PROVIDING WEBSITE DESIGN, development, hosting, and management can be profitable endeavors for channel pros who take time to understand the marketplace and find the SMB “sweet spot.”
This market has three main segments, according to Dave Zwicker, founder of Virtual CMO, a provider of strategic marketing consulting services.
At the low end are small businesses whose needs can be met by website DIY building tools like Squarespace and Weebly, he explains. At the high end are large enterprises that typically farm out website work to equally large digital advertising agencies.
“Channel partners don’t want to chase the low-end DIY business, and shouldn’t try to compete with agencies on the high end,” Zwicker says.
Instead, he says, they should focus on a “sweet spot” of SMBs that can’t spend $25,000-plus for a digital agency, but still want customized websites. “A customized WordPress website strategy is perfect for channel partners,” he says.
This strategy requires expertise in WordPress and/or other content management systems, along with graphic design skills. Channel pros may choose to hire or partner with a WordPress developer that, either by working with an existing WordPress site or starting a new one, can customize themes and templates that will give SMBs a basic website with a professional look for $5,000 to $10,000, according to Zwicker.
Sites with e-commerce and other complex applications may require the services of a programmer, adds Todd Creek, president at Manteno, Ill.-based Dura-Tech Enterprises, which includes web developer division Webfoot Designs. Recent college grads along with freelance programmers and developers are good sources of expertise, according to Creek.
Hosting and Management
In addition to design and development, website hosting and management can be another source of income. “I think the channel partner’s opportunity here is to select a host and then work with them on the customer’s behalf,” Zwicker suggests.
Dura-Tech, for example, offers secured hosting. “What sets us apart from the HostGators and GoDaddys of the world is that we don’t pile thousands of websites on our servers, resulting in quick load times and fast speeds,” notes Creek.
Management-wise, Creek says “clients don’t have to worry about websites being compromised,” because Dura-Tech handles all the back-end patching and security, along with backup and disaster recovery.
“Most businesses have no clue about how a host works, keeping a website backed up, having WordPress updated and plugins current, or adding a new page to their website,” Zwicker says. “Working with the host on their behalf and taking all this off their plates is relatively easy for the channel partner to do—and of real value to the customer.”