Reselling web hosting to clients

With the rise in inexpensive virtual private server (VPS) packages, the web is full of hosting companies making web designers and developers the enticing sounding offer of “becoming their own web host”. This is one of those things that sounds a really great idea until you start to unpack it. After all, who wouldn’t want to make some nice monthly income by hosting sites for their clients? Isn’t this just money for nothing? I’ve responded to this on a couple of forums recently and thought it would make a useful post here.

At edgeofmyseat.com we have always avoided hosting for our clients, the following reasons are why I generally believe reselling hosting to be a bad idea for small agencies.

Supporting hosted clients

Supporting clients who see you as their host can use up a lot of time. Will the money you make from reselling cover the additional hours of support and assistance?

If you are taking money for a service – providing hosting – even as part of a package of services you offer to your clients, then you take on the responsibility of ensuring that service is up and running, and solving any problems that the client has. As a reseller though you have no control over how reliable the service you resell is. If it is frequently down the compensation you will get from the host will be little to none – and yet you will be spending your time responding to upset clients with nothing you can actually do to help other than put in a support request yourself. As your clients will expect their sites to be up 24/7 you need to be happy to deal with these support requests at any time of day or night.

By taking on hosting you potentially end up becoming the go to person for all kinds of issues unrelated to the website. If you are a Mac user will you be able to help out a client who is having trouble with Outlook on their PC? If you provide the hosting and it includes email, you will be their first port of call when they can’t get their settings right.

Chasing small invoices

For many projects, especially those where the client has some kind of Content Management System to do their own updates, the designer will deploy the site and then not need to do further work on this site for some months. If you are billing these clients monthly, you will be bound to have some who delay paying for as long as possible or will only pay when chased. The cost to your business of chasing small invoices can be huge.

Updating and securing servers

Unless you are confident that you can solve most issues yourself with your server, or have truly excellent support from your host, then reselling hosting may cause more trouble than it is worth to you financially.

If you are not a systems administrator then it is likely you will have taken on a dedicated or virtual private server with some management software installed – something like Web Host Manager. Your host will provide the server with WHM installed and then you use WHM to generate sites including email and other features as needed. This all works really well, except that with many hosts you will be expected to do updates and apply security patches yourself. If you run into any problems then – once again – you will need to put in a support request to your host and wait, while pacifying annoyed clients.

Terms of Service and Insurance

If you are reselling hosting you should take advice on the terms of service you offer to your clients and whether your business insurance will cover any claims arising from a client believing they have lost money due to the hosting you provide being unavailable. This is going to be different depending on where you and your clients live, however if you do or are considering becoming a reseller I strongly advise you check this out to make sure you are covered.

If you intend to “switch off” non-paying clients this should also be detailed in the terms and conditions that they agree to. You should ensure that in taking that action against a client they have no way to come back with a claim that you have damaged their business.

It is also worth having a policy in place in terms of what happens if the client wants to continue with you as a designer but move to new hosting, or stop using your design services but keep the hosting. Would you be happy giving access to a site on your server to another designer, for example?

What can you do instead?

If you are pitching for jobs where part of the requirement is hosting, this doesn’t mean you should feel you have to offer hosting yourself. When I put in proposals that require hosting, I detail the costs for the hosting at a preferred supplier of ours (we like to use Memset). I will spec out the type of server, and the monthly or annual costs, and include this in the proposal. As we tend to put clients onto Virtual Dedicated servers I will also indicate the extra options that the client may or may not decide to have – such as firewalls, fully managed support and so on. The client then can make the decision about what they feel they need. They can also decide to go with an equivalent host of their choice – as long as it meets the minimum requirements for the application we are developing. This puts responsibility for that decision in the hands of the client – and although most will go with our recommendations they get the chance to check out the host themselves.

