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Selling Monthly WordPress Retainer Packages with iThemes

In this two hour webinar, “The Professor” Benjamin Bradley covers everything from how much freelancers should charge, to surviving the slow months as well as exactly how to put a retainer package together using iThemes products.

Watch the Replay

How Much to Charge

Know your Burn Rate. It’s not a budget, it’s how much you need to survive. Factor in things like your cost for rent, internet, health insurance, food, fuel for your car and anything else you need to survive. Burn rates are different for everyone. You absolutely need to know what your burn rate is so you’ll survive from month to month at bare minimum.

How many hours do you need to work? This is part of your burn rate. If you work 50 hours a week, that’s 200 hours per month. How does that split out for your survival?

Let’s say you need $3,000 for survival. Say you work 50 hours a week, which is 200 hours per month, your burn rate is $15 per hour. If you are not making more than $15 for each hour you work, you are going in the hole and burning out.

Benjamin also talks about a happy life rate. Replay the webinar to learn more!

Two Ways to get Work Rates

  • Take the average of your burn rate and your happy life rate, and add 35% markup.
  • Take your happy life rate (modified), take the hours needed to get your Happy Life Rate and cut the hours by 35%. Then add 25% markup.

What is a Retainer?

What is a retainer?

A good example is a law firm. A lawyer is going to bill you each month to simply call them (on-call concept). This probably doesn’t cover when the lawyer actually has to do more work. If the lawyer needs to go to court (put in actual work) they will charge you an additional hourly rate.

In web development, a retainer means that someone will have access to you. This comes full circle with the concept that you’re really selling yourself.

The most expensive part of any business is payroll, the human part. You can help your clients eliminate the need for a webmaster, or additional staff if they have you on retainer.

A good retainer setup will cover the entire cost of the burn rate. You’ll be setting yourself up for success this way.

How to Use iThemes to Make Money


BackupBuddyPeople will want their website to always be there, and be backed up. Think of why you have a savings account or insurance – we’ve been trained to have backups and be prepared if something unexpected happens. BackupBuddy allows you to create scheduled backups that can be stored in different locations. This should be part of your Security retainer. One of the easiest ways to charge for this is on a monthly, ongoing basis.

BackupBuddy will even send an email notifications that your client site has been backed up. Now, you’re providing true value (piece of mind) and it’s part of your retainer.


sync-logoiThemes Sync can also be part of a security retainer package. Have you ever logged into a client site a year later and what happens? There are tons of updated that need to be done. Well, you can update all your client site directly from the Sync dashboard. No need to log in to each client site individually. You can also manage BackupBuddy backups from Sync.

Sync also provides a history of actions performed that can be shipped directly to your client. They can easily see everything you’ve done on their site.

iThemes Security Pro

ithemes-security-logosiThemes Security Pro allows you to assure your clients their site’s login
page won’t be able to be hacked as well as tons of other piece of mind assurances. You can even lock down the site during specific times. There are so many awesome features in iThemes Security Pro that make your retainer package invaluable.


DisplayBuddyDisplayBuddy is an entire suite of plugins specifically for images. It allows you to take care of your clients images and do cool things such as sliders and galleries. Your client won’t have to worry about finding non-copyrighted images.


builder-downloadYou can make residual income just by using Builder. For example, sell holiday site makeovers. Package six holidays and sell it. Your clients get a site refresh for the six holidays they choose and they’re happy. Very quick and easy feature to add to a retainer package.

Unbranded Tutorials

Unbranded tutorials are another great way to add on some residual income. The WebDesign.com unbranded tutorials were made specifically for this purpose. Add your own branding, beginning and ending bumpers and you’re good to go. Place these tutorials on a members only page where your clients can go to learn about WordPress. Bonus – tutorials will save you a ton of time answering questions from clients about WordPress and free you up for more development time.

We covered a lot of information in this two hour webinar. By the end, WordPress Freelancers now know what their burn rate is, what a retainer is and how to use iThemes to sell retainer packages and generate residual ongoing income. That’s what all freelancers love – right? Be sure to watch the replay of the webinar so you don’t miss a thing. You can view the slides here.

If you have any other tips  for selling retainer packages with iThemes, let us know in the comments below!


  1. Great video. One idea Ben mentioned (see slide #14) is developing and selling sites on Flippa.

    If one does so with premium iThemes themes and plugins, would this violate the terms of the license? Thus far, I have only included them with my own sites and sites for bonafide clients.



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