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Then I discovered that said host has a "reseller" option. I sell server space (which I would do only for my clients), and each additional account is 50% OFF, a tasty savings that I could pass on to my clients and endear myself even more to their good graces! This also makes it so much easier for me to access their accounts to track stats, FTP, etc. SO, here's my question: to resell to my clients, I would have to be the one who bills them. An automated monthly billing service, either via software or outsourcing would be simplest and therefore ideal. Anybody have any suggestions?
I also only offer this to clients whose sites I design, maintain and do continued search engine work with, which I started only because I knew that the optimization work needed to go on, and since the original setup is so time-comsuming that I felt I was entitled to some continued compensation.
What I did was set up a package deal - giving a good offer on "editing" the site for search engines to people who wanted to continue on a monthly basis, which I tell them in necessary. The package includes continuted tweaking and submission, routine maintenance, and I "throw in" full featured hosting to make sure I have the stats necessary to check keywords, and also, to make it convenient for them, with only one all-inclusive monthly charge and billing. I have not had one person turn this down.
A couple mail me checks, while with others, I can take credit card payments through PayPal - which allows billing for services in addition to products with the customer being able to use their cerdit card (some others don't). So I can bill monthly, quarterly or for six months, but I do have to send a request for payment each time. ProPay might work also, I haven't checked them out regarding this.
I am not wild about PayPal, but the third party services that do handle recurring payments for memberships, hosting, etc. charge an awful lot - one is 15%.
There is a third-party person I set product sites up with, who has told me I can use his service for billing for my services. It's 6 or 7%, with payment not as quick as PayPal, but I will be offering the additonal option because of the availability of shopping cart or secure detailed order form on his secure server, with him taking the payment and mailing checks out in about two weeks. Disadvantage is lack of direct deposit, like PayPal offers.
Now that I've read your question again, I will find out from him about recurring payments. He is in the same business I am, on a considerably larger and more well-established scale, and I do know that he does regular recurring billing for his own clients, billing their credit card monthly.
I've given a brief run-down of what I've found out, and I think it's a matter of how much of a percentage a person is willing to pay, as well as the decision whether the price difference is worth the automated billing vs. sending billing or payment requests manually at regular intervals.
Hope this helps.
They have a great hosting package for useability.
I can send the info sticky mail if you want.
There are two hosting companies that charge $40 a month for the reseller account, and an unlimited number of domains can be added on the account, with only a setup fee charged -each has its own IP - I emailed to double check.
There are sometimes potential clients I know I won't want to do this with - those I would rather send to another hosting company, just to avoid an excessive PITA factor, or where I have my doubts about whether I want a continuing relationship with them other than an occasional update based on a per item or hourly fee.
This will, therefore, limit the number of sites I'll do this way. At a certain point I might do the $40, but I'm in no hurry to take on more than the basic commitment on two of the sites that are my own.
For this reason I would also like to find a company that has a good affiliate program or "free hosting month for a recommendation." I do not refer people to where I host, because it is not their business what I pay, and they are not knowledgeable enough to do a whois search.
Whether it's for either the hosting or the billing part, it's important to crunch the numbers and do what's called a "differential analysis" on the total cost for a given number number of sites.
As it stands now, I can decide to move other sites to another host in 6 months, discontinue the plan I currently offer, and still be paying $12 a month total for my own 2 sites. If I were intending to do a high volume or actually offer hosting services, I might look at it differently.
Right now I intend to continue with mail and PayPal billing, and add the option of the secure order form through this third party person. It's a difference between about 3% and 6%, but I can incorporate it into an online agreement handled using formmail, and it will be a very simple process, with the return page being a set of instructions on what the next steps are.
I think there are probably different criteria for reselling and billing options, depending on whether a person wants to actually become a hosting service. In that case, where other people are in control of their sites, I would be even more adamant about having a unique IP for each as a requirement.