As everyone gets into the swing of things for the holiday season, here at Frog Host we decided it would be a great time to introduce some Black Friday savings and promotions. These coupons, valid from 12:01PM CST on Thursday, November 22nd through 11:59pm CST (GMT-5) Friday, provide an affordable way to get started on your unlimited hosting plan today.
It’s been just over a year now since we’ve launched Frog Host (woo!), and we’re still here. Here is an understatement, as our growth has been much better than expected. We originally opened up shop to facilitate our users from Hawk Host who wanted unlimited hosting, and we of course were interested in venturing into new markets. That’s not to say it’s all been a breeze though. Prior to this no one on our staff had any experience with the unlimited hosting world, and we sure did have a lot to learn.
Abuse: This one is probably our biggest problem. People often mistake unlimited hosting for a license to do whatever you want. This is far from the case of course, and we’ve had to remove quite a few users from our services because of it. Yes, you get unlimited disk space and bandwidth. What you don’t get is unlimited access to disk IO, or unlimited access to the servers uplink to saturate the line. You also don’t get to use all 12GB of memory, or all 16CPUs. Seems obvious, but some people would have you believe they should get the whole server to themselves. Implementing CloudLinux has helped with this though, but users will still use some awful MySQL queries, run some scripts which would cripple most servers, and try to run multiple high resource programs in parallel. We of course see this at Hawk Host, but not to this degree.
Support: Believe it or not, the average support volume (when you take an average of ticket per user, adjusting for the size of the user base) is actually much lower at Frog Host. We expected our support queue to be infinitely higher per user than Hawk Host, but this is far from the case. In fact, a majority of our users have never once contacted us for anything. While there are some users who make up for the ones who don’t submit tickets, we’ve been really shocked at how this dynamic has worked out.
Sales: When we first launched, we were doing a small volume of orders per month organically. We’re not ashamed to admit this as no new company does hundreds of orders per month, and what we were receiving was enough revenue to cover almost all costs. Yes, we lost money for the first few months we operated and we expected that. What we didn’t expect was the sudden surge of orders. We saw exponential increases month after month sometime around August, and within a few weeks our projected income put us at a point where we are actually making money! Of course the margins are affected as we had to add new hardware, but knowing that within 6 months we could turn this into a profitable operation was a really great sign. At this point we’re doing strong and we’re covering all our costs, which for a shared hosting company is a great point to be at after only 12 months in business.
Operations: Boy, there is a lot of work to do. And I mean a lot. Hawk Host keeps us all busy enough, but we have all been putting in 60+ hour weeks to keep everything going. The machines require a lot more TLC, so our sysadmins are almost always working on improving or optimizing one aspect of the machines or another to adjust for the days workload. Our operations team is constantly working on a ticket, looking for new places to advertise, or working with companies who are inquiring for partnerships. Again, we see this at Hawk Host, but this was something we did not expect in this magnitude at Frog Host. We’re all busy and we’re all loving it. As they say, the show must go on.
Customers: Oh, customers. You are our lifeblood and you’re the reason we’re here. You’re also from every conceivable place in the world. Years of schooling taught me nothing compared to the geography I’ve learned here. We’ll get orders from small islands in the pacific, or orders from these countries I’ve never heard of in Europe. And of course, being an information junky, I’ll proceed to spend an hour reading up on this country (perhaps *thats* why we’re always catching up on work). The diversity and reach of this brand is phenominal and it really is exciting coming into work each day wondering what country or place I’ll learn about today. On another note, you’re all really pleasant to deal with. You also really like to pay for a few years in advance – but don’t worry, we’re cool with that.
Every time we do one of these review posts, I like to include some type of numbers or graphics so you guys can actually see what we’re doing. Here are some quick stats for the last year:
- 412.5% increase in orders from February 2010 to January 2011(Note: We used January 2011 to get an entire months data)
- 937.9% increase in income from February 2010 to January 2011 (Note: We used Janurary 2011 to get an entire months data)
- Over 1000 domains hosted on our servers
- 50% increase in site traffic on February 4th, 2010 compared to February 4th, 2011
- One of the top 200,000 websites in the world
- Over 100 internal improvements committed and implemented
So in closing, this year has rocked. The Frog Host brand has proven itself to be a viable option in the unlimited hosting market. Our pricing is right in line with the competition, our offerings are pretty darn good, our staff is the best (right?), and most importantly we’ve proven that we can make this a long lasting brand that has a real impact on the shared hosting market. A sincere thank you to everyone who chose us for their hosting needs. There are a lot of options out there and knowing you wanted to use our services above them all means a very special something to all of us.
