6 Sources of Residual Income for the Web Developer

Most web developers I know are hired for site creation, or re-creation and when the job is done, that’s the end of the revenue from that client until something is broken or some other change needs to happen. But with a little extra effort on your part, you can transition a ‘project’ client into residual income. Not only will this keep a steady flow of cash coming in, but you’ll be able to more easily maintain those valuable relationships with your clients so when the next site or re-design happens, you’ll be the one they call.

Consider adding or packaging a few of the following ‘services’ with your development pitch.

  1. Hosting
    Chances are, you’re already doing some of this. The ability to hand over a turn-key website solution makes it easy to add the ‘web hosting’ line item to your bill. Given the low cost of shared hosting like Bluehost or  HostGator, you can easily charge a modest monthly hosting fee and make a nice margin on it. If you don’t ‘do’ hosting – sign up as an affiliate on a hosting company you recommend. Affiliate programs typically give you a commission for sending them customers. It’s easy to do and doesn’t cost anything. Heck, the two links in this paragraph are affiliate links – so go sign up! <grin>
  2. Monitoring
    If the site is worth developing and hosting, it’s worth keeping an eye on. No matter who the host is, your client (and you, if you’re hosting it – see #1) should be the first ones to know if it has gone down. Get yourself a website monitoring account at NodePing (come on, you saw that plug coming a mile away). For only $10/month, you can set up 1000 URLs to keep an eye on. Resell some of those checks to your client – charge them whatever you think is fair and they’re willing to pay. Set your client up as a ‘Notifications Only‘ contact and they’ll get an email or SMS whenever the site goes offline – and when it comes back up too. With NodePing’s new public reports, you can create a URL on your branded website and iframe in the public report so your client can bask in the glow of their uptime graph. If you don’t know how to iframe one page into another, you’re not the target audience of this blog post – but just in case, here’s a link on how to iframe.
  3. SSL Certificates
    If your client’s site has a login form, they’ll need an SSL certificate. The ease of wireless ‘sidejacking’ using Firesheep and similar tools, you should know better than to have a non-SSL login form. Like hosting you can either resell SSL certificates directly or sign up to be an affiliate and earn a commission (usually a percentage) of your client’s spending. Unlike hosting, it takes quite a bit more hoop jumping to become a reseller but with the price of certs and the fact that they need to be re-issued on a regular basis it’s worth the effort.
  4. Payment Processing
    The least fun part of developing ecommerce solutions is the payment gateway integration. Typical reseller/affiliate programs with payment gateways include a percentage of the setup fee, a percentage of monthly fee, and even a per-transaction cut. While Braintree is definitely our preferred gateway here at NodePing (great API and low costs), they unfortunately don’t have a reseller/affiliate program so you may want to stick with some of the old guards like Authorize.net.
  5. Backups
    Your client will need ‘offsite’ backups of their sites and databases. Most of the cheaper hosting companies don’t provide adequate backups, which provides you with an opportunity to sell a much-needed service to your client. Drive Headquarters has a generous referral program and offers both client and server backup capabilities that are very script-able. Just be sure you know how to restore the site from those backups.
  6. Timeshare in Vegas
    OK, this one is just for laughs.  Timeshares are like boats – everybody I’ve ever known who bought one, has also sold one.

If you started adding auxillary services like those above, you could easily see a $100/month/client jump in revenue for just a wee bit of your time in administrating… multiply that times your current client base and you just got a nice raise!  Felicidades!

More importantly, providing extra services will help you maintain a relationship with your client, so the next time they need a $7k makeover on their site, yours is the only bid they’ll consider… after all, you’re doing so much for them already.

So there are 5 ways you can leverage your web development relationship with your client into a bit of residual income.  It’s by no means an exhaustive list.  If you’ve got better channels for residual income or maybe just excellent suggestions for the resell-able or referr-able services listed above, share it with us in the comments.

About Shawn
Husband, father of 7 great kids, and code monkey at NodePing.

4 Responses to 6 Sources of Residual Income for the Web Developer

  1. Basil Rehill says:

    It’s amazing what can happen if you just think about your customers needs and then provide them things you already use. We all use web hosts and it just seems natural to be able to package hosting together with web development

  2. Guzpra says:

    the first point about hosting, I hear also that hostgator gives a reasonable amount of commission, but I never have any luck yet :)

  3. I enjoyed the tips you are providing on your website. Residual income can make life easier by providing long term income for doing something one time. Thanks for the information

  4. Where was this post 5 years ago when I started out… SMILE

    Your tips make me think about the many customers that I designed sites for and sent to different hosts. Had I thought about all the services needed to run a site, I surely would have began hosting and monitoring my customer’s sites on my own.

    The tips that I would like to add to yours are:

    1. Content services are a must for all websites.
    2. Selling graphics and website images also.

    I am sure you can imagine the super things that can be included specifically for customers in the backend of the site where only they will have access to.

    I better get going now. I just came up with my next gazillion dollar ideas… SMILE

    Thanks for the information.

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