Five Steps to Start a Web Host
Web hosting companies provide an essential service to powering the internet by using the dedicated servers that host website content. Starting a web host may seem like a daunting task, but we’ll provide an overview on how to start your own web hosting company.
Step 1: Define Your Web Hosting Brand
Web hosts are a dime a dozen these days, so you may be wondering if it is even worth it to start a web hosting company. But many industries still have a need for niche web hosts tailored directly for them. Niche markets in web hosting include green energy web hosts, small business hosting, DDOS protected servers, and the list goes on and on.
If you are interested in running a web host, chances are you already have a reason why your web hosting services would be better for users than others. Figure out precisely what your market and branding is, and don’t try to sell to everyone.
There are too many large hosts who already cater to no specific market, so you aren’t likely to make money trying to sell to all user groups. Instead, start out small and specific. Consider the following when defining your brand:
- Who is your target market?
- What is the company name? Find a short and memorable name that has a domain available for purchase. There are lots of web hosts out there, so ensure your name isn’t taken.
- What makes your hosting service unique?
- What kind of hosting services will you offer? Shared hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers are all popular choices. (Shared hosting is the most economical choice, so most hosts start there.)
Step 2: Find a Dedicated Server Partner
Choosing the right dedicated server partner will be critical to your success. Your clients will not want their content migrated if you pick the wrong data center, and this error can kill new web host. Don’t look for the cheapest dedicated server provider as this will end in disaster. It can’t be their only positive quality. Instead, find a dedicated provider like ReliableSite that offers several features such as:
- Great value for the price
- 24×7 dedicated server support in case of hardware failure
- Solid reputation with good reviews
- Premium network providers
- Fast dedicated server deployment so you’re prepared for new customers
- Hardware like RAID-10 and SSD which are great for hosting
- Protection from increasingly common DDoS attacks
This part can be solved easily by partnering or becoming a dedicated server reseller to “set up” your infrastructure. ReliableSite has a long running, no-fee and white-labelled reseller program.
Step 3: Setup Your Website, Billing System, and Support Channels
So you have dedicated servers set up and ready to go for customers. Now create a website as the face of your business. You’ll also need other systems before you can start selling.
cPanel / WHM is the most popular website hosting control panel, and it easily integrates with CloudLinux to isolate customers. WHMCS is widely recognized as one of the most comprehensive client billing and management tools. It has a built in support desk for handling customer inquiries. Many hosts opt to use external helpdesk software like Kayako or Zendesk. Most new web hosts start off only offering email support and choose other support channels when necessary.
Step 4: Find Web Hosting Clients
Once your systems are all configured and tested, you can start spreading the word and finding clients. Don’t be afraid to start with your friends and social networks. “Word of mouth” sales are critical to a new web hosting business, so ensure every customer walks away from your service satisfied and happy. This is the time to deliver a personalized service with a smile. It will take many hours of hard work and will mean you are on call 24×7, but the payoff for your web hosting business is worth it. Once you have exhausted your personal networks, you can try the following routes to find customers:
- Facebook ads and Google AdWords
- Local print, newspaper ads, and relevant magazines
- Banner advertisements on websites related to your niche market
Step 5: Grow and Expand
Keeping up with customer growth can make or break any business. Always remember your core values as you gain new clients, and treat every customer as if they could end your company. It’s cliché but the old saying of “treat people as you would want to be treated” applies here. Follow these tips to keep your customers happy:
- Don’t ‘nickel and dime’ clients. Always come up with a fair solution to any financial situation.
- Be open and honest about any problems or downtime. Keep customers informed and in the loop. If it was your fault, take ownership quickly and don’t give people excuses. Customers embrace solutions, not excuses.
- Do what is right, even when it’s hard.
- Develop fair downtime, SLA, and refund policies
This is the time to actively listen to your customers. Find out what they like and don’t like. This information can be used to reach out to new customers based on your strengths. Pay attention to issues with your web hosting services — your customers will love you for it, and it will mean a very polished product.