All of us know that WordPress can be used to create some really amazing websites. But have you ever thought of creating a web hosting business using the most popular CMS available today? Learn more about WordPress and WHMCS.
Many people have jumped into creating web hosting businesses recently. It is a lucrative business opportunity which can enable you to increase your earnings, earn recurring revenue and work from anywhere you want. You can even integrate a new web hosting business with your current internet marketing or web design business to earn more revenue.
If you have a basic understanding of WordPress, then you can actually get a web hosting business up and running in a matter of hours! All you’ll need for this is WordPress and the WHMCS billing software. While WordPress allows you to create the front-end of a professional looking website, WHMCS allows you to manage billing and accounts from the back-end. WHMCS is one of the world’s most popular web hosting automation platforms which allows you to handle sign-ups, billing, provisioning and support.
Today, I will compile a step by step guide to help you create a web hosting business easily and efficiently using WordPress and WHMCS. I’ll show you everything that you need to do to get your new business up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible, so make sure to read right through to the end!
You can also watch the video oh our WHMCS tutorial on youtube. Darrel Wilson and Ryan Grey of namehero go in detail on what you need to do to setup your hosting company step by step
Get a basic idea of WordPress
In order to create a new web hosting business, you will need to have a basic understanding of WordPress. If you have used WordPress before, then you can skip to the next step. If not, then you should get yourself acquainted with WordPress before you build your new web hosting business.
While you can use other CMS platforms like Joomla and Drupal to create your web hosting business, I prefer WordPress. This is because WordPress is completely free, it is very friendly to beginners, it is mobile and tablet friendly and it is backed by a massive support community.
Image: WordPress Dashboard
Don’t worry if you have never used WordPress before to create a website, it is actually quite easy and straightforward. There are plenty of WordPress tutorials available on the Internet, so I won’t go into the details here. You don’t need to go into too much detail with WordPress to build a web hosting business. Just get yourself acquainted with the dashboard, the themes and the settings. If you’re an absolute beginner, I also recommend that you try creating a free blog for a better understanding of WordPress.
Purchase a domain name and reseller hosting
Once you have acquainted yourself with WordPress, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and reseller hosting for your new business. While the WordPress platform is completely free, you will have to purchase reseller hosting and a domain name. Don’t worry, it won’t break the bank. You can purchase a domain name plus domain-hosting for as little as $3-5 per month, which is less than a cup of coffee.
You will need a hosting package, of course you may chose any hosting company you want, but i recommend Namehero because of their reliability and knowledge with reseller hosting. I have teamed up with Ryan Grey and can provide you a special discount for reseller hosting
When signing up to namehero for your resller hosting package, i highly recommend getting the corporate package because you already get the WHMCS license included. If you use another package, you will have to purchase the WHMCS license alone and it will drive your cost up! So I would use the resources available and select the corporate hosting package.
First, think of what you want your new web hosting business to be called. After you’ve come up with a few names, look to see if the .com domain name of your choice is available for purchase. You can go with other domain extensions, but I’ll recommend you to try and find a .com domain unless other extensions describe you better. When you find an available domain name of your choice, you can purchase it from your hosting provider.
After you’ve finalized a domain name, you’ll need to purchase reseller hosting for your new website. There are several reseller hosting providers out there, but I recommend you to consider NameHero. NameHero is one of the best and their plans are quite affordable as compared to some others. Also, when you purchase NameHero reseller hosting, you will also receive a free license for WHMCS and you can even purchase your domain name of choice for free within NameHero.
Next up, you’ll need to install WordPress to create your website. Thankfully, NameHero makes this process very simple, even for beginners. First, log in to the client area on your NameHero cPanel. Once you’ve logged in, scroll down the cPanel page under scripts until you see the WordPress icon.
Click on the WordPress icon to open the dashboard within the cPanel and click on the install button. NameHero offers one-click installation of WordPress, so you should have absolutely no problems with installation. Upon installation, you’ll also need to fill out the fields for your website in the cPanel. If you’re unsure of anything, just leave the fields at the default option. As an option, you can also browse through the preloaded free themes in WordPress and use one if you desire. You can always change the theme later if you need to.
