Website hosting is normally a service you'll buy just for your own use, but sometimes it pays to think bigger. If you're running your own business, for instance, perhaps as a developer or web designer, offering web space as an extra service to your customers could make a lot of sense.
Many web hosts offer reseller schemes where you can buy a block of resources – disk space, bandwidth, a number of cPanel accounts – to divide and sell in any way you like. Costs can be very low, sometimes just $1.40 or $2.80 a month per account, so you could bundle hosting in other business products with very little impact on your bottom line.
There are some significant issues to think about. For example, reseller hosting may look cheap, but that's because you'll probably have to be the first line of support for your customers. If they encounter any questions or technical difficulties, you’ll be their first port of call. You can pass anything complicated onto the web host, but they won't deal directly with clients for you.
You will get more help in other areas. Many reseller accounts come with a free licence for WHMCS, an industry standard application to manage and automate hosting setup, billing and support. You're usually able to customize the control panel with your own branding, and the best hosts have special reseller tutorials and support to help keep your business running smoothly.
There's no single way to identify the best reselling plans, because this varies depending on the products you're hoping to sell. Your first step should be to identify web hosts who provide the range of plans and support you need, and then compare whatever reselling schemes they offer.
To help you understand what to look for, we've listed five interesting reseller products from some top industry names. Check them out to get a feel for the features you should look for, and the prices you might expect to pay.
- We've also highlighted the best website hosting services in this roundup
[Great exclusive offer from Inmotion Hosting – Get a free upgrade to the R2000S plan when you buy the R1000S plan by TechRadar's #1 rated Web Hosting provider]
InMotion is a capable web host which offers a vast range of products and services, including one of the most comprehensive reseller hosting plans around.
These start simply and with minimal restrictions. The R-1000S plan costs $13.99 a month initially ($27.99 on renewal) for 80GB of disk space and 800GB of bandwidth, but there's no limit on the number of cPanel accounts you can create, and everyone gets unlimited (within the available disk space) subdomains, email addresses, databases and FTP accounts.
Buying through TechRadar means that you will get an automatic upgrade to the R-2000S slice with 50% extra bandwidth and storage space.
Ramping up to the Reseller VPS-1000 plan gets you 4TB bandwidth, 4GB RAM and free SSL. There's still no limit on the number of cPanel accounts you can create, and the service is priced at $41.64 a month for the first term, $54.99 on renewal.
While this is a little more expensive than some, InMotion offers plenty of extras and benefits. There's a free licence to WHMCS, the industry standard package for managing your client's billing and support.
A bundled eNom Domain Reseller account allows selling top-level domains and SSL certificates, and white labelling support allows you to create custom hosting packages, use anonymous name servers and apply your own branding via customizable themes.
Perhaps InMotion's real advantage is its excellent support, something that will be very important when you're trying to solve problems for your clients. In our experience the company offers a high quality service, although there's no need to take our word for it: the exceptional 90-day money-back guarantee means there's plenty of time to check it out for yourself.
Calculating disk space requirements is a challenge for every hosting reseller. Many plans allocate less than 1GB per user, but will that really be enough, and what happens if you need more?
Tsohost's Reseller Hosting plan aims to help you sleep easier by providing unlimited storage and bandwidth for up to 100 sites. That's not bad for only $44 (excluding VAT) a month.
Unsurprisingly, there's a small catch: your customer's 100 sites are limited to a total of 1,000,000 page views per month, or an average of 10,000 each. We suspect that's less likely to be an issue than disk space, as most personal and small business sites won't get close to this limit, but it's something to bear in mind.
The plan doesn't come with a WHCMS licence, or any other assistance with billing, marketing or support. The company bills you for the reseller plan, and it's your responsibility to bill your own customers.
If that's not an issue for you, Tsohost does offer some compensations. The core service is a decent one, including Let's Encrypt SSL support for all your customers, daily backups – not something you always see with reseller accounts – and a single free domain name for your own business, if you need it.
