I’ve been building WordPress sites for clients for years now and it is an exciting business.
In this video, I share all of my tips and tricks including:
- What are we selling? 00:02:19
- How much to charge: 00:04:35
- How to sell it: 00:09:27
- Building the sites: 00:13:27
- Ongoing Support: 00:15:42-
- Final thoughts: 00:22:16
When I started out, I was no expert. I had built a couple of WordPress sites and so I got stuck into building WordPress websites for a couple of clients and learned as I went. If you have a little bit of experience building WordPress websites using themes and plugins, you are probably in the position to offer that service to other people who are also looking for a WordPress website for their business. Here’s how…
WHAT EXACTLY ARE WE SELLING?
You are selling WordPress set up services so that at the end of the project you will have created a beautiful, functioning WordPress website for your client. You are essentially a WordPress facilitator/setter-upper/builder. You will be using premium themes, plugins and tools to achieve that outcome.
What Are We Not Selling?
Don’t sell yourself as a WP developer, unless you are a WP developer. As far as possible you will want to stay away from WordPress customisation, certainly to begin with. Any customisation using CSS or j-query will probably be beyond your capabilities, so don’t mis-sell yourself and keep it simple to start with.
SELLING ONGOING SUPPORT
On top of the actual website creation, you could and should also create residual income through hosting and ongoing support.
Try and sell the benefits of using WordPress too. If, after the website is built and you are no longer able to support the client, they will always be able to find someone who can. That’s more difficult and expensive with a custom-built website.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU CHARGE FOR WORDPRESS SERVICES?
If you’re new to this, you can’t charge the big bucks to start with. Start smaller and as your confidence, experience and portfolio grow, you can charge more money.
When I first started out, I was charging £300 – £500 per project. That’s about $375 – $625. Now I work with slightly bigger companies that have more budget and I can charge around £10,000/$12,500 for a website. It has taken me a few years to build up to that. I have built up my credibility and reputation over the years and have a strong portfolio to back it up. That allows me to demand a higher fee.
CONSIDER DOING SOME FREEBIES
You might even consider doing a few projects for free, just to build a small portfolio and to get a bit of experience under your belt.
CHARGE FOR ONGOING SERVICES
One of the ongoing services I offer is hosting. This is a valuable service to add to your bundle. Just find a good WordPress hosting reseller account and charge your client a decent yet realistic fee. I like SiteGround and use their reseller account to service my clients.
As well as hosting you can offer ongoing site support. Base your fee on the complexity of the site and the demands of the client. I charge this as an annual fee and the price ranges from £300 – £3,000, depending on the client needs. You could make this a monthly fee, but I prefer to charge annually.
THINGS TO AVOID
Try not to itemise your costs too much and bundle them together. For example, don’t breakdown the costs of premium themes and plugins. Just give the client a website build cost and an ongoing support cost.
EMAIL IS EVIL
I avoid email services like the plague. Not only can it be an absolute headache to set up, it is a nightmare when things go wrong. Email is business-critical. You might have built a relatively small, low-priced website for someone and be charging them a pittance for ongoing support, but they won’t care about that at 3am when their email has gone down. Who they gonna call? You. Constantly. Until you’ve fixed the issue. And it’s not always straight forward. Just don’t do it.
Same with domain names. The ideal scenario is that your client has already purchased their domain name and can simply give you a login for their domain registrar. There is no money in domain names so let the client come to you with one they already own.
HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY SELL WORDPRESS SERVICES?
Selling yourself might not come naturally. But you don’t have to be “salesy” to successfully sell services. Think about it in a different way. It’s more about listening, having a conversation and offering a solution. It’s about helping people achieve their goals. I once knew an incredibly successful advertising sales guy. He was successful because he listened to his clients’ needs and offered them a solution.
NETWORK AND MAKE FRIENDS
The best way to start is to attend a couple of networking events. Most towns and cities have small business networking events. Go along and meet some people. Listen to their needs and just have a chat with them. They will inevitably ask what you do, and you can explain your services.
Networking is about connecting with people. Don’t try and sell yourself. Just make some business friends and nurture those relationships. Even if they don’t need a WordPress website, they might know someone who does, and they will refer them to you. It’s a slower process but word of mouth is a powerful thing.
TAKE ON SOME FREE OR LOW-COST PROJECTS
I’ve mentioned it before but consider doing a couple of websites for free. Do a good job, build a reputation and people will start recommending you. Referral is now my number one way of getting new projects.
GO THE EXTRA MILE
Become your clients’ go-to person for all their website needs. Be nice and accommodating and helpful. This will go towards building the kind of reputation that will have potential clients knocking on your door.
