I'm a sole trader thinking of offering site maintenance

Hi Guys,
I have my own web design business where I build Wordpress sites for small businesses then upload to their preferred web host. This has worked well for me for the past couple of years as I am a mum working from home. Its just me operating the business.

However now I have some more time, and I’d like to start offering hosting as well and manage my client’s site software & content updates. (I’m looking into finding a good hosting reseller.)

My concern with starting to offer hosting + maintenance is that there will be times when I can’t offer support to my clients as obviously I can’t offer 24/7 support, and there will inevitably be times when I’m on holiday. Do I just write this into the agreement, and then give my clients notice when I won’t be available? Wondering what has been other sole traders experience with this? Is it manageable on one’s own or do you need to hire someone to cover during those times?

I am considering hiring someone to help out, but it wouldn’t be a full time position, and ideally they would work from home. Any ideas on where to look for someone like this? There’s also outsourcing but I’m not sure I want to head down that path.

This has been something I’ve been thinking about for a while, so any help is greatly appreciated!

I think you should definitely have a backup contact for your clients while you’re away on holidays, you can’t leave them in the lurch…

Check out our hosting reviews here – http://www.sitepoint.com/web-hosting-reviews/

Unless you have hundreds of clients though, it’s unlikely to be a big money maker. Think about other services that you could offer through partnerships,*such as PPC Management, custom Facebook/Twitter/YouTube channel graphics, A/B split testing, email marketing (CampaignMonitor.com), etc.

Also worth thinking about the content equation, through companies like Scripted.com or Contently.com and reselling their services.

Thanks for the reply Matt.

I guess I’m not sure where to start looking for someone who could work for me part time as a backup. Any ideas? Colleges? Job agencies? I’ve come into the web industry from doing something completely different, so I don’t have that network of web industry colleagues and friends to call on.

I think offering hosting and maintenance will be a good money maker, even for, say, 10 clients. In the WDBK they mention this is a good backup when you don’t have any projects on the go, and having that guaranteed monthly income is nice.

I do already offer social network customisation, enewsletters, SEO & copy etc, but most of my business comes from people who need websites. Even though I build in wordpress & teach them how to use the CMS, I’ve found my clients would really rather me handle the content updates and hosting stuff.

I’m not looking to become a millionaire from my business (yet!) but I’d like to connect with others who have gone through the transition from sole trader to small team and find out their experiences.

It depends on the kind of support that you want to do… 24/7 means that someone has to be wide awake while you’re sleeping, that means to connect with at least one other people in a different world area… or someone in your country with owl habits! :lol:

Colleagues are a good option because you already know them and know how they’re likely to behave (sort of, depending on the kind of relation you have with them)

You can also check the marketplace.sitepoint.com and see what’s there but I think that if I were you and since you don’t have the same issue I do (language barrier) I would go for hosting companies that offer that added value: sorting all the phone calls from your customers when they have a hosting issue.

These white brands will sort the whole hosting problems for you.

Now, if you want someone to talk in Spanish I’ll be happy to help :stuck_out_tongue:

PS: I do offer this service for my customers but I can’t use these white brands because their support is in English and my customers are not and many of them don’t speak English, or even if they do, they would not be happy to be attended in that language sigh

Thanks for the reply Molona.
I’m not going to set up 24/7 support, just five days a week at regular hours. I believe that’s all my sort of clients will need. And I’ll be managing their enitre site, so they won’t have to deal with the hosting company or anything technical ever, they just pay me a monthly fee and I take care of their site.
Unfortunately no colleagues or friends in the business to call on to help me…but hopefully I can make some new connections soon.
Your English is excellent…!

Thank you :smiley:

Then, if it is going to be regular hours, simply start offering it. Since you control all the environment, you’re already doing it and it is not going to take much effort apart from creating/deleting some e-mail addresses. As for the rest, they will only ask for subdomains when you suggest to create a subdomain. It will not be hard and you can find a suitable company that will cover you when you’re on holidays. You have plenty of time :smiley: