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Why 150k Website Are Hosted on ChemiCloud Web Hosting: Q/A with John McMullin

Why 150k Website Are Hosted on ChemiCloud Web Hosting: Q/A with John McMullin

Roberto Popolizio
Website Planet had the chance to sit down and chat with John McMullin from ChemiCloud. We looked at how their focus on service quality and customer care help them thrive in the super competitive web hosting industry, and what website owners can do right now to level up their websites.

What’s your story? How did you get into the web hosting world?

As a Canadian teenager in the 1990s, I had finished high school and began looking for work. An opportunity appeared for me with a call center role, offering customer service to ISP customers. The gig appealed to me, so I took a shot on helping others. I learned I have quite the knack for it.

It didn’t take long to recognize that this field of work was something I excelled at. With industry-leading call times and an exceptional first-call-resolution, I made the move from ISP support to Web Hosting in 2005. Past colleagues from my call center years had opened a facility catering specifically to web hosts, and I wanted to be a part of that. What began as a hobby of helping build that company’s first workstations became a career in hosting support, CS, and a multitude of related roles.

Over the next 18 years, I built a career in customer service and technical support while moving into various leadership positions including Supervisor, Quality Assurance, Training, Tier 2, Sales, and B2B relationship management. I’ve fulfilled elevated roles with numerous call centers and web hosts most notably being ChemiCloud, where I’ve spent the last 15 months. Today my work involves coordinating with customers, vendors, and marketers ensuring needs are met(including ours) and that everyone is satisfied with their experience.

The skills and diplomacy I’ve learned in my early career continue to drive my decisions and interactions to this day.

Give us an overview of your services

We’re thrilled to offer a variety of hosting plans, all fully-managed and backed by our 24/7 customer support!

Web Hosting Plans here at ChemiCloud come in three flavors: Starter, Pro & Turbo. Also known as shared hosting, these plans cater to all kinds of sites from static sites, family email and construction pages up through to complex script sites and apps like Joomla, Drupal and node.js. The GBs of RAM and CPU cores scale 1/2/3 across these plans, and NVMe disk space allotments are 20/30/40GB. With one-click installs, new projects or the containers for existing ones can be set up lightning fast!

WordPress Hosting is as popular as ever, and that’s no different with ChemiCloud’s customers, too! Building on the framework of our Shared plans, WordPress plans are WordPress Starter, WordPress Pro and WordPress Turbo!

Made to power blogs, WooCommerce, and corporate sites of all types, our WP plans are not only tweaked to better handle WordPress installs we also have our WordPress Staging tool, allowing bloggers unmatched control over their installs, testing environments and more. LiteSpeed Cache caps off our WordPress offerings with incredible performance gains.

WordPress plan resources are a match for their Shared counterparts, and both types of plans also enjoy free daily off-site backups. The Starter level plans get 10 days of rolling backups, while Pro level plans enjoy 20 days of them. And finally the Turbo level plans get a full 30 days of backups.

Sometimes though, people want a little bit more. Their sites need just a little bit more. Scale is as important as performance to a lot of people. We listened and launched two ways to feed the needs of those hungry and growing sites! First is our Disk Space add-on. As the name suggests, it’s the extra inventory space growing sites might need. With 20GB of added NVMe storage, and 200,000 more inodes it gives even the biggest sites so much room for activities! Turbo+ Boost offers more in the way of Cores and RAM 2 or 3 more of each, all to handle more visitors/processes/content. These add-ons are exclusive to Turbo and WordPress Turbo Plans.

Our Reseller plans cater to an incredible variety of industry professionals and businesses. Each reseller plan can be tailored to focus on either the disk requirements, or the customer volume that a reseller desires. This effectively transforms our 4 plans into 8. Each hosted website receives 1 CPU core, and 2GB of RAM. Each Reseller plan comes with free malware removal, and 30 days of rolling backups. All of our Reseller plans come with a complimentary Domain Reseller account, allowing resellers to sell domains to go along with the hosting!

