Want to become a web hosting provider? Here’s how
Anyone can become a web hosting provider. For a simple monthly fee, you’ll get everything you need to be a hosting provider in name. Making a success of it, however, that’s another story altogether.
Let’s preface this blog with the disclaimer that becoming a web hosting provider (or reseller) is not a get-out-of-work-free card. It is work, and hard work at that. Like with everything worthwhile, you’ll need to put in your hours.
We’ll guide you and show you the ropes, but only you can clock in and out.
What is a web hosting provider?
A web hosting provider is someone that sells hosting services to people who want to have a website on the internet.
They’ll buy/rent hosting space at a discount price and sell with a markup so they make some profit.
Think about a humble hotelier 1000 years ago. All they do is offer a room to a weary traveller for a period of time. Once the traveller has come and gone, they offer the same room to the next traveller.
The internet and web hosting works the same way. Internet travellers will want their website online for a period. As a web hosting provider, you’ll give them the space to do that for a price.
They may keep it online for years, or only a few months. That’s not up to you, really. Your job is simply to provide the space.
There are quite a few parallels between web hosting providers and hoteliers. We’ll continue to use them because they’re a good model to copy for hosting providers.
Advantages of becoming a web hosting provider
Web hosting can be a full-time job, but it does come with its benefits.
- Managing your clients’ accounts streamlined, with almost all the tools readily available.
- Some web hosting companies (like us) allow white labelling, so you can brand and sell your product as your own.
- The initial setup barrier to entry is low. Simply educate yourself on the hosting industry basics and you’ll be set.
- The ability to scale at a moment most convenient to you.
- You have the ability to customise your hosting solutions to suit the market, as opposed reselling them exactly as is.
How to become a web hosting provider?
Like we mentioned in the beginning, the first thing you need to become a hosting provider is purchasing a reseller hosting package. Before you do that, however, let’s go through a rough strategy. This way you have a clearer path ahead and know what you can expect when starting a hosting company.
The first thing to note is that you’ll need some capital to get started. Have a look at our reseller hosting to get an idea of the pricing. If you don’t have any potential clients lined up, we suggest you start with the smallest package. You can always build it up from there as you scale.
Teach yourself the basics of hosting
Before you can sell hosting, you’ll need a basic understanding of how it works. You’ll also want to expand what you know about cPanel. It’s the popular hosting control panel, so knowing the ins and outs will allow you to serve your clients properly.
Check out cPanel’s website and do some of their free courses to familiarise yourself with the interface. They offer a host of courses from beginner to advanced. Doing the beginner courses as a recap even if you’re familiar certainly won’t hurt.
It may even help you better relate to people getting their website for the first time. Think about it as staying in one of your hotel rooms as a hotelier. You’ll get to experience what guests do, and improve from there.
Equally as important as cPanel, is WHM. This is where all your web hosting provider activities will take place. Slacking on WHM knowledge is asking for trouble as a reseller.
Fortunately, cPanel has courses that cover WHM as well. Make sure you learn about it thoroughly. With these courses you’ll be able to give technical support and respond to your ticketing system properly.
Now that you know where to upskill yourself, let’s go through the steps of becoming a successful web hosting provider.
Define your goals and expectations
First things first: you need to define your goals.
- What do you hope to gain from starting your own web hosting business?
- How many hosting plans will you need to sell for this to be worth it to you?
- Can you commit time to this business every day?
- Is this something you can do alone or will you need a support team?
- Do you have enough technical skills?
- Will you sell to people you know or find new clients right off the bat?
These are just a few of the questions you should try to answer before you make any commitment.
Unlike with some business ventures, you need money to kickstart this project. So, it’s better to be absolutely certain of your goals and expectations before you start your hosting business. Otherwise, it’s just wasted money.
Find your niche
A concept you’re probably familiar with is niche. Every business needs or has one, and you’re no exception.
You need a niche, especially in the beginning because you won’t be able to compete with the hosting giants. You’ll also find it tough to battle against some of the other budding web hosting providers.
If you’re operating in a niche, however, you’re much more likely to gain traction. You can also create your own niche if you’ve got some other skills to offer.
For example, if you’ve got some web design experience you could offer to make some custom adjustments to their website. This can be something that’s exclusive to WordPress themes, or creating a simple Landing Page.
You don’t want to undersell your time and effort, but you do want to sweeten the deal. So, be sure you’re valuing the ‘extra’ you put in properly. Creating an entire website from scratch for every client obviously isn’t a winning strategy.
Another example is if you’re a designer or social media marketer. You can use what you know there and create a social media plan or create logo mockups for individual clients.
Preferably, you’ll want that something extra you throw in to be a once-off arrangement. Something that will tip the scale in your favour before they make the purchase.