We are always happy to become technical contact for the account on behalf of the client, so they don’t need to deal with setting up a VPS or getting their site configured or even liaising with the hosting technical support if the box is fully managed. Once the site is up and running if the client sees that the server is down they can directly contact the hosting company, and utilize the 24/7 support there, rather than having to wait to get hold of us during office hours.

If you like the idea of getting something for hosting, some hosts have a referral scheme that will enable you to make money from hosting without ever having to operate as a host yourself. It goes without saying that you should only recommend a company you are happy with, but if you find a great company and they are willing to offer you credit against your own hosting or cash for accounts you put their way – then everyone wins.

What about allowing clients to preview sites?

When I have discussed this issue in the past, one argument for hosting client work yourself is that you can allow them to preview the site, but as they don’t have access to the server they can’t take it and not pay the final invoice. Disregarding whether you should be working for such scoundrels, if you do have these concerns – or just want to be able to demo work before moving it over (for example they have an existing site in place) then taking out a staging server of your own is a sensible step.

We use a Miniserver box at Memset as a staging environment, so we set up a subdomain for a project on that server and allow it to be tested there. As this server matches the environment most of our projects are hosted on it is a good way for the client to test. Quite often they populate all their content into the CMS on staging and we just migrate the entire database and folders of assets over to their server once they are ready to go live.

Personally I like transparency in dealing with other services used by our clients. I feel that it saves us from ending up in potentially messy situations where we are seen as providing a service that then fails for reasons outside our control. Would love to know other experiences of reselling – perhaps it works really well for you? Let me know in the comments.

Mike Jones on the 03 Feb 2011:

Totally agree, for a few reasons. Firstly, it also displays a level of confidence in the quality of your work. “If we finish this project with you and you decide you want to use someone else in the future then look, all the control is yours”.

Secondly, I’d also put most of the points you raised above to domain name and DNS management too. I had a really awkward situation recently when someone hadn’t paid the bill for three .tv domains for 3 years. Because it was smallish amounts I let it slide for the first year but the outstanding amount started to look really big so I gave them 30 days notice then redirected the domain. This led to begging voicemails and calls etc and then they paid after a week when none of their investors could email them! I suppose it gives you a lever in bill paying, but not one I like wielding! Again, point them at a good provider and agree to guide them through configuration but make it their account.

Bogdan Pop on the 03 Feb 2011:

Having a company that first started with web hosting and moved to web development one year later I can say you are completely wrong! If you are a reseller (VPSes, reseller accounts) and host your clients than you’re up for trouble.

If you prefer to call it a full service (web development, hosting, management) and price accordingly then there’s nothing to lose. I used to offer even shared hosting for clients that didn’t buy any other services, and it worked, until I figured that I should stick with the web development clients only, charge more, and offer a great service to them.

This way I can configure their accounts and servers the way I like, and I don’t have any issues because my client’s host has switched some configuration in the server. I prefer getting calls and emails regarding email quota’s as opposed to “The site is full of errors. What have you done?” and the try to explain to my client that I can’t have done anything since the site isn’t hosted by me.

It is so much better hosting your client’s sites. It sure is painful in the early days, but in the end it pays off big time!

Paul on the 03 Feb 2011:

Couldn’t agree more. I’ve moved away from hosting too because of all the reasons above as has the agency I work for.

I also think theres another good point, what if you don’t pay the bills and the re-seller account is terminated – all you clients would loose their sites!!

Wouldn’t happen?

It could – what if you company ceased trading or you became critically ill or you died. A few years ago I came across someone trying to rectify their website because the developer they used had passed away. Their site had gone because bills were not paid and they had no source files either.

trovster on the 03 Feb 2011:

This is something that I have been contemplating since deciding on starting my own company. On the one hand it is regular income for recurring services, on the other it can be a nightmare when things go wrong. I am not a sysadmin, but I can do basic things, but as you point out when things go wrong, there is usually little you directly can do about it.

If you’re dicing out a virtual server to clients when the server does go down, and one client rings up, you know the rest aren’t far behind.

