SMA Frequently Asked Questions
Is Site Maintenance optional? Can't I just do it myself?
Yes. Site Maintenance is completely optional. If you choose the DIY (do it yourself) route, be sure to understand the scope of the work on these CMS sites first.
If you are not sure what a CMS site is: This is your WordPress, Joomla or Drupal open source software (or other proprietary software) installed on a MySQL database on your host server and is what is called your “Content Management System” (or CMS) site.
WordPress DIY: “For WordPress, the estimates are that it takes at least 100 hours to learn the basics of what is necessary to manage a WordPress site well. The key phrase is managing a site well. Even if you become familiar with WordPress, this isn’t a guarantee you will do a good job or know what to do if disaster strikes…. There are a variety of free and paid resources out there, but the lessons beyond the basics are more likely to come at a cost.
It’s important to consider the value of your time before choosing between DIY or hiring a developer. You’re likely to spend 5-10 hours a month just doing things like performing updates, backups, deleting spam, checking for bad links, etc. This doesn’t even include things like adding new plugins, changing themes, etc. If you do choose the DIY route, the WordPress Codex has a nice calendar to organize your site maintenance, here.“
What's the worst that can happen if I don't maintain my CMS web site?
Your site will be a target of hacking and you will lose the site and access to it. Your site’s OS/Theme/Plugins (when not kept updated/in harmony) can also create major issues to the function of your site. Your site will begin tanking in the ranking category. Google doesn’t like sites that just sit there without updates or with broken links.
What is the "SMA" and what does it do for me?
SMA is the abbreviation for a “Site Maintenance Agreement” and it is an annual commitment.
Site maintenance is critical to properly care for your web site (and your investment in that web site). It is also critical to the site’s security and overall health/function. While some Clients have staff or departments to take care of these areas, others do not have the skill set or time to learn how. In those cases, an SMA is peace of mind and an easy way to protect their web site investment.
What an SMA does for each web site Client:
- Updating OS (WordPress, for example, had 27 new versions released in 2017)
- Updating plugins when there are new versions available – to keep up with the new releases of WordPress for example.
- Updating the actual site themes. Developers also change/update their code to keep up with the new OS and plugins. Updating themes can be tricky and is not intuitive.
- Resolving conflicts between the OS software, themes and plugins when they arise. This is almost inevitable with every CMS web site installation at some point.
- Backing up the MySQL database.
- Managing broken links (internally and externally) or other errors that can negatively impact your site’s ranking.
- Many SMA contracts allow for time for SEO (search engine optimization) and/or SMI (social media integration).
- Some Clients include extra time in their SMA for content creation, including video content.
If a Client does not have an IT department or those on the payroll who can take care of these things, then an SMA is a great fit and gives the Client peace of mind that if they do run into a question or need some additional help, someone is an email away.
Can I pay for my SMA on a monthly basis?
I do not offer any web site/technical support services on an hourly basis or, therefore, on a monthly basis. The SMA is an annual contract and payment is due at the time of the site’s original launch. In this way, the site is cared for the moment it comes into the world. It can be very time consuming to try and “fix” a site that has not been cared for well and that is the purpose of investing in support, like the SMA, so that the site stays healthy from conception.
Why don't you offer support on an hourly basis?
Honestly, too much can go off the rails in between the time a site is launched or cared for properly, to the time a Client might need help fixing something. Troubleshooting these kinds of issues is just not what I enjoy spending my time on.
This is the main reason why I try to convey to Clients (those who do not have the appropriate resources/staff) to always consider contracting for site support. It can cost far more to fix a single issue than to just maintain these sites properly. There are resources and those offering to help on an hourly basis. Unfortunately, like anything else in life, it may come down to getting what you pay for. Make sure to check references and reviews.
How much is the SMA?
The Client decides how many hours they will need for services each month – and this is the rate their SMA is based on. For example, if a Client is interested only in the basic SMA, and plans to create and post all their own content, then the base rate of $150-$250/month would apply. This rate covers 3-5 hours per month depending on each site’s scope/needs. If the client wants additional help with SEO services, content creation or online marketing strategies then the base rate would move up from there.
* I also offer most of my non-profit Clients a discounted rate for their Site Maintenance Agreements.