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Who to Contact When you have Questions About your Website or Email…and What you’ll Expect to Pay

Do you know who to call if something goes wrong? It’s not always who you think it is. Make your life easier by knowing who to call and when.  By TheEssentialWebsite.com

If you’ve ever been to a personal trainer, hair stylist or manicurist, you know you talk to those folks about way more than just your body, your hair and your nails (respectively, of course…but heck, maybe you talk to each one about all three!). For some reason, those pros wear multiple hats – whether they planned to or not.

In most cases, they’ll be cool with talking about your personal life (which is usually the therapeutic topic of choice, right?). They’re getting paid for their services no matter what, and that money pays for their time and their skills.

But what happens when you start asking them questions outside of your scheduled appointments where you are paying them for their time and skills? Should they give you the information for free? What if it involves them stopping what they’re doing, switching gears completely, researching the answer(s) to find the best solution for your particular need(s), etc.? Should they do all this for free?

For example: What happens if a study comes out about a new type of exercise or diet regimen that your personal trainer feels would benefit you? Should they explain it to you and give you all this new information at no charge simply because they didn’t give it to you before, which is because they either didn’t know about it yet or because it is something totally new? Maybe so, if they send out an email explaining this new thing, giving you the general pros/cons and why they think it would benefit you. That would be really helpful! But what happens if you want more one-on-one time with them to explain in more detail? Do you expect them to stand up their current clients/appointments to spend hours meeting with you, showing you how to use the new equipment properly, creating a special workout routine or diet? No, you’d book a consult or training session with them.

And what happens if you need a quick trim of your bangs every two weeks? Do you pop into the salon and ask them to do it? Do you expect them to do it for free (every time)? {Actually, I go to a salon where they do give one free bang trim after each haircut…but it’s ONE…just to tide me over ’til it’s time for another full haircut. That’s because, I’ve been going there for years, they know me and know I’ll be back when I need a full cut or color!}

This example is by far the best one we can give: What happens if you have a question for your doctor? Do you contact them and get the answer any time you want? Or, do they require that you make an appointment (which you pay for, of course)?

Why & Who

We ask these (potentially rhetoric) questions because these are very similar scenarios to what we experience as web designers and developers.

Frequently, we are asked questions about things that might have nothing to do with our original, contracted scope of work. And, more often than not, we are faced with situations where clients who have no ongoing maintenance plan with us expect us to complete small tasks for them at no charge or for very little money.

While each small task might take only minutes to complete, the actual time involved in the entire process includes much more:

  • receive the initial email request;
  • respond with questions before we can quote the project (99.9% of the time, we have questions);
  • read your response;
  • answer your questions and/or ask more, if needed;
  • prepare the estimate;
  • occasionally get into the position of explaining why we can’t do 5 additional things for that same amount we just quoted (yes, we have been asked to do this many times);
  • once you approve the estimate (sometimes a whole day has passed before we get to this point), we can do the actual work;
  • let you know the work is done and ask you to review it;
  • revise anything that didn’t meet your expectations;
  • and finally, send the invoice for the completed work.

And this is just for projects that we actually CAN do and CHOOSE to handle.

The amount of time involved in one, 5-minute-to-complete task can actually take an entire hour or more!

Many times, clients come to us for projects that we either do not specialize in or wouldn’t be the best fit to tackle. Because we care deeply about our clients and their overall experience, we will take the time to find the best person to refer them to, which often involves checking with the referral first to make sure they are taking on new clients.

Now that we’ve given some examples of situations that we experience and that you, as clients, can relate to, we want to help guide you to the right people who can help you with various tasks related to your website and email – especially if you do not have an ongoing plan with a web designer or developer. It’s totally ok to NOT have an ongoing plan with a pro because we get it and understand that your budget might not allow for it and/or you might be handling some of the maintenance yourself, BUT…

When you DO need assistance, here are some suggestions of who to contact and what you might expect to pay for these services:

Website Content Updates

Task examples: Adding, editing, or deleting text and graphics; embedding videos; uploading and linking to PDFs; adding photo galleries, pop-up opt-ins, etc.
Who to contact: Your initial web designer/developer should be able to handle this if they offer ongoing maintenance or one-time tweaks/updates. If they don’t or if they aren’t available, they can refer you to someone. You can also check out the Freelance to Freedom Project (join the Facebook group) to find a Virtual Assistant who can help or find someone on Upwork.
What you’ll pay: $50+ per hour, likely with a minimum one hour requirement.

Graphic Design

Task examples: Designing or revising a logo; designing blog graphics; creating e-books or other PDFs; etc.
Who to contact: If your designer/developer is also a graphic designer, reach out to him/her first to see if they can take on your project. If not, get a referral or see above for information about the Freelance to Freedom Project and Upwork – both of which will have a plethora of professionals to choose from.
What you’ll pay: $50+ per hour, likely with a minimum one hour requirement.