I have decided that educating the client on the required specification for the site, and possible recommending a host are the best solutions for myself – something that you seem to agree with also.

Hendrik-Jan Francke on the 03 Feb 2011:

You make some very good points. (I have forwarded your comments about Terms of Service and Insurance to my lawyer so something can be added into my contract.)

And yet we still offer hosting. How we address some of the issues you mention: I bill only once a year so I reduce the issue of chasing small invoices. I contractually limit the number of support requests related to hosting (I offer two plans, priced accordingly, one with 12 free calls and one with unlimited calls. I needed these support plans regardless of whether I was reselling hosting or not, my clients were expecting a high level of service, they expected us to manage their accounts with a range of ISPs. To reduce the variability, I rent space in the cloud at RackSpace and resell to clients. )

Dave Cartledge on the 03 Feb 2011:

Perhaps I’ve been lucky with my clients! I’ve been offering web hosting services for some years now without (most) of the problems you describe.

I appreciate that it can add extra stress at times, particularly if there is a support request when you’re working on a project with a tight deadline – however I’ve managed to find a great web host that have excellent uptime and support, which takes the hassle away from me.

I don’t host as many sites as I used to, however I find my clients (particularly non-techy ones) appreciate the extra services, and perhaps it even gives them more confidence in my abilities (as a web designer/developer).

I do agree that it can add a lot of extra work and stress unless managed correctly though.

Clive Walker on the 03 Feb 2011:

Providing hosting to clients works well for me but I also agree with the reasons you give for not doing it. Not sure if that makes sense but I’ve experienced some of the “supporting hosted clients” problems you describe. I’ve not experienced the other problems though. It only works well for me now because I have a close relationship with the hosting company (I know them personally). Overall, the web hosting income and the web hosting flexibility that I have makes it worthwhile for me.

Rachel on the 03 Feb 2011:

@Bogdan you can get all of the control you mention with a transparent relationship though. We put our clients onto VMs with Memset, usually I have the root access to those and can configure them exactly as required (we tend to be developing web apps/large CMS sites). However, the client knows who the server is hosted with and can contact them directly.

I can also suggest they contact Memset directly in case of emergency, as they have the contract with the host – not my company.

Paul - that's also a great point and I've seen that kind of thing happen too. Also web designers refusing to give their clients access to their own sites at the end of the relationship. I think there is a degree of protection for a client if they own their own hosting account. As Mike Jones says, the client is then staying with us because they like what we do and not because we have their files hostage! :)

Gary Crane on the 03 Feb 2011:

Really interesting article Rachel. We started out reselling hosting through a DSVR virtual server about 10 years ago (before they were acquired by Demon). This became a pain in the backside for all of the reasons you’ve listed above. So about 6 years ago, we started divorcing ourselves from offering any hosting packages; insisting that clients have a direct relationship with the hosting company and that any support queries be directed to them.

This worked fairly well until we stared developing Content Managed websites. We found it difficult to educate the client in the difference between CMS support (which is our responsibility) and Hosting support (which isn’t). More often than not, we found ourselves answering questions and carrying the burden of fixing issues that should really be directed to the hosting company. On the occasions that we insisted that “It’s not our problem, contact your hosting company” we found ourselves with a rather frustrated client.

I suppose this really comes down to the detail of the SLA that we draw up with the client. We’ve actually taken a u-turn on this issue over the last 2 years and accepted that support covers CMS & Hosting. We too use the brilliant guys at Memset and have a fully managed server with them. When the clients calls with a CMS issue, we support it. If they call with a hosting issue that we can’t fix ourselves, we discuss the issue directly with Memset who have always fixed the problem on our behalf.

BTW, this is really only an issue for clients that don’t have an internal IT department or SLA with an external IT company. For those, we actually recommend that they purchase and manage the hosting themselves. Those clients tend to understand the words “Best to raise a support ticket with your IT department…they’ll be able to help you.”

