Clients expect you to be the expert in all things technical.
Clients are happy to pay you to make their life easier.
Does that mean you should provide web hosting as an optional extra to go along with your website designs?
Maybe, maybe not.
All-Inclusive Web Design Packages
Design clients may be tech-phobic and see you as the answer to ALL their technology problems. These clients will probably want you to host their website as well as design it.
Hosting client sites could be another income stream.
It might also become a royal pain in the posterior.
Explaining Web Hosting to Your Clients
You know more about hosting than your client, so it IS part of your job to explain the basics to help the client to make the best decision – That domains need to be bought every year, that hosting is a third-party service, and that an SSL certificate is all but essential for maximum credibility with users.
Clients rarely understand how websites are hacked, so educate yours on the basics of security: Installing security plugins to WordPress, updating plugins, and using a WP theme that is supported rather than a basic free theme.
The best way to explain the principles of web hosting is to use the image below.
Compare the web host’s server to a brain holding all their web pages. The brain needs to be connected to the Internet to allow would-be users to read those web pages.
Not all web hosts are created equal just as not all brains are created equal. Not all connections are equal either.
Recommend your client to use a hosting review site to find a cheap web hosting company. There are good cheap web hosts, but many free and low-cost hosting providers use out-dated technology and poor internet connections to keep costs down. Your client’s website will only load quickly if the hosting company uses top quality technology.
The screenshot above shows a selection of reputable low-cost web hosts.
Pros & Cons of Hosting Your Clients’ Sites
For Your Client
Everything is good. It keeps everything simple. They only deal with you for everything related to their site.
Pros include an ongoing income stream, continued contact with the client.
Cons include continued contact with the client. See below.
Your Client Hosting Options
- Use your own multi-site hosting account
- Use a reseller account
- Refer clients to a hosting company you trust and you help them get set up
The first – using your own hosting account has multiple unpleasant possibilities. These include security issues and your own sites being slowed down by plugins your client installs without your knowledge.
The second sounds ideal. It isn’t. Your client will have their own login on your reseller account, but you are responsible for all technical support: If the client is a true technophobe, then your email is going to ding six times a day, every day, preventing you concentrating on the design work you love. If you decide the income from a reseller account is something you need, then hire a support team on one of the freelancing sites and let them handle the inevitable client queries
The third option is the only one you should consider. You earn a one-off commission, you help your client with the logging on process, which is pretty simple, and you then hand any other issues off to the hosting company’s technical support team. Stay in touch with the client and at the end of the contract decide if another web host will be a better match for their needs going forward, earning another referral commission if the client changes hosting providers.
You are a designer, not a WordPress or hosting expert. If you take on the hosting of your clients’ sites then you open yourself to being pressured into spending hours every week on technical support jobs that you may loathe.
Do your research and refer clients to a hosting company that has high quality 24/7 support staff. You set the client up with reliable hosting, earn an affiliate commission, and say goodbye. Any other way, you have endless phone calls and emails from clients who have messed up their websites and want you to fix them. This destroys your reputation as a designer, even though the issues are not design-related.