In the past, if you wanted to make a living online then you effectively had 2 choices. You could become a web designer/developer or you could start a web hosting company. These days, there are obviously lots more options and there are more and more ways becoming apparent with regards to earning a crust online.
Fast forward a few years and the chances of making a living by being a designer, developer or web hoster are extremely slim. Only the best designers and developers can grind out enough to make a good living and the competition in the web hosting sector is so rife and so dominated by major players that people seldom bother. But that’s not to say you can’t make a nice side income off it and perhaps grow into something larger as time goes on.
In this article, we’re going to go over the outlines as to what it takes to operate a web hosting company and how to go about it. It is by no means a complete guide but it may be useful if you’re considering starting a web hosting company for yourself.
Why Do It?
The reason most people do it is for money, let’s be honest. You seldom hear of people who run web hosting companies because they have an interest in running web servers and dealing with snotty clients. So your income is going to play a big part of it. Unfortunately, unless you’re hosting a lot of clients you’re not going to make a ton of money from it but it can be a nice enough sideline if you run a good enough service and have enough clients at your disposal.
Finding Initial Clients
This is the hard bit. Finding clients in the web hosting sector is notoriously difficult. As mentioned it’s a competitive industry but there are clients to be had if you offer the right solution. Try and go niche, try and make pages offering specific types of hosting geared up and designed for specific products rather than just offering run of the mill solutions.
If you want to start a web hosting company you’re going to be best off with a WHM (web host manager) account and cPanel for your customers If you have access to a server you’ll find a ton of tutorials such as this one which will walk you through step by step with the install. You can then add customer accounts as you see fit by the simple easy to use interface.
The beauty of WHM/cPanel is that you can assign accounts to your customers directly and give the full control just as they would if they were using a bigger web host.
The hardware you choose will most likely be determined by your setup and the scope of the project. If you’re looking to host a handful of web design clients you probably get away with a simple reseller hosting plan from pretty much any web hosting firm out there. Or if you want something a little bit more middle of the road then perhaps a virtual private server (VPS) would be more suitable.
You will only really need to consider hardware if you want to host your own servers in a data center but for that to happen you’d need to be hosting literally thousands of accounts so it’s probably not a huge concern at the moment.
Clients are NOT Always Right!
You have no doubt heard the phrase that the client is always right. With web hosting customers it is really not the case. You will need a thick skin dealing with them and that’s for certain. All of them will think your sole mission in life is to support them and their needs. Whatever their issue it will be of paramount importance and if you were on your deathbed you’d be fully expected to climb down from it and resolve the issue.
I hope this article hasn’t put you off running a web hosting firm. Doing so can be extremely lucrative if you get the right setup and can corner the niche. Or if you have access to a list of people who don’t have but might need web hosting. Being a web designer or developer with a large client base is a perfect example of this.
One thing I will say is don’t be put off by the big players in the industry. A lot of them have a who;e bunch of disgruntled clients because they don’t get the personal touch they would with smaller hosting companies. If you can find this sort of clientele you’ll be onto a winner.