Listen to the related podcast episode for this post.
This post is a follow-up to my previous post, Earning New Web Design Clients with WordPress Multisite. In that post, I outline how to utilize WordPress Multisite to quickly prototype a website to send to a potential client. The process involves using a multisite setup to quickly create a new website with a personalized link that you can send to the person. This is all great and you can certainly stop there and achieve huge success. But you could also provide even more value to the client and money in your pocket.
The “Easy” Way
Let’s say you followed along with my last post and set up a quick prototype website for a prospective client. Now, they are interested in working with you. You could up-sell them when you start the process of a contract by saying that you will host and maintain the website for an additional fee. You would then just need to make any edits they request to the existing site you made and point their domain at it.
Multisite provides the option to map an existing domain to the sub-site. What does this mean? I could domain map the client’s website, new-client.com, to my subsite so that the sub-site content is what shows up on the client's URL. So, what used to appear to be a sub-site of mine now looks like their website.
This is a crazy next step because after the project is complete you can now offer an additional service: web hosting. At the close of the project, you could offer to host the site for a monthly fee. You could include maintenance in the price or charge for that as well.
Words of Caution
It is important to note that you will need a great hosting plan yourself and some back-end knowledge to maintain the system. But if you can do that you’ve not only secured the client by providing value, but you’ve also given additional value and some extra ongoing cash in your pocket.
I call this the “easy” way because the path to get the client’s website up and running is fairly quick and painless. However, be aware it’s not an easy thing to host a website and maintain it as well. There is a lot that goes into it and although I talk about it in this post I don’t necessarily recommend it. Unless you are a well-established company that can manage a more sophisticated structure or only hosting a handful of small, local websites.
The Recommended Way
As I mentioned hosting the websites can be a great additional revenue stream for your company. If the website goes down the client is coming to you and you have to find and fix the problem. If the company wants to move its website elsewhere there is an additional hassle. Personally, I prefer to offload this plethora of problems that may arise to professionals.
Find a good hosting provider to send your clients to. Make sure they have great customer service and are both affordable and reliable. You wouldn’t skimp on hosting for your website so don’t send your client somewhere bad. It will reflect poorly on you. Find a solid host and set up their website for them there.
While in this scenario we won’t be getting the recurring hosting revenue there are a couple of opportunities to tack on some additional income. You could potentially add an additional fee for hosting setup. Also, a lot of hosting providers have affiliate programs where you could get a small cut for your client’s signup. Again, make sure it is a quality host for your client. Don’t just go where the biggest affiliate cut is. Once the site has been handed off you can offer a maintenance plan. This can involve updating plugins, themes, and software. Or a holistic approach of managing everything including interactions with the hosting provider.
Export the Theme
If you’ve developed the prototype website with a theme (or child theme) you can export it to their new website. Just download the theme file, zip it, and upload it to the new site. An added bonus here is because your multisite environment is a live site you can use the WordPress export feature for any posts, pages, and images.
I would highly recommend hosting your custom theme and plugin files on GitHub. This allows you to have a place where your code lives and you can make changes for the client from a remote source. I use the GitHub Updater plugin to maintain these plugins and themes. It creates an update notification when you change the version on your code. The update notification works like the native update options from the WordPress repository. So, there appears to be no difference.
If you took the advice from my last post and use a live prototype to gain new clients remember to charge appropriately. You may have done the mock-up for free but you still took the time. Include the time you took in the proposal for the client. Never undervalue the cost of your time.
Soon you’ll be gaining new web design clients left and right!