If you’re running a WordPress service agency or build websites for a living, you’re likely familiar with the so-called “feast & famine” cycles.
In some months, you have plenty of work and cash flow is looking good. You’re watching your bank account grow and might even work extra hours to finish all projects on time.
The downside of these months?
You don’t have time to do sales and your pipeline of leads runs dry. So the following months are not as great, with less cash flow and more selling needed to keep the lights on.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let me introduce you to Joe Howard.
Joe earns high 6-figures every year and has banked over $1m in total, without building WordPress sites or writing code.
That’s because he built an agency focused on selling WordPress maintenance services, direct to customers and as a white-label partner for other agencies.
So what, you might think. You don’t have time to read further, because you’re either pressed to get work done or to do sales.
Stop it. You can learn a lot from Joe. We all can.
In fact, I would argue that his approach should be modeled by the vast majority of WP agencies.
Selling maintenance services - or care plans as they’re often called - has two advantages for WordPress professionals.
Firstly, it’s a relatively easy sell if you are already building a website for your client. You’ve already earned their trust, understand their objectives, and know the website inside-out.
When pitching a maintenance service, you can easily hit on all the goals your customer has with the website and all the requirements that go into keeping the website up and running so that the goals are met.
Secondly, selling maintenance plans is a fantastic way to build recurring revenue. With that, you fight the dreaded feast and famine cycles.
Even you have just 5 websites you can host & maintain for just $100/mo (which is not extraordinarily high), you cash in another $500/mo.
Let me break down how Joe started his agency, WP Buffs - and how you can start offering similar services. Even if you are a one-man or one-gal shop, you’ll see how this can work for you.
1. Offer very basic maintenance for backups, updates, and security checks.
You don’t have to start offering fancy services and 24x7 support. Trying to offer 24x7 support simply is impossible if you’re handling everything on your own.
But you can certainly spin up a free installation of MainWP and add websites to your new maintenance platform.
With that, you can efficiently handle maintenance tasks like updates, backups, and security checks.
As these are the most mandatory tasks that need to be performed to keep the website up and running, you can sell your customers on those.
Just don’t talk about the technical tasks, but explain how having you perform the maintenance helps your customers achieve their business goals.
To quote Kyle van Deusen, agency owner at OGAL Web: “No customer ever came to me and asked me to do their backups, updates, and to keep your website secure. But every customer asked me to keep the site up and running so that their business is represented online.”
You’ll see that companies will easily pay you $50/mo for those basic services.
2. Hire a VA once you reach a certain threshold.
Once you start selling more and more care plans, you can replace yourself from the daily business by hiring a virtual assistant.
Document your processes in every detail and have somebody else execute them. That documentation doesn’t have to be complex.
A simple Google Doc outlining how often you do backups and updates, how to check the website’s functionality after a backup, or how to validate backups will do.
This will allow you to take on more WP maintenance customers without drowning in the work yourself.
3. Create content around your target market.
One thing Joe’s agency excels at is content marketing. They run a podcast and have a very active blog.
When I asked him about the strategy, he answered that he wants to rank for keywords that aren’t targeted by the big companies in the WP space (e.g. hosting companies) but are still relevant for his target market.
You can certainly do the same if you invest some time into content creation. Whether you write blog posts that help your customers, launch a podcast or start recording videos is totally up to you.
It’s important that the content you create is full of value and helps your customers achieve their goals.
The harsh reality is that they likely don’t care a whole lot about your business. At least new leads won’t.
But when you get them hooked with your content, you’ll soon earn their trust and will be able to get into sales conversations to sell your care plans.
4. Set up a robust onboarding process
Joe's onboarding process really impressed me. WP Buffs are a white-label partner for my maintenance services, and their semi-automated onboarding was nothing but a-ma-zing.
He has set up an automated email sequence that tells their agency partners everything they need to know about the partnership.
They firstly let me know what information they need from me to onboard me as a partner.
Once I submitted my first website for them to manage, they triggered another automation to onboard the website.
The emails they’ve sent me went for several days and contained all sorts of information, from logins and special requirements to the ways how the communication with the website owner will be.
5. Keep your customers updated at all times.
Client communication is key to keep your maintenance clients happy and reduce churn. You can achieve that in various ways, two of which I want to outline for you now.
WP Buffs have the great service for their white-label partners to sell branded reports every week. Their management tool allows them to upload the logo of their white-label partner and send the report under their branding.
You can achieve the same with MainWP by using their Reports extension. You can specify exactly what type of information should be included in the reports and how often to send them.
The second way - and a more personal approach - is to simply shoot your customers an email every other week or every month.
You can forward them an article that will help them in their business, ask them how their business is doing and if they have any questions, or just offer to call for a chat and discuss the current state of their website.
As you can see by Joe’s success, selling maintenance services can be a nice addition to your income and provide stability. It can even turn into a whole business on its own.
It is certainly becoming essential for my own brand WP Mastery, as I’m banking in four figures monthly with the help of WP Buffs.
But there’s a whole lot more to growing your WP agency than selling care plans.
If you want to explore other ways to break through feast & famine, understand how to attract high-paying customers, and scale your agency without working 10-16h every day, join the WP Agency Summit.
This free online conference starts on December 6th and brings together 30+ world-class experts that all have grown ravingly successful agencies. Get your free ticket here: https://wpagencysummit.com