So whilst I totally agree with the points, we’ve accepted that hosting is a hot potato that we’re prepared to handle for the smaller clients, rather than pass the burden on to them.

Great article.

Gary

walsharoo... on the 03 Feb 2011:

Nice post!

I agree with your sentiment and I try and steer my clients towards their own server or hosting that they manage if possible.

However, there are many occasions where the client simply doesn’t want anything to do with their hosting and want someone to just manage it for them, in this case we charge for the service and they only deal with us. A level of support is agreed and that is our service.

With offering any service you need to be upfront about what it is you’re offering. If you host the web site, do you back it up? Do the clients know that when they manage their hosting own they are responsible for back-ups and software updates – these things sound obvious, but unless it’s in black and white, there can be contention when / if something goes wrong.

As with any business you will get customers who don’t pay or are slow at coughing up, but as long a you communicate what you intend to do with a reasonable timescale there should be very little comeback. We personally insist on payment per annum, in advance for hosting, this way we may be chasing a for little while but we only do it once a year rather, than every month. Some companies inflate their prices and offer discounts for early payment, which is also a good incentive for prompt payments, and costs are covered for chasing late payments.

We have a firm belief that if a customer wants to move to another Developer / Host, then let them, and provide them all their code and domain names with no issues. There little point trying to keep an unhappy customer and you never know they might return if the grass isn’t as green as they expected.

Our main philosophy is to be upfront with the customer, from day, if they know you use a 3rd party host, they are more likely to accept that it’s beyond your control when / if something goes wrong.

Hope this helps someone.

Again, nice post ;)

Gold Coast Website Design on the 03 Feb 2011:

Great article. I also totally agree. I currently operate under the same system after dealing with similar issues.
I usually charge for administration time for setting up client hosting, and email, support etc.
Thanks for posting :)

Gary Stanton on the 03 Feb 2011:

For years I used to hook clients up with what I considered at the time to be reliable hosting companies. However I found that they rarely understood that their hosting contract was with these companies rather than myself.

When problems arose, as they very often did, I would get angry clients on the phone demanding that I fix their issues. I became an intermediary between the client and hosting company, usually unpaid.

Eventually I decided that since my time was being taken up with these support queries anyway, I may as well host these clients myself and make a bit of profit for my time.

Initially I went with a reseller account on a shared hosting service which was an absolute nightmare for all of the reasons you descibe in your article – however now that I’ve moved to using VPS (with Memset, as it goes) things have become a lot more stable and I’m finally reaping the rewards.

I always give clients the option of hosting elsewhere, and I figure now that if they have enough understanding to make that decision, then they should understand the clear distinction between developer and hosting company.

Finally I’m happy that I’m hosting clients myself, but it’s been a long struggle dealing with several utterly useless hosting companies, and having to learn an awful lot about sysadmin!

You also mention billing for small invoices. I ask clients to set up standing orders which is very helpful, but there are plenty of apps out there that can handle recurring monthly subscription payments. I’d suggest people use one of those. Unfortunately they weren’t around when I started, so had to write one in house – which took a while! – either way, I think it’s important to have that side of it automated.

Pete Nelson on the 03 Feb 2011:

Thanks for this – it really confirms a lot of issues that myself and my partner chat about on a regular basis. The direct support relationship is probably the biggest driver for me and I’m going to check out Memset straight away as I hope that they will help us out.
Will they provide patches/updates to their virtual dedicated boxes as that still remains an issue for me?

Rachel on the 03 Feb 2011:

Loads of great comments! I do think this is a subject that isn’t often discussed – my concern is there are some absolutely terrible hosts out there (I’ve written on this blog before about the things we see when support our product, Perch) and a newcomer to reselling may well end up hosting a bunch of clients on an unreliable host with terrible support and really cause a huge amount of work and potential damage to their business for very little money.

What comes through loud and clear is if you are going to resell, then an excellent host is a must so do your homework if you want to go down that route!

@Pete Memset offered a fully managed service where they will do security patches and so on. I think most decent VPS hosts should do that. The advantage of a client taking that out themselves is they have the support relationship with the host and are paying for it so should understand where the responsibility lies.

I’ve never had a problem with clients not understanding the difference between host and web app/CMS developer. I just make sure it is clearly explained at the outset.

Ivan on the 03 Feb 2011:

I think hosting all of your customers with one, reliable company is the way to go. You know the server setup, you know the support people so it’s easy to add / change / fix stuff whenever you need

simon r jones on the 03 Feb 2011:

Some really good advice there, I often hear people starting up offering hosting services and asking for advice on mailing lists. I usually tell them it’s not worth the hassle it can create.

However, if you can get a good setup I think it does have some valuable benefits. Most of our clients don’t understand the complexities of DNS, SSL registration, server setup, etc, so for project clients we’re happy to host them on managed servers at Rackspace. We don’t offer hosting or email services for clients who aren’t project clients, it’s simply not worth it. But for those we have an ongoing relationship with I find our clients are happy for us to take all this hassle away from them.

All the hosting related services we offer are manged so there are 24/7 support staff behind the scenes ensuring things run smoothly as well as monitoring systems that alert support staff if something awful happened like Apache went down. I’m not sure I’d want to run a server where we had to maintain the software and security patches for the reasons you state.

We get know the platform really well so it makes development work straightforward, but I see your point that’s exactly the same if you only work with one trusted provider.

Billing-wise we just bill yearly since its easier to manage. If a client left our services we’re happy for them to send FTP details to a third party (since the accounts are locked down anyway), or we’ll just assist with any transfer away if that’s the way they wish to go. Trying to tie clients in and witholding data isn’t how I like to do business (but I know some companies do). For the same reason we run seperate SVN repositories for different clients so we can hand them over if we ever had to.

So I’d advise caution to people when considering offering hosting services. Unless it’s the only thing you do it’s not worth it just as a standalone service, but if it can support existing clients and projects it can be worth considering.

Sandy Allen on the 03 Feb 2011:

Let me add a bit from the client’s perspective here. I have been in both situations – hosted through a reseller and worked with a design/dev team that did not host. It is much better to educate your client on a few options (for example, Hostgator vs Rackspace Cloud), and empower them to take responsibility for their own hosting choices.

Jason Clark on the 03 Feb 2011:

Your advice works well for freelancers, because they do not have the resources to scale their services. But as the owner of a small agency, it quickly becomes in your interest to either host yourself or find a local data center to partner with for hosting. There are a few reasons for this, some of which have been addressed already in the comments.

1. Clients don’t usually care.
They just want to see their site/app on the web and working. They don’t know and aren’t interested in learning the difference between support and hosting. There is a lot of finger pointing between developer and host if something goes wrong. If you host, the buck stops with you.

2. Relationships
It is in your financial interest to maintain ongoing relationships with your clients. Even if you don’t make much money on hosting, you are supporting that client indefinitely. Any change or update is profitable because it is billable maintenance.

Keep in mind that you can and should bill your time for support situations. A client can quickly be educated to understand that paying for hosting is only renting space on a server. Any design/maintenance/content/security updates is acceptable as billable work.

Johan on the 03 Feb 2011:

I am in the comfortable situation of having an excellent provider where I have a reseller account. I am very comfortable about reselling their managed hosting with a reasonable profit margin. Even though things can always go wrong I much prefer to be in the position that I can really help my clients instead of having to refer them to a third-party support team.

Another thing that is really annoying that some webhosts don’t even support basic features such as the WordPress flash file upload. I much rather take care of the hosting than having to explain to the client why he cannot upload files in WordPress. In the end in their eyes it is always my fault anyway :)

I think the biggest issue here is that managing a VPN can be just as demanding as managing a dedicated server and most webdesigners underestimate this. I think it is best to let the pro’s take care of managing the servers, while reselling managed hosting is about providing added value to your clients.

