The era of e-Commerce and e e-Entrepreneur is upon us. Between the gig economy, the rise of interest in freelancing, and the mobile workforce looking for a second career to launch from their own home, web hosting is one of the ideal growth industries. One niche that isn’t often covered is reselling web hosting.
In a host reseller scenario, you don’t have to worry about managing the servers yourself. Instead, you rent out the servers like normal, then rebrand that webspace with your own service and sell to third parties. You set your own rates, compose feature packages, and determine your level of service.
Web hosting is a competitive market, where your chief competition point is price. Your profit as a reseller has to come from the difference between the cost of the servers and the price you charge customers, plus your time and effort. You’ll need something to bring to the table: Technical skills, 24/7 reliability, or some other angle to add value.
You don’t need to be a master programmer but you will need knowledge of basic web mechanics 101. It really helps a lot to at least have some web design and developer skills. Most web server technology these days is open source, which is fortunately cheap to learn and deploy. The typical standard for web servers is the LAMP system (Linux, Apache, “MySQL” (though different SQL versions are inserted here), and (pick one or more) PHP, Perl, or Python).
Your typical web reseller markets themselves based upon a niche. Some examples of niche markets for web hosting include:
- Online stores – Offer integration with shopping cart apps, Amazon / Etsy integration, drop-in Paypal hookup, and eCommerce solutions for small business.
- Enterprise B2B software and services – Offer business productivity apps on your servers, high reliability, backups, and high bandwidth traffic.
- Security-sensitive hosting – For businesses that handle lots of third-party data and need to ensure that data is secure. Offer antivirus, firewalls, SSL, spam filtering, a strident update schedule, and full DOD-scale hardened security.
- Media hosting – For businesses relying largely on streaming video, image, audio, and general large file access. Focus on fast service optimized for big files and high bandwidth for large volumes of visitors.
- Extreme budget hosting – For professionals and sole-proprietor businesses who literally just need a one-page domain to use as a virtual business card. Lawyers, life coaches, consultants, performers booking gigs, etc. Provide tiny packages with small disk space at rock-bottom rates.
Your Business Plan
Now we come down to the strategy of your reseller hosting business. How do you make a profit?
Step 1: Research. As the axiom goes in business, “find a need and fulfill it.” Maybe you notice that there’s an industry crying out for web hosts that understand their unique needs, like Twitch streamers or Instagram influencers. Perhaps your local town has a thriving bohemian artist clique that could use a gallery hosting provider. Or, a typical scenario, you yourself are a small business offering web services already, such as social media management or website design, and you’re offering web hosting on the side.
Whatever your market focus, you should hunt for other proprietors attempting the same thing or close to it. These are your competitors. Find out what they offer, what their price point is, and their marketing methods. Make sure you can match that offer and then offer something better besides.
Step 2: Set up your service flow. Find a parent hosting company that matches your needs. In the case of GreenGeeks, it’s easy to market to a progressive crowd, which cares about being eco-friendly. Find the reseller hosting package offered by the host which will target your niche market. From there, you’re going to sign up for a reseller account, purchase hosting and service credits, and start signing up customers for your server.
This is the time to think about your company’s website, how your customers find you, and setting up payment processing so they can pay you.
Step 3: Offer your amazing customer support. This is the value you add to the equation. There is a never-ending market for personal, inline customer service in the web industry. Buyers want drop-in solutions to problems, friction-less customization for their needs, and for things to get fixed fast when they break. You and your live chat will be that service, possibly even extra staff you hire and train.
This is where knowing your market comes in handy. If you, yourself, have had a hand in the business niche you’re marketing to, your customers will really appreciate somebody who understands their unique needs.
Some hypothetical scenarios: Artists whose portfolio you’re hosting will rest easy with your efforts to make them look good. Security-sensitive businesses will swear by your vigilance in updating critical patches. Counselors and therapists will value your offering easy booking and appointment features. And so on. The world is filled with professionals who don’t want the hassle of maintaining a web presence themselves, but also don’t want to go to great lengths explaining themselves to a system administrator. If you want some more information on delivering the best online customer service, you can check out this article.
Step 4: Marketing. The staples of marketing should be a well-worn standard to anyone interested in this business. Blogging, social media, SEO, reaching out to your niche, going where potential customers congregate, targeted ads, affiliation, backlinks, and so on. Marketing will be one point where you almost can’t be aggressive enough.
If you’re looking to get into reseller hosting, you’ll want to start by getting more look into acquiring a hosting package like those available on https://www.greengeeks.com/reseller-hosting.
There’s a lot to be said for the webhosting reseller business. It’s a market with great long-term sustainability. As long as you keep up your commitment as promised, your customers will stick with you. One thing that the market values is stability. People want their web business to run like a utility: Never down, always on, taking care of itself in the background without having to think about it. Be a tireless service provider who is as reliable as the dawn and your customers will be loyal to you for a lifetime. It only takes a handful of customers to break even, and a few more after that to start seeing a nice profit. If your service is good, your customers will attract more through word-of-mouth. It’s not the best-suited business for everybody, but for the kind of web worker who’s stable and knowledgeable, it’s perfect. For more info, you can always check out the Wikipedia article on reseller hosting