Who loves stories about crashed websites? I don’t, but I have to put up with this from time to time. It may happen because of non-installed updates, or the opposite – because of some huge updates that may evoke software conflicts. Or because of hosting issues. I’m just saying that every website needs to be maintained to avoid crashes, to stay up-to-date and to be visible for search engines, and so on.
Therefore, I’ve decided to conduct a survey on what’s the best way to maintain a website. Let’s start with WordPress websites. What is the best way for website owners:
- Maintaining websites on their own (regularly pay attention to updating and fixing a website);
- Hiring an in-house specialist, who will support the website;
- Or hiring a remote team to get professional maintenance?
I’ve asked top web developers and entrepreneurs about their choice and asked them to share some piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are looking for the best ways to maintain their website.
Further, you can check what professionals think on this subject matter, and you will learn some stories from their experience. Look through their answers and decide what option is the best for you. I hope it will help you.
If you already know which option is the best, cast your vote in a survey and help others to see a bigger picture.
Handle over the maintenance of your website to professionals.
As a developer for Codeable, I see exploited and hacked websites all the time! It’s important to keep your website updated especially when running open-source software such as WordPress so I recommend hiring a professional for an hour two a month to handle updates and website hardening because, in the long run, an insecure website can lead to bigger problems. At the very minimum, you will need to pay a developer to clean up your exploited site, your website will take hits on SEO and to the extreme, your personal data can be compromised and lead to even more problems.
For a small business to hire an in-house developer is most of the time out of the question considering the costs associated with getting a true professional to run your website. Luckily in the gig economy, there are solutions out there, companies like Codeable give small business owners access to top-notch developers at without the huge investment of hiring in house.
We say that a site owner can and should maintain their own site. The more they know and understand about their site, the more proactive they will be in using and promoting the site to meet/exceed their business goals.
That said, not every site owner has the time, interest, or capabilities to do so. In that case, hiring a professional maintenance company like Cinch Web Services is the next best thing. We know what we’re doing, are responsive, and give site owners the same confidence that their site is well cared for as if they were doing it themselves.
Unless of course, you have a big company with the bandwidth to do it in-house. Just make sure you hire someone who knows what they are doing.
The size and complexity of the site will affect a choice but most of the sites I work with will hire us to update their sites on a monthly timeframe. This provides the best of both worlds as it’s cost-effective and lets the entrepreneurs get on with the things they are best at.
Updates can be handled quickly by a specialist whos workflow focuses on updating websites rather than paying a full/part-time in house developer. It also allows the client peace of mind as they may not have enough technical knowledge to know what to do if an update fails or conflicts with another area of the site.
So I vote for hiring a remote team to get professional maintenance.
When it comes to maintaining your (business) website, keeping it updated is an integral and often overlooked part of the process. This covers so many things, not least, the tools used to build the website, but also the content ON the website.
If you have internal resources, utilize and schedule regular maintenance and content updates. However, where you don’t have a skilled individual or department that can handle those types of tasks, it’s worthwhile looking to outsource.
Bearing in mind, that when it comes to content, you (the business owner or company) will still need involvement. However, using a good copywriter as well as skilled individuals who can ensure consistency of both voice and design are key to presenting and maintaining that professional edge.
If you don’t have the skills to do the job well, outsourcing is an excellent option and something that many of my long-term clients have taken advantage of, both through myself or other professional, skilled people.
Small business owners are some of the busiest people that I’ve ever met. Many of them try to maintain their website on their own, but I’ve found that they fail to keep it up to date since they are always so short on time.
Hiring a website specialist in-house can be extremely expensive – especially if you want to work with someone who knows what they’re doing. My advice is for small businesses to invest in working with a remote team to minimize their expenses while getting the best possible result on their website.
I think it will also depend on what the company wants from its website and how complex it is. It also depends on the salary they can afford for an in-house web developer.
I do not think there is a general answer to this. I think it also depends whether the website possesses some advanced and especially security-related stuff, such as client-sensitive information, etc – I guess that they would not hire and outsource for this (for example banking systems, etc).
My take is, it depends.
a) If you are a very small business owner and you are very organized and thorough, then to can maintain your website yourself. In this case, make sure you compile your own checklists and that you follow them religiously every time.
b) If your business is growing up, I would hire a remote agency. Because you want to focus on growing the business a do not maintaining the website. Most of the time this will be more cost effective than hiring an in-house specialist. That is because the website maintenance will consume a couple of hours per month, while an in-house specialist will need to be paid a salary.
Nicolas, Founder of OceanWP
I would like to vote for “Maintain on their own (regularly pay attention to updating and fixing a website);” when you are a small company or “hire a specialist” when you become bigger as you will need to focus on other things.
Jay Tillery, Remote WordPress/Shopify Developer
I’m a firm believer in paying for a service that will allow you to run your small business effectively. Most small businesses try to cut corners by doing the marketing, accounting, IT and actual day to day business tasks on their own. This falls back to that old saying, “Jack-of-all-trades and a master of none”.
I encourage any budding small business owner who wants to keep their online operations running smooth to work out a maintenance fee with a highly skilled freelancer. This way you get a fixed fee x hours per month to help with support on your website. Having a web professional on standby is an invaluable asset to any small business.
If the small business owners have time and are tech-savvy then they should go the DIY route. Otherwise, they can opt for a remote dev for the maintenance purposes.
One recent example is that one of our small clients tried to DIY create and send an email newsletter. The owner took almost a week to create an email template which she couldn’t. It only took us a few hours to create, approve and set up the newsletter functionality for her site.
The “best” option really depends on the small business owner and the state of the business. There are pros and cons to each option, of course.
A brand new startup, especially a solopreneur business where funds may be limited, may want to try maintaining the website on their own. If the owner is fairly tech savvy, and it’s a simple website, this can be a cost-effective option, to begin with. However, there’s usually a cost for the tools needed to maintain the website, as well as a time cost – the time you spend on maintaining your website could be spent on revenue-generating activities for your business.
