I'm not planning on doing freelance work full time but I have done a few sites for some small businesses and I now have small business owners asking me to do work for them.

All of my work has been for myself or people that I have close relationships with. I explained how hosting works and I had these people pay directly to their web host. I would assume that you would make this transparent to customers but I wanted to see what other did. Do you full time freelancers pay for hosting and then place pages on the host/account that you manage? Do you usually purchase the domain and leave the customers out of that as well? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, how do you deal with it in your contracts?

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    Sep 5, 2014 at 21:33

3 Answers 3


A relevant quote from Contract Killer 3 (a boilerplate contract):

Technical Support

We’re not a website hosting company so we don’t offer support for website hosting, email or other services relating to hosting. You may already have professional hosting and you might even manage that hosting in-house; if you do, great. If you don’t, we can set up an account for you at one of our preferred hosting providers. We can set up your site on a server, plus any statistics software such as Google Analytics and we can provide a separate estimate for that. Then, the updates to, and management of that server will be up to you.

I agree with you in that you want to make this transparent to your customer (which is what a contract should do). I would let the client purchase the domain and hosting (guiding them through how to do such if required), then I would, as part of my contract, deliver the site and deploy it on that server.

There are a few advantages with this approach:

  • The customer is the one that gets the bills for the website, not you. That means one less step for them getting their bills paid (the customer pays the hosting provider, instead of the customer paying you, then you paying the hosting provider).
  • The customer is the owner of the domain. This can prevent any awkward situations where you are unable to transfer the domain to them, but the domain renewal is due next week.
  • It's one less thing for you to manage, freeing your time for non-maintenance activities.

Usually I would host the work on my server as demo to the client. Unless the client requested, I would just give them the source code and (a few) deployment instructions. The demo is deleted from my server once the client accepts the delivery as final.

Some clients have servers and would like me to upload to their server. Usually I don't charge this as it's just a matter of deploying to another address. If they need help to setup the server then I may charge a fee on a case by case basis.

Some clients don't have servers/hosting but would like advise on finding one. I'd generally recommend a few to choose from, and pro/cons comparison (I just make recommendations, I'm not a sales person). They always pay for it themselves.

In short, unless otherwise specified, it is the client's responsibility to provide a working server or hosting to host their code.

I never host their websites on my servers because freelance work is usually "deliver and forget". I'm not a web hosting company and do not want that responsibility either.

(of course, as a freelancer you can make your own rules as long as they're clear and in mutual agreement between you and the client.)


We do all of the above depending on the needs of the client.

  1. For some we build the site on their servers.
  2. For some we host their site on our servers, but they maintain their own DNS registration.
  3. For premium clients, we take care of everything.

It all come down to the needs of the client. We do all the above and more because each client is unique.

We don't try to lock clients into any particular plan. The client's needs often evolve over time, so what is right at one point may not be right later on.

By meeting real needs we add the most value. This is the best way to retain client loyalty.

BTW: Everything we build is on GNU/Open Source tools. Thus, we avoid locking clients into proprietary products. They are always free leave taking their site, and all code and data with them. It's better to compete on real value than vendor lock-in.

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