The Best Way to Handle Plugin and Theme Licenses for Client Websites

Read the full episode transcript below:

00:28 David Blackmon: Welcome to another episode of WP The Podcast, i’m David Blackmon.

00:35 Tim Strifler: And i’m Tim Strifler

00:38 David Blackmon: Today in episode 759 we’re going to talk about the best way to handle plug-in and theme licenses for clients websites. Now obviously, it’s very different, it depends on the relationship with the client, it depends on whether or not you’re going to be managing that client site, you may make some decisions differently going forward. It may be a one-off you may build the site for the client and never have contact with them again, and there are some things that you’re going to want to do and stuff and i could dive off into you know, i’ll take the first one, and let’s just what if we roll back and forth with each other Tim on this.

01:21 Tim Strifler: Yeah, let’s do it.

01:21 David Blackmon: Because there are some things that, you know um and i’m curious to see now Tim and i didn’t talk about this episode beforehand, so i’m curious to see his best practices and our best practices and stuff. I feel pretty confident they’re going to line up pretty similar and stuff, and i think what i will do is i will take um if the client’s going to be a client of yours going forward and then there’s the other one that if it’s a one-off which one do you want Tim? I’ll give you the right to choose and then i’ll take the other one.

01:55 Tim Strifler: Yeah um i’ll do um, if it’s a one-off.. 

02:10 David Blackmon:  Uh damn, yeah i wanted that one too, but I’ m gonna let you have it. All right, so you’re in a web design business and you’ve got clients websites and you’re building them and you have a maintenance agreement with them or you’re going to be their official web developer. They’re the person that they’re going to call when anything goes wrong with their website beyond building the website. Well the wonderful thing about WordPress and the open source community and stuff is they’re aware of that. So um obviously software can get pricey, it can get expensive especially if you’re having to purchase that software every single time you build a new site. Now with saying that these are pass-through costs that you should be passing through to your client anyways and not expenses that you should be eating the benefit. Is man i don’t know i’m about to i’m about to throw some WordPress developers under the bus, i hope the clients aren’t listening to this podcast too much because we’re about to let some secrets out the bag over here, that clients could be like say what. So you know a lot of WordPress developers will have unlimited licenses it’s pretty common so you can go in and you can purchase a um a license for let’s just say. One of the most popular form plugins that Tim and i use is Gravity Forms and they give you a developer’s license and a limited license which allows you to use that software on any customer’s website. And you just simply install the software you put in your license key, and Gravity Forms knows he’s got a developer’s license, he’s got unlimited websites it’s the proper license key. Well if you’re building sites for clients and you’re going to be managing it that’s the way you want to do it. Why do you want to do it that way because it’s one low cost a year, but you can charge your customers you know for that software you know, whatever it is that you’re going to build into your maintenance program that can be a part of your fee structure. They don’t know that you get unlimited uses and develop developer editions for this software. And you may only be paying a hundred dollars a year to have it on a thousand websites, and i’m being fictitious it’s not only a hundred but trying to, i’m trying to just give you simple numbers and stuff. They don’t understand that and you’re charging them a hundred dollars a year for example. Well if you’re getting a hundred dollars a year from every customer for a software that’s only costing you a hundred a year you’re making a pretty good profit there. So um that’s one of the benefits and advantages of maintaining the sites. Now if it’s a one-off you may not want to do it this way you may not want your licenses tied to this customer forever, you may want to you know purchase their own license and stuff. We’re going to let Tim talk about that, but that’s one of the big advantages of kind of managing it, and personally it’s also one of the ways that you can keep customers in-house you know. If you’re managing their software needs and stuff um because this is technology and they may not be technologists, you know they’re probably not technologists. They want some professional handling that aspect for them and stuff . So Tim what how would i want to handle it if you know if it was a one-off?

05:48 Tim Strifler: Yeah the way I recommend. So first of all i agree with the way that David does. It if they’re on your maintenance plan you would, you uh basically you let the client use your licenses and everything and you pass that cost off to them. Uh that’s yeah definitely the best way to do it. Now if they are not on your maintenance plan, and they’re not paying you recurring either monthly or yearly or quarterly for you for you to maintain their website. And potentially host it for them too. Then i recommend to not let them use your license keys. And so what i typically do, because i don’t like having to you know beforehand go and tell them here’s what a plan I’m using, you need to go buy licenses and that’s just a huge whole headache. So what i do if i’m not managing it, i will build it with whatever tools i want to use and i will just not put the leave the license key on when i turn the website over to them and i make sure they know that ahead of time it’s in the contract and everything, um that they don’t get access to the ongoing software updates, for the software I used. If they’re not on my maintenance plan. And so um and i will i will be happy to send them a list and where they can get it put in my affiliate links and say “hey you’re going to want to purchase these tools that i use to create your website”. So that you can get software updates and make sure your website stays secure and blah blah blah.. And they’re going to know the risks of not having a maintenance plan. Beforehand i’m going to communicate that to them and say hey you really want a professional blah blah blah like you know and if they still uh there’s a term in the medical field called ama which is stands for Against Medical Advice. My wife’s a nurse practitioner and so it’s something that if a patient does something against medical advice you have to put that in your documentation for liability reasons like patient left ama, they left against medical advice, right? It’s like instead of against medical advice it’s like awa,  against or awda, against web designer advice. Right, like they are choosing to not have a professional maintain their website against my professional advice and so uh yeah making sure that they know that they need to go and purchase those software to keep them up to date and secure and everything like that. So yeah bottom line if they’re not on my my maintenance plan they don’t get the benefits of all the software uh being renewed automatically every year and getting access to that by just paying that maintenance fee so..

08:28 David Blackmon: Tim i think technically it is awa, if we go back to the og days of web, the web world it was webmaster. Webmaster advice, there you go love it which was one word against webmaster advice. Do people even still use the term webmaster anymore?

08:48 Tim Strifler: I mean, maybe i don’t think so i don’t think so..

08:51 David Blackmon:  It used to be a big thing you webmaster. Yeah you’re the goat you know, so yeah so those are some takeaways that uh you know the best way to handle whether or not you know you allow your clients to use these licenses for all of this software and stuff. And you know what truthfully it’s a good way to get clients on your maintenance program, if they’re not if they realize all of a sudden “oh my goodness i’ve gotta deal with software and update this every year and all the stuff”, they don’t know that it’s pretty easy. And it automatically does its own you just buy it one time and you know kind of takes care of itself but uh except for the updating of the software that needs to be done. It’s pretty straightforward and simple but non-technical people, again it could be a good closing tool. So yeah you may get them in your maintenance program anyways. So tomorrow we’re going to talk about how to set up google my business and let you know why it’s important. Till tomorrow we’ll see you then.

09:55 Tim Strifler: Take care, bye.

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