This guest post is by John Bonello of WPProHelp.com.
Choosing a third-party WordPress contractor is probably the most important task of all for a WordPress blogger, yet it’s not often discussed.
I worked as a system and web server engineer for international companies for over 12 years and recently, I started my own business. In that time, I have seen projects fail or take much longer than expected to be finished. Even worse, I have seen projects which have cost more than double the allocated budget.
All these failures can be attributed to one simple mistake: the project manager didn’t choose the right contractor for the job.
How can a blogger find a good WordPress contractor?
Finding the right WordPress contractor is not always easy. It might take some time until you find a person that really fits your needs. Major problems typically encountered by bloggers when hiring a contractor are price, availability, lack of communication, and worst of all, lack of knowledge.
I am going to share with you some necessary tools to help you find the right WordPress contractor to get your job done. Be careful, though: these are not golden rules. Unfortunately, although a contractor may satisfy all of these criteria, that does not necessarily mean that he or she is definitely the right one for you. That said, these points can serve as good indicators that the contractor is worth considering.
You can determine if a WordPress contractor is knowledgeable or not by checking out his or her website. Typically, WordPress contractors like sharing their experiences online via their own blog—after all, it’s their marketing tool.
If the contractor frequently publishes WordPress-related content, and has a WordPress blog, then most probably he or she is quite experienced in the field.
A WordPress contractor’s testimonials can speak for themselves. You should always check out the contractor’s website for testimonials. If you are in doubt, ask the contractor to share a customer’s contact details with you so you can approach the customer with any questions you might have. If you found the contractor via an online hiring platform, check the history of his or her previous jobs ratings. Previous job ratings can give a better indication than testimonials.
If a WordPress contractor is new on the block, most probably they won’t have many testimonials, won’t have a rich job history, and won’t have a lot of followers on their social media channels. This does not mean that you should immediately give up on the contractor. Keep in mind that start-ups tend to be really hungry for work and more flexible than already established contractors.
Listen to other bloggers
Since you’re blogger, most probably you know other bloggers who hired a WordPress contractor before you.
Get in touch with them, and ask them who they’ve been working with, and if they are happy with their contractor. Feedback from experiences of fellow bloggers can prove to be invaluable.
Attention to detail
We tend to believe that no one gives enough attention to detail unless the project is their own. I tend to disagree with this impression—there are some great WordPress contractors out there.
You can assess the WordPress contractor’s attention to detail by simply visiting his or her website. If parts of the contractor’s website aren’t working, and it includes broken links, definitely that is not a good sign.
A contractor’s website is their shop window. It is what prospective customers see first. So if a contractor’s shop looks run down, then most probably his products and services really are.
Everything boils down to communication. If the communication level is not right, I can guarantee you that the job will not succeed.
The first time you engage with your WordPress contractor will be via email or phone. While discussing your needs, make sure that the contractor can understand you properly. Throughout my career, I met a lot of brilliant minds that unfortunately are not able to communicate well. A good working relationship isn’t just about the technicalities.
Hiring the WordPress contractor
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to start looking for a good WordPress contractor, let’s talk discuss some tips on what to look out for when hiring a WordPress contractor.
Stick to a single company
Designers are good at designing websites. WordPress developers are good at writing code. WordPress technical contractors are good at troubleshooting and fixing broken websites, and building new solutions using existing code, such as WordPress plugins.
Each is a different job, and they shouldn’t be mixed together.
The good thing, though, is that typically a designer knows a technical WordPress contractor and a developer, and vice versa. There are also WordPress companies which offer all WordPress services under one name.
So if you already have a WordPress contact, be it a designer, a developer, or technical contractor, and you need something which the contractor cannot provide, ask your contact if he or she knows someone in that particular field before rushing to hire another third party.
There are several advantages in hiring people that know each other rather than having three different contractors from different sources.
- It costs less. If you hire a group of WordPress contractors that know each other, or hire all services through the same company you might and should be able to discuss a package price, rather than paying for each individual job. Individual jobs tend to be costly.
- It is more efficient. If all of the WordPress contractors you hire know each other, or work for the same company, they are used to working together. This means that the project is more likely to be finished in a timely manner and work right out of the box.
- You’ll have a single point of contact. Dealing with a group of contractors and coordinating all the work between them can be a nightmare. You are better off spending your time more efficiently, such as writing content, rather than coordinating a project. So if you hire all your WordPress services using the same contact, you’ll only have to worry about conveying your needs to that one person.
It isn’t a one-time project. Build a relationship
Although you may think that finally you’ve got the ultimate website design with all the functionality you may need, rest assured that after a couple of years, if not months, you are going to need to change something on your website or blog. Be it a small design change, new functionality, or a complete website revamp, you will need to get in touch with your WordPress contractors from time to time.
When shopping around for WordPress contractors, make sure you are comfortable working with that contractor as this isn’t the last time you will speak to them. Make sure they can always understand your needs and can listen attentively.
Contractors do not like to take over someone else’s leftovers and try to fix them. For most technical people it is much easier to build something from scratch rather than fix someone else’s code. Even the best software developers in the world admit that reading another developer’s code is very difficult and time consuming.
Switching from one WordPress contractor to another is costly, it guarantees you an endless amount of emails and phone calls, and ultimately it will take you ages to finish the task.
Try to keep customizations minimal
I have encountered many developers who prefer to build their own custom solution rather than use an already existing plugin or function. Custom solutions will always cost more and in the long run this might be a problem. If something goes wrong and you need an urgent fix, you’ll have to use the same developer.
In such scenarios, it is highly likely that you will be overcharged, since you are at the developer’s mercy. This does not mean that all developers take advantage of such a situation, but I suggest you don’t put yourself in such a situation in the first place. I receive many emails asking me to fix something because the developer who has done it is no longer available, or is overcharging.
If you need specific functionality implemented on your WordPress website or blog, you should always ask your contractor and check for yourself if it can be achieved using existing WordPress plugins. As I’ve already explained, no one likes fixing someone else’s mess, so always push for readily available solutions where possible.
Ready, set, go!
Even though you’ve probably heard of many bad experiences when hiring WordPress contractors, there will always be WordPress contractors who are capable and loyal.
If you already have a WordPress contractor that you’re comfortable working with, it is good to ask them about anything you need. Chances are that even if they cannot provide you the service themselves, they will have some contacts who can.
If you do not have a WordPress contractor and are looking for one, shop around and ask as many questions as you have. Good contractors will answer all of your questions, help you, and be ready to go the extra mile to get the job done for you—even if they cannot do it themselves.
Do you have a contractor who helps with WordPress maintenance and updates? How did you find them? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
This is a guest post by John Bonello, owner of WPProHelp.com, a WordPress security and technical firm based in Europe. WPProHelp.com also frequently publishes WordPress Tutorials for Beginners on the company’s blog.