178 – Hosting clients v’s not hosting clients

Debate – Hosting clients v’s not hosting clients

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Firstly, an apology… the audio on my end seems to have misbehaved for reasons unknown! It’s 100% listenable, but there’s just the odd little judder, which I’m perplexed by. So, sorry for that!

Setting up the Debate

We are talking about website hosting. Email hosting seems like a whole other debate, so we’re going to avoid that altogther. This is just about hosting, and whether it is worth the hassle of getting your clients to have their hosting through you, or if it’s better to just let them sort that out for yourself, leaving you to worry about building websites instead.

There is money in them thar’ hills though, so perhaps it’s worth considering. Then again, it’s a real pain the neck when things go wrong, and they will go wrong.

So, to keep things simple, here’s a breakdown of the possible pros and cons of having your WordPress websote clients use your hosting…

Hosting Clients.

  • stable income
  • new related skills at a time when the future of web design is unstable
  • passive income – more freedom potentially
  • long term relationships
  • one vendor for clients
  • we end up having to get involved anyway (with DNS’s)
  • it’s about the only service that clients understand without explanation
  • we need to host our own sites anyway
  • does not need to be complicated with reseller accounts – managing servers is now easy with Cloudways, ServerPilot etc.
  • if client go AWOL we can still be earning – that cost could motivate them into action (reminder their hosting is due to renew in 11 months!)
  • care plans are easier if you manage the hosting too

Not Hosting Clients

  • we are not hosting companies – focus on what you do – niche down – if you like
  • risks and responsibilities with higher profile sites – (service level agreements – SLA)
  • keeping things honest with clients
  • killing someone else’s service
  • having to support clients 24/7!
  • dependency on someone else’s business
  • time needed to learn about hosting
  • price changes by hosting companies
  • the hosting world is always changing
  • a different technical mindset
  • confuses the client and devalues the service – are you the IT person or the creative?
  • you need to do email hosting and domain to be a one stop shop so where does it end?
  • use the big cloud providers and you have to sort out transactional emails – urgh!
  • you could offer other more related services to have a stable income – ongoing marketing (designing, artwork for blogs, newsletters), off-line artwork

Final thoughts

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So, what do you think? Should we offer hosting or not? Come and join us in the comments…

Mentioned in this episode:


