WooCommerce Hosting: How to Choose the Best Foundation

Choosing WooCommerce is a big decision. If you’ve made that choice, congrats. But you’re not done making choices. You still have to make a major one: WooCommerce hosting.

Where you host your WooCommerce site can have a huge impact on the success of your store. Of all the back-end choices you make, your hosting is the biggest one. It may not seem like it because you rarely see the impact your hosting has. But your hosting determines just about everything, from how smoothly things run to what you can even run.

So choose wisely.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Cheap shared hosting is rarely the way to go.

Choosing WordPress Hosting

In a nutshell, hosting is storage for websites. It’s where you put the actual files that comprise your site so they’re available on the internet. It’s kind of important.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing WooCommerce hosting. Much of it is the same for any WordPress site—you need to worry about speed, security, reliability, support, and more. Hosting is a common question and we’ve talked about it a lot.

Here are some helpful resources to answer general hosting questions:

WooCommerce Hosting Issues

But the stakes are always higher with e-commerce, so we should consider some issues specific to WooCommerce hosting.

1. Site Performance

How well your site performs is a major consideration for ecommerce:

  • 40% of shoppers will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • 79% of shoppers won’t shop at a site again if they weren’t satisfied with the site’s performance.
  • 44% of shoppers will tell their friends about a bad online shopping experience.

Ouch.

You can look at some ways to optimize your WooCommerce setup to gain some speed.

But the reality is that the biggest gains are dependent on your hosting.

Your hosting sets the baseline for just about everything, including load speeds, reliability, and storage space. Certainly, you can do a lot to improve (or worsen) your site’s speed or how reliable it is. But you can only make your site as fast as your host will allow. If you’ve got a slow host, there’s nothing you can do about it (except switch hosts).

If you want good site performance (yes, please), you need to choose the right WooCommerce hosting from the start. Cheap hosting is not going to cut it.

2. Staging Server

One specific feature that might help with WooCommerce is access to a staging server. This is a space where you can test your site and make sure everything is working before rolling it out to the live server. This is the ideal way to do updates because you don’t risk crashing your live site.

Some hosts provide a staging server as part of their offering, so if it’s something you need and you aren’t sure how to do it on your own, make sure your host offers it.

3. Server Configuration

Optimizing a server for WooCommerce is no simple task. You need to consider caching, hits to the database, external calls and more. Confused? Yeah, WooCommerce hosting can get complicated, especially if your store is large and busy.

You want to choose a host that understands WooCommerce, especially if you don’t understand all these details.

Check out Chris Lema’s blog post on WooCommerce hosting for even more detail on some of these ins and outs.

4. A Host That Can Grow

If you have any dreams of growing your shop, then you should pick WooCommerce hosting that can grow with you. It might be tempting to choose a budget option from the beginning. It could save you some money upfront, but it will create more hassle down the road when your site needs something better.

A better option is to choose hosting that can grow with you. Choose a host that offers a variety of plans. Look for beginner options that you will serve you well now, but also more robust options that you might need in the future.

Moving your entire ecommerce site to another host is a big hassle. Choose the right WooCommerce host and save yourself that headache.

WooCommerce Hosting Matters

Your WooCommerce hosting is a foundation for everything else you do. Invest in that foundation. Don’t be a cheapskate. Your customers will be able to tell the difference, and you’ll see it reflected in your bottom line.

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New! Introducing WordPress Security Check Pro in iThemes Security Pro

The iThemes Security plugin includes a One-Click WordPress Security Check to make securing your WordPress website easier and less complicated. The latest version of iThemes Security Pro now includes two new automated server checks with its One-Click Security Check to ensure that you’re using the recommended features and settings to secure your WordPress website.

Introducing WordPress Security Check pro

WordPress Security Check Pro adds two new items to the Security Check to do the work of configuring two complicated settings for you: 1) Redirect HTTP Requests to HTTPS & 2) Automatic IP Spoofing Protection.

SSL and Automatic IP Spoofing Protection are very important but can be complicated to set up for most users, so iThemes Security Pro now handles an automated server detection process to make sure both are configured properly through the One-Click WordPress Security Check.

To take advantage of this update, you’ll need iThemes Security Pro (v. 4.4). Current iThemes Security Pro, Plugin Suite and Toolkit customers will find the 4.4 update available for licensed sites or as a manual download from the iThemes Member Panel. Save time updating all your sites at once from the iThemes Sync dashboard.

New! Detect + Force SSL with WordPress Security Check pro

The iThemes Security Pro plugin includes a WordPress SSL feature to ensure that communications between browsers and your site’s server are secure.

Secure Socket Layers (SSL) is a technology that is used to encrypt the data sent between your server or host and a visitor to your web page. When SSL is activated for your WordPress site, it makes it almost impossible for an attacker to intercept data in transit, therefore making the transmission of form, password or other encrypted data much safer.

The iThemes Security plugin gives you the option of turning on SSL (if your server or host supports it) for all or part of your site, but we’ve found that users can get confused about how to properly configure SSL on their site. We’ve made this easier by simplifying the SSL settings within iThemes Security and adding automated detection.

wordpress security check pro

iThemes Security’s WordPress Security Check can now automatically detect if it is safe to enable SSL for your WordPress site and will prompt you to enable it if available. Forcing connections to your site to use SSL is highly recommended as it protects login details from being stolen when using public WiFi or insecure networks.

Redirect All HTTP Page Requests to HTTPS with the iThemes Security Plugin

In addition to having automatic SSL detection in the WordPress Security Check, we’ve also simplified the iThemes Security SSL settings module in this update to make picking good settings easier.  You’ll find the SSL Module in the iThemes Security > Settings page.

wordpress ssl

You’ll get a customized message based on whether or not iThemes Security detects that your server supports SSL. This setting redirects all http traffic to your site to the https address, thus requiring everyone to access the site via SSL. In other words, it will force everyone to use a secure connection to the site.

ssl module

Automatic IP Spoofing Protection pro

Now iThemes Security will identify remote IP entry to protect against IP spoofing with the Security Check. This setting is highly technical but adds another layer of protection to your website to defend against hackers trying to sidestep lockouts.

security check

One-Click WordPress Security Check in iThemes Security

To recap, with just one click of the “Secure Site” button, iThemes Security will enable and configure all the recommended security features and settings within the plugin. This table lists out the feature/setting and the benefits activated by the Security Check.

wordpress security check

You’ll find the WordPress Security Check in the iThemes Security menu or on the iThemes Security > Settings page in your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress Security Check Feature/Setting Benefit
Banned Users Blocks specific IP addresses and user agents from accessing your site
Database Backups Creates database backups manually or on a schedule
Local Brute Force Protection Protects your site against attackers that try to randomly guess login details to your site
WordPress Tweaks This feature has a variety of settings that change the behavior of WordPress
Network Brute Force Protection Protects your site against known attackers before they reach your site
pro Strong Passwords Helps enforce that powerful (admin) accounts choose strong passwords for their logins
pro Two-Factor Authentication Greatly increases the security of your WordPress user account by requiring additional information beyond your username and password in order to log in to the site
pro User Logging Logs user actions such as login, editing or saving content and other actions into a viewable list
pro New! Redirect HTTP Requests to HTTPS This feature redirects all http requests to https and is highly recommended as it protects login details from being stolen when using public WiFi or insecure networks.
pro New! Automatic IP Spoofing Protection This feature identifies remote IP entry to protect aginst IP spoofing.

Get iThemes Security Pro Now with 30+ Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website

iThemes Security, our WordPress security plugin, includes 30+ ways to protect your WordPress website, including enhanced WordPress password security, WordPress two-factor authentication, WordPress brute force protection and more.

Use coupon code AUGUST35 to
save 35% off everything site-wide through
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WooCommerce Security: How to Protect Your E-Commerce Shop

Website security is a key part of any e-commerce store. Let’s explore how to set up WooCommerce security and make sure you’re protecting your online store.

woocommerce security

Since the stakes are higher with e-commerce, you need to do everything you can to protect your customers’ data. Your ability to make money depends on customers trusting you. One misstep is all it takes to lose that trust, so you need to be proactive and set up solid WooCommerce security from the start. You can never be 100% secure, but you can minimize risk.

4 Ways to Ensure WooCommerce Security

Here are four basic ways you can protect your store and implement WooCommerce security.

1. WordPress Password Security

First and foremost, you need to have a strong WordPress password security strategy in place. A good password is long, random, and unique. If you can remember your password, it’s probably not strong enough.

Tip: Use a password service such as 1Password or LastPass to generate and store secure passwords.
  • The strongest password is only as secure as you are. So don’t share your passwords. If you give that password to your employees, it’s no longer secure. Anyone who needs access to your site should have their own login. That way you can keep passwords separate and you can manage who has access.
  • Your site is only as secure as your weakest password. It doesn’t matter if your password is super strong—if one team member is using “password,” your entire site is vulnerable.

A good password strategy is the first step to implementing WooCommerce security. To add an extra layer of security to your WordPress admin login, consider adding WordPress two-factor authentication.

2. WordPress Updates

One of the greatest vulnerabilities to WordPress is outdated versions of WordPress itself and any plugins and themes you have installed on your site. If you haven’t updated WordPress to the latest version, you’re asking for trouble.

It’s not just WordPress core that needs to be updated—you also need to keep your plugins and themes current and up to date. A recent study on WordPress security issues showed that 63% of WordPress vulnerabilities come from outdated plugins and themes. You also need to delete plugins you’re not using—simply uninstalling a plugin isn’t enough. (And don’t forget to run a WordPress backup before you update.)

Installing those updates is just one step in the WooCommerce security process. You also need to test everything to make sure the site is working correctly. Don’t just assume that because the homepage loads everything is fine. You need to test your checkout process after every update. Otherwise you risk losing sales. Gordon Seirup recommends having a thorough checklist of everything you need to test in his Proper Care & Feeding of Your WooCommerce Store webinar.

manage multiple WordPress sites, you can use iThemes Sync to keep everything updated in one place.

3. WordPress SSL

Another level of WooCommerce security is an SSL certificate. SSL stands for “secure socket layer,” and it creates an encrypted connection between your server and a user’s browser. You can tell when a site has SSL because the URL starts with https instead of just http.

SSL is required for many e-commerce sites as part of PCI compliance. However, if you’re using an off-site payment processor, such as Stripe or PayPal, they have SSL on their end and it may not be technically required for your site. But using SSL is still a good idea. It may not be technically required, but it’s highly recommended (it should be required).

Don’t just use SSL on your checkout pages. Make sure your entire site is using SSL. This matters because customers will see the difference. Google is now paying attention to SSL and in the Chrome browser they’re noting sites that don’t use https as non-secure.

“Non-secure” is not something you want customers thinking about your site.

Check out this WordPress HTTPS training to learn how to install SSL on your WordPress website.

4. WordPress Security Plugin

One of the challenges with WooCommerce security is feeling like you need to be an expert. There are a lot of technical things you can to strengthen your WooCommerce store, but you’ll often feel like you need to be a technical whiz kid to do it.

That’s where a WordPress security plugin, such as iThemes Security Pro, can be extremely helpful. iThemes Security can take care of a lot of the technical details for you, including:

Get more WordPress security tips that can help you boost your WooCommerce security.

Protect Your Shop With WooCommerce Security

Security is hugely important for your sanity, but it’s also a proactive way to build customer trust in your brand. Security is one of those things we fool ourselves into thinking we don’t need—until something happens, and then we’ve done irreparable damage to our brand.

So make sure you protect your store with proper WooCommerce security.

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The Story of How We Got To Our Newest Product: HelloSales

Everything we do at iThemes has meaning (our mission is to Make People’s Lives Awesome), and often a deep meaning that many simply do not know.

Some of the best stories we hold as a team are how we came to build and launch the products we have since 2008.

For instance, how we came about releasing our hit WordPress backup plugin, BackupBuddy (tl;dr: two servers crashes with no backups and of course Dustin Bolton), or our WordPress security plugin, iThemes Security (how I found Better WP Security and met Chris Wiegman), or our WordPress theme framework iThemes Builder (you guys wanted unlimited page layout options and so Chris Jean built it for you).

But there are many more. And they are very special stories to us and to me … because in this grand experiment called iThemes, as we’ve continued to innovate by simply solving problems for you, there is so much more going on behind the scenes.

So I wanted to take a moment and share a recent meaningful story publicly … about our newest product investment — HelloSales.

Some people have already asked me questions beyond the actual product like: Why did you choose a rooster as the logo? Why the name HelloSales? And most importantly, who are the people actually building it?

Well those, my friend, have very meaningful stories behind it.

So here goes …

The Back Story: A Love Affair with Portugal

To say I have a love affair with the country of Portugal is an understatement. But the story has to start here.

A couple of years ago, my family and I got to spend a month in Portugal. It was an amazing time for us exploring this incredibly beautiful country.

Living Your Dreams Means Choosing Them

The last night of our stay, I got to speak to the WordPress Meetup Group in Lisbon, Portugal, where our home base was for the month as we explored the country and culture. After the meetup, several of the WordPressers took us out for dinner for a night of incredible Portuguese wine tasting and laughs and fun. It was an experience I’ll cherish forever and the best way we could have ended our stay there.

During that night, I got the chance to talk a lot with Marco Almeida, one of the most genuinely funny and talented people I’ve met. He runs a really cool WordPress services business and WooCommerce site(s).

So we took many friendships away from that one night that I wished had been the very first day we stepped into this enchanted country.

Many of those friendships became Facebook friends so we could stay connected and we’ve kept in touch and liked and commented on each other’s status updates (and things like Nuno having his first child, or Bruno’s awesome photos and love of NBA basketball).

Fast Forward to WordCamp US in 2016

So last year, I post on Facebook and elsewhere, like I do many times as I’ve traveled for WordPress and iThemes, that I’m heading to WordCamp US 2016 in Philly.

And I get a Facebook message from Marco introducing me to a gentleman named Marcel Schmitz. He told us we had to meet Marcel as he will be there too.

I think to myself … “I always love meeting more Portuguese people.” But I also know at a conference as big as WCUS, it might be difficult to organize a meetup.

On the second day of WCUS, Matt Danner, my COO and I are heading to breakfast …. when, at an intersection, I hear, “Excuse me, are you Cory Miller?”

Reflecting back, it was quite magical. It was meant to be that we would meet.

Marcel went to breakfast with us and told us all about what he and his partner, Tiago Mano, were doing in WordPress and WooCommerce and mobile apps.

His company, HelloDev, had launched a WooCommerce plugin and iOS app for a client and it sounded super exciting, as well as building some awesome sites in WooCommerce for clients. Very very cool.

After breakfast, we went to the WCUS infamous hallway tract and I had the opportunity to introduce him to some of my friends in the WordPress world.

Later that night, he joined us for the afterparty. I’ll save the “pizza in a hotel lobby” story for a later one.

We are Portuguese – my friend @schmitzoide and I in Philly – missing @lindseymiller20 though

A post shared by Cory Miller (@corymiller303) on

We of course connected on Facebook and stayed in touch.

The Gentle Nudge Back to Portugal

One of the people I introduced Marcel to at WCUS was my dear friend Chris Lema.

I’ve leaned on Chris for countless advice and counsel over the years as well as cherished his friendship in my life (my wife and I just joined him and his family in Jamaica for an epic vacation).

A couple months after WCUS, Chris, in his not so gentle nudging way, told me something like this: “Cory, you guys should go talk to Marcel about a WooCommerce product as the next big thing for iThemes.”

And I did.

(I’ve found taking Chris’ advice often goes well for me/us, even if it takes me a couple of months to do so.)

A video call with Marcel and Tiago turned into booking flights and hotels to travel to Porto, Portugal where they are based for a couple days of “how can we kick some butt together” and fun times exploring their, well, beautiful-doesn’t-cut-it city.

Porto is the best

A post shared by Cory Miller (@corymiller303) on

Hoodie bros

A post shared by Cory Miller (@corymiller303) on

The man, the myth, the legend @tiagofmano – only known photo in existence

A post shared by Cory Miller (@corymiller303) on

River boat pals

A post shared by Cory Miller (@corymiller303) on

In numerous conversations over the days we spent with Marcel and Tigao, we started to dream together what “Go Far Together” would mean for us and we began to make a plan for our future together.

And we quickly found a win for all of us.

They (Marcel, Tiago and Nuno) would join our team, and take what they had built and amp it up to solve some key e-commerce problems we wanted to solve for our customer community … and launch it to the world as the newest iThemes product.

Preparing for HelloSales – May 2017 in Oklahoma City

A few months later, at the end of May, Marcel and Tiago flew to Oklahoma City, where our iThemes headquarters is located, for planning the rollout of the next big thing we would do.

They brought with them a very special gift — a rooster — adorned with our logos and a quote we had discussed that week in Porto.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”

Straight from Portugal

A post shared by Cory Miller (@corymiller303) on

The rooster is essentially the symbol or emblem of Portugal. You’ll see it everywhere there when you go there (and I strongly encourage you to do so, even if I want to keep the place all to myself).

It became obvious we wanted to include a rooster in the logo of HelloSales as a hat tip to Portugal and our team there. We also think it’s a great symbol for what we hope to help our customers do — make more money through their WooCommerce stores.

Through several iterations of a name, we landed on HelloSales as a name, as yet another hat tip to the story — their company’s name, HelloDev — that led us here.

hellosales

I also think it’s a great complement to what most of us e-commerce store owners do everyday … checking in how our online sales are doing.

Now, About the People Behind HelloSales

Every person on our iThemes team is special to us … but for months we’ve waited to tell you more about our team behind HelloSales. So I’m so excited to be able to formally introduce you to them today.

Marcel Schmitz

Marcel SchmitzMarcel is a passionate iOS and web developer in love with WordPress and the e-commerce scene. Born in Blumenau, Brasil, half German half Brazilian, he moved to Porto Portugal in 1988 and has lived there ever since. Father of one, loves to shoot pictures and movies, to fly his drone and thinks he’s still a young star playing the drums in a rock band.

In addition to knowing at least 5 languages and speaking better English than I do, he’s just an outstanding human.

He’s presented at WordCamps, and most recently through iThemes Training on WordPress, WooCommerce and mobile apps. You can watch his recent webinar on the Dos, Don’ts and Shoulds of WooCommerce here.

If you get to meet Marcel in person, you will remember him by his huge infectious smile.

And his vision for WooCommerce and HelloSales is a critical key for what we’re doing now and in the future.

Tiago Mano

tiago manoTiago is a father of two amazing children, full-stack web developer and kind of a workaholic. He loves playing tennis, watching soccer and marathon-watching TV series like GOT and House of Cards.

As I mentioned, Tiago loves NBA basketball. So being from Oklahoma City, we presented him and Marcel with custom Oklahoma City Thunder jerseys at their first visit here in May.

He’s a very talented developer with a great vision for the future of HelloSales as well, and has a sneaky sense of humor.

Nuno Areias

A recovering perfectionist, Nuno is a plugin developer who is always looking for ways to improve himself and his code. He’s passionate about technology, sports, music and the outdoors, unless he’s binge-watching some kind of new TV series. That usually takes full priority over any other hobby.”

Nuno is a true rising star and a critical person for what we’re doing with HelloSales and you’ll see his fingerprints all over the plugin code for HelloSales.

I’m excited to get him to Oklahoma City (and the U.S.) in the very near future as well and to be able to spend more time with him.

HelloDev’s Past Work with WordPress & WooCommerce

I also wanted to share a couple of projects our new Portugal-based team has done in the past for their previous clients to show you what they have done. They are the real deal!

  • greatiamwear.com – a WooCommerce mega store with hundreds of orders per day, with complex discounting, shipping and an inventory management system with multiple warehouses, all custom built.
  • casadovarandao.pt – a booking and automated payment system within WooCommerce
  • ezzylab.com/app – perfect integration of web + mobile services, based on WooCommerce and the REST API
  • geg.pt – complex arrangement of information and relationship between different pages, taking full advantage of WordPress capabilities for creating a custom, stripped down backoffice.
  • agroaguiar.pt – out of the ordinary, fully customizable frontend theme with simple editing tools on the backoffice
  • ipca.pt/ – a site with a complex information structure with multiple levels of permissions within dozens of user roles, connecting a multisite WordPress installation with the University’s main shared user management system
  • humanefocus.com – simple and elegant photography and film portfolio website, with extra resizing and upload capabilities, custom built
  • dragonesports.gg – complete makeover of a standard HTML website into a fully capable WordPress theme with multiple custom pages.

Meet the HelloSales Team in Person

We’re excited to have Marcel and Tiago joining us back in the US this year. Here’s where they will be:

  • Marcel will be joining Matt Danner at WooConf October 19 & 20th, 2017, in Seatle.
  • Marcel and Tiago will be joining me and Matt at WordCamp US in Nashville, December 1-3, 2017.

Get Ready for HelloSales Launch

If you haven’t signed up for our launch email for HelloSales … be sure to do so here.

And if you want a first look at HelloSales, we’re hosting a HelloSales preview webinar on Thursday, August 29, 2017 @ 1 p.m. (CDT) with Marcel to walk through a live demo.

HelloSales Preview Webinar
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (CDT)

Register Now

As always, we’re excited about what we’re doing and as always want to hear from you about how we can serve you better.

Cheers to many more meaningful stories in the future … let’s go far together!

The post The Story of How We Got To Our Newest Product: HelloSales appeared first on iThemes.

