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  1. #1

    Client wants a website built - what do you do?

    Hi guys,

    First of all, this is purely theory, but i wanted to see what webmasters did in this situation:


    A client approaches you, buys some hosting and 1 month down the line says "i want to improve my site, will you do it, ill pay"

    Do you:

    1) Tell them its nothing to do with you, you only provide hosting
    2) Tell them to search on google for "webdesigner"
    3) Tell them you will do it (your a webdesigner, and only have hosting as a sideline)
    4) Tell them you know a good webdesigner, send it their way (and take a percentage referal fee)


    Karl

  2. #2
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    Well, seeing as I have a web developer as a partner in my hosting business, I would tell the client to go to the web developer for services. It's good to have web developers and designers as business partners.

    But of course, if you are a web developer, you can offer these services at an additional charge to your clients too. A little more money never hurt anyone, right?
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  3. #3
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    I'm a website developer as well, so I'd happily look into making a deal with the client.
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  4. #4
    At least im getting good responses. I was speaking to a couple of people that run hosting earlier, and both said they wouldnt want to outsource it, because it is too much of a risk that came back.

    so i wanted to see if this was the norm.

  5. #5
    It's a good idea to get in good with a LOCAL (so you can meet face to face) designer. You can then ghost it, make it look like its you that's doing it but you're really the middle man, or send them as a referral. Either way, expect a kickback of at least 10%.
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  6. #6
    is 10% the standard rate? i tend to give 15-20%, depending on job size. maybe im giving too much away....

  7. #7
    15-20 is okay. Remember Sean said "at least.."

    Think about what an agency would rake off if they put you out as a contractor. 15-25 percent is pretty normal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reaperwebdesign View Post
    At least im getting good responses. I was speaking to a couple of people that run hosting earlier, and both said they wouldnt want to outsource it, because it is too much of a risk that came back.

    so i wanted to see if this was the norm.
    sad to say thats what you see alot of, you have people grabing a reseller plan, having there host set everything up, buying a template and think they are a business. I know we all have to start somewhere but running a hosting busines sand haveing little knowledge of development is like going to a fast food berger place and they only have bergers no buns
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  9. #9
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    We are a full-service host, so we would do it.

    Assuming that ALL we did was web-hosting, i would recommend them to a colleague if i knew their work. If i didn't know their work, i would be honest and say i don't know anyone (and give some helpful advice on how to search)

    In terms of sales commission, it depends on the contract size, experience and a bunch of other stuff. I feel 15%+ is high for what we offer, but our contract sizes aren't like $1,000 jobs.

    So it might be a scale-issue. 25% of $1,000 may be nothing to sneeze at.. but 10% of like $30,000 is GOOD money.

    Also depends on how much you help the sale along. "Oh, here's a number of a guy i never met" is much different than, "he's my bro-in-law and i'm trying to find a good designer and i'll handle the run-around."


    Lawrence
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  10. #10
    I think the answer really depends on where you want to go with your business.

    You could decide to offer design services. You could do this in-house, or outsource.

    You could set up a referral program. You could screen and select designers, or simply treat the 'referrals' as paid advertisements.

    There are many other options, each with pros and cons.

    My point is, it really doesn't matter what other hosting companies do. It's a question of how design services relate to YOUR business; the level of expertise, investment, and management required for each option you consider, and the expected return on that investment.

  11. #11
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    Why not refer it to a designer you know and trust and receive a referral commission for it. Your client gets a good design, you don't lose out, everyone is happy
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    since he's willing to pay and if you can do it and have the time for it - you could do it and get some extra revenue out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MJMWeb View Post
    sad to say thats what you see alot of, you have people grabing a reseller plan, having there host set everything up, buying a template and think they are a business. I know we all have to start somewhere but running a hosting busines sand haveing little knowledge of development is like going to a fast food berger place and they only have bergers no buns
    Totally agree. Hosting and design/development go together.

  14. #14
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    If it was me, i'd get in touch with a web designer and refer them.

    Luckily we have a staff member that does freelance web design.


  15. #15
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    I guess I'm fortunate in this situation, as most of my family and my partner all do web design. I'm slowly starting to become "decent" at it as well, though I'd not feel comfortable doing "paid work" myself yet. My partner handles that stuff, and I just handle the hosting side of things.
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    It's a good idea to provide developing service with hosting if available.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by danushman View Post
    Why not refer it to a designer you know and trust and receive a referral commission for it. Your client gets a good design, you don't lose out, everyone is happy
    To be facetious. Are you still referring the client if the client needs:

    SEO services?
    A new laptop?
    Daycare services?
    A good divorce lawyer?

    Just because you can refer, doesn't mean you need to.

    I'd recommend someone if i had personal experience or it was a good sub-contractor. There are also some people that recommend not taking ANY commission and just giving the # and take no responsibility. (I like a hybrid, depending on who it is)


    Lawrence
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJS Hosting View Post
    Totally agree. Hosting and design/development go together.
    I totally disagree.

    Although you can definitely do both (we do), I don't think the marriage of the two is a slam-dunk.

    Except for the similarities that they both involved the customer's "website", most of the things involved with doing both well are not complementary.

