Any solo guys/gals that host/maintain websites for clients?

Tony Wang

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Oct 13, 2014
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94
Hate to be morbid, but I'm wondering what you have in place in case you get hit by the proverbial bus? I'm talking about if you take care of the hosting on your own vps, for example.

Handling seo stuff is more straightforward because you can give them logins, info, etc, but web hosting on a vps which is your own account with a bunch of other websites is more tricky. (Yes, it might be better to set them up with their own hosting account, but that costs more and is more complicated.)

Curious to hear what others have implemented.
 

Adam Potaznik

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Jan 26, 2016
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Makes me think of the bitcoin dude who died overseas with the only password to $180 million in cryptocurrency a few weeks ago.

As part of your process, you should share all Cpanel details with a client. If you have a VPS running WHM.... or if you are even using shared hosting. With CPanel, there are plenty of companies that will assist with migrating your WordPress installation to their system if you sign up to hosting.
 

Tim Colling

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Sep 3, 2014
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This is somewhat related to another topic, that of succession planning and enterprise value for our companies. I'll start a different thread for that, though.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Oct 3, 2012
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We always set up an account in the client's name and use their credit card info. They own the account outright, but we just help maintain. The hosting business kind of sucks to be in, and can be a time suck when you're trying to create real revenue. For us it was just easier to do it this way and have a managed hosting provider (most of our sites are WordPress based anyway).

If you are managing hosting, then it would probably be better to run through a reseller program which can give the client the keys to their account... you just manage/oversee.

Is there a benefit to running client sites under your account?
 

Tony Wang

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Oct 13, 2014
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94
Thanks for the input. @Adam, definitely sharing cpanel logins is important, and you made a good point that any new host could help them migrate their site over. I would just need to give the clients clear instructions on what steps to take.

@Eric I'm not in the hosting business, but several clients don't know anything technical and would rather not be bothered. They want me to handle everything, and I'm happy to do that. The benefit to me is less overhead, easy to create a new cpanel account.

So as a follow on, even if clients had their own accounts, what mechanism do you guys use to notify clients that you're no longer around and they better find someone new to take over?
 

pilatesqueen

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Aug 26, 2018
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8
I opened a reseller account and sell hosting services to my clients that way. They have access to their CPanel.
I also work with with my husband who has access to all of servers logins.

Interesting enough, a few months ago I started working with a client who was in the situation that you are asking about. She had her website hosted through some guy, a friend of a friend of a friend. The guy became unresponsive (would not reply to emails, his business phone number didn't work, would not respond to LinkedIn messages.) We don't know what happened to him.

We ended up manually moving her WP website without CPanel access (which was a pain!) to a new host that she purchased.
It's just proof that situations like this really do happen.
 

Conor Treacy

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Feb 25, 2014
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114
I ran a hosting company for 17 years, sold it 5 years ago, but we do still host a few clients on some VPS's as part of our web design services (especially during launch).

We recently faced an issue that the hosting company that we use for our VPS's just went MIA. Shut down their customer portal and literally left their clients in the dark. Several of our clients hosted directly with them as we used/recommended them. We had to reach out to domain providers and the main registrar that the host used in order to regain access to domains.

The critical item in all of this is backups. Due to my days in the web hosting business dealing with more than 5,000 clients, I was well aware of backups and failures of systems.

If you have access to your own VPS, and you're using WHM/cPanel, you can sync your backups to Google Drive, so a full copy of the client site goes into your Google Drive (you must have root access on WHM - so VPS is critical, not a reseller account).

We prefer to launch clients on their own accounts directly with hosting companies, and we make routine backups as part of our management services. As I said, during launch, we sometimes launch clients on one of our production VPS boxes, but within 60 days, they must be on their own hosting account.

If I can be of any help, just let me know. I've been down the road several times.
 

kieran.reid

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Jan 30, 2019
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Yep VPS (Vultr) + ServerPilot here - I host a handful of client sites. I've automated sending them a backup zip of their WP regularly. If I go the site goes offline (eventually), but they've got a backup and can simply forward the latest to a new web-host and get it restored & the site back online.

With domain names I tend to get clients to pay direct and own it themselves - although I do automated renewal date and DNS change monitoring.
 

