🌍 March: Web Hosting by Dan Foster Design – #12ProjectsIn12Months

Three months in and I’m starting to realise that this challenge could be slightly more difficult than I had imagined.

Thanks to a few busy months diving into Augmented Reality app design for some new clients at work (great fun by the way), I’m a bit behind on my blogging. Nevertheless, I have still been doing stuff, so here goes…

In March, I decided to focus on one of my existing side-gigs and build on it: web design and hosting.

The idea 💡

I’ve been building websites for years now, often for friends, or friends-of-friends launching their own venture. I had always seen it as a nice way to keep my skills fresh while earning a bit of pocket money.

Once a site was scoped out, designed and built, I would typically set a client up with a third party web host – the space on the internet where the website lives.

Recently though I realised that I’d missed a trick here. Instead of going to a third party host, I could become my own web host.

As well as a simple way to earn some ongoing revenue – from clients I had already built up a good relationship with – selling my own hosting services would be a great way to have more control over the sites I was managing, cutting out the middlemen.

(On several occasions, clients would misplace their login details, or mistakenly let their hosting packages expire, bringing down their website at a critical time, taking the business completely by surprise. By taking a bigger role in helping my clients to – not only build, but also – host their websites, we could avoid a lot of these issues and make things easier all around)

So that’s what I did this month.

The game plan 🎯

  1. Research and select a web hosting firm with a reseller product
  2. Test out my hosting with one of my own sites
  3. Move client sites across to the new hosting platform

Part 1: Research and select a web host

When I finally did some solid research into the available options, I found an awesome web host based here in the UK. I purchased a reseller hosting plan, which effectively allows me to lease out some of their server space for me and my clients. I can then sell web hosting services to my clients at a small profit. The company I went with weren’t the cheapest, but they scored well in the reviews for customer service and uptime.

Side-note: Web Hosting Talk is a great resource for anyone researching this area – the discussion forums are lively and there are always great offers floating around.

Once I had selected my web host, the setup process was pretty seamless – instant, in fact. Next up: move my sites across to my new platform.

Part 2: Migrate my own sites

I spoke with the support team at the new web host who offer a fully-managed migration service. This was awesome, as it meant I didn’t have to get involved with the faff of moving files manually from one server to another – they took care of everything.

Within a few minutes, Dan Foster Design, RouteSalad and Session Mysteries had all been moved over without a hitch.

Part 3: Move client sites across to the new hosting platform

Having tested out the new hosting platform for a while with my own sites, I’ve now started to migrate existing clients  (with their permission, of course!) over.

The reception from my customers has been great! Little to no downtime and happy clients who are happy to support my side venture 🙂

Next steps

Now I have everything set up, I’ve started to go beyond my usual build-then-host model, opening up my platform to anyone who wants a solid UK web host reliable support (me!).

I have already secured a few customers outside of my normal client base (i.e. they don’t need a website building, just somewhere to host it) and while it’s on a word-of-mouth basis right now, I’d love to see where I can go with this over the next few months.

In terms of next steps, everything is pretty manual right now: I set each client up by hand and email their login details over. There’s definitely an opportunity to automate this!

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