How To Start A VPN Business Today & Make Money On Autopilot

Over the past few months I've started my very own VPN business, and while it took a bit of work to set everything up, it's now making money on autopilot, with minimal day to day maintenance.

Today I'll show you the process I went through to get setup so you can do the same. 

After a few months I intend on flipping this business for 30X revenue. You do the hard work, setup your own VPN site and you could easily do the same.

How to Start a VPN Business Today

This method specifically looks at reselling VPN servers from an off-shore Hong Kong based company, which allows you to offer a no-logs policy to your customers, which ensures you'll make more money as everyone using a VPN wants to ensure they are flying under the radar. 

While this company does actively try to get sites such as iPlayer, Netflix & Hulu working, it's an endless game of cat and mouse, so you may not be able to get these services working. 

How Much Does It Cost To Start A VPN Provider?

For less than $75 you can setup your very own VPN business and with a low monthly cost of around $25 (fixed) and a small wholesale cost per user, you'll be well on your way to making a ton of cash before the year is finished. 

You can spend a lot more if you want to get a custom web design, or use the wholly grail of web hosting companies, but for most people, starting on a small budget is the best option. 

Billing Panel: $18.95 per month

Web Hosting: $4.95 - $9.95 per month

Web Template: $14 one time

VPN Cost: $1.99 per user per month

VPN Setup: Min $25 balance funding.

Pre-Work: Choose Your Target Market

There's a lot of VPN providers out there. Some of the big guys specialize in offering the cheapest prices, while others focus on offering military grade encryption. Others focus on unlocking channels such as iPlayer or Netflix, while others focus on a specific target market or client base.

Starting your own VPN provider is easy, but finding clients is the hard part. Before jumping in, you need to find a client base to target, or offer something different.

I chose a specific country to target. I also opted for a professional looking site, not full of flashy conversion optimization strategies. I also offered 'local support.' 

Step 1: Join The VPN Reseller

There is multiple options available to you when you are starting your VPN business however the easiest option is to resell someone else's servers rather than creating your own.

I've tried both and while it's definitely a better option to create your very own VPN server network the monthly running costs of the servers can be very high and when you were just starting out with a few customers it can be very expensive and time consuming to manage all these servers.

A company that I ended up choosing is called VPNresellers.com and anyone can sign up for an account with this platform and they charge a monthly fee of $1.99 per user per month which allows you to resell this service at any price higher than this and you would be making a profit on that user.

They bill you on a daily basis so for example it may work out to be about 6 cents a day which is a lot better than having to pay a monthly fee only for your user to say cancel their subscription or they want a 24 hour or 3 day subscription instead of a monthly one. This then allows you to offer a wide range of prices and subscription lengths. 

Rhys Says: It's free to create an account however you must fund your account with a deposit of $25 USD to get access to the API which we need to automate our VPN business.

You can fund your account by going to Payments and Add Credit. I always choose Paypal as it's fast and secure, and your funds are added to the platform straight away. 

You'll now see your account balance on the dashboard. While the price is $1.99 per user, once you get 1,000 active accounts, the price drops 50% to $0.99 for any future accounts. 

Be sure to make a note of your API key/Access token. 

2. Create a WHMCS Account

You'll want to signup for a WHMCS account. This is the number one web hosting billing platform in the world (in my opinion) and offers so much, for so little. 

They don't offer a free trial anymore, so you'll need to choose one of their plans. 

You can choose the $15.95 or $18.95 plan to get started. I personally prefer to keep my billing portal looking sharp and for the extra $3 I'd rather not promote WHMCS so I choose the $18.95 option. 

This allows for up to 250 clients. For an extra $6 per month you get 1,000 clients, or $39.95 per month gets you unlimited clients. Get best price here

Once you've paid, you will have the Installation files. Store these on your computer. Licensing is by domain and IP address, so you must install on one site only.  

3. Choose Your Domain Name

You'll most likely want to choose a VPN related domain name. I was lucky enough to find an exact match domain name for my chosen country, but you may need something with 2 or 3 words.

