What Is Reseller Hosting?
Reseller hosting, which also goes by the name of "white label hosting," refers to the business of creating your own web hosting operation from the tools you resell from hosting companies, such as A2 and Hostwinds. You focus on sales and at least basic support, leaving the grind of maintaining servers and software to those companies. Typically, people who get into the reselling business ("resellers") rent servers from web hosting services at wholesale prices, and then offer their own hosting packages to the public for profit.
There is a lot of demand for web hosting, whether it is shared hosting, WordPress hosting, dedicated hosting, or virtual private server (VPS) hosting. Web hosting is the backbone for personal blogs, corporate websites, podcasts, vlogs, and nearly anything else you can imagine that exists on the web. Resellers are aspiring entrepreneurs who look to make a few bucks in the web hosting arena, as well as web designers and developers who want to expand their client offerings (and also make a few bucks).
Resellers set the pricing structure for their offerings, not the web host that provides the servers and software. In many cases, resellers can brand their packages by using a customized control panel. This establishes a level of trust with people who may already be familiar with the reseller's brand. Who wouldn't want to set up shop with your company if you've done well by them in the past? And branding is important if you're looking to get into the reseller hosting game. More on that in a bit.
How Does Reselling Work?
One of the main reasons that people get into reselling web hosting, as opposed to building their own web hosting service from scratch, is the ease of entry. Reseller hosting does not require the extensive technical understanding of infrastructure that hosting from the ground up requires.
Resellers are responsible for interacting with their customers, but are not responsible for hardware, software, or connectivity problems. Web hosts' data center operators are responsible for that type of troubleshooting. However, resellers may be placed in the tricky position of liaising between the hosting provider and the customer for technical support issues. In other words, you'll need to demonstrate patience and understanding when dealing with irate customers.
Ideally, you should be able to provide some basic support yourself. For those problems that you can't solve, you'll need to contact the web host yourself to find a solution. So, the level and quality of support provided by the service from whom you're renting your servers to resell can be quite important, even if it isn't directly exposed to the consumer.
In addition, you have to market your services to the public in order to attract clients. For example, if you already have an established web development company, then you have an established client base to which you can pitch your new hosting packages. Otherwise, you must hustle to spread awareness about your brand. After all, Person X may be familiar with GoDaddy's web hosting packages, but she may not be familiar with your brand. If you're part of a big company with big marketing dollars to spend, you may not have much to worry about. On the other hand, a small one-person operation may have difficulty spreading the word about its new web hosting packages. Still, there many would-be customers out there who prefer to deal with a smaller, more intimate company. That might be your sweet spot, as a reseller of web hosting.
Reseller Web Hosting Checklist
In planning to become a reseller, consider all the steps below.
- Estimate how many customers you think you can bring on to start the business. This will determine the reseller package you'll need.
- Determine the types and size of packages you will offer your customers.
- Determine the price you will set for your packages.
- Compare reseller hosting plans to see which company meets your needs and your budget.
- Contract for the best reseller hosting plan.
- Configure templates for each of the packages you decide to offer.
- Market these packages and sell them to customers.
- Support your customers.
Key Reseller Hosting Features
With a reseller account you get a selection of Linux- or Windows-based servers, email, custom cPanel account management apps, File Transfer Protocol, MYSQL database management software, standard and solid-state storage, money-back guarantees, and a wide variety of hosting types (shared, WordPress, dedicated, VPS).
You can also expect WebHost Manager (WHM) apps, reseller-specific software that lets you control your customers' dedicated or VPS server accoounts. You are also likely to encounter WebHost Manager Complete Solution (WHMCS) software that lets you manage many customer-related features, including sign ups, automated billing, and account termination.
Web hosts typically let you charge as much as you'd like to your clients, but they expect their monthly cut. The monthly or yearly fees that web hosts charge you for their resources vary depending on the server specs. We've seen prices as low as $7 per month, but the sky's the limit in terms of pricing out high-powered hardware.
How Does Reseller Hosting Differ From Affiliate Programs?
Reseller hosting lets you sell hosting packages, while affiliate programs drop a few dollars in your pocket whenever someone signs up for a web host via one of your affiliate links. The former is an active role, as you must build your client base, pitch them, and deal with customers' tech support issues. The latter is passive in that you can simply paste affiliate link code into your personal or professional website, YouTube description box, or social media account.
Should You Get Into Web Hosting Reselling?
Yes, if you want to get into the web hosting business without starting an entire operation from scratch, or if you're a web designer who wants to host your clients' separate control panels without ponying up money for potentially expensive dedicated hosting or VPS hosting. That said, you should know something about how web hosting works. You need to be ready for the inevitable problems that will arise, and you'll need to act as the messenger between your clients and your web hosting provider.
If you're just getting started in web hosting, make sure to check out our primer, How to Create a Website.