Ooooooooh, are you excited yet?!??
If anyone read my articles last month on PFAdvice.com about starting a business with pocket change, then you probably already know what this is. Yeah, I know that means it's not exactly super-secret, ergo the addition of the word 'slightly' to the title.
But, for those of you that didn't read that article, here's what part of it said.
(I)t turns out there are several metric tons worth of photographers and web-designers in my area, and they’re all as good as me if not better. Depressing, right? Well, the one thing they have in common (other than being better than me) is that they all need a place online to host their work. In fact, lots of individuals and businesses around here need a nice, clean, reliable place to host their websites. Even I was looking for this very kind of service.
In many circles, this is known as a light bulb moment. You’ll know it when you have one.
And there you have it! I am now operating a web hosting company called DotSlice and am currently running at a profit for the quarter. I've just put the site out to the public, so please feel free to take a look and tell me what you think. My options were to either get it out there warts and all, or work on it trying to get it perfect for perpetuity.
How on earth did I wind up being a web host? Personally, I think it all boils down to money karma.
In January I decided to think of several ways I could make extra money every month. For what it's worth I'm still working on that by the way, so any good ideas are appreciated! At any rate, this is what started the money karma rolling.
In February I started working on a website to showcase some of my photographs, thinking that I could make some money on the side. I bought a domain and signed up with what seemed like a reasonable and well-established web hosting company. While the site is still up and running, I created it as a personal learning experience more than anything because it had been a while since I'd done any web programming.
It's a good thing I did, too, because in the middle March my former boss offered me a side-job creating an ecommerce site for a friend of his who already had a domina and a very unfortunate site. See the money karma at work? Ironically, the client was hosting her website at the same company where I was hosting mine.
By the end of March I had put together a proposal and both he and the client liked what I had to offer. For the new site to work, the client needed to change the plan she had with the web host. This was fine with her since she would wind up paying less money per month for more features, but the web-host was making it way more difficult than it had to be.
Long story short we agreed to jump ship and host her site somewhere else, and I started getting concerned because my site was hosted at this same place. Would I have these kinds of troubles too? More importantly, where were we going to host these sites?!?
I did something relatively rash and impetuous: I did some research, ran the numbers once, and decided to take the risk and arrange to host the sites myself. By the way, running the numbers once was the rash and impetuous part... I had the back-end working by the middle of April, and both of our sites were live.
A week later, a co-worker of mine mentioned how much he paid to host his personal sites. I just looked at him and said "Do I have a deal for you...". Between his hosting and the first client's hosting I'm running at a slight loss every month. But, when I add in what I would have to pay to host my own domains with another company, I wind up breaking even. Add in the money for designing the first client's website and business cards, and I'm running at a profit for the quarter.
Now, I've been asked to host two sites that are currently being developed by a new company. They've also asked if I'd be interested in being the Web Master (er, mistress?) and Managing Editor for both sites in return for a cut of the pie... Um, lemme think...
Let's just see if I can get everything to snowball...
Reveal: My slightly super-secret side business
Ooooooooh, are you excited yet?!??