Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many restrictions you put on the WordPress admin area for your clients. Even if they’re prohibited from causing (too much) harm to their site, that doesn’t mean they won’t be left feeling helpless once you hand over their new and improved site to them.
It’s that feeling of helplessness that can only lead to bad things. Consider the possibilities:
- They decide WordPress is just too “hard” to learn and so their website slowly dies on the vine as it never gets updated.
- They decide they’re just going to “play around” with it and then something inevitably breaks, no matter how much you restricted their access.
- They go to another developer or a friend of the family who “knows” WordPress (and won’t charge them), and they mess with all your hard work.
There’s also the possibility that they reach out to you for help. You’ve likely encountered this before. It’s a month or two down the line and your client sends you an urgent email and follow-up call five minutes later. “Help! All I wanted to do was post this blog and now I don’t know what happened.” Those have to be some of the scariest words for a WordPress developer to hear.
“I don’t know what happened.”
That’s why I suggest that every web developer provide WordPress training for all their clients. Think of it like a “WordPress for Dummies”. You’ll give them the tools they need to take control of their content, leaving you free to focus on what you enjoy and are good at doing.
The Benefits of Empowering Clients with WordPress Training
Having been in this position myself, I don’t believe it’s ever enough to just throw tutorials or video links at a client and assume they’ll be fine managing their WordPress site. They won’t. For many of them, they’d much rather beg for help or let their site stagnate than take time to figure out how to do it on their own.
Of course, if a client should contact you because they need assistance in updating their site, that could be a good opportunity to upsell your services. That is, if you’re interested in providing ongoing WordPress support and maintenance.
But what if you don’t want to offer those services? Or what if your clients simply want to feel empowered enough to manage their own content? If you’re on the fence about this and thinking “but WordPress training requires even more of my time”, consider the following benefits:
WordPress training allows you to give clients hands-on experience in WordPress they might not get otherwise or be able to understand if they were to watch or read a tutorial online. This way, you can ensure they at least have the basic skills down.
There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than entering a new experience and not having any clue what to do. By empowering them to handle their own website (even if it’s just the small stuff), you’ll encourage them to be confident in creating new content and managing ongoing updates on their own.
I consider WordPress training added value and something that improves the client experience overall. While some developers may feel the need to charge for this, I don’t think it’s necessary. It shouldn’t take more than an hour of your time and it opens the door to future opportunities you should definitely take advantage of.
The best part about offering this “service” is you can take it a step further and create a video recording of one of your trainings. Clients will obviously still get the hands-on experience for free, but you could sell this recording to visitors of your site as well as other interested parties. Or you could give it away for free on YouTube to generate awareness for your WordPress expertise.
You’ve heard the phrase, “leave ‘em wanting more”, right? I think WordPress training is the perfect way to leave a calling card of sorts with your clients. You’ll teach them how to manage the simple things on their site and they’ll be grateful for your help. At the same time, you’re exposing them to how complex WordPress really is and how there’s so much more that can be done in there—with the right help.
So, whether they need a redesign, they want to globalize their site, or you want to pitch some other upsell or cross-sell opportunity, WordPress training is a great way to leave the door open for that.
WordPress for Dummies: What You Need to Cover in WordPress Training
Look, I don’t want to make all our clients seem helpless. The fact of the matter is, however, that WordPress is intimidating to newbies.
Case in point: I have a friend who wanted help building a website for his podcast. I obviously recommended he use self-hosted WordPress. To that, he responded, “I hate WordPress!”
Having trained clients on WordPress for a few years, I offered to help him because I didn’t want to see him take a half-assed approach to his new business. So, I scheduled an hour for us to meet in person where I could walk him through the platform. Once he saw how intuitive it was, you could see the anxiety about WordPress melt away. He now runs a regular podcast from his WordPress site, has stopped messaging me with “I hate WordPress!” every five minutes, and is totally self-sufficient. Mission accomplished.
The lesson here? At the end of the day, WordPress training is about showing your clients that it really isn’t that scary. Here is how you can do that:
1. Simplify the Backend
Before you contact the client for training (and really before you hand over the website), make sure the backend of WordPress is cleaned up and simplified. No sense in making an already intimidating platform even more so.
2. Schedule the Training
Next, you need to actually schedule the training. I find that 60 minutes is more than enough time to run them through everything and give them a chance to ask questions. Make sure that the team member who will actually be responsible for maintaining the WordPress website is on the training.
