Dollar Shave Club is a relatively recent startup. A startup that began with a YouTube video attracting ten million views. So many views that the video actually crashed Dollar Shave Club's server. We've talked about it on this site many times, but here's what actually happens when a site attracts unexpected traffic.
So Much Traffic!
In March of 2012, Dollar Shave Club founder, Michael Dubin, posted a funny video on YouTube. The video included Dubin making wisecracks as he walked through a warehouse telling random men that they should sign up for his monthly razor service. The service would cost $2 a month, and subscribers would receive new blades.
The video was funny, but Dubin had no idea it would spark so much interest. Shortly after the video was posted, millions of viewers watched it. This caused major server overload. Frantic, Dubin contacted his hosting company, and pretty much everyone he knew in the hosting business. He finally got his site back up. Clearly, the Dollar Shave Club wasn't predicting this kind of response — but you never know, right?
Expect the Unexpected
You may think that a funny YouTube video couldn't possibly attract ten million hits. You may also think that your cheap web hosting site is adequate. But, what will happen if your business turns into Dubin's business overnight? Your site could be shut down.
You see, cheap web hosting sites don't like it when lots of business heads to one site in a matter of hours. Thinking that you have an “unlimited bandwidth” site? Think again. That “unlimited” promise is usually a false one, and your host will care if your site draws a lot of traffic. Some sites might even shut your site down.
What To Do
If your site winds up with as much traffic as Dubin's, you'll need a new host. Or, you may be able to increase the amount of bandwidth you currently have (though not all cheap web hosting sites allow upgrades). How can you predict a large influx of site traffic? You really can't.
However, you can (somewhat) assume that adding a video or downloads to a site may drive lots of traffic to your site. That's precisely why many cheap web hosting sites do not allow this kind of content. In Dubin's case, his YouTube video was linked to his site, and that caused a ton of traffic.
So, think about the product or service you're offering, and consider opting for a hosting site that provides you with enough space. If you think that you will be posting videos anywhere and directing those videos to your site, go the precautionary route. Cheap web hosting sites have a purpose, but that purpose might not be an ideal one for your new startup.
Need some help deciding if you should go the cheap web hosting route? Feel free to post questions and comments below!