I talk with a lot of agencies on a daily basis, and one common issue that I come across is that many agencies don’t offer hosting. For the agencies that don’t, they often have perfectly valid reasons for not offering hosting. These are the problems that I hear most:
- I don’t know enough about hosting, not my wheelhouse.
- I don’t want to/can’t provide support for hosting.
- I’ve had terrible experiences with hosting providers and would rather the customer find their own hosting
- I use __________ hosting provider, but it’s too expensive for my clients, so I don’t bother with offering hosting
- I haven’t really thought about it.
All of these are good reasons for not offering hosting, and I don’t blame any agency for not offering hosting. In my opinion though, I think everyone should offer it. For me, I’ve been doing things a little bit in reverse. In 2008, I started as a hosting provider, not a WordPress agency. I didn’t really want to build sites, I just wanted to do hosting. As a new business owner, I was naive, as new business owners sometimes are, and learned quickly that in my local market you can’t sell hosting by itself. In my market, sites are required. Likewise, hosting is also required, and since every customer needs hosting, why not keep that revenue in house?
Let’s tackle each problem in order, and I’ll give some tips, as well as info on what the Hosting Coalition does to tackle it. For not knowing enough about hosting, I’d suggest getting some hardware from a provider like Digital Ocean, and installing cPanel. There are a wealth of tutorials for cPanel, and cPanel also provides good support for the product. For our agency members, this is not a big deal because we have the knowledge of hosting and our members can rely on that knowledge.
Support is definitely a tough one. Most agencies are one person shops, and it’s hard to wear all of those hats at the same time. What I’d suggest is putting in a good ticket system, and implementing a paging service like PagerDuty. During the day, you handle tickets as usual, and then at night you can use PagerDuty to call and wake you up if there is a critical level ticket put in. Our agency members don’t have to worry about this one, we actually install a branded support desk under our member brand, and we answer the tickets directly for our members. Often some of our members will answer tickets, but they don’t have to. They are also able to take vacations etc.
The hosting industry is heavily saturated, and there’s a few companies where they’ve made what amounts to poor business decisions, and have caused bad experiences for customers. These businesses have given different technologies a bad reputation as well. There’s actually a public company that owns 75+ hosting brands in the hosting industry. If you leave one provider and go to another, you may actually still be with the same parent company. Anyway, this is easily defeatable, don’t run overload your hosting systems, give ample resources, monitor everything. That’s what we do!
There are a lot of “managed” hosting providers out there for the $30-$35/month range, and this can definitely be a tough pill for some customers to swallow. Customer budget concerns are always hard to get around, but at the same time, most of these providers are overpriced in my opinion. Exceptionally great hosting can be way cheaper than that. When you start offering hosting, you’ll see what I mean by that. Here’s a good article about how to price your hosting.
On this last but certainly not least problem, it’s 2019, start thinking about it. Not sure what to do? Reach out, this is exactly what the Hosting Coalition does. We empower and augment our members to achieve more!