Some web hosts offer a reseller hosting package. In reseller hosting, you get an allocated amount of disk space and bandwidth in a hosting account. This can then be split and resold to different users as individual accounts. The reseller purchases the hosting space in bulk, subdividing it into individual parcels for different clients. The reselling account even allows the reseller to add their own custom branding to the package, with no evidence of the original host. This is known as “white label” reseller hosting.
The point of reseller hosting is to provide individual web hosting services to smaller clients, along with the resellers’ service and support. This can be a very lucrative business for a web designer or developer, or an efficient solution for online eCommerce entrepreneurs who need to have multiple domains with each having their own access portal.
The difference from shared hosting
Shared hosting is a similar concept. Both plans use a larger chunk of web space to portion out for smaller domains. In shared vs. reseller hosting, the difference is in how the package is handled. Shared hosting will maintain the original host’s branding and services, where the account may have multiple web domains. Each domain on the plan will go through group one login and the same CPanel setup.
Reseller hosting uses a meta-portal, Web Host Manager (WHM), which drives many CPanel accounts. Along with the parceled out CPanel accounts, the reseller can offer their own service plan and pricing models. In effect, the reseller can act as their own web host, only using the root host’s physical server space.
Benefits of a reseller account
Buying web space in bulk is generally cheaper, scaling with the amount of server space purchased. The reseller can make a profit by selling to many smaller clients, while still having a few accounts of their own to run their own websites.
At the same time, the reseller offers its own services and support package to the end-users. This might take the form of site maintenance and setup, design, promotion and marketing, or SEO content. The reseller doesn’t need to be concerned with physical server maintenance, which is handled upstream with the root host.
For the end purchaser of web space, they benefit from this relationship by being able to pick and chose more customized packages than those offered by the root host. The end purchaser does have access to their own CPanel, or the reseller may chose to offer managed WordPress hosting accounts so the end purchaser only deals with a WordPress dashboard. The end purchaser can choose their own level of involvement, even up to being completely hand-off if the reseller offers a completely supported website.
Some business scenarios for reseller hosting:
The most common scenario is that of a web architect, working in design or development, who works on a freelance basis. Clients come to them for design services and then implement that design through a standard web host. But what happens when problems with the site come up? What if they need to hire the designer back for an upgrade or expansion as their business grows? The designer will end up needing access to the website anyway. Instead, a reseller account lets the designer offer their own in-house, one-stop package. The reseller adds the value of their expertise and experience to the basic web hosting package.
Another scenario is the “serial entrepreneur,” whose passion drives them to start many small web-based businesses. They will obviously need help, so they can parcel out the website’s control panels to other freelancers, business partners, or employees. This enables the entrepreneur to focus on bringing their strengths to nurture each individual business along while leaving the day-to-day details to their helpers.
Another common scenario is the web marketer who has specialized knowledge of one specific industry or niche. They have inside channels to find clients within that niche through their own network. The marketer can take on clients one at a time, set them up with custom web portals tailored to their clients’ specific needs, and then sit back and collect a hosting bill from that client every month while they find new clients.
Reseller hosting is an interesting business model because it allows so much flexibility in how it’s applied. With the low barrier to entry, eCommerce pioneers are finding all manner of uses for this innovative web hosting method.