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12 Ways to Offer WordPress Maintenance Services

If you build websites for clients, the work doesn’t end once the website has launched. Just like owning a car or home, a website needs ongoing maintenance, so it’s smart to offer a suite of ongoing WordPress maintenance services to bundle with your core service offering of building websites.

wordpress maintenance services

Why Offer WordPress Maintenance Services?
The Benefits of Recurring Revenue

If you’re a web designer or developer, you probably prefer the work that proceeds a new website or redesign. But consistently finding new clients and projects can be challenging, and can lead to a feast-or-famine cycle of income. Without recurring revenue, you’re essentially freelancing without a safety net. Even if you make six figures this year, in January, you start at zero again.

Consider these reasons for adding WordPress maintenance services to your core web design service offering:

  • More consistent income. With WordPress maintenance services, clients are billed monthly or quarterly for ongoing work. Instead of income being tied to projects with payments that could be spaced out in larger intervals, you can build a base of reliable, consistent income. The more predictable a dollar is, the more valuable it becomes.
  • More predictable work. By adding a recurring revenue model to your business, you can spend time working, not selling.
  • Maintain client relationships for additional work and referrals. Keeping in contact with your web design clients has a few advantages that can continue to build your business. Keep in mind that new work for freelancers comes from existing customers or from customer referrals, so it’s important to nurture client relationships.
  • Less risk = Less Stress! Last (but not least!), building recurring revenue into your business model reduces the risk of failing to find new projects and work so, ultimately, you have less stress.

Recurring income is the of a successful freelance web development business. You can’t build a business by just building websites. You must have recurring income.
– Nathan Ingram

What Do Your Clients Need?

Once you’ve decided to start offering WordPress maintenance services, start by doing some initial planning. Begin by asking these questions:

  • What do my customers need?
  • What services can I create to meet those needs?
  • What resources do I need to perform those services?

If you need a little help coming up with ideas, the list below offers 20 ways you could offer WordPress maintenance services to your clients.

The Big Three: WordPress Updates, Backups & Security

The foundation of WordPress maintenance includes three basic components: WordPress updates, backups and security. All WordPress websites will need a strategy for each of these areas as they are critical to the longevity and health of the website.

1. WordPress Updates

Clients need to understand that owning a WordPress website means a commitment to keeping WordPress, and all themes or plugins installed on the site updated. Updates are important and can’t be overlooked or put off, and someone needs to be in charge of running updates as soon as new versions are released. An out-of-date WordPress site makes it vulnerable to security issues as version releases often have security patches.

Tips & Tools:

  • Tools like iThemes Sync were built specifically to help manage multiple WordPress sites. Instead of logging into each website to run updates, you have one central dashboard to view available updates and update with one click. A tool like iThemes Sync is one of the most solid investments you can make for your WordPress maintenance service offering.
  • Set up WordPress update notifications to get a daily summary of available updates. Getting an email notification makes it easy to stay on top of updates with email notifications
  • Provide a monthly report of updates. Include the date and time of the update, along with the version numbers. This report will show how demanding updates can be.

2. WordPress Backups

All WordPress websites need a solid WordPress backup solution. WordPress doesn’t have a built-in backup solution, so your clients need to be aware that ongoing backups are necessary for protecting their investment. For especially active websites such as e-commerce websites or for websites that frequently add new content, backups need to be made on a frequent basis, in scheduled intervals.

Tips & Tools:

  • Don’t rely on host backups. WordPress has specific backup requirements that host backups may fail to accommodate, such as the ability to restore from a backup.
  • Use a WordPress backup plugin built specifically for backing up WordPress such as BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy backs up the entire WordPress installation (not just the WordPress database), and includes smart backup profiles specifically for themes, plugins and the Media Library.
  • Set up backup schedules to automatically run or use a real-time WordPress backup. Backups should run daily or weekly basis. Check out BackupBuddy’s Stash Live feature for real-time WordPress backup.
  • Make sure your backup tool has a restore function. A backup is useless if you can’t restore from it quickly and easily.
  • Don’t store backups files on the same server as the website. Send backup files off-site to a secure, remote storage destination.
  • Provide a monthly report of backup runs and backup type. This report helps show the importance of backups and provides a record of backups.

3. WordPress Security

WordPress websites are specifically targeted by bots and hackers, so all WordPress sites need an ongoing WordPress security strategy. By implementing WordPress security best practices, you can provide your clients with extra peace of mind.

Tips & Tools:

  • Familiarize yourself with the basic WordPress security issues.
  • Perform an initial WordPress security audit and provide this report to your client, along with recommendations for securing the website.
  • Install a WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security. iThemes Security covers 30+ ways to secure a WordPress website with a one-click security check.
  • Encourage clients to start using WordPress two-factor authentication for admin logins.
  • Provide a monthly report of active WordPress security measures, including malware scans, blocked brute force logins, banned IPs and more. This report helps demonstrate the attacks a WordPress website can encounter over the course of a month, and the ways you protected it.

