The Reseller Hosting How-To
If you've never heard of reseller hosting before, or want to learn how to make more out of your reseller hosting then this article is for you.
What is reseller hosting?
I guess the easiest way to explain reseller hosting is to compare it to a 'normal' hosting arrangement. Normally, when you buy a web hosting account you are buying web space for a single domain name. So, say you buy, example.com,you can go to any web host and buy space for that particular domain name, usually for about $5-10 per month. However, with reseller hosting, you are buying space on a shared server that you can allocate many domains to. With reseller hosting you are in charge of how the space you buy is divided among the domains you manage, and how you sell it. While reseller hosting is thus named because it is meant to be resold by you, it is appropriate for any one who has multiple domains.
Reseller hosting is perfect for a web design business that doesn't have the expertise to run a dedicated server. You can manage your accounts with minimal server knowledge, and your host will monitor the server and handle upgrades. It is a great way to break into the business because of its ease of use and low cost.
Where to find out about reseller hosting
I found out about reseller hosting at webhostingtalk.com. This is a great,heavily-used forum that covers everything about web hosting. It has topics on reseller hosting, dedicated servers, virtual private servers, etc. It's been 4 years since I researched this and the only place I remember doing it is webhostingtalk.com. I guess that is how much of an impression it has made on me.
How it works: the control panel
Reseller hosting is based around the control panel that the host offers. This control panel is what you or your customer will use to administer a particular domain. The control panel is tied to a host manager that you use to set up multiple hosting accounts.
The two most popular control panels are Plesk and cPanel. You'll need to weigh the options here on what you want for your hosting business since both control panels will do just fine. I think it ultimately comes down to your objectives and persona lpreferences.
I personally like cPanel more than Plesk because it seems more advanced tome and easier to use. Plesk definitely can have a nicer looking interface (however the new X3 theme for cPanel is sweet),but cPanel is a little more straight-forward. I guess I like that it doesn't seem to be dumbed down. Please note that this is just my opinion, and as you can see in the forum post above – everyone has got one.
Preferably you should try before you buy, and luckily the creators of both offer demos of their software. Here are the links to their respective demo pages:
How to get the most out of it
So now that you know about reseller hosting, how can you make money with it? Overselling is a technique that many web hosts use to make money. While true overselling is not permitted or possible with many reseller hosting packages you can fake it by creating account specific packages to make a bit more cash.
Here is an example from Ehly Design. My business has two plans for hosting:the we'll-take-care-of-you (WTCOY) plan for $25/month, and the custom plan. The WTCOY plan offers the customer up to 1GB of space and up to 10GB of bandwidth per month. However, every three months I look at my plans to see if my customers are actually using that amount of space (most don't), and if they are not,then I ratchet them down to a plan that suits their needs more. Using this technique allows me as the host to make more plans out of my predefined space,and thus make more per month. This really only works for a client that needs the web developer to completely manage their account. With the WTCOY plan,the client is guaranteed the 1GB of space so this has to be monitored fairly closely to not piss of customers, but it's not that hard to do. The custom plan is just a custom package over 1GB of space at a custom price.
What reseller to I recommend?
If you've been reading this blog for a bit, you know I use Dathorn for a host. I can't say enough good things about this company because they are so quick to respond to trouble tickets and really know what it takes to run a shared host. If you are interested in signing up with Dathorn, here is the sign up link.