Reseller Hosting Demystified

Notice: This is a discussion thread for comments about the SitePoint article, Reseller Hosting Demystified.


For those of you who’ve had experience reselling hosting, what advice would you add? If you haven’t why not?

I’ve been hosting my own clients for many years and have been through all the hassles that it brings, here’s some thoughts:

  1. Your hosting providers support is critical, without it you’ll be totally lost

If there’s a problem that you can’t fix (and there will be at some point) then you need timely support to get it resolved. If you have to wait 3 days for an answer then your customer won’t have a very good impression of you - possible result being they might jump ship.

  1. You’ll need to support your own customers

Yep, your customers will look to you for end user support. This could be anything from “how do i set up email” to “do you support XYZ PHP function, if not can you add it?”. You’ll get a wide variety of issues to deal with so be prepared for anything. If you don’t know something and your host can’t/won’t help you’ll be stuck.

  1. Don’t try and compete with the big boys

You know the ones, hosts who offer unlimited everything for 2.99.

  1. Be prepared to spend the right money for quality

All too often it’s tempting to buy a cheap reseller hosting package. It might sound good because you can host 100 sites for $10 a month but if you buy cheap you’ll inevitably get a cheap service and that will rebound on you eventually.

  1. Choose a host with a sensible upgrade path

Many hosts will offer tiered reseller packages allowing you to easily upgrade when you need more resources, then to either VPS or Dedicated solutions as your business grows.

and finally, if you’re a freelancer or one man band think about who’s going to provide support while you’re on holiday!

In regards to recurring income, you can do that via affiliates which I do through the three I recommend (have used all three at one point or another). That’s not enticing for me to offer my own hosting support. Generally, I try to set up clients with their own hosting account; likely a shared. I give them all of the contact details necessary for the provider and let them know if they have any issues then let me know and I’ll try to resolve. However, unless there is some website maintenance service that have purchased from me, I try to stay out of it.

The reason is because I tried the route you suggested before with one of my very first clients. I still regret it to this day. I would get calls about why they couldnt access email on Outlook, personally visit their home and business to set it up, only to be called a couple of days later that they still couldn’t access it. Turns out they’d change a password or change a setting. One time I was even told repeatedly to connect their iphone even though I had already done it several times before.

I decided then that it wasn’t worth charging $5 or $10 a month to deal with that. At worst, I’ll charge $50, if necessary but even then it’ll be limited to what I would do. I’d just prefer to not get involved. That being said, as mentioned earlier, if they were having repeated issues with a host I’d recommend, I would get involved. No charge, of course. :slight_smile:

I signed up for a “virtual private server” about a year and a half ago, with WHM and CPanel, and it’s great for hosting client sites.

Certainly a topic worth exploring. There are so many aspects to web hosting that each one deserves its own article, though. Sections like “DNS server with full zone management” in the article, without examples, will only mean anything to those who already know what they mean (if you know what I mean?!) Heck, I’ve been setting up client sites and working with DNS and zone management (somehow or other) and I still don’t understand what they are or how they work.

Hosting affiliate programs can be quite attractive too. It allows for an extra stream of profit without some of the baggage that goes along with being a reseller.

Yes, there are hosting companies which offer Affiliate programs and offer good amount of commission if you refer customers to them. The best part of these Affiliate programs is the fact that most of them can be joined for free :slight_smile:

Even though I am only a hobbyist designer, I do do this. It does not create much money because of the limited number of clients, but it covers all the hosting fees with cash left over. As a student that is good enough for now.

yes, Naven Fab is right. With the help of web hosting affiliate programs you can generate really a good revenue. However, how to attract the potential visitors and lure them is up to you. It takes a lot of efforts to promote our own website and fetch as much as traffic. However, if you have multiple domains and if you optimized them properly and posted some really attractive content I am sure people will definitely get attract towards your affiliate programs.

