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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    uk
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    Webhosting as a full-time occupation

    Hello all, been browsing these forums for a few months now getting some info, and theres a few questions i've got to throw at you!
    I've been running websites for about 5 years now (as in a webmaster role, not hosting) and have used a variety of webhosting companies over the years, because of either the site outgrowing what the host can offer me, or crap service and support. I've been with my current host for over a year now, and am happy, running my sites on a dedicated server.
    A lot of you mention that one of the keys to running a successful webhosting business is knowing how to run a server. When you say "Running a server" do you mean like the administration side of things in WHM for example?
    My dedicated server runs on WHM and am getting to grips with the myriad of functions it offers. Or is running a server even more back to basics than this? (ie, command lin etc)
    I'd trying to get some kind of benchmark so I can judge myself against, so I know what I need to learn before I take the plunge of setting up a hosting business.
    Secondly, how long did it take for your business to get established and gain a sufficient client base where you could sit back and think, "I am now bringing in enough monthly income to resign from my current job and run this hosting business fulltime".
    What i'm trying to say is, I dont have the money to resign from my current job and then set up a web hosting business. I'd have to build it up to some sort of level where it's bringing in enough income so I could do this.
    Thanks for reading!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    490
    One question to as is, if your control panel stopped working tomorrow, could you still service your clients?

    Do you know enough to do it yourself? Do you know someone you could hire and have the resources to do so to solve any immediate problems?

    You need to have someone who knows the basics of server administration without a control panel. It doesn't need to be you if you handle more of the business side of things, but there should be someone.

    Basically, just being able to run the host when everything is fine isn't enough. Things do break and things do go wrong. Cpanel isn't known for being a bug-free marvel You need to be able to deal with those situations. That's what distinguishes the hosts who survive from those that don't.

    Another question to ask is what you would offer that other hosts do not. This is what you need to sell to your client, so you have to know yourself first. Next, make sure you've got some business sense and can create a viable and profitable business model.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    uk
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    So are we talking shell access?
    ie, command line interface kind of thing?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    New Zealand
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    nice advice mkc

    It depends on , how many customers you have , how much there paying and how many customers you are receiving a month to get a good income to quit your job and do full time hosting .

    You can become very wealthy from hosting , but you need to put a little money back into the business to allow this to happen . I know a couple of webhost owners who are fairly wealthy because they put all profit back into the business once they had a good profit , they stopped putting in so much and had a good income

    Good luck
    DigitalGoods.info
    FREE Shared, Mega Resellers + Dedicated Servers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    UK
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    Yeah, SSH all the way

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    490
    Yeah, you should at least know your way around. If you cannot go in and edit a few config files and whatnot you're really going to have a lot of trouble should anything go wrong. Another viable option is to sign up for a fully (really fully) managed server and have someone else take care of such things. Just don't sign up for the some unmanaged or "semi-manged" server and expect that things will always be as easy as when everything is working fine.

    KNOW how to restore from backups, KNOW what you will do if your host goes down for an hour, plan for these things because they are inevitable.

    I think the main thing to ask is what will set you apart, and how much you're willing to pursue the business. You need a solid idea and you need to realize that the number of web hosts right now is flooding the market if theres nothing that sets you apart. Starting up and getting initial clients is hard, and you have to be willing to ride out the losses before turning profitable. Even more so if you are trying to support yourself off the job.

    I highly recommend that you grow slowly until you are comfortable with most aspects of the web hosting industry.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    12
    Thanks Joseph_M
    SSH is definetley lacking a bit in my skill department!
    Something I shall have to learn and build uopn.
    I can use it, but limited.
    Gonna start a UK business - eventually!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Kalamazoo
    Posts
    33,190
    I believe it comes more down to being able to run a business.

    I've always subscribed to the philosophy, "If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people."

    You keep asking if you should know the control panel, or the command line. I'll just say that, "Not every web host is a server admin. Not every server admin is a web host."

    However, if you are going to administrate your own server by yourself, then you need to completely understand command line. Not just the commands, but what and why they do what they do. There is no point and click solution to server management.

    We took the slow and steady approach when we first started. And it took ~ one year for the business to be turning a decent profit. By that, I mean enough profit margin to sustain complete expenses, including payroll.

