As a freelancer, I worked primarily with small and medium-sized businesses, many of whom needed web hosting or were already using low-quality hosting (Bluehost, anyone?).
In some cases, I referred clients to a shared hosting platform (back in the day it was Siteground, now it's Cloudways). In other cases, I put my client sites on my own hosting platform. I generally took the second option when there was a long-term relationship between my business and the client. Sometimes I charged for this service and other times I included it for free as a sort of “value add” to the client. It saved them money and made me money at the same time. Web hosting is not something they want to deal with so it makes sense. Offering a hosting service to clients is a popular way of increasing revenue for web designers and website builders.
However, the question arises whether you should offer web hosting for client sites.
I'll make it easy for you. No, you shouldn't host your clients' websites.
Here are some of the reasons why you should and should not manage a client website on your hosting?
Here's why you should
- It's an easy way to add value for your client. This can help strengthen and build the client relationship. It can also contribute to maintaining a long-term business partnership
- You can add a premium to the cost of the hosting and transfer that cost to the client.
- It makes things easier for working on client websites. When you are familiar with the hosting and only need one login to access all of your managed websites, you save a lot of time.
- It's easier to create, schedule, and store important and essential backups when you're used to the hosting management system.
Here's why you shouldn't
1. In many cases, clients who often don't know what they are doing inevitably have access to the WordPress websites administration panel. This requires managing so the client doesn't install dangerous plugins or delete anything.
2. Clients often fall victim to shiny object syndrome and pester you to install new plugins, tools, or scripts on the website. Or worse, they have access and do the installation work themselves.
3. Non-technical clients are targets for hackers and spammers. A virus on a server often affects the entire server and the other sites. So that suspicious attachment that a client opens or that dodgy plugin they install can not only affect their WordPress website or application, it can affect the entire server or IP address.
4. On shared hosting, the hosting platform's free email service is often shared from the same IP address. Clients who unwittingly become spammers on the internet when they click on dangerous email payloads can cause problems for every other email address on that server or IP address.
5. You are the point of contact for that server and when it goes down at 2 am, do you want to be the one to have to fix it or create a support ticket with the hosting company. When things go wrong (and they inevitably will), you are the person your client will look to, not the hosting company.
6. When a server that hosts multiple businesses goes down (or worse, the entire hosting platform goes down), you've got multiple clients to deal with at the same time.
How to Minimize Problems
Some things you can do to minimise problems when hosting client websites
- Use a service like Cloudways (excellent but the way and the service I use for all my websites) so that you can spin up servers and applications (WordPress sites, WooCommerce e-commerce sites) in minutes.
- Keep your clients on separate dedicated servers. You will have a single login point but you can easily manage client servers in the one dashboard.
- When a clients website grows, Cloudways makes it easy to upgrade the ram, storage space, bandwidth and even the server type (Digital Ocean, Google Cloud, Vultr, Linode). It's a really flexible system that can turn you into a hosting wizard.
- Use specialised email services like MXroute, GSuite, or Rackspace instead of cheap email services on web hosting platforms.