Hosting: What are Multi-Domain and Reseller Plans?
This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.
Many web developers and agencies choose to handle hosting for their clients. This provides a number of benefits to both parties:
- Few clients understand the implications of hosting — that’s why they hired you!
- Clients are less likely to break their systems if you have control of DNS, databases and email.
- Charging fees above the actual hosting cost provides a regular income.
- The client has less reason to go elsewhere.
- You have more leverage in the event a client fails to pay bills.
- You could consider offering hosting services to anyone — not just your own clients.
Of course, it may not be as practical or lucrative as you expect…
- Hosting can become a full-time job. Few developers want to spend their days configuring systems.
- The service becomes your responsibility. Be prepared for 3am support calls when someone can’t access their email.
- Any profits can be wiped out if you encounter hosting or support issues.
Presuming you’re willing to live with the potential risks, hosts such as SiteGround provide useful facilities to manage multiple client accounts on shared, dedicated and cloud-based hosting plans.
Most hosting plans allow you to point more than one domain at a single account. This could be as basic as the www and non-www URLs or a range of different domains used for the same site. This is often referred to as “domain parking”.
You can also purchase plans which allow you to run multiple websites from the same hosting account. For example,
http://www.mysite1.com/ resolves to a
mysite1.com folder while
http://www.mysite2.com/ resolves to
mysite2.com. Each folder contains separate sites or applications.
This type of set-up can be useful when you have a handful of smaller sites which require basic hosting. You would not want to grant a client access to that area but it may be more cost-effective than multiple accounts.
Reseller plans are designed to help developers maintain their customers websites. They can also be used by:
- larger organisations with a range of websites and applications
- smaller hosting companies who white-label and resell the hosting plans of another.
- freelancers and creative professionals who run their own projects
Services vary but you are typically allocated a large chunk of disk space. Systems such as WHM then allow you to distribute this space among a number of separate accounts which are given their own separate cPanel configuration system. You have full control over each account and the cost per site will inevitably reduce as further accounts are added.
Is a Reseller Plan Right For You?
The majority of hosts offer some level of multi-domain management. If you run a single website or application, a standard account should provide facilities to manage multiple primary domains and sub-domains.
Reseller plans are likely to appeal to SitePoint readers because we’re normally working on multiple projects. It’s a practical option since the cost rarely exceeds the total for a handful of individual hosting accounts.
Whether you choose to offer hosting to clients on a permanent basis is another matter. The temptation of a little extra profit can be quickly offset by the burden of additional support. You may find it preferable to recommend a host such as SiteGround but leave day-to-day operations to the experts!