Is 2016 the year you begin your own virtual private server/VPS hosting business? It used to be solely a side gig or passion project for the geeky elite, but these days it has gone mainstream and can be an incredible way to segue into sole proprietorship. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind before taking the plunge. VPS is affordable enough today to keep costs low thanks to a saturated market, which means more website owners than ever are seeking it out. It’s the world’s new shared hosting, and with great plans as low as $5 per month for your customers, it’s an easy sell.
Selling is one of the most important aspects to consider. It’s not enough to offer a fantastic service. With all that competition at the ready, you need to be part-geek, part business owner, and all salesman (or saleswoman). Dedicated hardware is relatively simple to advertise, but it takes a lot of energy, time, and commitment, particularly in the beginning. If this isn’t your strongest area, consider outsourcing the marketing end.
Upping the Competition
Like any hot industry, a lot of entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs are treading into the VPS market because it seems 1) fast 2) easy and 3) lucrative. That can be the case for an ambitious server admin who honed their skills in the industry and is truly ready to branch out. However, if you’re not passionate about hosting and server administration, it will inevitably show. Make sure you’re choosing hosting and specializing in VPS because it truly interests you.
There’s also the subject of security and privacy, which will vary based on the laws where you’re located. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for the low hanging fruit. Yes, VPS hosting offers much more security than basic shared plans, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a criminal-proof option. Today’s lawsuits are re-defining who’s at fault in a breach, so keep that in mind before delving into any particularly sensitive industry (i.e. banking, medical billing, etc.).
Making the Money
When drafting your business plan, make sure you outline where the profits are coming from. Many hosts offer VPS hosting for very low prices—some are even free. The income you’ll generate as a host can come from banner advertisements on sites, pop-up ads (be careful as these can negatively impact SEO rankings), or from PPC or affiliate marketing approaches. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme, so transitioning from your day job to full-time hosting might require some overlap.
Take advantage of the fact that many customers want to support local and hyperlocal. When marketing, highlight your geographic location or any other niches you may have (for example, perhaps you have a connection to the LGBTQ community, a particular religious affiliation, or are active in certain tribal activities). It’s a balance between finding common ground with a large core group without driving other potential customers away.