In this lesson, we’ll discuss On-Boarding Clients, which you’ll do as you take on new website projects.
Getting Started Guide
Admin On-Boarding Tasks
Welcome! I’m Leighton, your webmaster. In today’s lesson, let’s discuss On-Boarding Clients! Have you heard of “On-Boarding” and “Off-Boarding”? What do those terms mean to you? On-boarding can refer to a company bringing a new employee “on-board” by joining the team and learning how they do things. It can also refer to familiarizing a new client with your products and services, and that’s the one that applies to you as a webmaster. Think of it like a new phone. When you get a new phone, or any other tech device, you have to learn its features, right? Get familiar with how it works. Likewise, as a webmaster, when you sell website design services, clients need to get familiar with the process. This might be their first website! It’s very exciting! It can also be overwhelming. Many clients will say to me, “I have no idea how this works, so just tell me what you need from me.” And that’s okay! Because I do know what I need from them. In this lesson, let’s discuss:
The Getting Started Guide
Admin On-Boarding Tasks
Getting Started Guide — Have you ever read a manual? Manuals usually contain a Getting Started section near the beginning. What does that help you do? Get started! As a webmaster, once the client has paid, you’re in charge of getting the project started! So how do you do that? Let me introduce you to a helpful guide I’ve composed for my clients. (DEMONSTRATE Getting Started Guide)
You are more than welcome to take this guide and make it your own! The link is waiting for you in the lesson notes. But why do we compose this? Why not personally educate each client individually? What do you think? Same reason a major corporation doesn’t call you on the phone to explain the new coffee maker you just purchased. That takes time! Anything you say or do over and over again should be simplified and automated into a process. I repeat: Anything you say or do over and over again should be simplified and automated into a process. Instead of repeating the same thing to every client, take time to write this guide once, then send it to every new client! By doing this, you will save your time and energy. Takeaway #1: Save time and repetition by directing clients to a Getting Started guide.
The next on-boarding tasks you need to do are on the admin side. When you sign up for phone service, such as AT&T or Verizon, what happens next on their end? They setup your phone line, gives you a new number or port your existing, setup your online account, billing account, and much more.. On-boarding means paperwork and admin work for the company. Fortunately for you, this only takes a few minutes as a freelance webmaster! Basically, for every client I take on, I add them to several lists. Let’s walk through each of them.
Your Projects Timeline. Did you download that spreadsheet? If so, you should be moving your clients along the timeline from left to right. Once you land a client, they move to the Down Payment column. Once they’ve made that payment, they move again to Domain & Design. There’s something incredibly satisfying about moving a client along this timeline. It feels like such an accomplishment! I mean, don’t you feel good when your room is all clean? When your car is washed? Lawn is mowed? We have to celebrate these accomplishments! Anyways, when you start on-boarding clients, they should land at Domain & Design, where you’ll figure out their domain and hosting situation and the design of their new website. How long does moving them along the timeline take? 30 seconds.
Your Clients Spreadsheet. Do you have any one handy? That’s my master list of all paying clients on my Website Care Service. Once I earn a client and they make a down payment, I’ll open up this spreadsheet and on-board them to the list. This includes their company name, my contact within the company, the website URL, how they intend to pay monthly, if their site is SSL secured, and the referral source. Once you add a client to the list, your formulas at the bottom (such as a running total amount of clients and monthly revenue) will automatically update. Easy! This takes 1 minute.
The 3rd admin task you’ve likely already done, and that’s add them as a Customer in Wave. They should already be a customer if they’ve made a payment, and later on when you’re launching the website, we can setup the Recurring Invoice for the Maintenance Plan. Confirming this takes 1 minute.
#4 is an optional task. Have you heard of MailChimp? It’s a fabulous email marketing service. Do you ever get emails from your favorite brands? Shopping? Dining? Deals? Are they personally, individually sending you that, or is it mass marketing? How do they get all those emails out? With an email marketing service like MailChimp! Fortunately for you, MailChimp is FREE for the first 2000 subscribers. I recommend having a MailChimp “Audience” with all your clients. When you’re on-boarding a client, just add their name and email to your Clients audience so you can mass email all of your clients whenever you need. Adding to an Audience takes 1 minute.
Setup a folder for this client on your computer. Personally, I have a folder within my Documents folder on my computer called “Websites.” Within “Websites” I have one folder per client. So when you’re on-boarding a client, create a folder on your computer devoted to that project. This folder should really be a mirror of what’s on the server, so you can edit the WordPress files as needed. I also create a folder called NOTES, which does not get uploaded to IONOS, where I store content they’ve provided, photographs, logos, documents, PDFs, or whatever else pertains to that project. Creating the client folder on your computer takes 1 minute.
This one takes slightly longer. To prep for this client, you need to prep your server. Do you remember that process? We went over it a few times. In short, it means creating a Webspace, FTP Account and Database, and installing WordPress & Divi. For the most part, this will be done on your server, but if your client insists on using their own server, that’s fine, you can prep their server! Wherever the site is being hosted, the server needs to be prepared so you can start building their website. This takes about 15 minutes. So there you have it! In about 20 minutes, you have completed the admin side of on-boarding a client. Easy! Takeaway #2: Further on-board your client by adding them to your Clients spreadsheet, updating your Projects Timeline, update the Customer data in Wave, add to MailChimp, create a client folder on your computer, and prep the hosting server.
