire site first to avoid any potential issues. When you’re producing content on fire like myself, you’ll want that ability to roll back quickly.
WordPress staging environments
Now, admittedly, this is a new one to me. You can create your own website development flow long before launching it.
Essentially it’s a 3 step process:
- Create your new WordPress website within WP Engine
- Add it to a staging environment to show clients (or merely get a feel for it)
- Launch the website to the entire world when it’s ready to go live
The best part is that there is no technical wizardry required to move between environments. WP Engine has an excellent user interface which I love to use.
Seriously world-class performance
These days I choose premium WordPress hosting over the dirt cheap options, simply because I care so much about ranking, SEO and metrics. Performance over pricing is my metric.
Impressive at just a quarter of a second. Remember, this site IS hosted in the United States, despite myself being a WP Engine customer from Australia.
I decided to run Pingdom on this very website. Let’s see those results:
I also decided to run a Pingdom Test via SE Asia, given this is the ‘geographical centre’ of most 1st world countries.
Less than 3 seconds. Not as impressive, but I’ll buy it! Remember this is on a Genesis Framework Child theme.
Now, these benefits aren’t exactly what I quite need, but depending on your situation, can be handy to have!
- You can create transferable WordPress websites for clients. The best part is that these won’t actually count against your hosting plan limits, which for most people is 10 installs. You can also password protect these sites.
- You’ll get access to the GeoTarget tool, so you can deliver content based on a users location. This is actually handy and something I’m excited to explore further with.
- WordPress migration plugin plus in-depth guides that assists you to migrate with ease via your own Dashboard. This isn’t exactly groundbreaking, as just about every host provides migration assistance, with Flywheel looking after this process for you in most cases.
There are of course many benefits that WP Engine outlines on their website.
Downsides of using WP Engine
Right – I told you this one was a real review, unlike others attempting to pitch WP Engine with affiliate links. I am actually a customer with WP Engine.
Am I happy with WP Engine? Yes, but not totally. It could improve.
Truth be told, I’m actually slightly happier with FlyWheel hosting.
Because you’ll pay a little more, but you’ll get more (if you can go without Genesis, that is).
So let’s look at where WP Engine can improve:
- The monthly plans are priced slightly higher than the industry average, though pricing isn’t generally an issue for me. I’m personally on the Growth plan to run my digital empire.
- Their staff provides ZERO personal outreach when you come on board. Not even a hello. All the effort is placed on initially bringing you on board as a customer. Compare this to Flywheel hosting where I’ve had 3 to 4 touchpoints after converting, including swag! Come on WP Engine
….I need some SWAG! 😜 Even just a Hello would be appreciated.
- No assisted migrations. I’ve had to do migrations on my own, which I don’t mind. Flywheel offers these for free, for an unlimited amount of sites. With WP Engine I’ve migrated fine, but I’ve had to be in touch with their support team 6 times as sites didn’t mesh across properly. I can attest that their support team is very helpful!
- The over-use fees are also slightly high, though I doubt these are actually charged to their customers. I think if you’re touching on the over-use fees, you must be doing something right in your online business.
- There is a restriction on certain plugins. This is a reason why I moved some sites away from Flywheel, as I couldn’t use Wordfence. At least with this install (FollowJoshua.com) I’m able to use my
favoritesecurity plugin, though others are restricted.
One thing I did like regarding the pricing, is that I initially started on the Growth Plan at $35 per month, then after my 33rd day, decided to upgrade. Their system automatically credited my account pro-rata without any human intervention. Super winning!
They (almost) have a lifetime customer in my books! Just wish they could improve their onboarding experience, among other things. Yes, I’m still a little cut about that missing swag…
WP Engine: My closing thoughts
After now using WP Engine for several months, I think it’s fair to say that I’ll be on board for the long term. They offer a stable and high-performance hosting platform for WordPress users like myself who build content-heavy affiliate sites.
There are some seriously good extras on board,
The development environments are user friendly even for the most novice of beginners. Not only that, but you can transfer sites quite easily, which is helpful if you’re an agency starting out.
Is it cheap? Not by a long shot. If you’re on a slim budget, then WP Engine probably isn’t the best recommendation. But if you’re looking to host 3 or more WordPress websites, then this would be one of my top recommendations.
If you read the other reviews of WP Engine, you’ll find that not everyone is happy. But seldom do people leave a positive review, but rush like mad to leave a negative one. Please take those other sites with a grain of salt, as I’m merely sharing my personal experiences here.
I look forward to seeing WP Engine continue to improve its services and reputation as one of the world’s premier WordPress hosting services. There
For now, at least for me, I’ll be on board for the long haul.