Tasks that don’t take too much of your time work great as a constant extra. For example, security checks or plugin installations if you’re a web developer. You’re better off doing bigger tasks, like creating new pages for a website, once.
The reason for this is that constant extras of that size will become too much as you get more clients. You could run a promotion in the beginning to gain some traction with a big delivery like that. In the long run, however, it won’t be sustainable.
If they want more, they can request your services separate from your web hosting. That way you score twice on one client.
Essentially, any skill you have that you can use – use it.
Choose the right web hosting partner
It’s a poor workman that blames his tools. Although, you wouldn’t expect to carve a chicken with a butter knife.
Choosing the right web hosting provider can give your business the edge that separates you from the competition. Basically, having the right resources lowers your margin for error.
For example, if your reseller hosting provider guarantees 99.9% uptime, that’s one less thing you have to worry about. It may not make or break your business per se, but it does add up. And that can be added to the list of headaches, or list of things not to worry about.
In that same vein, here’s some things to compare when shopping around for a web hosting provider.
- What guarantees do they offer?
- What extras do they provide with the hosting account?
- What incentives do they have?
- What’s their reputation?
- What’s the cost of the different packages?
- What is the standard of their support?
You can generally tell a lot about a company based on their support. It’s also the aspect of a company that is most likely to leave a sour taste when done poorly. So, make sure support is a priority.
A good way to tell a good company from a bad one is the reviews. Clients tend to be vocal about the service they got and their experience with the company. Before you settle on a company make sure you see what their reviews say about them.
Create a website
After you’ve settled on a web hosting provider, you’ll need to create a website for yourself. Think of it as an online business card. People won’t be able to access anything you offer, or consider you as an option if you don’t have one.
A simple WordPress website will do just fine. Of course, you’ll want to make sure it stands out from competitors.
So, spruce it up and let it show potential clients the quality and service they’ll be receiving if they host with you.
To simplify things, consider a website with only three pages:
- A home/about page
- A product page
- A contact page
Everything you need to share about your business can be said in those three pages. It also makes maintenance easier on you.
Marketing your website and business
With creating your website comes marketing it. While your website acts as a store for your product, people still need to actually see it. The only way to get people to see your website is through marketing.
There are many different ways to go about marketing your website. We won’t go into all of them here, but here’s some marketing ideas:
- Create a social media page for your business
- Network online and in person, sharing that you own a hosting business
- Create informative content that directs people to your website
- Do a trial hosting period for friends or family, asking them to show their contacts their hosted website
- Create a mailing list and reach out
- Run paid ads on Google or social media
- Offer some free services
- Create strong SEO content that drives people to your website.
Some of these require a lot more time than others. Do what works for you, but don’t neglect it. If you don’t market your business, you’re setting yourself up for failure, regardless of how much quality you provide.
Choose your web hosting product
By the time your website is ready, you should have an idea of what your product offering will look like. You’ll know what skills or services you can provide that makes you stand out from the rest. You should also know what makes your offering different to everyone else’s.
The type of product you sell will also guide you on what systems you may want to include or get for your business. If you’re going to become a web hosting provider to many small clients, you’ll want things to be automated. That way you won’t be buried in admin.
If you have some high-level clients you expect to get on board, you’ll want a reseller package that can accommodate their needs. That might mean getting a few extra perks or services to offer them for free or as an upgrade.
Knowing your product also means knowing your customers. If you’re selling basic hosting packages, your customers probably won’t want a whole list of extras.
In this way you shape your product to meet the needs of your customers. As your business starts to grow, your customers and products will grow alongside it.
HOSTAFRICA reseller options
Once you’re familiar with what shared hosting has to offer, you can consider adding these to supplement business:
All of our offerings are top quality and primed to make your business a success. All you have to do is put in the work.
Prioritise customer support
Perhaps not related to actually hosting your clients’ websites, but this can be a defining factor in your customer experience. Plenty of poor customer experiences can tank your company, so be mindful of that.
Going back to our hotel analogy, if you treat guests poorly, they won’t care about the room. Their memory of visiting your hotel will be the poor interaction they had with you. The comfortable room and other amenities you provided will fall to the wayside.
It’s the same as a hosting provider. You need to be able to attend to people’s issues as soon as they pop up. If you’re able to empathise with them that will also go a long way towards your reputation.
Remember, while the issue may be a quick fix for you, it’s oftentimes a mountain for the client.
Treat it that way and prioritise your customer service.
To wrap up, the barrier for entry to become a web hosting provider is not high at all. With the right entry-level courses, goals, and discipline, you can make it as a successful entrepreneur.
Choose the hosting partner that chooses you. That way you’ll have a partner in hosting, which puts you a step above the competition.
Prioritise your customers and their experience the same way you prioritise your product, and the rest will fall into place.