Let’s start this guide with some great examples of something that is happening in businesses all over the world right now…
[Small Business A] After months of negotiations with suppliers, a new line of athletic pants is finally available in the small, boutique store downtown. The supplier also emailed photographs and a descriptions but someone needs to add the new items to the WooCommerce store with price, descriptions and photos. However everyone is busy setting up the new display and signage for the big sale!
[Small Business B] It’s morning time and the boss wants the new percentage rate changes on the “Our Rates” page, but the phone is ringing non-stop with new customers. David, an account manager, is tasked with this rate update but there are so many emails to respond to. David pushes it off until tomorrow.
[Small Business C] A new urgent security patch has just been released for WordPress which blocks an exploit allowing hackers to gain access to the admin area! Mya (a small business owner) sees this on Google News and knows her website is powered using WordPress, however she is attending the yearly conference and needs someone to login to her site, make a backup and update WordPress to the latest version.
See the problem here? Each of these small businesses are busy doing “their business” and don’t have time to be a web geek. These companies need a web designer to take care of all their ongoing web stuff and this is where you come in.
Why offer Website Maintenance Packages?
Besides being a great way to generate more revenue from existing clients… you become indispensable to that company. You become part of their team (assuming you want this!). You become a part of the reason that that business succeed… and I think that’s beautiful.
See in most small business everyone in that company already has a job. Actually everyone in that company does MULTIPLE jobs and they are not looking to add more things to their day. That’s where you come in.
You handle the ongoing web related tasks so everyone else in the organization can focus on their work. When the company scores a big client and they want to post a news story on their blog, they send you the story and you post it, crop a little picture and publish the post. When the holiday hours kick in, you put a message on the homepage letting all visitors know. When a security flaw is found and fixed in WordPress, you login and update it. That is web maintenance… and there is money to be made here.
The two types of Website Maintenance Packages
For simplicity sake, when talking about website maintenance there are two types of website maintenance that you should offer: System Updates and Content Updates.
System Updates – This is updating all the WP plugins and the actual WP installation. This is important because new security holes are being patched and new features are being added all the time.
Content Updates – This is adding new pages and editing existing pages, news stories, photos etc… to the site. This is important because a website that is up to date and active is a lot more appealing to website visitors.
Be aware, it’s NOT smart to offer each package to each and every client. Oh no.
You should ALWAYS, always, always offer System Updates as an additional monthly service to each and every customer. Why? Because every web customer has the same system needs. All websites have plugins, all websites running WP need to be updated to the latest version, so all clients could use this service.
Content Updates on the other hand should NOT be offered to all your clients.
Why? Because you don’t want to get stuck updating tons of content on a daily basis… because you could lose money in the deal. Depending on how much you charge for your Content Update service this might not be an issue, but if you are assuming that the company will send you X number of updates each month and you charge them Y… when they send you two times that many number of updates… you are going to lose time/money.
The best way to tell if this is going to happen is to take a look at their existing blog (or social media accounts if they don’t currently have a blog) and see how active they are. Do you want to handle those updates for Y? If yes, write to your client and let them know about your service.
TIP: You could always include a time-limit for the price they are paying you for content updates, but I personally like to keep things simple and say it’s “Unlimited”. It just feels simpler and more exciting.
How to get paid
Not everyone… but most people, are terrible at paying their bills on time. If you currently send out invoices and wait for a physical check to arrive in the mail for your web design services, you need to change your approach.
The problem with this method (other than it feels like you are doing business in the 1900’s) is that your clients life can get in the way of you getting paid. Not fun. Here is a list of 10 things that could happen to your client that will result in YOU not getting your money when you want it:
- The boss isn’t in today
- Their car broke down
- It’s after hours and the office is closed
- The person who signs the checks is on vacation this week, sorry
- Their getting their house remodeled
- They have family visiting this weekend
- Their kid is sick
- Their kid got them sick
- It’s a long weekend, but we’ll be open Tuesday!
- The project that was supposed to wrap up last week didn’t
There is a million more things that could be added to that list, but let’s just say NONE of them are going to help you get paid, so you need to structure your web design business to avoid such issues and the good news is that it’s super-simple. It comes down to three little words: Automatic Recurring Payments.
What a great phrase: Automatic… Recurring… Payments! Yes!
All it means is that your clients gets billed automatically each and every month without anybody (you or the client) having to do anything.
You no longer have to chase down checks or have your payments delayed for any reason whatsoever, and it’s pretty simple to setup as well. Once your Website Maintenance Package clients billing info (credit card) has been setup you will automatically get paid on the same day each and every month. No email to send, no checks to receive. Simple.
Now, depending on your skill level here are three ways to set that up (with links to how to set them up):
- Easy – PayPal Subscriptions
- Easy / Medium – Gumroad Subscriptions
- Hard(ish) – Stripe Recurring Payments + Gravity Forms (note: you will also need an SSL for this option)
Either way you choose, your life and web design business will be so much smoother (and richer).
Keep your customer happy
Like everything else we post about on WDA, it all comes down to you keeping your customers happy. You do this by going ABOVE and BEYOND what they are paying you to do. In regards to website maintenance packages, this could mean updating their about page content within minutes on a Friday night OR adding photos to a photo gallery on a day you feel a little sick.
Be a superhero, go the extra mile, have fun and more success will come your way.
Your happy friends,
Ian & Amy Anderson
PS: Thanks to Jack for the fantastic post idea! He’s also very talented at making Transformer birthday cakes, but is very weary of pastry Decepticons.