I personally use Namecheap for all my domains, as they offer the best price. 

You definitely don't want to host your VPN service with Namecheap, so choose the domain name only and use Cloudflare nameservers with your chosen web host. 

4. Choose Your Web Host

I use LightningBase for all my websites and the main reason I used them for this project was the owner Chris is pretty sweet when it comes to changing things on the hosting account.

WHMCS for example requires a lower version of PHP, and also IonCube loader must be installed. Without this you'll struggle to install the portal. Not all providers off this flexibility. 

I chose the $9.95 a month plan, and once setup I opened a support ticket asking for IonCube PHP Loader to be configured for the hosting account to install WHMCS.

Within 30 minutes it was ready to go. 

5. Install WHMCS 

You'll want to install this onto your web hosting provider. I recommend putting it in a folder just under public_html, such as 'Client.' 

Other people recommend installing WHMCS as a sub domain such as portal.yourdomain.com, however for my site, I ended up using a similar template (as you'll see below) so chose no subdomain.

You'll upload all the files and then go to your cPanel and create a MYSQL username, password and database name. You can learn how to do this here, it's pretty straight forward.

Go to yourdomain.com/client/install and complete the steps. 

If you can't install as it says IonCube Loader missing you need to perform the steps mentioned above in step 4 from your web host. Not all hosts allow this to be installed so if your host doesn't let you, you might have to change web hosts. 

Once installed, delete the 'Install folder' and CMOD the permissions on the configuration.php file from 640 to 400, which means no one can access this file accidently or make changes. 

You'll also need to setup a CRON job via the cPanel cron jobs module. 

I'd make sure you can login to the admin dashboard. You can have a browse around and perform the basic settings such as adding a logo, changing your address for invoices, and adding Paypal payment. 

6. Install Your Template & WHMCS Template

Before you go out and start customizing WHMCS further I decided to find a HTML theme with a WHMCS layout, which keeps the site looking fresh and the same across the entire site. 

You can definitely use WordPress but I find with small sites that have a few pages, an HTML theme is much more affordable and easier to setup. 

It's faster, looks great on mobile and some people believe it's better for SEO. 

This is a demo of the template I picked, which comes with a WHMCS version too. There's plenty of other HTML templates on sites such as Themeforest. 

how to start a vpn business

I ended up choosing KOHOST from Themeforest which cost $14. 

You can buy the theme here

You can upload the web files from the build folder directly to cPanel in your public_html folder. 

Then you can follow the documentation for uploading the two templates to your WHMCS (Client folder). I believe the template now supports WHMCS 8.1, which is the 2021 edition. 

You then need to login to your client portal admin area (/client/admin) and then proceed to the Settings and 'General Settings' where you can change your template and ordering template. 

This is very straight forward and included in the documentation. 

7. Add WHMCS VPN Resellers Module

You'll need to click here and download the VPN Resellers module from the WHMCS Marketplace. 

This module needs to be installed in your cPanel client folders.

Specifically, create a folder called vpnresellers (ensure it's lower case) in the directory /modules. You then need to upload the vpnresellers.php and clientarea.tpl file to the directory you created. 

You should now login to your WHMCS admin area and go to create a product category such as VPN and then a product such as Monthly. 

Enter your pricing, and then look for the 3rd tab called, 'Module Settings.'

In here you need to select 'vpnresellers' from the module name drop menu.

Now enter your API key (from step 1) into the access_token field. 

Lastly you should probably change to the option, Automatically setup the product as soon as the first payment is received' so you can sell memberships 24/7/365 with instant setup. 

The final step here is to collect a username, which is used to authenticate your users on the VPN network. You'll want to go to 'Custom Fields' and then create a field called 'Username.'

I recommend choosing a text box, and adding a message such as 'Choose a username, min: 4 characters' as 4 is the smallest username. 

You then want to add a validation check so add this: /^[a-z\d_]{4,28}$/i

Finally ensure it's set to 'Required Field' and Show on Order Form.' 

Duplicate this product for all the plans you want, just remember to change the pricing. i.e. We went with 1 month, 6 months and 12 months. 

8. Change The Welcome Email 

You'll want to edit the email template for your VPN. By default WHMCS uses the 'Other Products & Services' email template for this type of product, so you can edit this. 

I'd start by changing the title. Sender information is controlled through your general settings, so make sure you make those changes there before editing the sender info here. 

I recommend adding the following fields (which are automatically generated by VPN Resellers) when a new account is created after payment is made.

  • Your Username: {$service_custom_fields.0}
  • Your Password: {$service_password}

In this email I also included important information. For example they will have two accounts, one for the billing portal, and one for the VPN network. 

I chose to include the billing information, as you'll see below I removed the other emails. 

9. Remove The Unwanted WHMCS Emails

By default WHMCS will send your new customers about 5 emails during the signup process, including unpaid invoices, paid invoice, payment receipts and the VPN account details.

This looks dreadful in my opinion. The client area can show them their invoices, so I remove all but 2 of these emails. They get a payment confirmation and an email with their VPN details. 

To do this, head over to your WHMCS email templates again. 

I recommend removing the following ones: 

  • Order Confirmation
  • Invoice Created
  • Invoice Payment Confirmation

This will ensure the only email that is sent is the 'Welcome Email' with their VPN login details. 

10. Remove Unwanted WHMCS Checkout Fields

While WHMCS is a great billing platform, the checkout fields can't be easily removed using the GUI. So you'll have to edit the Checkout.tpl file for the ordering template you installed earlier.

Deleting the fields can be tricky, so just ensure you find the parts to remove and don't forget to leave the </div> tags. If you mess something up, it's likely a missing </div> tag. I'd recommend making a copy of the file before working on the live version. 

I personally removed all the fields except: First Name, Phone, Email, State & Country. 

A VPN is designed for security and privacy, so I definitely don't need to know their address, city, company name or last name. I did collect phone to discourage fraudsters using my sign up form. 

I did collect their state and country so I can accurately charge VAT/GST. 

The last step here is to ensure the fields you removed are optional fields in the WHMCS checkout process or else no one can checkout. These tick boxes can be selected from General Settings > Other. 

This will dramatically tidy up your checkout pages and make them look nicer on mobile devices. 

I wanted to include the edited checkout page I created but due to the license I hold for the theme I can't, so just be careful or get some help from a web developer. 

11. Create Your First Test VPN Order

At this step I'd recommend creating a test order on your store (change a product to $0) so you can see what happens. If everything is setup correctly, you should receive a welcome email with your username and password. 

You can then login to the VPNResellers.com website and confirm the user was created. 

You'll see you get charged around 6 cents per day per user. If you offered a 24 hour trial for $0.99, you're still going to make a large profit per account. 

12. Tidy Up The Client Area

You should then take a look at the client dashboard. This is what all your users will see if they login.

While it's great, I recommend tidying it up a little. 

You can edit the Clientarea.tpl file from the vpnresellers module. 

I recommend adding the VPN username and password to your client dashboard as this will reduce support tickets. (Default is username only).

Additionally I'd move the technical settings to a different place. I'd also change the title of the OpenVPN configuration files so people know what it's actually for. 

Lastly I recommend linking to your software files. Add a link to a page called yourdomain.com/software.html (we'll edit this later), so users can download the software files for their apps without bothering you! As you can see above, it looks slick! 

Here's the technical options at the bottom for those that want OpenVPN profiles. 

13. Add Upgrade Options To Your Plans

Back in the WHMCS products, I'd recommend giving your users the ability to automatically upgrade their plans to a higher plan. 

Assume you're on the Monthly Plan, you can go to 'Upgrades' tab and then select '6 Monthly and 12 Monthly' here. Anyone logged in as Monthly user will be able to upgrade to 6 or 12 months automatically and WHMCS will handle the billing in real time. 

If you don't want any upgrades, don't add any, and then they'll see no 'Upgrade' button. 

I also recommend letting clients cancel their own accounts to prevent chargebacks and unwanted support tickets. Ultimately this project was to build an automated business. I'd rather they have a full refund than take their money and they complain about it. 

You can disable cancellations from the general settings. 

14. Create Your Website Templates

Your WHMCS billing area and automated setup process is now complete. I recommend working on the page website pages now. 

These are the main pages that I recommend having: 

  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy 
  • Server List
  • About Us
  • Contact
  • No Logging Policy
  • Software.  

There are of course many inner pages you could create such as; Security, Protocols, Money Back Guarantee, Affiliate Program, but this guide would go on and on forever. 

Out of the box, the theme that I chose came with about 30 pages.

I always duplicate pages I like.

Before I work on any HTML pages I always change the header and footer. Those huge menus, it's a lot easier to change the menu on one page, then copy and paste it into all the pages, before you start customising the pages. In WordPress it's easier as you can use a footer that's applied across the whole site and updated in real time. 

Make sure you change these on the WHMCS template as well. 

Then I start building out the pages. I used other VPN sites for inspiration. 

I personally use Adobe Dreamweaver to customise the sites, but I have just as easily used the HTML editor in cPanel for quick changes too. 

15. Create Your Software Page

Every VPN site needs a software page, so visitors know what clients you support. VPN Resellers offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, Fire TV and Linux. There is an iOS app but you must download it via the Apple Store as you can't manually install apps on this platform. 

The app is white labelled, but you are running the risk of a negative feedback impacting your business.

With that said, you can pay $500 to VPN Resellers as a deposit (used as credit) to get custom apps with your logo installed. I recommend testing this business model before investing in custom apps. This also requires a payment of $39 per month. 

I used a simple software page. I then downloaded the software from VPN Resellers and created a folder called /software on my public_html. I added the files.

Then I linked to these files from the software page. Anyone can download the files. 

The beauty of the apps is they are white-labelled, so there's no signup pages for visitors to go directly to VPN Resellers. This keeps your business at the forefront of their minds. 

16. Test Your Software Downloads

I recommend testing out the software on Windows and any other devices you have. Here's an example of the Windows OS app. You can change location and connect, there's settings at the bottom.

The Windows app for example let's you enter your username and password. It also allows you to make minor setting changes such as using a startup process, kill switch and changing language. 

I did find that if you copy and paste the password in from WHMCS it sometimes adds an extra space at the end. The VPN then sits on 'Connecting' and won't connect. If there's no extra space but the password is wrong or mispelt then it quickly says, 'Invalid Password.'

Users can change the protocol and MTU size which should help iron out problems with firewalls and other routers blocking the connection for most of your users. 

17. Create Your Server List Page

If you used the KOHOST template, they have a pretty awesome server/network page you can customise. I recommend going over to VPN Resellers and 'VPN Servers List' and adding all the countries onto this page. 

This will help visitors see which countries you support. You can then request additional countries from VPN Resellers if you have clients requesting different countries. 

While they've got most of the main ones, there is a lot less than those offered by Surfshark

18. Create Basic Documentation For Your VPN

One thing that I was expecting was VPN Resellers to give us documentation, but as they said, they didn't want 100s of resellers using the same documentation which would reveal the source of the network to your customers if lots of people rank for the same search terms.

WHMCS is great in that it offers a built in Knowledgebase, and I recommend creating some awesome articles on basic topics such as:

  • How to login to the billing portal
  • How to download and install VPN software
  • How to reset VPN password
  • How to enable/disable kill switch 
  • How to setup tunnelling
  • How to do a speed test
  • How to check for any DNS leaks.

The apps actually offer lots of features, and are really good as they don't leak any DNS records, which is crucial when running a VPN network. If you spend time creating a kick-ass knowledgebase, not only will these articles rank well in Google, they'll stop your support requests. 

I recommend going to the FAQ page on the reseller portal and using all their questions and answers to create extensive knowledgebase articles from. 

19. Add Support Methods

WHMCS offers a built-in ticketing platform, and I'd recommend turning this on right away. You can also create an email address with your web host, and automatically pull emails into tickets via WHMCS.

If you're using LightningBase, you must open a ticket and request email for your domain is enabled.

I won't go into much detail about setting up email in WHMCS as they've got some awesome tutorials over on the official website, but I recommend having a few queues:

  • Support Team
  • Sales/Billing Team
  • Security/Abuse Team.

Your users can then choose these departments to log a ticket too via the client area. 

20. Add Live Chat For Better Conversions

One of the best ways to drive more sales is by adding live chat to your VPN website. You don't even need to do this yourself either. 

There's providers out there such as Tawk.to that offer reps for your website from as low as $1 per hour, who sit there and wait for your visitors to interact with them.

Alternatively you can do it yourself by using a platform such as Live Chat and have the agent app running on your phone. Then simply answer the chats as and when they pop up on your screen. 

Right now, I'm doing the support myself as we have few clients. But as we grow I'll be outsourcing and using Tawk.to given the price of $1 per hour. 

20. Final Advice

The VPN Resellers company is based in Hong Kong and is outside the 14-eyes jurisdiction. They also clearly state they don't keep any logs. You can emphasis this to your users that no logs are kept. 

There's no way a user that you've charged for VPN access can be tracked back to their personal IP provided they are running the software properly. 

You may need to check local legislation in your country if there's any issues reselling a VPN service. If there is you may need to setup an off-shore company, but while this is easy enough to do, there may be tax or legal implications you should consider.

Getting a payment provider is also a big issue as Paypal hates offshore companies especially from countries such as Seychelles or Belize. 

I personally recommend not selling lifetime or multi-year plans because if VPNResellers disappears or removes their service, your clients will lose access and most likely demand their money back. While you could start your own VPN servers, this would require capital that you might have already spent. 

Hopefully you enjoyed this tutorial on how to start a VPN business. Shortly I'll be creating a tutorial on how you can setup your own VPN network, where you manage the servers using cloud based platforms, again using WHMCS. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to start a VPN business?

It currently costs a lot of money to start your own VPN business where you own or lease the servers. If you're simply reselling VPN access you can start a VPN business for as little as $75. We've shown today that this is possible, by paying $10 for hosting, $25 for VPN API access, $18.95 for WHMCS and $14 for an HTML template that integrates with WHMCS.

Of course this excludes any paid advertisements. 

How to start a no logs VPN business?

A no logs VPN business must be outside the 14 Eyes country, which means there is no mandatory data retention laws. One such place is Hong Kong and that's the country of choice for a lot of VPN companies. The servers can be anywhere in the world, but the company managing them should be outside the jurisdiction of nations that share Intelligence. Your billing location could be anywhere but the company controlling server access should be off-shore, i.e. in Hong Kong and have a strict no logging policy.

By no logging we mean they don't keep any timestamps, connection logs, bandwidth data, web usage. In fact they shouldn't know who's using the servers. 

Some companies have claimed to be a no logs VPN, only to end up handing over data to law enforcement.

How do I sell VPN services on WHMCS?

You need to use a reseller module such as VPNResellers. There is many different VPN modules that can be installed into WHMCS however this is my favourite and most reliable choice.

How much money can I make with a VPN business?

Who knows, the sky is the limit. Your wholesale cost is 6 cents per day or $1.99 per month. This works out to be around $24 per year. You can sell your VPN services for more than this and make money. Most VPN providers charge a high monthly fee to encourage yearly subscriptions. I've seen people charging $4.95 per month for 12 months. This would give you a profit of $3 per month, per user.

Imagine if you had 1,000 or even 2,000 members. That's a tidy $6,000 per month or $72,000 per year, for a business that runs on complete autopilot. 

 

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