My answer is, “Almost certainly not.”
Although you will see special “WordPress Hosting” services heavily advertised, and there are entire hosting companies claiming to be dedicated to nothing else, all you really need from a technical viewpoint is a host that supports
- PHP 5.4 or greater
- MySQL 5.5 or greater
- (optional, but recommended for some plugins) The mod_rewrite Apache module
The pitch for specialized WordPress hosting generally includes such things as the host’s expertise in WordPress, which can be useful for troubleshooting WordPress (and plugin) problems.
But is that expertise worth paying 3 or 4 times basic hosting rates for? These days, WordPress installations are so common that almost every company in the hosting business has in-depth expertise in every problem you are likely to encounter. For instance, the few times I’ve gone to the helpdesk at my hosting provider, I’ve gotten the information I needed to get over the problem quickly (and more than half the time, it hasn’t been a WordPress problem anyway).
As I mentioned in a prior post, I pay extra for a “reseller” account, even though I don’t resell hosting. The added features and security are very much worth the extra cost.
I would advise any blogging newbie to spend some time getting familiar enough with WordPress (I started with an early edition of this excellent book by Lisa Sabin-Wilson) that you can handle basic maintenance issues alone. Even if you plan to hire a webmaster (or a VA) to do the day-to-day upkeep on your site.
While there is some merit to outsourcing everything except those tasks that only you can do, I firmly believe that a basic knowledge of what is going on will keep you from getting ripped off, and will allow you to react quickly to occasional problems. If you don’t have the basics, you end up at the mercy of your webmaster’s schedule.
In fact, I would extend that advice to all areas of running your business. Learn how it needs to be done, and then you can outsource much more effectively.
But I did add “almost” in my response at the beginning of this post. When might you want to pay extra for WordPress hosting?
If you really do want to avoid learning how to deal with WordPress issues yourself, it might be worth paying the enormous premium for dedicated WordPress hosting. But I’m not really sure about that, because I have a techie background, and I have already put in the time needed to learn WordPress.
Which brings up a thought… If you would like somebody to set up and maintain your WordPress site for you, and provide hosting, I can do that. But it’ll cost you. I haven’t figured out how much yet, but I generally charge about $100/hour for other things I do, usually with a minimum. In this case, probably a retainer of about 10 hours, or $1000.