SitePoint Sponsor

User Tag List

Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    40
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Setting up hosting for clients

    I'm just starting out on a new careeer as a freelance web designer/developer.

    It's just struck me that I don't know the first thing about what to do after I've done the design and site building. Should I buy the domain name and hosting space and tell the client I'll be in touch in 2 years to renew? Should I tell them how to set up hosting and then leave it up to them to keep maintained? What to clients, as a rule, expect?

    I'd be interested to hear anyone's views and experiences about how to manage this aspect of the job.

    Cheers

    Rhys

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,686
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    There's pros and cons to each side of the coin...

    Offering hosting (generally by renting a server or having a reseller account) gives you the opportunity to have recurring revenue, direct access to your client's site and will generally make things easier when dealing with getting them live.

    On the other hand, by offering hosting you can't walk away from a client as easily and will often find they feel more entitled to services (especially with smaller clients). When you host you're also expected to be available for any sort of emergency or downtime concerns which may not work well for you and may not be something you can adequately address. If you do chose to host clients be sure they know exactly what this means and what it entitles them to (a hosting account vs update access).

    Back in my freelance days I tried to avoid hosting people but would instead pass them off to qualified hosts that I trusted. This way they got the assurance of a full hosting team and I got the peace of mind of not getting a call at 2am (at least not about their hosting).
    - Ted S

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Bedford, UK
    Posts
    1,687
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Yes I agree totally with Ted - I used to offer hosting but rarely do now. It's too much trouble. In particular email problems used to drive me mad!

    I'd suggest finding a host that you really trust (via recommendations - I can recommend a couple in the UK if you're here) and send your clients to them. That way when things go wrong they won't be ringing you at 4am!

    I'd steer well clear of buying the domain name too. I've lost count of the times that a new client has discovered that they don't actually own their own domain or that even if they do their old designer has all the details and they can't get at it.

    Again - find a good supplier and recommend people to them. If necessary draw up a list of simple instructions for people so they know which options to tick and what to say yes or no to when actually buying the domain or the hosting.

    Oh and also - many hosts and domain suppliers offer affiliate schemes so you can earn money from recommending people to them.
    Little Blue Plane Web Design
    Blood, Sweat & Rust - A Land Rover restoration project

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Tauranga, New Zealand
    Posts
    358
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hi,

    I offer hosting for clients and I find it works out ok. I got some good knowledge about DNS and domain names and some basic knowledge about the debian operating system that runs on my dedicated server. For all further help I pay my ISP, which also provides an easy to use control panel.

    I price the hosting relatively high, but I decided to offer full service for the email accounts. Most problems are solved by remote controlling into the clients computer with www.copilot.com. I tend to not explain too much what they need to do, its too tedious, I just get in there and set it up. Once people are running, there is usually not much to do. There are also lots of services that can be bundled and upsold, such as authenticated SMTP or backup of remote mysql installations.

    On top of that I can manage clients websites on my server with SVN, which really saves time.

    HTH, Jochen
    http://www.automatem.co.nz
    Websites, On-line Software and everything Internet
    Follow on Twitter | Connect on LinkedIn | Read on Posterous

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Lancaster, PA
    Posts
    3,019
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I would often help a client register a domain name, but ALWAYS made it clear in my contracts that their domain was their responsibility - not mine.

    Hosting is so inexpensive I would often host some smaller clients for free when I didn't think support would be an issue, and you have the added benefit of having access to their site should you have any payment issues with them. On the other hand if you prefer not to deal with hosting issues, refer them to a good host where you know they'll get good service. If you can make a few dollars for referring them that's great, but if not, helping them find a good host shows you really care about their business and that can only be good for your business.

    Steve

  6. #6
    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Brisbane - Australia
    Posts
    434
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I believe once you complete the requested work, you have the client sign off and accept it and hand over all responsibility to the client. This includes hosting and domain name management.

    I *could* take care of it if I wanted, but would rather just get on running my business and securing more development work.

    RJ

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    40
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thank you all for the responses - very informative.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Evangelist dev_cw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    454
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    As a developer I like to host my clients so that I can have total control over the environment. However, as a business I don't have time to provide hosting support. I will only host clients that do not need much hand holding or that I do all the administration for. Financially it does not make me any richer, at best it pays for our dedicated so our own hosting is free. It is a tough call.
    "You can just hang outside in the sun all day tossing a ball around...
    Or you can sit at your computer and do something that matters."
    - Cartman

  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast imagineinternet's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    75
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    DEFINITELY let them manage their own domain names. The last thing you want is to be on the hook for a domain name that has expired. I don't recommend doing your own hosting unless you are going to have over 50 clients relatively soon, and even then automate the crap out of the processes. That includes signup (you will want to get as many customers as you can if you are doing your own), support (lots and lots of help docs), and the most solid hosting you can find.