Kickstart is where we begin our reseller plan tour. With an entry cost of $8.99 and a regular price of $29.95/month, resellers can choose 60GB of NVMe storage with 30 cPanel accounts OR 30GB of storage for 60 cPanel accounts. With 3TB of bandwidth, it’s the perfect and affordable plan when becoming a reseller or managing a small family of personal or client sites. Included with Kickstart is the Blesta billing platform at no extra cost!

For our growing Resellers we offer the unironic Grow plan! Its entry cost is $11.99, and recurs monthly at $39.95. With Grow, we see more in terms of Accounts and Space. Now 90GB for 60 customers, or 60GB for 90 accounts Grow offers a bit more to our budding hosts. What’s more is we’ve doubled up the Billing offerings here, as Grow plans(and up) can choose between Blesta and WHMCS at no charge!

Expand plans continue the trend, with their first month costing only $16.49 and renewing for $54.95 monthly. In terms of resources we’re looking at 140GB of NVMe storage to cater to 80 customers. For fans of the inverse, that’s 140 accounts housed on 80GB of storage.

Once a reseller has truly established their brand, they’ll move to our Established reseller plan! $20.99 gets a reseller started with their first month, and subsequent months are just $69.95. 200GB of storage can house 100 cPanel accounts.Or, 100GB can house 200 cPanels.

Our plans offer incredible versatility to new and experienced resellers. We’re proud to offer these Reseller plan add-ons. They’re a great way for resellers to remarket existing customers, and offer a customer service path for resolving issues:

Resources Boost For $5.95/month, resellers can increase a cPanel’s resources to 2 cores and 3GB. For a dollar more per month, it can be 3 cores and 4GB! Great for those busy sites and hungry scripts.

Inodes Add-on At $2.95/month, this allows a cPanel account a greater inodes count. It adds 250,000 inodes!

WHMCS License Grow/Expand/Established can enjoy a free WHMCS Starter license, but any Reseller or VPS plan can choose from multiple license types depending on need. These start at $11.95/month.

Some ideas are bigger than others (Some highways are busier!). Our Cloud VPS products bear this in mind while stripping out the complexities inherent to managing a server. The biggest business sites, the busiest stores and the most complex scripts all find comfortable homes among our Cloud VPS infrastructure.

Cloud 1 represents the move from traditional Shared and WP plans into something more serious. Owning your first server is easy with 2 CPU cores, 4GB of RAM, 80GB of ultra-fast NVMe storage and 4 terabytes of bandwidth. Cloud 1 starts out at $29.95 and renews for only $54.95. Cloud 2 shifts focus as we brace for more complex scripts, brand families, and increased email use! With an introductory price of $47.95($87.95 monthly), Cloud 2 doubles up to 4 cores, 8GB RAM and 160GB of storage with 5TB bandwidth!

Web stores with thousands of products or galleries stuffed with video and image content are among some of the use cases with Cloud 3. It boasts an impressive 6 cores, 16GB of RAM and 320GB storage with an intro price of only $88.95, renewing at $153.95. It’s got 6TB of bandwidth. Cloud 4 wraps our on-site VPS offerings with 8 cores, a massive 32GB of RAM and 640GB of NVMe storage! With a regular monthly price of $285.95, first-month-users enjoy this behemoth of a machine for just $165.95. Cloud 4 users enjoy 7TB of bandwidth.

“But John, how can it be *scale* if it stops at…4?”

It doesn’t stop at 4! If a customer needs more, we have more. For those cases we feel a conversation may be in order. So customers are encouraged to reach out if their site outgrows its existing container, or in any other case where server size matters!

