If you`ve ever wanted to resell web hosting, but weren`t exactly certain how to get started - this article is for you! We`ll outline the five basic steps necessary to create a web hosting business through reselling accounts that are provisioned in a reseller web hosting data center. While there are many details that are required to be successful in any business, these five steps should get you started, and with some diligence and persistence - you may become a sizable web hosting venture.
Reselling Web Hosting - Step 1: Get an Exceptional Domain Name. It may be obvious to you, but having the proper domain for your web hosting venture is critical to your success. Why? There are two basic reasons: branding (recall) and search engine optimization. In order to sell web hosting to your prospects, they first have to be able to find you. That is, they have to know that you offer web hosting accounts for sale.
The most common form of online research is the ubiquitous search engine. There are really only 2 that matter: Google and Yahoo! In order to come up on the first few pages of any relevant search for web hosting related keywords, it is imperative that your domain name contain some form of that keyword phrase. You can prove this to yourself by conducting a search for the keyword, `hosting` at www.google.com. You will notice that many of the top results contain the word `host` or `hosting` in the domain name. It simply gives you an advantage in search rankings.
So where to get such a name? You can go to a good domain search site like, www.whois.sc (use the domain explorer tab) and see if there is a name that has not yet been registered. The chances of a great, short, memorable name being available is low (but not zero) - so you can increase the odds of getting a great name in two ways: get a domain that is expiring or buy a name from the current owner.
There are many great names that are expiring each day - that is, the current owner has not renewed the domain by paying the yearly registration fees. In fact, around 20,000 expired domains come back into circulation each day. Sometimes the owner forgets, sometimes they lose interest - in any event, you can snag a great name if you are willing to do some research. For instance, click here to see a free list of daily expiring domain names.
Alternatively you can simply buy a domain name from the current owner. Sites such as www.sedo.com can assist you in finding eager sellers for a wide variety of domain names. Okay - now you`ve got a great domain name - let`s move to step 2.
Reselling Web Hosting - Step 2: Finding and Setting up a Great Web Hosting Reseller Account. Unless you want to set up your own domain registration process, get connectivity from major bandwidth providers, and have a warehouse full of high end computers - you`ll want to get a reseller account from an established supplier. A good reseller account will offer tools (control panel) to manage multiple domains and accounts from one central location. That way, you can log in once and check the billing and provisioning status of all of your customer accounts. You can to view and compare web hosting reseller providers here at HostSearch.com at: www.hostsearch.com/reseller_web_hosting.asp.
According to Brent Oxley, founder of web hosting reseller HostGator.com, here`s what to look for in your reseller account. ``The most important thing to look for is a provider that provides an uptime guarantee and a proven track record of upholding that guarantee. If the provider you go with has frequent downtime you are destined to fail before getting started. Do not let the resources in the plan or the price cloud your judgment when looking for a stable provider to launch your new company.``
Mr. Oxley added, ``Here are a couple of very useful add-ons many reseller companies include for free:
Domain Reseller Account - You are selling hosting which means many people will also want to purchase domain names from you.
Billing Manager - A billing manager allows you to offer automated account creation, keep track of payments, as well as all of your clients` account information. Just because you`re purchasing a reseller account do not assume it comes with a billing manager. The majority of reseller hosting companies use the control panel called, "cpanel/whm." This control panel does not come with a billing manager so depending on the reseller company you go with they may or may not include a billing manager.
Multi-language Control Panel Support - If you speak more than one language it would make sense for your customer`s control panel to support the languages you will be marketing to.
Fantastico - Is a tool that has over 50 scripts that can be installed with a click of the mouse. This would empower your customers to create blogs, forums, shopping carts, portals, and much more without any scripting knowledge. This is a huge marketing seller.``
Now that you`ve gotten a reseller account set up, it`s time for step 3.
Reselling Web Hosting - Step 3: Set up a Great Website and Order Form. You have to look professional in order to convince customers to sign up with you as a web host. That means a website designed by a professional. You can either hire a designer (expensive) or use a template (inexpensive) like those found at: www.templatemonster.com. The benefits of hiring a designer is that you get a unique website that looks exactly the way you want. It may cost you quite a bit, though. In contrast, a template will be somewhat cookie-cutter, but will look professional and help you save some money during your startup process.
Whichever way you decide to go, make sure that you pay close attention to the sign up process. Make the order form as simple and easy to fill out as possible. If you can have something default checked to save time, by all means do so. Be sure to include a summary page of the order so that your customers can review their order before purchase.
Now it`s on to Step 4.
Reselling Web Hosting - Step 4: Driving Qualified Traffic to Your Website. You can`t get customers with out having some traffic to your new website. There are complete textbooks written on how to market and gain website traffic. I will focus you on only one possible traffic-driving solution, but one which has proven to work for many small online businesses - Google`s AdWords advertising.
You can see a complete and detailed step-by-step tutorial on using google AdWords here: www.sitepoint.com/article/adwords-select-parts-1-4.