Tsohost also allows customizing your client control panel with your own branding, and even supports custom nameservers to hide any trace of the Tsohost name.
Many hosting reseller plans are focused on the most basic and underpowered products. That may keep the price low, but the lack of features will also make it more difficult to sell the plans later.
SiteGround's reseller plan is a little more ambitious. Every user gets 10GB of disk space and cPanel site management, and there's unlimited bandwidth, email addresses, databases, and FTP accounts. Highlights include Spam Experts-based spam filtering, free Let's Encrypt SSL, daily backups and an integrated Cloudflare CDN.
These accounts cost more than the very low-end competition, but they're hardly expensive, with prices starting at $3.5 a month over a year.
There's more good news in SiteGround's pricing structure. Other companies often ask you to pay upfront for the resources to support perhaps hundreds of clients, whether you need those resources right at the outset of your venture, or not.
SiteGround allows purchasing plans in much smaller numbers – five to get started, 11 or more to get the best price – and these are only activated when you sell them. If you buy 20 plans in June, for instance, they'll never expire. Whether you sell them in days, weeks or months, each one will still get you a full year of hosting from the date the account is launched or renewed.
How you manage and run the business is up to you, but SiteGround offers a simple control panel to review your accounts (there's a tutorial here), and a white label option and private DNS upgrade ensures you can use your own branding everywhere.
Established way back in 2002, Krystal is a UK-based company which offers various simple reseller accounts for its shared web hosting.
Krystal's product has a decent specification. A mid-range block of 50 cPanel accounts comes with 100GB of storage, and you get unlimited bandwidth, MySQL databases, mailboxes and subdomains, a bundled website builder, free SSL certificates, plus weekly and monthly backups.
The bundled WHM (Web Host Manager) and WHMCS billing system allow you to manage your customers’ cPanel accounts, automate billing and more.
These are all white label versions, too, which means customers will only ever see your branding.
Krystal's Trinity plan is probably the best value, giving you 50 cPanel accounts with 100GB storage for $35 a month on the annual plan (at the moment you pay $1 for the first month). There's a single free domain if you need one (that's one domain for the entire plan, not per cPanel account), no setup fee, and you're protected by a 60-day money-back guarantee in case something goes horribly wrong.
The Infinity plan allows unlimited cPanel accounts and doubles the storage to 200GB. We're not sure whether that's worth the $82 a month price tag (annual plan), but it's available if you need it.
As we've seen, reselling web hosting generally involves some significant work in customizing your plans, marketing and selling products, and providing technical support to your clients.
GoDaddy's reseller program gives you much more assistance. Signing up gets you a pre-built customizable store with your own branding (there’s no mention of GoDaddy), bundled credit card processing to handle orders, and afterwards, customer service via GoDaddy's own teams.
You're able to resell all the major GoDaddy products, including domain names, hosting, SSL certificates, managed WordPress plans, GoDaddy's Website Builder, and more.
The plans provide some help with sales and marketing. Your store can use a range of customizable promotions, including giving discount prices to specific customers, and detailed sales reports help focus your efforts where they'll deliver the best results.
The Basic reseller plans gets you all this and a 20% discount off GoDaddy's retail prices for $8.99 a month. But the Pro reseller plan offers a 40% discount for only $14.99 a month, well worth the extra unless you have very few customers.
There are no commission rates or fixed margins – you can set your preferred price for anything in the range. GoDaddy's Reseller Profit Estimator is an online calculator to help you understand how much money you could make, and whether you would be better off with the Basic or Pro reseller plans.
The GoDaddy approach doesn't give you the freedom you'll benefit from with other resellers, where you're completely free to divide up resources in any way you like. But it's also very easy to set up, and if you want a simpler way to get into reselling, it could be a wise choice.
You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:
- Cloud hosting
- Dedicated server
- Small business
- Email hosting
- Website builders
- Best website hosting