Reseller Web Hosting
Reseller hosting plans give small businesses and independent web professionals the opportunity to receive wholesale pricing on domain services and web hosting products which they can offer to their clients under a unique brand identity. Common examples of the use of reseller hosting are web design companies who use the plans to provide domain name registration and web hosting services to their contract accounts or “white label” web hosting companies that offer all of the products of a wholesaling company under a different name. Many reseller web hosts use WHMCS to create sub-hosting accounts on a server by allocating different amounts of disk space to clients and setting up contract plans which bill on different timeframes. With WHMCS, the sub-accounts that are registered on a reseller plan can login to cPanel and manage their domains in the same manner as the clients of the largest web hosting companies do. Reseller hosting plans allow for the rebranding of platform services with a new logo, theme, marketing information, and independent advertising campaigns. Some web hosting companies operate entirely on the reseller model without any independent data center operations at all.
Although there are numerous ways to make use of the resources provided by reseller hosting plans, the industry generally operates around two types of business service models. The first is oriented to small businesses and independent web professionals, such as freelancers or contractors, who are working in the fields of web development, graphic design, programming, social media marketing, and publishing. Because these companies are offering value-added services that require the use of domain name registrations and web hosting plans to operate, the reseller hosting products can be acquired at wholesale prices and then marked up at different margins to clients as part of regular contract work. The second business model is when reseller clients seek to launch and manage a complete web hosting company with all of the products and services of the wholesaler. Under this approach, reseller hosting companies establish their own brand and then sell shared hosting, VPS plans, dedicated servers, and domain name registration services to the public from an independent website. The company can use WHMCS or ClientExec for billing and invoicing. A domain reseller account like those offered by eNom, Reseller Club, NameCheap, or GoDaddy can be used to sell different TLD extensions to customers.
Under these two business models, there are a number of different ways that web hosting companies make their products available to resellers for white labeling. Some of these are:
- Domain Name Registration: In order to offer domain name registration services to clients, a reseller must have a licensed sub-account from an ICANN recognized registrar company. Examples of these are eNom, GoDaddy, Tucows, Reseller Club, and NameCheap. Many registrars provide a script that can be embedded in web pages which allows customers to search domain extensions, register domain names, and resellers can set prices independently on the plans. The registrar companies provide bulk-rate discounts on TLD extensions to the resellers, who can then offer them to clients at any price they choose. In this manner, resellers can make a profit on domain name registrations or include them in contract billing to clients with web services.
- Shared Web Server Packages: Most reseller hosting plans provide a certain amount of storage space and monthly bandwidth which the reseller can then use to create sub-accounts with different allocations for use as hosting services by clients. With the WHMCS software package, resellers can create the hosting plans, establish different prices for billing, and also set each plan to renew under different lengths of time. WHMCS then automates the billing and invoicing to clients on the platform, where each of the sub-accounts can login to a cPanel administration section as registered users to operate their services independently. Under this model, the reseller hosting plan is used to acquire bulk-rate disk space under wholesale pricing discounts.
- White Label Hosting Products: Resellers who prefer not to manage storage space allocations or spend their time creating different hosting plans can search for a reseller hosting account which offers discount rates on existing web hosting products. This approach is excellent for resellers who are also looking to offer VPS and dedicated server plans to their customers. Under this framework, web hosting companies make all of their shared hosting, cloud hosting, VPS, and dedicated server plans available to resellers at discount rates, who can then decide what price to charge customers for the services. While still operating on the wholesale model, this method saves time and offers a full catalog of established products to resellers for their business.
- Pre-Deployed Storefront Websites: Another helpful tool for resellers is when the wholesale company offers a complete storefront website pre-populated with all of the web hosting and domain name products in the form of an ecommerce catalog with integrated payment and checkout facilities. Using pre-deployed storefronts, resellers simply need to change the logo and brand identity, adjust the theme settings, then create their own promotional material to launch a complete web hosting business. Resellers set prices for each product in the catalog and establish the margins for commissions on every sale. Competent web designers can also use the code from reseller storefronts or an API to integrate products into an existing website.
