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Using a resellers account to make some cash


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#1 edmicman  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 7:57 am

So I've got a small resellers account and now I'm looking for some advice on how I can potentially turn that into some extra income. I've got my "hosting" domain set up but I still need to actually make the site and whatnot. I"ve got 1GB of space and 20GB of bandwidth to work with. I'm thinking I'll go with something fairly simple though. But first I've got some questions I was hoping someone could offer some input on....

How do you deal with payment for web hosting services? I've noticed that some people have these "subscription" payments through Paypal. It looks like you pay, and Paypal will automatically make a charge on a monthly or yearly basis? Is that available to anyone with a Paypal account, or do you have to set up a business or something? Does Paypal automatically handle everything, or does it just send an email or something when someone's payment is due?

What other ways are there to manage clients? A spreadsheet? Whats the best way to keep track of your business? I've seen mentioned some free cart / payment programs, but I would still have to accept payments via either paypal or checks...I'm not at the point where I could do CCs directly.

What about support? I also have my own domain for myself and some friends on another host, and I offer them free email addresses and space. I know that on the few occasions my host has had problems, they all come to me asking whats going on and how long its going to be, etc. And this is for just 4 users who are getting a free service. One of them depends on his email for important personal mail, and even though he's getting it for free and I've only occasionally experienced problems, he's always pushing the "whens it going to be back up" when they do happen. From there I always have to work with my host to find out whats up, which isn't a problem as all my hosts' service has always been great, but its a concern of mine. How do you deal with potential service problems when other people are paying you for the service?

Somewhat related, for general help, should you just go with email support, or a ticket system, or just a forum or something? Plus, if you host those on your reseller account, and something happens with the host server, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose? How do you suggest setting up support on a different host or something?

What are some suggested packages or services to offerand at what pricing? I was thinking basic email like you@yourdomain.com would be easiest, but whats the best way to do that? Offer to register the domain name, set up the account, and give them their DA info? How much space and what price is decent? It doesn't seem like someone would pay 20/yr (~10 for the name registration plus 10 for the hosting) for a paltry 10 or 20MB of space when they can get a gmail or yahoo address with gobs of room for free, even if it is a custom domain name.

What about web site hosting? What is a good starting point size-wise and price-wise? I'm talking with a friend about selling his a package, and I was thinking something like 100MB and 1GB of bandwidth for around 60/yr - he's going to register his own name and he's a close friend. Whats a good price point for something like that for "everyone else"? Do you/should you offer web design with that, too? If people are looking to host their own website, would they be comfortable enough working with DA and ftp to set up their own stuff, or not?

How or who do you target potential customers? Take an ad out in the paper? I'm around a college, so post something on the student message boards or something? I would think you'd need to stay away from fairly technical people as they probably already have their own hosting setups anyway. Does the whole web hosting thing hinge on peoples ignorance of the abundance of discount hosting packages that seem to be all over AT and WHT and here, etc.?

Do you just find businesses who have crappy websites and make them an offer? I see some of the local ISP's offering hosting, and their prices are outrageous - like 400-500/month for a site and whatnot, and it seems like if I could offer them the same for half that, I'd be making back multiple times what the hosting is costing me plus some crazy profit. But then, I'd think it would be even more stressful hosting for a business who probably has more expectations that would an individual who is making a personal site.

Sorry if this is a little long...it just seems like I'm sitting on something that could offer a lot of potential and I'm doing nothing and really have little idea of where to start. Thanks for everything!

#2 RossMAN  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 8:52 am

How do you deal with payment for web hosting services? I've noticed that some people have these "subscription" payments through Paypal. It looks like you pay, and Paypal will automatically make a charge on a monthly or yearly basis? Is that available to anyone with a Paypal account, or do you have to set up a business or something? Does Paypal automatically handle everything, or does it just send an email or something when someone's payment is due?


Paypal accepts credit card payments and doesn't require the subscriber to have a Paypal account which is a huge advantage. How I handle my local web hosting venture is accept quarterly payments only via Paypal, check or money order. This isn't as quick as credit card payments but it results in less fees and hassle in my opinion. You have to handle billing your clients, but if the client has a Paypal account it can automatically bill them every month.

