Choosing a Reseller Hosting Company
So you have taken the first step towards starting a web hosting business or are simply looking to consolidate multiple shared hosting accounts spread out across the web into a single place for ease of management. A reseller hosting plan is the way to go! However, searching for the best reseller hosting company reveals numerous results on Google with each site having their own opinion and more importantly most of the results turning out to be paid affiliate links or paid promotion.
Do your Research
The best way to go about this is to do your own research. Look for customer reviews on public review portals such as RateLobby, TrustPilot, WebHostingGeeks, and others. Avoid relying on blog posts such as “Top 10 Reseller Hosting Companies” or “The Best Reseller Hosting Companies”, most of these are just affiliate posts.
Always, speak to a company before signing up with them. If they offer a live chat option on their website, speak with a representative who may be available, if not try sending them an email via their contact form or their sales email address. Preliminary conversation with a provider helps you understand their response times to emails and inquiries and also how customer oriented or focused the company is. This is also a good time to ask a few questions that you may have about the company.
Additionally, the feature set offered with a reseller hosting plan plays a major role in making a decision. While we could list out an endless number of features and options to look for when choosing a reseller hosting company, for the sake of brevity and this article we will limit ourselves to the most important factors that you should look for when choosing a reseller hosting company, presented in an infographic.
What is a reseller hosting?
First, it’s important for you to clearly understand what reseller hosting is and what its good and bad sides are.
To put it simply, in reseller hosting:
A web hosting provider sells a hosting service to a reseller.
The reseller sells the purchased hosting service to end customers.
Such a business model allows many benefits for aspiring entrepreneurs that have limited resources to own their own full-fledged web hosting company. However, with benefits come a few downsides to keep in mind as well.
Why go for reseller hosting?
As mentioned above, reseller hosting allows for some benefits for resellers, but what are those benefits?
We’d like to focus on two – no hassles with the backend and the good potential for profit.
No need to set up the backend
The biggest benefit of reseller hosting is that you, as a reseller, don’t need to develop the backend of your hosting services on your own.
To provide clients with web hosting services, a service provider needs to have hardware for it – servers – as well as software that would help it manage the hosting business.
Buying and maintaining servers requires a lot of money and space. Buying software perhaps is not as expensive, but setting up your own hosting service management system isn’t the easiest of tasks. Even if you do know all the ins and outs of web hosting, it will be very difficult to do alone.
Reseller hosting allows you not to worry about the backend at all. A reseller hosting plan allows you to:
- Avoid buying and maintaining any servers
- Avoid buying and setting up complex software
- Avoid hiring an entire team to set up and maintain the backend
Reseller hosting allows resellers not to worry about the deep technical stuff and instead focus on creating appealing hosting plans for their clients.
Potential for profit
Why would you want to offer web hosting services to clients? To earn money, of course! Reseller hosting allows for this just like regular web hosting does.
How do you make money with a reseller hosting plan?
- Buy a hosting plan at a wholesale price.
- Split the purchased plan into smaller plans to offer to your customers.
- Add your own markup to the plan’s price to earn a profit.
Needless to say, you need to be careful with how you price your services – many people are engaged in reseller hosting out there, and you will need to be competitive. Reseller hosting has challenges just like any other business, but it’s perfectly possible to make money with it.
Things to be aware of with reseller hosting
The two benefits we overviewed are certainly great, but the reality of reseller hosting is that those benefits imply some disadvantages as well.
Dependence on the web hosting provider
While not having to deal with setting up servers frees you from many headaches, it also means that you are limited in what you can actually provide to your clients. To be more precise, you are limited to whatever your web hosting provider sells to you.
Some hosting providers do offer some flexibility with performance and available bells & whistles, but you still don’t have complete freedom of choice. Had you had your own backend, adding functionality and performance as you see fit would be much easier.
Aside from that, you are dependent on the reliability of the backend of your web hosting provider. You don’t have anything to do with the server uptime, but when the servers are down or the performance isn’t up there, it’s your reputation that suffers in the eyes of your clients.
Unwillingness of end customers to buy from resellers
While buyers of hosting services usually don’t have in-depth knowledge of how things are done, some people are going to be savvy enough to know what reseller hosting is. The thing here is that not everybody is eager to deal with hosting resellers.
Some customers do realize that significant markups are involved in reseller hosting, and they may want to look elsewhere for better deals. Not only that, but they are aware of the hardware limits imposed on resellers and the possible reliability issues, which may again make them not too up to buying plans from a reseller.
Choosing the most reliable reseller hosting company
Considering all of the above, it’s key that you choose a reseller hosting company that will allow you to avoid having to deal with reseller hosting’s downsides and amplify its benefits.
Below are the things that you will want to consider to make sure that your clients are getting what they want. And, of course, we will cover the points which would help you establish a successful hosting business.
Things to consider in a reseller hosting service
First of all, you need to pay attention to the amount of computational resources provided to you.
Among the things to consider are:
- Disk space. SSDs are preferable since they offer excellent read-write speeds
- CPU cores
- Physical memory
- Virtual memory
It’s quite difficult to give recommendations on how much performance you should look for – the needs and goals of every reseller are different, so you will need to make a plan.