Your Think your Website has been Hacked

Task examples: You notice something fishy or got a notification from a security plugin installed on your site, and you need someone to look into it and then clean up the hack if you were indeed hacked.
Who to contact: At first, you could contact your initial designer/developer. If they are available and can look quickly to see if there is a potential hacking issue, they can possibly fix it. If it is more serious and needs to be looked into more thorougly (better to be safe than sorry), they will recommend a professional hack repairing service.
What you’ll pay: Your designer/developer’s hourly rate for research/looking into the issue (unless they will do a quick scan for free the first time this happens…but expect to pay for their time if it happens again) and/or $250+ for hack repair through a professional hack repairing service.

Email Set Up with your Web Host

Task examples: You need to have emails set up (yourname@yourdomainname.com) and configured in your main inbox (i.e. your gmail inbox). If this involves moving emails from one host to another, expect to pay more as it takes more time, especially since all hosts are configured differently.
Who to contact: Your initial web designer/developer should be able to handle this if their schedule permits. If this is not taken care of during the initial scope of work or if more emails need to be added and configured at a later date, expect to pay for this service. For more complicated email migration or if the configuration is in an email provider your designer/developer is not familiar with, expect to pay more or have this project outsourced to another technical expert.
What you’ll pay: $85+ per hour, minimum two hours

Email set up with Google Apps

Task examples: You want to move away from hosting your email in the same hosting account as your website (which is a good idea in case your web server is down or if you change web hosts…as it keeps your email intact), so you sign up for a Google Apps email account. We have personally experienced the headache involved in configuring Google Apps when you have multiple domains and email accounts. Unless you need ONE email account on ONE domain, we highly recommend hiring out for the task of setting up Google Apps email.
Who to contact: A technical professional who specializes in Google Apps email configuration!
What you’ll pay: $150+

Troubleshooting Email or Web Hosting Issues

Task examples: Your site is down; you’re not receiving emails; etc.
Who to contact: If your website is down, the first person you should call is your web host. They might be able to tell you right away if there is a known issue on their servers, etc. If you’re not receiving emails from your website (i.e. from a contact form), you can contact your initial designer/developer who can do a scan to find out what might be wrong, if their schedule permits. There may be a fee for their services. If they can quickly determine that the issue needs to be researched further and will take time to troubleshoot and fix, expect to pay their regular hourly rate or more (depending on if another technical professional needs to be brought in). Keep in mind that the designer/developer may refer you directly to the other technical professional or he/she may handle the whole project for you (communicating with the outsourced professional, paying them, invoicing you).
What you’ll pay: Designer/developer ~ $85+ per hour, minimum one hour for your designer/developer; Web host ~ Most web hosts should be able to troubleshoot at no charge (since you’re already paying them for their services).

Website Migration

Task examples: You want or need to move web hosting companies.
Who to contact: Your new web host will most likely offer free or paid migration services. We recommend taking them up on this offer. If you have your email in a different place, there may be additional configuration to deal with in that area. Your new web host can walk you through it or your designer/developer can refer you to a technical professional who can handle it for you.
What you’ll pay: Possibly nothing if your new web host will do this for you; $150+ if they do not offer it for free or if you need to hire a developer.

Website Speed

Task examples: Your website is slow and you don’t know why.
Who to contact: Your initial designer/developer can do a scan to find out if there are too many plugins, if images are too big, or if additional files (i.e. backups) are being stored on the server. If it’s your first time to ask your initial designer/developer, he/she may do the quick scan for free. Each time thereafter, expect to pay. If the issue needs to be looked into even further, your designer/developer may take the time to research with your web host or a another technical professional may need to be brought in to do a site scan and clean up anything that might be slowing the site down.
What you’ll pay: Designer/developer ~ Possibly free, but likely $85+ per hour; Web host ~ If it’s a web host server/package issue, they might ask you to “upgrade” to a “better” package for faster service, etc. (Some web hosts are notorious for trying to up-sell at any possible chance – that’s one reason we recommend SiteGround, you get the best service from the get-go.)

Final Notes:

  • When you seek assistance from someone who was not your initial designer/developer, you can expect to pay their regular hourly rate with a minimum of one hour charged. While the task may seem tiny to you, there is a lot more involved than you may think (as mentioned above). And, if you weren’t their client to begin with, they aren’t as familiar with your site, your email or your web host.
  • When you go back to your initial designer/developer after a lot of time has passed since they completed your website and you need them to do something on your site (no matter how minor), you can expect to pay the regular hourly rate unless you have a maintenance plan with them.
  • As a courtesy, your initial designer/developer will usually happily handle one or two small tasks for you at no charge soon after your website is complete (we surely do this for all of our clients). But please be respectful of their time and profession and don’t expect them to do it every time. This is their job and they make a living by designing, developing and tweaking websites.

We hope this puts thing into perspective for you as well as provides you with helpful information and resources so that you can know who to contact and what you’ll expect to pay when you have questions or issues with your website, email, web hosting, and more!

Did we miss anything? Do you have other scenarios where you are stuck on who to contact or how much it might cost? Ask us in the comments below…we want to help!

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Written by: Stefani Hi there, I’m Stefani Harris, co-founder of The Essential Website. We design and code WordPress websites for ready-to-grow businesses and bloggers, but we do so much more! We are all about helping our clients reach their business goals and see results! I am most passionate about inspiring people to pursue their dreams and to just START! If you can dream it, you can do it! I’m also a big-time dog lover + yoga and fitness instructor.

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