There are various factors you need to consider before deciding to launch your business as a web host reseller. Taking the time to learn the details of this venture can only benefit you in the long run.
You may be thinking of becoming a web hosting reseller, thinking it is a fast, easy and affordable way to launch a business. Maybe you’re working in a related field, such as website design and development, and think that offering web hosting to your clients would be a great addition to your services. No matter the reasons for your interest in creating and growing your own web hosting company, the best springboard for this endeavour would be to understand the basics of reseller hosting.
Options for Reseller Hosting
You will be presented with a variety of hosting options as a potential reseller, from the very simple and inexpensive to the intricate and pricey.
If you know server management like the back of your hand, have the means to set up your own server machine and want the features of a large IT department without incurring the cost that comes with it, then colocation is a good option for you. Colocation allows you to place your server at a facility and share their bandwidth as your own. All you need to do is set up your machine, take it to the colocation provider’s facilities and install it in their rack.
Alternately, you can rent a server machine from the provider. The responsibility of providing an IP, bandwidth and power to your server falls on the colocation provider’s shoulders. There are other added benefits to choosing colocation servers; high security measures such as cameras, fire protection and backup power generators, to name a few. This option is more expensive than basic web hosting, but it offers more security for you and your clients.
This option is best if you want to have exclusive use and access to the resources of a physical server. While the equipment is owned and operated by another entity that owns the data centre where the physical server is located, you can rest assured that with a dedicated server, you won’t need to worry about other server users affecting your business. However, you will need more technical knowledge to setup your dedicated server. On the other hand, you can choose to pay more for a managed dedicated server, wherein it is the data centre’s responsibility to maintain and troubleshoot the machine.
Virtual Private Server Hosting
This type of hosting bridges the gap between shared hosting and dedicated servers. Think of it as a virtual portion of a much larger main server – typically a powerful, dedicated server divided up into several virtual spaces. While this is perceived as a sufficient option as you grow and expand your business, there are limitations when it comes to VPS hosting resources which make it a less viable choice for resellers.
With this option, you are given permission by main web hosting company to sell a certain amount of disk space and bandwidth to your own customers without having to rent a server from them. You do not require extensive knowledge of the technical aspects of web hosting. The web hosting company will be responsible for maintaining the network infrastructure and hardware, as well as for configuring, securing and updating the software. You will be responsible for interacting with your customers, creating your own web hosting packages and choosing your own pricing structure. In most cases, you will have access to customised control panels and servers with which you can establish your own branding. You will need to dedicate a substantial amount of your budget to advertising in order to compete with other players in the industry.
Becoming a Reseller Host
1. Create your business plan
Savvy businesspersons know that the business plan should come first. Outline all your goals, identify your target market and determine your requirements, including the cost. Your business plan should discuss the following points:
Who is your target market? Why should they choose you? Do you plan to focus on a niche market? If so, which one?
What is your goal? Is it to compete with other cheap reseller hosting companies? Or do you plan to offer something different/unique that customers can’t find anywhere else?
Do you need equipment? If so, what kind?
A reliable computer with high speed internet connection is essential. Do you need specialised software?
How much money do you need to establish your business?
2. Choose a reliable and experienced web hosting provider
There are a plethora of web hosting companies to choose from. However, they are not created equally, so you need to do your research to ensure that you are choosing the right one. Remember that your business will only ever be as great as the web hosting company you choose, so choose wisely! Whatever you do, don’t base your entire decision on the cost alone. While you will obviously want to automatically sign up with the lowest-priced of the bunch, you also need to consider the following:
Will the provider be able to meet your RAM, processing power and disk space you need?
Does the provider offer unlimited bandwidth or not? If not, you might end up paying extra if the traffic of your third-party websites exceeds that of the limit.
What kind of reputation does the provider have when it comes to their technical support? Do they have multiple methods of communication, such as email, toll-free service and live chat? Do they offer 24/7 support? How fast do they respond to customer complaints and how effective is the response?
Control Panel and Account Management Software
Does the provider offer an easy-to-use and convenient reseller control panel such as cPanel? Do they offer a client management, billing and support solution like WHMCS? These are crucial for you to be able to implement, manage and monitor hosting accounts.
Experience and Specialisation
How long has the provider been in business? Do they specialise in reseller hosting services? Does the provider have an uptime score of 99.5% and above? Any score below this may negatively impact your client’s websites and your business. Choose a company that operates 24/7 with powerful servers and stable network connections.
Will the provider regularly conduct server maintenance, push software updates and implement security measures? Will they ensure DDOS mitigation services, custom firewall configuration and Hyper Availability (H/A) with multiple redundancies?
White-label Hosting Solution
Will you be able to sell the hosting services in your own name and brand? Choosing a hosting plan that allows you to become a white-label reseller means you can promote and sell your own reseller brand.
Does the provider offer customisable packages which will help you scale the services depending on your potential clients’ requirements? Make sure that you can create plans with assigned bandwidths, disk space and emails, as well as domains. Remember that you need to keep your target market in mind so you can determine the bandwidth and storage space that your clients may need.
Does the hosting provider support multiple applications and programming languages? Do they offer SSL for secure websites? Make sure that you will be able to support various features to suit the specific requirements of your potential clients so you won’t need to turn anyone away.
3. Learn the ins and outs of any software that you will use for your reseller hosting business
Make sure you know your way around the software essential to your enterprise, such as control panel, accounting management software, technical support tickets, etc. You wouldn’t want to be caught unawares once the business is up and running.
4. Establish web hosting plans with pricing
This part can be complicated and will require you to spend a bit of time researching. Once you start your enquiries, don’t be surprised to find competitors who are charging anywhere from £1.00 and £99.00 – and even beyond. The key is to place yourself in your customer’s shoes and realistically consider what is suitable. Consider such factors as server cost, operational costs and others. Of course, websites that require secure certificates for e-commerce, as well as those requiring more space and bandwidth, should be charged a higher rate.
5. Build an effective website with e-commerce
Since you are selling web hosting, it should go without saying that you need online presence. You’ll want to ensure that your business website stands out from the competition, not just with a catchy name and slick web design. Your website should perform well; pages that load quickly, have simple navigation and relevant content. It will also be a big help if your website will allow you to take credit card payments online and automated billing so that you don’t have to worry about tracking each payment that comes in. Make sure that your customers also have access to a help desk so they can contact you if they encounter issues with their websites.
Your hard work and attention to detail won’t pay off if people don’t know you exist. Be sure to advertise your business accordingly, placing emphasis on SEO and social media marketing.
7. Build and maintain relationships with your customers
Word of mouth makes for good advertisement. Your customers will gladly and freely recommend you to others as long as you are able to build and maintain great relationships with them.