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How To Host Your Client Websites

Freelance Developers Manual
A Project of Frontntweaks.com
1st Edition Ver 1.0.1
© Copyright 2018 Gerald Watanabe


A common mistake that new freelancers do is to obtain a shared hosting account, and host all their clients on this single account.
Now this would seem the most convenient and most economical  strategy to deploy.

But there may be several issues that can or will arise later with this setup.

Clients Come and Go
It would be wonderful if 100% of your customers stay with you forever.
But in reality this is not the case, and in many cases it has nothing to do with your service or customer support.
For whatever reason, people want to move on or make a change.

In my personal example, I had one client call me one day and explained that his nephew was learning web development and wanted to take over his Uncles WordPress website. He apologized and felt that maybe this would be a wonderful opportunity for his nephew to be part of the family run business. 

In another example, I had two clients who wanted to switch to the new online web builders, they loved the drag and drop features of the new website creator and could take 100% control of maintaining it. One changed over to Squarespace, and the other to Weebly.

Bottom line, although most people hate change, there are a few who relish trying something different ever so often.

The Problems
1) If a particular client website is on your shared hosting, and they want to take it over themselves, or have another developer maintain it, you have just come across your first issue. You cannot pass on your FTP and Control Panel login, because they would then have access to all the sites on your shared hosting. Technically you could setup a separate FTP account, but why bother? is this a safe security practice?

It would be best to have them migrate the their website to a new hosting service.
As you know this can open a can of worms if things don’t go as planned and don’t forget you are not getting paid to do this.

2) Who owns the domain. If the client website is migrating to another host, they need their domain name.
You then need to request transfer, making sure the domain is unlocked, and confirming it is pointing to the correct DNS.
In addition, be sure the owner, address and contact information is correct.

3) Unexpected issues. God Forbid, but what if you are incapacitated for some reason.
How can you maintain all the websites on your hosting account?
Can you imagine the chaos of having multiple users accessing your account so each one can take care of their websites?

4) If your host server goes down (and it will), all your client websites will be offline at the same time.

My Recommendations

Simply, I see two ways to go in hosting your clients.

1) Client on their own hosting account.
I believe this is the optimum setup for your client.

  • The client owns their own domain, and hosting account, as it should be.
    Every business or nonprofit organization should own every facet of their
    business or organization.
  • In most cases, you will have to register their new hosting account because they may not
    understand what they are signing up for. If they agree, have the client pass on their CC
    information, or use your CC and change it later.
  • If the client moves on, no problem their domain and website is intact.
    They have their own login information and all they need is a developer to take over.
    No further action by you.
  • If everyone was hosted on your business shared host, you will be deluged with phone
    calls if your server goes offline. This will not be the case if everyone has their own host account
    or even hosted on different host providers.

2) Use a Reseller Hosting Account.

If you are the type that still wants control over your clients, having a Reseller Hosting account
may be the way to go for you.

  • In this setup, you are technically the hosting provider for all your clients as you actually rent
    a section of the server. It is further split into different sectors in which you can sell to anyone looking
    for shared hosting, or for your clients.
  • If you have the White Label option, you can actually rename your Reseller Hosting to your
    Web Design business name. This portrays a more professional look to your customers.
  • Each client will have their own login account.
  • Be careful, you are only allotted a fixed amount of storage space and bandwidth which is shared
    among all your customers.

Final Thoughts

As a freelancer, you need to pay attention to details and remove any possible red flag areas within your business.
You already have enough things on your plate, and to fix issues that could have been avoided earlier is only a time-waster.

In my humble opinion, how you host your clients is one of those possible red flag issues that could not only save you time
but headaches and money. It is just one cog in your gear train (business) which you want running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Tell me, what are your thoughts?