Should you offer hosting as a web designer?

I have to admit, until this year, this was a big N-O for me.  I have offered hosting in the past and found it to be extremely difficult.  Most of the time it was fine, but when something went wrong with a hosting company, I had clients calling me and assuming that I had control.  I didn’t.  I just had an account at a major hosting company and I was reselling their hosting.  When a site went down back then, so did email.  Nothing can kill a great Vegas vacation by the pool more than your phone blowing up with “My email and website are down” calls!  That ended it for me.  I have a small amount of clients that I still host, but I stopped offering the service to my new clients more than six years ago.

I have started to rethink this recently for the following reasons:

  1. Now that I offer care plans, it really matters to me where a client hosts.
  2. Site speed and performance matters more than ever and a dog of a host can kill the GTMetrix scores for clients even if the site cleanly coded.
  3. Even though I have the majority of my clients set up in their own hosting accounts, they still come to me with problems.
  4. I still call the hosting company for them.
  5. Some hosting companies offers Let’s Encrypt SSL for FREE – others charge up to $75 annually for an SSL and won’t allow or make Let’s Encrypt installation easy to do.

There are many advantages to offering hosting to your clients:

  • You are in control of the hosting and know the ins and outs of the hosting company.
  • More income.  That’s always good!
  • It’s a one-stop-shop for your client.  They don’t have to worry about it.

But there are disadvantages, too:

  • Clients perceive you as responsible for the hosting outages.
  • Email can be tied to hosting (not so much anymore, but still possible).
  • You can get calls 24/7 when something goes wrong.

If you are considering hosting as a service for your web design business, make sure you:

  • Know the ins and outs of FTP and SFTP
  • Have basic knowledge of phpmyadmin
  • Know how to set up a database
  • Know some basic lingo so you can chat with support successfully
  • Have tested the company you plan to use as your hosting provider
  • Can comfortably transfer a website from one host to another

For me, the happy medium is that I’m only going to offer hosting to a handful of longtime clients that are having major issues with their current host.  I started the process a couple of months ago and began testing this new hosting, first with my mock ups and then with my own sites.  My new hosting is cloud based and on Litespeed servers.  It’s totally different than the hosting most of my clients use.  It has been taking some getting used to, but in the long run, this will beneficial to both my clients and to my own business.  I plan to be completely up front with my clients about who the company is.  I also plan to steer clear of email services except for a simple email forward every now and then.

Do you offer hosting?  What’s been your experience over the years?  I’d love to learn more from you!

RESOURCES:  MDDHosting – Cloud hosting plans

*Big shout out to Ann Marie Gill of Cascade Valley Designs for being my mentor (and friend) through this decision and transition.  

 

 

About WebCami

Cami MacNamara has been designing websites since 2002 from her home office in Seattle, Washington. Her career started as a way to be a stay-at-home mom. Certification soon followed and persistence paid off. Cami has designed 500+ websites and wants to share what she learned along the way. Look for her at WordCamp Seattle. Follow: WebCami.com / Twitter / Instagram