- Discount Hosting Credits: Some web hosting companies offer a different method of wholesaling services to resellers that involves the use of discount hosting credits for plans that can then be resold or white labeled by other businesses. Normally this does not include any disk space to partition, billing tools, or domain reseller licenses, but may provide the ability for resellers to rebrand the services. In practice, discount hosting credits function much like white label hosting products with the exception that they must be purchased in advance by the reseller.
Resellers combine many of these different approaches into a single business model. For example, they may use a tiered reseller account for web hosting products, a licensed domain reseller account from a registrar for TLD sales, and then integrate white label products from a storefront into the same website in order to offer VPS and dedicated server plans to their customers. One of the main advantages of reseller hosting plans is the flexibility that they provide to web professionals to offer the wholesale services to their clients in whatever way they like. Some web hosting companies have been able to scale successfully through reseller plans to build competitive businesses in the industry. Many web professionals and independent creatives use reseller plans as an integral aspect of their business operations, as well as a means to increase profit in operations by earning a margin on the products used by their clients. Web design companies and independent developers can be successful in using a reseller hosting account in many different ways as part of their business plans.
Most reseller hosting plans offered by web hosts include a core set of software tools which work together to provide all of the functionality a white label business needs to operate an independent web hosting company online. The main software tools that are frequently found on reseller plans are:
- WHMCS: Developed by the same company that distributes cPanel, WHM, and CentOS, WHMCS is a feature-rich management program for web hosting companies, used primarily to create different hosting plans and to automate invoicing to clients. WHMCS will integrate with a number of third-party payment gateways and can be configured to send welcome emails, invoices, billing statements, etc. to clients as part of account management. The platform also has a modular approach where functionality can be expanded by purchasing additional service packages. WHMCS is used by many of the main web hosting companies in managing their own clients and is a great resource when it comes with a free license in a wholesale reseller plan.
- eNom: One of the most popular registrars for domain name resellers is eNom. Many web hosting companies include a free license for an eNom domain reseller account with their storefront and white label packages. Without a licensed reseller account from an ICANN recognized domain registrar, there is no way to offer domain name registration services to customers. Although eNom’s TLD pricing sometimes makes it difficult to compete with the largest domain registrar companies, the service does give resellers the ability to set whatever price they like for domain name registrations, which can then be billed to clients with services.
- Reseller Club: Where most of the reseller hosting plans offered by web hosting companies are based on the wholesale disk space model which is then created into different sub-accounts for clients and customers, Reseller Club has an entire catalog of existing web hosting and domain name related products that can be white labeled. For example, most resellers do not have any way to offer cloud hosting, VPS accounts, or dedicated servers to clients without a white label service. Reseller Club offers a storefront that is ready to deploy in under 5 minutes and includes all of the web hosting products of a major company in the industry for white label resellers.
- ClientExec: Many resellers use WHMCS to create different web hosting products with various amounts of web storage, bandwidth, and term lengths, then use ClientExec to build a storefront with ecommerce capabilities. ClientExec is an ecommerce platform that is specifically designed for managing a web hosting company. The software integrates with cPanel, payment gateways, and domain registration accounts to provide the services required for selling all of the products online. Many reseller hosting plans offered by web hosting companies include a free license for ClientExec, which can save money for businesses vs. independently buying the software.
Independent web professionals, web design firms, graphic designers, and social media marketers with their own websites can use these tools to add all of the functionality of a web hosting company to their domain presence. White label resellers can use these tools to build a complete web hosting company website to launch operations online. Business owners will need to develop a marketing campaign in association with their brand identity in order to be successful. Best practice is to look for a reseller hosting plan from a major web hosting company that includes free licenses for all of these software packages as part of the monthly price of the service. Web professionals can use these tools creatively to integrate a reseller hosting plan into their existing business operations for client support.