That has been my biggest qualm about considering reseller hosting. What if you’re out of town and something goes down? What if it’s 3AM and you get a call from a client who was burning the midnight oil and something happened to their site?

What do you do if you’re a one-man show?

In a way I wish I hadn’t of gone down the reseller route all those years ago, but at the end of the day the income is worth it, plus it’s another service I can offer to clients.

I only offer 9-5 support to hosting clients and all support is email based so as long as I have internet access I can deal with stuff. Saying that I haven’t had a hosting related problem for as long as I can remember - but there again I buy good quality services at a sensible price!

As far as holidays go that’s where having some reliable work contacts who run similar setups comes in handy. If I go away I simply hand over support to one of my contacts, then reciprocate when he’s away.

From a ‘website designer’ perspective, the revenue from selling hosting via a Reseller account is not really worth the potential trouble and liability, IMO.

For my own convenience I do sell basic hosting to certain clients via a Reseller account and charge them GBP 75 per year (at negligible cost to myself), but mostly I prefer to simply set up an independent account at the host of my choice in my client’s name, and they pay the host directly. This means they have direct support from the host, and that’s the crucial difference.

Nearly all the ‘problems’ I have experienced from my Reseller customers are ongoing problems setting up and using their email clients, or problems with all the various strange accumulation of ‘anti-spam’ packages that some of these people seem to pile one on top of another like an obsession. None of this is anything to do with me or the hosting company, but it’s a huge timewaster when the urgent call comes in: “The email’s gone down!”. As no one else can help them I’ll sort things out, but that’s the profit gone. There are much easier ways to make £75.

Clients with their own accounts at the host of my choice, on the other hand, cause almost no trouble at all.

Genuine ‘hosting’ problems seem to be - touch wood - very rare, in fact.

I only use hosts (Reseller or independent) who offer instant telephone support. I think this is very important. There are some things (actually most things) that can be sorted out in one short phone call that would take days of to-ing and fro-ing to deal with via online support tickets. A quick resolution keeps clients happy.

Paul

With the availability of VPS and cheap dedicated servers, reseller hosting isn’t talked about much

It’s really all about your objective. If your reselling hosting as part of a package when you sell sites, it makes sense as you avoid all the hassle of moving sites and it is a good income stream

I wouldn’t sell reseller hosting simply because I wouldn’t want to do all the support and account management. I would rather give them my affiliate links.

The problem with VPS and cheap dedicated servers for many people is that you have to maintain them yourself, 24 hours per day, and that adds a whole new world of pain unless you know what you’re doing and enjoy this type of work.

Paul

I use Reseller Cluster to host MyStoreHosting.Co.CC. I believe it is quite similiar. Check it out

We started off doing reseller hosting and became a host over time. No doubt it’s a great way to get started; but select hosting partners carefully. Look for people who do backups (of several types), a good control panel of some sort, and a company who runs a secure server (a lot get hacked overtime). Also be aware that companies can overload servers; you don’t notice this for 6-12 months as new accounts don’t get used to their full extent till around that time. Anther important trait is the ability to answer harder tech questions - you won’t ask these often, but they can be a show stopper if you don’t get the help you need.

It’s more cost effective to buy a VPS and run cPanel on it yourself.
http://beyondhosting.net offers vps and they will manage it for you, you’re going to get more disk space and bandwidth than a reseller to.

Thanks for the good write up!

I think every web hosting company has own customers and has own market. I think it worth to do what you are doing and make your cuatomers happy to make them drive rtheir friends to you and order your services.

This is my story ! I start young with differrents account of clients name on différent hostings services base on there préférence and i’ts become rapidly a nightmare. But later when I start to make a little money, I search for a simple solution. This was 8 years ago.

Then this resseller solution come to me like heaven.

Now I have 9 clients and is so easy that I don’t have to return in my hosting system once is completly set. My brand: WebHostingBuzz !!!

So clients don’t haveto pay for 2 différents things: Hosting and désigner… I bill it in my year clients billings with extra-update. And that pay.