And we’re not done with just plans. Customers ordering a Cloud VPS can choose from these customization options:
  • cPanel License. Each Cloud VPS comes with the Solo license at no extra cost. Customers can choose from other licenses at an additional cost, depending on their needs.
  • Operating System. Customers automatically receive AlmaLinux free with their Cloud VPS but may opt instead for CloudLinux OS for just $15.95 per month.
  • Web Server. NGINX is offered free by default, and customers may opt for LiteSpeed in one of 2 options, starting at $9.95/month.
  • Server Security. CSF/LFD is included with each Cloud VPS. Customers have a variety of Imunify360 offerings available starting at $9.95 for a single cPanel user.
  • Cloud Remote Backups. None by default, customers can choose JetBackup as an option, with prices dependant on the Cloud VPS plan.
  • Outbound Email Filtering. This optional feature can be activated for as little as $2.95/month, offering MailChannels outbound email filtering. The perfect way to send email worry-free.
Additionally, as an exclusive add-on for Cloud VPS, customers may purchase block storage to increase the disk space of their Cloud VPS. At just $0.20 per GB, it’s an affordable way to add space when it’s needed!

Moreover, some of our resellers may want to move into a VPS environment. For those cases and more, our WHMCS licenses are available to Cloud VPS customers in addition to our Resellers.

Hosting is obviously a host’s bread and butter. But there’s more to hosting than just the containers. We help customers complete their brand profile with Domain Names. Select terms can enjoy a free registration or transfer, and we offer competitive pricing on all the hot and rising TLDs on the market. We work hand in hand with our registration partners and pass every penny of our savings direct to consumers.

Security is as important as it ever was, and we’re happy to offer free and paid SSL options for every customer. Let’s Encrypt has been an awesome feature add, and our paid DV/OV/EV certs offer scalable solutions to enterprises at all stages of the business lifecycle.

Every kind of hosting plan we offer is also eligible for a Dedicated IP address. At only $4 per month, it’s affordable and accessible to any site that requires it! Bear in mind, though, that every host offering these may ask for a justification first – an important and necessary formality.

Getting here is as important as being here. To that end, we offer free and paid migration services. For new customers, we’re thrilled to offer free migrations during the first 60 days of service. Just tell us what you need in a request, we’ll confirm it, carry out the work and coordinate with our customers the whole way through. Paid migrations exist for when existing customers want us to handle their moves for them, or when new customers have an absolute mountain of sites to move over. We can migrate from cPanel and just about everything else, too.

What options do you offer for customer support?

ChemiCloud customers can enjoy and engage with us in a number of ways. Live Chat is powered by the Tawk application, and staffed by our in-house team. Around the clock, we’re answering questions in our live chat within seconds! We’ll take questions on sales/pre-sales, billing, technical and feedback matters over chat. If it’s something we can solve right then and there, we will!

For anything that’s more complex or for issues that will take a bit of time/investigation to resolve, we’ll move the request into a help desk ticket. Our Help Desk is also available around the clock and boasts an average 10-minute response time.

All the same kinds of issues can be managed through a ticket with the addition of carrying out migrations! The depth of help desk tickets can far surpass that of chat, as it affords us the time to really dig into questions and problems and reach back to our users with real, honest solutions. Escalated matters that might require an admin such as complex billing questions, sensitive technical tasks and more can be covered via the help desk giving our customer-driven strategy more granular focus and control.

The ChemiCloud Blog, as with the ChemiCloud newsletter offers our customers news and insights on the regular ensuring the good we encounter is passed on(such as deals, promotions and new resources) and offering customers an ongoing invite to connect with us. Our KB lays more track for the DIY train, giving customers the necessary tools and confidence to navigate anything from straightforward installs to complex configurations.

These mechanisms are powered by our people. The team comes from all over the globe, working remotely and in step to meet our needs as a company and the needs of each and every customer that graces our digital doorstep. While my team occupies numerous roles, one thing we all share in common is that we ALL interact with our customers each and every day. Because everyone on our team comes from an IT support background, we’re mindful of the need for customer satisfaction and bake it into every facet of our business.

How do you stand out from the competition of the big players?

Simplifying the process of finding dependable web hosting, and getting the most out of it are foundational values of our success.

