Becoming a Web Hosting Reseller: is it Right for You? - Nuts and Bolts
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Your web host is just one of a number of decisions you will make as you begin to set yourself as a reseller of web hosting services. Most of the topics I will mention here come close to deserving their own articles. This being an introductory piece, I canít go into great detail here.
You will need to choose the platform you want to use (Linux vs. Microsoft), which will determine what software you can run. You will also need to decide what control panel your clients will use for their websites. These range from pretty basic to full of features. Obviously, as a reseller you will also have a control panel of your own, to set up and control hosting accounts.
After you have chosen your web host, you need to set up your hosting plans and prices. Remember that both bandwidth and disk space are important factors. Divide your bandwidth by your disk space so that you know what ratio of bandwidth to disk space you can offer. Take into consideration what will happen to that ratio if and when you decide to upgrade. Base the packages you offer on the bandwidth/disk space ratio. As to pricing, consider your competitors, but also weigh in any special (additional) services you will provide.
If youíre going to do this seriously, you need to build a website for your reseller web hosting business. You can easily find books and articles devoted to this topic. Approach this with the eyes of a potential customer, and make sure you include everything that they would want to know about your company and its services. It may not need to be fancy, but it does need to be well organized and easily accessible, especially the important stuff (i.e. contact information, how to order, pricing packages, etc.).
Youíre not done yet. If youíre going to accept online payments for hosting accounts, your site needs to be ready for it. That means you need to set up an SSL certificate, a merchant account, and a payment gateway. Otherwise, you will not be able to accept secure payments.
Likewise, you will probably want to set up an automated billing system. This will save you a ton of work. Billing and payment processing systems often charge a monthly or yearly fee for a license; a few offer prices for lifetime licenses. Make certain that it is compatible with server program, and find out whether support is included in the fee (and how much).
You will also want to set up a helpdesk. This lets clients communicate with you when they need support, and helps you to respond to those requests. As you have no doubt already figured out, being a reseller doesnít take you off the hook for customer support Ė quite the opposite, in fact.
No, youíre still not done. When your clients register with you, they deserve an email that welcomes them to your business; it also helps to make sure they know what theyíre getting, in writing. This email should include a confirmation of the package details; a username and temporary password; the nameserver names; a link to the control panel; and links to your FAQ and helpdesk.
Whew, thatís a lot, and we havenít even talked about marketing your business yet! Still, even for someone doing it as just a hobby, becoming a reseller of web hosting services can be a big decision. I hope Iíve given you some idea of what is involved.
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