If you build websites for clients, the work doesn’t end once the website has launched. Just like owning a car or home, a website needs ongoing maintenance, so it’s smart to offer a suite of ongoing WordPress maintenance services to bundle with your core service offering of building websites.
Why Offer WordPress Maintenance Services? The Benefits of Recurring Revenue
If you’re a web designer or developer, you probably prefer the work that proceeds a new website or redesign. But consistently finding new clients and projects can be challenging, and can lead to a feast-or-famine cycle of income. Without recurring revenue, you’re essentially freelancing without a safety net. Even if you make six figures this year, in January, you start at zero again.
Consider these reasons for adding WordPress maintenance services to your core web design service offering:
- More consistent income. With WordPress maintenance services, clients are billed monthly or quarterly for ongoing work. Instead of income being tied to projects with payments that could be spaced out in larger intervals, you can build a base of reliable, consistent income. The more predictable a dollar is, the more valuable it becomes.
- More predictable work. By adding a recurring revenue model to your business, you can spend time working, not selling.
- Maintain client relationships for additional work and referrals. Keeping in contact with your web design clients has a few advantages that can continue to build your business. Keep in mind that new work for freelancers comes from existing customers or from customer referrals, so it’s important to nurture client relationships.
- Less risk = Less Stress! Last (but not least!), building recurring revenue into your business model reduces the risk of failing to find new projects and work so, ultimately, you have less stress.
Recurring income is the of a successful freelance web development business. You can’t build a business by just building websites. You must have recurring income.
– Nathan Ingram
What Do Your Clients Need?
Once you’ve decided to start offering WordPress maintenance services, start by doing some initial planning. Begin by asking these questions:
- What do my customers need?
- What services can I create to meet those needs?
- What resources do I need to perform those services?
If you need a little help coming up with ideas, the list below offers 20 ways you could offer WordPress maintenance services to your clients.
The Big Three: WordPress Updates, Backups & Security
The foundation of WordPress maintenance includes three basic components: WordPress updates, backups, and security. All WordPress websites will need a strategy for each of these areas as they are critical to the longevity and health of the website.
1. WordPress Updates
Clients need to understand that owning a WordPress website means a commitment to keeping WordPress, and all themes or plugins installed on the site updated. Updates are important and can’t be overlooked or put off, and someone needs to be in charge of running updates as soon as new versions are released. An out-of-date WordPress site makes it vulnerable to security issues as version releases often have security patches.
Tips & Tools:
- Tools like iThemes Sync were built specifically to help manage multiple WordPress sites. Instead of logging into each website to run updates, you have one central dashboard to view available updates and update with one click. A tool like iThemes Sync is one of the most solid investments you can make for your WordPress maintenance service offering.
- Set up WordPress update notifications to get a daily summary of available updates. Getting an email notification makes it easy to stay on top of updates with email notifications
- Provide a monthly report of updates. Include the date and time of the update, along with the version numbers. This report will show how demanding updates can be.
2. WordPress Backups
All WordPress websites need a solid WordPress backup solution. WordPress doesn’t have a built-in backup solution, so your clients need to be aware that ongoing backups are necessary for protecting their investment. For especially active websites such as e-commerce websites or for websites that frequently add new content, backups need to be made on a frequent basis, in scheduled intervals.
Tips & Tools:
- Don’t rely on host backups. WordPress has specific backup requirements that host backups may fail to accommodate, such as the ability to restore from a backup.
- Use a WordPress backup plugin built specifically for backing up WordPress such as BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy backs up the entire WordPress installation (not just the WordPress database), and includes smart backup profiles specifically for themes, plugins, and the Media Library.
- Set up backup schedules to automatically run or use a real-time WordPress backup. Backups should run daily or weekly basis.
- Make sure your backup tool has a restore function. A backup is useless if you can’t restore from it quickly and easily.
- Don’t store backups files on the same server as the website. Send backup files off-site to a secure, remote storage destination.
- Provide a monthly report of backup runs and backup type. This report helps show the importance of backups and provides a record of backups.
3. WordPress Security
WordPress websites are specifically targeted by bots and hackers, so all WordPress sites need an ongoing WordPress security strategy. By implementing WordPress security best practices, you can provide your clients with extra peace of mind.
Tips & Tools:
- Familiarize yourself with the basic WordPress security issues.
- Perform an initial WordPress security audit and provide this report to your client, along with recommendations for securing the website.
- Install a WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security. iThemes Security covers 30+ ways to secure a WordPress website with a one-click security check. iThemes Security is also specifically built for people who manage WordPress sites for clients.
- Encourage clients to start using WordPress two-factor authentication for admin logins.
- Provide a monthly report of active WordPress security measures, including malware scans, blocked brute force logins, banned IPs, and more. This report helps demonstrate the attacks a WordPress website can encounter over the course of a month, and the ways you protected it.
Hosting & Performance
Another area of WordPress maintenance includes hosting, uptime monitoring, and website optimization. Like updates, security, and backups, hosting and performance are important components of a healthy WordPress website.
Rather than have clients pay hosting costs directly, you can roll their website hosting into a monthly plan that also covers attending website maintenance. Most website hosts offer reseller packages designed specifically for hosting client sites.
Tips & Tools:
- Quality WordPress hosting can be hard to find. Make sure you’re using a WordPress hosting provider that specializes in WordPress. Pick hosting packages that offer sufficient disk space and bandwidth with a trusted and reputable hosting company. Our top picks for WordPress hosting include LiquidWeb and Nexcess.
- Keep profit margins in mind and know what you’re getting into. Hosting downtime and server issues can be a headache, especially when you’ll be dealing directly with hosting support on behalf of your clients.
- Communicate the benefits to your clients. You’ll have to justify the cost of paying you for hosting, so make sure you’re showing the advantages of overpaying for hosting directly.
- Move client websites off their current hosting with a WordPress migration plugin such as BackupBuddy.
5. Uptime Monitoring
Website downtime can mean lost revenue, especially for high-traffic e-commerce sites. Offering WordPress uptime monitoring can be another way to offer a helpful ongoing website service.
Tools & Tips:
- With iThemes Sync, you can add monitor WordPress uptime for any of your WordPress sites. Track total uptime percentage, total downtime, and the number of downtimes, and get an email when sites go down.
- Provide a monthly report to clients that shows uptime and downtime stats. This report can be useful for convincing clients to switch to better hosting if downtime is too frequent.
6. Website Optimization
WordPress websites can become bloated over time with post revisions, spam comments, trashed posts and pages, and other data is stored in the database. Offer website optimization as a component of WordPress maintenance to make sure websites are running efficiently and to speed up load times.
Tools & Tips:
- Use iThemes Sync’s WordPress database optimization tools to optimize the database quickly.
- Analyze site performance using Google’s Page Speed tools.
- The WordPress Media Library can quickly become bogged down with image files not optimized for the web. Routinely audit uploads to make sure they stay under 600KB.
- Provide monthly reports with all the website optimization actions you took and any gains in speed or overall performance.
SEO & Digital Marketing
Expanding your service offering into SEO and digital marketing is another way to build recurring revenue for your freelance business. These areas can contribute to the profitability of your client’s website, so these services should be billed accordingly.
7. SEO Services
Most clients have no idea where to begin when it comes to SEO. Planning and executing a successful SEO strategy takes knowledge, patience, and consistent work, but you can offer SEO services to clients both during and after a new website has launched.
Tools & Tips:
- If you’re new to SEO, spend some time going through our free SEO training webinars and our SEO 101 replay.
- Offer an SEO package that will produce a complete SEO strategy, customized for the business and industry of your client.
- Install a WordPress SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO. iThemes Sync includes some special integrations with the Yoast plugin such as an SEO Checker.
- This handy SEO checklist will provide 12 things you need to do in 2022 to achieve SEO success.
- SEO services can be billed monthly and include tasks such as optimizing existing content, keyword research, tracking competitors, and producing new SEO-focused content.
8. Content Creation
As you probably know, content creation and blogging can be one of the largest pain points for clients. Adding content creation to your service offering means clients can have consistent content updates which ultimately funnel into SEO efforts, email marketing, and social media.
Tools & Tips:
- A monthly content creation package can include new blog posts, page updates, videos, copywriting for newsletters, and more.
- If you aren’t a writer, sub-contract with a freelance writer for their services. Just adjust your prices accordingly.
- If clients prefer to produce their own content, you can still offer a monthly list of ideas or blog post topics based on their SEO and marketing strategy to guide their efforts.
- Provide a monthly report for clients that displays new content, word counts, pageviews, SEO keywords, social shares, etc.
9. Email Marketing
Like content creation, email marketing can be intimidating for clients. For most industries, email still provides the highest ROI of all marketing channels, so your clients need an email marketing strategy. That’s where you come in.
Tools & Tips:
- Offer a monthly email marketing service that includes weekly or monthly emails to build customer engagement and make sales.
- Use an email marketing platform like MailChimp to build mobile-responsive email templates quickly and easily.
- Provide monthly reports that connect email campaigns to revenue, as well as campaign-specific open rates/click-through rates and the total traffic generated by emails.
10. Social Media Management
Some clients would be happy to offload social media to someone else. You can offer social media management as a part of your digital marketing and WordPress website service offering.
Tools & Tips:
- Use tools like TweetDeck and Buffer to manage multiple social accounts and schedule social sharing.
- Managing social media usually means a closer relationship with the business of your client, so know what you’re getting yourself into. Spend some extra time getting to know the business or industry, as well as the “personality” of the business.
- Provide monthly reports that show social media growth, engagement, and popular posts.
Training & Support
Another are of WordPress maintenance includes branching off into website training and support.
While WordPress remains one of the easiest website content management systems to use, most website owners will need training to manage their WordPress website. Provide monthly in-person or video training for website admins.
Tools & Tips:
- Ongoing training can and should be invoiced. Since training requires your time, you should be paid for it.
- Schedule an initial in-person training day or video conference call with your client soon after the website is launched to walk through basic website management tasks.
- Add WordPress tutorial videos to client websites using iThemes Sync and the WordPress 101 plugin.
- Provide a monthly “website Q&A” session for clients when they can ask you specific questions about how to use the site.
12. On-Call Website Support
Website support is often the most billable service web designers and developers unknowingly offer for free. It’s important to start training clients to pay for your time, even if something goes wrong with the website and they need you to fix it.
- Website support should be an add-on service for all website projects. Support should be built into the initial website contract and agreed upon upfront.
- Offer different support levels that dictate how and when clients can reach you. For example, you could offer email support for a lower monthly fee, or on-call support for more. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.
The Key to WordPress Maintenance Services: Reports
Reporting is the key to justifying ongoing WordPress maintenance services to your clients. With WordPress maintenance reports, you can show clients all the actions you took to keep their website running smoothly. Deliver these monthly reports to show clients what they get by paying you for your service.
Types of WordPress Maintenance Reports
Reports can be broken up into different segments or made specific to the service offering.
Here are a few examples of different WordPress maintenance reports:
WordPress Maintenance – Basic Updates
This report summarizes updates made on the website over the specified time period (usually a month).
- Current WordPress version
- Update Actions/Type (WordPress core, plugin, or theme)
- Date/Time of Update
- Version Number of Update
- Number of installed plugins/themes
WordPress Maintenance – Security, Backups & Uptime/Performance
This report shows backups and security details.
- Number of backups made
- Backup type
- Date/Time of backup
- Times protected from attack
- Security actions taken
- Malware scan date/times
- Uptime percentage
- Average response time
- Database optimization actions
This report summarizes key website analytics data pulled from Google Analytics.
- Summary of traffic, landing, keywords, and referrers
- Stats for total visits, unique visits, total page views
This report provides search analytics stats related to the client’s SEO strategy, pulled from Google Search Console.
- Search Analytics (clicks, impressions, CTR rate, position
- Search queries (clicks, impressions, CTR, position)
- Crawl errors (path, platform, category, detected)
- Sitemaps (URL, platform, category, date detected)
WordPress Maintenance Services vs. Website Care Plans
WordPress maintenance services fit perfectly into website care plans. Just remember the key to selling website care plans is education, and it must start during the first conversation with your clients. Check out our comprehensive guide on how to package, price, and sell website care plans, along with how to educate your clients on the value of website maintenance services.
Final Tips on Selling WordPress Maintenance Services
Chances are, after looking over this list, you can see at least one WordPress maintenance service you could start offering today. On a final note, here are a few quick tips on how to sell WordPress maintenance services to your clients.
- Articulate the gains, pains, and solutions you identified for your clients. Go back to the answers you provided at the beginning of this post. Turn those answers into copy that explains the service and why your clients need it, along with the benefits.
- Leverage existing client relationships. Once you have your new WordPress maintenance services ready, it’s time to sell them. Work on an email letter or call your existing clients to inform them about your new services. If you’re uncomfortable with the sales part of this process, use the letter or call to “check in” on your client and their website needs. You may want to begin with a special discount or introductory offer. Make it easy for them to buy and be available for any questions they may have.
- Ask for referrals. Use this initial call as an opportunity to ask for referrals. It never hurts to ask.
Get the bonus content: The Ultimate WordPress Maintenance Checklist
Kristen has been writing tutorials to help WordPress users since 2011. As marketing director here at iThemes, she’s dedicated to helping you find the best ways to build, manage, and maintain effective WordPress websites. Kristen also enjoys journaling (check out her side project, The Transformation Year!), hiking and camping, step aerobics, cooking, and daily adventures with her family, hoping to live a more present life.