After some time has passed while hosting and running a blog, it may seem the next logical step is helping fellow bloggers host their blog. Not only would this be a benefit to the blogging community, but it may also turn out to be quite profitable. However, sometimes the venture is neither profitable nor helpful, and can actually be quite stressful. There are a number of things that people commonly overlook when wanting to host blogs and other websites which can negatively effect individuals and companies alike.
Obey the Law
This isn’t referring to speeding or running a blog hosting fraud (those thing shouldn’t be done either!) put proper planning and paperwork to ensure that a blog host is conducting business legally. It’s difficult to offer advice here as every country, and sometimes even states and provinces within those countries, have various laws for this. More than likely, taxes will need to be paid on a blogs profits and expenditures will need to be closely recorded. Sometimes a certain license must be purchased to run a business legally. All of these rules can sometimes be quite complicated and it can be hard to know which option(s) may be the best. The easiest thing may be to consult other experts in the blog hosting field, or speak with a tax specialist or a lawyer who is familiar with local laws in order to make sure all bases are covered. It’s far better to have everything correctly done the first time then struggling to fix it once something has gone wrong.
A second possible issue is a Terms of Service or an Acceptable Use Policy – a legal document detailing policies and procedures of the host. Unfortunately, sometimes people inexperienced with these types of things may use the wrong terminology, or add something which creates problems legally. Perhaps the billing procedures violate some sort of law, or there’s an unforeseen loophole. This is another area where it may be beneficial to contact a lawyer or another legal representative in order to write these terms or modify an existing set to fit a blog host to ensure no legal issues are created down the road.
The Customer is Always Right
Unless a host just provides hosting for a few close friends, the venture is considered a business. That means customers/clients are a way of life. There will be problems with orders, people not happy, people needing help, or people who don’t know what they’re doing. Keep in mind that reputation is a lot of what the hosting business is. Hosts with good reputations and a quality product will stand a much better chance of doing well in the industry as compared to those who constantly do battle with their customers. Even if the customer isn’t right, sometimes it’s better to bite the bullet so to speak and make things right with the customer. Someone who doesn’t like a company can indeed be quite vocal about their dislike and could harm sales much more then they would’ve been had the issue been dealt with before.
Also ensure that support times are as quick as possible for customers. People don’t like to wait long, especially if it’s an emergency such as a server being down. Be prepared to climb out of bed in the middle of the night to fix something or deal with unhappy customers regarding the downtime. Even for minor problems, try to deal with things as quickly as possible as customers are usually waiting, and a faster support time will mean a better experience. It may even be necessary to hire some support technicians to deal with minor issues as a company grows. A person experienced in billing issues may also be needed in order to sort out financial issues.
It’s one of the major issues in blog hosting – overselling. An example would be buying 20 gigs of bandwidth and 2 gigs of space, but selling plans to customers that total 30 gigs of bandwidth and 3 gigs of space. The strategy is to assume that customers won’t use as much space and bandwidth that’s given to them, so it can be sold to other customers. This is generally a bad strategy, as if every customer did use every bit of their resources, a bandwidth/space overage charge may be added to an account by the company hosting the host, or customers may simply be out of luck. Neither of these options is usually very good, as charges for excessive bandwidth and space are generally much more then they would’ve been if purchased up front.
It was mentioned above that at some point in a blog host’s life, additional support or billing technicians may need to be hired. These aren’t the only things that may need to be upgraded or purchased. Of course there’s the up front cost of servers, space, and bandwidth too, but a few other lesser known things may be needed. First off, sometimes off-site backups may need to be purchased. No one wants to lose their data, and sometimes hosts will offer to backup a customers data for free up to a certain limit. These costs need to be factored in. Additionally, if a host is doing more then just setting up blogs, a control panel is generally necessary. cPanel, one of the most popular and widely requested, can be quite expensive. As an example, a cPanel license from cPanel can run about $425/year for an unlimited amount of licenses. Sometimes the place where the space/bandwidth is purchased from for reselling purposes will supply cPanel or another comparable control panel free of charge, but this should always be double check to make sure things are budgeted correctly.
Starting a host can be complicated, but with a little bit of planning, a blog hosting endeavor can be a financially rewarding experience and make for a successful business. Follow these tips and make sure to do some research to ensure everything is covered. With blogging rapidly expanding, a properly run blog host should be able to attract it’s fair share of customers.
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