How does a reseller account work?
You buy reseller hosting from a web hosting company. This has limited, but generous, bandwidth and disk storage. You then offer hosting to your clients, often providing unlimited bandwidth and storage. You over-sell the limits on your reseller account because clients want ‘unlimited’, and you know they are highly unlikely ever to reach your account limits.
Each client gets their own cPanel control panel and can do almost everything they can do with a big hosting company.
You have a WHM® (Web Hosting Manager) control panel, where you allocate bandwidth and disk space. Your WHM® panel is also where you handle your invoicing and support.
Pros and cons of offering reseller hosting
Reseller hosting looks like a win-win situation because nobody ever talks about the downside. And there are downsides for both parties.
Clients’ big downside is that they can’t chat with the support experts: The only person your clients can contact for support is you.
Support is the big issue for you as well. Clients send you their problems as support tickets, and you contact the web host’s support department. When you get the answer, you relay that to the client. It is unsatisfactory for everyone: The client has to wait longer for the solution to their problem, and you have the extra hassle of dealing with support requests at all hours of the day and night.
Some clients will need a lot of help. They may:
- Have trouble doing the simplest things, meaning you have to install WordPress and set up their site for them
- Install incompatible or poorly coded WordPress plugins, so they require your help to solve WP issues they should have avoided in the first place
- Not install anti-spam plugins, so your disk space gets overfull
- Spam their customers from their domain email addresses, causing all your clients’ emails to be classified as spam
You can spend hours every day dealing with support requests.
The alternative upsell – hosting advice
Every web hosting company has an affiliate program that pays $50-100 for each referral who buys a hosting package. This is easier money than dealing with endless support demands as part of a reseller package, and your client gets a better service because you have recommended the best hosting for their situation.
If your clients and their customers are in the UK, then recommend a UK-based web host. If they are in the US, then a US-based host will suit their needs better. Location is not something most clients ever think about, so just by considering that, you are helping them find better hosting than they would otherwise.
Devise a questionnaire for clients to elicit their needs. Include questions like:
- How many sites will you need hosting for?
- How many visitors do they anticipate per day?
- Will need an e-commerce site?
- How much support will they need?
Shared hosting is ideal for first-timers, companies who have never had a website before. It is cheap but limited, and if the venture is successful your client will outgrow their shared hosting, but they can then upgrade to VPS hosting with the same company.
VPS (virtual private server) hosting is the next stage up from a shared server. It is more complicated, more expensive, but will make a site with lots of users run faster than a shared server will.
Cloud hosting can be an alternative to a VPS. The complexity and speed are similar, though cost varies depending on requirements. Recommend cloud hosting where a client anticipates significant variations in demand or does not want to commit to a 3-year VPS contract because cloud hosting is bought on a monthly basis.
The short version
You are the expert in all things Internet, so your clients see you as the fount of all wisdom. They will listen and take action on your advice.
Reseller hosting has problems for both you and your clients. You get the run around from endless support demands, and your clients get a poorer service than they would by buying directly from a hosting company.
A better upsell is to assess clients’ needs and send them via affiliate links to your selected hosting company sites.