Reseller account - advice needed, please

  slightlymad 20:12 07 Mar 2006

My job as an IT trainer is shortly to be redundant, and I plan to start my own small business delivering IT courses. I've had a wizard wheeze for a particular web course, which I'll outline briefly as it's relevant to my question.

The main purpose of the course is to show students how to maintain their own sites, and I will be providing them with a web site template which they will then edit using NVU, click here. My original plan was to let them upload their files to my own site (for demonstration purposes only), but I'm now wondering if, once they have registered a domain name (via my recommended host Heartinternet), I can go one step further. If I were to actually provide them with webspace via Heart's reseller account, would I be letting myself in for a world of trouble? More importantly, although I understand directory structures, my knowledge of web servers is scant - what would I need to know, and how can I find out?

Quote from FE in another post "Be warned that reselling requires a fair amount of commitment on your part - you can't simply leave things to run themselves - and you do need to have at least a fair working knowledge of how web servers and sites work. When things go wrong your customers will turn to you for resolution, and unless you can provide a rapid, efficient service you'll run into difficulties. Because you're taking money from people you must comply with all the relevant legislation, and frankly unless you're reasonably serious about the business I wouldn't recommend that you try it."

That's put me right off...

Yet here I am wondering if I should dismiss the idea completely, so I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions.


  Forum Editor 22:52 07 Mar 2006

sounds like a good way to make some money, and it can be, but there are pitfalls.

Lots of hosting clients are complete novices, and no matter how good your control panel might be you'll get customers who are totally at sea with it. They'll want support, and in some cases they'll want a lot of support. Files will be uploaded in the wrong way, essential stuff will be deleted or overwritten, My SQL databases will refuse to work, mailboxes will get locked, and a million and one things will go wrong.

You'll have to be on hand to sort these problems out, and it's no good saying "I'll answer your support enquiry within two days" because your customers will simply vote with their feet - you'll lose them, and rapidly. Of course you can acquire the knowledge you need, and if you can't there's always your own host's support system to turn to. In time you'll become proficient at dealing with the day to day glitches.

That just leaves you with the problem of acquiring customers. Web hosting is a highly competitive business, and your pricing and service structure must be right, or you'll have no customers at all. You'll be competing with some of the big names in hosting, and unless you can offer an inducement of some kind people simply won't use you.

I've been hosting sites for a number of years now, and most of my customers are clients of mine. They like the idea of being hosted by someone with whom they are already doing business, and as I usually know a fair bit about them I can offer a very personal service - one that's tailored to their individual needs. I offer them a 'one-stop-shop' service which includes site design, hosting and maintenance, and they know they can get on with other things while I look after their e-commerce site, or whatever. I do host quite a few 'private' sites for people who come to me via a personal recommendation, and occasionally I'll get someone who just arrives out of the blue, via a search engine or whatever. I'm in it for business reasons, and nobody gets turned away, but my hosting is primarily of corporate sites.

You need to be ready for all these eventualities, and once you are it becomes much easier. I'm sure you could do it, but I can't overstress the need for you to understand how important this support service is - it's the one single reason for people being dissatisfied with web hosts.

  slightlymad 23:15 07 Mar 2006

You've covered so much that I hadn't considered, and banished all ideas about reselling in the process - I'm so glad that I asked!

Thank you for your helpful reply, FE - it must have been a pain to type out and I do appreciate it.

On to plan B...


  Forum Editor 23:33 07 Mar 2006

and I hope I haven't completely dampened your enthusiasm. I believe in being realistic, however - a lot of reselling dreams have been wrecked because of a lack of understanding about the pitfalls.

  slightlymad 00:48 08 Mar 2006

My enthusiam (and my energy) is for writing and promoting my course - the reselling bit was more an afterthought. I don't need to add to my workload, and I'm relieved, truth be known.


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