Welcome to the shiny new Lyrical Host blog!
It’s been a crazy few months of non-stop work to get to the point we’re at today, and now I’m finally relaxing by going back to my roots and first love: blogging. While Lyrical Host was dreamed up just a few months ago, its story goes back a lot further. Let’s return to 2001…
Where it all began
Way back in 2001, I joined an online forum for teenagers; think Neopets but for girls, and without the pets. It’d be considered a social network today, but way back then it was ‘a website’. Rather unusually, it let users include HTML in their forum posts and signatures, and people would regularly ask for code. I ended up learning how to create a website with all the popular snippets of HTML code for people to just copy and paste. From there my website grew into a blog, and I signed up for a domain name and hosting. My blog got pretty popular – the first money I ever earned myself was from a web hosting affiliate program – but I started posting less when I went to university, and the blogging community changed a lot in the meantime, going from personal diaries to proper businesses.
In 2010 I was working as an office monkey for a software and hardware company when I saw an ad for my dream job. It was an in-house social media and search engine optimization role at a big independent web hosting company (it was eventually bought by GoDaddy). I worked there for years and learned everything I could about web hosting, only leaving when I was headhunted for a job at an API startup. Although it was still tech-focused, it was a different world of investors, and onboarding, and it was a whole different world. I learned a lot about starting a business from extremely talented people and I set them up with a marketing strategy that suited them perfectly, but it wasn’t the same as being in hosting. Luckily I got headhunted again, to work for the same people I’d worked for before. They were starting a new hosting company, and they wanted me to be in on the launch.
Which brings us to…
Creating something different
By the summer of 2017 I was feeling exhausted from a one to two hour commute at half five every morning. While I loved working in web hosting, I wanted to take it further. I wanted to develop a community approach, getting people together to share their knowledge, create partnerships, and support other freelancers and small businesses. I wanted to go beyond web hosting and help people create thriving websites based on what I’d learned and experimented with over the years. I wanted to offer a lot more than just hosting – beautiful free resources, helpful guides and downloads, and templates to speed up the process of creating social media images and ebooks.
Not only did I want to create a great experience for customers, I wanted one for staff, too. All tech companies struggle to hire, and the extra benefits are stacked high to make the roles more attractive. The reality is that there are lots of things that keep people in offices 24/7. My plan was to focus more on staff getting good social time, having core office days for non-remote staff but keeping Mondays and Fridays flexible, introducing a free food budget, and encouraging time off for mental health.
The vast majority of web hosting companies – including all the well-known ones – target men. Men in suits, men in polo shirts, men in data centers. Women generally only feature as call center staff or to appeal to men. The vast majority of people working in the hosting industry are men, and they create products and resources for other men. While I don’t object to hosting companies having a target audience of men, it seemed crazy that women were still being ignored in 2017.
There is, and always has been, a strong element of deception in a lot of hosting companies when it comes to pricing. A lot of it is misleading, and a lot of companies offer low introductory prices based on the fact they know most people won’t bother to move when there’s a sudden big increase or their renewal price is 200% or 300% more than their original prices. People think they’re getting a good deal, which they often are. Initially. But they get more back through the upsells, the support staff with sales targets, charging for junk add-on services, and overselling. Instead of rewarding loyal customers, they penalize them by charging them more and overselling the hardware (“server stuffing”), which means performance decreases over time. When they grow the company big enough, they usually sell out to one of the big brands/groups of companies, which focus more on pleasing investors than on pleasing customers.
I could rant about all the different sneaky prices and promotions typical of the web hosting industry for days. But that’s pretty meaningless without actually doing anything about it. So that’s when I decided to create Lyrical Host. Community, honesty, and beautiful free resources brought together for empowering hosting with no gimmicks.
Even working full-time, it was far too big a job for one person. While I’m quite technical as marketers and bloggers go, I’m not technical enough to sort the hardware and systems needed for a big hosting company. Luckily for me, my partner Joseph happens to be a freelance PHP web developer, and he agreed to manage the tech side of things. We have plenty of high-spec servers in an amazing data center, and our platforms and services are super fast, extremely reliable, and packed with features.
Once we had the backend down, we started building out the front. We needed an office, and all the industry contacts we had to build a team. We couldn’t have done it without the help and support we received from so many people, and I’m really grateful for that because otherwise we still wouldn’t have launched anything! We’ve been quite restrained with our hiring so far – we currently have a team of five – but there are lots of people we’d love to get on board as the business grows.
We did a lot of days working 9am – 3am. It was tough. There was a lot to learn and a lot of decisions we’d never made before, like how to price products and what would appeal to a brand new market. But one day, we woke up and we had a web hosting business. Best day ever.
Today and the future
Fast forward to today, and we’ve ironed out our processes and systems. We have the nicest customers ever (hi customers! We love you!), and we have a million ideas of things we want to do. Here are just a few of the things we have planned:
- An affiliate program with good commission rates and extra bonuses, plus plenty of resources to help you sell our hosting.
- Version 2 of our control panel, which will be styled to look more like the WordPress Dashboard.
- Agency hosting for designers and developers to host and manage their clients’ sites at a reasonable price.
- All-in-one kits for creating specific types of businesses.
- A ‘Women Who Changed The World’ series focusing on all kinds of famous and forgotten women who have changed science, computing, history, the arts, and other fields.
- A huge resource library packed with a ton of goodies for customers.
- Providing hosting for charities, communities, and individuals in desperate need of it.
- Investing money from our customers into supporting women in business, including hiring more people to create more resources for you.
- Donating regularly to a range of good causes, including making a difference to vulnerable women, and making technology more accessible to those with disabilities.
We want to build a company that changes the world. We’d love you to be there for the journey.