Tilak

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Apr 21, 2017
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@Tony Wang Since I am remotely working for the clients, I always share all the login information including domain registrar and hosting details via Google sheet, taking website backup with clients Dropbox account.
 

georgebizpro

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Dec 4, 2013
Messages
16
When I started building and hosting websites a few years ago, I used Bluehost. I never had any problem getting a customer service rep on the phone with Bluehost, they would always revert the website back to the most recent weekly/monthly backup if anything came up, and they're great with Wordpress issues. I would setup an individual account for each client, with a dedicated IP address for each.

Since then, I've switched to Siteground. Better performance from what I've noticed, less downtime, customer service is still fairly quality. I'm currently paying I think $80/month for 3 clients for cloud, dedicated IP address is another $35/year I think. Same CPanel layout, etc. not many complaints when compared to Bluehost. Hope this helps!
 

Tim Colling

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Sep 3, 2014
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I manage sites for 25 or so clients. I host all of them at WPEngine. Not cheap, but very, very, very reliable and helpful.

I hate to have to manage my vendors, making sure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, making sure that they aren't down, etc.

For me, with vendors like hosting providers, I want them to be like dialtone (back in the landline days). What do I mean by that? Well, you never had to manage dialtone. You never had to wonder if it was working. You never had to call the phone company to check on them. It. Just. Worked.

WPEngine has a lot of other virtues too, besides reliability.
 

paulcarl

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Mar 15, 2016
Messages
10
Yep VPS (Vultr) + ServerPilot here - I host a handful of client sites. I've automated sending them a backup zip of their WP regularly. If I go the site goes offline (eventually), but they've got a backup and can simply forward the latest to a new web-host and get it restored & the site back online.

With domain names I tend to get clients to pay direct and own it themselves - although I do automated renewal date and DNS change monitoring.
I use ServerPilot too but with Digital Ocean. I give all of my clients FTP access to their hosting just in case.

I backup the server itself to a secondary location. The WordPress websites on the server have automated backups created both locally (that the client can retrieve via WordPress login or FTP) and on a 3rd party platform (like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.). UpdraftPlus is a nice plugin for this.

I backup flatfile sites every time I make an edit to them. Because I'm extra paranoid, I backup all of my client data from the cloud (including website backups) on an encrypted SSD that I keep with me. That SSD gets cloned weekly (or more frequently if there are major changes being backed up) and stored in a fireproof box in an underground bunker. Okay, okay, there's no bunker.... yet.

This setup pretty much guarantees that I can never permanently lose data and that, no matter what happens to me or my infrastructure, my clients can access their backups independently on their 3rd party backup location at a minimum.
 

Tim Colling

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Sep 3, 2014
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Because I'm extra paranoid,
I like the way you think. We host most of our client sites on WPEngine, which has its own rock solid automatic and ad hoc local backup tools, and we use WP BlogVault for redundant, offsite backups.

Belt and suspenders...
 

JoshuaMackens

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Sep 12, 2012
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If you're mainly a Local SEO company I would recommend getting out of the hosting business and find a website company you can trust. Troubleshooting hosting and email issues really take time away from Local SEO tasks that you're likely getting paid way more for.

We started out hosting and building websites and I got out of it ASAP. Glad to be on the other side of it now and just refer out.
 

kieran.reid

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Joined
Jan 30, 2019
Messages
9
If you're mainly a Local SEO company I would recommend getting out of the hosting business and find a website company you can trust. Troubleshooting hosting and email issues really take time away from Local SEO tasks that you're likely getting paid way more for.

We started out hosting and building websites and I got out of it ASAP. Glad to be on the other side of it now and just refer out.
Eh.. there is some truth to this, but I've dabbled working full time in web-hosting tech support and previously web-dev. Not too difficult personally. If you have a reliable setup, then it's really just the occasional server reboot, otherwise it's just collecting an extra $50-100 p/m per website - which clients will happily pay knowing that it's all taken care of and they don't have to get stressed calling GoDaddy or whoever at 1 in the morning.
 

keyserholiday

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Jul 27, 2017
Messages
56
When I had clients, we made sure that they had their own accounts under their email address and used their credit card. When I used to host websites back in the day, billing was always complicated and some clients weren’t the best at paying. We’d get those that wanted monthly, quarterly or yearly. I spent too much time chasing them for payment. When we decided to shut down our server or they wanted to cancel, it was a hassle getting them to move their sites and files. There are to happy days in a boat owners life, the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. I will never going to offering or pay for hosting on my dime ever again.
 

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