At what point did you feel comfortable charging people to make websites?

I am interested in hearing when people decided it was time to make some money. Lime did you learn more than you needed to before you did or did you jump in early and learn as you went?

I’ve been messing about with wordpress since about 2010 on and off. Started taking it a little more serious about 2017 when I created my first proper blog and have ran and redesigned it probably 20 times since then, with divi, elementor, kadence and now blocksy.

I’ve often thought of it as a part time side gig kinda thing but always had the fear.

Recently I built a website for my window cleaning business and everyone loves it. Someone asked me to create them a basic resturaunt page. Nothing special. A menu and a button to call them to book a table. They are not interested in anymore than that as they’re old skool.

I’m considering it. And while looking around at what the competitors websites are like I realised I’m a lot better than whoever designed their websites.

I am very much a jack if all trades, master of none. I do everything myself, even if it takes 3 days watching YouTube videos or reading forums but I’m always scared that I get asked to do something out of my reach when I’m balls deep in the project. And I’m scared they don’t like what I do and ask for more and more changes.

And I’m nervous about the whole handover process.

Like, do I just charge a chunk then hand all the login details over once I’m finished or do I charge less and then a maintenence fee and host it on my own wpx account?

How do I deal with plugins. If I use paid plugins but the customer wants to separate from me, how does that work? I’d need to be upfront about potential future situations I’d imagine.

Is there some kind of questionnaire I can use to give to them so they can add all the details and what they like etc?

Thanks in advance to anyone that gives some help to this self-critical asshole..

6 Comments
  1. I’ve been building WP sites for almost 15 years now and let me tell you: you are always going to be learning. I’m still googling shit as not every project is the same! Only difference now is the knowledge gap has narrowed but whether I was starting out or starting today, the effort is the same; still being a professional, still putting my best foot forward, still putting *them* first and being… accountable. If you think you’re in balls deep, imagine how you client feels?

    I would say always have some standard packages though but treat each project on a case by case basis. You can definitely have a ‘standard’ option where you always charge a chunk but it doesn’t hurt to just talk to them and see what they’re comfortable with too. Do they want to always be keeping an eye on their site or would they feel more comfortable knowing they’re paying you to be responsible? For ex one of my I guess anomaly clients, how I bill them is not like the rest of our portfolio but because they’ve found me fairly accommodating, they’ve basically stayed with me for 10 years… that’s a lot of long-term rev but it works for them ultimately and its only 1 out of like 10 that is billed in this particular way. Some other folks might shrug at that and find it annoying how they’re not all standardized but eh, I’d rather have kept their business for 10 years than alienate them over personal accounting methods.

    Youre gonna get a lot of answers but it really comes down to how you want to manage yourself/time/life.

  2. I like to make sure that they own their own domain name and hosting. Then, I can build a site for them on their chosen platform, and they are aware of the yearly cost of the site and any paid plugins/builders that I consult them on.

    Then, it’s all about having them provide content/words. If they have none, I charge for photography, copywriting, in order to get started. Once the site is in place and a basic menu system is in place, they can direct what they want to add. Sometimes people expect way more than they are paying for so you have to strike that balance on your initial build price.

    Being free from owning their site on your account is the most liberating advice I could give you, because you’re free to walk at anytime, after you deliver what you promised.

  3. I’ve been doing this for XX yrs (I just realized for how long, LOL) and I still get that odd feeling 😉 But all jokes aside, this is a daunting task. There can be quite a lot to this. How much does the ‘client’/friend/fellow business know about fiddling with their own website? How much do you have to document for them (think Manual). What’s the proper procedure to make sure it all works… and so on. The one of us that have been doing this a while have checklist and we follow those lists and therefor know that we have completed our job. For someone new, like you, this can be overwhelming, but you can take it slow. Unless you are replacing an existing site there isn’t much damage you can do. So take it easy an breathe and relax… Look out your clean windows 😉 I would say build the site online to make the handoff easier since then you don’t have to deal with servers, upload, SFTP, and all the other dev jargon.

    One additional piece of advice I can give is stay away from Godaddy, Bluehost and the slew of EIG companies. Some reputable hosts that are cheaper are Siteground, Flywheel, Namecheap, Kinsta and WPengine. (the last two vary in price quite a lot, but many of us can get you a referral deal that makes it worthwhile – but I wont post that here)

    In the end do the things you have done with your website and as far as price goes, do something that reflects your experience (much like what you would do in your business). Alternatively you can say that they pay you monthly and you pay for the upkeep and maintenance, but thats a conversation you need to have with them before you start (and in writing, even on a napkin ). Hope this helps a bit.

  4. Some good responses here already. Read them all.

    Additionally if you do decide to take the next step the following is what I wish someone told me when I started.

    – Contract, contract, contract. Get yourself an iron clad contract and always, always, get a client to sign off on a very clear scope of the project. No exception for anyone EVER. Always use emails to confirm and communicate. Paper trails are your friend.

    – For any subscriptions I always get the customer to handle payments directly to vendor. For one off I buy and build it into the cost.

    – If you are handing over complete admin access make sure you have strong “I’m not responsible for anything after date of hand over” clause.

    – Do not hand over any access until you have been fully paid.

    – Always charge 50% minimum upfront.

    – Have a pre-questionnaire using google forms or the likes with typical questions like ‘how many pages, do you need a shop, do you have all your assets ready to go, what colours, etc.’ anything that you would need to get an idea of what they need and to build a quote.

    – Trust your gut. If something seems off or you feel it’s going to be a difficult client don’t take the job. And yes, yes I know that sometimes beggars can’t be choosers etc. etc. but a stressed anxious mess of a beggar, that ends up paying out of pocket to appease some ungrateful client is a far worse position to be in.

  5. One of my first jobs was building this presentation for a company in director… yeah I’m old. Anyways I had never used director. I was actually in school about to take a director class. So for the first few weeks I worked on all the graphics and everything else except the director part. Then as I learned director I did more and more of the project. Anyways everything worked out fine so my recommendation is just start.

    That being said if you can figure out how to do it as a subscription do that. I would never go back to building one off sites. Recurring revenue is the way to go if you can come up with a good program.

    When I did do one off sites it was usually 50% at the start then 50% once it was done. I would not put it on the clients servers until I was fully paid. At some point I also built in a kill switch for some of my sites that I could “kill” the site remotely if I lost access and did not get paid.

  6. No one should work for free. Charge anything but respect yourself and don’t work for free. Charged pretty much from day one.

 

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