Starting a Reseller Business

How to Start a Reseller Business

Are you interested in starting a reselling business? This short manual is your Reselling 101, providing basic understanding and direction so that you are able to succeed (diverse advice on the topic) – consultative help to make the decisions that will determine a game-plan for this business model. Then we will specifically address the niche of becoming a VPS hosting reseller, by way of example but also as a potential service that might make sense to you.

 

  • What exactly is a reseller?
  • 6 tips to start a reseller business
  • Becoming a VPS hosting reseller
  • And… action

 

What exactly is a reseller?

 

A reseller or VAR (value-added reseller) is a firm that buys software, hardware, and/or services in bulk, then resells them. The idea behind a VAR is that the reseller is adding value through additional features and programs, or by including support.

 

However, to get away from the “value-added” distinction, the fundamental idea behind a reseller is that they are selling a service or product that is provided or owned by another company; that is the ease of it and why these programs are essentially attractive to many people. Resellers can complete orders through phone or a website, but they can also actually have the products in stock.

 

Reseller programs will each have their own expectations and rules, expressed within the terms and conditions of the agreement. It may also be possible to create a bespoke agreement with certain merchants, on a case-by-case basis.

 

6 tips to start a reseller business

 

Here are quick step-by-step instructions on how to start a reseller business, an expansion on ideas presented by The Reseller Network:

 

Figure out what type of reseller relationship you want. There are various ways to go with reselling, in terms of the nature of the relationship and role that you will play. A reseller could purchase stock from vendors at volume rates and resell with a profit margin; alternately, a reseller might push sales to providers for commissions. Your reseller arrangement will be dependent, in part, on the industry through which you are reselling and the extent to which you want to invest upfront capital.

 

Select an industry. Except for cases in which you are simply directing traffic to a provider, you will usually want to have a good sense of the particulars of the field and market. Learn as much as you can about the suppliers and products that you are considering offering, along with the terms and prices. It helps if you care about and have some background with the product; you also want to know the market has room for you.

 

There is a sound argument for choosing web hosting as a focus. It is particularly compelling because it is in its growth phase, as indicated by the IBISWorld analysis of the industry. In fact, through 2020, Joy Mali notes in StartupNation that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of some web hosting categories is expected to be between 23% and 27% – both incredible numbers, really. So your timing is ideal if becoming a fully managed VPS hosting reseller is of interest to you.

 

Figure out the market that makes sense. Now that you’ve considered the industry and where you will get your product, there is another key piece: determining who your customer is. Where are they located on the globe? Do you need to handle shipping, or is it a drop ship or referral agreement? What are shipping costs? What is your promotional strategy? Answering these questions will guide you.

 

Play the opponent, not just the ball. There is this expression that is sometimes used in tennis and other racket sports to “play the ball, not the opponent”; both legendary and current top-3 players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have referenced this maxim, so maybe there is something to it in terms of avoiding potential distraction posed by competitors. However, it is unwise not to have a strategy that is tailored to your current rival. In business as in tennis, you need to understand what to expect from those with whom you are competing. In other words, “play the opponent, not just the ball” – despite what the sports legends say.

 

Lack of competition is a huge advantage to you when you can find it. As you look at competitive companies, think about the price that you will be paying the supplier and what you will be able to charge your customers. Be conservative with your estimates for a healthy profit margin that won’t drive away your potential sales. Plus, think about differentiation now. Decide if you want to add value through the addition of products or services, or if you just want to go head-to-head on price (along with the ability to garner attention – visibility, branding, etc.).

 

Verify that you will be able to make money. It is time to do some math, if you haven’t already. You want to put together a spreadsheet with expected costs, how much you expect to make in sales, and the difference of that will be your profit. Don’t be excessively exuberant about the money that you can generate.

 

Get your business ready for reselling. If you are interested in reselling as your first business, you may want to incorporate your business – a process that is relatively simple. A domain, website, and hosting for your site (independent of whether you want to resell that service or not) would also be needed if you don’t yet have those pieces in place.

 

Becoming a VPS hosting reseller

 

As IBISWorld notes above, demand for web hosting services expanded significantly during the past half-decade because so many firms have been building up their online visibility. That growth will continue to occur through 2022, according to their forecasts. Furthermore, Mali notes that semi- and fully-managed VPS plans are becoming more popular since they are fast and flexible but don’t require the customer to do any maintenance. StatCounter adds that VPS hosting, whether managed or unmanaged, “allows for more customization within the operating system that’s used and offers more dedicated resources within a server” [than shared hosting].

 

Let’s talk directly about reseller hosting or white-label hosting. As a reseller or white-label host, you would handle sales and communications with your customers, but not anything having to do with the actual datacenter hardware. Here is a quick to-do checklist to start reselling Internet hosting, from PCMag (with a little repetition of the above general advice):

 

  1. 1. Look at your estimate of customers and revenue, and use that to select the correct hosting reseller package.
  2. 2. Think about the types of plans that you will want to offer your customers, such as VPS hosting, SSD VPS hosting, and WordPress VPS hosting.
  3. 3. Set your prices.
  4. 4. If everything looks good, sign up for an account with the host.
  5. 5. Put together templates and pages for each of the plans.
  6. 6. Promote and sell the plans.
  7. 7. Deliver support as determined by the agreement.

 

And… action

 

Are you interested in becoming a reseller? At KnownHost, our VPSs come pre-optimized and pre-secured by default, so there are no worries about having to secure your VPS for you or your clients. See our VIP Reseller Program.

Read More

Is Ransomware A Concern

Is Ransomware a Concern at the Server Level? What You Need to Know

When it comes to IT security, it can feel like the wild west out there. You’ve signed up for a VPS or dedicated server and your website is doing well. But, it seems like every few weeks there’s some major cybersecurity story breaking on the news involving shadowy figures taking over computers and demanding money or knocking organizations offline. It’s enough to make any business owner concerned. How concerned should you really be, though?

 

It’s always good to be vigilant. It would be foolish not to be. However, being aware of the actual chances of being affected by the latest big story is important. It’s equally important not to overlook the older, potentially more dangerous issues that may not get the media buzz, but are actually a bigger risk to your business. The latest fear is about the prevalence of ransomware and the speed at which it can travel. You may be concerned that ransomware may affect your business, particularly on the server level, and take your website offline. Here is what you need to know about ransomware.

 

What is ransomware?

 

There is a lot of “-ware” out there. For many years, spyware and malware were the big ones that everyone concerned themselves with. Make no mistake, they’re still an issue. But, now we can add ransomware to that list of words that concerns everyone from IT managers to CEOs. Ransomware isn’t new, but its profile has been elevated.

 

If you’re just becoming aware of ransomware, the first question that comes to mind then, naturally, is “what is ransomware?” How does it work? Why is everyone so worried about it seemingly all of a sudden. Ransomware essentially takes over your machine until you pay the party responsible for locking it down. Your machine is being held hostage in exchange for money, basically. Yes, ransomware is a type of malware, but its behavior is specific which is why it’s gotten its own colloquial designation. It can lock both your keyboard and the software of your device so there’s no circumventing it. Recently, we’ve also seen ransomware target mobile phones along with computers. It’s only after paying the ransom, usually in Bitcoin, that the machine should ostensibly be released though whether that happens is really up to luck. It’s found that most people, even after paying the ransom, don’t get their access returned. It should also be noted that only about three percent of people affected actually pay the ransom.

 

What’s got people concerned?

 

There have been several high profile ransomware attacks in the news in recent months. The first was named “WannaCry” and the second, more recent attack was known as “Petya.” While ransomware has been a concern since about 2005, two major events have made it a lot more troubling for firms of all sizes and in all industries. For one, the aforementioned leap into infecting mobile phones was a huge leap for ransomware. Traditionally, phones were thought to be “safer” than the traditional desktop or laptop. Second, the last two major ransomware attacks have been so widespread that they lasted for weeks and affected organizations on nearly every continent simultaneously. Even government organizations like Britain’s National Health Services were affected by the attack. Having an entire hospital system filled with sick people suddenly ground to a halt by malicious software made the event something that could not be ignored by the world at large.

 

It does feel like something out of a Tom Clancy thriller or some other kind of futuristic movie, but it’s the world we live in. The question is, is it a threat to your server? While it’s obvious that computers and local networks can be compromised, can the same thing happen to the server powering your website?

 

Is it a threat to your server?

 

There really isn’t a definitive yes or no answer here. It’s more of lean towards “no” simply because of the difficulty involved in things getting to that stage. But, it’s also part “yes” because ransomware does have the ability to affect servers. It’s just a matter of probability. Ransomware has mainly been a client side issue rather than a server one. That’s not to say in the future new bits of malware won’t be written to change that. But, for now, worries about your hosting company calling you to tell you the server has been taken over are minimal at best.

 

The big detail to keep in mind is that the Windows platform has been the most affected by all of these attacks. That’s not to say Linux is invincible, while many like to believe that. Instead, it’s that using a Linux server is a bit more insulating. So, the real concerns are for firms running Windows based networks. That doesn’t mean you should kick back and relax, though. There are still plenty of other kinds of threats you should do what you can to fortify your site from.

 

What is most at risk?

 

Your website may not be at too much of a risk of being taken offline by ransomware, but technically speaking your office could be. If you’re running a network with Windows administrative tools and a Windows OS on every machine, then you need to take the precautions necessary to make sure your security solutions are up to snuff. Also, it’s important to note that user error is often how these things start. All it takes is one person on the network opening up a malicious attachment, and then it spreads out of control. Putting restrictions in place to limit this, whatever those restrictions may be, could be one of the most effective ways to protect your business from ransomware.

 

Other security concerns

 

Generally speaking, it’s the classic threats that should concern you about your website rather than ransomware. Forced entries by way of your login URL are still a concern, especially when bot software can make thousands of attempts in an instant to crack your password. DDOS attacks find their way into the news every so often as well. While your hosting company offers some security against DDOS attacks, you’d be strongly advised to take some action on your own to protect your site. If you use a CMS, always make sure that the core software is up to date and obfuscate the login process in order to make it more difficult for an automated attack to brute force its way in.

 

Conclusion

 

When it comes to threats to your server, website, and business, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. While ransomware in particular may not be the biggest threat to your server environment currently, you should always be prepared for common issues that affect websites and stick to best security practices. At KnownHost, we’re dedicated to providing the high-performance servers you need to power your business and the excellent customer service you want to help you get the most out of your VPS or dedicated server. If you have any questions about what hosting solution would be best for you or you’re interested in a new server, contact us today. Our team is standing by to provide you with any assistance you may need.

Read More

Protecting Your WordPress Servers

Protecting Your Server Environment if You Use WordPress

Popularity and accessibility often go hand in hand and, unfortunately, are often a double-edged sword when it comes to security. On the flip side, the belief is that if something is more obscure, it is by definition more secure. There is some truth to all of these beliefs, however, some of it is overblown. For example, people often point to Windows as being particularly vulnerable to viruses and exploits. Yes, most people use Windows, therefore most malicious software is written to target it. But, with the right security practices, you can avoid any kind of serious breaches. All it takes is having the sufficient knowledge and taking the right precautions to avoid situations that would leave you vulnerable. The same can be said when it comes to your website.

 

Every business owner has security on their mind at all times. That’s because we live in a world where the costliest crimes don’t happen because some robber in a mask sticks up a store. Instead, it’s someone with the right technical know-how attacking your system from halfway around the world. Even more alarming, you’re not even always necessarily the specified target. You just get caught in a widespread attack seeking to get its hooks in anywhere it can. That’s why you need to be mindful of doing what you can to protect your VPS or dedicated server.

 

Using WordPress

 

All of this is to say, you need to take the right steps to secure your site no matter what software you use. But, this is especially true when dealing with very popular (and exploitable) content management systems like WordPress. WordPress is far and away the most widely used content management system in the world and it’s estimated to be powering nearly a quarter of all the websites on the internet. It’s popular for good reason. It’s a very easy to use bit of software that makes creating and updating a site relatively pain-free and is perfect for people who aren’t necessarily tech inclined. You certainly don’t need to be a developer to make changes to your site as far as adding more content.

 

That popularity does come at a price, though, as WordPress is often troubled by security issues. That is not to say you shouldn’t use WordPress. Many of the security problems people face when using WordPress often come down to the user. If you engage in best practices, you won’t be so open to malicious attacks. It just takes work staying on top of things. Many times, attackers try to crack a WordPress install in order to gain server level access and essentially turn it into a zombie, using the server to automate spam emails.

 

Whatever the goal of the attack is, you obviously want to thwart it. The best defense is prevention, so there are a number of things you’ll want to do to ensure that your WordPress installation is secure. Remember, a lot of the responsibility of securing a site falls on the user. While many hosting companies will provide some complementary protection for things like DDOS attacks, many of the standard fare brute force entries or file injections occur because of things like outdated software or a lack of following best practices. The following list will contain some obvious things you’ll want to do because they are the most effective at enhancing security. Hopefully, you’ll see some outside of the box things to try that you didn’t think to try before. With the right precautions, you can rest easy knowing that your site isn’t as vulnerable as you might think. While there are no guarantees, you have the ability to greatly reduce security incidences.

 

Update the Core Software

 

Honestly, if everyone stayed on top of updating the core WordPress software, many security issues would simply go away. It’s not a cure all, to be sure, but it comes as close as you can get. WordPress is open source, so anyone can see the code. This is both good and bad. When a new exploit is found, the software gets patched and those loopholes get closed. Rinse and repeat for every new release. If you’re still on an old version of the software with a well-known exploit, you’re setting yourself up for a potential attack. By keeping your WordPress installation up to date, you’ll be going a long way towards keeping your site secure.

 

Be Careful with Plugins

 

A similar approach should be taken with plugins (and themes for that matter), but you need to go a little further here. Your plugins need to be kept up to date for sure. Just like with the core software, out of date plugins and themes can be exploited to act as an entry point for malicious activity. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should try to limit going plugin crazy when building your site. Each plugin brings a vulnerability. While you of course need these plugins for essential functionality, limit them and only install them from reputable sources. Plugins you’ve never heard of that have no reviews and are hosted in suspicious repositories should be avoided.

 

Closing Loopholes

 

You’re getting into development work now, but as you probably know the backbone of WordPress is PHP. You may want to disable PHP error reporting. For troubleshooting purposes, an error report is great. However, the downside is your PHP error report also includes your entire server path in it. If that error report falls into the wrong hands, that’s full access to the whole endeavor. Site, server, all of it is in plain view. You’ll have to add some code to wp-config.php to disable it.

 

Leverage .htaccess

 

The .htaccess file has a tremendous amount of power over your site. It has a large amount of influence over nearly every aspect of your site, including the security. Therefore you want to use the .htaccess file to your advantage. For example, you can use it to hide the wp-config.php file which itself is critical to your security. You can even restrict admin access down to only certain IP addresses.

 

Obscure the Login

 

The default WordPress set up for logging in is much too easy to brute force. Everyone knows the URL and everyone knows the default username is “admin.” The first step that needs to be taken is changing these things. Change the login URL and choose a different username. Also, put a limit in place that doesn’t allow constant login attempts if the password is incorrect. Remember, most brute force attacks are automated. A different login URL and a wrong password limit can easily thwart them.

 

Conclusion

 

A secure WordPress installation means a successful website. Well, that’s part of the equation anyway. Another integral part to the success of your online business is your hosting provider. You need a high performing, quality VPS or dedicated server that is up to the task of keeping your site online around the clock. At KnownHost, we know how important performance and reliability is to your business. Our servers and dedication to exceptional customer service make us the hosting partner you need so you can achieve your goals. Contact us today and we’ll help you find the perfect hosting solution for your business.

Read More

Ideas for Ecommerce Pros

7 Blogs with Great Ideas for Ecommerce Professionals

This article addresses a search that every thoughtful person working in the e-commerce industry must perform: finding the most valuable blogs or informational sources that deserve their attention. Here are a few that have strong insights and are often mentioned in the industry.

 

The problem with the internet is that everyone is trying to sell you something. It’s, of course, a funny thing to say in an e-commerce-related blog, but we all know it to be true: we go online to find information, but we often end up having difficulty finding advice that is transparent and forthright. To be specific, when you want to succeed as an e-commerce entrepreneur, you want to be able to pick up knowledge without feeling that you are simply being herded toward certain material to make sponsorship dollars or other backroom revenue for another person. You just want your question answered. The humor of the situation, then, is that when people want to succeed at selling online, it can be hard for them to get educated because of other people who are selling online.

 

Because it can be challenging to find the right information to answer your questions about e-commerce, we end up with this somewhat circular blog topic: an e-commerce blog article about e-commerce blogs. As indicated above, it can be helpful to have a roadmap to locate the best blogs quickly. Here are 7 of the best ones, with recent example stories from each that are on particularly interesting topics:

 

Ecommerce Blog #1 – Practical Ecommerce

 

Launched in July 2005, this site has been in action for a full 12 years. It is actually a spinoff of an earlier publication, Web Marketing Today, that was founded all the way back in 1995. As indicated by Kerry Butters of live chat SaaS company Userlike, this blog is authored by reporters and industry professionals. Offering straightforward, matter-of-fact ideas and information for e-commerce entrepreneurs, Practical Ecommerce covers a range of topics, from analytics to marketing, management, and development. New content is published every day.

 

Example Practical Ecommerce story & summary: “Avoid Bland Wording for a Unique Company Personality” >>> This article runs through a few e-commerce examples to demonstrate how the right descriptive language can make an online store come alive.

 

Ecommerce Blog #2 – Digital Commerce 360 (Internet Retailer)

 

This site, mentioned by the eCommerce Training Academy, gives tips related to web merchant tasks. What makes its angle a bit more defined is its focus on research (describing itself as “Your source for e-commerce news, analysis, and research”). There are two other ways this blog makes itself distinct: by focusing on more direct interaction, via webinars, and on more analysis, via rankings of e-commerce leaders by industry and category. (As an example of the latter, see the 2017 US Top 1000 Report.)

 

Example Internet Retailer story & summary: “Salaries in e-commerce” >>> Using data from consultancy Hay Group’s “2017 Global Salary Forecast,” this article projected that salaries within US retail would rise 3.0% during 2017.

 

Ecommerce Blog #3 – Kissmetrics Blog

 

Neil Patel is considered a master of web marketing, which is obviously fundamental to e-commerce. And it’s rightful that Patel is viewed in this way: his email newsletter recently pointed out how he accidentally got the #1 Google listing for the keyphrase “online marketing” for this piece). It is no wonder, then, that one of his blogs makes the ReferralCandy top blog list. Bear in mind that Kissmetrics is an analytics platform, so there is a sales angle present — but Patel’s guidance means that the Kissmetrics blog contains plenty of solid information and perspectives. Its scope is described in its tagline: “a blog about analytics, marketing, and testing.”

 

Examples Kissmetrics Blog story & summary: “Persuasive SaaS Onboarding Emails: 10 Conversion Lessons Stolen From Attorneys” >>> This article goes through strengths of these early sales emails, using a courtroom analogy to create stronger imagery and better engage us as we read.

 

Ecommerce Blog #4 – E-Commerce Times

 

The target audience for this Los Angeles-based publication is SMB managers and C-level executives. The broader ECT News Network publishes 9 articles in a typical week (including eye-catching cultural titles such as “The Stupidly Dangerous Politics of Blame” and “Could Tech Nerf North Korea?”). That’s according to Feedspot’s “Top eCommerce Blogs” ranking system — which lists the source in a user-scored 2nd position, trailing only Practical Ecommerce (mentioned first here as well).

 

Example E-commerce Times story & summary: “4 Marketing Strategies That Can Boost B2B Sales: Study” >>> This report suggests you can boost B2B sales “by up to 25 percentage points” through 4 techniques, using results of a poll of almost 200 marketing professionals at American-based enterprises (conducted by business management consultancy Altman Vilandrie & Co.).

 

Ecommerce Blog #5 – eCommerceFuel

 

eCommerceFuel, cited by Butters and others, describes itself as a “private community for 6 & 7 figure stores”; in order to join the network of about 1000 people, you must own or be employed by an e-commerce store that makes a little over $20,000 per month. Because of the focus on that target, this brand (which also prominently features its podcast) is framed not for startups so much as for people who have had some e-commerce success… but why not peek in the door regardless?

 

Example eCommerceFuel story & summary: “How to 100x Your Business in 3 Years” >>> This piece looks at a case study of My Choice Software, a California-based company that experienced an extremely fast period of growth over a short period of time – expanding from $250,000 to $25 million in sales between 2014 and 2017.

 

Ecommerce Blog #6 – HubSpot Ecommerce Blog Posts

 

HubSpot essentially has two blogs, one on marketing and another on sales (and of course there is some good information there), and both of which provide advice and strategies that are intended to educate people on those broader business subjects. However, the site also organizes all its content by topic, and one of those topics is e-commerce – so you can filter down to just those pieces if you like.

 

Example HubSpot Inbound story & summary: “The Year of Customer Experience: How Ecommerce Brands Can Prepare” >>> Five examples are given of e-commerce brands that are effectively catering their approach to serving better customer experience (CX), getting granular with ways companies are changing the color of buttons and making other seemingly minor adjustments.

 

Ecommerce Blog #7 – Bootstrapping Ecommerce

 

This blog creates a certain niche focus by centering the blog on bootstrapping. Because of that focus, founder Shabbir Nooruddin is able to be especially helpful to those who are just getting their businesses off the ground and have shoelace budgets. Despite the focus on those low-budget scenarios, there is some generally good DIY advice here. Although the blog often goes months without a new post, the content is large and exhaustive related to the theme.

 

Example Bootstrapping Ecommerce story & summary: “Ecommerce SEO: The Complete How-To” >>> Keeping in mind that this post was published back in 2015, this can still be a good resource as an introductory, broad guide to search engine optimization.

 

*****

 

Do you want success for your ecommerce brand? One key element of rapid expansion is the strength and scalability of the infrastructure that backs your site. At KnownHost, we offer lightning fast managed SSD VPS hosting. Click here for pure SSD drives.

Read More