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 are providing a checklist on how to start your own web hosting company.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This will depend on the operating system you’ve chosen for your server. Windows Server installations can install IIS, the web server add on. This Microsoft support documentation for IIS gives you step-by-step instructions on what to do.
This is where you'll provide any service specific information. It can be anything, such as how to setup e-mails, how to take advantage of the special offer that you included or in the case of our WordPress + Dayton example, you could include specific information relating to WordPress.
The recommended practice is to create at least 3 different pricing packages. Make sure you allocate specific resources, like disk quota, monthly bandwidth, max email accounts, etc. to each package.
A virtual private server is a virtual machine with its own OS installation. This allows the user to control every aspect of the hosting, aside from the hardware itself–much more freedom than shared hosting. For example, your customer can install any software he wants with a VPS hosting package.
A dedicated server is an entire server rented to one client, for purposes of web hosting. Users and organizations that use dedicated servers have full control over the servers, including choice of operating system, hardware and software.
Customer service begins the moment the potential customer arrives at your website. Support should be available in the form of a free call or live chat with the click of a button. You should be prepared to spend many hours modifying your website to be user friendly. Your checkout process should be streamlined and secure. Once the customer registers for a hosting package, it’s good to send an email with registration details, payment and setup information, and the setup support email and phone number.