Running a website isn’t easy, even less so when you’re at the head of your own freelance design business. Along with your creative work, you’re expected to juggle your own site as well as your clients’ needs.
Whether you’re alone or have a team behind you, it can get overwhelming. Constant technical disruptions, falling visitor traffic, or malware you’re not equipped to deal with may leave you feeling hopeless and frustrated.
But there are other places to turn; if you’re struggling to stay on top of all these issues, making use of a specialized support team is a great way to get back on your feet – so you can forget these issues and get back to designing!
1. Web Hosting Support
A web designer is nothing without websites, and all websites need hosting. Should technical issues arise, the first to consult is often the hosting provider. It’s usually free, and a majority offer 24/7 support.
Remember, picking a solid host should be top priority. One that has helpful support, free backups, basic security and SEO features, and WordPress optimization are things you should keep an eye out for. No need to shell out hundreds for unnecessary features. At most, you’ll only have to boost it with security software or extra SEO optimization.
In short: Look for a web host that offers most or all of what you need. Support that’s willing to work with you is a must-have, and any addons that eliminate the need for third-party backups or security suites are great too.
We typically recommend managed WordPress hosting, as in most cases you get what you pay for. Our top pick is WP Engine (which is what powers WPExplorer), which offers great live chat and ticketed support. Depending on the plan you choose, they also offer phone support for Growth and Scale level plans. Other great options include Kinsta and Flywheel (though you can check our best WordPress hosting list if you want to see more).
Keep an eye out for a company with a friendly team that offers email and phone support. Check online reviews for good companies that prioritize customer service and you won’t go wrong.
2. Theme & Plugin Support
If you use themes or plugins made by third party developers, you may run into issues or conflicts at some point. Cut off images, disappearing blog posts, and so on. You can take this up with the developer, and often they’re happy to take a look and offer suggestions. Most premium theme or plugin sites contain a forum or at least comments where you can post about your problem. Just remember to be honest when requesting help. If you’ve made any changes or customizations on your own, make sure the developer is aware so they can better help you.
If the issue runs deeper than they can assist with, or you simply want a dedicated team, a typical WordPress support service will work fine. Just make sure they offer theme and plugin support. Two companies that do are WPFixIt, a quick-fix service with a one-time fee, and WPMaintainer, with its pricier but very professional design team.
3. WordPress Updates & Tech Support
If you use WordPress, you probably know by now that it isn’t always easy to manage. Every day, a plugin needs to be updated, the site needs to be tweaked, and every now and then something explodes. This applies both to your own websites and those of your clients. You’re a designer! You should be working on building a new website or theme, not dealing with minor technical issues.
Luckily, there’s an abundance of WordPress maintenance services that make these manual tasks less aggravating and let you get back to the fun stuff. Examples include Maintainn, WP Curve, WP Butler and more (just click the link to see more). Pick one that provides the services you need, first and foremost, while staying within a reasonable budget. How much is your time worth to you?
As an extra note: while it may not be able to automate your plugin updates for you, your hosting company might be able to help still. Look for a host that supports WordPress and offers assistance with any issues you may run into using it. Not all hosts provide WP support, so see if it’s familiar with the platform before turning to them for assistance.
General Tech Support
Before deciding on an IT consultant, search for reviews off-site and see what the users have to say. It could mean the difference between choosing a company that isn’t worth much, even an outright scam, or a quality investment.
4. Site Security & Backups
When you put your website out there, you’re opening yourself up for potential attack. Innocent websites can be turned into vectors for distributing malware, or ransomware could take hold of crucial files and demand payment. Though rare, these situations are a sobering reminder of the importance of online security.
Luckily, security features tend to come bundled with other IT services. However, if you’ve taken a safety-first mindset, or have decided to skip the general tech support, a tool that puts your site on lockdown might be what you need.
For security, we highly recommend Sucuri – a support suite that’s exceptionally affordable for all it offers. You can also purchase a firewall that comes with DDoS protection. Though there are plenty of plugins and way to improve your WordPress security, a professional service such as Sucuri is the ultimate defense (for you and your clients).
Just like with the IT companies, check reviews before you invest in a security or backup service.
Keeping your website backed up, though often overlooked, is one of the most important things every website owner should do. You won’t know how much you missed those pictures or blog posts or database files until they’re gone – wiped out by a virus or a natural disaster or some other calamity. We highly recommend learning how to backup WordPress on your own, whether it’s manual or with a service such as VaultPress.
Most tech service suites come with backups, so it may not be necessary to spend extra on this. Hosts, security services, tech support packages – more than likely, one of them has this crucial feature thrown in. If you get unlucky, seek out a service like WP Site Care. Daily backups, multiple affordable plans, generous amounts of space… It’s everything you should be looking for.
5. SEO Support
It takes a lot of work to improve your WordPress SEO; it’s best to do it when you’re starting from scratch, rather than in the middle. However, the services SEO optimization can provide are invaluable for increasing site visitors.
While searching for an SEO specialist, it’s important to keep an eye out for deceptive practices that could damage your search rankings or get you removed from engines entirely. This guide by Google outlines just a few shady practices you may encounter.
But don’t let this deter you. Just be sure to always do your research on a company beforehand. We wish we could recommend a specific company for this, but to be honest it depends on your business and location. If you’re a pizzeria, you’re better off with local SEO specialists – probably folks with an office in your city. They should know the area, and help you target keywords like “best pizza Toronto” or “downtown Toronto pizza” if that’s where you’re located. Online businesses (like WPExplorer) can likely do just fine with a remote company, but preferably one that specializes in their industry. For WPExplorer, we’d look for someone who understands the WordPress niche. You get the idea.
No More Disasters
Whether a well-established business or single person taking the first dive into freelancing, it’s important either way to have a support network to catch you when there’s a crisis.
Ensuring that your web host of choice is helpful and dedicated to its customers can do wonders. But if you find yourself in need of a little extra support, there are plenty of companies out there more than willing to take the workload off. As mentioned before, check reviews (or even reach out to the company directly) to be sure the one you choose is right for you.