How to Start a Hosting Business and Join the Remote Working Revolution

Many people praise reseller hosting as an easy, low-risk way to boost your income, while protecting your business from market fluctuations. However, as a business owner or entrepreneur, you may be wondering whether this age of remote working is really the right time to embark on a new business venture.

The current economic situation may be volatile, but there are still ways to grow your business. We’re seeing an unprecedented rise in remote working services, online learning, and e-commerce. All of these areas have one thing in common: They all require web hosting.

In this post, we’ll look at why reseller hosting may be the key to protect, and potentially even grow your revenue during these challenging times. We’ll then show you how to setup and launch a successful hosting reseller business. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Reseller Hosting

For the uninitiated, a reseller purchases products or services from a provider, with the intention to selling on those products and services. As a hosting reseller, you’ll purchase a hosting package from an established, trusted provider. You’ll then divide these resources into smaller hosting accounts, and offer them to your customers.

There’s various reasons why you might want to become a hosting reseller. This includes launching a new business that’s dedicated entirely to web hosting.

Starting your own hosting business requires significant upfront investment. As a minimum, you’ll need to purchase servers and software licenses, and setup your own network. By becoming a hosting reseller, you can eliminate practically all of these startup costs.

When starting a new business, the first few years can be tough. In fact, research suggests that around half of new businesses close within the first five years. To give your business the best possible chance of success, you should avoid unpredictable costs.

This is exactly what happens when you become a hosting reseller. Your provider is responsible for most of the costs. This includes replacing broken hardware, upgrading outdated software, and more. By becoming a hosting reseller, you can replace all of these unpredictable costs with a pre-agreed, scheduled payment plan.

Alternatively, you may be an existing business looking to boost your income. By becoming a reseller, you can upsell and cross-sell hosting services to your existing customers. This enables you to increase your revenue, without any of the costs associated with acquiring new customers.

Reselling can also be an effective way to diversify your income. Just because a product or service is in high demand now, doesn’t mean it’ll be flying off the shelves forever. By adding hosting to your repertoire, you can help insulate your business against market fluctuations. You can also protect your business against changes in customer spending habits.

Why Now Is the Time to Start a Reseller Hosting Business

Launching a new business, or breaking into a new market can feel daunting at the best of times. However, many businesses and consumers are increasingly turning to the internet to help them complete many essential, everyday tasks.

For organizations and individuals, the world wide web (and by extension, web hosting) has never been more important. If you’re debating whether now is the right time to start your reseller hosting business, know that many people currently have a real need for web hosting.

Let’s dive into this topic in more detail! In the following section, we’ll look at why hosting is becoming increasingly important for businesses, organizations, and consumers.

Remote Working Is the New Normal

Throughout 2020, businesses have relied on remote working to remain operational. Now, both Google and Facebook have informed staff that they won’t be returning to the office until July 2021 at the earliest. Twitter and Microsoft have also given their workforce the option to work from home on a permanent basis. It doesn’t like the remote working revolution is going to end anytime soon!

With many people continuing to work from home, tools that enable remote working are in high demand. As an A2 Hosting reseller, you can create packages that specifically target businesses who need to manage a remote workforce. These packages can feature add-ons that are designed to help these businesses support their remote workers.

Every A2 Hosting reseller account comes with the Softaculous installer built-in. You can use this installer to create multiple Softaculous plans that each feature a different combination of add-ons. You can then assign each of these Softaculous plans to the appropriate hosting plan. For example, you might create a plan that provides the tools customers need to build an e-commerce store, promote their SEO marketing business – or support their remote workforce.

The Softaculous installer. The Softaculous installer.
When your customers log into their account, they’ll have the option to install only the add-ons you’ve specifically chosen for them.

To create a Softaculous plan, log into your reseller account, then launch Web Host Manager (WHM). In the left-hand menu, select Softaculous > Instant Installs.

The WHM user interface.The WHM user interface.

This will launch the Softaculous installer. In the left-hand menu, select Plans > Add Plan. You can then create a plan and assign it to a hosting package. You can also pick-and-choose which add-ons will be included in this plan.

Softaculous has tools that are geared towards remote working.Softaculous has tools that are geared towards remote working.
For remote workers, Softaculous has a range of wiki, calendar, project management, and file management applications.

Now, whenever a reseller customer logs into their hosting account and launches Softaculous, they’ll have access to a carefully-curated list of add-ons. The customer can then install these add-ons, and will have instant access to advanced remote working tools.

People Are Spending a Record Amount of Time Online

The ongoing global pandemic has completely changed how many of us spend our free time. Throughout 2020, many communities have experienced lockdowns, or other social restrictions. This has forced many people to move their social, leisure, and entertainment needs online.

The last few months have been challenging for many businesses and organizations that rely on face-to-face interaction. However, as more people turn to the internet for entertainment, many online businesses have experienced record growth.

Netflix added over ten million new paid subscribers during the second quarter of 2020. Video communications specialists Zoom said daily users spiked to 200 million in March. Unsurprisingly, as stores around the world closed, online shopping giant Amazon experienced record profits.

More people are spending more time online than ever before. Now, many businesses are eager to join them. Some businesses are looking to expand their existing online offerings and services. Other companies may even be branching out onto the internet for the first time.

Regardless of the specifics, any business that is looking to invest in their online presence will require web hosting. By launching your hosting reseller business now, you could find yourself with a large, and growing customer base.

Internet Shopping Is at an All Time High

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a profound shift in consumer behavior. Throughout 2020, physical stores around the globe were forced to close. Unsurprisingly, this caused online shopping to reach an all-time high.

For businesses who already have an e-commerce store, there’s a huge incentive to grow their online presence. This might mean investing in hosting that can handle a surge in demand. It might also involve adding more web pages, or even launching additional e-commerce sites.

For businesses who previously only operated in-person, there’s been a push to move from “brick-to-click.” By launching an online store, businesses can remain operational, even in these uncertain and changeable times. These businesses may even be able to grow their customer base by connecting with a large, and growing audience.

You can leverage this online shopping revolution. As a hosting provider, you’re perfectly-positioned to offer exactly the services new, and expanding e-commerce businesses need.

Online Learning Is Growing Exponentially

It’s a sad reality that the pandemic has resulted in job losses. For those without employment, the job landscape is volatile and unpredictable.

Faced with the challenging situation, many businesses are evolving at a rapid rate. This might involve replacing lost revenue streams with new products and services. Some businesses might be scaling up, in order to cope with increased demand. Others businesses may have overhauled their everyday operations, in an effort to remain operational during the pandemic.

Recently, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) spoke to Wall Street about the rapid rate of transformation. “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” said Satya Nadella. “From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security – we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.”

In this rapidly-evolving market, many job seekers feel the need to acquire new skills. However, ‘upskilling’ during a pandemic isn’t easy. Many traditional educational institutes are grappling with the realities of offering an in-classroom experience amidst a global pandemic. Increasingly, people are turning to online learning.

Online course provider Udemy reported a 425 percent increase in enrolments following the introduction of social restrictions. Udemy also reported a 55 percent increase in course creation.

All online education and training providers require web hosting. With a large, and growing interest in e-learning, this could prove a lucrative niche for your hosting reseller business.

How to Choose the Right Hosting Provider for Your Reseller Hosting Business

As a hosting reseller, your services are completely dictated by your hosting provider. Get this step right, and you’re off to the best possible start. Get it wrong, and you’re putting your business at a huge disadvantage.

So, here are six tips to help you choose the right web hosting provider for you!

1. Do They Have a Good Reputation?

You should research what customers are saying about any potential hosting provider. Customer testimonials, case studies, and feedback posted on the provider’s website is a good place to start, but it’s always going to be biased.

To get the bigger picture, you should check platforms that aren’t under the hosting provider’s control. This includes third-party review sites such as TrustPilot.

A2 Hosting's Trustpilot rating. A2 Hosting's Trustpilot rating.

You should also boot up your favorite search engine, and search for the hosting provider’s name. This will often reveal locations where people are discussing this provider, such as third-party forums, and blogs.

2. Do They Prioritize Performance?

Studies have shown that 40 percent of customers abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. This can affect key performance metrics, including bounce and conversion rates.

It’s impossible to determine exactly how search engines such as Google determine your website’s ranking. However, performance does appear to be a ranking factor.

To help your customers drive conversions and rank highly in search engine results, you should opt for a hosting provider that prioritizes performance. At A2 Hosting, our Turbo Serves are fine-tuned for performance. These servers can deliver up to 20x faster page loads compared to competing reseller hosting solutions.

3. Do They Offer 99.9 Percent Guaranteed Uptime?

Uptime is the amount of time the provider’s servers have been up and running, and is typically expressed as a percentage. Uptime is always important, but it’s crucial for running a successful hosting reseller business. If your hosting provider’s servers go down, it’ll take all your customers’ websites down with it.

For your customers, downtime means everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) penalties, missed sales, and loss of revenue. According to Gartner, unscheduled downtime can cost a company as much as $5,600 per minute.

If the customer’s website is down when Google tries to crawl their site, Google will be met by a 500 internal error. A study by SEO specialists Moz found that intermittent 500 internal server errors can cause tracked keywords to drop. Your customers may subsequently see their site plummet in the search results, after adopting you as their hosting provider.

