Being a freelance web designer is great: You can set your own hours, choose which projects to work on, and even work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. But, despite all this freedom, freelance web designers all secretly crave one thing: Monthly Recurring Revenue.
The almost constant need to find new work as well as the “feast and famine” cycle of income can be draining. Thankfully, this is something that can be mitigated by turning those one-time gigs into ongoing relationships that generate regular monthly recurring revenue.
Monthly recurring revenue business ideas
I’m going to show you how to do this and, by the end, you’ll have some new ideas on how to get that regular money coming in.
Before we begin, here is a very important point. If you want to receive regular monthly payments you must insist that the client sets up automated monthly payments for these service. The best way to do this is to set up a monthly payment PayPal invoice or PayPal button. Do this because you don’t want to spend time chasing client payments.Freelancers who receive recurring revenue always insist on automated monthly payments from the client Click To Tweet
So here are my recurring revenue ideas you can start offering your clients:
Website maintenance and support
If you’re using WordPress to build websites for your clients then offering a maintenance and support package is one way to add predictable monthly recurring revenue to your business.
You can install a few WordPress plugins, such as BackupBuddy and implement a robust backup schedule that will make it easy to recover any lost work should an issue arise.
A plugin like MainWP will allow you to monitor and manage multiple WordPress websites through a single dashboard. From the MainWP dashboard you can, amongst other things, monitor uptime as well as carry out theme, plugin, and WordPress software updates.
Complete WordPress web design support package
Consider providing user support. This could include assisting clients with using WordPress or making changes to their website. You could even go as far as offering premium telephone support for clients on your top tier packages.
There are now plenty of businesses out there offering ongoing WordPress maintenance and support on a retainer basis, so there is definitely a demand for this type of service.
Caveat: be sure to define clearly what is included in the service and what isn’t. You know was well as I: design tweaks and customizations can take hours. If the monthly payment is only $79 things could go seriously wrong. Use WPcurve as a business model: they offer unlimited small 30 minute jobs on one site for $79/month with a minimum three month signup.
The reason your client wants a website is usually to help them generate more business. Unless they already have a thriving following, simply handing over a new website, probably won’t deliver the kind of results they were hoping for.
To remedy this, a traffic generation service can help avoid client dissatisfaction, while also adding another stream of monthly recurring revenue to your business.
There are many different ways to generate this traffic. Methods range from search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, social media management, and content marketing, to name just a few. This gives you the option of creating multiple packages, each of which are tailored to the different needs and budgets of your clients.When offering packages to clients, clearly define what's included in the service and what isn't Click To Tweet
If you offer services like SEO and content marketing to improve the rank of their website in search, it’s vital that you educate your clients to have realistic goals, rather than them expecting to see their website ranked number one in Google overnight. Also you’ll need to “throttle” the monthly work rate to something specific like: 4 researched primary keywords each month for $49/month or one 1,000 word article targeting keyword of the client’s choice per month for $200/month.
Content updates and creation
Just like website maintenance and support requests, you probably get former clients asking for little text changes on their website. Examples of this could include updates to their opening hours or contact details. To maintain good client relations, you’ll probably carry out these little jobs. However, doing this can eat into your time and profit margins.
Offering ongoing content-related services can be one way to capitalize on this and add another recurring income stream to supplement your freelance earnings. Your monthly content packages could be a set number of updates to existing website per month, delivering a weekly article, or producing monthly email newsletters.
You don’t even have to limit yourself to text-based content. You may be better suited to custom images, infographics, videos, and even audio content. Think: 30 image quotes for Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram for $399/month.
Again, be sure to clearly define a service level agreement to avoid unrealistic expectations and disappointment down the line.
Conversion rate optimization
Offering a conversion rate optimization (CRO) service will help clients to get more business from their existing traffics.
You can only truly understand your client’s offers and the needs of their audience with testing.
WordPress plugins and services, like Nelio A/B Testing and Optimizely, make split-testing experiments relatively straightforward. This allows you to compare buttons and text variations in order to optimize conversion rates and thus grow your client’s business.
Reselling web hosting
All websites need a web host, so there is obviously a demand for this, especially as part of the monthly recurring revenue services you offer your web design clients.
However, offering web hosting can be problematic. You may think you can sit back and receive monthly recurring revenue just to host but, what happens if anything goes wrong? What happens if the site goes down at 3 o’clock in the morning? What happens if email isn’t being delivered? You are responsible.
One way round this is to resell hosting packages. For example, if you sign up with Hostgator’s Reseller service, you can sell hosting to clients, receive monthly income, but direct clients towards Hostgator’s support department if anything goes wrong.
With this option, your web host of choice will take care of providing the service, while you and your clients will have one less thing to worry about.
Setting up your own web hosting service might be going a step too far. Remember, you have to find a host you really trust and make sure you get automatic monthly payments for it. Even then, if anything goes wrong with the hosting or the email, it’s your responsibility. Proceed with extreme caution.
Do great work and get great clients
This may sound an obvious point but, for me, my best recurring revenue comes from long-term relationships with great clients. What’s a great client? In my experience, the bigger the better.
I’ve had regular work from Accenture, a Fortune 500 company, for 10 years. The relationship is so solid and the work so predictable it is all outsourced and I hardly have to lift a finger for the regular money to come in.
So, never turn down a job if it’s for a good client (large organisation) and do great work so the client keeps coming back.
Other recurring monthly revenue ideas
I hope that the above recurring revenue ideas have given you something to think about. To get more ideas, think about the services you already provide or requests you receive.
For more inspiration, here are some other monthly recurring revenue ideas:
- Security hardening and monitoring: use off the shelf plugins to improve the security of your clients’ websites
- Training materials: create or white label website support videos or guides and charge a fee for access as part of a protected area on your site
- Business coaching and mentoring: help your clients get better results through one-to-one sessions, webinars, or access to a community of experts
- Monthly reporting: generate easy to read reports covering traffic levels, user analytics, search engine rankings, e-commerce sales, and other key data
- Social media management: share the client’s existing content, create content specifically for social media, and engage with followers
- Email list management: setup and manage an email newsletter, send out regular emails, and engage with the list
- Manage blog post comments: approve, respond to, and clean up spam comments on your clients’ blogs
Choosing the right options will depend on the services you already provide, the type of clients you work with, and your current skill set. The more you think about the needs of your clients, the more monthly recurring revenue ideas you’ll come up with.
Monthly recurring revenue: you can do it
You put a lot of effort into getting web design clients, whether that’s through networking offline or building up a professional reputation from past projects.
By offering valuable complementary services and adding regular recurring monthly revenue to your business, you’ll be freer to spend less time prospecting for new leads and more time serving your existing clients. Not only that but establishing predictable sources of recurring income can do wonders for your stress levels.
I have a course out called Make Money Running A Web Design Business which has more information and ideas on making money as a web designer.
What additional services can you offer to your clients? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.