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Once I build the client’s site, I’m done. I don’t offer maintenance — it’s a huge hassle, clients break the site all the time, and the money is not nearly as good.
Back in my freelance days, I steered clear from ongoing site maintenance contracts; it was simply too much hassle. I could charge much more for new sites and rebuilds, so I kept going after the money. It took me a long time before I realized I wasn’t seeing the big picture.
Breaking out of the feast & famine cycle
We’ve all been there — one minute you’re turning down projects left and right, and the next minute you’re barely paying the bills. It’s a vicious circle that doesn’t care if you’re sick or on a vacation; you either dip into your savings, or you starve.
I was thinking how I could break out of this cycle, when I realized that maintenance contracts are the key.
Reliable, recurring revenue helps me get through tough times like the one we’re in today. Nurturing client relationships guarantees me more leads down the line. I decided to take a crack at it, but I had to set up some rules to succeed.
Choose the right clients
Ongoing maintenance is not for everyone. A local artist’s portfolio site can’t really justify a $50/mo maintenance fee. Same goes for small businesses where a site is just an afterthought. You need to focus on sites that are an important part of the business — either landing leads, or generating sales & bookings. These businesses lose money when their site goes down.
Frame your offer
First off, never say “maintenance.” You’re not fixing broken lightbulbs and changing oil. You’re in the business of care; of constant improvement; of putting a smile on your client’s face. If that means having extra work hours each month, all the better — the client is footing the bill. That’s why you need to educate the client that their site is an investment — the more time and money they dedicate to it, the more it will give back. Every business owner understands this.
Processes & standardization for recurring revenue
OK, so you landed your first care contracts. Now you gotta figure out how not to sink a whole week into making sure everything is fine. The first step is to set up a process.
It could be as simple as a checklist:
- Check for malware
- Create backups
- Run updates
- Check on performance
- Create a report for the client
It’s just like sports practice: you’re building your muscles, and you’re getting better and faster.
Another important thing is standardization. It’s a nightmare if you’ve got 15 clients on 13 different hosts, five CMS platforms, seven page builders… Each server and CMS has its own set of problems, making your life more complicated. Narrow down your scope to one or two hosting setups and a couple CMS options.
Automate all the things with the Hub from GoDaddy Pro
This is the 21st century. There’s really no need to do stuff manually anymore. You should focus on automating your daily/weekly routine. This is where the Hub from GoDaddy Pro shines; once you set up automated backups, performance checks, security checks and uptime monitoring, you will no longer have to log into your sites.
The Hub does that for you, and emails you as soon as it finds something out of the ordinary.
Another important thing is keeping everything in one place — once your sites are connected to the Hub, you can see a summary of what’s going on with all of them, and hop into any site with just a click, including sites not hosted on GoDaddy.
And it’s not just sites.
You can set up delegated access to your client’s GoDaddy account. You can log into it without having to know their password, saving you a lot of back and forth every time they change their password. You can also fill out a shopping cart for them, and avoid the usual hassle of them buying inadequate hosting just because it’s on sale.
Most importantly, it’s not about amount of time you put in — it’s about trust
The best analogy I’ve heard was that a web developer is like a bodyguard; you’re not paid only when you tackle an assailant. You’re paid to offer security. You give the client a peace of mind, so they could do their thing, and get you paid.
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