Hi @BrianHermelijn, thanks for the post, the “Community Expert” is a moniker the Webflow team gives to those members of the Webflow community that have proven that they have a good knowledge of Webflow and who have demonstrated through actions that they have free volunteered their time in helping others with Webflow design issues.
Community Experts are not Webflow employees, they are ones who have volunteered to help out of the goodness of their heart and to help make the Web a better place through using Webflow for their own projects and clients. Sorry if there was some misunderstanding there.
Webflow hosting is part of our managed hosting and services platform, where design of the site can be made using our designer UI, with optional hosting in Webflow available.
For the price of the paid hosting, you are also getting use of the designer, which Hostgator or other “hosting only” solutions generally do not provide.
If you can live with shared hosting (in most cases) and the costs to setup and maintain the services that Webflow normally provides with a hosting subscription (i.e. SSL, Forms, Blazing fast CDN Distribution, Zapier integration, CMS, CMS API, storage in secure amazon cloudfront servers and infinite scalability), then of course, you could host on on your own, on any platform you wish.
I think you will find, the cost will be higher if you added all these features on your own, than to just purchase it as part of a hosting subscription in Webflow.
The webflow.io domains are using Webflow Free hosting, which is not intended for production usage, but to enable you to create a site and export, or to later host in Webflow.
If you are on a Lite plan or higher, you can build up to 100 pages per site, on on Free Enhanced hosting, and on the Free plan, the free hosting is limited to 2 pages.
All sites with a hosting subscription (like Basic hosting) get 100 static pages, ability to host a custom domain, up to 25k monthly visitors, ability to use custom code, forms, Zapier integrations, one-click publishing and publish targets features.
The hosting chosen, should be based on what kind of site activity you plan on having. If you plan on having a lot of pages, I would recommend a CMS hosting. If you plan to host without having a lot of dynamic content, i.e. a small site, then the Basic Hosting is a good option. If you plan to export a site an host on your own server, then I would recommend our Lite Plan for $16 per month (if paid annually) which will allow to create up to 10 site projects using free hosting and ability to export the site (to host on another server).
Sites with CMS hosting or Business hosting have even more features and limits as shown in our comparison: http://webflow.com/hosting.
In the end, Webflow will save a lot of time designing, developing and managing sites, and if using our Client Billing feature, it is possible to build a design business and bill your clients directly for hosting subscriptions with your own markup added. I do not believe that Hostgator or Go Daddy have that yet.
I hope this helps, if you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me.