Why I don’t offer monthly retainers and what I do instead

 

 

Many website designers will polish up your project, get you launched and then offer the option to stick with them on what’s called a monthly retainer.

Monthly retainers have their pros and cons. 

Pro, you have the peace of mind that if your website decides to throw and temper tantrum one day and bring your online business crashing down, you’ve got someone on hand who’s job it is to fix it.

Con, designers and developers don’t come cheap, so paying $100 or more a month for a monthly retainer with a designer/developer can become a pricey business expense.

 

One of the main questions potential future clients ask me is, ‘are you available to help me down the line after the site is complete?’

My answer is ‘heck yes!’

If you asked me if I did a monthly retainer however, my answer would be no.

 

Here’s how I do things, and why.

(Any budding Squarespace designers, take note!)

I am a die-hard, hands-down Squarespace lover. 

(50 shades of Grey has nothing on this love match, lemme tell you!)

The short answer to why I don’t offer monthly retainer packages is, quite honestly, because my clients would be paying me for sitting around doing a whole lotta nothing.

One of the (many) reasons I choose & love Squarespace is that the system is all contained and controlled by Squarespace.

The Squarespace teams in NYC, Portland & Dublin deal with all the back end tech mumbo jumbo, so Squarespace users never need to deal with website melt downs.

 

I’ll give you a prime example. 

As we know, technology moves quick. 

Google decided it wanted the interwebs to switch over to secure websites, from http to https. And seeing as, you know, Google basically controls the world, every website owner jumped to get on the secure website bandwagon.

That’s when many website owners got stuck with a whole bunch of questions. 

'If I change my website from http to https, what happens to all my old links? Do I need to domain map them to new https links? Will changing links affect my SEO? How the heck do I actually change this all over?'

The Squarespace team prepped for the change and ensured that their https roll out was ready to go and working properly. Us Squarespace users then got one email instructing us to click a ‘enable https’ button on our sites, and we were smooth sailing.

(Thanks Squarespace - you’re the best!)

I have some friends with WordPess sites who are still wandering around in circles trying to figure out how exactly to make the switch properly.

This is just one small example of how a Squarespace website just works. 

 

I don’t offer monthly retainer packages because the Squarespace team does for it’s customers what most designers/developers do for their clients on monthly retainer packages.

(Except you pay as little as $12/month for your website and this service on Squarespace, whereas a monthly retainer with a designer/developer tends to run $100/month or more, plus the cost of hosting your site.)

The long and short of it is, you really don’t need a designer/developer on a monthly retainer when your website is on Squarespace.


Now, I can already hear you asking,

‘But what about website edits and changing site content?’

Ah yes, good question!

Most of the time, my clients are able to complete edits and update site content themselves.

Do I have a bunch of website-wizard clients you ask?

No.

In fact, one past client diagnosed herself with a strong case of ‘technophobia.’ 

(The fear or dislike of advanced technology, that is.)

 

I complete every project with a 1.5 hour live Squarespace lesson. 

On the final Friday of our 2 week design period, my client and I hop on a Google Hangout call, and we dive into the back end of their website.

We don’t have the lesson on some mock example website, or someone else website. We go through the back end of their own website.

It’s not a pre-recorded lesson, or some generic thing. While I do have a lesson plan (how scholarly of us, right?) each lesson is tailored to the client. Their tech-savviness, and their template. 

I show them the in’s and out’s of their website, and get as advanced or as basic as they want me to.

Clients are confident by the end of the lesson to find their way around the back end of the site, make edits to text, photos, banners, background colors, and the search engine description. They’re also fully able to create pages, move around content blocks, edit links and page descriptions. They know best practices for blogging, and how to use a summary block to pull out specific bits of content from their blog on certain pages.

Pretty much, they know their stuff and they’re able to independently make site updates and edits on their own schedule. 

(Yes, even the ones who started off as self-proclaimed ‘technophobes’.)

The average number of client emails I get with questions after a project is completed? 2 per year for the first year, and 0 after that.

 

Why is giving this lesson so important to me? I’m in the camp of teaching a (wo)man how to fish. 

Going to someone else for help always takes more time, and makes something as simple as updating the prices on your site become a pain-in-the-buns task.

I don’t want to hold my clients websites hostage, it’s a vital piece of their business, and I believe they should have full control and knowledge of it.


Now, I get that on occasion my past clients have something a little more complex they need help with. Sometimes its a need for a design item such as business cards, set up on an online shop or a booking and appointment scheduling system.

For these types of tasks that are a little bit outside the scope of our lesson, I always invite them to shoot me an email, I can price out the task for them and let them know when I can get to work on it.

For full website design projects, I tend to book out well in advance, but for these smaller tasks I can generally get to them within a week or two.

 

So there you have it, that's why I don't offer monthly retained packages. Instead, I teach my clients how to use their site, and offer assistance at an hourly rate if they need some help with more complex things down the road after their project finished!

 

Interested to learn more about my 2 week web design process, and how I run the studio?

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