Image: WordPress Install
Do note that you can create a web hosting website without using WordPress – simply by using WHMCS. However, this is not a path that I recommend. Without the power of WordPress, you’ll only be able to create a bland and boring website. And, in today’s fast and competitive world, you want your website to be anything but bland and boring.
WordPress and WHMCS – Installation
After installing WordPress, you’ll need to install WHMCS as well. NameHero integrates with WHMCS and you can install it in a matter of minutes. To install WHMCS, login to the client area on your NameHero cPanel. After logging in, scroll down the page under softaculous until you see the WHMCS icon.
Click on the WHMCS icon to open the dashboard and then click on the install button. As with WordPress, NameHero offers one-click installation of WHMCS as well, so you’ll find the installation to be super simple. You’ll also need to fill out few text fields based on your requirements for your web hosting business. One thing to keep in mind is that WHMCS recommends the latest version of PHP, so make sure that you update your PHP version in the cPanel.
Image: WHMCS Install
Once you’ve installed WHMCS, you can login to your WHMCS Admin dashboard from where you can change settings.
Setup nameservers using WHMCS
The first thing you need to do after you’ve installed WHMCS and WordPress on your website is to setup nameservers. You can do this from your WHMCS Admin dashboard itself. First, login to your WHMCS Admin dashboard and find the Setup button. Hover over the button to reveal a drop-down list and choose General Settings from the list. Next, head over to the domain tab where you’ll need to fill in a few settings.
Image: WHMCS Nameservers
The settings you’ll need to enter are very important to providing web hosting services, so make sure to fill them in properly. These settings include:
Domain registration options
Enable renew options
Auto-renew on payment
Auto-renew requires product
Default auto-renew settings
Create to-do list entries
Domain sync enabled
Sync next due date
Domain sync notify only
Allow IDN domains
Bulk domain search
Default nameservers 1-5
Use client details
First name, last name, company name, email address, postal address and phone number
Once you’ve filled these settings according to your requirements, save the changes.
If you have any problems in setting up nameservers, you can also make use of the helpful WHMCS setup wizard. This wizard will guide you through all the necessary settings required for you to begin selling web hosting services.
Before you can start selling web hosting services, you’ll also need to setup Enom on your website. Enom allows you to offer SSL certificates, website building software and email services which are closely related to web hosting. In order to setup Enom on your website, you’ll need to register an account with Enom first. Another important point is that you need to fund your Enom account before you can start selling your services. I recommend making a deposit of a minimum of $25.
Image: Enom Setup
Once you’ve registered, head over to your WHMCS Admin dashboard and hover over the Setup button. From the drop-down list, head over to Products/Services and then to Domain Registrars. Under the list of Domain Registrars, locate Enom and click on the Activate button next to it. When you do this, you’ll see the Enom configuration screen where you’ll have to enter your Enom username as well as your API token. Click on Save to complete the setup process. You’ll also need to register your IP address with Enom because their API offers restricted access through IP addresses.
Configure general WHMCS settings
Next, you’ll need to configure the general WHMCS settings in order to start selling web hosting. During this process, you’ll also familiarize yourself with the various configurations and settings available in WHMCS.
Image: WHMCS General Settings
To configure the general settings, login to your WHMCS Admin dashboard and hover over the Setup tab to reveal a drop-down list. From the list, click on General Settings. Once you do so, you’ll find several tabs through which you can configure the general settings as per your needs. These tabs include:
I won’t go into the details of these settings as they will depend on your requirements. You should face too many problems in configuring these settings. But, if you do, there are plenty of lengthy tutorials online to help you out.
Configure email piping
As a seller of web hosting services, inevitably you will need to provide support to your clients. For this, you’ll need to configure email piping within WHMCS. Thankfully, this is a simple process which you can do from within the WHMCS Admin dashboard.
Image: Email Piping in WHMCS
To configure email piping, access your WHMCS Admin dashboard and hover over the Setup button. Select Support and then click on Support Departments to open the support ticket departments page. On this page, locate Ticket Importing using Email Forwarders and copy the portion in the field after ‘home/username/’ in the path. Next, login to your dashboard, locate the Emails tab and click on Forwarders and then Add Forwarder. On this page, enter the email address of your support department. After this, head over to Advanced Options and click on Pipe to a Program, where you can paste the command you had copied earlier. Finalize your email piping settings by saving the changes to the Add Forwarder button.
Configure domain pricing
Since you will be selling services related to domain registration and any associated add-ons, you’ll need to configure domain pricing within WHMCS. To do this, login to your WHMCS Admin dashboard and head over to Support, then Products/Services and then Domain Pricing.
Image: WHMCS Domains Pricing
Under the Domain Pricing tab, you can configure various settings including:
Modifying existing TLDs
Adding new TLDs
Premium domain names
Add-ons such as email forwarding, ID protection and DNS management
WHMCS offers detailed instructions to help you configure domain pricing. If you are in doubt, simply go through their instructions and tutorials.
Customize customer dashboard
To make a killer web hosting business, you have to provide an exceptional customer experience. Thankfully, you can easily customize the customer dashboard in WHMCS using the Admin dashboard.
Image: WHMCS Customer Dashboard
The WHMCS Admin dashboard includes widget controls on the top right of every widget. Using these controls, you can minimize, refresh or close widgets in order to change the dashboard appearance. You can even create your own widgets and feature them on the customer dashboard.
Stripe is a popular payment gateway which is compatible with WHMCS. However, you’ll need to configure and integrate Stripe before you can start selling web hosting. To do so, login to your WHMCS Admin dashboard and head over to Setup, then Payments and then Payment Gateways.
Image: WHMCS Stripe Integration
On the Payment Gateways page, you’ll need to enter your Stripe API keys. You can find your secret API key inside the Stripe portal. Once you’ve done so, you can customize the display name and statement descriptor. Complete the process by saving the changes.
Add hosting packages and services
As part of your web hosting services, you’ll need to provide cPanel hosting accounts to your customers. And, to do so, you’ll need to connect your cPanel server to WHMCS. Fortunately, this process is also relatively simple.
Image: Adding Hosting Packages and Services in WHMCS
First, login to your WHMCS Admin dashboard, head over to Setup, then Products/Services and then Servers. On this page, choose the option to Add New Server and fill in all information from your cPanel. Save the changes
To add hosting packages and servers, go to your WHMCS Admin dashboard, then to Setup and then to Products/Services. Click on Create a New Product and give it the same name as the hosting package you have created.
Create WHMCS add-ons
WHMCS offers a number of add-on modules that allow you to extend the capability of the billing software. Some of these add-on modules include Registrar Modules, Payment Gateways and Provisioning Modules. All add-ons can be managed within the WHMCS Admin dashboard under Setup and then Addon Modules.
Image: WHMCS Add-Ons
When offering add-ons, it really depends on what you want to offer with your web hosting services. With the help of add-ons, you can upsell WordPress configurations, SEO, social media management and other related products/services. By doing so, you can increase your revenue per customer.
Customize your website and add a logo
If you’ve followed all the steps I have mentioned above, you will have a fully functioning website by now. However, your website is still not presentable to customers, so you should customize your website and include a logo.
Adding a logo and making website customizations can easily be done within the WordPress cPanel. I won’t go into the details here as this is fairly straightforward. In case you run into any problems, you can easily find a solution online.
Transfer domains and support tickets
An integral part of offering web hosting services is to allow customers to transfer their existing domains and support tickets to your service. Again, WHMCS makes this process super simple.
Under the WHMCS customer dashboard, your customers can see an option to register or transfer a domain. And, under the cPanel, customers can submit support tickets for transferring their domains to your service.
Image: Domain Transfer in WHMCS
That’s it! These are the exact step by step instructions you need to follow in order to create a new web hosting business. While there are certainly many steps involved in this process, most of these steps are fairly straightforward. If you have any experience with WordPress or you’re a developer, you should face no problems in configuring and using WHMCS. And, in case you do, you can always refer to the official WHMCS documentation where you’ll find detailed instructions.
Have you already started a web hosting business of your own with WordPress and WHMCS? Do you think I may have missed out on some important information in this tutorial? Or do you have any doubts or queries regarding any of the things I have mentioned in this tutorial? Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll be more than happy to help you out!
In the early days of WordPress, it was normally used for blogging online. However, things have changed drastically over time as WordPress has advanced into a complete content management system capable of powering just any kind of website including e-commerce website.
It is important to note that although WordPress website can be an e-commerce platform, it may not be a good fit for all situations. However, let us see some of the reasons to consider using the WordPress platform.
You can use WordPress if you are someone who wants a total control of your website
You want to not just have an e-commerce website but also include things like pages and blogs as part of all encompassing webs
You do not want to use e-commerce platforms like BigCommerce since you are required to pay monthly transaction fees by using them.
You don’t want to bug yourself with web languages that make you scared. Note that WordPress is designed to be very easy to understand and use. Therefore, if you are a first timer, it is expected that you can key into the system without many issues
You are interested in starting gradually and then keep building your website as time goes on
You are looking for a platform where you can engage developers easily when the need arises
You want to keep your payment processing system less complicated
The following reasons above make perfect sense to use WordPress. However, WordPress may not be the best thing to use if
You want a complicated payment system where you have a fully integrated system that would run without developers help. WooCommerce may be able to do this but the problem is that it could be complicated.
You are looking at having all the hosting and technical details all taken care of
If the reasons above fit into your demands, then this guide is for you. This guide is written to cover exactly how you can set up an e-commerce website in WordPress with WooCommerce Plugin. Having said that, let’s look at the steps in details.
Why should you go with WooCommerce and products you can create?
WooCommerce can create so many types of ecommerce shops where you can publish different types of products. Some of the products include
Simple Products: This is a shop that deals with just the basic components of what to sell like the product description, price, gallery plus the add to chart button
Downloadable Products: This type of products that is available for the only download like applications and e-books
Variable Products: This is where you sell products with a lot of variables like colors, sizes, materials among others.
External Products: This is an affiliate product link with links to where the product is sold.
Grouped Products: This is a set up where a collection of products that are related are grouped together and sold individually.
Get Started- Get Domain Name, Web Hosting and Install WordPress
Step 1: Get Domain Name
The first thing to do to create an e-commerce website is to install WordPress on a hosting account using your domain name. For domain names, you can actually get a good domain name that would suit your website needs on places like Siteground. Domain names should be short, simple and reflect the type of service you are offering. Once the issue of domain names and hosting is sorted, you can install WordPress on your hosting account and begin from there.
There are a lot of hosting service available you can use and that would depend on the size of the memory for your website. It is important to remember that e-commerce websites need more memory space for PHP than normal sites and since it could have thousands of products and visitors, it is vital to factor them when choosing a hosting account. Example of hosting accounts are Hostgator, Bluehost, Siteground and other options.(You can search for more).
Step 3: Install WordPress
After getting your domain name and hosting, it is time to install WordPress on your hosting account using your domain name to get started.
What are The WordPress Ecommerce Options?
First of all, it is important to mention that a website qualifies to be an e-commerce website if it has three things. They are the shopping cart, product pages, and checkout process. These are what differentiate e-commerce websites with just an ordinary WordPress website.
To make this work, you are expected to add these functions to your WordPress website using a plugin. For the benefit of those who get confused by the term plugin, it is simply a kind of software that you can install on your WordPress website and the essence is to improve on the functionality of the website.
In an e-commerce website, there is need to install a plugin which has the capability of creating custom product pages, introduce shopping cart functionality in such a way that allows any visitor to add products to the cart while shopping on the site. In addition, the plugin should synchronize the added product in the cart with a payment function that calculates the product purchased by the visitors.
Note that there are a lot of plugins that can produce these functionalities but the most recommended are the WooCommerce produced by WooThemes.
Let us see why WooCommerce is by far the most recommended and used when it comes to creating e-commerce sites
First of all, WooCommerce has all it takes to make an e-commerce website. It is easy to use, loaded with functionalities; it is versatile and has the community and reputation to make an e-commerce website in WordPress
It is search engine friendly. That means if you are concerned about search engine optimization, then WooCommerce is the best plugin to choose
It is backed up by a very reputable company. WooThemes the creator of WooCommerce is a well known reputable company that has contributed to the WordPress community for years. It has been known to support WordPress foundation for years.
WooCommerce has the required support and versatility you will likely need in the process.
Let us recap; we have talked about installing WordPress on a hosting account using your domain name as the basis. Now, it is time to install your e-commerce plugin in order to create an e-commerce website. Therefore, we need to Install WooCommerce using the following steps
Go to your WordPress Dashboard and click on Add New Plugin
Then search for WooCommerce and click on “install” to activate it
It is important to understand that WooCommerce will require several pages to function and this includes things like cart page. You can customize these pages if you want but for a start, it may be better to allow the wizard install the pages
Then you can set your location, currency, and units
Shipping and tax will require that you customize it at some point but initially, you can enter it in general settings in order for the store to start.
Enter payment options. Note that this area is one of the most important areas when it comes to running and e-commerce store. Paypal can be used for a start but you can still explore as many options as you can in the settings.
Your WooCommerce is now installed and you can now focus on the product. You can create your first product page and use it to understand how to enter the right information
Go through the product page to see what you will need. However, you are to ensure that your URL structure is stored correctly and the theme is well integrated with the new functionality of the e-commerce website. Failing to do this will result in unwanted issues. It is also important to note that there are also a lot of other plugins that would likely synchronize with the WooCommerce plugin and it is important to note them down. Examples of these plugins are Analytics and Yoast SEO. They are a very powerful tool used for tracking and they are free.
To make it work together,
You can go back to the “Add New Plugins” on your dashboard and then
Search for WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration.
Once found, install and activate it.
Step 5: Setting Up Your Online Store Structure
Setting up your online store structure should be the next thing to do because online stores have a lot of ways to display products. The bad thing is that it could sometimes generate some ugly and inefficient URLs that are unfriendly to search engines for your product categories. However, the combination of WooCommerce and WordPress makes the efficient set up of these permanent links possible. But note that it is difficult to change the permalink structure once it has been set up. It is important to always confirm them even though the default settings are generally good.
Go to the new WooCommerce link on your dashboard
Go to settings> products
It is important to note that WooCommerce will need a product archive page which will be used to display all your products. It is like having a blog display all the posts you have made but this time, we are talking of products.
However, WooCommerce will make this archive using the standard WordPress page and name it to shop page by default.
You can always edit the name if you do not like it to be called shop page by going to pages. All pages and call it whatever suits you. There may not be any need for your visitors to see it and you can make it your homepage if you desire but the point is that it really has to be in place.
Then click on the link to see your product permalinks.
Here you can set your permalinks both in WordPress and product. However, note that during your WordPress set up initially, you must have enabled Pretty Permalinks. One thing about these permalinks is that they are done is such a way that makes it impossible to have any kind of conflict with categories or blog posts you may want to write. However, they are also customizable in any way you may want them to appear. For example, having a silver product category instead of a silver blog category will produce a default display like
“Myonlinestore.com/category/silver or myonlinestore.com/ product category/silver”
There is nothing wrong in using the default settings but at some point you may just have to customize it by putting the product option under the permalink of the product especially when aesthetics is desired.
The major work is now done as your online store set up is done. You can now navigate to the created product links in the dashboard of WordPress to create a category or product and see the look or appearance of the URLs before your proceed.
Step 6: Getting a Compatible WordPress Theme
It is important to make sure that your WordPress Theme is very compatible with WooCommerce. This is because most things you do will not work if they are incompatible. It is important to understand the difference between Themes and Plugins to appreciate why both are very vital.
Note that Themes will control the output of your functionality and these are what your visitors are actually going to see while WordPress is more of controlling the functionality of your website.
Note that WooCommerce is a very superior plugin and there is some functionality that some Themes cannot handle correctly. This is why it is important to always select Themes that would not show product pages as ugly. With that in mind, you will also want a Theme that is versatile in the sense that it can be upgraded or updated and give you exactly what you want.
