In early 2015, I was at my wits’ end. My business had been growing leaps and bounds. I was working constantly on projects, client maintenance requests and a overwhelmed with the back end updates that needed to happen. I would wake up in the middle of the night and think, “I wonder if (insert client name) has updated his WordPress files”. That answer was always no and I’d get up and do it at 3 am. Yes, I was nuts. I also was so busy working that I had my lowest income month in years. I couldn’t stop and invoice people. I had to admit to myself, I needed an intervention. I was never saying no and I had 44 websites in progress. That’s not a misprint. I was working on 44 new websites or redesigns at one time.
Since I’m in BNI, I was able to ask a friend for help. Erin MacCoy is a marketing coach and someone I’m happy to call a dear friend. We sat down and she announced that marketing was not my issue, it was a lack of systems. She nailed it.
The first order of business was to get organized. Erin connected me with Andrea Shirey of Sigh of Relief Organizing. She had me at sigh of relief. That’s exactly what I needed. We went through piles in my office, cleaned out all my client files and she gave me some wonderful worksheets, digital tips to organize my thoughts and to-dos. Slowly, I started to gain control of my environment.
Once that was completed, I was back to work with Erin. She suggested I start offering a monthly retainer to do that back end updates that every website needed so I would stop doing it for free and in the middle of the night. She gave me homework to do some online research. I quickly found a webinar from Troy Dean at WP Elevation about client care plans. This was exactly what I needed to do. This leads me to look for a tool to do it with and I discovered ManageWP.com. It completely changed my life as a web designer.
ManageWP is a service that allows you to monitor and maintain your WordPress websites from one dashboard. You can perform WordPress, theme and plugins updates, do light security scans, daily backups (stored on the cloud), uptime monitoring, SEO reporting, performance reporting, the list goes on and on. I had found exactly what I needed but I didn’t just start offering the service without a complete system and plan in place.
I spent nearly a month developing my packages, my emails to pitch the service, my followup emails, my new website pages, and PayPal recurring payments. I decided early on only offer a basic package and hold back on all the options they had. I did this because 1), I wanted to give myself time to learn the system and 2), to figure out how much work it really was to manage this. I also decided to roll it out slowly and offered it only 10 clients a month. Seven out of 10 signed up the first month. In the first four months, I had 25 subscribers. Today, as I near my three year anniversary of offering WordPress care, I am nearing 100 subscribers (many with multiple websites). I have revamped both my pitch and the services offered. I’ve learned a lot about selling my value in the process.
ManageWP is the start and finish to my day. After WordPress, it’s the single most important tool I use. I have plans to share exactly how I set up my care plans in a later post. This is just the beginning of the story.