WordPress recurring contracts – different from WordPress Maintenance Agreements – is the ability for you as a WordPress developer to start making recurring consistent income for your business.

What are they – and how can they put you on the next level for your business and increase your income by 200%? Well, let’s get started.

Retainer Contracts are Not WordPress Maintenance Agreements

It’s common to hear about WordPress Maintenance Agreement (or WordPress Care Plans as some people call them). The idea behind a WCP (WordPress Care Plans) is that once you finish the site you charge a client monthly fee to make sure everything is kept up to date. This includes keeping the plugins updated, making sure the server is running smoothly and to fix any issues that may come up.

Mostly WMA’s are made at the end of a project and can be a sweet little side income that a web developer is able to procure. However, this is not what we’re going to be talking about today. The issue with WMA’s is that:

  1. They are mostly small $100-$200 monthly payments and
  2. In the future, they will become unnecessary as the software is created that can automatically update your WordPress plugins and o things of that nature
  3. It does not add much value to the client – and they can easily replace you with a service that does the ‘maintenance’ for you

A retainer contract – and working with a retainer contract is an entirely different way of looking at business and requires a complete paradigm shift.

Step 1: Shift Your Mindset to Think Like Wall Street

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The first step is to radically change the way you think about how you charge clients. Think about why the large banks make so much money – a big reason is that they can lend large loans over an extended period of time – and make money without really doing anything other than extending those loans.

Most people that try to sell WordPress services usually think of themselves as regular service providers – just like anyone else doing a service. You come in – you get paid – you do the job – you get paid again (for completion) – and that’s that.

However, you should start thinking about every client you get as a marriage that can last a long, long time. In fact – you should shift to the mindset that every client you take on will be a client of yours until one of you die.

But what does this actually mean?

Well, you see – because you are a WordPress developer – or in IT – business is going to require your services over a long period of time – even if it is just for website maintenance. And EVERY business is going to require their website to be up and operational. Unlike other service providers like video production – which are secondary and many businesses can do without – your role as a trusted IT provider is very useful and will be for the lifetime of the business (well until something better than the internet comes along – which is unlikely).

So – instead of thinking how much you can get out of a client over a project – think about how much you could get out of the client over a year, over 2 years.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say a client comes in and outlines a deliverables list of what he’s after – and you estimate this will cost $5,000. Instead of charging $2,500 upfront and $2,500 upon completion why not just charge a flat fee of $800 to keep the site up? Over a year that would result in $9,600 in revenue – way higher – and it would probably be preferable to the client as they can have their site up in 2 months for only $1,600 – which controls cash flow.

Step 2: Add Value With SEO

This might be an unpopular opinion but if you are a WordPress developer and you don’t offer some kind of SEO service you are shooting yourself in the foot. People are already coming to you and you have their attention and trust to build a website – why not throw SEO on as an additional service?

This is what is really going to get you to push a monthly fee over the finish line.

Instead of just saying “Hey, I’ll build you a website and you can pay me $800 a month forever” (not a good value add) – why not say “Hey, not only will I build you a website – but I’ll look after your SEO – and send you links for $800 a month.”

Now we’re talking!

SEO is a great value add for any web developer – and should be part of your arsenal. You can do a training course on SEO on a weekend – it’s not that difficult. The key point I am making here is not just to look at the client as a source of unlimited money (and this is the big mindset shift) – but rather as a long-term partner relationship that you can create good long-term value from.

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Step 3: Understand Scope Creep and Sell The Benefit of Removing It

Many developers have issues with scope creep – this is where you tell a client you will do x, y and z – and as you approach completing z the client wants e, y, and j. Many developers look to create solid water-tight contracts to avoid any scope creep but for me personally – I welcome it and use it to build my case for a long-term retainer contract or agreement.

Let me explain – what I do is set the expectation for the client – especially in more complex projects – that it is more likely than not that once we approach the finish line the client will want more – and this is how I sell the monthly agreement.

Basically, I explain to the client the alternative – that once I finish x, y and z – if he wants e and y – then I have to charge for e and y. Not only that – but if they want more e – after I’ve done what we agreed e should be – that I will charge more for that. Eventually, the client understands that it’s better to just pay a flat monthly fee.

Now you may think at this point that you can get ripped off by doing this – but for me, I’ve found a lot better peace of mind knowing that I am going to be getting paid a certain amount every month. And even if for a particular month I work more than I expected – the next month might be much quieter and make up for it.

Step 4: Automate Your Monthly Invoices

Personally I use Zoho Books – and this online accounting application has a recurring invoice option just like pretty much every bookkeeping service.

The idea is – once you set up this invoice and it gets paid by the company’s accounting – you can set and forget it – with the accounting department of a company taking care of it while you work and fix things for them.

Many times I don’t even remember the invoices I send – and I check my bank account and see that invoices are getting paid.

Step 5: Show Some Type OF Seo Result

Once you start working with the client and working on their site – you need to show some type of results in SEO. For many clients you will work with their SEO will be extremely weak – all you have to do is do some on-page and send some strong links (you can learn how to do this) and show them their Google Search Console:

Here is an example of a client – for whom I fixed up some on-page issues and who immediately jumped in their traffic:

Once you do this you pretty much justify your monthly revenue – because if you can show that a client has an additional 200 hits on their site and the cost for buying that traffic is let’s say $500 – then you are justifying a $500 monthly revenue towards yourself – and if you are also helping with web development you are a huge asset to the company!

Now I understand some of these steps may be harder to implement than others – but as the holiday rolls in – which is usually the quietest time for me – and seeing these monthly payments get made to me – in a period where I may not have – in the past made anything – inspired me to write this blog post.

Hope this helps you and gives you something to think about.

Good luck!

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Author Byline:

Kosta Kondratenko is a web developer working for his company Head Studios, a WordPress agency in. He is a WordPress developer in Sydney and is also an SEO expert. He has over 10 years of experience and loves to write blog posts about topics happening in his industry. He’s passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping others achieve their goals. His clients include Silkwood Medical – the experts in forehead reduction surgery.

Sazzadul Bari

Hi, this is Sazzadul Bari, Digital Marketing Strategist at WPManageNinja. SEO content writing, outreaching, link building, and lead generation are my specializations. And when I am not drooling over WordPress plugins and updates, you'll find me enjoying sports or going through my favorite books.

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