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Thread: Hosting Policy

  1. #1
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Hosting Policy

    I've had the policy of just having each of my clients set up their own account on a web host (various hosts now over the years) since I only did this on the side through high school and college. Now I'm thinking about stepping up in the business and tackling more projects.

    What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages to setting up a unique account for each client verses some kind of reseller account?

    I don't want to get caught up with have dozens of sites hosted on my account and decide to do something different...because then what happens? I guess as long as they keep paying me, I can afford the site, but I guess I've always just wanted to do the design and no worry about the hosting.

    On the flip side, I'm setting these people up with accounts 1000 times larger than necessary. So far all of my clients are small business or non-profit groups, which don't generate a ton of traffic because its just a brochure site. So I could charge them the same for hosting, but consolidate their accounts and take a profit.

    What do you do, and why?

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    Make sure you charge more for hosting because if ANYTHING goes wrong with their website, email, etc you are going to be the one they call. I usually charge ~5x what it costs me to host their site (usually only a few bucks a month) rounded up to the nearest $5 which usually ends up being $15/month plus the cost of their domain(s). I give them maximum 1 MySQL database and the minimum I can get away with so that they can run their site properly but not run any other sites or large expansions.

    For static sites and for people who I really doubt will ever touch the user CP/ftp I'm usually more willing to go cheaper as any problems they'll be contacting me with will be my fault whereas if it is for another developer or someone who thinks they're a developer they're more inclined to try to do something and not worry about it crashing my box.

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    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Do not host your clients sites EVER. If something goes wrong they'll be calling you - know what that means? You have to be available 24/7/365 like a real host, except you're 1 guy, not a real hosting company with a full team of tech support guys.

    I have a client whose hosting is handled by their previous web dev who has since moved on. At the weekend, the data center exploded, but the guy who handles the hosting is on holiday and wont be back til friday - which means a full week of downtime for my client. Client is not happy.

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    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NancyJ View Post
    Do not host your clients sites EVER.
    Yes, we just had that in 10 Absolute "Nos!" for Freelancers
    Valid points, indeed.

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    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    I'm not going to setup my own server and host from my server, but I'm talking about getting a dedicated server or something that I can divide up and use for multiple clients. I know very little about servers technicalities, so I'm not touching that stuff. I guess it seems like a waste of money (or at least money that I could redirect) to have each client make their own account with a host.

    Basically I'm asking not to 'host' the accounts myself, but if I should try to have them all hosted together on one account that I oversee? This has to be an option right?

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    If you oversee it at all then you're the one that they'll call.

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    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    As I <3 Lamp says, if you're hosting them on your ds then they'll call you. If their hosting contract is seperate to the development, they'll call the hosting company.

    Also many hosting companies will only give support to verified clients - so your clients wouldn't be able to get support through your host even if you told them who it was.

  • #8
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Even in the situation where none of my clients even know or understand their hosting currently? They do nothing with the site, outside of sign up for it so their credit card is attached to the account and not mine. I've honestly never had a phone call about problems with hosting, maybe its because the sites that I have done are for people who are pretty computer illiterate, but so far none of my clients even understand how hosting works.

    Would you think its possible that for some clients at least I could consolidate? I'm referring to the ones who know nothing about computers to start with. I'm from a rural area, which explains a lot of my clients locally not needing huge sites. And these sites are just brochure sites, so if the site is down there is nothing I can do anyways no matter who's account it is on. If I could channel the cost of hosting from 5 clients onto just one account, I could be making a little extra. The other benefit is that it would be easier to do work on one account than on multiple sites, hosts, and accounts.

    I don't know, but I'm just trying to plan out my business plan for the next 5 years, and I just don't know enough about all of this to be really sure on what to do. I agree the safest way is to set up individual accounts for each client on something like bluehost, and just not get any money from the deal, but isn't the potential of getting 20+ sites onto one master account that costs $50/month but I'm getting $200/month in revenue from clients possibly worth the few annoying calls?

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    The ones who know nothing about computers are going to be the ones who don't understand why they're paying you when their website is hosted a thousand miles away in a room you'll never see.

    As far as the $200 a month for annoying calls, it's a question you have to ask yourself. Most people couldn't be bothered. I tend to be a lot more willing to host people when they're the emailing type.

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    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Its not about 'a few annoying calls' its about providing 24/7 cover and support in the event of something going wrong (even moreso with a dedicated server, most aren't fully managed)

    Say for example, the data center your server is in has an exposion (as just happened to The Planet taking out 6k servers (and quite a few high profile sites) and you happen to be on holiday (as my client's 'host' is), you're going to have some very unhappy clients.

    Maybe your clients never look at their websites and wouldn't notice if it disappeared for a week or more but do you want to stake your reputation on it?

  • #11
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    But these things can happen with the shared hosting accounts as well, and with clients who know nothing, they are going to call anyways. I'd rather be getting some compensation for that risk, and if hell breaks loose move sites to another place. Wouldn't it be easier to do this if you have just one main account to backup and maintain though instead of trying to setup new accounts for my clients? I'm starting to wish I could just move my stuff from my current hosts to a better place, but with billing cycles and time involved...I would be in way over my head.

    It seems like there should just be a good solution where things are consolidated and easy to add sites to an account, but not your responsibility to maintain the hardware of the server. I think someone could make good money if they made a good practical solution for these kinds of situations, because I'd rather pay 20&#37; more for the service if it saves me time, hassle, and ultimately money from wasting time managing things across different hosts and accounts.

    Somedays I just hate the internet...today is one of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremywilken View Post
    It seems like there should just be a good solution where things are consolidated and easy to add sites to an account, but not your responsibility to maintain the hardware of the server.
    Well, there is. You can set-up a reseller account on many hosts using their shared hosting and not a dedicated server.

    That, however, doesn't relieve you of the responsibility of taking the calls and then dealing with the host on behalf of your clients. Also, in the end, the client will associate you with the hosting and any negative experiences they have will be associated with you.

    Really, hosting is a time-drain and can be a big one. Any time-drain is bad for your income since it is taking you away from where you are earning your primary income.

  • #13
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    I guess I've always explained that the hosting is handled by someone else, and that I only help them set it up initially. People are going to look to me before going to the host unless I find some way to educate them on what to do with their problems, which is also a big time drain.

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    From the customer's point of view, that argument looses a lot of clout when they are paying you.

  • #15
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Good point. Thanks for all of the thoughtful discussion, luckily I'm not actually trying to decide right now if I should change my policy, and it appears I shouldn't. Thanks much.


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