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WordPress Maintenance Plans: What Are They, Key Services to Include, and How to Sell Your Plans

Updated on December 16, 2021

12 Min Read
WordPress Maintenance Plans

Project-based work is no longer an industry standard that lets most WordPress agencies thrive. Running after new clients and projects is an exhaustive exercise in terms of both time and resources, one that’s rarely sustainable enough to last. That’s where WordPress maintenance services come in; this is the secret sauce behind balancing profit generation alongside a rising workload.
Your clients don’t just vanish into thin air once you’re done designing their websites – they’ll still require routine maintenance services for those projects. And this what lets you remain in the game.

In this piece, I’ll outline the importance of selling WordPress care plans, what to include in these, and how you can persuade clients to stay with you after a project. Once you have outlined your WordPress care plan, you can set up a recurring revenue model to retain your customers.

What is a WordPress Maintenance Plan?

A WordPress maintenance plan is an excellent way to generate extra income as an agency owner. It’s essentially a plan where you monitor and maintain client sites to ensure that they work correctly. They’re designed to keep your clients’ WordPress websites updated and improved.

Why You Should Be Selling WordPress Maintenance Plans

Demand for WordPress websites shows no sign of slowing down. That means finding new clients isn’t the hard part for those of you who offer excellent design and development services, and market them well. But as time goes on, you’ll find yourself struggling to juggle an ever-increasing horde of clients’ demands on your time and resources. Your agency will likely feel the strain of continually acquiring new customers, and meeting all of their requirements.

WordPress website maintenance plans can soften that strain. They:

Are a Reliable Source of Recurring Revenue: WordPress maintenance plans let you offer ongoing services to your clients, and ensure you have a constant source of revenue, even during slow months when you’re not booking new clients. What’s more, having this sort of steady cash flow means you don’t have to work with every customer that walks in your door; you can afford to be pickier and choose the more interesting or profitable projects.

Plus, many website care related tasks are easy to automate or even outsource, so they don’t take up too much of your time or resources.

Lower Your Acquisition Costs: It’s always less expensive to retain old customers than acquire new ones. By monetizing old clients, you can lower the costs associated with the latter – especially as you won’t have to develop new proposals and invoices for each new client.

Help You Build Better Client Relationships: WordPress care plans are a great way to foster trust and grow client relationships. After working with a client, you’ve identified their needs and pain points, so you’re in a better position to cater to these through care plans. This kind of investment in client relationships encourages clients to continue working with you on other projects, or referring you to their colleagues.

In this article, I’ll categorize the services you can offer into a basic WordPress maintenance plan, or a more comprehensive WordPress maintenance package. You can charge your client according to the plan they choose, or offer custom WordPress maintenance packages.

What to Include in Basic WordPress Maintenance Plans

The beauty of WordPress website maintenance plans is that you can tailor them to your clients’ needs, even as you play to your strengths.

1. Updates to the WordPress Core, Plugins and Themes

Regularly updating all WordPress components is crucial to the performance and security of your clients’ websites. This is a tedious job for the client, making it a critical service that most WordPress support plans will offer. It entails managing updates to the core, plugins and themes on a regular basis (of course, make sure to automate backups before making an update!).

But this job does not have to be tedious per say. If you automate WordPress Updates you will be saving a lot of time and money. While you can automate through plug-ins, they can definitely compromise your client’s site security.

With Cloudways, users get the option of using the in-built automatic update system called SafeUpdates. From auto-detection of updates, to taking fresh auto backups, testing on staging and live environments and finally deploying, it takes care of everything.

2. Regular Website Backups

Another standard element of a WordPress maintenance plan, you can easily use a plugin to automate backups on a regular basis. Regular backups mitigate the damage of a broken site, allowing your clients to access and restore their information even after a disaster.

3. Security Services

WordPress has an ill-founded reputation for lax security – in truth, the platform is quite safe to use. However, its popularity draws hackers to it like moths, and too many of its users are not tech-savvy enough to comply with best security practices on their websites.

All of this makes WordPress security monitoring an essential offering of your WordPress maintenance plan. Make sure to include firewall implementation, SSL certification, a WP security plugin, and regular emails, notifications and warnings about the website’s safety. You’ll also offer some kind of security monitoring, such as standard malware scans and audits of login attempts, as part of your WordPress support plans.

Basic WordPress maintenance plans tend to restrict themselves to security monitoring; problem resolution usually falls under advanced plans.

With Cloudways, offering security services becomes a lot easier because of its Cloudflare Add-on which enables Enterprise grade DDoS and Firewall protection.

4. Technical Support and Troubleshooting

While the WordPress community and developers offer excellent support, your clients will tend to be non-tech experts who look to you to help with technical solutions. Plan out how you want to offer customer support in your website care plan – will you use email and live chat, or support tickets and call options?