Joel on the 03 Feb 2011:

For any small business, you are typically going to get stuck with the phone calls and support regardless, as the customer isn’t going to know if it is your server code or the hosting company. So instead of ticking the client off by saying, “not my problem”, it is easier to use a GOOD hosting company and manage a group of very similar servers and be able to answer the customer’s questions. Build this into your hosting fees!

Email is usually the issue and causes all of the problems, and you will still inherit the email questions (“How do I set up email on my new phone?”, “Why is this email getting blocked?”) because that client wants to use you for all things internet-related. Sure, hosting is not a big profit center, but at least you have some control over the process and an avenue for billing the client further if they do become a support nightmare.

Bogdan Pop on the 04 Feb 2011:

@rachel
What do you do when your clients are non-technical and don’t understand that building a site is a completely other thing than hosting it. I do have clients who host their sites elsewhere, but when things go wrong, I am at the end of their phone call, not their hosting company.

They don’t understand hosting and domains and web, and they prefer paying extra for my company to handle everything for them. This way when things go wrong they don’t have to call the electrician when their house is infested with termites. They have one company who does everything for them and this makes them happy.

Rachel on the 04 Feb 2011:

I get the feeling that some commenters believe I am advocating totally refusing to have anything to do with the client’s hosting. That is not correct :) There is a difference between acting as a reseller and supporting your client with hosting they are the owner of.

In most cases (unless the client has an inhouse IT team) we configure servers and, if a problem arises within office hours, the client would usually contact us – perhaps also copying in the hosting technical support. If I can sort it – or liaise with the host then I do, as part of any support agreement we have for that app/site.

However, if the client spots their site is down at midnight on a Friday when I am on my sofa with a nice glass of red, they know they have access to the support that they took out with the host and can contact them directly. I don’t want to be unavailable and find that a site has been down most of a weekend when a quick call to the host would have had it rebooted.

In addition, if anything really odd occurs that is outside my sysadmin skills, we always use hosts that offer managed servers and the ability to pay for sysadmin time to fix things. The client doesn’t expect us to have those skills in house and understands who is doing this work and crucially who has access to their server and application.

Sebastian Edwards on the 04 Feb 2011:

Doing your own hosting is awesome. Feels super satisfying getting your own server set up and running.

Duncan Tang on the 09 Feb 2011:

Really interesting article, Rachel. Reselling web host can be good and bad.

As a web designer/developer, usually will need to provide full services. Web host is only a part of the whole. It will brings troubles sometime. But this is somehow is why client still pay us… is to take care of the troubles.

So I will usually leave web host as an option to clients.

Jack on the 05 Mar 2011:

This is a fantastic article and was a great read.

I still believe the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives to hosting your own clients. I’m primarily a freelancer but I focus a bit more on hosting than most.

I currently host over 100 customers and support isn’t hard to manage by myself. I generally get 1-2 support tickets per day which take no longer than 20 minutes to resolve. I think many exaggerate the support side, providing the sever is up and running/fast you will not be overloaded with support.

The key to hosting is automation. If you’re having to chase up invoices you’re missing the key to hosting which is automation. A solution such as WHMCS will solve will allow 90% automation from account creation and setup all the way to invoice creation, reminders and suspension.

Jack

David Cole on the 25 Mar 2011:

Thanks for writing this post Rachel (passed on to me via @cole007). Very well considered and eminently sensible stuff.

I was about to start offering hosting direct to my clients, but the points you raised make so much sense they can’t be ignored. I’ve come to the conclusion that your approach of getting the client to engage the hosting company direct while you supply support is not only less risky for me and the client, it will result in better service for the client and I won’t be worse off financially: win-win.

Oh, and – like half the other commenters here – I’m also using Memset. Those guys definitely must be doing something right!