There are a lot of Themes you can get for your e-commerce website that is good. Let us see some of them
WooThemes Theme- They are good themes that are perfectly aligned with WooCommerce but they are not free. However, if you have the funds, this seems to be the best especially as it has a lot of support.
WordPress default Theme- There are also good WordPress Themes every suitable for this purpose. For example, a Theme like Twenty-Twenty is very good and it is also free. Sometimes, it may come with your installation but if it does not, you can always get it through Themes> Add New. It is free but at the same time, it will give you what you need.
Marketplace Themes- If you want and if you have the funds, there are a lot of quality Themes at the marketplace that are compatible with WooCommerce. For example, there is ThemeForest which is well equipped to handle WooCommerce features. However, when going to the marketplace to find themes always ensure that you define exactly what you want because many may just be exaggerated.
Another way to solve the issue of good themes is by getting a framework such as Genesis by studio press. It is good and syncs very well with WooCommerce plugins. It also allows for easy changes without having to impact on your overall site. But one thing you must note about Genesis is that it takes a little more work to sync it up with WooCommerce. You can check it outside this guide as it is not our main focus.
However, if this is a little complicated than expected, the WooThemes are a good fit especially as it is just a plug and play plus automatic sync with WooCommerce.
Step 7: General Store Settings
You can do general store settings for your store.
First, go to the WooCommerce link found in the dashboard menu.
Go to settings and find the General Tab. When you get there, you will notice the default settings which may have been set up by WooCommerce. You can check every one of them because of a truth; some may not be a good fit for what you want. To do that, click through each of the sections and subsections to check them.
WooCommerce comes with built in styling that is used for buttons and borders. You can customize them to your taste if you want to. You can also enable lightbox which allows any visitor clicking on your product images to see them in a zoom form without having to leave the product page.
When setting product images, check for sizes, the shape and how it is seen overall. Check if it should be scaled down. Here WooCommerce will allow you to set single product image, catalog images and also product Thumbnails. The good thing is that most of the settings required as just self-explanatory and that means you will be clear about it as you go through them. However, ensure you are paying good attention to details and check on all options being thrown up by WooCommerce. Go through all the settings and customize as you want it to be.
Note that some tabs require full understanding when setting up your online store. For example, you have the System status where the information from allocated memory to the version number. Then if for any reason you need to reset your store entirely, then it can be done at the Tools tab but you may never need it.
Then you have the WooCommerce Add-ons and to a lot of people, this is like the magic box of the whole thing. Normally building an e-commerce generally will require you to have a developer who will program some functionality but with WooCommerce, everything is just like plug_and_play.
WooCommerce gives you a lot of access to enough extensions that you can work with. Most of the extensions may not be free but it is way cheaper than most of the custom solutions that you may need generally. Some of these WooCommerce extensions can be found in the market place and they can be added easily.
With your e-commerce store on WordPress now functional, let us see how to set up product pages.
Step 8: Setting Up Product Pages
The type of theme you choose will give a look and feel to your product pages. It is important to note that a lot of things go into the product page. For example;
Reviews will appear below the product description in the product page
Product categories can be added from the product page
Product tags could be additional categorization that does not necessarily need to be a product
Product gallery is the picture that would appear on the product page as thumbnails
However, the main area of the product page has to be the data widget. This is actually the area where the product information is set. For example, the price of the product, the type of the product, shipping and other relevant information.
Your products can be organized directly from the product page and you also have the choice to organize them as a whole product from the menu.
Finally, there are a lot of things you can do on your e-commerce websites like customized shipping policies capturing rates that are based on bulk, weight, and distance.
Creating an e-commerce website from WordPress does not have to be difficult if you get serious about it. It may look like a difficult thing to do but this guide has tried to simplify things to the minimum for proper understanding. As long as you love the WooCommerce features, creating your online e-commerce store using WordPress is just the best for you. Read this guide over again and you will be surprised to create something you may never have dreamt of.
Read this guide over again and you will be surprised to create something you may never have dreamt of.