What other ways are there to manage clients? A spreadsheet? Whats the best way to keep track of your business? I've seen mentioned some free cart / payment programs, but I would still have to accept payments via either paypal or checks...I'm not at the point where I could do CCs directly.


Cheapest ways to manage clients and billing are:
Spreadsheet/database
PHPCoin v1.2.1b and lower is FREE.
WhoisCart.net works with both cPanel and DirectAdmin, priced just right at $35.

What about support? I also have my own domain for myself and some friends on another host, and I offer them free email addresses and space. I know that on the few occasions my host has had problems, they all come to me asking whats going on and how long its going to be, etc. And this is for just 4 users who are getting a free service. One of them depends on his email for important personal mail, and even though he's getting it for free and I've only occasionally experienced problems, he's always pushing the "whens it going to be back up" when they do happen. From there I always have to work with my host to find out whats up, which isn't a problem as all my hosts' service has always been great, but its a concern of mine. How do you deal with potential service problems when other people are paying you for the service?


Support is your responsibility unless you outsource it to a third party provider or your reseller web host offers anonymous support. Most "budget web hosts" do not offer this as an option. If there is a problem at the data center or with the dedicated server, that is your reseller web hosts's responsibility to keep you up to date and resolution.

Somewhat related, for general help, should you just go with email support, or a ticket system, or just a forum or something? Plus, if you host those on your reseller account, and something happens with the host server, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose? How do you suggest setting up support on a different host or something?


There are several free support ticket applications available. You brought up an excellent point. Do not host your hosting web site where your production resellers account is hosted. Get a small single domain hosting account with another provider at another data center. That way if there is an outage you can keep your clients up to date.

What are some suggested packages or services to offerand at what pricing? I was thinking basic email like you@yourdomain.com would be easiest, but whats the best way to do that? Offer to register the domain name, set up the account, and give them their DA info? How much space and what price is decent? It doesn't seem like someone would pay 20/yr (~10 for the name registration plus 10 for the hosting) for a paltry 10 or 20MB of space when they can get a gmail or yahoo address with gobs of room for free, even if it is a custom domain name.


It depends on who your provider is, how reliable they are and which market you are targetting. For my local web hosting venture I target the lucrative small business niche where I can charge $19.95/mo for 50MB/2GB but they're hosted with quality resellers (HTTPme.COM, Idologic.com, clook.net, etc.)

I have never been crazy about offering domain registration, so I suggest charging $14.95/yr then register their domain for them at GoDaddy.com or NameCheap.com in their name.

DirectAdmin has a nice "welcome" e-mail template which has the servers IP address, username, password, FTP, email and name servers information.

What about web site hosting? What is a good starting point size-wise and price-wise? I'm talking with a friend about selling his a package, and I was thinking something like 100MB and 1GB of bandwidth for around 60/yr - he's going to register his own name and he's a close friend. Whats a good price point for something like that for "everyone else"? Do you/should you offer web design with that, too? If people are looking to host their own website, would they be comfortable enough working with DA and ftp to set up their own stuff, or not?


$60/yr for your friend sounds perfect.

If your clients plan on having simple HTML static web sites I don't see a problem logging in and assisting them with the setup. It should take no more than 15 minutes per domain and that's for everything.

How or who do you target potential customers? Take an ad out in the paper? I'm around a college, so post something on the student message boards or something? I would think you'd need to stay away from fairly technical people as they probably already have their own hosting setups anyway. Does the whole web hosting thing hinge on peoples ignorance of the abundance of discount hosting packages that seem to be all over AT and WHT and here, etc.?


I target the local web hosting market because competing online is a losing battle. Design a nice simple web site, print thousands of business cards and flyers. Offer some local businesses a small free web hosting account if they allow you to advertise your services. Maybe they can hand out a business card with every receipt? Get creative.

Do you just find businesses who have crappy websites and make them an offer? I see some of the local ISP's offering hosting, and their prices are outrageous - like 400-500/month for a site and whatnot, and it seems like if I could offer them the same for half that, I'd be making back multiple times what the hosting is costing me plus some crazy profit. But then, I'd think it would be even more stressful hosting for a business who probably has more expectations that would an individual who is making a personal site.