Here you’ll have to factor in who’ll be on the other end to respond to support requests; if you’re a small agency you could go the chatbot route, and if you have resources to spare you could find a provider that offers 24/7 access. If you can white-label services to package in your WordPress maintenance plans, you should!

5. Hosting Services

You might consider managing hosting for clients to be outside of the scope of your agency. However, clients will often prefer for you to handle this for them if they lack the technical skills to manage it themselves. Even if they have the required expertise, managing and maintaining servers is a distraction from their business operations.

While it may sound like a lot of work on your end, the truth couldn’t be further than that. All you have to do is find a quality hosting provider whose services you can resell. With Cloudways, for instance, you can resell web hosting to your clients, and have them enjoy unparalleled performance and excellent 24/7 customer support, all while you benefit from a steady stream of income. It’s a fantastic way to sell a decent WordPress maintenance plan to your customers.

Package your maintenance services with a recurring hosting plan and make your clients’ lives easier.

Clients are the happiest when their websites run smoothly. Resell Cloudways hosting packages at the price of your choice and deliver a seamless website experience to your clients that they’ll love.

Advanced WordPress Maintenance Plans

Here are a few advanced WordPress maintenance services that you can offer as part of your plan too.

6. Performance and Uptime Monitoring

The faster your clients’ website, the better their user experience, conversion rates, and search engine rankings. Performance optimization is therefore an attractive facet of your WordPress maintenance packages- one your clients will be willing to pay premium rates for. You can test your clients’ website speeds with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, which identifies issues like slow speeds and poor uptime, and offers suggestions to resolve those. Offer more value to your clients with this service by reporting on performance improvements on a monthly basis. You could package performance and uptime monitoring as part of your WordPress maintenance plan.

7. Content Management

If you have the resources, you can update your clients’ web content as part of your WordPress maintenance plan. This can include making regular updates to outdated blog posts and About Me pages, as well as writing new product addition and coupon codes for your ecommerce clients. Content management also includes regular audits to fix broken links and make other adjustments for website optimization and usability.

8. Database Maintenance

WordPress databases tend to get clunky. Old revisions pile up, while outdated images and themes add their weight to the mix. All of this ends up in slowed down sites, poor uptime and frustrated customers. Add database maintenance to those premium WordPress plans, and look through the websites every month to clean out the outdated revisions and plugins. You can also use a plugin to automate some of the cleanup.

9. Malware Removal

Clients who understand the necessity of advanced protection in case of a cyberattack would benefit greatly if you add this to your WordPress website maintenance plan. That said, while you can use security plugins to some extent, malware removal is a time-intensive task. Make sure you have the time and resources to handle this responsibly if you choose to offer this service.

How to Persuade Clients They Need a Website Maintenance Plan

As great as offering WordPress website maintenance plans should sound to you right now, agency owners might (understandably) balk at reaching out to clients about them. After all, it’s easier said than done to convince clients that they need to invest in continually updating and maintaining their sites! Here are some guidelines you can follow to ease this process.

1. Don’t Wait to Discuss Maintenance

That’s not to say you should be pushing maintenance plans on to your clients from the very first meeting, but do make sure to contextualize them early on as essential services! When your client is already acquainted with these services, they’re less likely to be hesitant about adopting them and all associated fees at the end of a project. Touch upon the benefits and values of continual site maintenance throughout the project. This is the best way to break the ice and talk about your WordPress maintenance plans with your potential customers.

2. Set Clear Expectations

From the outset, avoid becoming overburdened by client demands for support. Make sure you and your clients are clear on what kinds of WordPress maintenance plans you offer, what work will be included as part of their plan, and what work will necessitate an extra fee. You should also communicate your availability, turnaround time on work, and the frequency with which you’ll respond to their queries.

3. Offer Clients a Motivation to Choose Your Support

Make it easy for your client to see the benefit and value of signing on for regular WordPress website maintenance. One direct way to do this is by offering discounts on future projects, so if they choose the maintenance plan, they’ll save more on work ahead. Similarly, you could offer higher priority to maintenance clients – you’ll attend to their work ahead of others.

4. Don’t Take Support Clients for Granted

Even if you’re able to automate a lot of the work behind support services, don’t slip into the trap of mediocre performance! If the support you offer isn’t valuable enough, you won’t be able to communicate it as such to new clients, and you’ll lose out on the existing ones.

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Expert Tips on Smoothing the Process of Selling Website Care Plans

We reached out to a few agency owners who sell website maintenance plans to hear what they had to say.

1. Leverage client relationships

Cindy Corpis, CEO of SearchPeopleFree  Cindy Corpis, CEO of SearchPeopleFree  

“When it comes to getting clients and making sales, you need to first make sure you’re keeping your old clients. It’s time to market your new WordPress maintenance services. Prepare an email or call to alert current clients about your new offerings. If you don’t like selling, use the letter or call to “check-in” with your client and their website needs. Begin with a special offer or discount. Make it easy for them to buy and respond to their queries. This way, you can keep existing clients while adding new ones.”

