Have Time for Affiliate Marketing Programs

Should You Join Affiliate Marketing Programs?

Would affiliate marketing be a good direction for you? Let’s look at some important data and information: statistics from an industry survey; insights from marketers and business management specialists who believe in the technique; and why merchants are onboard with the approach.

 

  • What is the basic structure?
  • Key reports show scope & potential of affiliate marketing
  • Takeaway: Affiliate marketing now more legitimate
  • Content marketing widens to embrace affiliate programs
  • Affiliate marketing appreciated for its simplicity
  • Why do merchants like these programs?
  • Choose a strong merchant for your affiliate partnership

 

What is the basic structure?

 

In an affiliate program, you would be working with a merchant (which would be KnownHost, if you partner with us), an affiliate (that’s you), and a customer (hopefully many); often, an affiliate network is used to connect affiliates with merchants and otherwise streamline the process (as with CJ Network, the one that powers our program). In an affiliate structure, as the affiliate, you would have no direct contact with the customer, only with the merchant and/or network.

 

Key reports show scope & potential of affiliate marketing

 

It is difficult to get to the truth on this topic. There are many people making money from being affiliate experts or running affiliate networks, and they all have a vested interest in convincing you that this method deserves your attention. To get to the reality of the situation, let’s check the findings of two key reports from major business research authorities: Forrester and Business Insider.

 

Forrester – January 2016 figures from Forrester Consulting, in a study conducted for Rakuten Marketing, project that this branch of marketing will grow at a 10.1% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) through 2020, reaching approximately $6.8 billion. Affiliate programs are a key component for the general marketing approach of almost 9 in 10 marketers, with publishers saying that these relationships bring in 20% of their online revenue each year.

 

BI Intelligence – A study released in September 2016 by Business Insider’s research division reveals that affiliate marketing accounts for about 15% of digital media profits. In fact, this method is responsible for as many e-commerce sales as email within the United States, leading to 16% of orders. It is one of the four main channels for online transactions, ahead of both display advertising and social commerce.

 

Takeaway: Affiliate marketing now more legitimate

 

What can we learn from these figures, general growth, and other industry trends? Both Forrester and Business Insider argue that the method is becoming increasingly accepted and credible. Forrester notes that the industry has matured from its early years when it was generally considered a rather unsophisticated tactic geared toward getting people to make an immediate purchase. Today, however, says the report, this marketing angle is respected for empowering consumer discovery and increasing engagement. Case studies with strong ROIs have been established by many brands. Word has gotten around that this strategy works.

 

Similarly, BI Intelligence mentions the issue of credibility – saying that this area of marketing is often associated with teeth whiteners, diet pills, and other (sometimes shoddy) impulse buys. That element of the industry has been joined by the activities of credible brands, with respected and household-name retailers and publishers vigorously adopting the method for its high success rates. Publishers are helping to give credibility to the field while also navigating confusing ethical waters. “In an effort to balance editorial integrity and revenue needs,” says BI Intelligence, “publishers are taking a more native approach to affiliate marketing by embedding product links within organic content.”

 

Content marketing widens to embrace affiliate programs

 

Looking at a bunch of statistics and suggestions on the status of integrity from the field may be compelling. Beyond knowing the money is there and that this business model is respectable, why else might it be a sound direction for you?

 

To understand the value of this approach, it helps to look at how marketers are discussing it. In the digital marketing news blog Marketing Dive, David Kirkpatrick talks about how this strategy is being integrated into mainstream marketing – that it is being reframed as a way to deliver value honestly to the audience as content.

 

Content marketing is now core to marketing, if you have not heard – and it is highly accepted. As a couple rather obvious and straightforward examples, the piece you are now reading is content marketing, and so is the American Express blog Open Forum – a piece from which I use as a source below. Content marketing was essentially a revolution within the marketing industry that recognized the changing needs of people who were consuming media. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a method that is used strategically within marketing to create and distribute content to a specifically targeted demographic.

 

How are affiliate programs becoming content marketing? They are transitioning away from couponing and direct response, increasingly providing transparent value and insight to customers that related to their current needs and climate. In the Forrester report that was completed for Rakuten, an anonymous VP of sales at a US digital publisher said that the way that the affiliate sector has been evolving made him feel comfortable entering the space. “The biggest positive change I’ve seen has been the change of perception around affiliate,” says the executive, “from spammy, bottom-feeder sites to ones like ours, where we’re focused on a great user experience.”

 

Affiliate marketing appreciated for its simplicity 

 

This marketing method is, more or less, internet-wide. It is used almost standardly now by online platforms and publishers. The management of it is relatively simple; so it makes sense that AJ Agrawal would promote the tool for that reason in business management blog CustomerThink.

 

Agrawal notes that all a person has to do to get involved with affiliate marketing is to select a product or service they like, market it, and make a portion of the cash from each sale.

 

While Kirkpatrick notes how these programs are becoming more popular because of more valuable content and credibility, Agrawal says that this method is on the rise because it is a preferable means of delivery over traditional advertisements to users who do not want to be interrupted by the latter.

 

Again, though, the ease of this approach is central. Merchants feel affiliate marketing is valuable because it gives them access to broad sales talent that is 100%-commission-based, says Rae Hoffman-Dolan in Open Forum. It also helps boost the visibility of their brand, and they don’t want rivals with programs in place to have an advantage.

 

Choose a strong merchant for your affiliate partnership

 

Affiliate programs are growing and becoming more credible. They have been integrated into content marketing; the structure is easy; and merchants like how commissions are directly tied to revenue. This all sounds great, but Agrawal notes one other key concern: choosing the right merchant.

 

“Aligning yourself with the right companies to partner up with for affiliate marketing can mean the difference between a 2017 business dud and a brand that establishes itself as a leader in its industry,” he says.

 

Since 2005, KnownHost has used state of the art technology and networks to provide a premium hosting service at an affordable price. Our affiliate program is free to join and requires no technical knowledge. How does it work?

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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.

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Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server

Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server: What Are Your Options?

Every business owner, whether they’re a freelancer or the head of a team of hundreds, wants to maximize revenue without having to overextend themselves. It’s often a careful balancing act between wanting to bring in as much money as possible without wearing yourself or resources too thin. Often, people start wondering how they can start making more “passive” income.

 

Right off the bat, passive income is largely a myth and it often sounds too good to be true because it is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add another service to your business that won’t require a tremendous amount of time, but still bring in a decent amount of additional revenue. Make no mistake, being a hosting reseller takes work. You will have to provide customer service. But, you can turn it into a profitable addition to your business is you properly dedicate yourself to it. Many digital-based businesses have invested in dedicated servers with the goal of reselling the space on it to host clients’ sites. Many businesses have found success with this model, which is why so many hosting companies advertise their reseller deals. Here is what you need to know about reselling space on a dedicated server.

 

Who would benefit from reselling?

 

Nearly any kind of digital based business can add hosting to its portfolio of services. Naturally, you should offer some kind of web design or development service already in order to seamlessly add the hosting component to the package. You don’t have to be a full-time web designer, though. You may also be an SEO consultant, marketer, or public relations professional that includes site building as part of your list of services provided. Any situation where you’re helping a client design a site or improve their site is an ample opening to also offer hosting. You can easily add it as a line item to your monthly retainer. Or, you may now get to offer a monthly retainer.

 

Choosing the server

 

There are a good variety of high performing servers out there that can help you reach your goals. Ultimately, the question comes down to using a VPS vs a dedicated server. While a VPS costs less and may have enough horsepower to provide a sufficient hosting environment for multiple informational sites, you’re better off going with a dedicated server if you’re serious about running a hosting reselling business.

 

Dedicated servers provide more resources, which is better for scaling as you take on more clients. They are also more flexible. Additionally, if you’re looking to install any specific operating systems or software to help you more easily create a shared hosting environment, the hosting company you partner with may restrict what servers they allow this software to be installed on. A dedicated server may be the best option by default. VPSes are great to be sure, but you might as well go for the safe bet for a few extra dollars a month.

 

The next piece of software may be of particular interest to you if you’re planning on running a Linux server to support your business.

 

Why CloudLinux may interest you

 

You’ll have to choose between going with a hosting company that offers hosting on Windows servers or Linux servers. Linux does allow for a bit more flexibility and customization. Assuming you do go with a Linux host, you may be interested in installing CloudLinux on your dedicated server. CloudLinux, as a company, offers a variety of products. As a reseller, though, what you’ll primarily be interested in is CloudLinux OS as many of the other management tasks will be handled by the hosting company. Installing CloudLinux OS on your dedicated server will make it easier to create a shared hosting environment for you to manage and divide out to your clients.

 

CloudLinux offers features that improve stability, density, and security. It better isolates each client so that allocation of server resources remains “fair” and doesn’t negatively impact other clients on the server. If you’ve ever used shared hosting for your own site before, you know how other sites’ traffic can affect your performance.

 

What you need to be familiar with

 

If you already successfully manage your own site, you’ve already got the technical knowledge required to start your reselling business. You’re no doubt already familiar with how cPanel and WHM work. All you’ll need to do here is go into WHM to create a cPanel environment for each of your clients’ sites and give them the administrative access they need to manage their site. The rest is up to them. Of course, there is one big skill you’ll need in order to successfully run this hosting reseller business and isn’t so much a technical skill, but rather a customer service skill.

 

When you purchase a server with the intention of reselling space on it, it’s usually done (and should be done) under a white label agreement. That is, the original hosting company’s branding isn’t anywhere to be seen. For all intents and purposes, you are selling server space on hardware that you own. However, the downside to that is any issues your customers have aren’t going to be handled directly by the hosting company. They will be handled by you. What that means is, the hosting company you’re paying for a server won’t field your customers’ service tickets. You’ll have to accept them, then contact the hosting company in order to get things fixed. Being comfortable in that middle man role is going to be essential to running this reseller business.

 

Preparing your business

 

Depending on what you already do primarily with your business, preparing your business to take on the role of web host may be simple or it may be time-consuming to get off the ground initially. Either way, it will certainly add somewhat to your regular workload. If you’re lucky and you work strategically, it shouldn’t take up too much time and the extra income every month will far outpace the amount of time you need to spend doing any really difficult work.

 

You’ll need to set up a ticketing system to process any requests that your clients have regarding troubleshooting. This will also involve setting up some sort of help desk type interface somewhere on your business’ current site. Also, be sure to get any kind of legal paperwork prepared including proposals, agreements, and terms of service. When it comes to hosting, these things are important and you need to protect yourself. You may already have a lot of this already prepared for your current business and it’ll just take some tweaking.

 

Conclusion

 

Web hosting is much more adaptable and profitable to your business than you may realize. While many people think of their hosting solution as just a way to keep their business website online, which is important, there are many opportunities to expand your portfolio of services and make additional income. While it may not be explicitly “passive” it’s certainly a great way to make extra revenue every month as a billable item. If you’re interested in signing up for a dedicated server to divide and resell space on, contact us today. At KnownHost, we’re dedicated to providing you with the business solutions you need to grow.

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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.

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