After ensuring a successful launch, most WordPress developers take a step back and look on to their next project. But constantly chasing new projects results in an uneven cash flow that means some months are better than others.
What developers sometimes fail to realize are the benefits of working with web development clients on a continuous basis to maintain their WordPress website, even after the initial project has been completed.
Sell clients into working with you on a regular basis by reminding them that an unmaintained website will:
- Run slower than ideal (increased page loading time)
- Get hacked easier
- Have a lower ranking in search
Because clients don’t often know they need your help until a situation arises, here are 6 WordPress maintenance services to offer clients.
1. WordPress Backups
Sometimes, people’s reliance on technology can be their downfall. Take, for example, the recent AWS outage, which caused a day full of headaches for companies hosting their data centers on Amazon, and their clients, who were all forced to find alternative ways to get things done that they had previously taken for granted.
Because of this, and for many other reasons (like security), it’s important to be constantly backing up all files tied to online properties. Though there are a number of plugins that can take care of this, they can be confusing to configure for a non-technical person. Additionally, some hosting providers offer this service, but you should also have your own solution in place as an extra precaution.
As part of your continued maintenance of a WordPress website, you could offer to setup and facilitate WordPress backup – daily, weekly, or whatever makes sense for the nature of the website, and how often it’s updated. As a best practice, maintain 3 backups of the website (files and database) in different locations – both locally, and in the cloud.
2. WordPress Security
Some web hosts offer basic levels of WordPress security (which defends a website from hackers), but even if they don’t, it’s important for webmasters to continuously perform manual checks. After a client’s WordPress website is setup, your first maintenance package could include factors like:
- Updating all software to their latest versions (WordPress, themes, plugins, etc.) and fixing any errors that may result from updates.
- Installing plugins like Login LockDown, which limits the number of times someone can login your site. Educate clients on password security best practices.
- Installing WordPress security plugins like Wordfence, which is a popular/free plugin that initiates comprehensive security checks, including firewall, blocking, malware scans & login attempts.
And this is just the beginning! A monthly WordPress maintenance retainer package should include regular scans for security issues, then proposed fixes.
3. WordPress Updates
It’s a best practice to always install the latest version of WordPress, then update the themes & plugins (in that order). Plugins are often updated by their developers to keep up with the latest WordPress updates, and hackers can use outdated plugins as an entry point to breach your site.
One of the most simple, but useful WordPress maintenance services to offer clients is staying on top of WordPress updates. Additionally, check plugins every once in awhile, and delete those not currently being used by the client, to reduce potential security breach issues.
4. Database Maintenance
The larger the website, the more information it stores, and the larger the database. If not regularly attended to and periodically cleaned out, a database gets slower – which can then result in slow page load.
Maintaining the database helps it run more smoothly. One of the components of your retainer for WordPress maintenance services to offer clients should include a regular database refresh. Install plugins like WP-Sweep or WP-Optimize, and clean up spam comments – they unnecessarily take up storage space.
5. Website Health & Functionality
Website health problems include slow loading pages, broken links, and site downtime. They might seem like minor issues compared to the whole, but can have a negative effect on user experience. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools can help you to check website metrics, for preventive action. My WordPress Health Check is another plugin that may be useful in identifying issues.
Periodically test and fix these user experience issues as part of the WordPress maintenance services to offer clients (especially after major design changes, or new page additions):
- Check browser compatibility & functionality (especially after design changes)
- Test contact forms
- Check 404 errors/dead or broken links (Dead Link Checker is a useful tool)
- Measure page speed (when properly configured, a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache can help)
- Conduct or review usability data through tools like Inspectlet, or User Testing
6. Content Changes and SEO
Even though WordPress is incredibly user-friendly compared to many other CMSes, some clients either can’t wrap their heads around it, or just don’t have time to deal with it. Since small changes are the most common asks from clients to web developers, designating a couple of hours each month towards content changes can be one of the best WordPress maintenance services to offer clients.
In addition to standard or expected changes, you might also want to offer basic SEO help with content, and website structure/technical considerations. Configuring an SEO plugin like Yoast can help, in addition to the usability measures already mentioned. Of course, onsite and offsite SEO help isn’t something every web developer knows how to do, so make sure you’re only offering it if you can actually follow through.
Certainly, some of these tasks are much easier to perform than others. But setup is often the hardest part – maintenance gets easier as you develop efficient systems. Offering most/all of these services together as a package can help you start making an attractive income with monthly retainers, in addition to new client projects. By finding a balance between both, you’ll have more good months than bad.