I recently helped a friend move away from an abusive relationship.
No, it wasn’t a boyfriend or a husband, this was an agency. A web design, SEO and web services agency. They were taking advantage of the company my friend works for, and had been doing so for years!
For years they’ve been charging them a “maintenance” fee but not actually doing any maintenance. And when my friend asked about it, they said that it would be extra to update the plugins or even WordPress, and do basic things like moderating comments.
That’s ludacris! And I’m not talking about the rapper.
The whole point of using WordPress is to have the freedom and ability to update, change, modify and pretty much do whatever you want with it.
I understand that agencies need to make money, and sometimes they offer managed hosting solutions at a premium. That’s totally fine, I offer those services as well. But what it’s not cool is to lock your customers into bad deals.
So before you go out and get a website, make sure you ask these questions and get it all down in paper. Preferably, have it all outlined in your contract. And check out the company you’re about to work with. You don’t want to end up working with a 3rd street rate agency.
- Will the website be hosted under your account? Or can we have our own hosting account? If under your account, do I have full access to my files and database?
- Does the maintenance plan (if one is quoted) take care of updates to WordPress core and all the plugins and the theme?
- If it doesn’t include updates, how much is it to have the updates done?
- Does it include content changes? Like adding a blogpost or a page? If not, how much is it to have that done?
- Can I install additional plugins?
- Can I modify the widgets and sidebar contents?
- Can I add, modify and delete content from blogposts, pages and media by myself?
If they are offering a maintenance or support plan be sure to have it all in writing and in detail.
- Will they run daily or weekly backups?
- Who is responsible for testing the backup and restore functionality?
- Are you restricted from installing plugins?
- Can you add other users to your website?
- Will they provide traffic statistics or do you have to find your own solution?
- Will they moderate comments on the blog?
Sometimes restrictions are okay.
It is acceptable that an agency may not let you have full access to your site, but this needs to be explicitly outlined in your contract. Sometimes, this restriction is done to help maintain stability and consistency on your website. That’s fine too, but just make sure that they are actually providing the support you need when you have to change things on your site.
If you’re not allowed to update and maintain your own site, make sure they are keeping your site updated with the latest security and software updates. And make sure they are keeping backups on a regular schedule.
Make sure that you have the freedom to leave if they are not performing their work too.
This is one of the reasons I offer my total ownership guarantee. Whether you use the Real Free Website service, or one of my managed service plans, your website is yours. You own it. Always.
You get your own hosting account and you have access to everything from day one. Under some circumstances, I will ask you not to make any changes to certain parts of the website or web hosting, but I will always explain why.
Seek total ownership, even under a managed service.
The reason I give you the total ownership guarantee is to give you peace of mind that I’m here to help you. I’m here to be your partner and I trust you and you should trust me. At any point in time, you can move your website somewhere else. You can lock me out and hire somebody else. I offer you complete ownership whether you pay me 10,000 for a website, or whether you use the Real Free Website service.
This is how you build trust and establish long lasting relationships, not by forcing a client to stay and pay hundreds of dollars each month in bogus maintenance or support fees.
This is important! If it’s your business, you must own it and have control over it. Don’t be fooled by a swift-talking salesman and all the technical jargon that they’re throwing at you. Be smart, ask questions and get it in writing.
When in doubt, ask an expert for their opinion before entering an agreement. It could save you thousands of dollars and lots of headaches.
If you are in a situation like this and need to move your website, let me know. I may be able to move it for you for free. Contact me for more details.