Selling WordPress Maintenance Plans
22 MIN READ
Selling WordPress maintenance plans
Last updated 8th March 2019If you're even remotely interested in selling WordPress maintenance plans, read this entire post and watch the accompanying webinar below. It's epic. Truly. There is no tl;dr here. This post rewards those prepared to invest some time.
Here's what you can expect to learn by the end of it:
- Why WordPress maintenance matters.
- How to build recurring revenue through WordPress maintenance plans.
- What to include in basic care plans.
- What to include in premium care plans.
- How to sell yourself as the WordPress maintenance provider (you'll find that eye-opening webinar here).
- Frequently asked questions and answers about WordPress maintenance.
Why WordPress Maintenance Matter Right NowWith WordPress currently powering over 30% of all websites, there is no doubt about its dominance as the software of choice for designing and developing sites. As that market share continues to increase today, the long-term dominance of WordPress is all but assured. However, this fact alone is not enough to ensure that your WordPress consulting business flourishes, or that clients will come pounding at your door with their urgent WordPress website needs. In the early days of your business, you’ll probably be obliged to take on every new client that comes through your door just because you need the cash flow to meet your own expenses and to keep things afloat.
But that will eventually get to be a somewhat chaotic way of conducting business, because you’ll have a very difficult time balancing all the requirements on your time and resources. Clients for whom you’ve built websites don’t simply fade away after you’ve done great work for them. Those sites will need support on an ongoing basis, because, as everyone knows, things don’t remain static online or in business for very long. In the meantime, though, you’ll also be getting completely new projects that demand your full attention and probably even some work that calls for an advisory role. It’s easy to see how you can become stretched pretty thin in your consulting and design business when you have to schedule and satisfy all these demands, just to keep your head above water. The reason this business model is so difficult to sustain, and is frequently doomed to failure, is that, in essence, it trades time for money, and too often leaves you with no time and not enough money. So, what’s the secret to managing your workload effectively while still generating the income you need to be profitable?
Speaking of new clients, how would you feel about getting more of them?Use this free proposal template to win more deals.
Build Recurring Revenue WordPress Maintenance PlansThe reason that building recurring revenue is so critical for you as a WordPress consultant or designer/developer is that it provides you with a source of revenue other than the new projects which become available to you. When your business relies solely on new projects, you are trapped in the time-for-money paradigm and will be forced to keep your nose to the grindstone indefinitely, just to pay your bills. By building recurring revenue through selling WordPress maintenance plans, you’ll have a safety net which will ensure a stable and predictable cash flow even when new projects are not plentiful. It’s also helpful when you want to walk away from the business for a week or two to relax and re-energise yourself. More than that, a steady source of income from maintenance plans will allow you to pick and choose the clients you really want to work with. In addition, it will afford you the luxury of passing on projects which are less profitable, less enjoyable, or both. Here’s why recurring revenue is literally the Holy Grail of WordPress consulting:
- You receive money in your bank account on a monthly basis, without incurring any additional administrative costs, like invoicing, calling, collecting, etc.
- You are paid by credit card or bank transfer promptly, so no collecting action is ever needed.
- WordPress maintenance plans and associated actions can be systemised, delegated, or even outsourced, so you personally don’t have to be involved. You can even employ people to run that side of the business as a distinct standalone entity.
- With a WordPress maintenance plan in place, clients will feel supported and they will have confidence that, should anything go wrong, you will be there to handle it.
- WordPress Maintenance plans are usually extended to existing customers, which means the cost of customer acquisition is significantly lower. The cost of acquiring customers is one of today’s biggest business expenses and this strategy bypasses that cost.
- Clients on maintenance plans often extend new business project opportunities to you, as well as referrals to other clients, since you’re already providing value to their business as a WordPress expert.
Another way to provide a superior experience?Create a better WordPress for clients.
A Word on Terminology Around WordPress Maintenance PlansIt is far better to refer to this segment of your business as “WordPress Care Plans” rather than “WordPress Maintenance Plans” simply because of the connotations associated with maintenance itself. The word “maintenance” evokes mostly negative images (e.g. auto maintenance, home maintenance, etc.); most of which are costly, labor-intensive actions that people are turned off by and don’t want to pay for. In business, maintenance has that same negative connotation and has become a grudge buy – something businessmen hate to pay for, but feel compelled to do so for safety’s sake. By referring to them as “Care Plans”, a much more positive image is evoked and the notion of added value is much more strongly emphasised. For websites which rely on 24-hour availability, the term “Business Continuity Plans” might be even better, because it is suggestive of ongoing support and care-taking. Instead of a grudge buy, the WordPress Care Plan thus becomes a package of benefits to a client. Instead of paying for maintenance, your client is investing in website support, and the value your client receives makes the investment pay for itself.
What to Include in Basic Care PlansYou want to make your clients feel good about signing up for a Care Plan subscription. Because the benefits and value-add of a Care Plan far outweigh any fear they might have about signing up for the subscription, this is a sure-fire way to enable a successful and recurring revenue flow for your business. Here are some of the services you should include when selling basic WordPress maintenance plans:
WordPress UpdatesTo start, take a look at how you can improve upon the way they currently handle WordPress updates (if they’re even doing this at all). According to the WP Scan Vulnerability Database, no one can afford to be lax about issuing updates as every part of the CMS is vulnerable to attack: As part of this service, you should include the following:
- Automated backups prior to every update (see below).
- Management of all core, plugin, and theme updates on a weekly or daily basis.
- Review of the WordPress site directly after update implementation to verify no issues occurred as a result.
BackupsBackups are another essential piece of WordPress Care Plans. While these can easily be automated by the web host or by a WordPress plugin like BackupBuddy, there’s a good chance your client hasn’t take steps to implement that sort of automation. So, if they’re wondering why this service is even valuable, explain to them that regular backups are like a protection of their investment. If a plugin update should take the site down, if an employee went rogue and introduced some unwanted updates to the content, or if a hacker targets the site, having a freshly saved copy of their database is critical to reversing the damage and getting their site back up and running well in no time.
Security MonitoringThe extraordinary popularity of WordPress has made it a very inviting target for hackers, so more of them are being drawn to WordPress sites. This makes WordPress security an even more critical aspect of any Care Plan. Your security services should include:
- Implementation of a firewall (if there isn’t one yet).
- Implement of an SSL certification (again, if it doesn’t exist).
- Installation of a WordPress security plugin.
- Automated email notifications regarding the site’s security status and warnings.
- Cleanup assistance after a security breach.
Uptime MonitoringSoftware like Pingdom can be used to monitor for daily, weekly, and monthly uptime issues. If there is a problem identified with uptime or with speed, this tool will help you quickly address it.
MigrationWebsite migrations are typically a service offered by your client’s web hosting companies. However, as a WordPress developer, this should be a reasonably easier task for you to handle–and one you can do much more quickly than a web hosting company. Also, this isn’t likely to be a service that’s needed by most clients, so this is a good way to bolster your basic package without committing to a lot of additional work.
Technical SupportThis needs to be incorporated into all of your Care Plan packages in order to handle the many seemingly small troubleshooting tasks or support requests which pop up over the course of the month. If you don’t include this caveat, you might end up devoting time to them anyway (since, as the client will argue, you’re already in there) and you’ll have missed the opportunity to be reimbursed for the time and effort. When selling basic WordPress maintenance plans, start small and set a longer time frame in which you can deliver basic support assistance.
What to Include in Premium Care PlansThe above maintenance tasks seem pretty standard, right? Well, here's how to add premium value to your WordPress Maintenance Plans so you can get paid premium fees:
Technical SupportAlthough technical support will be included in your basic plan offerings, there shouldn’t be much to it. Maybe an hour or two of work over the month with a promised turnaround time of 48 hours. With the premium upgrade, however, you can offer email and live chat support so clients can be assured their sites are well taken care of at all times. I would suggest that, if you offer a premium technical support service, that you create a customer portal on your WordPress site to handle these requests. It will streamline the intake of support tickets and ensure that you never miss a beat.
Website UpdatesWebsite updates are similar to technical support in that they will generally come in the form of random requests from the client–e.g. add this product image, change this font, upload this testimonial, remove that person’s bio. And you should plan on handling them the same way as well, though this is more about quantity of tasks (typically, three to five is good) than about setting an hourly limit. Power Tip: You can also outsource this completely to my friend Brad and his awesome team at GoWP who offer a white label WordPress support service for agencies.
Database MaintenanceWordPress databases can get messy when they’re left to their own devices. Post and page revisions stack up. Spam comments are unnecessarily logged. Old images, plugins, and themes weigh it down. Your clients are most definitely not going to think about keeping their system clean nor would they even know where to handle this. You can tack this on to your premium Care Plans and show them that you’re willing to go the extra mile to keep their WordPress site running lean and mean. Of course, you can use a database cleanup plugin to automate some of this, but you should still take time to sweep through their files on a monthly basis to ensure old and outdated stuff is getting cleaned out.
AuditsYou should also offer a monthly performance assessment or audit service. This will look at various areas of the website that could potentially pose problems and give them a bird’s eye view of where you’ve spotted trouble and what your suggested fixes are. For analytics, you would of course use Google Analytics. Rather than just simply export what they can get on their own, you will review the last month’s traffic and trends and provide them with useful insights you can use to make future recommendations. Lumped in with that, you should also audit how their paid search efforts are moving along (if they have something like Google AdWords or Facebook sponsored posts set up). For performance, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to scan your client’s site and determine if any speed optimisations need to be implemented. For security, use Sucuri’s SiteCheck to do a sweep for malware and other security infections. For SEO, you can rely on whatever SEO plugin they have installed. Yoast SEO and All in One SEO will be the most helpful for auditing the overall state of their search optimisation efforts. A few other things you could audit are:
- Broken links
- Contact forms and pop-ups
- Ecommerce checkouts
Strategy ConsultingThis is a fairly broad area which includes all the conversational exchanges you might have with a client about how to improve a site, how to achieve greater efficiencies, how to increase site ranking, etc. By including an auditing service within your premium care packages, you’ll be better equipped with real data on the state of their site that you can use to guide these discussions.
Search Engine OptimisationThere is often a false sense of security and complacency that comes along with using an SEO plugin in WordPress. It’s definitely essential, but a good SEO strategy requires a lot more work than to just get a “green” score that tells you the meta description is “good” or that you've successfully optimised content around a keyword. If you decide to add an SEO service to your premium care packages, this will require much more than what a plugin has to offer, including:
- Keyword research
- Competitive landscape research
- Internal link building
- Broken link repair
- Page speed optimisations
- Security optimisations
- Responsive design updates
- And more
A/B TestingThis isn’t typically the kind of service you’ll find offered by a WordPress maintenance company, so your clients will love to see this addition to your premium care plans. In essence, you’re giving them the opportunity to constantly test more effective ways to design their site or write their content–without them having to lift a finger!
Content MarketingIf you’re comfortable adding content marketing to the mix, you could use this add-on. One of your plans may perhaps just be an advisory service whereby you provide them with helpful suggestions on how to to make optimal use of website content to achieve their business aims. Another plan may include the actual development of blog content for the website, which means strategising topics, writing the content, and publishing it to the site. Even if you’re not comfortable writing content, you could still offer this but outsource the work to a freelance writer. Luckily enough, there are tools like CoSchedule to help you manage your client’s content marketing calendar.
Social Media MarketingThe same goes for social media marketing. Your plans could involve various tiers of social media assistance, including advising on strategy to indirectly improve the website’s rank as well as handling the social media marketing yourself. The nice thing about that is there are services like Buffer that enable you to automate the monitoring of social media and posting of new content to various channels at once.
Email MarketingEmail marketing is another essential type of marketing your clients should be involved in. With this service, you can:
- Provide clients with a newsletter template you’ve designed just for their use.
- Set them up with a new email marketing platform like MailChimp and integrate it with their CRM of choice.
- Strategise, compose, and publish their website’s newsletter content.
As a business person, you are entitled to be adequately paid for all the value you are adding to a client’s website. @troydean
Making The Case for WordPress Maintenance PlansBefore anything else, you should have a conversation with the prospective maintenance client about the economic, social, and technological factors which make having an optimised WordPress website so advantageous.
- Economically, the best way to attract clients is through the Internet because of the low cost.
- Socially, more people are online than in any other setting, and that represents a huge potential customer base.
- Technological advances are made in software and in device capability almost every month which make it easier and more effective to reach prospective clients and attract them to your business.