Making elementary mistakes can cost you your success as a reseller host. Learn about the dos and don’ts of reseller hosting to get started on the path to growing your business.
Reseller hosting is a type of web hosting wherein an individual or company makes a bulk purchase of disk space and bandwidth from an established parent web hosting company, and then resells web hosting packages to other users. It doesn’t require technical know-how so it is perceived as an easy, low-cost source of income, and for this reason, it has become a popular way to earn online.
On paper, it might sound really simple to venture into reseller hosting:
- First, purchase a reseller hosting service from a professional and trusted web host who will allow you to rebrand and resell portions of your allocated disk space and bandwidth.
- Use a convenient, easy-to-use control panel so you can manage your server and split them into smaller hosting accounts for your customers.
- Make money.
However, the truth is that the process isn’t as easy or simple as it sounds, and success is not guaranteed for everyone who will venture into this kind of business. There are a number of aspects that can directly affect your ability to earn income, perhaps your choice of a reseller hosting provider being the biggest of them all.
Choosing a Competent and Reputable Web Hosting Provider
You might be tempted to look for the cheapest offer and be done with it, but while cost is definitely something you should consider, it shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your decision-making process when it comes to choosing your web hosting provider. Other factors that you need to need to look at include:
- Reseller features – The chosen parent web hosting company should offer various features that are essential for reseller hosting, such as cPanel (Linux) or Plesk (Windows), and licenses for billing and hosting management software such as WHMCS.
- Customisable pacakages – Just as you have unique needs compared to your competitors, so will your clients. Make sure that you will be able to create packages, each with their own assigned bandwidth, disk space and email accounts, together with a number of domains, so you can scale your services depending on your clients’ requirements.
- Scalability – Your business’ needs will change over time, and what your web host is capable of providing now may not be sufficient to meet your demands a few years down the road. Find out if the web hosting provider has room for your own growth and future expansion.
- Customer and technical support – One of the most essential things you need to consider when choosing a web host no matter what the nature of your hosting plan, whether it’s for your personal use or reselling. However, if you are reselling, there are other features you will need to examine beyond the basic support requirements. After all, you are the one who will be interfacing with all your clients, while all critical backend processes are to be handled by the parent web host. Find out if they offer round-the-clock support and how quickly and efficiently they respond to client grievances. In addition, it will be helpful to learn if they will be willing to move websites for free, and if they have limitations as to the number of websites they can move without cost.
- Resource allocation – Clearly determine the manner in which the parent web host allocates resources to individual accounts that are hosted as part of your reseller account. Typically, each cPanel account within a reseller plan gets a similar set of resources as a single cPanel account on a shared hosting plan. This is probably acceptable if you are planning to host one website or a handful of them in a single cPanel account. However, if you plan to host numerous websites it can prove problematic especially for busier websites.
Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Web Hosting Company
To say that there are thousands of web hosting companies to choose from is an understatement. It’s important to separate the good from the bad – and let’s be honest; there are many unscrupulous players out there. These pointers will help you identify the common missteps to avoid when choosing a web host.
- Not checking hosting reviews. – By hosting reviews, we mean independent hosting reviews conducted by unbiased entities and genuine customers. It’s not uncommon practice for some web hosting companies to post positive, yet fabricated, reviews online. When searching for reviews, be on the lookout for such items as grievances about the company’s customer service and technical support, complaints about downtime, and about viruses and other security issues. While it can be challenging and will probably take a bit of digging on the Internet, it is likely that you will be able to identify genuine reviews from paid reviews or reviews that are written by the company. Many web hosts also have a list of clients; you can choose a handful from this list and email them to ask about their opinion on the hosting company.
- Choosing an inexperienced company. – Experts advise against signing up with a company that hasn’t been in business for at least 5 to 8 years. The reason for this is because most new companies, in their excitement and anxiousness to sign up as many customers as they can in a short amount of time, offer all kinds of perks, freebies, deals and discounts. However, when they start getting more customers than they can handle, they find they are ill-equipped to deal with growing pains which can result in crashed servers and overwhelmed, unprepared customer service and technical support personnel. Established companies have already been through several trial-by-fire periods and have a plan in place for managing issues that come with growth.
- Not testing out the companies’ customer service. – Most companies advertise 24-hour, 7-days-a-week customer service which can be accessed via live chat, email and telephone. Make sure to come up with a list of questions to ask them pertaining to your business’ particular needs even before you sign up, and try to get answers to your questions through all their available support channels. Aside from that, you can also try checking the company’s support message boards to find out how long it takes for customers to receive a reply from support personnel, and the quality of response they get.
- Falling for “unlimited hosting”. – The truth is there is no such thing as unlimited hosting. Read the fine print and you’ll quickly learn just how much bandwidth and disk space you can actually use before the web hosting company starts throttling you, in which case you will be left without a host, or your site will be shut down for an undetermined amount of time. When you see that a web host offers unlimited hosting, what they really mean is that they provide as much bandwidth and storage that a customer’s hardware is capable of handling – the web host manages their servers’ usage closely and avoids any significant shortage of hosting capacity.
- Not taking advantage of a trial period. – Reputable companies offer trial periods, usually with a money-back guarantee after 30 days. If the web host doesn’t offer this, avoid them at all costs.
Common Reseller Hosting Mistakes
There is a great potential for individuals to generate revenue with reseller hosting. Unfortunately, a great many resellers fail to achieve any real success because of a few costly mistakes. Aside from choosing the wrong parent web hosting company, these are some of the blunders that can hinder success as a reseller host:
- Failing to brand and market your company effectively. – As mentioned before, there are already numerous web hosting companies out there offering the same services as you. In order to make your mark in the industry and give potential and current customers the impression that you are an independent and well-established business, you need to build a sound branding and marketing strategy. Fortunately, many reseller hosting plans offer tools that allow you to design custom control panels for your clients, which you can equip with your own logo and slogan. Take advantage of social media platforms to market your business. Another way to get your name out there is by creating a professionally-designed, well-performing website with simple navigation and all the information that your clients will need. You might even want to consider hiring marketing and brand management professionals if you want to go all-out with promotion.
- Overlooking the importance of customer satisfaction and relations. – Your primary goal is to make a profit through your reseller hosting business, and in order to succeed you will need to ensure customer satisfaction and create and maintain a trusting relationship with your client base. If you are a company that looks after its customers and who also cares about their success, your customers will appreciate your efforts, remain loyal to you, and will have no problem recommending you to others.
Not taking customer support into account. – You might think that you are under no obligation to offer in-house customer support – after all, the parent web hosting company should handle all backend processes. However, delayed or poor customer support can negatively affect your relationship with your client, so it is a good idea to have an in-house customer support in place instead of just relying on the customer support offered by the parent web host. Having a team act as an advocate for your client will enable quicker rectification of any issues.