The best time to start reselling web hosting is only after you fully understand the ins and outs of this kind of business. Many novice web developers look at only the benefits of what it would be like to run a web hosting company – and there are quite a few. But it’s also not as easy as it appears on the surface. Let’s examine some of the more nuanced facets of running your own web host.
Yes, There are Benefits
In an effort not to scare you off the idea entirely, let’s be clear that there are plenty of good reasons to learn how to resell web hosting. Often the primary motivating factor is that this is a business model which offers you residual income – your client base will almost always pay a monthly or yearly fee, and with enough customers, there’s no doubt that you can make a nice living.
Additionally, as a reseller, you probably won’t ever have to purchase any of the standard equipment non-reseller web hosting companies are required to buy, like all of the hardware necessary to actually host sites. This makes your startup costs and maintenance expenses considerably lower.
Becoming a reseller of web hosting also ties in nicely with many other online service-based businesses, and perhaps you run one already, such as graphic design, web development, or similar services. If you do, all too frequently you’ve probably had clients ask, “What web hosting company should I use?” and, after a while, you realized that you could suggest your own!
All of this is great. However, there’s a few caveats you must consider..
Web Hosting is a Time Intensive Job
As you learn how to resell web hosting, perhaps the most important takeaway is to realize that web hosting isn’t a “set and forget” business, not by any stretch of the imagination. Web hosting, as a reseller or otherwise, is a time sensitive service. This means that if something goes wrong and, say, a client’s website crashes or is no longer accessible on the internet for one reason or another, it’s your job to get it back up as quickly as possible.
Not only do you have to be able to resolve issues quickly, you should also expect to have to answer a lot of questions. Not all customers will be tech savvy, and in some cases it may even be their first experience having a website hosted. It will be your responsibility to assist them with whatever technical support needs they may have.
There are More Expenses Than Meet The Eye
It’s also very important to budget properly. While it’s much easier to become a reseller of web hosting than many other businesses, you’ll likely have some unforeseen costs. For example, assuming that the above section made you realize that if you don’t want to be available to fix broken websites 24/7, you might want to outsource your technical support team. This can range from moderately to very expensive, depending on the size of your customer base and the skill of the support team.
Additionally, you’ll have to – of course – have your reseller web hosting site designed. If you aren’t a web designer or web developer yourself, it’s likely that you’ll have to pay someone else to create the site as well as graphics such as logos.
Finally, if you plan to use paid advertising as a means to attract new and loyal customers, you’ll want to properly budget ahead for this. Knowing exactly what kind of ROI (Return on Investment) you need from your advertising campaigns will be very helpful.
You’ll Need Some Technical Expertise
..Or the cash flow to be able to outsource the technical setup and support aspects of running a reseller web hosting business.
Assuming you decide to do this yourself, you’ll need to have some technical expertise. If you don’t consider yourself an expert but still want to try your hand at becoming a reseller host, it’s a very good idea to find a reseller provider that offers managed hosting.
Managed hosting means that the company you’re purchasing server space from to resell will handle most (if not all) major issues for you. While they won’t directly interface with your customers or do your job for you, they’ll do a lot of the basics that may be over your head, such as server maintenance and installing security updates.
Protecting Your Client’s Site and Data
Two very important things most web hosts can provide their customers with are DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack protection and a comprehensive backup service. You will need to be able to configure both.
DDoS protection is important, because at some point or another, it’s likely that this kind of attack will target your server – and it may not even be your fault. Ensuring that your server is properly fortified against this kind of attack means that your clients won’t be calling you at three in the morning and wondering why their site is down.
Comprehensive backups are a must! Again, a must. In the event that anything ever goes wrong, you want to have full backups of all of your customer’s website data. Assuming there is a catastrophic failure, as you rebuild you’ll be able to fully restore your client’s data.
A Full Understanding of the Underlying Technology is Invaluable
Understanding how the technology works in your reseller web hosting business is crucial to your success. One of the most important aspects is what kind of billing software you’re going to use – whether you use the very popular WHMCS, a robust shopping cart specifically designed for web hosts, or something else entirely, billing your customers is obviously a necessary step.
You’ll likely also want to understand how your control panel works. You’ll likely use cPanel or Plesk. Some familiarity with Linux will be helpful. Do you understand SLL certificates? You’d better!
As you can see, there’s a lot of details behind the curtain of operating your own web hosting business. Before you decide to dive in and start providing hosting to your own customers, make sure you take all of these points into consideration.