We never got into this business to be the next Big Box web hosting brand. Our essence is simple: It’s people. People who trust us to host their sites. The folks that supply our infrastructure. The promoters, advertisers and bloggers that talk about us. Forming strong relationships with our customers and all the people that make us ChemiCloud means we’re built on what we accomplish together.

The most common reason new customers consider ChemiCloud is due to dissatisfaction with their current host. It’s usually one of the Big Box brands, and the problems are often related to service quality or support availability. So our first order of business is making sure we understand the matter well. After that it’s an honest offer to solve the problem: a hosting plan, migrations advice, or some combination of products and services. We hold the fluff and just stick to what people need. Customers decide what works, and let us know what they want to accomplish. Finally, we lay out a plan based on this with the customer and each carry out our parts and coordinate the solution.

One example would be a chat that came in a little while back…

The customer there was the owner of a business and her account at the other host was being canceled. Not a huge situation, although she hadn’t gotten a new hosting account before setting the cancellation in motion! I had reached out reading her story from a chat, and asked for some details about her site and what kind of timeline she was on. Once I had that I laid out a plan recommendation that suited the website, and detailed a road map for her migration request and what details would need to go into it. On top of that, I offered up prompts that helped her to craft specific instructions for our Migrations team. With this, she had no issues fine-tuning her plan, and orchestrated the migration with my colleagues. It went off without any issues and in the morning after, I got an email update telling me how well it all went.

Your tips to build a website in 2023?

Disclaimer: I can build a site, but I’m certainly no pro, but here’s my tips for building a new site in 2023 after looking at thousands of client sites.

Keep a narrow focus – If you’re inspired to build a website about something, build a plan around that single idea. If you add anything else to the site or your plan, try and keep those extras on-topic with the main theme of your website. Your readers will stay engaged if your posts and content connect to each other. Your website will be more attractive if all the elements are related.

Decide how invested you will be in the website design/building stage of bringing your website to life. There’s no specific requirement for the time you’ll put in though you’ll have a better grasp on what you need to do if you consider how involved you want to be. Be honest with yourself here and don’t be afraid to change your mind later. Some ideas seem easy at first, but become difficult.

Once you have an idea, and you’ve chosen how deep to go into design, it’s time to pick your toolset. I like building sites quickly, and spend more time contemplating word choices and storytelling elements for my written content. So with that in mind, I typically look to WordPress as my starting point. And with our new WordPress Toolkit, all my needs from setup to configuration to testing are covered in one place. I can even troubleshoot my issues here or roll back if necessary.

When it comes to Themes, there’s a few pre-installed to choose from. You can use the WP Toolkit to upload fresh ones right into your account. With your theme in hand, it’s time to look at plugins. It’s a bit of a subjective point, but the ones I recommend are YoastSEO, Jetpack, and LiteSpeed Cache.

There’s a few other things to consider. SSL for starters. Use either of the free or paid options to help protect your pages. To speed things up further, consider Quic.cloud CDN.

My final piece of advice is to go easy on yourself if something doesn’t work out. It’s easy to give up if something doesn’t go perfect the first time, however those ‘mistakes’ we run into often teach us valuable lessons about how we’re going to run our sites.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in the future for you and your clients, and how do you plan to cope?

The one I look forward to the most is connecting with people on a personal level as we continue to grow. I’ve worked in IT businesses of all scales, and have seen time and again how companies lose their personal touch under the virtue of growing customer bases. ChemiCloud has grown BECAUSE of those connections, so it’s my mandate(and gladly so) to work harder every day at making and maintaining them.

For our customers, I see only an increased focus on meeting their needs! We work with vendors, partners and promoters all the time to get in front of people so they can discover us. We work to identify and then offer up services we feel offer value. That’s no challenge. But with growing our own base comes an increase to the number of requests, and the range of their complexities. We’ve delighted in some ground-breaking upgrades to what we do just this year by adding Redis support and also Quic.cloud.

The future offers such amazing possibilities. We’re ready to find and face them head on, always with the needs of our customers in mind.

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