I enjoyed making my first personal site. I used Wordpress and a shared host called x10Premium. I understood everything. I gained experience with these tools from my job at the time. Everything was familiar and relatively easy, which was convenient and made things quick. However, I wanted a change.
I know WordPress offers a lot of features, but I wanted more freedom. I also wanted to minimalize my site to only what I needed. Doing everything myself would enable this.
I've been wanting to edit/update my site for months, but I never did it. I was really dragging my feet. Then I got my current job, and my boss talked to me about this PHP Framework Laravel. I decided to give it a shot, and it's become my favorite way to develop. It became the foundation for my new redesign. With this new approach I needed a different host.
I went with Linode. My boss uses it and loves it. Several of the podcasts I listen to use it. They even have offer codes, and I took advantage of one. He and the show hosts talked about how easy it is to use because of the documentation, and they were right. I'm not saying there wasn't frustration on my part because of user error, but it was a really great learning experience.
Doing everything from scratch has taught me so much. Laravel and Linode are a great match. If anyone wants to make a site, I recommend this if you know what you're doing.