Web hosting is often thought of as a way to make some fast cash, but truth of the matter is that it isn’t really as easy as it may seem. Despite what some people may say, you do actually need to have some level of technical knowledge when it comes to software and computers, as well as a whole lot of patience.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t start your own web hosting company; but before you dive right on in, you need to educate yourself on this type of business and then decide if it’s for you.
What To Consider Before Opening A Web Hosting Business
Let’s start with the first most common misconception about the business: because there are control panels, you don’t need to have a lot of technical knowledge. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Control panels will make some tasks easier, sure, but you still need to know how to actually trouble shoot.
The money also isn’t as easy as some may make it seem. First and foremost, it’s a saturated market, so you must have something to offer to actually make any cash. This means that you have to be able to do your job, and you should also have great customer service. Customer service is what will make or break your business.
You also have to think about how much you have to spend on the server. So let’s say the server has 80GB of hard disk space. You pay maybe $100 a month for it, and then sell off in 20MB chunks for $10 each. Since 1 GB equates to being 1024MB in space, you can make decent money but again, you must have great service in order to attract any attention.
This means working well over 8 hours a day. As a matter of fact, if you do not have a partner with you in the business, you can easily be sitting at your computer and working away for 15 hours a day. So really, you’re not making a whole lot considering how much of your day is being spent on it.
Before you go into your own web hosting business, think about the above points seriously and then come up with a solid business plan before jumping into it. You’ll be able to see how much money you will actually be making off of the business, and see if you may be just running yourself into a deficit in the long run.
Deciding On The Specifics
So you’ve decided that web hosting is for you. Great! Now there are some things that you will need to keep track of and think about, regardless as to whether you are building your own infrastructure or using a hosting service. We’ll go over these in brief detail:
Terms of Service (TOS): This is the service level agreement. You will have to decide what is a fair terms of service for both you and your client. You may want to check out some message boards on web hosting talk forums and threads to see what are reasonable terms at around the time and date you plan on starting your online business.
Pricing: All prices should be ones that people can afford, but you don’t want to make your prices so low just to have some sort of competitive edge (you will definitely be losing money if that’s part of your business plan). Focus more on advertising the fact that you have an available, uncluttered server and that you also have great customer service.
Billing: You may want to request for payment of services in advance. Think of subscribing to a third-party merchant service to help keep your finances in order a well. Trying to keep numbers in a spreadsheet on your computer isn’t going to cut it.
Some other things that you will have to keep track of include:
- You will need to monitor your servers religiously. If a server goes down, you need to know about it. Try a program like Alertra to help monitor things
- Always backup. Even when you haven’t had a server go down in ages, keep backing up so that no data is lost.
- Maintain a good email list so that you can keep your clients in the loop about scheduled or unscheduled service interruptions or outages. It’s best to keep the email lit off of your own servers.
- Problem customers will happen. This is also another good idea to have a fair but not too cheap pricing scheme. If you’re too affordable, then someone with little to no knowledge will probably sign up because $1 a month is nothing to them. Think about also including in the TOS that you can terminate service at any time.
- If you are building your own infrastructure, then you must keep your servers up to date with the latest security patches.
Web Hosting Options: Building Your Own Infrastructure
So you’ve decided that web hosting is for you. Great! There are a lot of great advantages to building your very own infrastructure for your web hosting company, the most obvious being that if you built it, you are in complete control. You can choose the hardware, operating systems, the database and a number of other tools. Not using a web hosting company also mean that you won’t have to learn their web hosting procedures, and you probably won’t have to pay any extra fees for bandwidth use or hard disc storage space.
Web Hosting Options: Using A Web Hosting Service
You don’t necessarily need to turn your nose up at hosting services, such as HostGator. If you have less tech knowledge but still want to open up your own web hosting company, this is probably the best way to go. You get a fast Internet connection, and the start-up costs are pretty low and reasonable. Technical support is often offered for free, and you only need to buy into the services that you need and can add-on as you grow.
The only thing about these hosting sites is that you are totally limited to the type of hardware and software options that they offer. Your monthly fees may also change from time to time, depending on how many customers you have visit your site. Whatever you do, make sure that you do your research prior to choosing any particular web hosting service.