A larger, more established business with an internal technical support team may prefer to hire a full-time specialist. However, this is by far the most expensive option. Some businesses try to have an existing employee maintain the website, but this is often not a good option, as that employee may not have the full skill set required – and again, there are probably things that employee could be doing that are core to the business.
For an established and growing small business, the best idea is usually to hire an outside contractor to provide professional assistance. A professional service provider of this time will have the skill set needed to maintain the site and troubleshoot when something inevitably goes wrong. They’ve probably seen similar issues and can fix things quickly, versus even a tech-savvy business owner trying to DIY, who will have to spend a lot of time researching a fix. Just like small business owners hire accountants, legal specialists, and other contractors to do specialized work, it’s usually more cost-effective (and often more satisfying) for a business owner to focus on THEIR business, and have a trusted expert maintain the website.
I have several clients I work with who started with DIY on their websites, and found it was taking their valuable time away from the things they needed or wanted to work on. While there is a monetary cost to hiring a specialist, they found that the monetary cost was only slightly higher than paying for the tools themselves – and I’ve had more than one of them express to me how they enjoy having “an expert” handling the website so they don’t have to worry about it, as well as knowing they can turn to me for questions. The right specialist can and should feel like a partner in making sure your website not only operates well but supports your business.
If the owner of the website is a technical person then he can maintain on own. Because he knows about the technical issues if any happens. Else, he can hire an in-house specialist, who will support the website. However, he maintains own or hires someone to maintain his website but he has to look up his website regularly especially the security issues of the website and also he should update or modify his website if the technology update based on present trend.
For entrepreneurs, I feel, to begin with outsourcing the maintenance of your website it’s probably the best course of action. A lot of maintenance companies exist so competition for your business will be reflected in the price you pay. I don’t think a dedicated member of staff is worth keeping on the books to keep the maintenance of your website up to date.
If you do your own maintenance, whilst the cheapest option, does keep you away from your actual business. So with that said outsourcing your maintenance to a third party can be a cost-effective way to keep your website safe & secure.
Matthew Woodward, SearchLogistics.com
When it comes to the maintenance of your website, how you go about this largely depends on your business and budget.
Using a managed WordPress host will solve the majority of problems you could come across. They do daily backups, take care of security and not to mention the level of support they give should any issues occur… giving you complete peace of mind.
You often get what you pay for with hosting but WPXhosting and Kinsta’s support teams are second to none in terms of how they take control of and resolve problems.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you set up your own monitors to get alerts of problems as they happened.
I use the free version of Uptime Robot, which monitors your website and you can get instant notifications by email and SMS if your site goes offline.
I like to set up HTTP and keyword based monitors for important pages like the homepage, contact page, and checkout page.
It’s also critical that you stay on top of software updates. Whether that’s plugins, software or core updates it is important you keep them current and ALWAYS do a backup before updating.
Backup first, then do the update and then test that the update is working as it should. If it isn’t then you can restore the backup.
If you used a managed host, set up monitors and keep things updated – that will help you to avoid 99.9% of problems!
And if you do have a problem – your host will take care of you.
In the digital age, it’s important to keep your site running in order to keep business growing. For this reason, I recommend hiring a professional either in-house or through a web management service to manage your website to ensure the security, integrity, and sustainability of your digital storefront.
Nick Leffler, Exprance
Hiring a remote team to get professional maintenance is the best option for a small business website. It’s overkill to hire an in-house specialist for anything but the largest websites. Most small business websites require minimal time each day to maintain it, therefore, it’s more economical to have a remote team that is more affordable and is doing it more efficiently because they’re watching over multiple websites.
As for maintaining their own website, there are again costs involved that doesn’t make this economical for most business owners. It takes time and knowledge to properly maintain a website that a remote team can do in scale which makes it more affordable and removes a lot of the worry for the business owner.
For small businesses, it’s always hard to manage all maintenances of their websites. But to hire an in-house specialist will cost more and maintaining on your own would not go professional. So I believe, the better way is – Hiring a remote team to get professional maintenance. It will be a cost-effective, and painless solution.
Until recently, I would update our WordPress, theme, and plugins myself once every few weeks. As I was so busy during the week with the day to day of running the business, this work would generally need to take place on the weekend. We now have an outside web developer maintaining the site for us. This enables me to focus on my core competencies, such as running the business and allows me more time with family on the weekend. Also, as other tasks such as further development or troubleshooting come up, I don’t need to worry about facing an issue I can’t resolve on my own as I now have a trusted developer working with us.
In the early days of the business, I did as much as I could on my own, even when it meant learning WordPress and some basic web development. This also applied to our bookkeeping as well as some other tasks. My advice to other entrepreneurs is to decide in the early days what you want to be working on long term, as it’s much harder to transition tasks to others the longer you’ve been doing them yourself. If you can delegate or outsource something, do so as soon as it is financially feasible so that you can free up that time for where you add the most value to the business.
Chhavi & Amit, personal finance blogger at Mrs Daaku Studio
We own a blog about working from home and we do all the maintenance by ourselves.
Our blog is on WordPress right now and we use Elementor builder. There is a tonne of things to do when it comes to maintenance – including – backups, updates, updating/adding/deleting plugins, website speed, designs, branding, etc.
It does take a lot of time. The best part is – we are a team of two – my husband and I. He is a test engineer knows his way around hosting, domains and WordPress which makes it so much easier to handle. While I have learned website designing to WordPress overtime, it is time-consuming and one of the areas that are better outsourced (especially if you are not a tech-savvy person).
We spend at least 10 hours in a month doing various activities which comes under the maintenance umbrella.
I always believed you should be involved in maintaining your website (even if you decide not to handle it all by yourself or outsource it later). It is important for small business owners like us to know how everything works and how to handle it if something breaks down. If you are handling it yourself, you will know.
That said, once you have learned the basics, you can outsource it. Amit and I have learned a lot about website maintenance and now, we are ready to outsource it. It will free up our time and we can focus on building our blog.
The best way out for us is to hire a technical virtual assistant who helps you when needed and you pay them accordingly. We are small and we don’t need (or can afford) a full-time employee right now.
When I just started my business 5 years ago, I took control of EVERYTHING. From hosting set up, bug fixing, theme, and plugin implementation. Therefore, I already (sort of) have some knowledge when it comes to site maintenance.
Right now, I have a team of 2 designers and 1 dedicated webmaster helping me out. Site maintenance currently costs me an hour a month tops. A mixture of knowledge and getting in-house help if I had to choose an option.
However, specialists are not enough. Finding a reliable website hosting and sticking with them is also key. Every hosting provider is different fundamentally, so one stack that works in one hosting provider might not work in another.
I’m currently paying about $400/month for hosting – which is money well spent not just in terms of maintenance – but also increased revenue from reduced website load times and better UX. If I had to give one advice to entrepreneurs who are looking for the best way to maintain their website, choosing a great host that comes with fantastic support can do wonders for your business.
Victor Bailey, musician, home studio owner and artist
My way is to hire a remote team to get professional maintenance – the only way to grow big without losing your mind.
I run a music blog reviewing different equipment and giving tips to aspiring musicians. Since I work full-time as a musician, I don’t have time to grow my website properly so I’ve created a remote team that grows my online business for me.
I have three writers, an editor, and a WordPress developer all working for me on a per task basis. On an average month, I’ll spend around $1000-1500 between all five of them and I spend 2h a week keeping an eye on the progress.
This gives me incredible peace of mind that we are always moving forward even though I’m barely involved. We are on the right track to publish 200 articles this year and I’d never do it just by myself.
In my humble opinion, as an entrepreneur, the only way to grow big quickly is to create a remote team that supports you. The biggest advantage without a doubt is having more time for my 7-year-old son and my lovely wife.
Nikolai Tenev, Founder of DigidWorks
This is how we did our website:
Since we are a development company, we do all our software work in-house. But supporting our website doesn’t require some crazy technical skills.
The only technical requirement is to know some very basic HTML and CSS. Even if you don’t, hiring somebody to do just that will cost a lot less, than hiring somebody to create a CMS for you.
Our website is hosted on GitHub Pages for free. We are using Jekyll, which is a static site generator to make things easier. Jekyll is blog aware, so creating a news section won’t be a problem. Also, there are themes for Jekyll, free and paid, which you can use if you don’t want to create your own.
The great thing about all this is that both GitHub Pages and Jekyll have great guides, that will help you get started even if you’re not-so-technical. And this is basically free, the only thing you have to pay for is a domain name and a template (if you want to).
The time cost is low, compared to more complex solutions, and performance is pretty much the best you can get because you’re serving static html pages.
If you decide to hire somebody to do this for you, it’ll still cost a lot less than pretty much every other option. HTML & CSS coding is cheaper and you have no hosting fees and reducing business costs is important for SMEs.
Rob Stand, SEO Better
I update my own website which is running on WordPress as the theme and plugin update is easily processed by the click of a button.
Other content management systems such as Drupal and Magento can be slightly more difficult and you would need to have development experience to update these or work with a web development company who has the skills to do so.
I work with a freelancer based in Europe who handles all of our website technical updates and plugin modifications. If any company is stuck on upgrading any content management system besides Joomla or WordPress we would suggest going to a website such as upwork or freelancer to get the job done.
Tony Arevalo, Carsurance
Owning a small business is not easy – you’re often lacking in funds and budgeting is always a challenge. That’s why so many things important for one business’s survival are left undone. One of them is website maintenance.
Here at carsurance.net, we opted to maintain our own website. What we do is to try as much as possible to update our blog section to organically boost our Google ranking. We made our website alone, using WordPress theme and then slowly customized it as time allowed us to do so. We try to use as many hacks as possible to boost our website’s appearance, however, we’re doing it sporadically and after we complete our daily tasks. I would say we spend around 4 hours per week on our website maintenance and we’ve spend 15o USD in total to get it running.
We’re definitely in favor of maintaining your own website because it’s budget-friendly, we’re learning new things and were forced to stay updated on the latest marketing trends.
On the other hand, if you need quick assistance to fix some problem you’re doomed to spend as much as a whole day fixing it. Professional website managers could save you some time. So, the real question is whether you’re a time saver or a budget saver type of entrepreneur. I would say the best option is to hire an outside consultant for emergency issues and pay them by the completed tasks.
Jimmy McMillan, the owner of Heart Life Insurance and HiBMI.com
I handle all website maintenance on my own with the help of some freelancers for specific projects. Pro’s of this choice – first, there is the cost savings over outsourcing, however, the most important ‘pro’ for me is controlled. I write articles on my website and use SEO and paid traffic for lead generation, so the website is usually our first point of customer contact. I cannot imagine outsourcing something so vital to my business. The cons of my choice? I’m not a programmer or a web developer. So I rely on back end solutions like WordPress and various plugins. Sometimes these solutions don’t work well together, so I have taken my own website offline unintentionally.
Thankfully, there are plenty of freelancers who are able to help get it back online when this happens.
Website maintenance itself doesn’t take much time, maybe an hour a week. However, when you add in the time for content creation, this figure is more like 10 – 15 hours per week.
Recommendations for entrepreneurs – I think you have to do your website maintenance yourself, at least at the beginning of your venture. This goes double if you are self-financing or bootstrapping your new business.
Whether to outsource website maintenance or not really depends on how important your website is to your business. If it’s nothing more than an online business card with contact information, then outsource it and spend your time on your specialty. In my case, my website is extremely vital to my business; I couldn’t operate without it! Therefore, I choose to handle the maintenance myself.
I’m the ‘in house’ person who takes care of three websites for our company. The reason is that I have previous experience in running WordPress websites, as a bootstrapped company it made sense to use an existing skill set. WordPress is so easy to use, it takes little maintenance day-to-day. That said, we use outside developers for any major customization or unique coding.
For most business owners, the decision about whether to outsource web design and maintenance should be about cost. What’s the time worth of the person who would do it? What’s the opportunity cost? For example, if the owner does it, is that the best use of their time? Or should they be raising money or pitching new business? If they enjoy writing and posting to a blog, perhaps this is an interesting hobby that gives a break from the everyday demands. Unless the internal person is competent and enjoys it, in most cases it should be outsourced.
Stefania Borchia, independent marketing consultant
10 minutes a day is all you need to maintain your website.
Having a website is mandatory for a business. Even when you brand yourself as an expert, you need a website to showcase your work. But having and managing a website might feel a bit daunting; especially for busy business owners or people with no technology background.
However, if you just follow these actionable tips, you will be able to perform any site-related tasks on your own – no matter how little digital experience you have!
First, never create a site that you are not comfortable with.
Don’t get talked into creating a site that is bigger than your own business. The website should be a fair representation of your business identity. If you are just starting out, set up only a homepage and contact page. When you have defined products and services, set a product category page that prospective customers can browse. Later, you can add a blog. Finally, when your business has grown and you have acquired a stable client base, you can experiment with testimonials, videos, online courses.
Second, design each page with your ideal customer in mind.
Your website should showcase your brand and your product range – from colors to images and content – and be easy to navigate. Having a consistent top-menu among all your pages will make your user journey as fuss-free as possible.
Third, install software that identifies any website issues automatically.
If you are on WordPress, install the Yoast plugin. This third-party software will identify the most common website issues and errors. Check your dashboard daily for notifications regarding possible problems with your site. Outsource only when the current issue is beyond your competency. Those will be money well spent. If you have installed Yoast or any other type of SEO plugin, follow the outlined suggestions. For WordPress users, Yoast recommendations can be found at the end of your website page. Aim for a green light both for SEO and readability recommendations. Ideally, you should follow Yoast guidelines every time you add a page to your site.
Finally, one a month do a complete audit.
The audit includes tasks such as refreshing images, removing expired promotions, updating a blog post with more relevant content, reviewing product and service descriptions. If you follow the above tips, you will be ahead of the game and your website management will feel far more easy to handle.
Kelsey Yeager, OnMyWaytoHappiness.com
Currently, I run my own website maintenance! WordPress does a great job of alerting me of when I need certain updates or repairs on my site, and although I am guilty of pushing off some of these a little too long 🙂 It is helpful that the alert is always there for me to do routine maintenance. Since I have a small and simple website, the time and money expenses are low. I choose this option because of the low cost since my business does not make enough money where I want to spend some on website maintenance.
Pros are that it is a low upfront cost, but cons are that sometimes website maintenance and repairs take my time away from other tasks with a higher ROI. For example, I could be practicing copywriting to increase sales of my $1297 course… instead of fixing broken links which is a $10/hour task.
However, this summer, I actually am recruiting my brother to help me maintain my website. He is a freshman in college who is majoring in computer science. Although there’s not much programming necessary, I felt that it was important for him to gain real-world website experience on the user end. If he can better understand bloggers/website owners needs, he could launch his own business for repairs, etc. while still in college! I told him I will pay him by results and he just started last week.
My plan is to do maintenance myself (besides this summer where my college freshman brother is helping) until I am consistently making $5,000 per month OR decide to do something with my website I cannot do myself – such as an ecommerce store or basically have any features that are not supported by the simple blog post format.
How we manage our website
We do it all in-house. Years ago, when it was written in HTML and Java, we had a contract web developer who built each version of it but we would make minor changes, in-house. When he shut the doors of his business, we eventually rebuilt the website with WordPress and we did this in-house. As the owner, I do all of this, myself.
Let’s put aside the cost of my own time because using WordPress hasn’t cost much if we look just at the financial outlay. For many years, we used a WordPress.com website and paid some small amount, probably $20-$30/year, to maintain the domain. In addition, we have another domain that we spent probably $150/year to host and maintain. These days, everything we have is self-hosted using WordPress.org and we probably spend $300/year in external costs for everything for both sites.
Every rebuild and even ongoing maintenance is extremely time-consuming. I did the last rebuild during my non-billable time and it took me the first 5-6 months of 2019. I didn’t track the hours, just kept at it until I got most of it done, but it was quite a lot of time. I still have large pieces I need to return to. Ongoing maintenance is usually minimal because most of the updates and broken links are quick to handle. But it’s the occasional big issues that come up that are usually both critical to fix and also time-consuming.
Pros and Cons
As a small business, we all have to balance all the tasks with have with both the time we have to do these things and the external money we want to spend to get some of it done. We need the time to fulfill our customer projects, at a minimum, plus we have certain business issues to handle on a regular basis.
A website is a rabbit hole. You could spend all your time on it. Even with someone else maintaining it, you have to give direction on what you need, approve new designs and options, and answer ongoing questions. You have to typically have someone internal provide the content or spend lots of time to work with the company who will write the content.
Since it’s software, there’s always one more thing you need to do. Since GeoMetrick Enterprises provides development services to its customers, it almost makes sense that we could program our website, too. However, since it’s an entirely different platform than we use for our customer work, we have to get up-to-speed every time we get back to programming changes.
Here’s the dilemma of tools like WordPress – it seems easy to pick a theme, create your content and get started. But picking the right theme can take an enormous amount of time. Every theme seems to be about 95% of what you need and the last percentage usually seems important-enough to spend lots more time looking at themes to meet it. One alternative is to create a child theme and do a little programming. Or, likewise, to pay someone else to do that.
For our latest round, we currently have no programming, at all. That was the goal. But it’s likely that, to meet a few final important requirements, that we will eventually do some programming before 2019 is over.
The other dilemma is that, unlike writing your own code, when you work with partially pre-built platforms, part of the problem will be conflict resolution with plug-ins. For us, this is actually the type of work we already do so we understand this type of issue but people who build code from-scratch might not realize the significance of this until they experience it. Pulling out plug-ins to find which one is causing an issue is time-consuming.
Just for one example, we have our link between our blog and LinkedIn set to automatically post. More frequently than we like, that link seems to break. Then, we manually post and fix the link. We have so many other issues higher on our list that we don’t know what’s going on but it’s one of the many unexpected and tedious issues that come up.
Having a website isn’t easy. It’s not a fast thing. It’s time-consuming. Tools such as WordPress can make adding content easy but there are many issues you run into that still take time to resolve. For the last 20 years, I’ve heard of people who have thrown money toward a website and ended up with nothing. These days, that’s somewhat less likely but you’ll still be surprised at the issues you’ll run into.
And it’s just so easy to go right down this rabbit hole and lose too much of your precious time to it.
Friday, I was talking to a friend who also has his own business and website. We were talking about how much time we spend on fixing things, managing SEO, writing content, and all the other things it takes to keep a website both running and competitive. Both of us currently choose to do this, ourselves, rather than paying someone to do it. But both of us were saying, point blank, that it’s something we dread and that, with all our experience in it, we wouldn’t want to have businesses in some of this. We can’t see ourselves consulting in SEO, for example. But we recognize some people in our position will eventually become experts and see it as a business opportunity. Still, if there’s anything that makes us want to stay in bed on a permanent basis, it’s the thought that we have a list of website work to do upon arriving in our respective offices.
Peter Koch, DollarSanity
I had some luck to find a really great developer on Fiverr three years ago. Since then he is my man to go when it comes to blog maintenance.
He is both excellent and affordable developer. For $30 a month I’m hands-free when it comes to small fixes on a regular basis.
John Holloway, Co-Founder of NoExam.com
I’m a small business owner that maintains the website myself. Things that fall to me in terms of maintenance are adding new content and updating old content.
It takes me roughly 5-10 hours per week to add our content and update any existing content. The main benefit of this is that things get done much quicker than if we were relying on a 3rd party to manage the site. The main drawback is that it can sometimes pull me away from more important tasks.
For entrepreneurs looking to maintain their site themselves or pay someone else to maintain it, I highly recommend they go through the process of setting up a new website. Spend a day learning basic HTML/CSS. You don’t have to master it, just learn enough to be dangerous. Go through a tutorial that walks you through how to set up a local version of your website. Doing this will give you the hands-on experience needed to either hire someone to do it or do it yourself.
Just make sure you practice on a test version of the website, and always back up your site before making any changes.
Damian Turco, Founder and Partner of Turco Legal
We hired a summer marketing intern who helps us update, fix, and maintain our website. This is a great option for small businesses because it is both cost effective and gives a college student a great real-world experience. Although our intern has various other tasks that she is in charge of, she dedicates 15-20 hours per week to keeping our website looking great. We pay her minimum wage, and it’s wonderful to have someone specifically dedicated to this task without taking any of our attorneys away from their work.
The only con to this choice is that there will be a difficult adjustment period when she goes back to college in the fall because of course we still need someone doing the job.
Richard Williamson, Vice President of Marketing at HealthLynked
Before I came on as VP of Marketing here at HealthLynked, I had a successful marketing and media business. We made websites as part of our usual business marketing, identity and functionality offerings. Working client-side, I was put in the position of deciding to do a website for one of our subordinate divisions in-house or use an outside vendor.
The vendor’s price was $12,000 and would take up to two weeks for a WordPress site. My in-house web person, who came with me from my other company (and who is, coincidentally–sort of–my wife) said she could do it 3 days.
Our CEO was doubtful, but 2.5 days later, the website was done, fully functional, and ready to roll. We saved a ton of money, made a favorable impression on the upper management and staff at the client division, and have complete control over the functionality and content of the site.
I recommend most businesspeople to at least manage their sites internally. Updates should be done quickly and often. Waiting for a web design company to do basic maintenance and content updates is both time- and money-foolish. Investing in training an employee–preferably one that will stick with you and not jump ship–has an almost immediate, positive ROI.
So, to answer questions.
- Most of us here are able to do web work at various levels, from the CEO down to our outbound calling rep. That’s just by chance, but it’s also not that hard to find people familiar with WordPress that can do work if necessary. It’s not rocket science. (Okay, I’ve been designing websites since 1993, so maybe I think it’s easier than most…)
- We have in-house people for our main sites.
- Some of the work for our practices is farmed out, though we will be cutting that out eventually. It’s not cost effective, nor is the quality particularly great.
We have a professional on our team who builds custom websites, or can offer standard website builds using a standard theme (on WordPress). If a customer decides to work with her, she will support the website at an hourly rate after it’s launched. Otherwise, we recommend an “out of the box” website company as the standard option for clients, because they offer a more affordable/faster way of getting started. If customers go with custom development, it’s 3,000 and roughly 2-3 weeks of development time. If they go with a standard template build-out, it’s $1,500.
For entrepreneurs who are looking to maintain their websites, I’d recommend that either 1) they use a platform they can manage themselves or that auto-updates (like Squarespace), or 2) they work with an industry-specific platform that updates itself, where they can just tweak as they go. If those options won’t work, then managing your own and hiring a consultant for parts you can’t fix or don’t understand, would be ideal. Of course, if you have a large budget, then you can pay someone to handle it for you entirely from beginning to end.
We had a client who came to us with an incredibly slow website. We knew that it’s bad design and slow loading was going to hurt his conversion, SEO, etc, so we recommended him to our in-house designer. She was able to set him up with a faster, more beautiful, trust-building website than he had before, and will serve him for years to come. My advice would be, stay as lean as you can, but make sure your website is effective mobile-responsive fast loading, and builds-trust (looks professional). This can be done with anything from a WordPress site, to Squarespace, to a completely custom option.