BUILDING WORDPRESS WEBSITES
THINK PREMIUM, NOT FREE
Build your sites using a premium theme. Do not be tempted to use a free theme. This is not the time to be a cheapskate! Premium themes have been developed to be versatile and they offer ongoing support so if you have a problem, question or query, you can raise a ticket with the theme developers and usually get the answer you’re looking for.
THEMES AND PAGE BUILDERS
There are a few premium themes that I go back to time and again. They are versatile and always look great. And I’m a big fan of Elementor as a page builder (check this video out if you’re not that familiar with it). I prefer premium WordPress themes that work well with Elementor. I like Astra WP and Ocean WP. I have also used X theme, which comes with the Cornerstone page builder. Also, I’ve used Divi, which has great support.
WHAT DOES YOUR CLIENT LIKE?
As with any content or web job, your client has to give you a brief. You have to know what they want and like. Ask them for examples of websites that they like, or elements of websites that they’d like to emulate.
A word of warning though… if your client has recruited a graphic designer to build a design for their website, turn the job down. You’re getting into custom design territory, which is a job for a WordPress developer, not a WordPress builder. Working with a graphic designer is fine if they are just designing banners or icons or images. But implementing a bespoke website design is complicated and will probably require a custom-built theme. I’m guessing this will be beyond your capabilities.
TALKING OF CAPABILITIES…
Don’t be over-ambitious. WordPress has its limitations and so do you. Sometimes the client wants too much functionality that would require too many plugins and you’d end up creating a big fat, slow, bloated monster. Manage your clients’ expectations.
I once worked with a client who wanted to have a site where you could have an events calendar, book tickets, make appointments and buy merchandise. It became too much, and we ended up with too many plugins and having to get a developer involved. It was an awful job and the hassle wasn’t worth the money.
PREMIUM WORDPRESS PLUGINS
Having said that, most things can be achieved with plugins but go for premium plugins that offer good support and limit the number of plugins you use. If you are in the early stages of a project and your client asks for some functionality that you’re not sure can be supported, don’t be afraid to say that you’re going to have to do some research into how to best achieve their objectives. You’re not going to have all the answers to hand.
I’ve already mentioned that you can make residual income after the website project itself is completed through ongoing support services. By this I mean hosting, updates and security. We know that WordPress itself has to be updated and that plugins require updates pretty regularly. Most theme and plugin developers offer a ticketing system if you ever need technical support from them, but most of the time theme and plugin updates are easy to do.
MALWARE AND HACKING
You might know that a couple of my sites have been hacked recently. If you are offering ongoing support, then this is the sort of issue you would be responsible for fixing for your client. And that’s not an easy thing to do. In the case of hacking, you would have to enlist the help of a WordPress developer to remove all traces of malware and to make the site secure. It might cost you a little bit of money but if you are charging enough for ongoing support, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Take regular back-ups of your clients’ sites. If something happens to the site or the client accidently deletes chunks of their site by accident (it happens), you will have a back-up that you restore in the click of a button, saving your hours of angst and work.
I also offer small or minor changes to the website as part of the ongoing support package. If a client needs a blog post to be added to the site and it’s a matter of minutes for me, I’ll do it. If they want more significant changes or new pages/sections added to the site, I will charge separately for that.
Just be prepared to offer your clients support when they need it. It might mean having to drop everything to fix a problem.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- You will make mistakes. I did. Some quite big ones too. Learn from them and move on. Don’t worry or dwell on it. It can knock your confidence, but you won’t do it again and you will have learned a valuable lesson.
- Some clients are toxic. If the relationship is not working for you, or you find that the demands of the client outweigh the profitability of the project, don’t be afraid to walk away. You are running a business and clients should treat you with the same respect that you do them. Just be nice about it and don’t burn your bridges.
- Be realistic. Some projects are just going to be beyond your capabilities. If a project is too ambitious for you or for WordPress, turn it down.
- Make sure you charge what you’re worth. Once you’ve built up your experience, have a bigger portfolio and a more established reputation, you can obviously charge more than when you were a newbie. A 5-figure fee for an experienced WordPress creator is not unreasonable. Either way, think about the amount of time a project will take you and if it is going to be profitable.
Hopefully that has given you some inspiration. This is a scalable business with endless opportunities for add on services. For example, you could add SEO as a service. And as you grow you might want to work with bigger companies that have more budget. Or you might want to focus on doing lots of smaller websites and specialise in working with small businesses. Whatever direction this takes you in, good luck and I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment or any questions and I’ll get back to you.
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