Opt for a provider with unreliable uptime rates, and you’re going to wind up with very unhappy customers. When choosing a hosting provider, you should look for a high uptime percentage, and ideally an uptime guarantee.

4. Do They Have White Labelling Options?

Some customers have a negative impression of resellers. There’s the misconception that customers can get a better experience, by going directly to the “source.” Many customers also believe that reseller hosting is more expensive, as both the original provider and reseller are earning a profit.

White labelling can help you avoid these negative misconceptions. You should always look for a reseller that provides white labelling functionality.

At A2 Hosting, we give our resellers free rein to rebrand our products. This includes customizing your customers’ cPanel accounts, your nameservers, and your billing software. You can access these customization settings, by logging into your reseller WHM account and then selecting Customization.

WHM's white labelling settings.WHM's white labelling settings.

You can also restyle the cPanel User Interface. There’s lots of cPanel style customizations available. Alternatively, you could create your own, bespoke style and then upload it to WHM.

5. Do They Offer 24/7 Customer Service?

There may be customer queries, complaints, and issues that you can resolve entirely in-house. However, occasionally you may need to defer to your hosting provider. Perhaps the customer is requesting an upgrade that requires you to liaise with your hosting provider. Alternatively, if a customer’s website goes down, then you’ll need to alert your hosting provider about this problem immediately, so they can resolve it as quickly as possible.

When you’re relaying queries between your customers and provider, it’s easy for delays to spiral out of control. To minimize these delays, your chosen provider should offer 24/7 customer support.

Ideally, your chosen provider should also be contactable via multiple channels. You can then choose the method that promises the quickest resolution. Sometimes, this will mean filing a support ticket, contacting live chat, or finding the answers yourself, by consulting resources such as the provider’s knowledge base.

6. Do They Provide WebHost Manager (WHM)?

We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but WHM deserves its own section. This is an essential tool for managing any reseller hosting business.

Using WHM, you can perform tasks such as creating your initial hosting packages, and creating, deleting, and suspending customer accounts. You can also use WHM to monitor your client accounts, right down to the resources they’re using.

Since it’s such an integral part of running a successful reseller hosting business, we’d recommend opting for a hosting provider that offers WHM as standard. If you opt for A2 Hosting, WHM comes built into your account.

How to Launch Your Hosting Business

Choosing the right provider is essential for getting your business off to the best possible start. However, there’s still lots more work to do!

Firstly, you’ll need to create your hosting packages. This process can vary, but by opting for a provider that has WHM built-in, you can make this process much easier. Simply log into the WHM console and select Add a Package. You can then specify the resources that you want to include in this hosting package.

Creating a remote working hosting package, in WHM.Creating a remote working hosting package, in WHM.

Once you have your packages, you’ll need to plan your support system. Some customers may prefer to find answers for themselves, rather than contacting you directly. For these customers, you should provide self-help support.

Your self-help resources might include a knowledge base or wiki website, which you can create using plugins such as Encyclopedia. You can also provide technical documentation, using the Echo Knowledge Base plugin.

A knowledge base, created using a WordPress plugin.A knowledge base, created using a WordPress plugin.
You can build a knowledge base, using a plugin such as Echo Knowledge Base.

For more complex queries, customers may prefer to submit a support ticket. By implementing a ticketing system, your customers will have the option to submit detailed reports. They can also provide supplementary materials such as screenshots, which illustrate the problem they’re experiencing.

You can create a complete ticketing system, using a plugin such as Awesome Support. If you’d prefer a premium plugin, Support Ticket Management System will automatically assign a customer service agent to each new ticket. This ensures customer queries are resolved as quickly as possible.

A ticketing system, created using the Awesome Support WordPress plugin.A ticketing system, created using the Awesome Support WordPress plugin.
The Awesome Support plugin automatically creates a ticketing system.

You’ll also need to provide a Terms of Service, as this will help protect your reseller hosting business against legal action. You can create these legal documents using a tool such as TermsFeed, or the WP AutoTerms plugin.

Conclusion

The current situation is challenging. However, there are still opportunities to launch a successful reseller hosting business.

In this post, we explored how COVID-19 has created an increased need for web hosting, in several key areas. This includes businesses that require remote working tools, online learning, and e-commerce. By specifically targeting these demographics, you should be able to find an eager audience for your hosting services.

Even if you target one of these growth areas, your choice of hosting provider can still make or break your business. To give your new business venture the best possible chance of success, you should opt for a hosting provider that prioritizes performance, offers 24/7 customer support, and has an uptime guarantee.

Image credits: Unsplash.