Si Watts on the 29 Mar 2011:

Interesting article, though I don’t believe that anyone should view the issues as black and white.

Whether to provide hosting has to be taken in context of your business as a whole. I do provide hosting and do so for specific reasons.

I only host sites I have built, meaning that security of servers cannot be impacted by some muppet uploading unsuitable scripting etc.
I can have the servers (I’m just about to get my 4th fully managed dedicated server) configured exactly as I want them/need them and am therefore not limited by a hosts configurations.
I know that the servers are not filled up to capacity, and can keep a direct eye on resource usage etc meaning my sites are not swamped on second rate servers by the multiple hundreds of other sites sitting on the same box.

Providing support is simply part of the service that keeps my clients loyal. Imagine how a client feels each time you pass the book and say that’s someone elses problem. If you feel the need to charge for that support then do so.

To put my comments into perspective, I have no issue with providing the hosting and the additional support that it leads to. I provide 2 types of system; one off bespoke builds or an ecomm platform. For the one offs, hosting is charged annually, and I make no effort to be cheap. For my ecomm sites, they pay monthly for their site and the hosting and support is simply rolled up into a single monthly fee which they pay by standing order.

I actively avoid taking on work which involves third party hosting providors since doing so makes my work/life more difficult. Indeed, in the single current instance, the site regularly goes down because the host tweaks configurations without notice… making work for me whilst I fix it. It was still me the client rang first.

I charge my clients less initially to build the bespoke sites if I retain the IP and they choose my hosting (1/2 price) but they know that should they wish to, they are more than welcome to the IP for their site and to host it wherever but subject to them settling the “held back” charges. Nobody has ever yet chosen to pay the higher price and nobody has yet quibbled about IP release… indeed those who do leave are doing so because they are having an entirely new site built.

I am not a sysadmin, nor do I ever intend to be one. I do what I do by employing the right providor for my servers. It’s not ultra cheap, but the service I receive is fantastic… to the tune that I have now been with the same providor for 10 years. I use fully managed servers from ForLinux including full 24/7 monitoring, support, backup, patching etc and doing so means that I can focus on building my business whilst providing everything that my clients want of me.

In short, providing hosting for your clients needn’t be a headache if you choose the right providor, avoid VPN reseller packages and build the associated costs into your business model. I don’t set out to make money from hosting, but I do see hosting as integral to the way I work, and I see ForLinux as a trusted and valuable partner in that provisioning.

David on the 04 May 2011:

Hi Rachel – I disagree with this.

For me, reselling hosting is easy money.
I charge the client an initial set up fee, and bill them up front for annual contract of hosting. Once I have set up the domain, I ask them to update their DNS and it’s pretty much forgotten from then on. I just collect the money every year.

My reseller account has WHM of course, but I am not responsible for server updates and security patches. The host is responsible for this. However if I do want to do something, I have full access to the box using Putty over ssh.

if something goes wrong (downtime, etc) – they have an Online Chat for their technical support – and 99 percent of the issues I’ve had over the years have been fully resolved in under two minutes chatting with their technical support.

Gareth on the 17 May 2013:

Nice to see another ex-DSVR customer here @GaryCrane :-)

This subject really is a double-edged sword. Tweaking with configurations and fixing problems of varying degrees eats up time and can detract from what you’re really good at and really want to be doing.

However, if you’re familiar with the technicalities and have a good setup it can also save time as well. A few times clients have used a particular host (I won’t mention any names) and when anything needs configuring or anything goes wrong the timescale is always without fail “24 hours”. We purchased an SSL certificate from the said host once which was supposed to take “24 hours” to configure and, no word of a lie, it ended up taking a month. On our own server we could have sorted this in half an hour.

We have clients using other hosts that refuse to enable mod_gzip or mod_deflate, again something that we run as standard on our server. As Bogdan Pop said above it’s nice to be able to configure everything to be “just so” and sometimes clients are put off if you can’t offer the whole package and a competitor can.

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