Sort of. I prefer to find small businesses which don't have a web site and help them realize the potential market they are missing. They could print their web site URL and e-mail address in the phone book, on business cards in their newspaper ads. They could offer customers incentives to visit the web site such as $2 off your next dry cleaning purchase, $0.50 off your next cup of coffee. I like to throw freebies at potential clients such as a FREE domain for the first year and 3 or 6 free months of web hosting. After that they are hooked and rarely cancel their account. They have to first realize the potential before they're ready to pay you for your services. I had to offer a small grocery store a free domain for 2 years, 6 months of free web hosting and spent about 20 hours on the phone with them ... but it paid off in the end. They eventually pre-paid for A LOT of web hosting and referred 3 new clients to me. They appreciated how I was willing to work with them and I never gave up. For some reason they really seemed to admire that.

Sorry if this is a little long...it just seems like I'm sitting on something that could offer a lot of potential and I'm doing nothing and really have little idea of where to start. Thanks for everything!


Great questions, I hope my replies helped some.

Remember SEARCH IS YOUR FRIEND spend a few hours browsing WHT and HTTPme.COM forums. Talk is cheap, just get your plan together and go for it. The first step is to break even, after that everything you earn is PROFIT. Go for it and reach for that first step :)

#3 alm99  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 8:58 am

very good info in this thread

#4 edmicman  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 9:04 am

Thanks RossMAN you are always a great resource for info! I was aware of the WHT forums, and will have to check out the others you mentioned, too. Sometimes they seem a bit overwhelming, though :)

You brought up an excellent point. Do not host your hosting web site where your production resellers account is hosted. Get a small single domain hosting account with another provider at another data center. That way if there is an outage you can keep your clients up to date.


This made me think of another question. So I set up my resellers account with a domain name I registered that I intended to be my main "hosting" domain. If I wanted this to be actually hosted somewhere else, I could just change the DNS settings at my registrar, but then I'd lose the nameserver stuff for that, too, wouldn't I? Do I need to register yet another "hosting" name to actually use for the business part of it? Thanks for all your advice everyone!

#5 steveh  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 9:29 am

Some comments to add to RossMAN's thoughts... * Until you're generating a fairly large, reliable, monthly income, *nobody* can touch Paypal's fee structure. And with Paypal you can set up the ordering to set up "permanent" monthly subscriptions that automatically handle the billing for you. * The problems you're describing with your existing host would worry me if I was going to start charging customers for the service. Remember, if "your" server is down, your customer isn't going to care that it's really somebody else that's working on it -- they're going to care that the service that YOU sold them is down. Invest in a reseller hosting account with a reliable provider. * Some providers provide an offsite account purely for the purpose of maintaining contact with your customers in the event that the server is down. In an ideal situation, this account would be on a different server, in a different datacenter, on a different segment of the backbone (ideally in a different city or state - think of the blackout last year). If your provider doesn't offer this, you'll either need to buy a regular hosting account elsewhere, or look into "swapping space" with someone who's in the same boat as you. Be prepared to answer the question when a customer asks you (and some will), why your site isn't hosted in the same "ultrareliable, perfect location" that you're trying to sell them. * You're going to have to support your own customers. Be prepared for this. To a point, your provider should be capable of backing you up on this. As time goes on, you'll probably need to ask them questions less and less frequently unless there's an actual outage. * Don't fall for the trap of under-pricing your services in an attempt to compete with the 1and1's of the world. You're not a multi-million dollar corporation that can afford to sell things at a loss with the hopes of eventually upselling the customer. Likewise, your customers will eventually wonder if your service is *too* cheap. * I do domain registrations. I figure if I'm targetting customers that don't currently have a site, in all likelihood, they don't own their domain name yet. I can sell them a domain name at a vast discount over NetworkSolutions or some of the others they're likely to automatically think of, plus I can provide them the service of getting everything in one place. I'd recommend you look into getting a domain registration reseller account from one of the ICANN accredited registrars out there. (I'm biased towards eNom. Want a free reseller account?;)) HTH, YMMV

#6 RossMAN  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 9:37 am

steveh - Thanks for the excellent points, I totally agree with everything you said. I really should begin utilizing my eNom account more.

#7 steveh  OFFLINE  

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Posted Jan 12, 2005 - 12:46 pm

steveh - Thanks for the excellent points, I totally agree with everything you said.

I really should begin utilizing my eNom account more.


Yeah... and if you're not gonna, pass 'em my way... lol...



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