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Managing a Business

Getting started selling website maintenance services

Keeping a website running can be a lot of work. Whether it’s updating software, ensuring everything is safe and secure, or even day-to-day revenue generation, website maintenance involves many moving parts. Not everyone has the time or know-how to do it right. 

That’s where an expert like you comes in. Many website owners choose to put the day-to-day care of their website into more capable hands, making website maintenance services a valuable business proposition for those with the expertise. 

Whether you’ve already dipped your toe in the world of maintenance services and are looking to expand, or you’ve been considering starting to provide them, this article should prove helpful. We’ll be going over what maintenance services are, the broad scope of what they can entail, and the tools you’ll need to provide them.

The value of maintenance services

If you already offer web design or development services, offering maintenance services is an excellent way of monetizing existing clients and securing a steady monthly or annual revenue stream, rather than just one-off jobs. For clients, they’ll have the peace of mind that their website is up-to-date and safe from any potential breaches. Plus, they’ll likely refer other clients if they’re happy with your services.

Hedgehog teaching about privacy

What maintenance services can offer

The scope of website maintenance services can run the gamut and will depend on your area of expertise and whether or not you have a team of staff on hand to help you. You can basically break it down into two categories:

  1. Services for keeping your site secure and running
  2. Services for the day-to-day running of the site and customer retention

Both categories can encompass a variety of tasks, but standard maintenance services for keeping your site safe and running typically include:

Software updates

As a web professional, you’re likely well aware of the importance of keeping website software up-to-date. Clients can often have difficulty keeping up with updating CMS, plugins, themes, and any other tools they use on their site, leaving their site vulnerable to security breaches, errors, and more. You can take care of all this for them, executing updates and dealing with other technical issues that arise.

Security

Maintaining a site’s security involves what was mentioned in the previous point, as well as performing regular site security scans, installing SSL certificates and keeping them up-to-date, installing and maintaining a firewall, and troubleshooting any other security issues that might crop up.

Website backups

Backups of your clients’ sites are crucial should they ever encounter a security breach that takes them offline. The frequency of backups depends on how often new content is posted to the site in question, but at least weekly at a minimum. 

Back-end maintenance

Keeping a site operating at total capacity can involve a wide range of technical troubleshooting, from fixing bugs, errors, and broken links to optimizing site speed.

Weekly or monthly reports

Clients like to be kept in the know about what’s going on with their site. Regular reports can inform them about what you’ve been working on, fixes you’ve implemented, any security issues you’ve found, and sometimes even analytics feedback about visitors and trends.

Now that we have the basics covered, it’s time to think about what else a client might need for the day-to-day running of their site. This will, of course, all depend on what kind of site they have, but common extra services include: 

  • More in-depth analytics, such as tracking marketing campaign performances
  • SEO considerations, like implementing keywords and technical SEO
  • Updating website UX
  • Developing new and updating old site content
  • Updating website design
  • Providing social media imagery
  • Scheduling social media posts

How to charge

Typically, the more services a client uses, the more you bill them. Many freelancers charge clients a fee per hour of work, but many website maintenance services charge a set monthly or annual fee for packages of specific services. Packages with tiered pricing models are standard, for example, splitting them into starter, basic, and premium models. Starter packages are usually the cheapest and offer bare-bones maintenance services, while more premium packages likely cover both categories mentioned in the last section. Prices can range from $15 to a few thousand dollars per month, depending on your customers’ needs and the number of sites they have.  

For tips on pricing your services, check out The Foolproof Way To Price Your Solo Business. If you’re nervous about dealing with client expectations, this post is also a great resource

toolbox with website items

The tools you’ll need

Now that you know the potential of what you can offer, it’s time to think about how you’ll deliver it. What tools will you need to provide clients with the perfect package?

The skills and expertise

Be realistic about what you offer clients regarding where your expertise lies and the amount of time you have to allocate. If your skills lie in the technical side of things, don’t promise more than basic website maintenance. If you want to expand those services, consider teaming up with, hiring, or sub-contracting other experts, such as content writers and marketers, to amp up your package offering. 

Another option is taking the time to train and learn new skills. There are a plethora of free and affordable classes online for learning the ins and outs of SEO, analytics, digital marketing, and more. Namecheap’s Guru Guides has numerous introductory guides to online marketing, such as:

Applications, plugins, and platforms

Many agencies have exclusive platforms that they use to maintain client websites. Creating your own platform is a pretty daunting task for anyone, especially if you’re just starting out. Fortunately, there are a wealth of free or affordable tools available online that you can gather to create your own personal website maintenance toolbox to help make your job easier. Here are a few ideas:

  • For WordPress maintenance, Wordfence is a great all-in-one security solution, Yoast is a go-to plugin for SEO,  and UpdraftPlus is a backup plugin used by over 3 million websites.
  • UptimeRobot is a tool that monitors websites and lets the owner know if it goes down. 
  • With Sucuri’s SiteCheck tool you can scan any site for malware, viruses, malicious code, and more for free.
  • For all your analytical needs, Google Analytics is a classic. Check out this list for some alternatives for WordPress. 
  • Social media management is made a whole lot easier with apps like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Namecheap’s RelateSocial.

White label services

Is the thought of providing all the technical support or hiring extra support unappealing? Or maybe you just want everything you need in one place from the start. An alternative option is to partner with an established maintenance service provider for a fee to automate some services using their tools or platform, but always under your branding. Some options include Fixed and WPBuffs for WordPress sites. 

Enter your maintenance phase

For anyone in the website development space creating websites for clients, offering maintenance services is a no-brainer. Perfect for generating an extra, regular income stream, your clients will also appreciate the added peace of mind that comes with knowing their website will be continually safe, secure, and running.

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