Starting a new hosting business can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to deal with properly configuring your server, but you also have to do it while keeping your customers’ sites running. We’ve gathered here three helpful online tutorials that can help ease your transition to a full-time web host. It can be helpful to use these tutorials to supplement your knowledge on aspects of hosting that you’re not familiar with.
1. Webhostingtalk’s web hosting tutorials
Besides technical tutorials, web hosts often can use tutorials on how to generate new business. This is where a site like Webhostingtalk can help. Webhostingtalk is a forum that is frequented by professional web hosts. It’s an open soapbox where professionals can share their knowledge, which includes both technical and business advice. They even have a specific section there where users post tutorials for the benefit of other web hosts. These can be particularly beneficial when you’re just starting out in your hosting business.
The tutorials at Webhostingtalk are helpful for those just starting out in the business. These tutorials can help you get up to speed with configuring basic services needed for your typical web host packages. They can be good resources on how to attract new clients, as well as how best to manage them. Some of the most useful tutorials at Webhostingtalk include:
- This is a tutorial on how to generate new business as a web host. This tutorial mentions that you can start a hosting business by selling turnkey websites on a marketplace like eBay. Many of those clients don’t mind paying $10 a month so that you can host their website for them. As you gain confidence in your technical abilities, you can branch out and start posting on hosting forums. Your source of new business will likely be word-of-mouth referrals and from people clicking on your forum signature in your forum posts.
- This tutorial shows you how to transfer clients from one web host to another. When you get a new client for your hosting business, they will sometimes need to move their website assets over from a different host. The easiest way to move a customer’s sites is to have the old host generate a cPanel backup. Using the cPanel backup file, it only takes a few clicks to generate a new hosting account for them on your server. The details of how exactly you proceed with the cPanel transfer are covered in the linked tutorial.
2. Hosting tutorials from Digitalocean
Many web hosts will use cPanel as part of their hosting operating system. CPanel, which runs on the CentOS operating system, is a simple way for web hosts to get up and running. But some hosts like to customize their server environment to their specific requirements. This requires running your hosting platform on either a server or a virtual private server. And while this gives you complete control of your environment, running without a control panel takes much more technical skill to get a hosting platform set up properly.
One of the more popular places to rent a virtual private server is Digitalocean. Digitalocean allows you to rent a virtual private server instance for as little as $5 a month. To help new system administrators, Digitalocean has posted hundreds of tutorials on their website. A particularly useful tutorial is how to set up WordPress on a VPS. This tutorial uses Ubuntu and Nginx (instead of Apache). Together with MySQL and PHP, these form your LEMP stack as the basis of your hosting environment.
When you want to host multiple clients on a single server, you’ll need to set up virtual hosts. Virtual hosts are setup on Nginx using server blocks. There are also intricacies related to permissions and configuration files which the tutorial elaborates on. The important thing when running your host off of a server is that you’re not overwhelmed by the technical details. Digitalocean’s tutorials are very helpful for getting newbie web hosts up to speed on setting up their hosting configuration files correctly.
3. Video tutorials on how to manage your clients
When people sign up for a reseller hosting account, it’s likely that they’ll be reselling their hosting to various customers. So it makes sense that people who sign up for reseller accounts need help managing their clients. Most resellers will end up using WHM Complete Solution (WHMCS) to manage their hosting customers, and they will likely reference the online video tutorials that they offer to resellers.
WHMCS’s video tutorials help resellers integrate WHMCS into WHM and cPanel, which is the typical hosting set up for resellers. WHMCS offers the ability to automate account setup using its templates. Once a customer pays, a hosting account can be set up for them using WHMCS’s automation rules. After WHMCS generates new customer accounts, the reseller’s customers can manage their accounts using their cPanel logins. This is a great time saver for hosts as they don’t have to be bothered setting up their clients manually. The technical aspects of setting up user quotas and tweaking underlying settings for your various plans is also covered in these video tutorials.
WHMCS is also what most web hosts use as their ticketing system. The WHMCS video tutorials go over how to setup your various departments (pre-sales, billing and tech support), email piping (to reply to tickets from your email program) and live chat integration. Your customers will choose the appropriate department they want to notify when creating new tickets so that the right people will be notified of the customer’s request.
An important aspect of these video tutorials is that they go into detail on how to setup payment processors to work with your WHMCS installation. Most resellers will opt to get up and running with Paypal, though Authorize.net is also popular for hosts wanting to take credit cards. There are also video tutorials on how to merge invoices for customers who have special payment requests.
Between these three hosting tutorials, hopefully you’ve gotten some useful ideas on how to improve your web hosting business.