Articles to help you manage and use your website effectively

Should You Do Your Own WordPress Maintenance?

WordPress maintenance. There's two camps when it comes to WordPress maintenance. Camp one believes and knows the importance of having maintenance done regularly on your website, camp one also knows it's best to have an expert handle all aspects of your website maintenance. Camp two sees the value in WordPress maintenance, but also feel, "I can handle the updates myself".

Which camp you are in often depends on where you're at in your business journey.

New online business owners are often the chief bottle washer, accountant, social media consultant and everything in between so it's completely understandable that investing in an expert to handle your WordPress maintenance seems like a 'not quite yet' expense.

Digital Business owners that have been running their business for a while quickly see the benefits of having an expert manage their WordPress maintenance.

What is WordPress maintenance anyway & why do you need it for your WordPress website

One of the most common objections I hear to hiring a Geek in Your Pocket WordPress Package is that many feel they can do it themselves and if my Easy Peasy Website Maintenance Checklist sales are any indication then it's a very valid comment.

Many also don't think it will take very much time to take of all of the necessary steps to maintaining their website.

Here are the types of tasks that can be considered part of ongoing WordPress maintenance:

  • Updates: WordPress core updates, plugin updates, theme updates. This is a key element of all WordPress maintenance efforts, as not updating is one of the main reasons why websites get hacked.
  • Backups: database and files. And also making sure that the backups that you have do work. It’s actually reported that around 76 percent of WordPress users don’t use any backup plugin, so it’s not like backing up is common knowledge.
  • Security: scans, malware checks, security monitoring in general.
  • Uptime monitoring.
  • Performance optimization: making sure that the site works fast.
  • Comment spam handling.
  • Server-related maintenance: everything you’d normally do in cPanel.
  • SEO: taking care of your site’s internal structure to make it easier to rank.
  • Solving other miscellaneous issues as they come.

No matter how you read this list, this is a lot of stuff!

For the average website owner it takes anywhere between 5 to 10 hours per month to manage and maintain their websites.

Now imagine if you run into a technical issue, trying to troubleshoot and figure out what's wrong can add hours and let's not even talk about the extra stress to get things fixed.

How time consuming is it really to maintain a website?

While it's possible automate parts of the process for managing the maintenance of your website, there will still be much of the process you need to handle yourself.

The following gives you a rough estimate of the time investment:

  • Security: Setting up a plugin is a great step in helping to keep your website more secure, but you need to also monitor and make sure you have it set up to send you any notifications should there be any security issues.

    It's a best practice to make sure you're doing this at least once a week. My recommended security plugin is Shield Security.
  • Performance optimization: This is an ongoing process and something that you'll need to do on a regular basis. Optimization and the performance of your site can be affected by a variety of things, such as server issues, new plugin conflicts, third party integration going wonky etc. These kinds of issues may require more or less work from you on a regular basis.

    Setting up an account with GTmetrix to have a performance report sent to you is a good start. I recommend that you look at these reports at least monthly, if not weekly.
  • SEO: This will require ongoing effort from you no matter if you’re working with a WordPress maintenance company or not.

    Since it’s not a black and white issue, and everyone has their own idea of how much SEO work needs to be done for each post, it's not something I'll cover here, but this video from WPCrafter can give you a kick start
  • Solving other miscellaneous issues: no way to estimate.

I've mentioned it already, but once you look over this list I think it's pretty conservative estimate that you can easily spend at least an hour managing and maintaining your website each time you site down to do it. So the 5 to 10 hour estimate is pretty realistic.

Considering the time and effort it may take you to handle the manage the site it's important to ask yourself whether or not you can make money while you are doing the regular maintenance on your site vs what it might cost you to sign up for a WordPress maintenance service, like Geek in Your Pocket.

What about the things that you might not think about when doing your own WordPress maintenance?

While I recommend that anyone doing their own maintenance do a lot of the next few items I'm going to mention, the reality is that most website owners don't.

It could be because of time or any other reasons, but when you hire Geek in Your Pocket or any WordPress maintenance service most will include all of this as part of their maintenance package.

