But let’s take a step back, and consider what it means for Needmore to recommend a host to our clients.

(That’s your ideal host, there.)

For one thing, speed matters. The difference between a website that loads instantly (like google.com) and a page that takes just one second to load has a huge psychological impact on how visitors perceive your site and your brand. It’s not difficult to imagine that a slow site might be seen as less attractive than a fast one.

For another thing, software support makes a huge difference. Very few web hosts are actually capable of supporting modern software like the Magento e-commerce system, much less with the level of speed and performance we require. Few list whether or not they meet its requirements at all, in which case it might just be a lot of work to even figure out if it’s possible.

We spend a great deal of time evaluating different hosting companies. We’re well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of numerous such companies, and we constantly adjust our expectations accordingly. One bad referral can really sour a relationship with a client. So we take great pains to make the best recommendations we’re able to.

Hosting is so important, in fact, that we have started offering our own plans for some of our projects, exclusively to our clients, that we know will work best. Design is our first love, not web hosting, but we’re willing to do it because it’s just that important.

So for another hosting company to contact us out of the blue is very interesting. They seem like a great company, but they’ve got a lot to prove. The only way that we could recommend them to our clients is if we were to try them out first. So if I were them, and I were reaching out to designers trying to get their business, I would offer something for free. Like hosting.

I would simple offer to set the designer up with my best hosting plan for a reasonable amount of time (why not just a year?) to evaluate it. In this case, a hosting company could look at this as a loss of $250, since that’s what they could potentially mean for them in terms of income. But we all know it’s not that simple.

Let’s say we decide we like a hosting company, and start recommending clients to them. Let’s further assume that we refer just one client per month, for three years, and the average client stays with them for three years. If I’m doing my math right, that’s $27,000. All this potential, potentially costing them next to nothing, for giving out a free sample.