    I recommend a CPanel virtual private server solution. Cheap, solid platform, and you can make money on it. If you get big, it's simple to move all those customers to a bigger solution.

    Under 50 customers, I don't recommend it. Too much hassle with the billing, support calls, etc.
    Uptime + Quality + Keyword + Popularity Monitoring
    EZ Website Monitoring


    Go Web Solutions - LOVE your website!

  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Tauranga, New Zealand
    Posts
    358
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by imagineinternet View Post
    DEFINITELY let them manage their own domain names. The last thing you want is to be on the hook for a domain name that has expired. I don't recommend doing your own hosting unless you are going to have over 50 clients relatively soon, and even then automate the crap out of the processes. That includes signup (you will want to get as many customers as you can if you are doing your own), support (lots and lots of help docs), and the most solid hosting you can find.

    I recommend a CPanel virtual private server solution. Cheap, solid platform, and you can make money on it. If you get big, it's simple to move all those customers to a bigger solution.

    Under 50 customers, I don't recommend it. Too much hassle with the billing, support calls, etc.
    Uncomparable mass hosting I agree.

    If you want to offer specialise solutions customers can't find anywhere else, your own dedicated server is the only way and can be made profitable with a handful of sites.

    HTH, Jochen
    http://www.automatem.co.nz
    Websites, On-line Software and everything Internet
    Follow on Twitter | Connect on LinkedIn | Read on Posterous

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict Sgt. Baboon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    396
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by imagineinternet View Post
    DEFINITELY let them manage their own domain names. The last thing you want is to be on the hook for a domain name that has expired. I don't recommend doing your own hosting unless you are going to have over 50 clients relatively soon, and even then automate the crap out of the processes. That includes signup (you will want to get as many customers as you can if you are doing your own), support (lots and lots of help docs), and the most solid hosting you can find.

    I recommend a CPanel virtual private server solution. Cheap, solid platform, and you can make money on it. If you get big, it's simple to move all those customers to a bigger solution.

    Under 50 customers, I don't recommend it. Too much hassle with the billing, support calls, etc.
    Hmmm. If I had 49 clients at $20/mo, I'd be losing out on $12k per year!

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2,673
    Mentioned
    10 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hosting clients is a real money spinner for me. I offer a fully managed service - hosting, daily backup, email, CMS, technical support for the CMS and CMS software licensing. I charge a nice fat annual fee for all this as well and after the first month rarely get any support requests.

    The key is to forget what web hosting companies charge for hosting, it's irrelevant. You are not a hosting company - the service you provide is much more personal (after all, how many hosting companies gives customers a phone number direct to their own personal web developer - but I bet your clients have your number). Plus you do all the leg work that a hosting company will not do - i.e. you've sourced a reliable hosting service for the client (i.e. your own), you've set up their site, and you maintain it for them as a single point of contact. So charging $20 a month is crazy IMO; beef up the offering and look at charging four figures a year - easily done if you lump it in with other services such as support, licensing etc.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot Roar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    194
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    How to provide hosting, domain names, and email management:

    Domain names: get an eNom account
    Hosting: get a WHM or HELM Reseller hosting account
    Email: setup Google Apps on every client domains
    ----
    Nerd Business Blog : for NERDS only

  14. #14
    SitePoint Addict Sgt. Baboon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    396
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    So charging $20 a month is crazy IMO; beef up the offering and look at charging four figures a year - easily done if you lump it in with other services such as support, licensing etc.
    Licensing for what? $20 is for web and email hosting only. All other services are separate. I can guantee none of my client would spend 4 figures for web hosting, not matter what you bundled it with.

    But that's not the point. You business model works for you, mine works for me. The bottom line is that I believe a web company is throwing away money by not hosting client sites.

    I think you nailed it on the head with the first part. You aren't competing with GoDaddy. You are providing a more upscale service, most importantly the personal service you can provide.

    Also, I rarely have support calls/emails. And when I do, I just rely on the network admins to take care of business. I don't have to physically fix the problem myself.


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •