By now, you’ve likely encountered and worked your way out one of the more common problems freelancers face. In moving your business model from one that bills by the hour to value-based pricing, you become a trusted resource for clients instead of one they call on to tackle nitpicky requests. As a result, everyone stops focusing on the number of hours you put into a website and starts looking at the outcomes you deliver.
By setting a rate that is commensurate with the value you deliver, you’re likely to be happier with your work. But what if I told you there’s another way to increase your comfort and satisfaction as a web designer?
With standard web design work, you make a living from one-off jobs. However, you can’t always predict when or how many of them you’ll have at any given time.
This can lead to the dreaded feast or famine.
By selling design support or maintenance services, you can give yourself a steady stream of recurring revenue that spares you from that.
Reasons to Offer Website Support and Maintenance Services
There are entire companies whose business models revolve around WordPress support and maintenance services. It’s great that there are dedicated professionals who can handle this for WordPress users who don’t know how to do it themselves, don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to. But if this is something you’re capable of doing and have an interest in, why not add it to your repertoire and become their one-stop-shop for all things website-related?
Here are some reasons why I believe designers should add this service to their offering:
- Maintenance and support work is ongoing. This translates to a steady and predictable paycheck.
- You can automate many of these tasks, or even outsource, and still make a good profit.
- You can pick-and-choose what kinds of support tasks you offer.
- This enables you to be more productive and focused on your regular design work as you’re not worried about finding that next client.
- You’ll have a hand in protecting and maintaining clients’ websites, which ensures they get the most out of it.
- This is a great way to upsell previous or current website customers on ongoing services.
- This is a good opportunity to turn maintenance customers into website customers.
- You can create new website packages that include this add-on service. This’ll bring more variety to what you offer and paint your overall services in a more professional light.
Bottom line: you’ll benefit from having a predictable revenue stream; clients will benefit from having an end-to-end website service partner.
Consider the Choices: Maintenance and Support Services
The maintenance and support of a website is generally focused on upkeep that can have just as much of an impact on the user experience as the design itself.
Wondering what sort of services maintenance and support entail? Really, this boils down to what’s in your wheelhouse and what you’re interested in. The list of tasks below breaks down the most common choices.
By creating a website update package, clients can contact you throughout the month for a set number of tasks or hours’ worth of tasks. This encourages them to keep their site up-to-date with tasks like tweaking promotional offers, uploading blog posts, reskinning the site for a special occasion, and so on.
Website support allocates a certain number of hours every month to troubleshooting and repairs. It’s not something smaller clients will need, but medium-sized and enterprise clients would appreciate having a support line to tap into.
Popcorn Web Design has a lot of niche specialties, but the Fix-It service is an interesting take on website support.
It doesn’t matter which content management system your clients use (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.), regular updates of the core software and extensions need to be managed frequently. You can automate this for smaller sites and manually test and implement these for larger ones.
Distillery Creative includes bi-monthly updates within its creative and support services packages.
A security scanner can handle the monitoring piece of this for you. It’ll then be your job to pay close attention to warning signs, so you can jump in and repair any sort of infection or vulnerability that might spring up.
Yikes Web Design & Development bundles security, performance, and backup services into one maintenance package.
Uptime monitoring is another thing you can automate with an online tool. Just watch for notifications regarding a website going down or slowing to a crawl, so you can hop inside and troubleshoot the source of the problem.
Websites and their users have a tendency to save everything, even if those files are no longer in use. By offering database optimization and website cleanup services, you can ensure clients’ servers are always running as lean and mean as possible.
Even with the best-laid security plan and performance monitoring system, bad stuff can happen to a website, which is why nightly or weekly backups need to be generated. You can automate this through web hosting or a plugin.
Web Hosting & Domain Management
When signing on new clients, you may find they come to you without a domain or web hosting. By selling web hosting and domain management services, you can position yourself to take that off their hands right from the get-go.
In addition to maintenance services, Ironistic also offers hosting.
Search engine optimization is typically something that comes with the initial build of a website. However, that doesn’t mean that SEO stops there. This service will keep your clients’ sites in line with the latest and greatest of Google demands.
Web development agencies are more likely to offer this “maintenance” service, but it is possible for freelance designers to offer it as well. You just have to decide what exactly you’re capable of handling: strategy, planning, writing, optimization, publication?
Once you hand a new website over to a client, they’re probably not going to check on the status of it often. A reporting service will not only provide them with the most pertinent details from Google Analytics, but will also inform them about performance and security.
Gravitate Design places a heavy emphasis on reporting and auditing within its maintenance packages.
Rather than offer these maintenance and support services as a piecemeal “menu” that clients can choose from, bundle the tasks into related packages—starting with basic support up to a premium offering. It’ll save clients from having to guess which services they need while helping you to refine your internal process for handling them.
Bottom line: if you want your web design business to be sustainable, you need predictable, recurring revenue coming through. By offering maintenance and support services, you can give your business that cushion it needs so you can more comfortably and efficiently handle the work you love.
Featured image via DepositPhotos.
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