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so here it is, I have an idea for a website. it is kind of community website, one that gives a great service to the community. think of it as an <snip>(that is a site that connects ppl, not publish content) but no $ is being exchanged. no user has to pay anything (not to me and not to each other). kind of <snip> as far as the business plan is concerned.
I can evaluate how much it will cost me in terms of time, but I need your help to figure out the following:
1) how much will I pay monthly/yearly for the domain name and hosting?
2) as I described, there is not going to be any charge. the only way I know of I will be able to recover some (all?) of my expenses is by ads. what is the thumb guideline when it comes to $ per user/visitor? how many users I need to cover $20/M?
does anyone have a similar project and can share his wisdom with me so I know what to expect?
[edited by: stuntdubl at 11:56 pm (utc) on June 30, 2004]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]
I also can't help you with ads, you might try one of the different forums for that topic. Good luck!
If so, I don't recommend finding the cheapest hosting you can, because you'll probably need their support, and the cheap ones typically don't offer much. (Be sure yours offers live tech support instead of just e-mail only.) I'd rather pay $20/m and know I have help when I need it, rather than pay $5 and be stuck when I have a problem.
Regarding ads, I assume you intend to generate enough traffic to be able to sell ads on the site. I don't know exact numbers, but I do know you'll have to have a significant amount of traffic in order to do this. Which means that you'll have to have some type of marketing campaign in place to accomplish that. You can either learn to do it yourself, or pay to have it done. When you're "counting the cost," be sure to count your time as well. Running a search engine marketing campaign can be very time-consuming.
One of our clients is in a similar position. After 4 months of trying to do it himself, he only has about 40 subscribers. I hooked him up with a good SEO guy who thinks he can get him some good results, but he's paying him $2000+ to do so.
Like over the past 2 weeks, when my host offered me an attractive server upgrade for the same money. Server moves are THE PITS, even when nothing major changes. This time, the whole path/site structure changed, which meant I spent DAYS trying to get things working right again. If my host hadn't been the priceless lady-goddess that she is, I would have simply slit my throat and been done with it. [I just counted - 140 emails to and from her and the support staff, over 9 days, for 10 distinct sites.... Goddess bless you Sharon....]
She and her staff were unfailingly polite, friendly, concerned, and helpful. Believe me, 24 hour support and a toll-free phone number are INVALUABLE. I didn't have to call, but I had that escape hatch available if needed. This combination gives me 50 mb storage per site; 5gig transfer; 5 SQL DBs; 50 email accounts; 3 mailing lists; 5 each subdomains, parked domains, and addon domains; 5 ftp accounts - and the abovementioned support which is worth ALL of it many times over.
Hand-holding is PRICELESS.
I thought of hosting just as hard drive, but of course I need that SQL and a web server that supports whatever language I use.
Do hosting companies all run Linux/UNIX? I thought to do my site in ASP.NET, but I guess that only works with windows servers... did anyone ever used ASP.NET with a hosting company?
it is just that I am very strong in .NET, not so in PHP....
My own full-time site is much larger than the others, and I need SQL Server and more disk space. So, that one is $40 a month with 500mb of space, 20 POP email accounts, and everything else I'll need (the plan also covers Cold Fusion and .Net if needed).
They offer support by phone during regular business hours, and support via email 24/7. There's always somebody there, so I get the help I need in at least a matter of minutes.
Everybody there is really terrific, and I've become good friends with the owner (by phone).
After going through a lot of hosting companies that didn't want to bother with helping me, this one was a breath of fresh air.
Yes, my hosting is more than $5 a month (but not much more); however, my host is SERIOUSLY committed to hand-holding when necessary. And believe me, no matter that I've run websites for a good long time now, I STILL need hand-holding on occasion....
When I first started reselling hosting, I had a similar relationship with my host. They basically jumped through hoops for us. We paid less than $9/domain as a reseller. As they got larger, service stared to decline. Sadly, when they decided to move to a larger data center, they so badly botched the move that they ended up going out of business as a result. (One of our client's sites was down for nearly a month.)
I now have a reseller account on a Windows server that supports .NET and MS-SQL. It's more expensive than Linux/UNIX, but I have enough clients to make it profitable.
There's a lot to be said about establishing a good relationship with someone high up at your hosting company. Before they went under, I had a great relationship with 2 of the principles of the company, which really helped when I needed to get things done. The person I'm with now is someone we've worked with for the past year as a programmer/project manager. He's jumping into the hosting biz, so he's set me up with a reseller program. I can tap on him when I need backend work and he'll probably use me for front-end design. So all in all it's a beneficial relationship for me.
Regarding bandwidth, when we were paying $9/month, we were getting 3GB/month, which is way more than any of our clients needed. From whta I've heard, the majority of sites use way less than this, so you will probably be fine for a while.
If so, I don't recommend finding the cheapest hosting you can, because you'll probably need their support, and the cheap ones typically don't offer much.
Honestly, I have not seen any relationship between price and service with the four or so hosts I've dealt with.
I was updating a site for someone who was hosting with an expensive, big name provider and I had to teach their tech support how their shopping cart system worked.
I've hosted with $5/month hosts who were great at first and then got overwhelmed. now I'm with someone who has plans as low as $6/month on annual prepay and I think they rock. Of course, if you want a semi-dedicated top-end server, they'll charge you over $100/month for that, so you do sort of still get what you pay for.
[As an aside, my FIRST EVER host years and years ago was a local (my local ISP at the time as it happens) and not only were they horrendously expensive for very little benefits, they really were only "good" if you didn't want to host anything but static non-framed non-tabled totally "flat" uncomplicated pages - and not too many of them at that. No js, no cgi, no php, no fun, no clue....]
I think it's fair to say that at the bottom end, you won't get support (though mine is pretty darned cheap and the support is great through the ticket system. of course, there is no phone support).
What I mean to say is that the worst ever provider I dealt with was $50/month for nothing - you couldn't even run php reliably on their site. It was a big national name, whose name I forget. I think to get hired by their tech support manager, you had to fail an IQ test.
So if you go rock bottom, you'll get minimal support. If you pay a lot, you won't necessarily get any better support. Reputation and recommendations from friends count for more than price in terms of deciding what you'll get.
ALso will you need to install software for what you do? I wanted to install asp tear for xml stuff - if so co-location may be required as shared hosting would not allow this flexibility
hope I have not confused you