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Free Hosting?

Discussion in 'General Business' started by kiteguy123, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. #1
    Hi guys.
    I'm thinking of starting a free hosting service and was wondering if anyone could give me some advice. Basically, will it make money?

    I mean, it seems pretty saturated, and I don't think I have the marketing expertise to be able to compete with some of the top services, but if I get around 20 people using the service, is that enough to start making money?

    I mean, I'd probably put a small ad on each of the users page, but nothing too extreme.

    How much does it cost to run a free hosting service, and how easy is it to set up? I see you can get decidated servers pretty cheap these days... would one of those suffice, and, if so, how would I set it up to give free hosting?
    SEMrush
    Thanks in advance for any help, there will be rep given out ;)
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 9, 2009 IP
    SEMrush
  2. cwenterprises

    cwenterprises Peon

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    #2
    Well you could get a really cheap reseller package here on DP, then all you will need to do is find a cheap script that will allow you to control who signsup and issues control panels etc. There is no point going for an expensive package whilst you are still testing the waters, but make sure that you have the option to upgrade if you need to!

    As you say the market is pretty full, so somehow you need to make yourself better than all of the other free hosts.

    Making money will be difficult with only 20 or so signedup. You need to really push out your hosting and get more people using your hosting to be in with a chance of making money. It does all depend on how much you want to make as well. If you just want it to cover its costs or to make a big profit.
     
    cwenterprises, Feb 9, 2009 IP
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  3. kurylovich

    kurylovich Peon

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    #3
    The revenue streams that you'll be using will probably Adsense or other PPC or pop-up ads.

    You'll probably want to start out small with a VPS.. then eventually move up to a bigger dedicated box as your clientele builds up.

    You'll need advanced knowledge of server administration, highly recommend you just stick with offering Linux hosting.

    There are also some management systems specifically designed for free hosts. Some examples are iPanel and Layered Panel which can help you manage your free hosted clients as well as provide paid hosting service all in one panel. However, if you're ever looking to go into 100% full paid hosting service then I highly recommend WHMCS as it is by far the best panel out there, but probably not the best for free services.

    Hope this has helped. :)
     
    kurylovich, Feb 9, 2009 IP
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  4. MMandYOu

    MMandYOu Peon

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    #4
    From everyone I have known who have had free hosting sites, they all have no ads on their members webpages, yet they try and upsell them into a paid hosting account. I can tell you that it can be profitable and was for my friends. Just make sure you put bandwidth limits up.
     
    MMandYOu, Feb 9, 2009 IP
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  5. kiteguy123

    kiteguy123 Well-Known Member

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    #5
    Hmm, the idea of trying to sell the free clients paid packages sounds pretty good. Thanks for the suggestion. Yeah, I was intending to put bandwidth and web disk space limitations on, probably about 100MB and 5GB? That way it's enough to host basic websites, but if you want anything much more advanced you'll need to upgrade.

    Kurylovich, the problem I see with pop up ads is that it'll put off potential users. Before I started webmastering (if that's a word :eek:) I used to just click off any site with pop ups, so it'd be a bit hypocrital (and slightly stupid) to then put them on other people's sites lol. When you say 'advanced knowledge of server administration', what exactly do you mean by this? I'm assuming that if I buy hosting from someone else then they'll sort out all technical problems?

    How likely am I to find a good script for a free hosting site that works on a normal hosting package? Or will I need someone to set it all up for me?
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 9, 2009 IP
  6. kurylovich

    kurylovich Peon

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    #6
    Yes I agree, pop-up ads are probably not the best.

    I can recommend to you a script called iPanel. If you're planning on using just plain banner ads from adsense or adbrite, or even your own banner ads; this script actually has a feature that helps you force ads on every one of your free hosting clients' sites. A banner on either or both the header (top of the page) or the footer (bottom of the page).

    When I said "advanced knowledge of server administration", I meant that you should know how to administrate a Linux based server (I recommend CentOS 5.x) as well as the use of cPanel and WHM with full root features. Your clients may ask you to enable certain server sided features, etc. I'm sorry if I'm scaring you at all but it might be easier than I am saying. Depending on where you're getting your server/reseller hosting from as well as if it's managed or unmanaged. If you're not an expert with server administration, I'd recommend finding a fully managed provider.

    I don't recommend the use of a free script, or I haven't bump into any that are worth using at least (in my opinion). iPanel does offer an installation service for you (not sure if it's free or not); but they're worth looking into so give them a try ;)

    Good luck!
     
    kurylovich, Feb 9, 2009 IP
  7. kiteguy123

    kiteguy123 Well-Known Member

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    #7
    iPanel looks quite good, but how would I install it? Would it just be a bog standard install onto my cPanel (if yes, how? :eek:), or would I have to buy a hosting package that had it pre installed? I was planning on buying a managed server with full support as neither me or my potential partner are very technical :eek: Would our lack of technological expertise let us down (even if we did have full technical support), or would just being able to smooth-talk our way out of problems help us? :D Plus, when you're talking about administration, are you on about technical or just moderation?

    Surely then if I gave away 100 free hosting packages and put some ads on, at least 1 or 2 of those would convert to a proper hosting package which would start to pay for the other free accounts. The only reservation I have about putting Adsense on people's sites, is that if it doesn't match the Adsense TOS then my account gets banned, and I really don't want that.

    Sorry, I think you misunderstood. We aren't after a free script (although that'd be great), we are willing to pay for things. What I'm trying to find out is whether I'll get a return lol :D
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 9, 2009 IP
  8. kurylovich

    kurylovich Peon

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    #8
    A return isn't guaranteed, it really depends on how active your free clients are. Since the banner ads will be shown on their sites you'll need to take into consideration if the sites you host have high traffic/good content or not. As far as the revenue/return I cannot give you a very good answer.

    However, for iPanel, you'll only need a server or a VPS (anything with full root access to). It does not come pre-installed but I believe the staff at iPanel offer an installation service if you're not great with these things, they do come with a detailed set of installation instructions for the script though.

    I recommend a VPS at www.Bodhost.com for starters. Why? because they are fully managed and they provide 24/7 live chat support. So for example, if something is wrong or if there's something you can't figure out, you can get to them right away, immediate response.
     
    kurylovich, Feb 9, 2009 IP
  9. alber859

    alber859 Active Member

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    #9
    Doteasy:

    $0 Hosting Plan
    $0 per month
    free setup
    10 personalized email addresses
    FreeSiteDesigner.com tool
    100MB of disk space
    1GB/month of data transfer
    Cheap Domain Names
    Award Winning Service
    Free support

    The easiest way to getting started with web hosting.

    If you're creating a website for the first time and would like to host a business brochure site or personal website or would simply like to have the professional image of a personalized email address - the $0 Hosting plan is the right one for you.

    $0 Hosting is the easiest for you to create a website providing you with a starting point to grow your site with flexible upgrade options. Trust the industry leader to help you with your website needs. By providing free customer support, online resources and intuitive web design tools, like freesitedesigner.com, we make it easy to get started and build the site you want.
     
    alber859, Feb 10, 2009 IP
  10. kiteguy123

    kiteguy123 Well-Known Member

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    #10
    Kurylovich, thanks again for your brilliant help, it means a lot ;)

    Done a bit more research since last time I posted and iPanel looks really good. Do you know if the $99 fee they talk about on their website is permanent or yearly? It doesn't make it very clear so I figured I'd ask here ;)

    Alber, try reading the original post before making a reply. :rolleyes:
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 11, 2009 IP
  11. newzone

    newzone Well-Known Member

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    #11
    My free host didn't worked , had over 1,000 users , if interested i sell cheap a Layered Panel license 55 $.
     
    newzone, Feb 11, 2009 IP
  12. kiteguy123

    kiteguy123 Well-Known Member

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    #12
    Newzone, when you say it didn't work, what exactly do you mean? Was it that you weren't making money, or even losing money? How did you monetise the websites of the clients, and how much did you spend on VPS servers or the similar?

    Look forward to seeing your reply :)
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 11, 2009 IP
  13. Kwaku

    Kwaku Well-Known Member

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    #13
    I have and have had a lot of freehosts (I used to own layeredpanel.com) and i've made a bundle over the years. But if you want to start you shouldn't go for a few members; even the smallest freehost I ran had over 10.000 members. I have tried cpanel (which truly sucks for freehosting from an admin point of view), ipanel and layeredpanel (which I built myself into the most scalable of those solutions). There are tons of ways to make money with free hosting, whilehat, greyhat and blackhat alike. I tried them all and they all work fine.

    But you won't make any money at all under 5000 members I have noticed. But it isn't hard to get to that amount.

    Some tips;

    - don't go for a VPS; you'll get banned in no time
    - get a dedi with unmetered bandwidth
    - get a good admin to handle your emergencies
    - use a freehosting panel; the other ones simply die after a few 1000 members and there is nothing you can do about it; cpanel etc are made for like 500 users / server ; they cannot stand massive userbases


    Freehosting is a very *easy* business if you can monetize it; the admin will fix your server (typically paid on a per-ticket basis) and you only have to think about monetizing and getting members.

    Getting members is difficult? Not at all.

    If you have more questions, just PM me.
     
    Kwaku, Feb 11, 2009 IP
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  14. kiteguy123

    kiteguy123 Well-Known Member

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    #14
    Kwaku, great reply, rep given. How many dedicated servers did you use to host 5,000 members, and how much did this cost? Also, if you don't mind me asking, how much profit did you make monthly from 5k members? How did you monetise, stick ads on their website or some other method?
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 12, 2009 IP
  15. ergtron

    ergtron Peon

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    #15
    Instead of that, I would try wordpress MU to offer free blogs.
     
    ergtron, Feb 12, 2009 IP
  16. mentos

    mentos Prominent Member

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    #16
    Yes its still profitable.My free user turn to paid member at the rate of 5user/week.I put pop up ads at their website and they no complain about it since its free.The cost is depend on which server you buy for me i buy the high end server with unmetered bandwidth to give my user perfect impression.
     
    mentos, Feb 13, 2009 IP
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  17. kiteguy123

    kiteguy123 Well-Known Member

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    #17
    mentos, thanks for the reply. How much do you spend on hosting per month, and how many users is that from? I'm assuming you make a fair bit from converting users onto a paid package, one question tho: do you charge these people ugrading more than they would expect to pay if they went to a normal hosting service? Also, which pop up ads do you use?
     
    kiteguy123, Feb 13, 2009 IP
  18. bsreddy

    bsreddy Member

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    #18
    You can start a free hosting services for as low $5 per month hosting charges.You can find great deals on ebay.The trick to make money with free hosting service is ,after you have a minimum of 1000 returning and active users ,you can sell the website for a neat profit like 500 to 100$.
     
    bsreddy, Feb 13, 2009 IP