This morning I spent a few hours make some adjustments to my reseller hosting:

  • I changed plans to quarterly and updated pricing based on the new billing frequency;
  • I updated the hosting plan tables in both my studio website and hosting site to reflect the new pricing, and also to update some of the offerings my host now has, such as additional software on the server;
  • I rewrote the text on my studio site to focus more on the value of having the web designer/developer also host the website;
  • I modified some text on the hosting site to reflect new prices and new specs from the host.

I also discovered that WHMCS had a new release – I’d noticed that there was a problem in one of the portal template pages, but the upgrade took care of it. Oh – and I noticed that my host is offering a free guide to reseller hosting, a big PDF download, so I got a copy of that.

I wrote up a short page to give to new clients describing why I’d like them to choose my hosting services:

  • All hosts do things a little differently and I will bill at the hourly rate to work on unfamiliar servers;
  • I won’t be able to easily contact their hosting support if needed;
  • Most important, I host my own business sites and know how reliable my services are.

This effort is just a part of the wide-ranging ‘business mod’ that I’m working my way through. I’m confident I’ll have a much tighter process in place when I finish in the next couple of months.

This morning I was greeted by not one, but two ‘account has been suspended due to nonpayment’ notices delivered to my inbox by WHMCS, the software that manages my hosting client accounts.

I went in to look – not only had they been suspended, they had been terminated – wiped off the server completely, and for no obvious reason. The accounts were in good standing and were months away from expiring.

Immediately I submitted a support ticket to WHMCS (it’s now been about 8 hours – where are you, WHMCS tech support? I still haven’t heard a word from you) and then another to HostGator who hosts my reseller account.

I also went in and disabled auto-suspension for every client hosting account, just in case. I checked to make sure no one else’s account had been terminated. I still don’t know what happened to WHMCS this morning to cause this event in the first place.

I got the first response from HostGator within 10 minutes. Within 15 minutes, I had submitted two restore requests to retrieve those terminated accounts from the most recent backup. And within 30 minutes my two accounts were back online.

So HostGator, thank you so much. You guys rock. WHMCS, not so much.

As a web designer, I’m always looking for ways to help my clients (I know this somewhat contradicts my previous post where I’m trying to remove extraneous services…). About 3 1/2 years ago I started NOCO Hosting and became a reseller for XO, eventually moving all my customer accounts over to HostGator.

For the most part it’s been a profitable and nearly hands-off experience. I’ve been quite happy with HostGator’s tech support and services. My clients like it because they have someone who can talk to them in plain English when there’s a problem, and they don’t have to deal with setting up a hosting account with one of the big-box providers.

I like it because it’s so much easier for me to hop into WHMCS, create a new account, set up the account and upload the site than it is for me to jump through all the hoops required to get access, get FTP info, and deal with weird server configurations at the huge hosting shops, or, even worse, on someone’s basement server.

When something goes wrong, though… then I sometimes just want to run away.

A few months ago I had a rash of phishing hacks run through a few accounts on my server. As it stopped as quickly as it started, I strongly suspect it was a server security issue.  Dealing with that occupied most of my time for a week, and when the rare problem does crop up it tends to be very time-consuming. This happens on average about 1-2 times per year (not phishing necessarily, but some issue or another that has to be resolved right away and affects all or most customers).

So I have a few options.

  1. Keep everything as is. NOCO Hosting runs as a separate website from Red Kite Creative, my web design business site, and anyone can sign up for an account there. This is good monetarily, but I don’t have enough non-client hosting customers to really make it necessary. It’s never taken off the way I hoped it would, even though I’m one of the only green hosting companies in my region; when I started I was sure that it would be very lucrative, but not so much.
  2. Create a new reseller account under Red Kite’s aegis and gradually move my hosting clients over. I’d stop operating as NOCO Hosting and only offer to host Red Kite clients, mostly for convenience sake for me and my design clients. I’d get rid of the NOCO website altogether.
  3. Totally drop hosting services as part of narrowing my overall business focus and charge more for the time it takes to assist clients with other hosts.

Any other web designers that offer reseller hosting services – what do you think? Is it profitable enough for you to stick with it? How often do you have large-scale problems pop up that make you think twice?

I found this cool tool today  on IPwalk.com. If you’re a hosting reseller like I am, you can enter the name of your company and it will tell you your market share in the U.S. and the world.

I am currently a major player in the United States with 0.0002% of the total hosting market under my control.