Some time back I promised myself that I would start blogging regularly again. It’s a great way to connect with people and keep awareness of your company/service up. It’s also good to organise your thoughts properly and present them in a coherent manner. All too often these days people unleash a stream of consciousness onto Facebook or Twitter (yes, 140 characters is enough for some consciousnesses!) and never actually take the time to thing through what they are trying to say.
But I have failed!
So here I am, saying sorry. I can, and will, do better. Promise.
As you may have gathered from the blog title, though, there is actually a good reason for my lack of blogging activity. It’s all to do with web hosting. For a few weeks I have been grabbing what time I can in between other commitments – like those pesky paying customers – setting up a new, Four Lakes branded, web hosting service.
“Hold on” I hear you say, “don’t you already do web hosting?”
Well, to be frank the answer is ‘yes’. I have set up a number of web hosting accounts for customers, and then created great (I hope) WordPress-based websites that live in those hosting accounts.
But it’s always been a pretty manual process. For every website we create that needs hosting, I have to create the hosting account, install WordPress, manually bill the client, etc, etc. It’s not as efficient as it could be, and the cost of the time spent on all this then gets passed on to the customers. I’d rather be creating more websites with that time.
The frustrating thing is that the means to make the process more automated has been sitting there for some time. The web hosting provider I use, and whose services I re-sell, include a hosting management and billing platform with my account. It has just needed to be configured, and to have a website wrapped around it. Finally my frustration at having that untapped resource grew too much, so I have been setting it all up.
What will it offer?
- A client billing platform
Customers will be able to pay for certain products and services online. Mainly this will be hosting accounts, billed monthly or annually. But it will also include domain registration and, down the line, other related areas.
- Account management
On ordering a hosting account, the account will be automatically provisioned and the login details emailed to the client. There really should be no need for me to get involved in this process now. More importantly, there will be no need for me to try to absorb those costs, or pass them on through higher rates.
- Support Tickets
My lovely hosting provider has a great support team, and they will now be available to all my customers too (for issues related to hosting only, unfortunately). They provide a 24/7 service and respond very quickly. This is a huge bonus for customers.
- Affiliate scheme
If you are happy with Four Lakes’ hosting and want to recommend it to friends or colleagues, then you can receive a reward for doing so! (it’s not active yet, but if you want an affiliate link now then one can be provided. Just get in touch and I’ll sort it out for you).
A client portal will give customers an overview of their account, all services they have purchased, visibility of service status, announcements of upcoming maintenance work, and their affiliate area.
One of many?
Of course, there are a lot of web hosting providers out there. So why would I want to join that particular melee and be lost amongst the crowds? There are a couple of reasons.
- WordPress friendly
Whilst there are plenty of companies, large and small, who can offer a generic hosting account, there are not so many who can offer one that is guaranteed to be WordPress friendly. As a WordPress developer, I know what environment is needed for WordPress, and I already provide that for existing customers.
- Product range
Like all companies, Four Lakes will benefit from having a range of products to offer to potential customers. Setting this up has taken a little time and effort, but has the potential to bring in a lot of new customers. It seems to be a pretty obvious means of expanding the Four Lakes portfolio. Do you have something similar that you could do in your business?
So that’s why I have been missing blog posts. I promise to get back into the habit. Well, after Christmas anyway. Which, by the way, is when you should expect to see the launch of the new Four Lakes Hosting service. Keep your eyes peeled for it, and look out for the special offers that will be appearing too!
Now, what’s next on that list?