Justin Farrell, COWTS
It takes time and money (depending on the build) to maintain a website. We primarily focus on wordpress and custom websites. Pro’s there’s a lot of work out there. Con’s perceptions of what it takes to manage/update a website are misleading in the sense that it takes far too much time to figure out how a tool works (aka template, if there is one) and its limitations.
Entrepreneurs looking best ways to maintain a site – find someone who can help you out that knows the ins/outs of web development. Don’t get too crazy with all of the additions, add-ons, etc. Keep it simple stupid. Get an SSL cert, it’s kind of important.
For the last 10 years, I’ve had a maintenance situation that is about 50/50 where I do some of the software updates, content updates, etc. But when I run into design changes or software or hosting issues then I hire someone to help.
With that in mind, my wife is a designer and helps with the design updates. Sometimes I have to bring in a developer for some help with coding and hosting.
For both, the price would usually be ~$90/hr. Each year, it’s probably ~5 hours of service and support outside of any major design updates.
Entrepreneurs can definitely benefit from regular website maintenance. I think it’s overlooked. A lot of small businesses think about websites as being one-time things that are launched and then re-launched in a few years.
A much, much better approach is to set a reminder every 6 months to review the entire website. Design, content, software, etc. Just the content often needs tweaking as the business process changes and matures. It’s also better to make small, incremental design updates vs. doing one big change every few years.
And the software can quickly become out of date. It’s worth paying a designer or developer to update your software twice a year. If all goes well you pay ~$50. If something goes wrong they can usually have it fixed within an hour or two.
Balazs Hajde, Content Manager at Authority Hacker
As an online marketing company, our entire presence is on the internet, mainly on our website. Maintaining the stability and integrity of our website has always been something that could make or break our business.
We actually tried all three ways of site maintenance: on our own, outsourcing it to a service, and hiring someone like a specialist.
Doing things on our own took up way to much time away from running the business, and outsourcing didn’t really work out with the way we are running the site. So far the best option for us has been the in-house specialist route.
While I can’t tell exact prices, we are working with the specialist on an hourly rate with somewhat predetermined hourly estimates.
In any outsourcing case, the considerations are always money and response times vs your own time and energy.
With the specialist, we get the best of both worlds: he’s more involved with our internal systems so he can work much more efficiently than an outside service. Meanwhile, we still get the benefit of not having to do these tasks ourselves.
I think the best idea is to put aside time and money to test all three solutions. If you are a very small business and you have a tech-savvy team member, you can probably solve most of your issues on your own after some research.
If you start growing and having a more complex site, you can hire a specialist if you need someone always on deck, or service if you’re okay with a generally slower turnaround.
I maintain my website myself, I go in about twice a month (sometimes more) to do all the updates. I let my hosting company handle all the updates regarding the server (I pay about $10 USD / month for the server) so I don’t have to worry about that. I like doing my own maintenance so I know when things are updated and what new things there are. The major con is that it requires my own time and if I get busy and forget then the website isn’t running the latest updates.
I would recommendation entrepreneurs hire a remote team to do all the updates for them, the remote team will know when is the right time to update and if any updates should wait due to bugs (or other things).
Carol Donohue, Data Scientist
I follow 1 variant – to maintain websites by yourself. My website is in wordpress and it is very easy to use. It really does not take much time at all and I find it enjoyable. I also have a public Tableau page to show my work and that is self-maintaining as it is the platform itself that displays my data visualizations.
The pro is that I can get changes implemented quickly and I save money; I really don’t see a con to it!
I would recommend for entrepreneurs with some technical skills to do it themselves and for other entrepreneurs to either hire a freelancer or go to a local college and perhaps you can get a student and help them get some experience.
We let our SEO company handle maintenance to our website because many updates to websites usually concern SEO, or detailed things such as scripts, or meta tags, etc.
No one in my staff has knowledge about how to do any of that, let along how to maintain a website on WordPress.
So we get our SEO company to do weekly updates on our site.
We pay our SEO company $500 a month, so I negotiated with them to do website maintenance for us because we are paying them monthly anyways.
If one is a first-time entrepreneur, and one is on a budget and not limited to time, it makes sense to go on youtube and to read up on google about website maintenance and its great to add that to the skillset. However, for a growing company that is scaling, time is of the essence, so it makes sense to outsource this type of work.
Scott Reyns, a voice actor based in San Francisco
I do my own web development and maintenance. It doesn’t take me a ton of time or money. My previous life was in marketing, mainly digital work, which I got into first doing web development and design. So I’m pretty much able to cover all I need for my web and other infrastructure (email, CMS, analytics, data connectors, integrations, and, etc.).
For me, pros are I have control and can be pretty exacting about how I set things up. Cons are I come from enterprise level work so I’m sometimes wanting to get a level of functional capabilities in different parts of my stack that just aren’t offered at SMB price-points. I’d say that’s truer of things that aren’t my website, though.
It’s never been easier for folks to learn how to set up and manage their own sites, but on whole, I’d recommend entrepreneurs really do different things relative to how critical their website is to their business. Whatever the growth strategy and revenue model are, that matters a ton. There are pretty much just (4) ways to make money online: e-commerce, lead gen, advertising, subscription services.
In my field for example, normally peoples’ sites are for lead gen, still, it varies. Some actors who do or pursue jobs that are all non-union and err to doing direct sales, for them, their website, social media activity, and other online marketing are way more important. Eyeballs and traffic are everything for them so they have to really always be working on their blogging and other content marketing. For others though who comparatively pursue always union or otherwise opportunities generally larger on average, their model is channel sales: Having a good online presence is still critical but not necessarily as important, because their target buyers don’t look to places like Google or Instagram to find talent. They look to casting directors who look to agents. So in that situation, it’s more important to be staying on email than anything else. Some of the most successful people in my field, they’re on social media but meanwhile don’t have a website at all.
I maintain our website for our orthodontic practice. I started with Squarespace and recently moved our website to WordPress. Squarespace is pretty easy to use and fairly easy to learn, even without any knowledge of coding html. It’s a drag and drop builder that most people can use to get a professional looking website for a low monthly fee. It does have some limitations if you want to add more advanced functionality to our website, which is what eventually made us migrate our website to wordpress. WordPress is a little harder to set up but gives a lot more options and might be worth the investment and learning curve if you’re serious about improving your website.
I do an overall update to our website every year or so and do other smaller updates as required. All in all, it does not take a lot of time once you get used to it.
I recommend entrepreneurs that are starting out and have limited budgets but the time available to take the time and learn to set up their own websites. I also recommend it for people who like technology and enjoy learning new things.
I started Sound Emblem to provide high-quality brand sounds that creators of podcasts, videos, and ads can use in their audio or video content. Before offering this library of sounds, I wrote and recorded custom jingles and short brand sound for businesses all over the country.
When starting Sound Emblem, I chose to use and customize Shopify for my site instead of building my own. I use the $29/month basic plan along with a $16/month SoundCloud plan for audio hosting. While Shopify is primarily meant for handling physical goods, I customized it to auto-deliver digital download of audio files as well as changed the Theme code to embed an audio player into the product views. The benefit of this approach is that I can have a high-quality site that accepts multiple payment providers while allowing me to make on-the-fly adjustments on my own. This was especially important to me so I could quickly do any A/B testing in the early stages of launching the site. The downside is that it takes a lot of time and knowledge to customize it that much.
What would I recommend to the entrepreneurs who are looking
for the best ways of the website maintenance? It depends on the situation. If you’re bootstrapping it, would rather spend time than money, and have some website background – find a system you can manage on your own. If you have funding and need to move quickly – then I would hire a consultant to do this for you since they will have much more expertise and can get things done quickly and correctly.
I just recently went through this same thought process when setting up my site. I already had a background in HTML and CSS, so I was able to customize my Shopify site to match the experience I wanted to provide without hiring an external consultant.
Before Sound Emblem, I worked in B2B SaaS and managed implementation projects for customers. An often-overlooked consideration for small businesses when using an external consultant is the potential recurring service cost outside of the software itself. Sometimes businesses will provide very specific/custom requirements to a consultant and hope to have a one-and-done implementation. However, if you ask for something so custom that you need to continue hiring them for any future maintenance, you may be better off spending more on a more powerful or more customizable Content Management System.
Rithvik Musuku, President/CEO of Advancing Science Worldwide
We maintain our website completely in house and do not have a dedicated person for the job.
We currently use WordPress to build and maintain our website. The maintenance required is extremely low. We login frequently to update our site with weekly life hacks and somewhat less frequently to update our News page with our most recent program activities. Whenever we do this, we also install any pending plugin updates. If there are any high severity updates required, our Wordfence Security plugin will send us an email alert so we can update immediately.
We currently use a LAMP stack on Microsoft Azure to host our website. The cost for the server is about $7-8 per month. Although it may be pricey, we do not have to compete with other websites for bandwidth as the server is a dedicated server that only hosts our website. The page load time is also much lower than the shared servers we have used in the past. As we are a nonprofit organization, we receive Azure credits from Microsoft which reduce the cost of this server to almost $0. However, even if we require a more powerful server in the future, we will likely stick with Azure even though it may cost us more out-of-pocket, as it easy to scale up and down.
Because of the Azure credits, our only major expense for our website is our domain registration. Because we update our website at least every week, there is not much additional maintenance time required as we can apply updates whenever we update the site content. Thus, the additional time and money we require for website maintenance are extremely low.
Oftentimes, people tell entrepreneurs that WordPress requires a lot of maintenance when compared to other site builders like Wix or Weebly. However, I would tell new entrepreneurs that the maintenance is very little and if they are updating their site content frequently (which they probably should be doing), all it takes is a couple of extra clicks to apply updates and do other technical maintenance tasks.
Personally, I’ve chosen to manage my sites on my own. I run two websites and have a third that is in the works. I’m fairly tech savvy and have been able to maintain the majority of the issues that have come up so far. I regularly update plugins, themes, etc. and deal with minor things like plugin conflicts.
However, I do have contacts that professionally manage WordPress sites, so if something goes above my level of skill I can reach out and have them help.
For example, when I was migrating one of my sites from Squarespace to WordPress I was having issues with redirects and needed to use Regex, which at the time was above my understanding. I reached out to one WordPress developer and he was able to help me after a few minutes of digging.
For small to mediums sized websites, I think it is very possible to self manage them. However, there are many WordPress developers that have very affordable monthly management packages and having that help “in your pocket” when you need it can save you thousands.
From the very initial days of the successful establishment of the primary business infrastructure, we were sure that we wanted to have own website and an in-house team to take care of every website problem- big and small.
The professional website maintenance and support are managed by the tech team which consists of 4 people of a developer, website designer, deployment expert, and a QA professional. When you have an internal team onboard, there are no hassles and complexities involved in approaching an external agency or remote professional every time who might be working in a different shift. The urgency of business sense can be lost in translation owing to distance and communication inefficiency to the remote professional.
Not to mention, an internal team comes at a cost of salary compensation, compensation, and other benefits to a whole team. With remote workers, a lot of investments are saved like life and health insurance, appraisals, and other costs.
The website outage and downtime can lead to loss of dollars of business when crucial clients or customers or new leads are trying to access important information. In such a scenario, they might turn to a competitor. A lot of business dealings depend on circumstances and being available at the right time at the right place to the right people and even a minor glitch for a fraction of a second can lead to disgruntled customers and lost business.
Will Ellis, Privacy Australia
It should come as no surprise based on my website to hear that I don’t trust my web development to anyone else. It opens up a handful of security risks that I don’t like to take a chance on.
I have a highly technical background so transitioning to maintaining a website via WordPress wasn’t too difficult. Weekly maintenance only tallies to a few hours a week when no new pages are being built. If a new page is built, it will be closer to a full day of work.
