Web Development with the Mac
But . . . that cost. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to make a prudent business decision and
choose something a little more lightweight. The best (or second-best) option here is a virtual
private server. Many companies offer servers that run as virtualized instances on powerful
machines. It’s not as fast as a dedicated server, but for a few sites, it can meet your needs — at
half the cost.
When evaluating a hosting company, you’ll examine a wide range of choices. When you narrow
your vendors down to a handful based on features and price, use your favorite search engine to
find out what others have to say.
Don’t be put off by negative reviews either. Any hosting company will always have a disgrun-
tled, vocal minority. Pay attention to all the reviews, and weigh them accordingly.
Providing clients with a selection of hosting options
When you start up your business is a good time to decide whether you will do any hosting. One
thing I can guarantee is that you’ll deal with clients who just want you to handle all aspects of
their web presence. So, your decision really should be between hosting it yourself or selecting a
third party to do it for you.
Clearly, hosting is not your core business; it’s not something that you’re likely to make any sig-
nificant profit from. In fact, a savvy client can find decent hosting for a few dollars a month. You
shouldn’t bother trying to compete with that. Instead, I place the focus on the simplicity of hav-
ing one person responsible for everything. And just as with your domain registrations, having
many of your sites located on your server ultimately makes your life simpler. Not only will you
need to remember just one set of credentials to access your sites, but you will also know exactly
how the production environment is configured; that is, it’s identical to your development envi-
ronment. With a third-party hosting service, you often run into small surprises where the pro-
duction server lacks some configuration or plug-in.
Technically speaking, you’ve already seen from Chapter 2 how easy it is to manage a web
server. I’ve been running one myself for three years without any significant problems. Running
a web server is not a specialized task that you need to outsource.
When I talk to clients about their sites and the question of hosting comes up, I’m fairly casual
about my ability to host. All the same, I find that most of my clients are happy to pay $30 per
month to host their site with me. It pays the hosting bill, and it makes life easier.
Your Service Offering
Once your business is set up, you’ll start to deal with clients. The services that you offer and the
conditions under which you offer them are important in determining your long-term survival.
The following sections describe some areas you should pay attention to.
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