Welcome! I’m Leighton, your webmaster. In today’s lesson, let’s discuss a major feature of your Website Maintenance Plan: The Hosting! Specifically: Domains, Hosting Servers, and Emails. So there’s 2 philosophies about a maintenance plan: Hosting separate from maintenance, and hosting bundled with maintenance. I find it much more valuable and efficient to bundle the 2 together. Why? Well, let’s go through the 3 different scenarios.
You could not offer hosting at all and require they setup their own hosting server. Can you think of any possible issues with asking a non-techie to setup their own server?? Yeah, that doesn’t fly with most people. They simply aren’t proficient at servers, and that’s fine! You probably don’t understand what your clients do as much as they do. You each have your own strengths and weaknesses, and for non-web designers, hosting servers are not a strength.
You could include hosting but set the account up in their name. I shy away from that for the same reason. Most of my clients just really don’t want to have to worry about hosting. They’d rather it be in more capable hands, which leads me to
Rent your own servers and offer hosting as part of your maintenance plan. That’s what I recommend, as it’s in the best interest of you as a business and your clients. Do you recall the company I rent servers from? IONOS! Since 2006, I have rented from IONOS. Through your IONOS account, you can manage domain names, email addresses and websites, all in one convenient portal. Let’s go through each of those individual services, and as we do, I’ll walk through how you offer them to your clients. In addition to IONOS, in 2021 I opened a Cloudways Cloud Hosting account for my high-performance clients. They partner with Rackspace to provide IMAP-based email hosting. Ultimately, the hosting provider you choose is up to you.
Domains — You basically have 3 scenarios here.
If the client wants to keep their domain name under their roof, that’s fine! Most of my clients nowadays have their own GoDaddy account, and I actually prefer that! In that case, they pay the $15 or so per year directly to the domain registrar. Where do you come in? You still manage the domain, you still point it to your server, you handle the technicalities, you just do all of that through their domain login.
If they already have a domain name but want to transfer it over to you, great! You’ll ask for the AUTH CODE and transfer it to your domain registrar account. They’ll feel safe knowing their domain name is in the capable hands of a webmaster. You’ll be charged the $15 or so per year renewal cost, and you can either invoice your client for that or include it with your monthly bill.
If they don’t have a domain name at all (maybe they’re a new business) you can register it directly within your hosting account. Bill your client annually or bundle it with your monthly bill. Either way, option 1 2 or 3, you still need to add their domain to your account so you can host and manage it. Let’s look at that.
So to recap, what maintenance services are you providing for a company’s domain name? You handle registration, management, transferring, renewals, contact information, security, DNS, and more, all valuable services to give a business owner peace of mind knowing their precious domain name is in good hands!
Hosting — This is where you put your client’s website on your hosting server.
Again, there are typically 3 different scenarios:
The client already has their own hosting account and wants to keep it that way. Perhaps they already have decent hosting or they are paid up with their existing server. Whatever the reason, that’s just fine, all you need is the login to their hosting account. Build and maintain the website on their hosting server and always leave the door open to host with you if they’d like. To be clear, this is not ideal. Why? Well, they could have a killer, high-end server… or not! More than not, they’ll have a $5 shared hosting account from GoDaddy that they’ve paid up for 3 years, and lower quality hosting will only cause problems in the long run. So be nice and respectful about it, but you really want to encourage them to host with you if you see their hosting account is basic. Don’t be a hard sell, don’t make them feel bad, but always be educational about the benefits.
If they do decide to transfer to your server, and most clients will, they you’ll need to migrate it over to your hosting account! How do you do that? What do you think’s involved with a website migration? The database… The files… You’ll also want to note the domain settings and email accounts. Do they host their emails elsewhere? Or do they have mail accounts created on the server? Note all of those things because, here’s a key point: you want the migration process to be as seamless as possible. Minimal downtime. No data loss. This will be the first step at building trust with your client. So how do we go about a server migration? Let me show you an example.
DEMONSTRATE Migrating Hosting From GoDaddy To IONOS. Show IONOS Hosting Account Main Features.)
The third option is when your client doesn’t already have a server and doesn’t want to handle it on their own. This is basically for new websites. When you’re taking on a client and building a website, you’ll have to prep your server, as we did in the HOW TO BUILD A WEBSITE Lesson. Get your webspace, FTP and database ready and install WordPress. So those are the various possibilities of how and where your client’s website will be hosted, but what about going forward? What hosting service do you provide on an ongoing basis? If they host the website themselves, you can still provide your maintenance services. Just securely store the hosting login in your password manager (LastPass!). Otherwise, you’ll keep up with your hosting account, which for the most part, is pretty hands-off. Managed hosting servers take care of all the technical stuff. You don’t have a physical server in your office or have to worry about the operating system or other advanced processes. In fact, managed hosting servers are quite convenient for that reason! So if all goes well, the hosting account keeps running day-by-day and keep your websites alive. Hosting is a valuable service, but the beauty is when it runs like a well-oiled machine. You can host hundreds of websites, and if your hosting servers are reliable, you rarely have to do anything! And, at about 10 or 20 websites per hosting server, your hosting machine can generate a handsome profit. How much profit? Well, if a server costs $50/month, and you fill it with 20 websites at $50/month, that’s $1000/month revenue and $50/month expense, which nets at $950/month for that one server. Sounds good, right?! So to recap, what maintenance services are you providing to host a website? You can setup and manage the server itself, which most people wouldn’t know how to configure on their own, and monitor it ongoing for any issues that may arise.
Emails — There are 2 different scenarios here:
1) They’ll host their emails elsewhere, such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. You can help with that, setup their account, review it, provide support, and ensure the domain’s DNS connection to their email account. If they choose this option, you’ll setup the billing in their name. They’ll pay the $5 or so per mail account per month. You can always bill them directly, up-charge, but I shy away from this option.
2) Host their emails directly on your server. Setup and provide support on IMAP-based emails. Let me show you these 2 options.
So those are the different ways emails can technically be hosted… Either way, would it surprise you that clients need help with their emails? Haha! That’s one of the most common IT tasks… Resetting passwords, creating new mail accounts, setting up emails on their new phone, setting up their Outlook… through your maintenance plan, clients can receive support on the email accounts that you setup. So to recap, what maintenance services are you providing for your client’s emails? You can setup, host and provide support on your clients’ email accounts.
Managed Cloud Hosting — So what are your options for providing hosting services to your clients when you’ve upgraded your business to a managed cloud hosting platform like Cloudways? Fortunately, the business principles discussed in this lesson generally apply to any hosting platform you choose. The only difference is you might up-charge your services a little for the privilege of hosting on your high-performance cloud server. You could reserve your better servers for your higher paying clients and your lower-end servers for low maintenance clients. Ultimately, however you charge your clients is up to you, but we’ve posed several ideas in this lesson. So we walked through IONOS with their economy and dedicated servers. Now, let’s look at a managed cloud hosting solution like Cloudways. Let’s break down the 3 facets of your hosting services (domains, web hosting and emails) and see how this works on Cloudways.
DEMONSTRATE Domain, Email and Hosting resell opportunities with Cloudways.
So what have we learned? In this lesson, we learned your maintenance plan should include:
Domain Registration, Setup, Management & Support
Hosting Setup, Management & Support
Email Hosting & Management
I’m Leighton, and now you know, Website Hosting!
Review these areas of your domain & hosting account. Consider what these services entail and add them to your Website Maintenance Plan.