It’s always best to do it in person if you can, too, though it’s not always a realistic option. So, you’ll need to use a live conferencing platform like Join.Me or GoToMeeting where you can share your screen and hand over controls to the client so they get hands-on experience.
If you can use a platform that records the meeting, that’s ideal as you can then share it with your client for future reference.
This isn’t the type of training you can use a pre-made presentation for as you’ll want to walk through your client’s particular installation of WordPress and website. However, that shouldn’t stop you from creating a checklist of talking points you need to cover in each training.
4. Create User Accounts
Once you have a confirmed list of everyone that will be in the training (and who actually needs access to WordPress), set up a user account with corresponding access rights for each of them. I’d suggest doing it no more than five minutes before the training. That way, you won’t get the overzealous users who decide to poke around ahead of time and start asking questions before you have a chance to explain or show anything.
5. Conduct the WordPress Training
What you cover in this training session will depend on how much you want to show them. For example, maybe your client is a little more technically savvy than the typical client and wants to know how to adjust the Customize settings of their theme. That will be up to you to decide whether or not that’s the right call to make.
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Regardless, there are essentials that should be covered in WordPress training. Here they are:
1. Website Tour
Walk them very briefly through the completed website (no more than a couple minutes). This is so you can introduce them to WordPress terminology while putting it into context they understand.
2. WP-Admin Introduction
Next, take them to the WordPress login page and make sure they’ve been provided the admin URL, especially if you’ve moved it away from wp-admin. Use a test username and password to show them how to log in.
3. WordPress Tour
One of the main hurdles in introducing WordPress to a first-time user is the terminology. So, while you give them a brief tour of the WordPress dashboard and admin area, be sure to explain each of the key terms they’ll need to know:
I also usually cross-reference the website at the same time so they can see the difference between a Page and Post, or understand what I mean when I talk about a pop-up plugin.
4. Create a New Blog Post
For many clients, they’re going to trust that the design you’ve done is flawless and that there’s nothing that needs to be changed there. So, if you want to give them a reason to actually use WordPress, start by teaching them how to create a new blog post. Show them:
- Where to write the content
- How to add images
- Why the surrounding widgets for categories and tags, featured images, and SEO
- How to save their post as a “Draft” and then “Preview” their work before publishing
5. Edit a Page
The next most common request you’d likely receive from a client is about updating the content on their pages. And this is an easy one to walk them through.
Simply open up one of the pages on their site and find something to easily edit. Maybe add or change a header tag or show them how to add an image. Save the change and then pull up their live website once more so they can see the change reflected there. Don’t forget to show them how to reverse those changes, too!
6. Review the Menu
I always found it strange that so many clients wanted to know how to edit their navigation, but I still always made sure to give them a brief explanation as to where to find the Menus in WordPress.
7. Locate the Media
Another question I was often asked about was where their images were located. While we always provided our clients with their source files upon completion of the website, they still wanted to know where they “lived” in WordPress, so it might be worth at least showing them the Media Library. And, if you have the Smush Pro plugin installed, give them a gander at how that works.
8. Introduce Google Analytics
At some point during this training, someone’s likely to ask you about tracking the performance of their site. To that, you’ll say, “Google Analytics!” Now, unless you’re up for tackling the beast that is Google Analytics, I’d recommend staying away from the platform itself. Instead, just show your clients where to find the snapshot of their analytics from the dashboard.
If you’re using a plugin like Google Analytics+, you can put it front and center for them to regularly reference. It’s also a great way to continually motivate them without having to actively remind them to blog or update their site.
9. Leave Reference Material
Of course, don’t forget to leave your clients with plenty of reference material and show them where they can find it during this training. This should include:
- A recording of your training. Make the most of WPMU DEV’s fantastic white label video tutorials and add them to your client sites.
- Any other reference material–like a video, PDF, or FAQ–you’ve created for this purpose
- Your website and contact information in case they need (paid) assistance in the future)
You should leave all this behind within the branded dashboard , so it’s always front and center.
You’ll always get that one client who begs, “Please, just help with this one little thing”. Then you’ll start to rationalize doing it for other clients and it’ll become this out-of-control snowball of random WordPress edits that are taking up way too much of your time.
Rather than end up in that situation, empower your clients with WordPress training. You’ll give them the tools to create new content and manage small updates on their own, leaving the door open to future upsell or cross-sell opportunities where you can offer your services when it’s really needed.