Below is a quick-start guide to getting your Google traffic flowing in a few hours:
Setting Up a Google AdWords Account Step-by-Step
Okay, take a deep breath. Settle into the chair in front of your computer and get ready to go. Follow these steps exactly:
1. Navigate your browser to: https://adwords.google.com/select and click on the `Sign Up Now` area.
2. Select the appropriate language and geographical targeting – `Regions and cities` if you are a local business, `Global or nationwide` if you serve all regions (we`ll use this setting for our example). Click the `Save and Continue` button.
3. Next you choose your countries. If you are a North American business, I highly recommend selecting `United States` only. To do this - go to the right hand box entitled `Selected Countries` and highlight `All Countries` with your mouse. Then click the `Remove` button. The `Selected Countries` box will now be empty. Go to the left column and highlight `United States` - then click the `Add` button. Click the `Save and Continue` button.
4. Now you name your ad group and create your first online ad. Don`t worry - you can always go back and edit your ad at anytime. Just have fun with it for now! To get started, think up a name that you want to call your first group of ads. Type this name into the box labeled: `Name this Ad Group`.
Now go to section A: `Create Ads` just below. You simply fill in the boxes and Google does this cool `automatic update` that shows you what your ad will look like as you are filling in the boxes. When you have an ad that you like - click the `Save and Continue` button.
5. Choose the keywords that will trigger your ad. If you sell `Unix Web Hosting` then start with that keyword. If you sell ASP.NET Hosting` then start with that. Once you have typed in a search term, you can always use the `Keyword Suggestion Tool` link on the same page to expand your list. Google will automatically suggest words that may expand your traffic. Be sure to do a reality check against this list - it`s automated and some terms may not be appropriate for your business. Once you have a list of keywords, click the `Save Keywords` button to continue.
6. Choose your maximum bid. I always set this to $.05 (five cents) to start. This is Google`s minimum bid amount. You can always change it later if you need more traffic. Type in .05 and click the `Calculate Estimates` button. Ignore the resulting estimates - they are almost always wrong. Simply click the `Save and Continue` button. At this step Google will ask if you want to create another ad group - simply bypass this step by clicking the `Continue to Step 3` button.
7. Now you specify you daily budget. I suggest being conservative here as well. You can always increase this later. For now - figure out how much you can spend each month for traffic and divide by 30. Put in an amount that is this number or even lower. I usually start with $5 per day as a maximum. When you`ve decided, simply click the `Save and Continue` button.
8. Entering your contact information and password. This step requires you to give Google a valid email address that you can check - in order to send you to the final confirmation and billing step. Fill in your email and pick a password that you can remember - preferably one that has at least 1 numeral and is difficult to duplicate easily.
When you`ve filled in your information, click the `I agree - Create my AdWords account` button.
At this point you should see the following message: ``Thank you for signing up with AdWords. Please check your email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a message from Google containing a link to our verification program.`` Follow the link in that message to confirm that we have your correct email address.
9. Check your email and finish setting up your account. Go to your email and retrieve the Google email. Follow the link inside - this will verify that your email is valid. Then simply login to your AdWords account using the email address and password that you supplied in the last step.
10. Once you log in you will see the following message: ``Note: Your account hasn`t been activated. Payment information is required in order to run your ads. Please provide your payment information on the Billing Preferences page in the "My Account" section. Typically, your ads will begin running almost immediately after you submit this information.`` Simply follow the `Billing Preferences` link and enter your credit card information. When complete click the `Save Changes` button.
11. Your AdWords account is now live! You will see traffic from your ads coming to your site almost immediately if you have selected popular keywords.
Then entire process described above can easily be completed in less than 2 hours. I did it myself in less than an hour. Good luck and remember if you ever have any problems with the account running through too much cash - you can simply `pause` the account giving you time to reduce your bids, or delete keywords. While you won`t become an AdWords expert from this start up guide, you will begin to see highly targeted web traffic come to your site in less than one day!
Okay - traffic is now coming to your site - time for the final step.
Reselling Web Hosting - Step 5: Differentiate Your Offering!
You can`t expect to sell your web hosting to anyone of you adopt a `me-to` attitude. Make certain that you are different in some significant way from other web hosting offerings out there. You can differentiate by creating a unique special offer, by having an exceptional promotion or giveaway, or by bundling services that other companies don`t offer together - it doesn`t matter exactly what is different about your web hosting offer - just make sure it`s different.
One last thing - remember to give a high level of customer service, or your new found customers will flee to a more attentive competitor.
Good luck in reselling web hosting. If you follow the five steps outlined above, you`ll be on your way to a great new business venture!
About Derek Vaughan
Derek Vaughan has extensive online marketing experience including marketing ecommerce at ESPN.com. and NASCAR.com, and directing marketing for Affinity Internet and Aplus.Net in the highly competitive web hosting arena. He is currently a partner at Website Hosting Directory
(www.websitehostdirectory.com) and Cheap Web Hosting Directory
(www.cheaphostingdirectory.com) part of the TechPad Agency
network of web hosting related sites