Remember – you will need to distribute the borrowed resources between numerous clients, and you need to make sure that they are getting enough for what they want.
The amount of resources provided to you is important, but it’s no less important how scalable the performance of your hosting plan is. Scalability is the ability of a system to draw additional resources to handle the growing performance demands.
The best solution in terms of scalability is cloud hosting. Cloud hosting harvests resources from multiple physical servers, allowing for a quick increase of performance on demand.
Depending on your plan, you may or may not need to pay for the additional amount of resources allocated to you.
While these have their own benefits, they aren’t as scalable as cloud hosting services. With that being said, not everyone needs to have scalable performance.
If you are expecting to have surges in your customers’ demands, then opting for a cloud hosting may be reasonable for you.
You may want your web hosting provider to offer guaranteed uptime. In fact, ensure that the uptime guarantee is backed up by a proper SLA (Service Level Agreement). This will allow you to get compensation when the provider fails to meet the promised uptime levels. Not only that, but a reseller hosting company will work hard to meet the uptime promises to avoid legal action or paying out compensations.
Things can and will probably go wrong at some point or another, so the reseller hosting company better provide you with 24/7 support so that you can ensure a seamless experience for your clients. And we are talking about true 24/7 support, not something that’s just claimed on the provider’s website and not maintained after you buy a plan.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to assess how good the customer support will be without actually working with a reseller hosting company.
With that being said, there are a few things you could do to try and evaluate how good your interaction with the company will be:
Read reviews of the company’s reseller plans. Take reviews with a grain of salt since they may be biased or not provide you with the full picture. Pay attention to the negative reviews as well – they can provide you with some useful insight on the cons of the service provider. But make sure that negative reviews are a minority – around 10% is usually what good companies are at.
Chat with the company’s sales representative and see how quickly they respond to your messages and whether they give comprehensive answers to your questions.
Check if the reseller hosting provider has a blog or a page on social media and see how frequently they are updated. While this won’t provide you with direct insight into a provider’s customer support, it may give you an idea of how serious they are.
Pay special attention to what tools the reseller hosting provider uses to ensure security. Among the things to look for are:
- Malware scanners
- DDoS protection
- Backups of your data
- SSL certificates, whether free (like Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates) or not. Your clients need to be able to install SSL certificates on their websites to ensure their security. Not only that, but the presence of an SSL certificate on a website can positively impact its rankings. SEO-friendliness will be a bonus point for you.
It’s also important that the reseller hosting provider offers you some white labeling solution, i.e. a solution that would allow you to market your services under your own business name without a mention of the provider of the reseller hosting.
A key feature to look for here is private nameservers. Allowing you to set your own nameservers, this feature will make you look more professional. Not only that, but if you decide to change your reseller hosting provider, your customers won’t need to change anything from their end to keep things working.
Number of customers
Consider how many customers your reseller hosting plan allows you to have. Some reseller hosting providers may limit the number of control panels you can distribute to your customers. And this is important since your every customer needs to have their own control panel.
Above, we’ve said that you buy a plan and split it into parts to sell to customers. Well, here, it’s important how exactly you can customize the plans for reselling. Pay attention to what you can and cannot customize, as well as how much resources you can provide to your clients.
Not everybody likes overselling, but it’s a technique that allows hosting providers to earn high profits. If you didn’t know, overselling is the practice of selling more resources than are actually available. What makes overselling possible is that not all hosting plan buyers use the purchased resources to their full.
You can thus “resell” the resources not used by your existing clients to new ones.
Be careful with overselling – it’s based on just an assumption, and assumptions aren’t always true. To stay on the safer side, you may want to have overselling AND easy scalability to ensure that your clients don’t lack resources.
Hosting management system
Your hosting solution needs to be held together by a piece of software called hosting management system. You also need to have a means for billing and providing support to your clients. Fortunately, reseller hosting companies do provide resellers with licenses on systems likes WHMCS or Blesta.
Some reseller hosting providers may include a hosting management system in their hosting plans, while others charge an additional monthly fee for it. Pay attention to how your hosting provider deals with this – hosting management systems aren’t free, after all.
Bells & whistles Depending on your needs and expectations, you may also want to provide your customers with additional services like:
- Free emails
- Domains, whether free or not
- IP addresses
- PHP version selection
- Choice of operating systems
Finally, consider the price of the reseller hosting plan you are going for. You not only want to pick a plan that is worth the money – it’s important to select a plan that you will be able to turn into a competitive offer for your customers.
After you add your markup, your offer should be able to compete with the hosting plans of other businesses. Don’t choose a plan that doesn’t offer good value for the money – it probably won’t be attractive to your customers.
Reseller hosting is insanely attractive to newbie business people, but it isn’t as simple as it may seem. Above, we’ve looked through the things that you need to be aware of as a buyer of a reseller hosting plan. Remember that you are dependent on the reseller hosting company and that you should do everything to ensure that that dependency doesn’t make your buyers’ experience horrible.
A good reseller hosting company should be able to resolve issues quickly, provide resources on-demand, and have the features that you want to sell to your customers.
In the end, to pick the best reseller hosting company, you need to first and foremost know what you want. The rest will depend on your demands.