Hosting & Performance

Another area of WordPress maintenance includes hosting, uptime monitoring and website optimization. Like updates, security and backups, hosting and performance are important components of a healthy WordPress website.

4. Hosting

Rather than have clients pay hosting costs directly, you can roll their website hosting into a monthly plan that also covers attending website maintenance. Most website hosts offer reseller packages designed specifically for hosting client sites.

Tips & Tools:

  • Quality WordPress hosting can be hard to find. Make sure you’re using a WordPress hosting provider that specializes in WordPress. Pick hosting packages that offer sufficient disk space and bandwidth with a trusted and reputable hosting company. Our top picks for WordPress hosting include LiquidWeb and Siteground.
  • Keep profit margins in mind and know what you’re getting into. Hosting downtime and server issues can be a headache, especially when you’ll be dealing directly with hosting support on behalf of your clients.
  • Communicate the benefits to your clients. You’ll have to justify the cost of paying you for hosting, so make sure you’re showing the advantages over paying for hosting directly.
  • Move client websites off their current hosting with a WordPress migration plugin such as BackupBuddy.

5. Uptime Monitoring

Website downtime can mean lost revenue, especially for high-traffic e-commerce sites. Offering WordPress uptime monitoring can be another way to offer a helpful ongoing website service.

Tools & Tips:

  • With iThemes Sync, you can add monitor WordPress uptime for any of your WordPress sites. Track total uptime percentage, total downtime and number of downtimes, and get an email when sites go down.
  • Provide a monthly report to clients that shows uptime and downtime stats. This report can be useful for convincing clients to switch to better hosting if downtime is too frequent.

6. Website Optimization

WordPress websites can become bloated over time with post revisions, spam comments, trashed posts and pages, and other data is stored in the database. Offer website optimization as a component of WordPress maintenance to make sure websites are running efficiently and to speed up load times.

Tools & Tips:

  • Use iThemes Sync’s WordPress database optimization tools to quickly optimize the database.
  • Analyze site performance using Google’s Page Speed tools.
  • The WordPress Media Library can quickly become bogged down with image files not optimized for the web. Routinely audit uploads to make sure they stay under 600KB.
  • Provide monthly reports with all the website optimization actions you took and any gains in speed or overall performance.

SEO & Digital Marketing

Expanding your service offering into SEO and digital marketing is another way to build recurring revenue for your freelance business. These areas can contribute to the profitability of your client’s website, so these services should be billed accordingly.

7. SEO Services

Most clients have no idea where to begin when it comes to SEO. Planning and executing a successful SEO strategy takes knowledge, patience and consistent work, but you can offer SEO services to clients both during and after a new website has launched.

Tools & Tips:

  • If you’re new to SEO, spend some time going through our free SEO training webinars and our basics of SEO webinar series. For in-depth training, check out the SEO Summit.
  • Offer an SEO package that will produce a complete SEO strategy, customized for the business and industry of your client.
  • Install a WordPress SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO. iThemes Sync includes some special integrations with the Yoast plugin such as an SEO Checker.
  • SEO services can be billed monthly and include tasks such as optimizing existing content, keyword research, tracking competitors and producing new SEO-focused content.

8. Content Creation

As you probably know, content creation and blogging can be one of the largest pain points for clients. Adding content creation to your service offering means clients can have consistent content updates which ultimately funnel into SEO efforts, email marketing and social media.

Tools & Tips:

  • A monthly content creation package can include new blog posts, page updates, videos, copywriting for newsletters and more.
  • If you aren’t a writer, sub-contract with a freelance writer for their services. Just adjust your prices accordingly.
  • If clients prefer to produce their own content, you can still offer a monthly list of ideas or blog post topics based on their SEO and marketing strategy to guide their efforts.
  • Provide a monthly report for clients that displays new content, word counts, pageviews, SEO keywords, social shares, etc.

9. Email Marketing

Like content creation, email marketing can be intimidating for clients. For most industry, email still provides the highest ROI of all marketing channels, so your clients need an email marketing strategy. That’s where you come in.

Tools & Tips:

  • Offer a monthly email marketing service that includes weekly or monthly emails to build customer engagement and make sales.
  • Use an email marketing platform like MailChimp to build mobile-responsive email templates quickly and easily.
  • Provide monthly reports that connect email campaigns to revenue, as well as campaign-specific open rates/click-through rates and the total traffic generated by emails.

10. Social Media Managment

Some clients would be happy to offload social media to someone else. You can offer social media management as a part of your digital marketing and WordPress website service offering.

Tools & Tips:

  • Use tools like TweetDeck and Buffer to manage multiple social accounts and schedule social sharing.
  • Managing social media usually means a closer relationship with the business of your client, so know what you’re getting yourself into. Spend some extra time getting to know the business or industry, as well as the “personality” of the business.
  • Provide monthly reports that show social media growth, engagement and popular posts.

Training & Support

Another are of WordPress maintenance includes branching off into website training and support.

11. Training

While WordPress remains one of the easiest website content management systems to use, most website owners will need training to manage their WordPress website. Provide monthly in-person or video training for website admins.

Tools & Tips:

  • Ongoing training can and should be invoiced. Since training requires your time, you should be paid for it.
  • Schedule an initial in-person training day or video conference call with your client soon after the website is launched to walk through basic website management tasks.
  • Add WordPress tutorial videos to client websites using iThemes Sync and the WordPress 101 plugin.
  • Provide a monthly “website Q&A” session for clients when they can ask you specific questions about how to use the site.

12. On-Call Website Support

Website support is often the most billable service web designers and developers unknowingly offer for free. It’s important to start training clients to pay for your time, even if something goes wrong with the website and they need you to fix it.

Tips:

  • Website support should be an add-on service for all website projects. Support should be built into the initial website contract and agreed upon upfront.
  • Offer different support levels that dictate how and when clients can reach you. For example, you could offer email support for a lower monthly fee, or on-call support for more. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.

The Key to WordPress Maintenance Services: Reports

Reporting is the key to justifying ongoing WordPress maintenance services to your clients. With WordPress maintenance reports, you can show clients all the actions you took to keep their website running smoothly. Deliver these monthly reports to show clients what they get by paying you for your service.

Types of WordPress Maintenance Reports

Reports can be broken up into different segments or made specific to the service offering.

Save a ton of time and use a tool like iThemes Sync’s WordPress Maintenance Reports to automatically generate these reports for you, and then email them to clients on a schedule. These reports can be white-labeled and include interactive, HTML elements.

Here are a few examples of different WordPress maintenance reports:

WordPress Maintenance – Basic Updates

This report summarizes updates made on the website over the specified time period (usually a month).

What’s included:

  • Current WordPress version
  • Update Actions/Type (WordPress core, plugin or theme)
  • Date/Time of Update
  • Version Number of Update
  • Number of installed plugins/themes

WordPress Maintenance – Security, Backups & Uptime/Performance

This report shows backups and security details.

What’s included:

  • Number of backups made
  • Backup type
  • Date/Time of backup
  • Times protected from attack
  • Security actions taken
  • Malware scan date/times
  • Uptime percentage
  • Downtime
  • Average response time
  • Database optimization actions

Analytics Reporting

This report summarizes key website analytics data pulled from Google Analytics.

What’s included:

  • Summary of traffic, landing, keywords and referrers
  • Stats for total visits, unique visits, total page views

SEO Reporting

This report provides search analytics stats related to the client’s SEO strategy, pulled from Google Search Console.

What’s included:

  • Search Analytics (clicks, Impressions, CTR rate, position
  • Search queries (clicks, imporessions, CTR and position)
  • Crawl errors (path, platform, category, detected)
  • Sitemaps (URL, platform, category, date detected)

Final Tips on Selling WordPress Maintenance Services

Chances are, after looking over this list, you can see at least one WordPress maintenance service you could start offering today. On a final note, here are a few quick tips on how to sell WordPress maintenance services to your clients.

  • Articulate the gains, pains and solutions you identified to your clients. Go back to the answers you provided at the beginning of this post. Turn those answers into copy that explains the service and why your clients need it, along with the benefits.
  • Leverage existing client relationships. Once you have your new WordPress maintenance services ready, it’s time to sell them. Work on an email letter or call your existing clients to inform them about your new services. If you’re uncomfortable with the sales part of this process, use the letter or call to “check in” on your client and their website needs. You may want to begin with a special discount or introdutory offer. Make it easy for them to buy and be available for any questions they may have.
  • Ask for referrals. Use this initial call as an opportunity to ask for referrals. It never hurts to ask.

More on WordPress Maintenance

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