Digital Ocean

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 178 entitled hosting clients versus not hosting clients. It was published on Thursday the 7th of May, 2020. My name's Nathan Wrigley and I will be joined in a moment by David Wamsley so that we can have our usual debate where we put one topic and split it into two and decide which is the winner today.
It's all about hosting. Before we do that though, a couple of bits of housekeeping. We have a website over at wpbuilds.com and it's. Got lots and lots of WordPress related content over there. I'd really appreciate it if you gave it a look, and there's a few links on the top of that website. WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe is what you'll get to if you click on the subscribe link and over there there's a whole bunch of ways that you can keep in touch with all that we do.
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Okie dokie. Let's get stuck into the main content today, shall we? It's one that I'm sure you've heard a thousand times. Should you host clients or should you not host clients? What do we even mean by that? Are we talking about using your own server, using some third party server. Should you be doing this at all or just staying on the familiar and tried and tested route of building WordPress websites for your clients?
There's a whole load of money to be made in hosting. Then again, it's fraught with difficulties while we explore it from all the different angles. David and I chatting and you can find out today who is the winner. Just before we begin that fun though, I should say that the sound quality on my end of the recording went a bit haywire this week.
I've really no idea. I'm using the exact same setup, but for some reason there are a little, almost like little clicks in my audio every so often. It's completely listable. It's probably only me that's going to notice them, but I do apologize. I will try to make sure that my recording equipment is on better form next time.
Right. I hope you enjoy it.
David Waumsley: [00:03:38] Hello. Today's debate is called hosting clients or not hosting clients. Nathan, we need to set up this debate, but I don't think we actually decided who's taking, which
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:49] now we ha well we sort of did and then I've completely forgotten. So it's completely irrelevant isn't it? Just goes to show.
This is one of those ones where I think both of us could sit on both sides of the fence cause there are without a doubt, strong arguments in favor on both sides. And I think both of us have got. Bits of experience you certainly more so I think you play with the different hosting options out there. So you decide which side you want to go on and I'll, I'll happily take the country position.
David Waumsley: [00:04:17] I'm going to lean towards the hosting clients cause I think I'm more keen on it than you, although I think you actually know more about it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:24] But while I do, I do host clients, but in a very different way to the way that you, that you host your clients. And so maybe that as part of the discussion will will come to light.
So you're going to do hosting. I'm going to do not hosting. Do you want to set any ground rules before we begin? This is nothing. For example, we're not. We probably won't get into like email hosting too much, although that could be a part of it. And also we, I suppose we understand that there's a myriad of different ways that you could configure hosting.
You know, it's not one thing anymore. There might be a whole bunch of different options. White labeling, you know, VPs hosting, cheap shared hosting, hosting with a managed WordPress host. You might do it all yourself on your own server. So many different
David Waumsley: [00:05:07] ways. Yeah. Yeah. There is always going to be limited with our debates, aren't we too?
Cause we're similar. We all lodged the implementers who, who do kind of a range of clients. We don't have really high budget clients or, or particularly low budget clients all the time. So
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:23] yeah. What kind of, and I suppose that is a bit of a point, isn't it, in a way, because the high budget clients presumably are willing to pay top dollar for some kind of hosting service, which is Bulletproof and guaranteed to work, and it's eye watering actually the amount of money that can be spent on hosting.
I often look at the sort of the tiers that some of these enterprise hosting companies have gotten. You know, they start at like a thousand dollars a month, and those kinds of numbers are just. Breathtaking to me. But of course, if you've got a, you've got a very large internet property, then you kind of need that resilience and you need somebody to be there 24 seven on your case.
David Waumsley: [00:05:59] Yeah. So I'm going to go go with the first point. This is my key point with hosting clients is the stability of the income. So my work is not stable. This is,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:12] yeah, it's a, it is a good point. Presumably anybody that's ever done hosting for a client has got either an annual or a monthly retainer, and that is a, I would say that that is the.
Single argument, which stands out as perfectly reasonable. In this day and age, the likelihood of your hosting going cataclysmically wrong is pretty small, I would imagine. You know, and so hopefully your stable monthly income we'll see. Real value in that, you know, you'll, you'll be charging a monthly fee and in many cases you won't be doing much for that fee.
But I suppose in, in tandem with that, and my rebuttal to that is, yeah, it's all very well, except for when it goes wrong, the one rare moment when it goes horribly wrong and all of a sudden, all of your, your stable income is dwarfed by the giant tsunami of rubbish and crap that you've got to deal with.
David Waumsley: [00:07:12] Yeah. No, there is that point actually, funny enough, cause I'm sure most people are, we're talking about hosting, but typically, and it does in my case, the host and the care go together so. In some ways it's, it's much better for me to host them because I get that control over the host in order to be able to do the care that I provide, which is also part of the stable income.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:35] Yeah. There is something about these care plans isn't there in which everybody kind of wraps everything up. Whether, whether or not you do hosting is not really the point, but you might, you might pretend to do email, you might pretend to do hosting, you might pretend to do security and that, or at least that's the message you're giving to your client with your care plan information or the brochures that you've sent out or whatever it might be.
But in reality, you're just bundling together a bunch of third party services and kind of masquerading as if you're doing it yourself. So, yeah. Good point though. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:08:11] Yes. So really, yes. Well, is your point really that, you know, we're just doing lots of different things that were, that were not really,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:08:19] I suppose that is not so much fit to do it.
