There was a day long ago when building a website hosting business was easy–well at least easier. Someone could get a server or two at The Planet, or some other server lease provider, setup standard bronze, silver, and gold plans, a reseller plan, and be well on the way to middle-man hoster bliss.
One could find a niche, like “WordPress Hosting” or “Joomla Hosting” and effectively market themselves as a “Professional” fill-in-the-blank provider of fill-in-the-blank hosting and do so legitimately by offering a hosting platform setup specifically for that niche because there were distinguishing markers for your niche. Offering suPHP to help ensure file permission security, or eaccelator for speed, or more recently web server variants like litespeed or nginx, or varnish cache–all for promised speed improvements that delivered. Anything you could do to distinguish yourself from the zombie megahosts that offered no such enhancements (only race-to-the-bottom pricing) would certainly help you stand out.
Next came the advent of “the cloud”, which no one knew exactly what it was, but everyone had to have it. There was a rush to hop onto public clouds, create private clouds, claim the qualities of their offerings (elastic, self-healing, auto-failover, auto-scaling, etc. etc) as legitimate–only so they could dismiss the offerings of others. No doubt, there are benefits to each feature, but while waiting for the dust to settle from that debate, in came SSDs in mass offering performance boots like never before seen.
All of these things, either by themselves, or in concert, worked together to provide a silver bullet sort of offering to help one succeed as a provider. They were distinctives that helped one shine and could be marketed effectively to an audience even in the overly saturated hosting market. But certainly, this is no longer the case.
There’s no silver bullet in the hosting industry. There’s no set of features, platforms or niche-focused attributes that can help one get ahead, let alone get started as a hoster in today’s market. Almost anyone with a little technical know how, and a small network of relationships to sell to, can now go out and set up hosting for potential clients on any number of environments (aws, softlayer, stormondemand, rackspace, singlehop, leaseweb, cloud.net). It’s fairly easy to install a billing solution like hostbill or whmcs, and pay to get a nifty hosting theme customized on one’s WordPress installation to deliver a diverse, world-wide network that scales with a budget as a descent start on a new hosting business. But, in a massive sea of over-saturation, there’s no combination of features that matters against the backdrop of noise out there–at least not one that will be heard.
Service still matters. In fact, standing out, if a host like us ever hopes to do so, will only happen through, not good, but great service delivered to a growing client base of avid clients who love our service enough to tell others about their experience. SEO helps–good content and a social media marketing all certainly can work together to help tell our story to potentially new customers. But, if as a new customer, you arrive at our service only to find that your measure of us doesn’t meet all the hype, you’re not going to stick around and you’re likely to tell others not to come our way.
Service is a two-way street: drive away potential clientele through poorly executed attempts at service or bring in new customers by providing great services worth talking about to others. We’ve always aimed for the latter.
As our fully satisfied customer, you’ve always been our silver bullet. We’ll continue to excel by offering great services that you can trust so you can get back to doing what makes your business great.
Thank you for your business. We’re more than grateful for you and hope to continue to grow in our gratitude as you help tell our story to others.