    Hosting needs infrastructure, sys-admin, risk-assessments, accessible techs, knowledgable techs etc.

    Design needs graphic person, understanding of business, possibly marketing, SEO and programming.

    If it's more complex, then Programming needs system architecture, understanding of business needs / risks and the ability to actually implement it. (Programming i think is partially complementary to the hosting, because the geeks involved usually learn fast, but i've rarely seen GOOD programmers that can handle a pretty website / marketing message / easy-to-navigate / FLASH

    I think it takes a rare individual / organization that can excel well in all areas.

    Kind of reminds me of a local convenience store. BIG sign saying flowers.. (alright). DVDs (what is the selection like there?) and sushi (like that's not food poisoning waiting to happen.


    Lawrence
    Last edited by maknet; 07-20-2009 at 09:56 AM.
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  19. #19
    Well said, Lawrence. I agree. Both are complex fields. Dave

  20. #20
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    Hi,

    that's how I started hosting, I'm a webdeveloper/webdesigner/webmaster and got asked whether I'd "arrange hosting" for my customers. In the beginning I only chose hosts for them and did all the signup procedures, domain setup etc.. I still do that, but I also have begun to host a few sites for clients who really just want "that up and reliably running and nothing to do with me". It goes as far in one case as regularly writing content.

    c.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by chortaj View Post
    Hi,

    that's how I started hosting, I'm a webdeveloper/webdesigner/webmaster and got asked whether I'd "arrange hosting" for my customers. In the beginning I only chose hosts for them and did all the signup procedures, domain setup etc.. I still do that, but I also have begun to host a few sites for clients who really just want "that up and reliably running and nothing to do with me". It goes as far in one case as regularly writing content.

    c.
    I'm not saying it can't be done.

    I'm just saying the person that knows about configuring firewalls and VPS's so that it can run a stream-lined version of Apache + FreeBSD is likely a different person that is designing a beautiful home-page with SEO-compatible copy.

    Can someone _really_ do that all at 100% effectiveness? I personally don't think so. I think specializing is necessary and good.

    Can like a husband/wife or partnership do that? I think there's a greater chance of success in that case.


    Lawrence
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  22. #22
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    Hi Lawrence,

    I have a reseller account, I wouldn't be qualified to see to servers or firewalls and I took pains looking for a quality reseller host, so there's not much trouble to be expected.

    It's not the act of hosting with which I make most of my money, it's website management and design. For my clients "getting the stuff hosted" is part of what they expect from me. It's a perfect arrangement for this type of customer. Most have been with me for years, first hosted elsewhere as per my advice, but eventually telling me that they want to stop worrying about this or that and need a one-for-all-bill.

    It's also a nice enough niche and I hope to be able to expand it a bit with a project I'm currently working on, which will be custom-built for a set group of potential clients.

    And don't think it's less stressful. My customers tend to come up with stuff you would consider wholly beside the point, like having me explain browsers and screen resolutions to them, giving them crash courses on how to blog or write content when they can't or don't feel up to it. I tend to get loooong phone calls, and as is the case with fullfledged hosts, that can mean on weekends or in the middle of the night as well

    C.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chortaj View Post
    Hi Lawrence,

    I have a reseller account, I wouldn't be qualified to see to servers or firewalls and I took pains looking for a quality reseller host, so there's not much trouble to be expected.
    Sounds to me you are mostly a developer / designer, who happens to do a little hosting.

    Perhaps we are arguing over semantics.

    But i'm still not convinced many can do both well. Do you actively advertise your website hosting and get people that just do that? Or are most of your clients your-own, because you designed their website?


    Lawrence
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  24. #24
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    Hi Lawrence,

    actually lately it's been both who inquire. In the beginning and still mainly, it has been clients asking for a "complete thing" including constant maintenance. I didn't and don't really need to ask much for the type of accounts I offer, it's just a very minor position of the full bill. Someone who - e.g. - pays 1,000 for design, 50/mo for maintenance and 5/updated content doesn't care whether the account costs 5 or 8 bucks per month. They want their sites online and no work with it. Additionally I am flexible, if someone starts exceeding their reserved space, I don't shut them down, I just ask them whether they want content deleted or would pay a bit more. This kind of management actually gets talked about, so lately I've had people asking me to get an account who want to do it themselves, need no huge amount of ressources, but prefer a relaxed host. I don't advertise btw.

    As to your position - I think some people may pull that off, some not. If I wanted to expand, I'd probably try to pull my brother into the boat who's a fullfledged tech and admin. I think it can work for small firms with a well-known target audience, like mine. For bigger firms I'd say that there'd be a need for several people each concentrating on what they do best. I do know a few webdevelopers who manage to do it on a higher level, but I know that they too do it via reselling/managed servers and get their clients through their webdevelopment. I think it might be more difficult for someone coming from the other end.

    C.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chortaj View Post
    Hi Lawrence,

    actually lately it's been both who inquire.
    Actually, i wasn't particularly interested in your specific situation. My advice / opinion was rhetorical and speaking in generalities.