The upside is that I can completely control the security of my website, the downside is I could save a whole lot of time by outsourcing maintenance.
Zaheer Dodhia, CEO and Founder of LogoDesign.net
I have an in-house system admin and web maintenance team who takes care of all of my websites.
The best thing about having your own team is that they are able to resolve issues on the go; experiment with new updates or technologies; and if I launch a new website, they’re there to keep an eye on the errors. The downside is that having a team means high overhead costs but since it spreads across projects it works out in the long run for me.
For startups and entrepreneurs who are looking for a way to get online, don’t be daunted by this practice. If you’re starting out small then outsourcing or hiring a reliable agency will get the work done just fine. What you need to understand is that maintenance requirements such as content update, SEO, design tweak, landing pages, and plugin updates, etc. can be done once a month or in two months. The rest like hosting, database maintenance, software updates, Google console errors, etc. are the crunch which might require you to outsource as and when needed.
My advice: save on the regulars, splurge on the core technicians without whom your website won’t work.
Here’s how we maintain our website at CrazyCall:
1. We do have an in-house specialist. In the past, we did rely on remote specialists who took care of our website, but it didn’t work out. Mainly because freelancers and remote teams often take several tasks at once and thus they can’t answer your queries right away which is sometimes required.
2. When it comes to pros, certainly there’s a better contact when you have an employee in-house. You can browse ideas, resolve issues, and check different things right here, right now. It is also much more cost-effective, as when you have a person in-house it’s easier to communicate and focus on what’s important at the moment.
It’s best to have an expert who can take care of your website, especially when you rely on organic traffic and simply can’t afford your website to go down on an accident.
Currently, we have an “in-house specialist” who does our website development maintenance (i.e., any updates to the website that don’t involve hosting or content). We host our websites with Rackspace on a managed account (they provide support if something goes wrong). The cost is resource-based, ours currently averages about $1,200/month.
My recommendation to entrepreneurs – You don’t need to pay a lot of money, especially for hosting, if you’re just getting started. When I started as a cash-strapped, cup-of-noodles entrepreneur, I did it all myself. It’s not too difficult to grab books, read internet how-to’s, or watch videos and teach yourself the basics of running and maintaining a website.
The WordPress platform, and services like Template Monster that provide ready-made templates, make this even easier than it used to be. I’m a fan of reducing debt as much as possible and investing in the business as it grows. So as your business and website traffic grows, you may want to look into outsourcing the website development to someone so that you can focus on growing the business.
There’s plenty of freelancers out there that are willing to maintain websites for a few hours a week, or whatever your part-time needs are. Make sure you find someone that
- meets your budgetary needs
- has a solid reputation backing up their advertised skillset
- their advertised skill set matches your web development needs
- they abide by coding standards and documentation so that any work they’ve done can be shared with another developer down the road if necessary and
- they are a good communicator. I can’t stress enough the importance of communication and how much money, time, and aggravation that will save you.
Schedule an in-person interview or Google hangout to meet them and see if there’s rapport. If you find someone you like, the longer they stay onboard and grow with your business, the more experienced and efficient they will get and the more $ you’ll save. Having to re-hire freelancers regularly is a cost, training, and resource constraint. We met our developer on upwork.com, and they work almost full-time for us now.
Our relationship and communication have grown and evolved, as they’ve become intimately familiar with our business. This means they’ve gotten more efficient at their job, we as a company have gotten more productive, and everyone has reaped the benefits.
I manage and update my website myself.
I wanted to learn the skills needed to maintain it myself. Maintaining the website doesn’t take long. I have alerts go out if the website is having issues. I log in several times a week to update plugins and themes and to check for errors. It takes me 1-2 hours per week to maintain the website and there has been no cost so far.
I have a contractor who specializes in web design in case of emergency, but I have needed his help yet. This option is a great choice for entrepreneurs who enjoy writing code, learning new skills, and are tech-savvy. It took quite a bit of learning and research, but now it saves me money to have that skillset and control.
For those who don’t want to learn to code or learn the complexities of maintaining a website, I recommend they find someone who knows what they are doing and help them set things up properly.
Weston Jolly, Life Coach, Business Consultant
As a business owner, I have found that you simply cannot grow with the “I can do everything myself” mindset. While I’m somewhat tech-savvy and capable of basic site maintenance, is that really where my expertise lies in growing my business? And more importantly, am I an expert in that field? When the answer is “no” to both of those questions I know its time to hire.
For my website, I have been working with a remote service for several years now, WebCare. I find hiring remote to be the most cost-effective approach and best return on my dollar. Communication is excellent and they turn around my requests often on the same day. But the real kicker is that they send me strategies on what to improve on my site. After implementing some of the strategies I now get a steady stream of leads off my website. I pay around $250 a month for the service, and it’s well worth it.
For other entrepreneurs who are looking to maximize the benefits of their website, I would absolutely recommend using a professional team over “doing it yourself” or using your friend who’s “good with websites”. Professional experts are going to know how to position you in ways you simply don’t have the time to learn. If you can, get a recommendation from a colleague for good service, or if you don’t have one please enjoy my recommendation above.
Currently, we have an in-house specialist who supports our website (e.g. publishes posts, adds visual content, fixes different issues, etc). But we used to have 2 remote specialists before. The best thing about having a remote team is that this allows you to save money (typically, you will pay 20% less than the pay rate of an in-house employee). On the other hand, when your team is working remotely, it may be quite a challenge to get them to make quick changes and fixes to the website. This was a major drawback that made us think of hiring someone to work in-house.
Overall, it comes down to the specifics of your business. If you need someone to make quick fixes to the website, and if you don’t mind that this may cost you up to 40% more (including a higher salary, a working place at the office, taxes, daily coffee, etc.), then hiring an in-house specialist is an option to go. In case you are on a budget and urgency is not your priority, a remote team is a reasonable solution.
Jessica spends 12 hours a day on the internet managing security for web assets and loves her macha tea