If you are a marketing firm, a digital agency, an SEO expert, or a content creator, then it inevitably you have had a customer ask you to build them a website. If you are like most small business owners in the above categories, then you likely have dabbled in WordPress, potentially even building your own website. But should you branch out to build a site for a customer and white label WordPress development? This blog will walk you through the process of white-labeling websites for your customers.
The concept of contract WordPress development is simple – you will be acting as the primary stakeholder in interacting with the customer but will work directly with a contractor who will perform the actual development work involved. For the purpose of this blog we will use the term “white label WordPress development” synonymously with “contract WordPress development,” “outsourced WordPress Development,” and “reselling WordPress Development,” even though each of these terms have nuanced definitions.
Step 1: Ask yourself: “Should I White Label WordPress Development?”
Before anything else you must stop and ask yourself, “Is it good for my business to contract out or white label WordPress Development?” This is a deeper question that only you can answer for your company. Expanding your offerings from a single service or a small set of services (such as SEO, paid search, or content writing) to offering website development is a big step. However, it can be very profitable and help you grow your business faster by adding another offering rather than only increasing the number of new customers purchasing your current offering(s).
If you decide you want to offer Website development to your customers, then we highly recommend that you pick your first customer wisely. Pick someone who is good to work with and whose business and needs you understand. It works best to choose to work with an existing customer on your first time around.
Step 2: Divide the Website into 3 Parts
You will want to plan for and also separate billing of a new website into 3 different parts:
- Design – This is what the site will look like. It includes the layout of the site such as how the top and bottom navigation will appear. It also includes whether you have a slider with multiple pictures or a video on the home page. It additionally should take into account site colors (buttons, background colors, logos, etc.) font formatting (which font, color of font, size of fonts for different headers), button styles, forms, mobile responsiveness, etc. The site design should first and foremost be driven by planning and understanding the audience who will be visiting the site and what you want to communicate or sell to this audience. You should take into account user experience in every aspect of site design.
- Content Creation – Someone needs to write each paragraph on the entire website. Additionally, it takes time and a discerning eye to find stock photos for the website. We suggest budgetting 20 minutes per photo on the webiste
- Website Development – After coming up with a design, writing content, and finding images for the site, then comes the part of putting it all up onto the site and making sure it looks good.
As previously mentioned, you should break down your proposal to your customer into these three areas so that they can understand what it entails to build a website. There are ways that you can ‘shortcut’ aspects of these three areas, but you want to represent all three to your customer so that they are clearly understanding that if they shortcut one of these areas to save money, then they are not able to be as picky or demanding in that area.
Ways you can shortcut the above 3 parts to a website include:
- Design – Use a Premium WordPress Theme – Choose to use a premium WordPress theme with a pre-built design that your customer likes. This can save thousands of dollars on design and will still look great. Premium themes are built by professional designers and are made to look good. You can assuage a customer’s concern about originality by explaining that there are thousands of premium themes and no one will be able to tell if theirs is built on a premium theme.
- Content Creation – Write Their Own – For many customers, it will seem expensive to pay someone else to write their content for them. Well, no one knows your customer’s business better your customer. Either your customer or one of their employees may be able to craft decent messaging for the website.
- Development – Teach the Customer WordPress – Sometimes the customer can be taught how to use WordPress and after the initial development, they can create portions of the site themselves. This is especially true for the blog and other sections that are self contained.
Depending on the complexity of the site and the customer’s budget, you may need to hire separate designer, content creator and developer contractors to produce the website.
Step 3: Decide on a CMS. If WordPress, decide on a Premium or Custom Theme
You will need to decide what CMS you want to use for your website. A CMS is a Web Content Management System, and it simply is the framework or architecture on which you will build the site (see Wikipedia). For simple sites of 3 pages or less and budgets of $1,000 or less, you will want to use a website builder such as SquareSpace or Wix. For anything larger than this, you will want to use WordPress because it has greater flexibility and can grow with the customer over time, which is a better long-term investment.
Within WordPress you will need to decide on whether to use a premium theme (such as Avada, Salient, or Enfold, which you would purchase on ThemeForest) or build a custom theme. Custom themes require full mockups and designs to be built, usually in PhotoShop, so it is only used on customers with larger budgets.
Step 4: Choose Quality Developers
There are a lot of options for developers. In fact, in this day and age of UpWork (previously ODesk & eLance) it is easy to assume that you can just go hire the cheapest outsourced $10 p/hr developer for a project and make lots of money. However, finding a great developer, not just any developer, is the biggest factor in making a website your customer will be happy with. Remember the old adages of “You get what you pay for,” and “If a deal is too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Require that your potential developers interact with you on phone calls and via email before the project starts. If they are hard to communicate with when they are actively trying to win your business, then they will be even harder after you make your first down payment. Ask for reference sites and question them to understand what aspects of the site they actually built. You may even want to speak to the actual site owners to gather a reference and make sure that they are being honest.
It is easiest to work with companies and developers based in the US, who speak native English and are in a similar time zone. We have seen that companies who have the most success start with US-based firms on their first projects.
Step 5: Figure Out Margins
You are building a website to make money, not as a charity, so you need to make sure you have high enough margins. We recommend that you charge your customer double the cost of your contractor(s) . If you have tighter margins than this, you are putting yourself at risk of spending a lot of time to earn no money (or in worst-case scenario to lose money if one of your contractors doesn’t work out).
To make sure that your margins work, get accurate quotes from your developers, designers and content creators. Also, don’t be scared to walk away from a deal if margins are too tight. Normally, there are ways you can cut out bells and whistles on a customer proposal. But if a customer demands a Ferrari and has the budget for a commuter car, then you will be in trouble.
Step 6: Set Clear Expectations with All Parties
You should clearly write out what will be delivered and get buy-off from your contractors and from your customer before you begin the project. Sometimes agency owners feel lazy and don’t want to write it all out but instead just explain it orally. This will not work for web development. Everything must be written to clearly outline every aspect of the site including:
- Who will do site design (or what premium theme template will be used)
- Who will create written content
- Who will provide images for the site
- Number of website pages
- Duration of website development
- Cost for the site
- Custom development required (if any)
- Payment terms
- Where the site will be hosted
Step 7: Follow up Frequently
Follow up frequently with your contractors to make sure they are on track. Request early access to the website, don’t just take their word for it. Follow up frequently with your customer to let them know how progression is on development.
Step 8: Repeat
Once you have done this successfully for one site, it’s time to repeat white label WordPress development for others. Try to create a repeatable process by building out processes and documentation on your first project that you can reuse for others. Find development partners with rich, real-word experience who can help you through the entire process as you grow to deliver larger and larger website projects.