Are you wondering whether it’s worth cutting costs on cloud providers, and setting up servers yourself for your freelancing?

Please don’t do it! Here’s why:

Spinning up a Digital Ocean droplet, and getting set up is easy. But the sysadmin work is now your problem. If there are any vulnerabilities, and somebody cracks your sever, you’re completely on your own to fix it. Every one of your client sites could be down (or worse, infected by malware) while you’re trying to recover.

Unless you’re operating at scale (100’s or 1000’s of clients) and can hire people to do the sysadmin work for you, it’s no longer cost effective to run your own servers for client work. You won’t be able to charge your clients enough for the level of support and risk that you’ll be taking on if you do.

If you’re running your own servers you’ll be responsible for:

  • Monitoring server logs
  • Patching and Updating/upgrading packages
  • Hardware refreshes
  • Networking
  • Security
  • The website going down
  • Natural disasters - fires, floods
  • etc

When all the initial setup cost is accounted for, you could probably have paid for a few years worth of decent cloud hosting.

Even if you have an airtight contract defining all applicable SLAs, the client will be calling you first when shit hits the fan, since they likely have no idea how to even begin solving whatever problem is occuring.

So what do you do? Outsource the sysadmin work to managed hosting so you can focus on your core competencies and spend more time building your business.

Here are some ideas for managed hosting:

Static sites? Cloudflare Pages

Until recently, I used Netlify … then I read a few horror stories about over charging, for example: Netlify just sent me a $104K bill for a simple static site after using 190TB bandwith over 4 days as a result of a DDoS attack.

Netlify ended up not charging the unfortunate customer, but not without a lot of back and forth negotiation; Netlify initially asked that only 5% of the bill be paid (approximately $5000), but after the customer posting to Reddit and Hacker News, Netlify decided to cancel the charge.

I haven’t personally had any problems with Netlify, however I’ve since moved to Cloudflare Pages for static sites. Cloudfare Pages offers many of the same benefits of Netlify (such as Edit -> Git Commit -> Push to Github -> Publish) without the fear of a surprise massive bill at the end of the month.

A blog that clients can edit themselves?

Secure managed WordPress hosting is available via

The plans that they offer are fairly cheap, and all plans offer unrestricted bandwith, so your clients won’t have to worry about getting too much traffic and paying overage charges.

Email? Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)

Self hosting email for clients is even harder than websites these days - on top of the sysadmin overhead of running your own servers, you also need to consider the reputation of the server IP address to avoid your client’s emails disappearing in the recipient’s spam folders.

Google Workspace offers custom email for businesses including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sheets, Forms, and more.

Email marketing and automation? ConvertKit

I started using ConvertKit about back in 2019. One of the top things that you want for email marketing and automation is deliverability, and I’ve found it to be excellent.

Billing your clients?

Consider having your client pay the hosting provider themselves. That way, if there are any billing issue, it’s not you that is stuck trying to get them to pay in order to keep their site live, and potentially threatening to pull the plug if they don’t.

In your contract T&Cs, consider giving your client a window of grace (perhaps 90 days) to troubleshoot, offer advice, etc. Then after that, any work on the site be billible by the hour or via a maintenace plan.

Thanks for reading!

Enjoyed this article? Follow me on Twitter for more like this.

Do you have any questions, feedback, or anything that you think I’d be interested in? Please leave a comment below, or get in touch with me directly.