We recently talked about how to prepare WordPress for clients. Now it’s time to talk about how to prepare clients for WordPress.
You made WordPress ready for clients with a customized backend, making it easier and more comfortable. But now we need to cover the next big step, WordPress client training.
Why WordPress Client Training Matters
Having a website is one thing, but knowing how to use it is another. And loving to use it, that’s amazing.
You want your clients blogging with the best of them, adding images with ease and basically bragging about their site. To make that happen, you need to go the extra mile.
Simply coding a site isn’t good enough. Any freelance developer can code a site and customizing the backend will help. But you want to go further and make sure your clients succeed. You need to train them—and train them well.
If you do it right—no second rate efforts allowed—your clients won’t just find themselves with a web presence, they’ll find success online. And your clients’ success is ultimately your success.
What WordPress Client Training Looks Like
Simply put, you need to school your client. Give ‘em some education. You need to teach your client how to use WordPress, train them in the best practices and empower them to be successful.
Anything else is setting them up for failure—and their failure becomes your failure when they don’t come back again and refuse to recommend you.
Training can happen in several different ways, but the important thing is that you offer something. Go above and beyond. Help your client make the most of their site, and everybody wins.
Pitfalls of WordPress Client Training
OK, so teaching your client how to use WordPress is a good idea. Everybody can agree on that. But then we have some problems:
- You’re not a teacher, you’re a developer.
- You don’t have the time to walk your client through the basics.
- WordPress changes all the time. How do you keep up with it?
- Where is it again? Clients easily lose and misplace things.
- There’s a difference between knowing how and doing it well.
Ideally, your WordPress client training can address or avoid all of these pitfalls and help you get back to work faster while still keeping your clients happy.
How to Overcome the Training Hurdles
Here are a few ways to overcome those pitfalls and make your training efficient and effective:
You’re a techie, not a teacher. You might not be a people person. Maybe you don’t do well in front of groups, or maybe you just don’t have the time to learn webinar software. So it might make sense to outsource your training. Let a pro do it and tap into the many pre-existing sources created by people who are better teachers than you.
The only downside to outsourcing your training is that you’ll likely be creating custom components for a client that won’t be covered in someone else’s generic training. So even if you do outsource the basics, you might need to teach the custom bits yourself.
2. Create it Once
Every time you train a client, you’re going to say the same thing. So don’t reinvent the wheel. Create a generic resource you can share with multiple clients. Create it once and use it over and over again.
It’s going to be some work to create this resource in the first place. You might be tempted to just schedule a training call and get it over with. But client after client after client—those calls are going to add up, and you’ll waste your time. So create a training resource once and get back to work.
3. Make It Updatable
One of the biggest frustrations with creating training materials is that WordPress keeps changing. With every update those training materials become more out of date, so you’re going to have to put some thought into keeping things current.
As you create your training materials, you need to do it in a way you can easily update. A PDF you hand off is going to get dated, so you might want to keep a version on your site that you keep current and give clients on-going access to. Or maybe you create a training site you host and update periodically, so clients can always get the latest and greatest.
This is another reason why outsourcing might be a good idea. Pay someone else to keep it current.
4. Make It Accessible
How many times have you sent a client a link, and they ask you to send it again? The reality is you aren’t your client’s highest priority, and the details about their website might get filed away and lost.
You can help by making your training materials easily accessible. Build them into the backend so they’re always there. Add a help section to the menu so those resources are at their fingertips.
5. Teach Them to Succeed
It’s one thing to teach someone how to use WordPress. It’s another to teach them how to succeed with WordPress. Your training should go beyond simple mechanics and include best practices.
- Yes, the title goes in the title field. But what makes an effective title?
- This is how you add an image, but here’s how images can enhance your posts.
- Make text bold like this, but here’s how and why you’d want to do that (and when you shouldn’t).
Yes, this is going beyond simple coding. It’s really up to your client to use their website well. But you can help, even in a few small ways. And you should, because their success is your success.
Pro Tip: Maintenance Plan
One way to make WordPress client training a better business deal for you is to roll it into your ongoing maintenance plan. Make yourself available for questions anytime and get a recurring payment for it. Clients get the security blanket of knowing you’re always there and you get recurring income.
WordPress Client Training Methods
There are several training methods you can use to bring your clients up to speed, each with their own pros and cons:
One of the simplest ways to offer training is just to write out some documentation. There’s plenty of source material out there, from the WordPress Codex to other blogs and resources. Of course that means it’s a source, not something you copy and paste. Make it your own.
There are several ways to deliver documentation, from an easily updated online source to something you print out and hand over. While you can’t update a physical copy, it is a tangible way to help that might be more comforting for clients who aren’t tech savvy.
Training videos can be one of the best ways to show people how to use WordPress. A lot of people are visual learners and need to see it rather than read about it. It can also help to see things in action, see where to click and how things move.
Plus, video is easy to outsource. There are several sources of white-label videos you can incorporate into your training. The iThemes Toolkit comes with unbranded WordPress tutorial videos you can use to train your clients. It’s easy to add slides or bumpers to the videos with your branding so they look even more professional. WP101 Plugin also offers training videos you can use and a plugin that allows you to make them part of the WordPress backend.
Even if you’re not a video pro there are several ways you can train your clients with professional video.
One of the most hands-on ways you can train your clients is with a personal webinar. Get online together and walk them through the site. This is going to be a big-time commitment for you, but it might be worth it, especially if you’re dealing with a client who isn’t comfortable with technology, or if you want to make a huge impression.
While you lose out on the timesavings of pre-created resources, you get the benefit of full-service interaction, real-time questions and customization for the client.
While being live is a huge plus, it’s also a downside. A webinar doesn’t allow the client to refer back to anything later. Make your webinar more effective by leaving something behind, whether it’s full written documentation or even just an abbreviated cheat sheet.
If you’re not sure on the best way to do WordPress client training, consider creating a combo of several of these methods. People learn in different ways, so it can be helpful to offer multiple options to your clients.
Pro Tip: Sandbox
One of the scary things about learning something new is messing it up. That pressure is even worse when you’re talking about a live website. Even if you’ve done your job and made it hard for a client to mess up their own site, they still have that fear, and it can be crippling. If you’ve got a nervous client, ease their worries by giving them a sandbox site to play around with.
Because Coding Isn’t Enough
WordPress client training is an important part of freelance development. Teaching people to use what you code will ensure you can go on coding. So make it part of your process. Bring your site development to a close with some solid customer service that will ensure everybody wins.