You're, you're essentially just kind of pretending to a client, aren't you, that you're doing this stuff and you sort of say, we'll take care of the hosting, we'll take care of the email, we'll take care of all of these myriad different bunch of things. And actually what you're doing is you're paying somebody else to do it.
Presumably, I know that that's not always the case. Me being a case in point. but you are hoping that those third party services act responsibly, you know, that their SLA, let's just stick with hosting for now that they will. be responsible that you know that you're going to be paying them a proportion of what your client pays you.
And in return, you hope never to hear from your client because there's a problem and you hope that this hosting service works perfectly all the time. I suppose one of the, one of the downsides is when something does go wrong, you've then got to have that kind of strange, you sit in between, don't you?
Because you've pretended for the longest period of time that you are doing the hosting. So the client comes to you and sort of says, well. Something's gone wrong, my website, it's not online anymore. And then suddenly you've got to then get in the queue with your hosting provider to, you know, when, in all likelihood if the, if the hosting on your site has gone wrong, it might have gone wrong on a bunch of other sites as well.
And you've got to say. Kind of as the intermediary, fielding the client on one side, fielding the hosting company of the side, and a bit of tennis going on where you know, whereas if you don't get involved in any of that, you never have to worry about that problem.
David Waumsley: [00:09:49] Well. Yeah, that's definitely true. Well, I guess I read that my argument for kind of hosting clients, at least from my kind of perspective, is the fact that I don't necessarily pretend that, you know, I'm, I make it obvious who I am hosting word, but it's still beyond their capability.
So we now, my case is cloud hosting. It's not something that they're going to set up for themselves and work out something to manage the server. So they trust me if you like to take care of the things that they just don't want to deal with. So I'm a one vendor that it can deal with who's going to look after the host in and the care of their site over this long period.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:10:28] I think that's a really, I like the way that you do it. In that case, I wonder if. Let me just ask the question. Have you ever had any pushback from clients when you've said, for example, okay, we're going to use, let's just pluck something out there. Now we're going to use cloud ways with digital ocean. has anybody ever pushed back and said, well, I've heard of them.
I can do that myself. You know, I'd rather that I did it. If I'm going to be paying you, I might as well just do it myself and save myself a few quid. Or in your experience to most clients say hosting, don't know how to deal with it, don't want to deal with it. You just take care of it and we'll pay your fee.
David Waumsley: [00:11:00] Yeah, well, I bury it a little bit. I mean, it's there. I insist that people read, well, I asked them to please read carefully the sales page before they come onto our hosted and care. And it's very clearly there as, you know, how does it work? What do we use? And it's very open that we're using, digital ocean in our case and what we do.
And it's, it's there for them. But no one has ever asked me a question about it. As far as they're concerned. They don't mind as long as the website's up. So from that point of view, I think I'm providing a service. Cause if they had to do it themselves, they would pick inappropriate hosting for them. That that project or that
Nathan Wrigley: [00:11:39] website, what roughly, what would you say would be your, your markup in just as a percentage, not in terms of actual pounds or dollars or what have you, but would you say that you're like 50%, 90%, 20%.
So let's say for example, that the client gives you a hundred dollars, how much of that might go on to, as a proportion, you know, percentage. How much of that do you think is, is sheer profit. Oh
David Waumsley: [00:12:03] gosh, that's a really difficult question because I don't separate the care from the hosting. And I think all actually that's the point of clarity that we never got in here.
It's so interesting because in a way, I think when you talk about some people like flywheel, WP engine, which we were talking about earlier, what they do in terms of the hosting gets fake close to what is a care plan. Cause it takes so much. Care of other things that perhaps you would find on shelf shared service.
So I can't distinguish it, but yeah, I mean, I think we're looking at the fact that it's a really good profits. More than 50% is even putting in our time for the care, routine care plan things, it probably is more like 80%. You know, it's, it's 20% is cost to us and the rest is profit.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:49] Yeah. Well nobody can argue with those numbers.
They are very compelling. I T more recently, I've taken the approach though, just to sort of push back a little bit against what you're doing. That essentially my, what I want my business to be is a web web development business. That is to say a web design. You know. Yeah, I'm not dealing with huge clients or anything like that, but I want to be able to build the website, kind of move on from that point.
And so more recently I've found myself just literally giving out the URLs of hosting companies and saying, look, that that's a good one. If you've got. $10 a month. That's a good one. If you've got a hundred dollars a month, these are all good options here. Pick and choose yourself. because I, I have had in the past a few little nightmare moments and I'll come onto those in a moment, but, and I found myself, that gives me a nice.
Peace of mind that once that work is finished, I can then move on to the next project. And I know that that client is not going to come back to me and, and use up my time when I least have the availability because there's suddenly a support issue or what have you. so that's just an interesting point.
The same with email, you know, I'm sure that most of us. And again, caveat emptor or not, not quite the same for me, but, most of us probably push the email, towards a service like G suite or something like that, just because it's, it's sort of fraught with hassle to do all that kind of stuff yourself.
That it's easier to just tell the client, go off, pay $50 a month, or sorry, $50 a year to Google and just, just have it done. And I, I do like the peace of mind that that creates. An example would be, I've just. About a month ago, finished a website. The client went with a particular hosting company. The client also is using G suite, and that job is now tied up for me now.
And the only time I'll hear from them again is, is if they want some new work doing. I knew from the outset that they weren't going to get on a care plan. There was no way they had the budget for that. And so I've tied that one off. It's gone out the door and I can stop thinking about it, which is quite nice.
Whereas if I had the hosting, I'd be thinking, you know, any time this could go wrong, cheap and cheerful hosting, not likely to resilient. Yeah. My,
David Waumsley: [00:15:03] my only worry with this one, and th, and I think this works in my favor for the host in one of the prime motivators for the host in was the fact that it kept the, this long term relationship going with them.
So you say they go off, but effectively the next time they want the job, they might just decide. Then they're going to get somebody else to do that as a job.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:21] With the, with
David Waumsley: [00:15:22] the hosting, there's a reminder all the time that we're providing a service. So the hosting goes with the care, but there's also the renewables, so there's a constant reminder that where their person.
Do not worry about that. That would be an argument against letting people go off on their own hosting with you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:38] Yeah. Yeah. You are absolutely right. You know what the sort of the elephant in the room, I suppose, here is the care plan that you're talking about. And it is such a, it is such a great and profitable aspect of our business that, you know, it is difficult to argue that hosting shouldn't be part of that, but I think you can.
Extricate hosting from the care plan in that, you know, the care plan is for the actual website. It's for the marketing ideas that you, that you come up with. It's for the funnel building. It's for the redesign of the website and the, the technical details of. I don't know, installing a new plugin cause their company shifted and they need something new.
It's more that in the care planner. I just think the hosting, let me tell you, from better experience being somebody that actually does host websites. What I mean by that is there is a box somewhere with my name written on it, if you like. And, and I manage that. things go wrong, you know, and I know that.
There are so many levels of hosting and what you're talking about is not what I'm talking about here because I actually manage the server and there's just so many problems. You know, the server dies. I've got to log in and get it rebooted. something goes wrong. Like Apache just falls over. I've got to get all that.
Sorted. And that's just fraught with fraught with difficulty. And increasingly, and I know that you and I've had this chat so many times, whilst we haven't had the record button clicked, and I keep saying that I want to get away from it, and yet the years go by and I don't change anything and keep it just the same.
But one day in, in my future, there is a time when I don't, I don't have to worry about the hosting of anything. That business is just profitable in other ways, of which care plans are a significant part, but it's not. I'm not actually doing the hosting myself. You know,
David Waumsley: [00:17:22] I've used hosting. There's a lot of reasons why I moved to hosting, which wasn't the, my intention in the first place.
My intention was just care plan. And, I couldn't do it because the clients tended to pick host in that went bad and made it really difficult to do their care plan. So when they did the automated updates, you'd find it with failing because the sites were down, all the databases were down on separate servers.
So force that. But the real, the real benefit I've seen. But the argument for hosting clients is that when they come and do the hosting with me, I take that to develop their sites, give them a free month. Cause that's what they think is going to take. And for change. I don't have this, when they used to go on their own in and we've started a job, but then they would just go AWOL.
But now if they on a, even for a free month, when they get the reminder that they're now paying for the host and it reminds them, prompts them to get their job finished. So I'm actually using the hosting. clients as a way to actually move jobs along.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:18:23] Yeah, I do know what you mean. I suppose it's a bit of a double edged sword, isn't it?
Because you can have clients that you never ever wished to speak to ever again who are on your hosting, and so you have to speak to them quite frequently. And you know, we've all been there, the clients from hell that we don't want to speak to, but we have a relationship which is ongoing. So I'd say that's a bit of a bit of a toss of a coin, really, isn't it?
In that. You can have clients which you happily speak to because they're so nice. They do everything, you know the correct way, and it's wonderful that they're, you know, that they're tied to you through their hosting and care plan. Then there are others who are on your hosting and care plan who you just want to be rid of because it's more of a hassle than it is.
You know, a benefit that one of the things that I always think about hosting though is, and I know that you, you were able to dedicate quite a bit of time to this and you chop and change and you fiddle and you explore. And all of this is, it's just kind of like keeping up with the latest trends like you are, you're into all this cloud managed stuff and you know about digital ocean and you know about wrong cloud and server pilot.
And. All of these different things that bolt together to provide a service. Do you, do you have to keep on top of that the whole time? Are you constantly trying to shave pennies off each year? Do you reevaluate the whole stack and then you've got this jug, gargantuan job of moving all the sites over here cause you can shave $12 off a month or you know, how does that work?
David Waumsley: [00:19:41] I know. I think that's a really. Okay. It's a valid point. It gets there by my own experience and while I'll do four is because it's been a delight. So in my experience up to that ad, shared hosting, then I move to manage VPN and then I learnt fairly easily and I'm sure anyone can just set up cloud ways and then go a bit further with things like server pilot and.
DigitalOcean or any of the other cloud providers. My experience is that I've literally, once I've learned to set it up, it has for, I guess almost five years now, just stayed up and hasn't. My DigitalOcean server, as far as I know, has never been down other than the couple of times I cocked up with things.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:24] Are you, do you feel that that's typical or do you feel that, you know, you're just incredibly lucky. I
David Waumsley: [00:20:31] don't know which it is, but I suspect it is because, you know,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:33] I mean, effectively
David Waumsley: [00:20:34] I've gone and tried to Volta through cloud ways and stuff now that I did have an issue with that app and it had a long period down.
But yeah. That's kind of one day. So largely I've set them up and they run themselves. There are a few other considerations, but I think they would be considerations you could possibly need to do as part your care plan anyway. So I've, I've seen some things where they're using up a lot of server resources because I'm doing the scanning of my security or that I've, with one site, the database got really, really huge and that was having an impact on the performance.
But I think they would just be things that I would have to do looking after some of these sites and they're not hosting base. So actually cloud hosting for me has been so reliable that it is a passive income.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:20] Yeah. I would say that there's a mixture there of two things. Number one, I think you have experienced a good slice of luck there in that, you know, you only have to, you only have to look around the, the WordPress Facebook groups like that.
Our WP Builds group to discover people are moving hosts for the opposite reason. You know, someone. Some crisis has occurred and it turns out that their host was really on communicative, unresponsive, maybe even on the able to deal with that problem. And then they've suddenly had to go out and looking.
And then you get all of those typical questions, what's the best host to use, and so on and so forth. So. So there's that. I would say that you've had a bit of luck. The other one I would say is that probably the technology is getting so much better at just being resilient, staying up, you know? I mean, just, just think about an ordinary, normal domestic computer like windows.
Yeah. When was the last time you actually had a real blue screen moment with, with something like windows? I mean, or confess, I don't use windows. I'm on a Mac, but I actually can't remember the last time the, the computer did something unexpectedly bad. yeah, they just work, you know, the software's been around and the same would be true for service software, you know, Apache or whatever it is that you're using.
you know, self-healing, figuring it out, figuring out where the problems are, all of these things they can just stay on for weeks, months, years with very little problem. so I would imagine that that's part of it as well, a mixture of luck and the fact that the technology advances and, you know, so you benefit from both of those, but still never to have a problem.
That is, I would say that's not typical. I'm sure that's not typical.
David Waumsley: [00:23:01] Yeah. Only of my own making it, except as I say, this one day where it was off for long period with Volta, but it's, you know, that's one day out of many years
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:09] and you know what's going to happen the minute this call has finished out your, you just know, I hope you've got a large piece of wood that you're grappling onto at the minute.
You know, you're touching that wood because, yeah. It's just the law, something, some big crisis is going to emerge as we speak. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:23:28] I was going to say that the interesting part is, this is just my experience of course, but my experience was when I really spent a lot more money than I would net, you know, I can host 50 sites for the cost that I was hosting and the commerce site of mine where it was, a managed VP.
S for me. And I have so many issues with that. And it's interesting cause I recommended the same, supplier who's got a good name to a client who I still, I still measure that uptime and they're always going down. So it's just that my experiences with people that I've known now is when you get somebody to manage it, it's almost worse than managing it yourself.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:24:05] Yeah. Do you, do you think that WordPress has got something to do with this as well in that WordPress is such a widely adopted piece of software? I mean, basically it's a third of the internet, let's just say that. And so a lot of these cloud hosting providers have their stack. Set up in such a way that it just is optimized for WordPress, and let's say that you are running something a little bit different.
I'm trying to think of something off the top of my head, but it might be a jugular site or something like that. Maybe there's more problems if you use some other software, which is less well known, less configured to run on their hardware. That
David Waumsley: [00:24:41] is a good point. I mean, with the new cloud sellers, the role, the solutions, the kind of ones that in mentioned server pilot, run, new cloud host, I'm going to forget so many of them now, aren't they available on the wall?
They're all set up to make it so easy to configure your WordPress site. That's what they do, you know? And they do it so well. And I, I, this is why I'm actually thinking, my luck isn't so much, look, I just think it may be the future of hosting.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:08] Yeah. What
David Waumsley: [00:25:08] and why, perhaps if you go to, someone who's managing that, they are manually setting it up where some of these tools can do that job for you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:16] Yeah. Do you, do you still though habitually go out and look for the latest, greatest hosting fad? You know. Well, obviously in the last 10 years, it's changed beyond recognition and presumably the next 10 years will be no different. Are you, are you constantly looking to move your clients over here, like I said, to shave a few dollars off or to speed things up or to make it easier for you?
Is it a constant never ending struggle.
David Waumsley: [00:25:41] No, I don't think it is. And I think, you know, in a way for the client, they might have the same struggle anyway because, you know, they go on the host in and then they change the deal on them. anyway, so, and they're still going to come to you for help. To move off their hosting that maybe you picked a good one for them, but you know, things change for those where so far it seems to be more reliable with managing your own, I think, and I'm not, I'm sticking with what's working all the time, but I get your point.
You could spend all your time. Looking at the technology changes, thinking how you can make more money out of this.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:26:17] Yeah. I suppose in the other sense, and in another sense you, as we said, you've been quite lucky with the, the fact that you've not really had too many problems, but that that could be what I would suggest, not just could be.
That is a nightmare if you are hosting client websites and for some reason. You've selected a company which is experiencing problems and who knows what that might be? It could be that they're, they're just, they can't afford to pay their staff properly. The service level just drops, whatever, whatever hosting problem you've got, then all of a sudden, because you are hosting your client sites on these providers, you are stuck with an absolute pig of a problem.
You know, websites going down, slow loading times, unresponsive, you know, support staff over on there and there, there are. There are real, real problems in hosting sites. It's not, it's not always as smooth as you've had it. I would, I would argue. I would agree.
David Waumsley: [00:27:11] Yeah. And also, I mean, the other side of hosting clients could, you know, the easiest way to get in to doing that, to get the stable income would be the reseller accounts.
But of course, you know, you've really got to trust the company that you're reselling for, haven't you? And it's more likely it's going to happen because you lose control, don't you? And what's going on that end.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:31] I've never really understood what a reseller account is. I mean, I get the principle of it in that you kind of masquerade as a, as a person who's offering hosting, if you actually ever done that, have you taken on, one of those white label offerings and try to give that to your clients and pretend that you're doing it all.
David Waumsley: [00:27:49] No, not at all. But I mean, certainly clients who have come to us, and even ones who have gone away from us, you know, have gone to people who are exactly doing that. You know, it becomes very clear when you're talking to the, you know, the other person. So there's a lot of people doing that. it seems the easiest way in, doesn't it?
But it. Yeah, I that wouldn't be my kind of hosting clients, but I can see it's an easy way to sort of, you know, at least select B. The other advantages that I'm claiming, you know, there'll be the one vendor and sort things out for your client. It's an easy way in.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:20] I, I don't even know if it's a model that's still widely deployed.
It used to be that that was talked about quite a lot, but I don't know anybody who is doing that. And I wonder if it's because the, the options that you've moved over to, you know, digital ocean and wrong cloud and cloud ways and all these different things, they, They're just so straightforward to use.
you know, you don't need to hand that over to somebody else and pretend like it's your offering. You can literally just do it all in a few clicks, and you can, well, in your case, you can stop worrying about it. Yeah,
David Waumsley: [00:28:55] I mean, I guess somehow a few responsibilities if you're going to host the clients. but then I, again, I think they probably come if you're not as well.
So things like, you know, moving up the sites, you know, the server up to the latest PHP version or something, you know, to adjust to the fact that WordPress itself will change. But I think even if you just. You know, you send somebody off to another HostGator. Most of those will not do that for them.
Certainly shared hosting. They still leave that to you with a C
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:23] panel, don't they? Yup. Yup. Well, that kind of brings me to my next point, really, which is that, you know, w. We are not what you and I are not. We're not hosting companies. That is not what we do. I mean, you know, that's, it may be that you've got access to, in my case, a dedicated server, in your case, a whole load of cloud services.
But wouldn't it be better just to focus on the one thing that you really like? And in this case, it's. Building WordPress websites. That's what we want to do. Would you not like to be in a position where you could concentrate all of your efforts on that one single thing and not have to worry? Like, I know it's profitable.
That's, let's just admit that, but would it be, wouldn't it be better ideally to have an equally profitable. Company, which just makes websites and that's all that you do. And you get super good at that and you really focused on it and that's, that is your mantra, your reason for living and the hosting and all of the problems which come with that are just not yours because you just tell the clients, go find your own hosting.
After we built the website.
David Waumsley: [00:30:24] It's, it's a good point and I think that's going to work out most. I'm just going to argue that it's, it really is the passive part. My income hosting the clients and, you know, kind of understanding the hosting that we're on makes things easier just even for working on their sites and development.
And so, no, you know, in that sense, it's not, if it was taken up a huge amount of my time away from the things that I loved, I would say yes and agree
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:50] with it. Yeah. And I would go on, sorry.
David Waumsley: [00:30:53] Yeah, no, I was going to say, but you know, I've got a kissy gel point here because I can do this purely because of the fact that I'm taking on low risk sites.
In fact, I could play around with this in the first place because there's plenty of time. I'm fortunate to have plenty of free time to be able to play around and take some chances. Many of my clients wouldn't even know if their websites have gone down. So I've been, I've been able to be bold and brave. I think I might agree with you if I
Nathan Wrigley: [00:31:24] had the high pressure
David Waumsley: [00:31:26] of some really high risk sites that I needed to keep up.
I think I would concede your point. Definitely.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:31:33] Yeah. The other thing is, is the point of being available all the time. If you are taking on the hosting responsibility, let's say for example, on like the clients that you've just mentioned. Let's say you've got a client who is really, really fussy about their, their page load time and has some kind of automated system which alerts them when their website is down.
The, the only thing about our business, which. Keeps you switched on 24 seven and causes anxiety in the middle of the night is hosting. Because if all you do is create websites and move them on, it's like a commodity. You know, you've built it, you've, you've pushed it to them, they own it. This, it's now there's the only thing which locks them to you at two o'clock in the morning is hosting.
And if you don't do that, you can remove that whole anxiety because with the best will in the world. At some point these things are going to go down. You've been very lucky. I, on multiple occasions have been less lucky, and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, talking about, you know, having to, having to fix the client websites from a tent whilst I'm on holiday and it was hosting.
It's got nothing to do with WordPress or anything like that. It's the hosting that's gone wrong. And, and having that out of your life could be a good thing. Yes,
David Waumsley: [00:32:47] absolutely. Do you know what? I have been lucky because you're the thing, the one time that things did go wrong is when a whole bunch of traffic was sent to a demo site of mine unexpectedly.
And that brought the server down cause I wasn't prepared for it. That's still
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:01] remember that.
David Waumsley: [00:33:02] Yeah. And that still could happen too. I mean, I don't think it's likely with the type of client I've got. So I do concede your point entirely. I would, I, I don't worry about this at night cause it's not, apart from that one incident.
Being an issue, because everything's stable, but yeah. Otherwise. So actually we're, we're drawing some conclusions here,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:22] surprisingly. Yeah. We're getting to a consensus. Just before you, just before you move to this consensus, I want one more thing. Do you think, I know that hosting, and all of the, you know, emails and all of that could be very profitable.
In your case, it sounds like it is very profitable. Do you feel it would be better to, to shift the focus of the business so that you're profitable in other areas instead of it being stable and come only through hosting, which. To S to a great extent is out of your hands. And you know, the, the problems are either going to come and it's nothing to do with you, or the problems are never going to come, and it's still nothing to do with you.
whereas if you, if you have other channels, like let's say you, you become a marketing expert or you become good at logo design or something, would that not be a, a better way to make those, those extra dollars as opposed to really relying on the Goodwill of an, of a hosting company to, to be profitable.
David Waumsley: [00:34:14] Well, I, yeah, I mean, again, you've got the concede that, but like everybody else, I've jumped onto the pro hosting and care plans as well because it solved that problem.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:24] Family feasts, which we
David Waumsley: [00:34:26] were all, you know, we're all trying to solve, but I do wonder, I could see that one because I think, you know, we often don't look to other packages we could set up for clients, ongoing marketing on some sort of scheme where we can keep design in there.
Artwork for them for blogs and newsletters and offline work and stuff. We don't, there's not many of us do that other, there's like, there's a few companies that have taken over that job.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:48] Hmm. Do you do? Another thing is do, do you have endless trust in the hosting companies that you use? Again, mentioning no names.
Do you, do you feel that they are good custodians of this? You know, that they're not going to miss step that nothing that, that it's completely Bulletproof rock solid and your 50 sites are never going to really suffer or cause, I mean, imagine that one day. God forbid, something just goes wrong with the bit of hardware that, that your 50 sites are on and they go down for six days or something, and that company just isn't it?
Just that stuff not worry you a bit. Yeah. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:35:25] I don't think people know what we're talking about. Cause on one server I've got 50 sites. I must admit mostly those are my sites. But yeah, I'm really spreading the risk. I'm not rather, I'm not spreading,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:37] spreading it into a tiny
David Waumsley: [00:35:38] little area such, it's such
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:39] a small, small spread
David Waumsley: [00:35:42] with the other ones, with the other servers that I've gone.
Cloud waves, which is what I'm using, you know, the kind of maximum of 10 so that there's not too much it's going to go down. But certainly the one that's got 50 on is a bit of a risk, even though a lot of those are my sites. But yeah, but I do, I do actually. I do think the new cloud hosting. You know, that kind of box in the sky that I think there's, as long as we've got the tools that set it up perfectly do seem to be very, very reliable.
And I do think, you know, maybe a lot of the issues that we have with other people managing our hosting for us is the fact that they're having to adjust their servers all the time to make them more profitable.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:21] I really need to get to get with, get on point and get, get on message with this though, because as, as I've said before, I've used my.
Dedicated server for the longest period of time. I even hosted email and things like that. I'll go to SMTP server on there, and so that can be really, that can keep me awake at night quite a lot. That I've also discovered the joy of using managed WordPress hosting and, and in some cases, so just to muddy the water a little bit.
In some cases, I literally tell the client who's got no interest in being on my care plan. I just tell them, here, use. Let's say, for example, Ken stir or WP engine, just go with them. It'll be great. You'll get great support. They'll fix things if they go wrong, you know, great, good luck to you. Off you go. And then on other occasions, I've managed to use care plans and the budget is good enough to use those.
Dedicated WordPress hosting companies, and that's such a nice feeling. If they're on your care plan and you know that there's recurring revenue coming from them and they're using a hosting company that you've got real faith in. just, just to give an example, some of these, some of these companies, they turn things around so fast, you know, they'll answer questions about it.
Anything, anything WordPress, they'll give you an answer. They'll fix things. They'll even write some custom code in some cases for you. And that, that is such a nice feeling. It's like a nice little security blanket, to have people on not only a care plan, so they're paying, in order to have hosting as well as email, as well as everything else.
But you also know that they're on a company who really, really get WordPress and are willing to, to respond to tickets very quickly.
David Waumsley: [00:38:05] Yeah, I, yeah, absolutely. See that point. And I may be, I think maybe overly positive about, because obviously save that you make the most money by saving through going to the most difficult setups.
So you know that. The cloud ways is a kind of in between, because it does a lot of the work for you if you're trying to host other companies. If you go to some of the people like DigitalOcean and in my case, and send in a support query, I can't understand what they've written back to me.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:38] Interesting. You
David Waumsley: [00:38:39] know.
No, no. So there is that element. I mean, I'm not really needed it, but there's a couple of times I've asked some queries, but, ask some questions and, but I mean, now I've had to search through the forums so it can take up a little bit of time if your spend, you know, if you're really interested in optimizing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:54] Yeah, that's a bit of a drawback then, isn't it? You know, you've got this window that may be if push came to shove and you were in a crisis, the, the response might be not everything you'd hoped for.
David Waumsley: [00:39:05] Yeah. Do you know what a nother point though, for hosting yourself? so I've, I've had people where you say it's quite nice to be able to send them off to somebody that you trust and there is a shared host of that I trust that I've sent clients onto because they didn't think they could afford to be on my care plan, only to be a little bit disappointed when I've talked to them later, that that is shared hosting has managed to upsell them all sorts of stuff, which they don't need.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:31] Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:39:32] And that would cost them more than being with me in the first place. And I think,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:36] yeah, that's a bit calling. They're better at the marketing message. Yeah,
David Waumsley: [00:39:40] yeah, yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:41] Exactly. Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah. I'm sure that we've, I'm sure that everybody listening to this has probably got their own experience.
They've probably got their own position on it. I bet. Loads of you are like, David that you've got, you know, your cloud accounts here, there, and everywhere, and you're maximizing the profit that you can by doing. You know, getting a lot of sites onto a, onto a particular little box. some of you might be like me, you might have a server or still run through something like a VPs or something.
And then some of you might be exactly the opposite. You might go with the, we're not doing hosting of any kind at all with just building websites approach. But quite interesting to get people's thoughts on this. I suppose.
David Waumsley: [00:40:19] Yeah. And actually as well, I mean, there's so many different types out there. Some people are really very much focused on the design side of things and it's just, you know, shifting into that scanner technical mentality.
I think you and I can dabble with this kind of stuff cause we're neither good at one thing or another. Right.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:36] Right. You
David Waumsley: [00:40:39] know? So it kind of fits us and, but I, I think there was a bit of it, you know, clearly his horses for courses with this one, isn't it? And I think it depends on your client quite. Quite a lot with all the things that you've been saying to me.
I just think, yeah, you know, if I had bigger clients, I just wouldn't do this.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:56] Yeah. Well, that's, I suppose that is the point, isn't it? If you, you know, if, if it's profitable for you, and it's part of a strategy in your business that keeps you going and you know, it generates revenue and it's great, that's fine.
If you can cope with the responsibility and things don't go wrong very often, but if you, you know, if those things keep you awake at night. You're probably better steering clear of it, especially if you've got major big clients who can't, you really, they're not interested in your waffle. and you're messing about, you know, they need it fixed and they need it fixed right away.
It's probably better to, I would imagine, send those over to somebody who really, really, really knows what they're doing.
David Waumsley: [00:41:34] But I don't think it's always about the money with this as well. Cause I don't think I, I didn't set up a care plan and hosting really fundamentally because of the money came out of the, the need from the clients, you know, literally weren't going to find their own host and they weren't going to sort these things out.
They wouldn't know really how to talk to support. So, you know, because they needed help still.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:56] Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:41:57] You ended up providing that. So I think that's often. The way it goes.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:00] Yeah, that's a good point. I mean, quite a few clients that I've had who definitely don't want the, the care plan that we've, we've agreed that right from the outset, I've still built the site.
And, and then I've told them to just give me the login details for their hosting company. And really our, the moment at which we part ways is the final moment where I log out of their hosting company. Once I've installed the site and made sure it's all working. so it's, yeah, there's just so many different ways of doing it.
And of course the, the future's going to be really different as well. There's so many interesting innovations on the horizon. The one that comes to mind is, is companies like Strattec who are offering, you know, flatten headless versions of WordPress, and all of this suddenly becomes much quicker. But also severely complicated.
And it'd be interesting if, if the new norm is, is to the quest for speed all the time at whatever cost, it feels like those services are going to win the speed argument, but the technical complexity of doing that is going to be, I would imagine, beyond pretty much most of us.
David Waumsley: [00:43:02] Do you know what? You've just come up with another great debate Avenue.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:05] Yeah. Traditional. Yeah. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:43:09] Yeah. And ju and just the, you know, the different hosts that are the ones that are taking WordPress out of it. So you don't go to the database, the serving up the HTML Gates. Yeah. You know, so there's, we've got a couple of debates here.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:22] Yeah. It's not, we've done this one. I think.
So. I think we've done this one as always. you know, we haven't actually arrived at a definitive answer, but we have aired the problems, which I think is really the point, so, okay. I don't know who won that, but, thanks David. That was good. Well, I hope that you enjoyed that episode. Maybe we helped you arrive at some decision as to whether or not you should do hosting or not, or maybe we just muddied the waters.
I really hope it wasn't that, but please leave some comments. Leave them on the WP Bill's dot com website in the comments below this particular post or. By all means, go to the Facebook group, WP Builds.com forward slash, Facebook and you can join the conversation over there because every time we post on our website, it also gets cross posted to Facebook as well.
The WP Bill's podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP one in four of us will be directly affected by mental health related illness, WP and UP supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. This is achieved through mentorship, events, training, and counseling. Please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP.org forward slash give.
Please join us later in the week. Well, I say later in the week, it'll be Monday. It'll be a new week. Do you want us on Monday for the WP Bell's weekly WordPress news that comes out? 7:00 AM each Monday and is a summation of the WordPress news. And then we've also got our WP Builds weekly WordPress news, which is the live on.
That's 2:00 PM UK time. I'm joined each and every week by some notable word WordPress's, and we talk through exactly what's happened this week in WordPress. During this coming week. I should be. Being joined by Paul Lacey, Vito Peleg, and Barbara Saul. So join us for that, and if I don't see you at any point this week, I hope you have a nice week.
I'm going to fade in some cheesy music and say bye bye for now. .

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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