    Good luck.
    There is no best host. There is only the host that's best for you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    uk
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    Theres so many things to consider, it's hard to make a call on what is best to do.
    My current host gives me root access, but they do all the actual server management side of things, such as security patches, hardware monitoring.
    I'm just bouncing some views and thoughts of you guys thats all! This is something I do really want to get in to, it's just a matter of when I feel the time is right I guess, and when i've done my homework.
    Thanks for all your messages so far.
    Gonna start a UK business - eventually!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,301
    RE: how long does it take to retire from your current job question. Well that depends on how many different factors i.e. What prices you sell your packages at, how quick are you growing. The growing of a business depends on how much they spend on advertising, support and other costs. If you advertise more you will get clients sooner, to sustain them you will have to spend on support and have a good uptime.

    Differentiate yourself through your USP. It usually takes 8-12 months of dedication and hardwork to see some profits. If you clients are satisfied with you they will recommend you, usually after 1 year of good service you will start gaining clients faster as your reputation will spread. But the first 6-7 months you will have to labor like crazy to gain the long term benefits.
    "Web Hosting is not just about selling space, it is about facilitating customers needs with your plans and supporting the customer for a long lasting mutually beneficial relationship."- Yaser

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    New Zealand
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    Lets just say you gotta be a linux guru
    DigitalGoods.info
    FREE Shared, Mega Resellers + Dedicated Servers

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Kalamazoo
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    Originally posted by LoganNZ
    Lets just say you gotta be a linux guru
    I'll just quote the words above.
    Originally posted by SoftWareRevue
    "Not every web host is a server admin. Not every server admin is a web host."

    "If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people."
    There is no best host. There is only the host that's best for you.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Australia
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    24,009
    Originally posted by LoganNZ
    Lets just say you gotta be a linux guru
    Let's just say that no you don't.
    AussieHost.com Aussie Bob, host since 2001
    Host Multiple Domains on Fast Australian Servers!!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    uk
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    At the moment, I will be going the managed solution. I'm running on a dedicated managed server.
    It's not going to be a case of get rich quick, thats not my aim whatsoever.
    I just want to give up my job and not have to answer to anyone, and do what I enjoy, running internet related things
    Gonna start a UK business - eventually!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    1,612
    You should know a little about this industry and have excellent business running skills. One can always hire a third party company for management so thats not a big deal. You think the owners of all these multi million dollar hosting firms are linux gurus? Give me a break! lol

    You should just know what you are doing? If you the confidence to run a business then thats the only thing you would need...be it be a hosting or any other industry..

  16. #16
    A couple of questions from a total newbie:

    If you do get a managed dedicated server from a larger provider, what kind of service can you expect? How fast do they respond to problems?

    If one of your clients has a problem, do you have to wait for your provider to turn around and fix it (I hope not), or does a managed dedicated account provides enough access for you to fix it yourself?

    Thanks.

  17. #17
    Greetings:

    Unfortunately, “managed hosting” is a revolving door – there is no standard definition.

    Some hosting providers who started providing “self managed” servers (but they took care of the hardware and connectivity) started calling themselves “managed providers” in the year 2000 without changing a single service they provide.

    Other providers used to call themselves “fully managed hosting” (blah blah blah) with a lot of fine print stating what they don’t manage (meaning they were trying to redefine the word “full”) until they found out such methods of communication may be misleading and not in the best interest of their reputation.

    You have providers that really do try to be managed such as Rackspace.com, Verio.com, and Interland.com; however, most of their management is reactive with very specific limits as to what is part of the monthly hosting fee.

    So your best bet is to call and ask a lot of questions as to who is responsible for what tasks; and whether those tasks are proactive or reactive (reactive means you have to ask for it, and in some cases be very specific as to what you are asking them to do).

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    UK
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    Re: Webhosting as a full-time occupation

    Originally posted by njenkin

    A lot of you mention that one of the keys to running a successful webhosting business is knowing how to run a server.
    I think the first principle behind running a 'successful webhosting business' is the same as for any other type of business; one needs to be able to run a business. If one can't do that, then all the other skills are pointless.

    If you're going to be doing everything yourself then, yep, you're going to need to know a fair bit about the technical side of things too, but people who already know these things can be bought if you have the finances to do so.

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