Just read a great article over on Css Tricks about “The Heating Company Analogy” for Designers and Developers, and wanted to follow up with my own post on the topic.
The basic idea behind the article is just like the heating/oil company tries to anticipate your needs and charge you a steady rate throughout the year, we need to anticipate our clients needs and give them a similar option. Whether you’re offering graphic design, web design, development, or any other of a myriad of services, you should be able to use a subscription-based offering for additional work with your clients.
Web Design is a great example, and one of the easiest ways to monetize this sort of business relationship. Too often web designers/developers finish their contracted obligations (build/launch a design/website) and then they dump the client like a bad habit. This tactic not only destroys the relationship with the client, but they’re also throwing away good money!
Too many times I end up working with these clients after the initial website has been launched, and they love the fact that I work with them to come up with a reasonable maintenace plan to keep the site up to date, and the client happy. There a few very easy ways to keep your client (and your wallet) happy, with simple services that you can offer, including: web hosting, website maintenance, search engine optimization, and more! There are no excuses why you can’t offer these services to your clients, not matter how large or small your business.
First and foremost, when you work with a client to build/design a website you should ALWAYS offer website and email hosting! Now that there are reseller plans available it’s easier than ever to get your clients setup and earn a monthly check from hosting there websites, email, and more. My two recommended reseller hosts are HostGator, and Innohosting. Both of these are great companies that have been offering reseller hosting for quite some time, and they try to make it as easy as possible for designers/developers to get setup offering their own hosting services.
Next up are maintenance plans. Maintenance can be a tricky setup to master, and will require some restrictions to protect you and the client, but they can be one of the most lucrative add-on services offered. I’ve found that the best way to go about maintenance is to first decide on a monthly or yearly term, and then decide on how much of your time you are willing to offer for subscribers. Many times coming up with the right setup requires some trial and error, but in the end you need to know how much time you will have available, and how much you need to get paid to cover your expenses and still make a profit.
There are 3 different maintenance plans or methods that I’ve worked with, and they are:
- Pay as you Go – You give the client your hourly rate, and you work together with the client to get their changes/updates completed, and you bill them based on the time used.
- Monthly Maintenance Plans – You offer a monthly subscription that gives your client a certain amount of time or services that they can use each month for a fee.
- Time Blocks – This is a newer method that I recently learned about from 720 Media, where they offer blocks of time for marketing and maintenance service at discounted rates.
Now there are also two more services that I’d like to mention (although there are always more than what are mentioned here) that you can use to keep your clients happy and make a steady income.
First up is Search Engine Optimization. Now I’m not here to debate all of the intriacies of Search Engine Optimization, but simply that it can be a great service to offer your clients for their website(s). My favorite tool here is WebCEO, which allows you to generate a variety of custom reports for your clients, as well as a variety of tools including site ranking, optimization, keyword optimization, search engine and directory submission, and more! Plus, WebCEO has a built-in report generator where you can design your own reports and give them to your clients at a set interval of time (weekly, monthly, etc.).
Last but not least are Marketing Services. With services like Campaign Monitor you can now resell email marketing to your clients! You specify how much to mark up the service, and campaign monitor offers easy to use list and campaign builder tools, along with pre-designed templates, powerful analytics, and an amazing set of tips and resources to get you started.
I’d like to mention my own freelance business, JB Design and Photo, for those of you looking for Web Design, Graphic Design, or Photography Services. Also (if you feel like being generous), here are my affiliate links for all of the products mentioned: