Yes, you really should invest in a monthly website maintenance plan. It’s for more than just updating stuff.

I develop several websites a year. All of them are built with themes and plugins that are vetted, reliable and maintained often. Most clients turn down the opportunity for a maintenance plan. Why? I guess they figure, they can manage it themselves. In all fairness, most clients can manage updates on their own. There are still some really important reasons why a maintenance plan could be the better choice.

Let’s make up a client for a few scenarios (that have actually happened). Let’s call this client Jo. They own a small ecommerce website. Jo opted not to purchase a monthly website maintenance plan. They just didn’t “see the need”.

  1. Compatibility

    This is the least horrible scenario. If you don’t perform regular backups or updates you risk having your WordPress installation, themes and plugins break or losing it all together. When you do finally go to make changes or perform updates, you lose functionality or the whole thing breaks to where you no longer have access. Then what?

    Jo has to call me to fix the problem. I charge for that time because they didn’t invest in the maintenance plan. It could could take me 15 minutes or 2 hours. If they don’t have a recent backup you might be looking at some major issues, like a whole new website and another few thousand dollars.

    Weigh that against $60 a month for regular backups and updates.

  2. Malware

    I receive an email from my hosting provider regarding a client’s website. Yes, it’s Jo’s website. The email says that, during a recent scan, malware was found on the website.

    What this means is that a hacker discovered a vulnerability in a plugin or theme because the client isn’t updating those elements regularly. On the lesser side of evil you have spoofers sending emails from Jo’s domain and having the domain blacklisted for spam and just general reputation sabotage. But, what if it were worse than that?

    On the way more horrible side … they find a backdoor, install the malware and manage to glean credit card information from the client’s website. All of Jo’s customers are now vulnerable to a host of unpleasant things and it’s Jo’s fault.

    Because Jo didn’t have a maintenance plan, I had to charge them a fee to find and remove the malware. I also had to get approval to update files, database and passwords to ensure the security of the site.

    What if they’d had a maintenance plan?

    This probably wouldn’t have happened at all. Regular updates of the core, theme and plugin files helps keep those little security holes from becoming big problems. Even if it had still happened, I would have immediately taken care of the issue. I include one malware removal a year with a maintenance plan.

  3. Money

    Remember, my website maintenance plans cost $60 a month and they include off-site backups and regular security scans and updates of core, plugin and theme files. It also covers the fee once a year in case malware does get installed.

    But, Jo doesn’t have a maintenance plan. The host has blocked Jo’s website (loss of income) and emailed the admin (me). Host says they can fix the issue for a fee (anywhere from $50 – $200). I then email Jo to inform them that their website is offline because there is malware on it. They have to pay for the cleaning and then pay me for any subsequent fixes ($90 an hour) that need to be performed afterward as a result of the malware’s being removed.

    Jo also has to contact each and every person that has purchased from them and inform them of the breach. So, they’ve lost income during the downtime and possible future customers because of their lack of security.

  4. Support

    When you have a maintenance plan and you are performing some of your own content updates I am there to restore a previous version if you mess up. Here’s another real life scenario.

    We all know that Jo turned down that maintenance plan I offer. Jo proceeds to update the layout and content on one of their pages. Even though I provided them with a tutorial and in-person consult, Jo is still not a tech guy. Naturally, they messed something up. Rather than being able to call me and ask me to do the updates for them, I charged for the content update and the correction to the broken page. It costs real cash as well as a whole lot of Jo’s time, which could have been better spent serving their clients.

    What if they’d had a maintenance plan?

    Sure, it still costs money. What could have been avoided was downtime on the website and their own wasted time fiddling with layout and content. The updates to the core, theme and plugin files would have been done. Jo could have emailed me a list of changes and been done with it, knowing that it would be taken care of without spending any extra dollars.

Why pay every month when I can just pay you when it needs to be done?

Would you let your car break down before changing the oil? Would you let your roof fall in before patching it? A maintenance plan isn’t just to make your life easier. It’s to avoid as much risk as possible. Why wait until the host shuts down your site for a security threat when it could have been avoided all together? I’m not always available to correct serious issues right away. A maintenance plan helps ensure that these things are a lot less likely to happen. Even if they do (because nothing is 100% secure), you have priority over other projects.

You don’t have to have me rebuild your site to have a maintenance plan. Although, I do recommend migrating to my hosting. That way server maintenance and emergency issues are covered under your plan. I can even customize a plan for you. If your site is hosted on my server I foot that bill for you when you pay for the maintenance plan. That’s $80 a year you’re saving right there.

Just buy the website maintenance plan.

All of this sounds like one big nightmare to me. I don’t want to get that email and have to tell you that your website is down. You don’t want me to charge you for time that my host and I spend fixing these issues.

Jo could have paid me $60 a month and had everything updated and scanned regularly. If all of that still didn’t prevent a breech, I would have covered the fee to clean the malware. What’s more, I likely would not have charged extra for the subsequent repairs. I would have had regular backups stored off-site and could simply restore one from before the breech.

If you don’t have a maintenance plan and want to know more about how mine work you can read more here or  schedule a free phone consultation to learn more.

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