2. Be Transparent

Kristen Day - Affinity MediaKristen Day, Web Designer, Social Media Strategist and Data Analyst at Affinity Media

  • Train them on exactly what website maintenance takes by showing them the backend of their system.
  • Have a checklist of weekly/monthly/yearly tasks needing to be performed on the site.
  • Offer customers a month to month plan, so that they feel they are never forced to have your services.
  • Charge customers a flat rate, so there are never any surprises for them.
  • Be transparent about everything your maintenance package does and does not include. Clarity creates confidence.

3. Do your research on what the client needs

Tony Wang, Owner at LocalWordTony Wang, Owner at LocalWord

“Many website firms offer maintenance plans, supposing they just create easy recurring revenue. However, you need to be careful that it actually makes you money. WordPress sites have the potential to take lots of time to update/fix.

It’s best to actually see the website backend before giving a solid quote for monthly fees. If the site has excessive plugins or a poorly coded theme or plugins, it may take more time than it’s worth. Especially since WordPress has been changing so much in the past year or so, what with Gutenberg and all the new features they’re adding.

Most of the time nothing goes wrong, but when problems do occur, and it takes a couple hours to fix, your profits will disappear.

In our business, we only offer maintenance to someone hiring us for other jobs, so we don’t focus on maintenance plans. And for websites we design, we let the customer know upfront that there will be ongoing maintenance required. We explain that the maintenance plan is required due to all the complexity involved in maintaining a WordPress site. After showing them all the things that could possibly go wrong, they always agree to the plan.”

4. Ditch the fluff

Link Moser, Owner at Windhill DesignLink Moser, Owner at Windhill Design

“Don’t load up your WordPress care plans with fluff. Give people services that actually bring value to them. Start the conversation early in the customer relationship. Care plans should be presented as the ‘gold standard’, not an afterthought or an add on service. Research what other providers are offering and charging to get ideas. However, your unique customer mix will ultimately dictate how to best price your services.”

5. Focus on the client’s peace of mind

Daniel Florido, Lead Developer at PixelstormDaniel Florido, Lead Developer at Pixelstorm

“Companies usually approach us to do content and plug-in updates because they don’t want to do it themselves. They don’t have the knowhow, time or desire to learn. They would prefer someone else take care of it for them. And we are only too happy to help.

Usually what clients are after is just some peace of mind.

The peace of mind that there are some experts at hand that can handle the more complicated tasks for them. Whether it be basic content entry or updates to a quote form, clients like to know they have some support.

Plug-in updates are your bread and butter In the WordPress maintenance game. The idea of your website being hacked is scary to a lot of people. So we like to sell plug-in updates as one of the best forms of security. We also throw in basic content updates on top of the plugin updates. So it’s a really worthwhile deal for our clients.”

6. Prioritize niche

Jitesh Ramphal, Web Developer at WebforceJitesh Ramphal, Web Developer at Webforce

“Many competitors offer website packages these days and I believe it’s best to focus on niches for this. For example, we focus on performance-driven design websites that provide a seamless user experience while adapting techniques to optimize resource usage. With efficient use of hardware we reduce our carbon footprint. This is opposed to the majority of the websites we’ve seen that use resources at a machine to improve performance.

With the growth of hosted services and the greater demand for an online presence, the energy consumption increases proportionately. A few ways we do this is by reducing the number of WordPress plugins and performing tasks through CLI or direct editing of config files, not using bloated web page builders like Elementor or Divi.”

Also Read: Divi vs Elementor: Best WordPress Page Builder in 2022?

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Wrapping Up

As with just about every new endeavor, do your research before starting your WordPress maintenance plans. Look into what your clients need, and assess your own resources to figure out what you can provide. Soon enough, you should have a steady stream of recurring revenue with these. Visit the Cloudways webinar on price and sell on value.

Q1. How much does it cost to maintain a WordPress website?

It depends on factors like the number of plugins, the nature of the site, and the type of hosting. Clients can expect to pay as little as $50 a month, as much as $100 to $200, or even more. Maintaining a custom-built website can be resource intensive, and usually requires quite a bit of manual labor.

Q2. Do WordPress sites need maintenance?

Regularly! WordPress receives frequent updates for security and performance, usually every month. To ensure a WordPress site’s security, its core code and plugins need constant maintenance so they’re aligned with the updates.

Q3. Does WordPress have a maintenance mode?

Not really. But you can put your website into maintenance mode using a code snippet or adding a plugin.

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Manal Y

Manal works in digital marketing at Cloudways, where she shines up content primarily by torturing the Oxford comma. After hours, you can find her rambling about books, movies and music, and ranting about media and politics to anyone foolhardy enough to listen.

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