10 Steps to starting a web hosting company. A "must read" for resellers!


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10 Steps to starting a web hosting company. A "must read" for resellers!.
Careful consideration of the subtle choices and options pointed out in the following ten steps will no doubt have a profound impact on the long term success of your start-up hosting company.

Step 1. Choose the platform you want to use
Unix is an open source program that makes it less expensive than Windows and often times a more stable hosting environment. Most programs run on both operating systems like perl/cgi, PHP, and Flash. But only Windows can support ASP, .NET, MS SQL etc. If you are not sure which to choose, then you might consider using a hosting provider that offers both operating systems under one Reseller Plan.

Step 2. Choose the control panel you want to use
Control panels vary from very simple end-user functionality, basic Reseller and Administrative features, to very robust branding and billing capabilities like the H-Sphere system.

Step 3. Choose your reseller hosting provider
This could very well be the most important decision you can make in starting your web hosting company. Your hosting company will only be as good as the reseller hosting company you choose. This is one of those cases where cheaper is not always better. Make sure your reseller company scores well on the following criteria:

Customer Support: Do they have live phone support 24/7? Or do they have email support with no way of getting direct one-on-one contact? Very important! This will give you some indication of how well the company can respond to time sensitive issues.
The platform and control panel: Do they offer rich and robust control panel features?
Account features and flexibility: Do the account options give you plenty of bandwidth and disk space to start out with and ample room to grow?
The company’s reputation: See if the company has a customer forum, and signup so you may ask other clients what their experience has been like with the company.
Years of experience in providing hosting: The longer the better in this case. Incompetent hosting companies will fail within the first year, many come and go in even less time.
Price Vs Features. Jump start your web hosting company now, with Vortech Hosting. The reseller specialists.

Step 4. Set up your hosting plans and decide on pricing
You will want to offer a range of plans from simple smaller plans, to medium plans, and high end plans. You should avoid offering too many plans. A good number of plans would be 3 to 5 plans to start. Make sure you look at the competition and see what features and prices are being offered. Try to find a niche that nobody else is filling in the marketplace. Its always ok to oversell your resources as long as you can make it up by charging for individual resources and services such as IP addresses, web stats, domain registration etc.

Step 5. Develop a business website
Good information and a smart layout is the most important part. Make sure your site speaks to your customer's needs. You need to answer one important question that is on your potential customers mind all the time, “whats in it for me?”. You want to spend less time talking about yourself, and more time telling your customers how you are are going to solve their hosting needs with affordable quality web hosting and service. Use as few words as possible, but you will want to make sure your main page has at least 500 words. This will be important for search engine optimization and marketing.

You have three main choices for website development:

-You can do it yourself.
-Hire a professional developer to build your site.
-Use a template service.

Step 6. Make your site e-commerce ready
To be able to accept payments for hosting accounts, you’ll want to set up the following:

An SSL certificate
A merchant account
A payment gateway

Make sure all of these features are supported by your reseller hosting company and control panel platform, like they are at Vortech Hosting.

Step 7. Set up a support helpdesk
This is simply a way for your clients to communicate with you about the support they need. Preferably find a control panel or platform that has this feature built in, such as H-SPhere. You should start with supporting the services you are selling, but beyond that it’s entirely up to you. An FAQ section on your web site or knowledgebase to be emailed as an auto responder on your support email account can help take off the burden of many of these tasks. You might even consider allowing your customers to call you for live phone support.

Step 8. Setting up your client billing
You will need to select some kind of billing software and/or Merchant Gateway, preferably one that is integrated into your control panel system such as H-Sphere.

Some examples are:

H-Sphere (http://psoft.net) - Includes a full-featured billing system that allows you to control all resource and plan pricing including trial periods, discounts, automated recurring billing and much more.
PayPal (http://paypal.com) - For those not ready for full merchant account services, this is a simple and easy to use system that is full compatible with most control panels such as H-Sphere.
Authorize Net (http://authorize.net) - A flexible and robust gateway system compatible with all major credit card providers as well as many popular control panel systems.

Step 9. Create a welcome email
This is a must have for your new client signups. You will want to include such things as:

A confirmation of the plan details.
The DNS/registrar changes.
A username and temporary password.
A link to the control panel.
Instant access to FTP and email features.
Links to your knowledge base, FAQ and helpdesk.

Step 10. Market your website
While time consuming and sometimes costly, effectively marketing your website is an invaluable tool that will keep visitors hitting your site and sales coming in throught the fiscal year. This is an ongoing effort that takes months and years to perfect. Some things to consider:

Current business acquaintances, friends and family.
Search engine optimization.
Paid advertising.
Affiliate programs.
Super Bowl Ads…I hear they are really great if your advertising budget can support them. If not, then you are in good company with the rest of us!

We humbly offer our services at Vortech Hosting, for all of your reseller hosting needs.

Vortech, Inc.