  • Regular backups. I hope that you have your backups already in place but when you are doing your updates of WordPress core, plugins and theme you should also be creating a backup before and even after you do any updates. This gives you something to revert back to in case you have any issue with any of the updates.
    • And if the updates happen automatically, do you have things set in a way that those additional backups are being created? Probably not.
    • Also, do you keep your backups off-site?
  • Are you doing regular checks on how your website looks on all devices, including mobile devices?
  • How would you handle if a security scan detected some malware? Do you know how to remove it safely and quickly to protect your site.
  • Do you create a regular report or track everything you've done on your site so you can troubleshoot if you have an issue with a plugin or any other update?
  • Also who do you approach if you have a WordPress issue? Do you ask in a Facebook group or your fellow business owners? Having an expert you can shoot a quick email to can be invaluable.

For me personally, I think knowing that there's someone there to take action and keep on an eye on my website without me lifting a finger is worth the monthly fee.

What if I don't keep my website maintained? What's the risk?

When you ARE your website maintenance team along with everything else you juggle as a business owner it's easy to put off doing your website maintenance. You might think it's okay to put it off because the site is operating okay, but then it's not working.

What's the risk of neglecting your WordPress maintenance?

You could get hacked

According to Wordfence, the most attacked elements in WordPress are: vulnerabilities in PHP code (core, plugins, themes), login pages, older apps hosted on the same server, config files, and the web server itself. 

“But why would anyone even want to hack my website? I'm a small website and what would be the point?

Most hackers don't really care who's website they're attacking.

Hackers look for vulnerability-based ways to attack your website, so not maintaining your site is the first step to becoming a victim

You could lose data

It's doesn't take much to lose your data. A web server could malfunction, you could have issues with the cache, maybe even a virus on your own computer. I could go on, but it can easily happen. And it doesn’t take much.

You could lose SEO

Did I say that data loss is the worst?

That's not totally accurate. Having having your rankings drop because Google has black listed can be even worse than that. Google punishes infected sites severely.

And, unfortunately, Google is quite good at detecting problems like that.

I’m saying , unfortunately, because it often means that if you don’t do any maintenance, it’s Google who notifies you about your site getting hacked. And at that point, it’s too late. You can end up blacklisted – your visitors will see a screen telling them that the content is not safe and turn and run away. Ugh, not what anyone wants.

So, now you're possibly asking....

“Is a WordPress maintenance company going to be worth it for me?”

At the end of the day, WordPress maintenance is something that you absolutely do need to consider and include as part of the regular tasks in your business.

So there are two ways to sleep better at night and keep a vigilant eye on your site at the same time:

  • taking care of it yourself,
  • hiring a professional company to do it for you.

No surprise so far.

I think I've laid out the downsides of not maintaining your site and even the risks if you're doing it yourself.

No matter what it's going to take time. Along with the time, you'll need to educate yourself on the various security issues that are constantly popping up. You'll also need money to make it all happen even when you're doing it yourself.

Yep, even though you might think you'll be saving yourself some cashola, many of the services that you'd want to invest in to make sure your site is well protected cost money to make all of that happen.

Sucuri starts at $199 per year, which is helpful for your security.

Choose to use a premium backup solution and that could easily cost you upwards of $100 per year.

Where on the other hand my middle tier Geek in Your Pocket service will cost about $490 per year.

If you want to stay with free tools, cool. But what if you need to maintain multiple websites – not just one. Then the time investment needed to take care of that multiplies … and so on, and so forth.

And as to whether such companies are right for everyone, I’d say this:

Generally, WordPress maintenance is something that needs to be happening somehow on most websites. If you don’t have the budget, but have the time, you can do most of the basic stuff yourself, and you should be fine.

However, for any commercial website project, like an e-commerce store, or a business website, working with a maintenance company is generally a very good idea.

A good company will cover a whole spectrum of tasks for you in a single bundle, and we’re talking about people who specialize in providing this kind of services.

So what’s it going to be for you? Are you ready for a Geek in Your Pocket or will you do it yourself?

WordPress Security Needs to be a Top Priority
WordPress Website Security, What You Need To Know