Tips for a novice hoster

    Suppose one warm summer rainy autumn day you walked down the street and decided that it would be good to start selling virtual servers to outsiders. In this article I will try to talk about my observations and mistakes that can be made by providing such services.

    The very first thing to do is to understand whether you really want to do the hosting business. The number of players on the market is very large, the margin on services is small, but in return, you can gain many sleepless nights associated, for example, with DDoS attacks or abuses on IP addresses.


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    If you nevertheless decided to become a hoster, then there may be several sales options:

    1. Become a reseller. In this case, you will take the server from some hoster cheaper and sell the exact same configuration with its markup. This option is great for beginners, as it does not require large financial investments and serious initial training. Of the minuses - this is a complete dependence on another company: for all its sins and mistakes, you will be rested as the final seller. Also in this option, you need to foresee the advantages that you will have in comparison with your partner, because if they are absent, then customers will not need to contact an intermediary. Of the advantages, you can highlight, for example, free administration or a payment method that the upstream provider does not support.
    2. Rent servers from a third-party host and separate them into virtual ones with subsequent sale. This method uses the largest part of the hosters. The advantages compared with the first point are obvious: the initial investments are not very large, the absence of a strong dependence on the higher-level host.
    3. Placing your own equipment and dividing it into virtual servers. This option is a more advanced version of the second and requires much more initial financial investments, but the number of dependencies becomes even smaller: the equipment belongs to you, and you decide what to do with it.
    4. Building your own data center, buying equipment, etc. If you choose this option, then I think you will not learn anything new from this article.

    So, if the preferred option is chosen, then you can begin the preparatory stage.

    In my opinion, the most important thing in the work of the hoster is his site , and the better it is done, the more clients the hoster will have. Naturally, the quality of the site is not directly related to the quality of the services provided, but acquaintance of a client with a hoster often begins with him, and an ugly site can scare off a potential client.

    Here are some tips about the site:

    • make the site as neat as possible, without errors, deficiencies or dead pages;
    • do not write a lot of text, almost no one reads it: first of all, everyone is interested in tariffs, and everything else is no longer so critical;
    • Do not make a large number of tariffs: users may get confused and do not want to understand;
    • Do not miss important details in the description of tariffs: specify the frequency of the processor or its model, specify the speed of the port, the country and city of the equipment location and other important parameters;
    • Add an online consultant: so users can quickly clarify the issue of interest, and not leave, deciding not to waste time on finding out.

    So, the site is created, now let's move on to the billing . He must be, and without him in any way. There are two options with billing: buy or write your own. The first option is cheaper, but less flexible: very often I hear phrases from hosters that they cannot do something, since billing does not allow it. The option of writing my own billing is much better in my opinion, but only if it is done qualitatively. In this case, there are no impossible tasks; all ideas and wishes can be implemented.

    From commercial billing two are popular: BILLmanager and WHMCS. BILLmanager is a development of a Russian company, and takes into account Russian realities, therefore it is more popular among hosters. Also, according to my observations (on payments for affiliate programs), a hoster with this billing earns more than competitors with a WHMCS billing. Billing WHMCS is very popular with foreign hosts, it can be found in almost every English-speaking hoster due to the lack of decent alternatives on the market. In my opinion, this billing is less suitable for the Russian user, but if you want to enter the international market, there will be no alternatives other than the self-written option.

    With billing figured out, now move on to the tariffs. The first thing to do is to look at the offers of competitors. For these purposes, any of my projects will work: Search VPS , HOSTING.cafe , VPS.today . I must say that trying to make very cheap tariffs is a bad idea: by this you will attract spammers and earn nothing. Also, in my opinion, it makes no sense to include services in the tariff that are not free for you, for example, a commercial control panel. Not all users need it, and those who do not need it will overpay or choose another hosting provider. It is better to include it as an additional service, and not to include it in the price of the tariff: in this case, those who do not need it will not pay, and those who need it will buy it together with the tariff at a reasonable price.

    If you offer services in several locations, try to make the same prices and tariffs. Thus, you will not have a zoo of tariffs, in which users may get confused. The number of tariffs should not be very large: in my opinion it is optimal to make 4-6 tariffs for a group and no more than 15 different tariffs for a hoster.

    Offer additional services, such as SSL certificates or control panel licenses. Very often, customers do not want to bother, it is easier for them to buy all the services in one place, so preference may be given to the hoster, who has a full set of necessary services.

    Payment Methods.The variety of payment methods has been very high lately, although in reality the most popular methods are only 6: VISA / MasterCard, WebMoney, PayPal, Yandex.Money, QIWI and BitCoin. If you add these methods, then you will cover 99% of the options that a regular user can pay. Do not forget about the possibility of payment by bank transfer for legal entities (thanks to numerous commentators).

    Advertising and promotion. When the site and billing are ready, you can start selling your services. If you do not have a budget for advertising, then you can limit yourself to creating topics on specialized forums and adding them to directories. It is completely free and can bring first customers.

    Also a great way to promote is an affiliate program.: put in the cost of the service an affiliate percentage, and you do not have to spend money on the purchase of advertising, as some clients will bring you new customers.


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