Finding Harmony with WordPress Maintenance — Part 1

Nobody likes maintenance. I certainly don’t enjoy it. But it has to be done, or sometime, somewhere, you’ll be left in the lurch.

I’ve learned that lesson with WordPress the hard way, and more than once. My own site was brought down 2 1/2 years ago by malware — the dreaded Red screen of death. Soon after, I found 2 authors’ web sites and a legal client’s site infected.

Danger Malware Ahead

You DO NOT want to see this on your site

Without recent backups (GAH!), and a very limited understanding of malware, it cost me countless hours of troubleshooting, researching, and rebuilding.

The author clients got reinfected repeatedly in 2011. They were hosted with various low-cost (aka CHEAP) hosting companies (WhichIWillNotName But YouAllKnowWhoIMean), and their tech support was less than helpful.

But somehow, the lesson didn’t fully sink in, and I continued to be lax with maintenance, hosting, and security in general.

At the time, I did not have ongoing support agreements with past clients. And being busy busy busy with new projects, and not particularly interested in boring maintenance work, I did nothing to reach out to my past clients about increasing security and reducing risk on their sites.

I was a workaholic (still am, actually), but I've never actually had my laptop on the toilet.

I was a workaholic (still am, actually), but I’ve never actually had my laptop on the toilet.

Fast forward to late-2012. Freelance business was good, great even — more than I could handle on my own. I had a team of contractors working on a client projects, but still found myself working all hours, being responsible for project management, design, some dev, and servicing the growing list of past clients who were in need of occasional support.

As many entrepreneurs do, I found myself getting only 3-4 hours of sleep at night. You’ve all heard this story, or been there yourselves, right?

To hire someone full time, I needed a reliable income stream to offset the widely variable revenue of a client services business.

It was a happy coincidence that brought this need into light alongside the ever-increasing need that my clients had for ongoing support, updates, and maintenance. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Scottsdale Web Designer and Developer meetup group for allowing me to monopolize more than one session with my challenges and helping me see how my clients’ needs were perfectly coinciding with my own.

Soon I began approaching past clients with a new offering: a WordPress support and maintenance plan. For 12 months now, they’ve been taking me up on the offer, and all indications point to this model continuing to grow.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 to see how this new venture continues to unfold. And please comment to share your malware and maintenance horror stories!