WP Sites, Clients, Contracts, and Agreements

Hello,
I'm hoping this is the right place to start this discussion. I've been working with WordPress for about 3 years now. I've converted old client sites to WP and I've used a couple themes, built custom themes, etc.

I'm finding that I'm not getting the monthly revenue that I use to when I built static websites because clients would normally come back to me every month or so with updates which I could bill for. Now with WP, they are able to update their own websites. They only contact me now when they want to add additional functionality or have issues, or need some guidance. Most the time, they won't contact me again until they have broken something by updating WP or a plugin. Which is always a fun thing to try and fix :slight_smile:

I'm wondering what you guys do or offer to your clients. Do you offer a monthly, quarterly, yearly contract for support? Where once a month or every 3 months you will check on the site, make sure WP and plugins are updated? Do you send out a newsletter letting clients know that WP has been updated and charge time for updating? What do you think would be a fair rate to charge clients for this type of support?

I just want to make sure my clients are being supported and taken care of before they run into an issue. But I also like the idea of recurring revenue for providing support to my clients. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas!

Thanks,
Jackson

  • Mason

    Hiya Jackson,

    Great question. I'm moving this to the Advanced WordPress Discussion forum as it feels more appropriate :slight_smile:

    I have 2 general methods I use with my clients. They both operate on the same principle though and that is hosting. Folks seem to understand that it costs to have your site hosted. It's like paying the rent - and most folks are willing to pay more for it from me because they have an established relationship with me and know that if there ever is a problem I'm very familiar with all facets of their setup to get it resolved quickly.

    If it's a small or simple job I have a Multi-site with domain mapping that I manage for them. They pay annually for the hosting, email addresses, and I keep the site and plugins up to date, as well as backups of everything.

    For larger or more complex projects where they want to manage things more on their own I have a reseller account with hostgator. They get their own cPanel and set of keys to everything. I'll setup backups for them (mostly to help future me out if there's an issue) and from there they're on their own. They pay an annual fee for the hosting and backups.

    This works for me and the annual thing makes it easy to track. I include the annual hosting/backup cost in my initial proposal to new clients. In the past I made it optional, but when a client chose a separate host they invariably had an issue and required my assistance and then wanted their site migrated to my system, so I now just include hosting as one of the necessities.

    So that's my 2 cents. Who else?

  • Jackson Murphy

    Very interesting Mason!

    I've always been reluctant to offer hosting or resell hosting. I do have hosting affiliates (like David mentioned). I've always preferred and advised the client to set up their own host and control their own domain names. I've had clients that wanted out of the control of the reseller and it can be a pain to get the information/files from the reseller (especially if both parties have had a fallen out with each other :slight_smile: So I've personally never wanted to lock a client in like that. But then again, controlling the client site would help insure payment.

    Also, if they are having issues like "why isn't my email working?" or "my site is down" etc., I could always just say "You need to contact your hosting company." or I could check on it for them in most situations, unless I'm on the beach :slight_smile:

    Maybe it's time I rethink that whole situation, because the recurring revenue would be nice. And the client usually ends up calling me with those issues anyways.

    I was thinking of offering a recurring monthly, quarterly, or maybe a yearly fee for just keeping their WP site updated. Most the time, it's a pretty smooth process to go in and update plugins and WP. Might take 30 minutes or maybe an hour... depending on how many plugins they have and the complexity of the site...

    Every once and awhile, I'll run into a plugin that has really changed and the update process can be very tedious. Recently that happened with WP E-commerce. I still haven't updated a clients plugin because of the major update.

    Just to throw out some numbers and get an idea of some payment options, how's these sound?

    1 hour a month to check on the site. Maintain. Update. Clean up. Etc... at $50/hr
    That's $600/yr.
    Too much?
    Maybe $25/month $300/year?
    Too little?

    Say you have 10 clients, that could be $3000 or $6000 a year...
    It sounds good to me... but I just wonder if clients would go for it.
    Thoughts?

  • Mason

    Hiya Jackson,

    I have been lucky perhaps (knock on wood) but have had very few email/site down questions or panics. When it happens, it's hell, but thankfully there's not been that many occasions.

    Re: client locked in with last web guy. Yep. I've experienced that too. It's total garbage. I specifically state both verbally and in the written agreement that I own none of their stuff and they the client have their own set of keys when/if they decide to move on.

    Just to throw out some numbers and get an idea of some payment options, how's these sound?

    Oh man. So subjective. Only advice I can give here is to decide what it's worth to you and charge that. Some folks will pay it, some will have an issue with it but at the end of the day the important thing is that you feel you're being fairly compensated.

    Good point about the developer subscriptions too. I do the same.

    Which font resource have you used and liked so far?

    I always use free/open-source fonts for web. Maybe one of the designers would have a better recommendation, but my current favorite is google fonts.
    http://www.google.com/webfonts/

  • Philip John

    Hiya guys,

    This only just popped up in my feed for some reason so sorry for the delay but I'll add my two pence as I'm slightly different...

    I actually take quite a hands-off approach. I find dealing with maintenance contracts to be difficult as no matter how tightly you specify what will or won't be provided, some clients always expect more. Of course, you are always free to politely get rid of them.

    To that end I only do one-off projects and only the WordPress stuff. I'll recommend and help them through hosting, getting them used to the terminology and basic elements. I'll then do all the WordPress stuff and get them ready for things like backups.

    A large proportion of contracts are then training. I aim to get to a point where they are self-sufficient enough to maintain their site, back it up and do what they need. I make it clear that after initial delivery they can call me if they have questions and I'll help them out. This is okay because I put a buffer into all my pricing. Generally though, they don't need much and I'm fairly harsh on what I will and won't do after delivery.

    That said, I am branching into hosting but in a hands-off way. I have a friend who is an awesome server admin with a set of VPSs and we're building an automated installer. On top of that will sit several WP self-service installation and hosting services that cater to niche markets by coming pre-loaded with certain plugins and themes.

    This seems to be where a lot of stuff is going due to the fact that revenues from simply building sites are being squeezed (just like you found moving from static to WP). It's easier to generate more revenue with this - you can easily charge $30/mth without having actually done anything.

    Anyway, good luck!
    Phil

  • Chris

    I've definitely found that it can be harder to get money once you give people an ace CMS to manage things will.

    I generally aim for a combined hosting, upgrade and management fee per year, varying on client and site size.

    Ultimately, for regular income, I aim to increase advertising revenues on my own projects. Plus I'm a doctor, working full time. I spose that probably brings in a fair amount lol.

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