If you’ve been forking over $100 a year to host your flight deals website with a company like Hostgator or Bluehost, you might have wondered if it’s worth hosting some other sites for a fee and recoup some of your costs. After all, you already have everything set up and there is a ton of extra space just sitting there, why not make use of it? Depending on your situation, it could either be a great idea or a nightmare that will get you into a lot of trouble. Let’s discuss some of the factors that go into running a hosting reseller business.
Are you allowed to resell space on your hosting account?
The very first step should be making sure that you are actually allowed to resell on your hosting plan. Check your terms of service with your hosting company before you do anything else, you do not want to have your account closed down suddenly for a violation. Typically if you are on a low-tiered shared hosting plan you won’t be permitted to resell space. However, if that’s the case then you may be able to upgrade to a reseller account which is specifically set up for this type of business model. Yes, it will cost more but as long as you can find at least a couple of clients you should be able to easily handle the increased costs. If you are already on a high level plan like a VPS or Dedicated Server then you usually have free rein with what you do with your resources but, I can’t stress this enough: make sure it’s not in violation of your terms of service with your hosting company.
Is providing customer service something that you want to do?
Maybe this should be the first thing you consider, because it’s pretty important. By it’s nature, web hosting reselling is a service based business and you will have to interact with customers at least sometimes. Most of your interactions (provisioning new accounts, providing log-ins and other information) will be pretty routine, but how would you feel about getting a panicked email from a client at 3am whose website is suddenly offline? I like to say that there are no internet emergencies, but some clients may not feel that way. While there are no life and death stakes here, there could be lost revenue which can feel like mortal danger to some folks and they could get a bit spicy about it, shall we say. Would that kind of thing bother you?
How are your technical skills?
You got your own site up and running no problem, how hard could dealing with other people’s sites be? Well, they could be running a really specific software stack that uses a PHP library that isn’t normally enabled in a standard hosting environment, would you know how to turn that on for a client? Maybe they update their WordPress version and break their website, completely taking it down. Do you have a backup they can restore from? Do you know how to take backups? A site on the server has let their software get really out of date and now all sites in your hosting environment are suffering from an XSS attack. How do you fix this? More sites introduces a lot more variables, and unless you’re fairly technically proficient you may not know how to handle the myriad of issues that can come up.
Do you like marketing?
Instead, I would find a customer niche that you already have knowledge of and ideally contacts for and focus on being a specialist. Maybe you’ve worked in the tattoo industry for years, you could help tattoo shops and artists out with hosting their websites. You already know how to speak their language and relate to them, and you know what types of problems they typically need solved when it comes to their websites. You are in a unique position to offer exceptional value to them.
So, is it worth it?
I hope I didn’t sound off-putting above, starting any business is something that requires careful consideration and I merely wanted to make sure that anyone thinking of starting a reseller business knows what they are getting into. If you went through all of the above and are thinking, “Yeah, I could do this!” then great! If you can find yourself a good niche and a steady stream of customers (and your hosting plan allows for it) then it can be well worth it to start a web hosting reseller business.