The potential for recurring revenue comes with the job if you’re a web developer. Why? A website isn’t complete when it’s launched. Far from it. The launch is just the beginning. This is especially true for websites built on WordPress. At the bare minimum, the WordPress core software will need to be updated on a regular basis, alongside the theme and plugins.
(To get an idea of how often plugins and themes need to be updated, just take a look at the WPScan Vulnerabilities Database.)
While these may seem like mundane tasks to an experienced WordPress developer, they are far from mundane to most users. You can thank these five little words for that:
What if something goes wrong?
Sure, we have staging sites to test updates in a safe environment, and backups exist so we can restore them if something breaks.
But are your clients really in the best position to be handling those tasks? Is it the best use of their time?
You built the site. Why not continue to look after it once it’s launched?
Our 50+ page eBook covers everything you need to know to start your WordPress maintenance business.
Not convinced? Read on.
Offer website maintenance services to generate recurring revenue
In addition to WordPress updates, consider all the other services you could provide:
- Website hosting and domain registration
- Design and development tweaks
- Technical support and troubleshooting
- Content updates
- Content creation
- Email marketing and newsletters
- Social media management
- Online advertising
- Business consultation
- Coaching calls / strategy calls
- Ongoing WordPress training
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
These types of website maintenance services go beyond just protecting clients from something going wrong. They provide additional value by helping your clients grow their business.
How much should you charge?
Start by understanding your monthly expenses and your cost of doing business. Then identify at least three competitors in your area, and do a deep dive on their pricing to get a feel for what the market currently supports. (ManageWP’s WordPress maintenance survey is a good starting point.)
Lastly, offer a range of pricing options for your clients to choose from. Keep low-effort services on the bottom tier (e.g. backups, uptime monitoring) and move time-intensive services to the middle tier (updates, site optimization).
Clients are more inclined to pay higher fees if you’re improving their website and business, rather than just maintaining the status quo.
Sell your maintenance plans to existing clients
Once you’ve established what types of website maintenance services you’ll provide, and how they’ll cost, start selling them to existing clients first.
Publish a blog post announcing your new website maintenance plans.
Explain why maintenance is important and what the benefits are. Then go beyond the benefits by identifying the unique reasons that you should be chosen over your competitors. Support your claims by providing evidence of your work and showing them what you’re capable of. (Client testimonials and case studies are ideal for that.)
Write an email to your existing clients announcing your new plans.
Existing and previous clients are low-hanging fruit for initial sales. Include a link to your blog post.
If you need to sweeten the deal further, try offering exclusive discounts. If you’re in the middle of pitching a new project, include one year of maintenance in the budgets. Alternatively, offer a limited trial period at the end of a project launch in lieu of post-launch support.
Draw a line in the sand.
Explain that maintenance plans are how you’re operating from now on. If your clients want support, they need to be on a website maintenance plan. Period.
Clients will anchor on free support as a reference point, and you’ll have a harder time getting them to pay for support and maintenance later on.
Attract new clients by specializing in a specific industry
In addition to expanding opportunities with existing clients, generate recurring revenue by refining your target clientele.
Find and focus on a niche.
Rather than learning a few things about a bunch of industries, you’ll learn far more about a specific industry. By having a greater understanding of the industry you’ll be able to address their common pain points in your marketing, giving you greater credibility with that audience.
Create a lead magnet addressing the unique needs of your target industry.
A lead magnet is a download that requires an email address. Tools, templates, checklists, cheat sheets, and eBooks are all proven forms of lead magnets.
A few days after the lead magnet is downloaded, send them a Thank You email, letting them know that they can contact you with any questions. A few days after that, follow up with a final email letting them know about your website maintenance plans (and include a link to your blog post). You can automate these follow-up emails using a service like GoDaddy Email Marketing.
Encourage referrals from your existing clients.
There are trade organizations for almost every industry. If you do a fantastic job for your clients, they’ll be more inclined to mention you to their peers in the trade organization, driving new business your way.
A web designer or developer who builds websites for doctors will be hired by other doctors more often and will almost certainly earn more money per site.
By specializing in a vertical market, you’ll be seen a specialist who knows what the industry wants. Prospective clients will know that they’ll get high-quality work from you, without needing to bring you up to speed on the particulars of their industry.
Develop systems & processes for delivering your services
Your ability to deliver website maintenance plans is limited by time. The more efficiently you work, the more you can deliver.
By centralizing all of your clients’ websites in a single place, and having access to features like one-click bulk updates and white-labelled client reports, you’ll save a lot of time.
Document systems & processes
Another great way to improve your efficiency is to document your systems and processes. For example:
- What tools do you use to implement your services?
- What’s the step-by-step process, using these tools?
- How do you keep track of completed and uncompleted tasks?
- How do you communicate with your customer once the work has been done?
By documenting these systems and processes you’re developing a protocol to follow. Rather than having to remember it all (or re-inventing the process each time), you can consult the documentation and work through the tasks step-by-step.
Documenting your processes gives you an opportunity to identify repetitive tasks, tasks that could be automated, or other inefficiencies that can be fixed.
Documentation also plays a crucial role in helping your business scale up. Whether you’re hiring an employee or outsourcing to a contractor, your documentation will show them how to operate in a way that’s consistent with the work you’ve been doing.
Website maintenance plans are good for you and your clients
Even selling a small number of maintenance plans will help you move from the feast-or-famine cycle to a more sustainable cash flow, and the type of clients who understand the value of website maintenance will be better for your bottom line.
Retaining clients through ongoing maintenance will give you more opportunities to pitch larger project work. And putting together maintenance plans will force you to improve your systems and processes across the board.
In exchange, your clients are receiving peace of mind. You’re taking care of the website so they don’t have to. They’re getting more value through ongoing optimization, thanks to you making website improvements over time. And they’re getting access to your skills and knowledge.
eBook: Grow your recurring revenue with monthly maintenance services
Ready to get started? Download the free eBook for in-depth guidance on building your website maintenance business.
- Qualify potential clients as a good fit.
- Set expectations with contracts and agreements.
- Use the right tools to launch and run your website maintenance business.
- Document and manage your processes.
- Scale up through automation, delegation, and outsourcing.
- Make payments painless for clients.
- Demonstrate increased value over time.
- Handle disputes and support issues.
- Fire problematic clients.
Ready? Let’s go.
Also published on Medium.