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What is Reseller Hosting?
Ever fancied being a web host and setting up your own business? Reseller hosting allows you to create packages and sell them for whatever price you like. Reseller hosting is also very useful if you're looking to create new income streams in an existing business. For example, you might want to sell web hosting alongside a new website you've designed.
Reseller hosting is a type of web hosting that allows you to sub-let your space. The host gives you a large chunk of disk space and bandwidth, and you can carve it up and market it as you wish. The host doesn't dictate the prices, nor do they inflict their brand on your venture, so you can essentially start up a hosting business of your own.
There are a few key reasons to resell hosting:
- Setting up sites for family and friends
- Adding hosting as a new revenue stream to an existing business
- Starting a new business on your own
You still need to make sure that the plan is right for you, since not all reseller packages are equal.
Reseller hosting can be provisioned on a range of hosting plans. Basic reseller hosting tends to be set up on a shared server environment. For more power and control, you can often resell space on a VPS, cloud or dedicated server plan. Check that your host allows reselling if the plan is not marketed as a reseller plan specifically.
What You Get
Hosts generally give resellers a bulk discount, because they are essentially bringing new customers into the fold. This also allows you to make a profit on your own customised hosting packages.
You'll also normally benefit from a white label package, which means that your host's branding doesn't appear on the control panel, billing software and other administrative areas. From the cPanel login to the invoices you generate, you can use your own company name, giving your reseller hosting business a professional feel.
Your job as a host will be to provide first line support to your clients. If they lose their password, or can't locate a feature in cPanel, your host will normally expect you to deal with this. For more complex support queries, hosts offer different provision. You can submit tickets yourself and act as the go-between, or you can put your customer in touch with your host directly. In doing so, you may lose some of that white label sheen; if you plan to outsource support like this, ensure your host extends its white label provision to its support offering.
Can You Turn a Profit?
Many of today's big web hosts started off as resellers, proving that you can build a successful business this way. However, these hosts may have got into the business when they had few competitors in their niche. Nowadays, the hosting market is crowded, so there are fewer opportunities to make waves.
Don't expect to set up your business, sit back and watch the cash roll in. You will need to market it, deal with admin, write policies, set up advertising, create user accounts and compete for business against some of the best-known brands on the planet. Depending on your business model, you may also need to provide some level of support. If your host runs into problems, your users will come to you for a solution, so reseller hosting isn't entirely stress-free.
If you're looking for a "set and forget" earnings solution, you can sign up as a hosting affiliate and simply refer customers to hosts. While this isn't hassle-free, it's arguably less time-consuming than running your own hosting company. On the flip side, you can earn a great deal of money from being a reseller if you're willing to put in the effort to sign up your first 50 clients.
We just touched upon a couple of reasons why reseller hosting isn't hassle free:
- You need to be available to help your customers with support enquiries
- As a reseller, you have no direct influence on the hosting provider, yet you are wholly dependent on its success and stability
- Problems at your host will cause you headaches as your customers expect you to fix them
- While label hosting can be pricey, particularly with white label support
- You'll need to be obsessively organised with administration, accounts and backups
Finally, remember that being a reseller means being responsible for other people's ecommerce stores, business sites and livelihoods. You'll need to be tough when someone flouts the rules, and bear the brunt of complaints if things go wrong. If you have a head for business, reselling web hosting is a great way to increase your income online.
Reseller Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a web hosting reseller?
Resellers buy a hosting plan, divide the resources to create their own packages, and then sell those packages to customers. Some resellers market shared hosting only, while others resell VPS, cloud, and dedicated packages too.
How does reseller hosting differ from shared hosting?
Shared hosting is designed for one person, with one control panel, and one username. You can't create any additional accounts. Reseller hosting gives you an additional control panel with the ability to allocate chunks of space to other people.
Why do people resell web hosting?
Reselling web hosting allows you to create your own virtual hosting company, without the expense of buying or leasing the servers yourself.
Reseller hosting is also popular with people who offer hosting as part of a service (such as a web designer that designs and hosts customers' sites.)
Do all hosts allow reselling?
No. While many hosts market specific reseller plans, others may permit you to resell space on a VPS or dedicated server account. You might have to get their permission first.
Some hosts simply don't offer any reseller options at all, so it's very important to ask pre-sales questions before signing up for a host you are interested in.
Are there any risks to reselling web hosting?
When you become a reseller, you're essentially acting as a middleman for your hosting company. While you can set your own prices, you're also responsible for the way your customers use their space, and you are ultimately answerable to the 'parent' host.
Additionally, all of the administration is down to you, so you'll need to set up billing systems, support hotlines, and handle all of your taxes and accounts yourself.
Do I need to be a hosting expert to be a reseller?
No, but you need to be able to provide a reasonable level of technical support, and you must be prepared to take on the responsibility of running a full-time hosting company. That may mean responding to outages and critical issues 24 hours a day.
You really need to have good working knowledge of HTML, PHP, CSS, email, domains, and DNS records.
What hosting types can I resell?
You can sell any type of account that is made available for reselling at your provider.
How much is it going to cost me?
You'll need to pay for your reseller plan, at whatever level you choose to purchase it.
You'll also incur all of the normal costs of running and marketing a business, including advertising, domain registration, software, support, phone lines, and staff salaries.
It will inevitably take a while to sell enough hosting to break even. Bear this in mind when you choose your first reseller plan.
What control panels do hosts provide?
If you're planning to resell Linux hosting, you'll usually be provided with cPanel and WHM. cPanel controls the settings on each individual user account, while WHM controls all of the accounts at the top level. There are other alternatives, so if you have a preference, check with your host.
Will the web host provide support to my clients?
In most cases, resellers are responsible for providing first line support. That means setting up accounts, email addresses, and databases will be your responsibility, and you'll also need to answer all technical questions from your clients.
Your host will take care of more advanced questions. However, you may still need to act as the go-between to relay responses from your host to your customer.
How much should I charge for hosting?
Check what other hosts are charging, and come up with a figure that offers similar specifications to customers. You will need to be able to cover your costs while remaining competitive.
Can I sell add-ons with hosting?
Yes. You could sell extras like marketing vouchers, themes, upgrades, software, or SSL certificates. Check with your host to see what's available.
Can I resell accounts on my VPS or dedicated server?
Check with your host. Even if you get WHM, you might not be allowed to resell space on your plan.
Will my host back up my customers' websites?
In most cases they will not, so it's up to you to have your own backup routine. It's really important that you take your customers' data seriously. They will depend on you to provide backups if something goes wrong.
Will my customers know I am a reseller?
Not necessarily, unless you choose to tell them. Many resellers create their own company names, brand logos, and billing systems. Their customers never know who's providing the hosting on the other side.
There are pros and cons to this approach. On the one hand, it makes the company look independent and self-sufficient. But in some cases, it can be a benefit to use the parent company's brand as a selling point, and it means that you can potentially put your customers in touch with the parent company's support department for complex questions.
There is no correct or incorrect option. It really depends if you are reselling to create an additional revenue stream, or reselling to build a brand in its own right.