Steps to becoming a web host reseller

You’ve decided to get a reseller web hosting account to resell web space. What now? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

1. Choose the platform you want to use.

More open source software programs are available for Linux than for Windows, which makes Linux less expensive. While most programs (Perl, PHP, Flash, etc.) run on both platforms, a few run on only Windows or Linux. A site that requires ASP or MS Access, for example, requires a Windows platform.

2. Choose the control panel you want to use.

Control panels for websites range from very basic to loaded with features. As a reseller, you’ll also have a control panel for you to set up and control hosting accounts.
In Choosing Your Hosting Automation Software, we compare several control panels, all of which offer good features for web host resellers.

3. Choose your web host.

The web host company that you choose for your reseller account is a key decision — your business success depends on the quality of your host. Factors to consider when choosing a web host for a reseller account:

The platform and control panel
Account features
The company’s reputation — search for online reviews by clients
The record of server uptime
The level of support — how fast does tech support respond to support requests, especially time-sensitive ones?
Flexibility — does the web host have packages that allow you to upgrade when your needs increase? Will they customize plans if necessary?
How long the web host has been in business — while a new web host may be very good, many web hosting businesses fail within the first year
Price — consider what is included in the price
Get Started with reseller hosting. http://www.websitesource.com

4. Set up your hosting plans and prices

Divide your bandwidth by your disk space to find out the ratio of bandwidth to disk space that you can offer. Take into account any ratios that differ if you upgrade to a larger package, and then base your packages on that ratio.
For pricing, consider what competitors charge, but also factor in any additional services you’ll be offering.

5. Develop a business website

You have three main choices for website development:
Create a website using an existing website template http://www.websitesource.com/clientarea/reseller_website_templates.shtml

Hire a designer or a design company to design your site for you http://design.websitesource.com/design/elements_custom-work.php
If you have web design skills, design your site yourself
Include all the information that clients will want to know about your services and company.

6. Make your site e-commerce ready

To be able to accept payments for hosting accounts, you’ll to set up:
An SSL certificate
A merchant account
A payment gateway

7. Set up a helpdesk

A helpdesk allows clients to contact you with support requests and you to track and respond to those requests.

8. Set up billing

With an automated billing system, clients are billed and payments are registered with little effort on your part. Most billing software licenses are priced per month or per year, with some billing software companies offering prices for lifetime licenses.

Some popular billing and payment processing systems:
Modernbill http://www.modernbill.com/
ClientExec http://www.clientexec.com/
WHM.Autopilot http://www.whmautopilot.com/
Whois.Cart http://www.whoiscart.net/

When you choose a billing software program, check if it’s compatible with your server platform and if support is included.

9. Create a welcome email

After you set up hosting accounts for your clients, you’ll need to send them a welcome email. Include in this email:

A confirmation of the plan details
The nameserver names
A username and temporary password
A link to the control panel
Links to your knowledge base / FAQ and to your helpdesk

10. Market your website

Submit your site to search engines. Tell your family, friends, and business acquaintances about your website. Include a link to it in your signature line in outgoing emails. But don’t stop there — market your website http://www.marketingcontrolpanel.com via incoming links, advertising, newsletters, and special offers.

Graphic Design Using Color

Color is everywhere and conveys a message even if we don’t realize it. While this message can vary by culture it pays to know what colors “say” in your own corner of the universe, and even what color means to your target market.

If you don’t think that color speaks just complete this sentence, “red means —- and green means ?” even a child will know what red means stop and green means go. If such simple ideas work for all of a given culture or market what could it mean to the graphic design of your website, brochure, or product if you know some of this information.

First let’s start with the basics. The color wheel. We’ve all seen it. The color wheel shows the basic colors, each wheel is different in how many shades of each color is shown, but they are essentially the same.

Color harmony, colors that go together well. These will be colors that are next door to each other on the color wheel. Such as blue and green. In reference to clothes these colors match each other. Instinctively most of us know which colors go together when we dress ourselves every morning.

Color complements, colors that set each other off, they complement each other. These are colors that are opposite on the color wheel. Such as blue and orange.

Color depth, colors can recede or jump forward. Remember that some colors seem to fall back such as blue, black, dark green, and brown. Other colors will seem to step forward such as white, yellow, red, and orange. This is why if you have a bright orange background it may seem to fight with any text or images that you place on it. The orange will always seem to move forward.

Now you have the basics so let’s go further. Just because to colors go together or complement each other doesn’t mean that yo necessarily want to use them on your project. I opened this article with the meaning of colors now here is an example, keep in mind this is one example from western culture.

Color Survey: what respondents said colors mean to them.

Happy = Yellow Inexpensive = Brown

Pure = White Powerful = Red (tomato)

Good Luck = green Dependable = Blue

Good tasting = Red (tomato) High Quality = Black

Dignity = Purple Nausea = Green

Technology = Silver Deity = White

Sexiness = Red (tomato) Bad Luck = Black

Mourning = Black Favorite color = Blue

Expensive = Gold Least favorite color = Orange

So in designing your project it’s important to know what colors mean. You can now see why a black back ground with green type would be bad, beyond being nearly impossible to read, if your target market thinks that black represents mourning and green makes them sick. There are exceptions to every rule of course.

So you may want to include some research in what colors mean to your target market. Colors that would get the attention of a teen would probably annoy an older person and the colors that appeal to the older person wouldn’t get a second look from a young person.

 

Know Your Competition: How to transfer business skills into the internet marketplace

One of the first things to do before starting up any business is to investigate the competition. Any business owner knows this is crucial; to determine how to position a business in the market, who to target, what prices to set and who to keep an eye on. The same is true of the internet marketplace.

However, this understanding is rarely transferred when a business decides to ‘go online’. Perhaps the initial setup is so daunting that little thought is spared for anything beyond the layout and content of a website. The internet, however is still a marketplace, and one that is growing exponentially. Those same business skills need to be put to use here too.

If you want to learn from the success of your competitors you first need to think like a search engine. By mimicking popular keywords and phrases you can benefit from traffic that would otherwise be directed to your competitors sites.

Keywords are contained in what are called ‘Meta Tags’. These are tags that are found in the source code at the top of a webpage and include descriptions, titles and key words. Search engines use this information (in addition to content) to rank your page for different search strings. You can access this information by viewing the source of any website, just simply select ‘View’, and ‘Source’ from the toolbar.

If after looking at this code you fear it resembles some alien language, do not despair! There are many programs available that will search competitors’ sites for this information and provide a full report: in plain English. Just look for anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it is one of the new hot topics; and you will be swamped with products. The danger is to believe too much of the hype, don’t pay for promises; search engines are not as easily tricked as we are!

Another key ingredient is links. Your page will be ranked favourably if it is viewed by the search engines as being an authority on a given subject. Links work a bit like votes, if someone links to your site they are effectively ‘casting a vote’ of approval. However the weight of this vote is affected by how many other sites they link to, so beware of ‘link farms’ (pages contained entirely of links) because they will not help improve your site’s positioning. The easiest way to obtain links is through online directories – although people may not visit your site directly through these links, it will help with overall search engine positioning.

Returning to the competition; you can discover who is linking to other sites by using an online link popularity checker. This way you can try and get these sites to link to you also. Remember, directed traffic is the best, so aim for links from sites which contain similar content to yours. If you are a business selling stamps, your best links would be from stamp appreciation pages – obvious really.

The internet has been established for a while now. It is no longer an unknown jungle. As a new business entering this arena you can learn from other people’s successes as well as their mistakes!

Website Buying Guide Checklist

Can you really get a website even without knowing anything about code, and without paying a fortune? Find out.

The days when websites were primarily distinguished by their code are long gone. Nowadays, the web is a true publishing medium that favors well thought-out ideas. You can get a professional-looking website online in minutes with many website building services and software. But what should you look for? What are the features you really need and which are just clutter?

Content Editing

Some website authoring software packages only allow you to entire plain, unformatted text. Some of them allow you to entire HTML tags. Others provide a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) interface with options for font, links, and image insertion much like a word processor’s. Some will allow you to use more than one, or even all of these options so you have a choice on how you want to format your text.

Template Designs

Every website builder ever invented came with at least one or two templates for creating the graphical look of a website, so you don’t have to design the look of the site yourself. But some packages have very large libraries of templates, some have only a few. Some will let you mix and match elements of the design templates, while others will lock you in to one setup.

Ecommerce Functions

Many ready-to-go websites created by website builder software feature built-in shopping carts. Some even come with credit card processing. This is of course necessary if you’re going to be selling stuff direct online. But if you’re not going to be selling anything, ecommerce functionalities may just complicate the administration of the site and pad the price for the software or service.

Blogging Functions

Blogs are “web logs,” but blogging software involves more than just a simple online journal. Blogging technology allows you to send your new posts directly to subscribers via RSS, without them having to visit your site or receive an email from you. Still, unless you plan on updating your site regularly (at least once a month), your website’s blog will just gather cobwebs.

Email

Some hosted web authoring systems provide email accounts at no additional charge, while others do charge separately. Some web builder systems even come with modules for creating email newsletters.

Support

It is very likely that you will encounter a technical difficulty at some point while owning your website. Make sure you know in advance of paying whether the company provides only paid support, and if any included support is over email, a web ticketing system, or the telephone.

Photo and Image Management

For many, if not most, people who want personal websites, displaying pictures online is a primary motivation, if not the only motivation. If you want to display pictures on your website, make sure to choose a website builder system that makes it easy to upload and publish images.

Renting vs. Owning

You can buy website authoring software upfront for a flat fee, or you can “rent;” i.e., pay a company every month to use a hosted service. The choice is up to you, but remember that the hosted service will likely charge you much more in the end: averaging around $20/month, hosted the typical hosted website builder will cost you $240/year–far more than most desktop software.

In short, you don’t need to know how a website is coded to make one, any more than a book author needs to know about printing ink. Don’t burden yourself with learning how to do web design. Having fun with your website starts with choosing a website builder software that will make it fun.

10 Tips For Web Success

The webmaster’s biggest job is to get their traffic up and keep customers/visitors coming back. Building the site is one thing, but simply building and posting a website does not guarantee traffic. In fact, a website could be beautiful and an example of all the latest technology and still not attract a single visitor if not promoted correctly. Here are 10 tips to guide you to success with your website.

(1) The internet is a new medium.
At least compared to print, it is. A website is a waste if it simply re-hashes something which could easily be put into print. Don’t have the site be just an online brochure. Put up features which take advantage of the internet as a medium of communication. Filter information for them. Provide search capability. Provide interactivity with features like forums, quizzes and tools. Web visitors like to interact.

(2) Treat the Customer’s Time as Valuable.
When a person visits your website, you have their attention for that point in time. You either need to use it or you will lose it – fast. Most visitors have short attention spans, what you need to design your site homepage so that it grabs their attention and provides what they are looking for right away. Its like walking into a restaurant. If you walk in and just stand there and nobody comes to greet you, you might wonder what is happening. But, if the hostess comes and greets you right away and walks you to a table, then you will be there for awhile and eat. The same analogy goes for websites. Don’t overcomplicate your website homepage. Best results will be obtained if you make it very clear where to click to find what they need.

(3) Design the site for customers, not the company.
Your site needs to satisfy the needs of customers, not the company. So, don’t post content which is not really useful to the site’s customer. And avoid over-flattering marketing hype about the company. It inflates the ego of the company more than it helps your customer.

(4) Involve the Visitor.
Keep the visitor involved and make them feel like a valuable contributor. Actively ask for the feedback and suggestions. Ask for communication from your visitors and answer that communication swiftly. When getting that communication, capture their email address. This will allow you to communicate with them long after they have moved on and forgotten about you.

(5) Keep it Current.
You need to have content on your website which is timely and relevant to the customer’s life. Posting month-old news is not interesting. Posting dry product information which never changes is not interesting. Yes, you need to have product information and other information on your site that won’t change much, but you can also post more timely content. You can, for example, post content about how your products can be used in certain situations in life. Provide tips and techniques – things which are immediately applicable and solve a problem.

(6) Pay Attention to Form/Design.
Some sites simply over-do it on the eye-candy. Big graphics just for the sake of graphics often impress the site’s designer more than the visitor. Do not use graphics that are large and purposeless. Remember, some visitors may still be accessing your website via dial-up. Your site needs to load up quickly for all users. A slow website will cause your users to leave quickly. Also, pay attention to graphic and design size. Many web designers operate on fairly large screen resolutions and sometimes forget that even though a graphic looks great to you, it will appear enormous to somebody on a smaller resolution. On the flip side, don’t go too light on graphics. A site which is poorly designed and using the default font and no color is not very aesthetically pleasing. Any web visitor, whether they admit it or not, judges your company by your website unless they have something else to go on. A well-designed site communicates professionalism. A poor design makes the site seem like an afterthought.

(7) Promote.
When a visitor communicates to you via email, it is best to use a web form. not only will this keep your email address from being picked up by spammers, it will also allow you to ask your customers for their email address and then store that address for later use. Employ the “push/pull” marketing strategy. A visitor coming to your website is the pull, but later you want to push content back to them in the form of a newsletter or other promotional material. Start a mailing list and use it. Invite visitors to sign up. Promotion makes or breaks a business, and as long as you respect the ethical considerations of your mailing list, you should use it.

(8) Don’t Operate in a Cocoon.
The internet is a medium which is shared by millions. When you set up your website, don’t operate as if you are a self-contained island. Get out there and keep in tune with what is happening on other websites related to your own. Participate in forums. Post links to other websites and ask for a link in return. Form partnerships with other sites if it is appropriate. When it comes to communication, people like personal contacts. Hiding behind general email address like “sales” and “info” is OK as long as there is a way to also email you directly. A company site which allows email direct to the management is good. Just remember how much you hate calling a company and getting stuck in their phone system. Sometimes you just want to talk to somebody. Give your visitors that ability.

(9) Have a Plan to Attract Repeat Traffic.
Use newsletters, out-going email, contests, forums, clubs, auctions – anything that will cause people to return to your website. When posting links to other websites, don’t just send your visitors somewhere else. They may never return. Provide them an exit page. Give them a pop-up when they try to leave your site. Or at the very least make external links open in a new window.

(10) Track Your Visitors
Pay attention to your site’s statistics and react accordingly. What are people reading? How are they finding you? Do they just come and leave right from your homepage? How long as they are on your website? Do they return? This data is immensely valuable in fine-tuning your website based on customer needs and wants. Remember, the biggest mistake of any webmaster is designing the site for what THEY want. A successful website is designed for the target audience, not to impress the site’s owner.

Email Communication Is Dying. What’s Next?

Currently there are 3 main types of broadcast Internet messaging systems that you can use to deliver newsletters, e-zines and other informational materials to your customers.

I’m not going to cover here internal or intranet messaging systems, the main focus of this article is on the virtual world outside your local/corporate network.

The main Internet Broadcasting Systems are:

– Email broadcasts that are sent through sender’s ISP and received with the email client of your customer (such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Web Mail systems, etc.)

– RSS Feeds delivered through web-based RSS Aggregators.

– Completely customizable and personalized multi-media messages that are sent through RSS Channels and received with branded RSS Readers (such as Private Mail Reader and Feed Demon).

E-mail communications used to be a very efficient way to deliver information to your prospects and customers. This was working well until we got spammers – thousands of unethical people trashing your inboxes with annoying junk offers without any permission on your part. Nobody really wanted these products, ISP customers were irritated with email-boxes full of irrelevant content, to say the least.

Big and small ISP companies (Internet Service Providers) responded by developing anti-spam filters and society at large was forced to work out a set of anti-spam laws regulating the use of e-mails.

So legitimate internet marketers had to accommodate themselves to these unpleasant changes by implementing various forms of opt-in verifications. In other words, now the customers have to confirm in some way that they give you permission to send them e-mails.

And you inevitably loose a percentage of your customers who for some reasons doesn’t want to go through the opt-in process.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Anti-spam filters are now so tight, that they easily throw in the bulk folder even legitimate e-mails. How it could happen? Well, you may accidentally use some of the “bad words” – such as “free”, “buy”, “purchase”, etc (there are hundreds of “spam words” and the list grows every day). You know very well what happen to the bulk folder emails – they are as good as trash. Chances that recipient will ever read bulk emails are slim to none.

You also loose some of your readers when you try to enhance their experience by sending emails in html format (which would allow you to add colors, and pictures to your email, use different fonts, etc).

You might want to go even further and insert audio or video streams into your emails to give your readers the opportunity to better comprehend the featured topic.

You might want to do other neat things….

Well, don’t bother. Sorry to disappoint you, but your efforts will be in vain. Major ISPs consider html to be the format for commercial emails and as such it triggers spam filters almost automatically.

Some analytic companies estimate that you can easily fail to reach as much as 70% of your customers in the nearest future. According to Doubleclick, one of the e-mail delivery leaders, the average rate of opened e-mails in 4th Quarter of 2004 declined 11.4% from Q4 2003, and is now only 32.6%.

Very bright picture, isn’t it?

Luckily, there is a solution, and it comes in a form of RSS technology (Really Simple Syndication).

To put it simply, RSS Feeds are the streams of information presented in xml format. This syndication allows webmasters to find the feeds of interest written by other authors and easily place them on their own web sites (with authors permission, of course). The Big Benefit is that this information is automatically updated every time when the particular RSS feed is updated.

In case of RSS aggregators, readers simply subscribe to the feeds and read them through web-based user interfaces (one of the popular RSS aggregators, for example, is My Yahoo – find the RSS Feeds of your choices, add them to your My Yahoo page – and you will receive the update on what is new on these feeds and will be able to read it in user-friendly format (you don’t have to learn xml). Each time you go to MY Yahoo you will be informed which of these feeds were updated in the last 3 days.

And finally, there is a third option – RSS Readers. It gives readers the ability not to worry about the information of their choice being blocked by ISP anti-spam filters. They can simply download RSS Feed Reader and enjoy the benefits of private media-rich environment from your computer!

You don’t have to go to any websites to get these data and you’re not forced to receive this information, you decide where and when to receive it. (Whereas with e-mails you’re facing the fact that anybody could send them to your mailing address).

There are a many good RSS readers out there. Some are free, other offer free trial. The most well-known is FeedDemon (has free trial), then goes SharpReader, NewsCrawler, Awasu, PMR etc.