The third on-boarding task involves the client. You need to Collect Logins to their existing website, if applicable. What logins might they have? Most commonly, a GoDaddy login for their domain! Or they may use Network Solutions, register.com, NameCheap, HostGator, SiteGround, or BlueHost. A Wix, Weebly or Squarespace login if they built the site themselves. A Gmail or Microsoft 365 if they have a business email. The YouTube login if you’re dealing with video services. Passwords to their hosted emails. A login to WordPress. Basically, you’re looking for access to their existing domain, hosting and emails, if applicable. Make sure you save all of these logins securely, such as in LastPass. Now If they’re starting completely from scratch, they may not have any of those accounts, and that’s fine, you can create those entities in IONOS. Otherwise, existing websites have to be hosted somewhere, so you’ll need to figure that out. But what if you have a client who says, “I have no idea where to find that! I don’t know where my domain is!” What do you do with that?? Fortunately, as a professional, you can steer them in the right direction. Here’s a few tools I’ll use: WHOIS.net. WhoIsHostingThis.com. WhatCMS.org. Let’s look at these: (DEMONSTRATE WHOIS.net, WhoIsHostingThis.com, and WhatCMS.org) If they used a web designer in the past, you may need to call or email the previous designer, who may have all the information you need to transfer hosting. Communicate with them to better understand the website’s current situation and create a gameplan for transferring to your server. Takeaway #3: Uncover the existing website’s setup by gaining access to the domain, hosting and emails, if applicable.
Collecting Content — This can potentially be one of the most frustrating processes of the web design process. So let’s say you are paid to build a new website for a start-up… Until you start designing, the site is a blank canvas. So what do you ask for? Logo? Some photos? The pages they want on the site? A few paragraphs about the company? Pretty standard stuff! The things you’ll find on every website. So imagine you’ve requested these items, but got no response, then a week later, the client emails you asking how things are going and if the website is ready for their review! What do you do with that??? You can’t start on the project because you don’t have any content to work with, and that is why this is often the most frustrating part of the web design process — getting content from the client. They’re busy! That’s why they hired you to take care of this! But since they know their business better than you, they really need to give you something to start off with. So let me share with you a few tips I’ve learned along with the way to finesse this process.
Communicate regularly. This is one of the best things you can do, with business in general, but especially for collecting content. When you take on a client, clearly communicate exactly what you need from them. Clients want homework. Most of the time they realize they need to give you something to start out, but they might not know exactly what that is. So clearly outline, using numbers or bullet points, what you’re looking for, such as: a logo, photos, paragraphs, list of services, headshots, etc. If you haven’t heard anything back, follow-up in a few days or a week just so they don’t feel like you took their money and ran. Keep that dialogue open. Trust me — they’ll appreciate you for staying on top of things.
Reduce friction. Make it easy for them to send you content. I found Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive extremely helpful for sending content back and forth. Create a folder and “share” it so you both have upload and download access. Of course, email works just fine too, so they can always just create a Word document and email it to you along with a few pictures. In the interest of making this as easy as possible, don’t make someone sign up for a new file sharing service just to send you a few pictures. Figure out what they’re comfortable with and try to work with that. If they leave it up to you, suggest the service that you are comfortable with.
If you’re really struggling to get something out of them, you may need to Interview them on the phone. Chances are, they’re perfectly comfortable talking about their business informally. The issue is when they have to formally write it down in a professional manner. Most clients will admit, they aren’t writers! And that’s okay! Have a conversation with them, prepare a few questions, such as: Tell me about your services. How long have you been in business. Why should a customer choose your product or service instead of the competition. Do you want to display prices on the website? Prepare a list of questions like that and write down everything they say. Once the conversation is over, you can start professionally formatting that into an Opening Tagline, About Us page, Services, etc.
As a last resort, bring in a content writer if necessary. Why do I use this as a last resort? Because it’s an extra expense, one that most small business clients would pass on. But, if they truly hate writing and see the value of a professional content writer, you can bring in a freelance writer to tackle this. I’ve used freelance writers on plenty of projects, and the deliverables are very professional. Now… can you think of any other issues with bringing in a content writer? If your client has such a problem giving you content, how much success is the writer going to have pulling content out of them?? The writer can research an industry on their own, sure, but even they can’t write the About Us page until the client gives them something to start off with. Takeaway #4: Collecting content can be a pain, but you can finesse the process by communicating regularly, reducing friction with file-sharing software, interviewing them on the phone or bringing in a content writer.
RECAP: What have we learned about On-Boarding Clients? The on-boarding process takes place after the down payment has been made. On-boarding is necessary when you earn a client, and in this lesson, we learned:
Save time and repetition by directing clients to a Getting Started guide.
Further on-board your client by adding them to your Clients spreadsheet, updating your Projects Timeline, update the Customer data in Wave, create a client folder on your computer, and prep the hosting server.
Uncover the existing website’s setup by gaining access to the domain, hosting and emails, if applicable, and prepping the server.
Collecting content can be a pain, but you can finesse the process by communicating regularly, reducing friction with file-sharing software, interviewing them on the phone or bringing in a content writer.
I’m Leighton, and now you know, How To On-Board Clients!