When it comes time to set up a new website for a client, you’ll want to establish some ground rules from the beginning. Between the domain registration, hosting, theme, and plugin purchases, you might feel like you’re buried in options before you even get started. Who should pay for what? How can I get the most bang for my buck? (Because it’s not all about the client saving – and making – money) Where and when do I need to spend my precious time when it comes to security and maintenance? And how do I protect my client’s sites well after the final invoice is paid.

We’ll start at the beginning—domain and hosting.

Krista and I highly recommend that your client sets up her own domain registration and hosting accounts. Sure, you could make a little extra money by purchasing re-seller hosting and marking up the cost for your clients, but we don’t recommend it.

Think of it this way: You may win the lottery one day and decide to close up shop and move to Costa Rica. (Hey, it’s possible! One of our students has done just that. Although, she took her family and shop with her. That’s the beauty of what you achieve from the Beauty School…) Anyhoo, you don’t want to have to worry about moving all your clients to new hosting accounts before you get on that plane.

Or, you might encounter a client who decides to work with a new designer or developer, or one who you can’t seem to get along with (also possible!).

You’ll want to have the option to cut the cord in these cases.

In addition to domain registration and hosting, you’ll also have a premium theme and a range of premium plugins to include.

While I recommend that your clients purchase their own domain registration and hosting, I take the opposite standpoint for their theme and plugins.

The fact is, it takes a lot of maintenance to keep your WordPress software, theme and plugins updated and running smoothly. If it is up to your clients to be in charge of all this, chances are something will fall through the cracks. That’s why I recommend purchasing the developer’s license for your theme and plugins. I actually include plugin purchase for the first year as part of the website development cost.

But what happens after that first year? What happens when a plugin needs updating just one week after you launch the site and said update breaks the site?

Let’s back up a bit.

I learned an important lesson that prompted me to restructure the way I run security and maintenance for my clients. It has changed how I work and how I feel about my work.

Why I Set Up Long-term Security and Maintenance Packages For My Clients

When I installed Backup Buddy and other plugins on my clients’ sites, I set the failure notices to come to my email account because most clients don’t know how to troubleshoot these issues. Backup Buddy is a great plugin, but when hosting accounts, WordPress, or various plugins are updated, oftentimes there is a chain reaction and Backup Buddy fails.

I was regularly popping into client sites well past the final payment had been made to make a few technical tweaks to keep them running smoothly. It was a huge time suck, and left me concerned that the site might be hacked at the time the backups failed.

We’d be in dire straits if that happened.

I would also constantly revisit sites to copy some code I had written, or to check on how something is working. While I was there, I would often take care of any WordPress, theme, or plugin updates. The success of their website reflects on me, and I wanted to make sure it was running beautifully. Inevitably, a plugin would break the site or stop working, and suddenly I’d lose hours here and there to keep the websites alive and humming, unbeknownst to my clients.

I was wasting time and losing money.

It stressed me out because this extra work was taking me away from paid work. It made me feel like I was making less and less money. It made me feel bitter. But I knew it wasn’t my clients’ faults.

The final motivator for setting up a security and maintenance package was the fact that, frankly, I’m not all that interested in the minutia of website security. I’d rather be designing and playing with CSS.

I was constantly worried about the safety of my clients’ sites, and therefore their businesses.

No matter how big, small, bustling or quiet your business is, hackers are on the prowl to infest your site with evil germs. It doesn’t matter how under-the-radar your site is. Hackers would love to get their hands on it. And, trust me, they’re trying. Right. This. Second.

Over 30,000 sites are hacked. Every. Single. Day. Strong passwords, reliable hosting, and updated software  may help ward off hackers, but ultimately it’s not enough.

I knew it was time to bring in some experts.

After a lot of research, I found Lance at UnHackus. They were recommended by iThemes as one of their preferred partners for setting up iThemes Security Pro.

 When I contacted UnHackus to inquire about their services, Lance called me back.

Yes, called me on the phone!

We chatted for a lengthy time and he enthusiastically answered all my questions and never once made me feel like an idiot. Unfortunately, many web experts out there tend to make the rest of us feel stupid for not knowing what they know. Not Lance.

I now have an amazing resource in Lance, as well as Brandon, at UnHackus (and WebSavers) to help me maintain my clients’ websites, run full daily back-ups, securely lock-down the websites to keep hackers at bay. As a bonus, they help me out with all kinds of WordPress worries. They are a wealth of information and always extremely helpful. No more wasted hours, endless dead-end Google searches, or patronizing and useless help forum conversations for me.

Krista has found a similar expert hosting and WordPress security/maintenance company to work with: WebSavers. They too offer exemplary customer service. Best of all, both provide peace of mind.

Summary: Why a Security and Maintenance Plan is Essential

  1. To reduce the cost of expensive premium plugins for clients and, as a bonus, for myself
  2. To eliminate wasted time and unpaid hours maintaining client sites
  3. To exponentially increase the security of websites
  4. To have reliable back-ups
  5. To sleep better!

My “TLC Security and Maintenance” packages have helped me sleep better at night because I know my clients’ sites are as safe and secure as possible. As a bonus, these packages bring in more than $1000 per month in incremental revenue!

Next week I’ll be sharing exactly how I set up my website security and maintenance packages for clients and make money doing so…

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