Reselling vs. Co-selling vs. Referring Hosting with WP Engine
Find the best business model for your customers and your bottom line!
Here at WP Engine, many of our customers—agencies, freelancers, and WordPress creatives like you—make websites for other people. To stay focused on doing your best work, you might want to hand off the hosting bill to whoever owns the site or even make a little extra money from partnering with a trusted hosting provider. That’s where WP Engine comes in!
We built our powerful hosting platform to enable creatives to spend less time managing sites or fumbling through their workflows and created features to help you focus on doing your best work (like landing your next big client).
So let’s talk about some ways to structure your business to help you (and your clients) get the hosting support you need while making a little extra money along the way!
Note: In the examples from this guide, “end clients” simply refers to the person/business/entity a site is being created and/or managed for (with varying degrees of involvement with their site). “Agencies” will also refer to any person/business/entity who’s building or managing that site.
Your choice of hosting solutions can vary based on your client’s needs and your business model. Clients might 1) seek your guidance on self-managing their hosting or 2) opt to pay more for you to manage hosting and maintenance. As the creator and/or custodian of their website, this presents you with options: reselling, co-selling, or referring hosting services.
Some agencies might have a predetermined option for their clients based on how they decide to run their business. For example, many agencies know they can earn recurring revenue by reselling hosting. Other agencies, which may be just starting their business, look to hosting experts like WP Engine for advice on recommending and getting started with the best solution for their sites and business.
Let’s dive in and learn a little more about reselling, co-selling, and referring with WP Engine!
If you’re looking to increase or establish recurring revenue from your existing clients, reselling hosting is the way to go! Creating maintenance plans or packages for your end client, where there are tiers of services and hosting options to choose from, is a common way to resell hosting.
With WP Engine, you can include our features (like SSL, nightly backups, WordPress updates, etc.) to your plans or add value with our additional solutions like Smart Plugin Manager and Site Monitoring) to increase your bottom line! Our platform and tools are built to make reselling hosting easy for scaling agencies.
That’s why we’ve created growth initiatives like our Agency Partner Program that’s packed with perks like priority access to technical support, referrals to brands, industry-leading commissions, special discount pricing, listing in our Agency Directory, and a dedicated partner success manager to help grow your business.
Pros and cons:
Reselling hosting is a great way to increase your bottom line and provide peace of mind for your end clients. You can cover the hosting cost and reasonably upcharge your clients on the cost of managing and maintaining their site. Many hosting resellers also choose to offer maintenance plan options at varying prices so you have even more potential for revenue (and include some of the benefits of managed WordPress hosting in their maintenance plans).
Creating WordPress maintenance plans does require some initial time, strategy, and implementation when getting started. Reselling hosting also requires you to manage billing and provide the selected, recurring services chosen by your end client. However, WP Engine makes it easy with our suite of built-in features and tools that make reselling hosting a breeze!
If you’re looking for a partner who can help with the technical aspects of selling hosting and/or strongly believes in WP Engine’s product offerings, co-selling is a great option! This solution typically involves the end client handling the hosting bill, but there are instances where you might manage the bill, depending on the specific circumstances.
For example, if you’re working with a high-end or highly technical client site, you may not want to resell hosting to them. You might prefer to collaborate by bringing together your end client and our team at WP Engine to create a custom solution for the site. It’s an opportunity for us to help you by telling your clients why WP Engine is the best solution for their site.
It’s also an easy way to collaborate with your team and make sure the site is set up for success from the start. Whether it’s a site that needs large amounts of resources, a company with specific security needs, a new internationalization project you want to approach with a keen eye or anything in between, co-selling is a great solution that benefits you and your clients!
Pros and cons:
This gives the end client confidence and more of a stakeholder role in creating the best solution for their website. It can also instill confidence in your agency knowing there’s an additional team of experts (that’s WP Engine!) supporting and managing your clients’ site.
However, this doesn’t necessarily give you as much of an opportunity to upsell or resell the cost of hosting because the end client will be part of the WP Engine contract discussion. This may limit the additional hosting revenue potential for the agency, although it can pair nicely with our referral program for this reason! If you also refer the site to WP Engine, you could earn up to $7,500 depending on the site and hosting requirements! But we’ll dive more into that later.
For agencies who want to make a little extra money without the added responsibility of coordinating the hosting bill or constant site management, referring hosting is a great option!
Many end clients look to you as the agency to recommend the best hosting option for their site. For agencies looking to hand off the hosting, billing, and management, referring your clients to WP Engine makes a great option (plus you can sleep soundly knowing the sites are in good hands).
With WP Engine’s Agency Partner Program, we’re here to help you earn revenue however works best for you, like linking to WP Engine on your site, transferring billing from a demo site to an end client, creating custom co-branded landing pages, and so much more. It’s a simple way to earn up to $7,500 per site referred to WP Engine, especially with more technical sites where co-selling seems like a good fit and may need a less out-of-the-box hosting plan.
Pros and cons:
Referring gives you flexibility (and a little extra cash) Your clients get a reliable host, and you get a nice kickback without the added stress of managing hosting or the bill! For someone who only wants to focus on creating beautiful WordPress sites for your clients, referring them to WP Engine makes a great option.
It’s important to note that referring does limit your earning potential, as reselling hosting provides more of an opportunity to upsell on the cost of hosting and adds in a recurring revenue stream with additional services or maintenance plans.
What’s Best for Your
Business and Clients?
When it comes to recommending a solution, as a trusted hosting partner, we’re here to help you no matter what you decide. With WP Engine, you get best-in-class hosting and management for your clients in the way that works best for your business and workflow.
Our team is here to provide the best solutions for you and your sites. No matter if you’re just starting out or managing thousands of sites, we’re here to help you scale and meet your business goals, making your agency business more profitable and less stressful!
You’re probably thinking, well it sounds like I could resell and co-sell if needed, or refer and resell at the same time. You’re absolutely right! While most agencies we work with tend to choose one main business model to help run the majority of their business, you never know when you might land that next big project you want to co-sell with or when you get that client who wants you to continually maintain their site.
So, to help you choose and make some distinctions between these business models, we’ve created this chart to might help clarify some key differences:
|How do you want to partner with WP Engine?
|Sell hosting without mentioning WP Engine, similar to white label hosting
|Collaborate with client, creatives, and WP Engine to decide hosting needs
|Recommend WP Engine specifically, use WP Engine as a primary selling point to your clients
|How do you want to manage the cost of hosting?
|Manage the hosting cost as a line item in the client’s bill and services, likely using set packages
|May or may not manage the hosting bill, likely use the existing cost all parties agreed on
|Not managing the hosting bill, transfer billing to the end client
|How price-sensitive are your clients?
|Clients can afford recurring hosting and management, price likely packaged with other services
|Clients likely have specific hosting needs, likely will pay for best-in-class hosting
|Clients likely less concerned with the finer details of hosting, wants reliability and affordability
|How established is your existing business?
|Well-established business multiple existing clients, looking to increase their bottom line
|Likely established business with specific client hosting needs, also helpful for launching big projects
|Good option for new and established businesses
|Can/do you want to offer other services?
Best when offering additional services and packages outside of hosting and WP Engine features
May offer other services, may depend on the kind of maintenance you’re offering in addition to
|May not have the bandwidth to offer hosting or other service packages
|How important is earning additional revenue to you?
|Likely upsell and/or white labels the cost of hosting to earn recurring revenue, likely offer additional services
|Likely not profiting as much from the cost of hosting, and minimally if so unless additional services are offered
|Earn a one-time commission per referred hosting plan, dependent on time and incoming projects/work
|How involved do you want to be when selling to your clients?
|Do the selling yourself and consult WP Engine if needed
|Works with WP Engine and the end-client to sell hosting
|Do most of the selling yourself and consult WP Engine if needed
|How technically do you feel you can speak to hosting and the setup?
|Most likely technical and can create sites for clients of any size, shape, budget, etc.
|Most likely can create sites for high-profile and/or highly-technical clients or businesses, may be less technical and want help selling your clients on managed WordPress hosting
|Any range, may not have to create sites to refer people to WP Engine (like a blog using affiliate links), can be highly technical and create a partnership with us
Can I do a combination of reselling, co-selling, and referring hosting?
Absolutely! Many people who partner with our team here at WP Engine use a combination of reselling, co-selling, and referring hosting. They can refer some clients and resell to others, resell and co-sell to some, resell and co-sell in tandem, etc. That being said, it can sometimes be more effective to choose and master one before trying to manage multiple strategies.
Bottom line: Do whatever works best for your business and clients! Every end-client is different, so it can also be great to effectively use multiple business models.
Can someone be in both WP Engine’s Agency Partners Program AND Affiliate Program?
No, there’s actually no need to be in both programs. WP Engine’s Agency Partner Program handles referral commission tracking and payouts directly. So, if you’re an agency looking for managed WordPress hosting partner, WP Engine’s Agency Partner Program is the place for you! .
Do I have to be a paying WP Engine customer to resell, co-sell, and/or refer WP Engine?
To refer or co-sell with WP Engine, you don’t have to be a paying customer. To earn a referral commission, just apply and be approved for the Agency Partner Program prior to your client’s purchase.
To resell hosting means you are most likely paying for hosting. However, you’re then reimbursed for the cost with however much you charge for the services your clients pay for.
Will WP Engine help with the process of any of these options?
You bet! We’re always here to help you and your clients.
- Our Agency Partners get early access to tons of features, exclusive discounts, a direct line to our team of WordPress experts, and a bunch of other sweet perks.
- Co-selling can be a very technical, hands-on process, and that’s why our sales team and account managers are here to help you every step of the way.
- We send out tons of resources, tips, tweets, custom referral links, etc. to work with our referral partners, and we’ll always go the extra mile (like custom co-branded web pages!) to help you refer your friends and clients.