For 8 years, Debra had been an executive assistant for a service provider in an affluent, Texas community. She WAS the office for this sole proprietorship so Debra had developed an enviable skill set. She did order capture, kept the books, maintained the client d-base and she was the only one who ever figured out how to use the dusty old copy machine. She was indispensable to the company, or so she thought. In 2011, with the U.S. economy stumbling along, Debra was laid off in a last-ditch effort by the company owner to stay afloat. So, at the age of 54, Debra got her pink slip and left a career that had helped support the family since 2003. Stunned, she wasn’t worried. Like most of us, she figured another job was just a classified ad away. Didn’t happen. Debra updated her resume and cover letter and undertook a methodical campaign to find a new job. But even with an enviable list of office skills, Debra couldn’t even get an interview, much less a job. No one was hiring and living off unemployment didn’t cover her bills.
So, Debra decided to brush off her web design skills, setup a reseller web hosting account, then she got busy selling hosting to her friends and business acquaintances. Debra calculated that for $35 a month, if she were to get one, maybe two web hosting accounts, she would be profitable. Sounds easy enough? Right. Not so fast. Debra concentrated on the advantages of a reseller hosting account, but she forgot to tally up the disadvantages. In addition to the obvious advantages such as making money at home, Debra did not realize that she was jumping head-first into an industry that is competitive and fast-paced, not to mention the fact that she found herself in a line of business that never sleeps. Yes, Debra was making enough money to cover her expenses, and then some, but what she did not realize is that her business plan that she had written on the back of a cocktail napkin did not include the pros and cons of her new business venture.
Debra’s web hosting business takes off
Here’s what happened. Her first client was a local caterer who worked out of her house, so, she needed someone that could take their existing web site to the next level. Debra sold the caterer a web hosting account, setup their email and spam filter, optimized their pages, and even charged the caterer for establishing a blog. A simple assignment and one Debra could easily handle, though the client was only willing to pay Debra $250 a month, way below what she’d been earning. But it was a start so she took the long-term assignment. With one sale, Debra was profitable. But she had a long road in front of her.
A few days later, Debra gets another call from a small catering company looking for Internet exposure. $150 a month and a lot less work than Debra’s first account. This company needed to be setup with a simple brochure web site and a WordPress blog. Bam! Now Debra was making $400 a month, gross.
Next, she received a call from a law office that had met the caterer at a small local gathering the evening before. Debra submitted a proposal for a new web site design and web hosting. Pay? $175 a month. In less than 14 days, Debra had landed three regular clients – one from the most well established law firm in her local community – and Debra was earning $550 a month, after her $25 a month reoccurring expense for the reseller web hosting account. And the best part is, Debra was doing all this in her slippers.
In 14 days, Debra had created a successful on line business – one that she controls. She cherry picks requests for work, she’s gradually raised her rates, she’s in a position to say ‘no’ to prospects to best manage her workload and, best of all, Debra started her on-line business for $35.
Debra’s marketing strategy
In Debra’s case, she localized her on-line, social media advertising, emphasizing that she was in Texas, serving Texas businesses. Even though Debra offers virtual assistant services, her CriagsList.com listing is posted under Texas service providers.
Lots of prospects prefer doing business locally, even though in today’s on-line business realm, any outsource can be located anywhere through the use of on-line collaboration software – a freebie your web host might offer.
Debra’s growing pains
The world wide web is the fastest growing marketplace in the history of commerce, so Debra decided to take a step back, pause and reflect on what she was getting into. What were the pros of her new business venture? What were the cons of reseller web hosting? Baby steps. Was it too late? Debra thought she better evaluate her situation, and fast, before the phone rang again and boom–she was committed (again) to another client.
What are the pros and cons of Reseller web hosting?
Here’s the thing. Debra was making a good living reselling web hosting and offering design services, but she was working a lot of long hours. She knew that each new account would lead to more design work. Unless Debra decided to offer hosting only! Did Debra make a snap decision? Let’s find out…
Pros of Reseller web hosting
- Reduced costs for web hosting is available for resellers.
- Unlimited domain hosting with reseller plans–Debra could host as many domains on her reseller plan as she could sell.
- Reseller web hosting is a lucrative means of which to make a living.
Cons of Reseller web hosting
- Web hosting is a 24-hour a day industry.
- Web hosting if fast paced–so Debra’s dream of casually working each morning with her laptop in the local coffee shop went to the way-side.
- Debra found herself relying–I mean REALLY relying–on her web hosting provider. She did not have root access to the server, but that did not bother Debra because she did not have the technical knowledge to perform root commands, but she did mind having to contact her upstream provider anytime she had an issue.
- Debra wanted to provide a correct level of support so she worked a lot!
Debra built a good, profitable business without a lot of expense. And not a lot of start-up web businesses are profitable in 7 days. Eventually, Debra paired down her design schedule and concentrated mainly on selling web hosting accounts. She discovered that with this business model, she was able to work fewer hours, but she had to be sharp in order to sell web hosting.
A critical key to the success of Debra’s new web hosting endeavor is making the right decisions early on – and less than a month after Debra started, she was able to take a couple of days off. That’s about how long you have before the next assignment! However, if you keep clients coming back and if they refer their friends and business acquaintances, then you are providing a helpful service–light on the sales hype, heavy on the quality.