Sometimes all it takes is a couple of comments, a little Googling, and a half hour to make a huge difference in recurring monthly income. Yuck, that sounds like a sales pitch, didn’t it? Sorry for that. I just didn’t know how to write the intro to the story I’m about to tell in any other way.
I've been offering website maintenance plans, either informally or formally, for at least 15 years now, probably more, but I don't recall exactly when I started this as a way to generate some recurring income. In the beginning, it was very informal. I'd create a website for a client, and when one of us got tired of the constant back and forth of asking for changes or fixes, we'd come to an agreement to have me just take care of everything on a monthly basis. This didn't happen all that often though, since it wasn't something I focused on as being an actual service. It was just an organic result of normal day to day business.
It was probably about 8 years ago that I made this a formal service that I'd offer to clients. In fact, for a while I considered the possibility of offering it to "the world" instead of just my own clients, thus making it into a full fledge "I'm gonna get rich doing this" kind of company, but that idea was quickly set aside as once again - day to day business didn't make room for that.
So over the last few years, I've refined my process and eventually started getting more and more web design clients to sign up for monthly maintenance plans. Over time, my prices rose but so did the value I brought to the relationship. Long time clients (some I've had for more than those 8 years) signed up in a heartbeat, and a few of them rejected any lower-priced plans, letting me know that they would prefer to pay me more as that would give them even more peace of mind. But that didn’t occur with all my clients.
You see, with my plans in the $200 - $400 per month range, it's not the kind of service that is meant for everyone. I recognize that my time is scarce, so if I'm going to offer a "peace of mind" service, then I need to restrict the number of clients I offer it to, so there will be enough time to handle them all.
Yes, I can automate a fair amount of the tasks, but not all. And when problems inevitably arise, I must have the time to devote to solving the issues. So, at those price points, I don't have my smaller clients jumping onboard very often.
And since I understand it's a bit of a stretch for even some of the larger clients to make that kind of monetary commitment, I have never pressured them into signing on the dotted line. I'd just let them know the service was available, give them a couple of reasons why it would be beneficial to them, and then left it alone if they said no. Plus, I hate sales. I'm terrible at that. So if they said no, I'd just let it go.
And then this happened recently.
I'd just launched a client's website, and during that same week, a blog post I'd written was published on a large industry website. The subject matter was centered around offering maintenance plans and other "after the launch" services. Several people commented on the post. A few of those mentioned a product I'd never heard of before, wondering why I hadn't mentioned it in the post.
Naturally, I took my curiosity over to Google to find out what this product was. They'd all called it "WOM". It took a little digging, but I eventually figured out that WOM stood for "Website Owner's Manual" and it was a product offered by The Admin Bar. Within minutes of reading the sales pitch about the product, I ordered it. (This is not normal for me to do. I rarely buy products, and almost never without deliberating for a month or more).
Now, let me tell you what this product is and why I bought it so quickly.
The concept is simple. The WOM (Website Owner's Manual) is a document that you give to your web design clients after launch (or just at launch time). The document contains all the information they need to successfully manage their site in the future. It's basically a DIY maintenance plan. It includes technical details like their login information, host URL, registrar info, etc. In addition, it has a troubleshooting section that helps them handle common WordPress issues that crop up from time to time.
The first thing to note about this is that you are giving your client extremely useful information. If nothing else ever happens, you've left the client with the feeling that you're a professional who cares about their success.
But that's just the icing on the cake. The information inside the document - or the cake that's underneath that yummy icing - is what holds all the real power here. As your client looks over the information that they need to handle their website in the future, they quickly realize that this is not work they want to be doing. Without a single sales pitch from you, your client is starting to think about having you do this work instead.
Ok, now that you know what it is, I'll tell you that reading about this product really opened my eyes to what a brilliant strategy this was. Just give the client something extremely useful to them, and in return, you may end up with recurring income - all without needing to "have that conversation where you get all salesy".
I admit, I considered just taking the concept and making my own document, rather than buying the product. But I'm glad I didn't do that. It's so beautifully laid out, with so much thought put into it, that I would never have come up with something as strategically perfect. I wouldn't have even realized that mine was inferior since I'd not seen the actual product.
But I quickly decided that at that price, why go through the trouble of making my own, so I bought it. Once I did, I downloaded it and immediately made the edits needed to have it apply specifically to my client's situation. That took about half an hour, as I adjusted it with my own logo, etc. In the future, however, it will only take me about 5 minutes to edit it to reflect each client's information.
Now remember, I'd just launched my client's website a couple of days before buying the WOM. The client had turned down my maintenance plan offer, saying they'd rather spend the money on social media advertising. At the time, I'd shrugged and moved on with life. But then, two days later, I had a beautifully useful document with all the information they needed to manage the site themselves, so I emailed it to them.
Or so I thought. Four days later, I got an email. "We'd like to sign up for your maintenance plan", it said. "Tell me how to subscribe".
I let out a whoop and danced a little when I read that. That was the easiest come-from-behind win I'd ever seen. From a solid NO to an easy YES with almost zero effort or stress on my part? That's gold right there.
The price is ridiculously low. In fact, I bought my spouse and I a couple of burgers, fries, and Dr. Peppers at the local Five Guys last night for the exact same price I paid for the Website Owner's Manual. And I can use the WOM again and again with every client I have in the future.
The next time I get Five Guys burgers, I'll have to pay again, and again and again in the future. Don't get me wrong, I love the burgers and am willing to pay for them, but I love actually MAKING money off of the WOM in the future, rather than spending it. It still blows my mind a little how easy this was.
I'm also a little disappointed in myself that I didn't come up with this stellar idea on my own over the last 15 years. But I'll cut myself some slack and just be grateful. And excited! I'm excited to use this method in the future, because I'm pretty confident that it is going to change my monthly recurring income in huge ways. With almost zero investment, and virtually no time wasted to make it all happen. Offering this to my clients is now an actual plan that is easy to implement.
If I sound excited, it's because I am, and it's real. All those words up there that I just wrote? Every one of them is absolute truth. This is exactly what happened, and while 2020 was a year I never want to repeat again (wow it was terrible, wasn't it?), it did bring this one tiny product into my life that frankly, rates right up there in the top 3 I've ever used.
Even if you already have a 100% success rate with signing up your clients, the WOM is still a document you should be giving them. But if you are looking to have more clients say YES to your maintenance plans, this is a must-have. Maybe you won't be as lucky as I was. Maybe the first client you give it to won't have the same A-HA moment that my client had. But I bet the next one or the next one after that will. It's just that brilliant.