    If I wanted to expand, I'd probably try to pull my brother into the boat who's a fullfledged tech and admin. I think it can work for small firms with a well-known target audience, like mine.
    Thus my point - i don't see many people being able to handle both specializations at the same time, without a partner. It would take a rare individual.


    Lawrence
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  26. #26
    Many clients are real newbies in even running a website leave alone designing etc. So if you are a Web Hosting Company then it will be a boon to the client if you have a team of Web Designers and Graphic Designers. It makes the client really appreciate your services.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiona45in View Post
    Many clients are real newbies in even running a website leave alone designing etc. So if you are a Web Hosting Company then it will be a boon to the client if you have a team of Web Designers and Graphic Designers. It makes the client really appreciate your services.
    I'm not saying that there is a disadvantage if a company offers all the solutions - we're a one-stop shop and handle it all.

    What i'm saying is that it's rare for that to happen.

    On a related note, i've found that newb clients are quite parsimonious - to be polite...


    Lawrence
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  28. #28
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    If they want a website, get a good idea of what they want and work with someone to get it done for them.
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  29. #29
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    Seems like you have to figure out IF you want to get into the middle-man or subcontracting game.. or if just web-hosting is your thing?

    Only you can make that decision.


    Lawrence
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  30. #30
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    I would recommend him 3-4 designers that host their customers websites on our servers and I know that they do quality work.

  31. #31
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    Apples and Oranges

    Quote Originally Posted by CretaForce View Post
    I would recommend him 3-4 designers that host their customers websites on our servers and I know that they do quality work.
    Well we all have different opinions understandably as we all have different skill sets. Some people could very well be qualified jack of all trades if they are disciplined enough to learn both sides of the business (4 sides including SEO, and design and development being two different animals as well, I would say,) and they aren't so large a company that they have *time* to perform all 2 - 4 jobs.

    In my case I am a web host only, as I started before control panels were out / before designers started offering their own hosting on dedicated servers with control panels, and I never was motivated to become very skilled at the other jobs.

    So I personally agree with CretaForce -- if you have loyal designers or SEO's or developers that have not become hosts, give them the business without any commission. That is a problem if they aren't very good at what they do of course.

    In reality though, from my experience, the best designers were savvy enough to get their own dedicated servers, and they are long gone. But I still like the idea of giving away business if it isn't your mainstay, which solidifies relationships with one or more customers of yours who bring you repeat business. As you all know, repeat business is the best kind of customer there is, because there will always be turnover, and repeat business can keep you from becoming too small in number of customers.

    In terms of business strategy, (my degree is in Business, although it's outdated admittedly in terms of the Internet being from 1985,) sticking to doing one thing and doing it best used to be the most recommended strategy if I am not mistaken. But in retrospect, if I had offered web site design in addition to hosting, I certainly would have more hosting customers now. How many customers I am not sure of course, as some turnover to new designers would have happened anyways, I just don't know what percentage I could have saved.

    I would guess the bottom line is that if you are big enough to not have to worry about offering design as well as hosting, or hosting as well as design, then don't be both an apple and orange provider. But if you are not that big, offer both, unless your business is a side business, in which case you could go either way.

    However, If design becomes more "canned" in the future, i.e. content management systems not requiring designers, the designer market could dry up for the SMB market anyways. In which case we'd all be better off doing both no matter what size our company is.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by usbusi View Post
    However, If design becomes more "canned" in the future, i.e. content management systems not requiring designers, the designer market could dry up for the SMB market anyways. In which case we'd all be better off doing both no matter what size our company is.
    Don't think it will ever dry up.

    There will always be people who want a unique, custom design....

    ..and always someone willing to provide it at dirt-cheap prices. haha.


    Lawrence
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  33. #33
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    It depends on my current situation. 3 or 4

  34. #34
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    Depends what they want.

    If you're a web host that used to be a web designer or know your way around code, if it's something simple and the site just needs a face lift, go for it. Ask them what they need and then see if you can do it.

    However... If you have NO idea how to do web sites and can't guarantee the work. Refer or just simply say "I don't do web design, try to find one using X Y Z sources" either referrals or forums etc that you know of.

    Edit:

    Whatever you do, make sure they realize you do web hosting 1st and do not do web design professionally so they can make a judgment call, otherwise you can be liable for the work if you refer or do it yourself.
    Last edited by NotHere; 07-22-2009 at 04:37 PM. Reason: Forgot to add something...

  35. #35
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    I'm just a web developer and I thank God a lot of clients ask their host to design a website for them. The hosts i work with, always pass those jobs to me (Y)
    hi there!

  36. #36
    If your friend is a web designer than let him do the web design part.
    If you know to design but you dont have time then "Tell them its nothing to do with you, you only provide hosting"

  37. #37
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    We have always done web design and hosting so for us we would definitely take the design work. However if you are not setup to do web design then I would say you have a few options ranging from doing all the sales and project management and keeping about 50% of the sale to just referring the lead to someone and keeping as little as 10% of the sale.

    I think the key is making a good relationship with a good web designer/developer and then figuring out what works best for you both. You do not want to sell a project that you can not fulfill because you will end up with problems which will definitely take you away from running your business and can end up causing a whole mess of trouble.

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