On the power and freedom of building recurring revenue through website maintenance
Building and maintaining websites is nothing new to Debbie Campbell.
Debbie first began doing web design in the days when the Internet looked far different than it does today. Back in 1995, when the web was in its infancy, is when she created her first website.
And she started down this path without a single minute of former training.
As Debbie explains, “ I started doing web design, without any kind of degree or anything, on my own in 1995. I was in grad school at the time. Then, in 2005 I actually quit my full time job to build websites as a freelancer.”
But getting started as a web design freelancer wasn’t a walk in the park. In fact, she had to build several websites for free to start building a portfolio and attracting clients that were willing to pay for her services.
When clients and prospects began to see the quality of her work, however, her freelance business began to take off.
“I had decided to go back to school at the time. But after about six months, I no longer had time for school. So I focused on just this. And I’ve been doing this now since 2005.”
Then, in 2014, her business WP Minder was born.
Building Passive Income With WordPress
Debbie transitioned to using WordPress for her client’s website builds in 2009. Even in those early days of WordPress, she saw the power and ease-of-use that the CMS provided and realized that it was the best possible option for her business.
After about five years of doing client WordPress builds, she found herself hosting many of her client’s websites after the builds were complete. And that is where she began to see the potential of building a passive income within her business.
“I was already hosting some of my client’s sites on shared hosting, because I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. In 2014, I made the hosting and site maintenance side of my business official because I thought this would be a good way to make some passive income.”
With WP Minder, Debbie promises to take care of her client’s websites so they can take care of their business. And the business model has served her well so far.
“In 2014, I made the hosting and site maintenance side of my business official because I thought this would be a good way to make some passive income.”
Currently, she is managing more than 70 client websites on this side of her business, while she continues to do new website builds on that side of the business.
Debbie decided to separate her WordPress hosting and maintenance business from the development side in order to attract clients that wouldn’t have otherwise found her. And that idea has served her very well throughout the years.
Even better, more than 80% of the clients she builds websites for immediately roll into a WP Minder WordPress Care Plan after their websites go live.
Why WordPress Is the Best Choice For Building Websites
But after four years of building sites for clients in this manner, she saw that it was time for a change in how she approached web design and development.
As she explains, “It got to the point where it looked like I needed to make a decision about what content management system I was going to learn and use. It was 2009 and the best options seemed to be WordPress, Joomla, and a CMS called Expression Engine that was pretty popular at the time.”
Wanting to make the most informed decision possible, she first attempted a site build using Joomla.
“I did a Joomla site and really, really disliked the process. I disliked everything about it. So then I tried WordPress, but I didn’t know how to build a theme. So I hired someone to build a theme for me and they did a great job. So I launched my first WordPress site.”
“I made a decision that if I was going to stick with one solution for my business, it was going to be WordPress.”
But that was only the beginning of Debbie’s transition to using WordPress exclusively in her business. There was going to quickly be some major learning she needed to do on the fly.
“On my second WordPress project, I hired the same theme builder to create the theme. I still knew nothing about theme building. Unfortunately, he completely blew off this project and I had a deadline to meet. Eventually, he handed something over to me that was completely unworkable.”
So Debbie had no other choice but to buckle down on her own and learn how to build a theme. And that happened over the course of 16 hours the very next day.
“That was my first real experience learning WordPress, because it had to be done. I had no other choice. I was kind of thrown into the water with the sharks, and ended up getting the theme built. Overall, the website build went well. And I made a decision that if I was going to stick with one solution for my business, it was going to be WordPress.”
Nearly 13 years later, Debbie confirms that her decision to use WordPress to build client websites was the best decision she could have made.
The Challenges of Being a WordPress Freelance Business Owner
As with any other business, there are some challenges Debbie faces in her WP Minder business. One of the major hurdles has been learning how to simplify her Care Plan packages in a way that makes sense to non-technical clients.
“I try to be extremely minimal and straightforward in my Care Plan package descriptions.”
As Debbie explains, “I try to be extremely minimal and straightforward in my Care Plan package descriptions. I have to be exact with what I say about each one, to explain enough of the benefits they’ll get while also not talking over their heads too much. Because I know a lot of the technical stuff is going to go over people’s heads.”
Debbie has found a great balance in combining her technical expertise with her ability to explain things to clients in a simple way. But what really matters is that she follows through with her promises for the sites she hosts.
In fact, since launching WP Minder in 2014, none of her Care Plan client sites has experienced a hack. Her clients appreciate knowing that preventive maintenance greatly reduces their risk (and if something were to happen, support is available to help).
Creating Happy Clients
Happy clients are created when problems get solved. The problem Debbie solves with WP Minder is to free up the time and energy needed for clients to maintain their own websites, while simultaneously giving them peace of mind that their sites are safe from hacks and malicious attacks.
“I free up clients from having to worry about their WordPress websites. I do this by providing care, maintenance, and high-quality hosting. My clients all know that if they have any problem at all with their site, I know how to solve it. But they also know that they have far fewer problems when their site is well-maintained. And that’s what I do.”
“I free up clients from having to worry about their WordPress websites. I do this by providing care, maintenance, and high-quality hosting.”
And that leads to a satisfying and rewarding career for Debbie. She really enjoys hearing from happy clients, and knowing how much her services really do help them out tremendously.
Within the next 5 years, Debbie is hoping to double the size of her clients that sign up for Care Plans. She’d love to see her client list rise from 70 to around 150.
However, currently it has been a slow climb to that goal, which Debbie is working to improve on.
As she says, “Right now, most of my Care Plan clients come from my WordPress design and development projects, but I’d like to extend that offering to more WordPress website owners.”
Debbie’s WordPress Website Toolset
Every WordPress developer has their favorite go-to tools for each job. And Debbie is no different.
Her choice of tools that she uses for every job include:
- iThemes Security Pro (“comprehensive”)
- BackupBuddy (“reliable”)
- Gravity Forms (“best form plugin I’ve used”)
- Smart Slider 3 Pro (“best slider and support”)
- Strong Testimonials (“most flexible testimonials displays”)
- WP Rocket (“easy performance improvement”)
“iThemes Security Pro is the most comprehensive WordPress security plugin. BackupBuddy is the most reliable backup plugin.”
She also builds custom themes for her clients using Genesis framework, which she describes as a fast, lean, and well-coded professional platform for developers.
Beyond that, she uses ManageWP to handle all of her updates, scans, backups, uptime monitoring, reports, and more.
For client site hosting, she uses Cloudways. She finds this solution to be the most flexible and inexpensive when compared to other managed hosting options.
How iThemes Has Helped Change Debbie’s Business
Since discovering iThemes, Debbie has become a faithful user of the iThemes family of products. She’s even built an entire 38-point security lockdown process around iThemes Security Pro that has worked very well for her and her clients.
She also relies on BackupBuddy for redundant offsite backups, and has never had a problem restoring a client’s website this way.
We can’t wait to see how Debbie’s business, WP Minder, continues to flourish as she provides security, and most of all, peace of mind, for her clients.
Learn more about Debbie at WPminder.com.