It’s been awhile since we’ve blogged at Frog Host but this shouldn’t be taken as a hint of us not doing well – quite the contrary. We’re proud to say that Frog Host is officially profitable on every front. This means within 8 months (we launched early February) we’ve been able to recoup all of our investments and pay for all existing hardware for the entire year!
We will also be expanding our fleet by another server in early October to help spread the load and grow our fleet giving us some more wiggle room if issues were to arise. In addition to this we’ll be rolling out a custom cPanel theme that’s branded towards Frog Host and will be able to give you interesting metrics your account as well as the ability to take a peak at what your account is doing by allowing you to view currently running processes and their resource utilization.
Stay tuned for some more updates shortly!
One of the areas of focus for us when launching Frog Host was to have a respectable affiliate program to help push the brand as well as pad some peoples pockets. Now unfortunately people are turned off by percent based commission and scoff at it without looking into the actual numbers.
The Affiliate Numbers
- 50% Of the total sale
- $100 Payout OR credit to your account at any threshold
- 60 Day mature period
The numbers are pretty straight forward – the main gotchas are that there is a $100 payout if you want cash or at any time you can have the affiliate commissions turned into account credit. The other gotcha is a 60 day mature period which is pretty normal for affiliate programs – it helps ensure that the commissions are legitimate and don’t cancel right after signing up.
- Cost: $5.95/month
- Commission: $2.98
- Cost: $7.95/month
- Commission: $3.98
- Cost: $12.95/month
- Commission: $6.48
These numbers are based off monthly subscriptions (more on that shortly). They’re indeed smaller numbers so reaching the $100 payout will be a bit more difficult, however if you decide to use it for account credit you’ll most likely be able to pay for several months of hosting simply for referring a couple of people.
The real money is the fact that the majority of our customers don’t signup for the monthly term but typically choose annual or biennial terms of payment.
- Cost: $83.40/year
- Commission: $41.70
- Cost: $107.40/year
- Commission: $53.70
- Cost: 167.40/year
- Commission: $83.70
Or if they choose a 2 year pre-payment
- Cost: $142.80/2years
- Commission: $71.40
- Cost: $190.80/2years
- Commission: $95.40
- Cost: $310.80/2years
- Commission: $155.40
As you can see the numbers really start to shine now. You could request a payout with as little as a single referral or most likely a couple of referrals. People are always purchasing longer payment terms to get a better deal and because of this we believe our affiliate program is well rounded and has a decent payout.
If you have any questions regarding our affiliate program please don’t hesitate to contact us via our support page.
Frog Host has been growing at a steady pace but since I haven’t made a blog post in nearly a month I figured it was at least time to talk about things. So in this post I’ll quickly talk about the marketing push we plan on doing as well as some miscellaneous things we’ve done.
Marketing is a big key in what makes a web host very successful. Word of mouth only gets you so far especially when you do not have much of a customer base to promote your services to begin with. You do not typically see a snow ball effect of customers referring others until you have at least 500 users which obviously Frog Host does not have. Even at 500 why settle with a steady stream of growth at that point? Why not turn that 500 users into 1000 in two months instead of a year?
So our first step of the marketing push will be to find ourselves a new artist and designer so we can start getting the necessary marketing materials created. Unfortunately our previous artist left us high and dry and ran with some money we paid them for some new work. So I’ll be finding ourselves a new artist and possibly even just html/css guy in general as having a single person doing it all would be best. Previously we were using different people for different aspects which can be a pain to deal with. The banners and various other images are the first thing people see. That could be on a web site we’re advertising on as well as affiliates who are hoping to cash in on our potentially big payouts.
So our marketing push you’ll probably see Frog Host advertised on various web hosting forums as well as being on miscellaneous web sites potentially some who are hosted by us who Hawk Host hosts would would be great candidates to advertise on. So if you have a site you think would make sense for us to advertise on and you’re hosted by us just send me an email which would be tony then the at froghost.com portion.
The other things we’ve been working on is just the forum now has a nice pretty theme thanks to Brian searching the internet for a green one. Then just miscellaneous fixes to our CPU tracking system and various other internal aspects being worked on. So things are slowly being worked on and improved on but it is indeed a slow process.
We’ve ran into an interesting problem since launch and that is no one uses very much CPU. I suppose it’s a great problem to have but when we’re trying to get a decent idea on usage and if our system is well done. The misc. usage users have is very low we’re seeing maybe 0.10 per day. This includes anything that runs as the user so PHP, Perl, Ruby and anything cPanel may run as the user as well. We can live with the low numbers on that though there at least it’s showing people something granted much lower than we expected. Now MySQL usage is the more interesting one as it’s going to provide far more confusion. Continue reading
We launched Frog Host over the weekend and as I said I’d talk about how things are going so going as far as revealing order numbers and things like that. Frog Host is new so I figured what exactly is the harm in giving actual numbers as it’s pretty obvious it’s new. We had no advertising planned for the weekend as we figured we’d be working on several issues over the course of the weekend plus getting used to having two company’s running under one corporate brand. We were going to rely on our word of mouth and any hype we built up about Frog Host over the course of the pre-launch blog posts.
For those of you who don’t know I’m the resident server monkey. What that means is if there is an issue with a server I’m the one who gets the gajillion SMS alerts / e-mails saying that something is awry and you better get up and fix it. As a result I’m a bit of a gadget and communications junkie. I.. like to be in touch and segregate my communications.. some people think it’s a bit much:
We were trying to meet a February 1st launch but as you can see by this post we’re not quite there as we’ve ran into some issues. I’m pretty confident this week is our launch date though with the web site all but done and more testing than anything else going on at this point. Our initial fleet as far as servers are ready which initial fleet means one machine but it sounds better when I say initial fleet of servers. Although the advantage of having Softlayer is the fact we can deploy new machines in under 4 hours and probably have them online accepting customers within 16 hours. So it’s not like we need to have all these hot spares available anyways unless we like to waste money. I’m pretty sure users will be impressed with our web site once it goes live and the attention to detail we’ve taken with it.
So for the server it’s up and configured and we’ve been testing it for the past 72 hours and making sure it’s configured 100% properly for the launch. That it has all the initial launch software and we’re not going to be making changes when customers on it. Although I say that even with Hawk Host we always forget something or something is not being replicated out and we manually add it then forget to add it to our deployment scripts for next time.
For the web site we’ve been real busy bees on January 31st we had 14 code revisions posted to it’s repository. It feels like a lot in a 24 hours span with the amount of code changes I see in the repository. Although the web site is just one part of it though there is a lot more to hosting than just the web site. For the host themselves though the web site should be a major priority it’s where you gain customers not what is on the back end typically. So we’ve had everyone running through the web site and if they find any issues post them to our project management system so that they can be resolved.
We’ve also been pushing out more and more changes with our system to track usage. You test it all you want on a non production server but seems like when you bring in what is the final version and have people look for issues you tend to find a lot more. So we ended up having 10 revisions on that front to resolve issues with tracking of usage, recording usage and usability problems discovered when we had more eyes checking out the system.
So things are looking great expect a live web site to come up soon and a launch announcement.
I hinted at us doing this but I figured it was time to actually show some screen shots of what we’re doing with this. CPU usage is the main thing today that is costing web hosting companies money. The space and bandwidth really account for very little of anything. This is why sites are always being booted for excessive CPU usage. In most cases they’re never close to allocations whether it’s 10GB of bandwidth or unlimited. We will be displaying to users their usage so they know what is using all the CPU and with MySQL the actual CPU used by specific users they made. So they could make a new MySQL user for each PHP script and know exactly which one is taking up all the CPU time. Continue reading