Working as a freelance designer is tough. It requires a lot of problem solving and working closely with clients to make sure you deliver exactly what they need.
But it’s also incredibly rewarding to help someone get their website online and teach them how to manage their online presence.
One of the lengthier tasks is teaching clients how to work online and that’s why I’ve created this guide. I’ll cover 6 types of tools you can use to help clients learn to manage their online presence. It’ll be less work for you in the long run and it gives the client far more control.
1. Caching & Site Performance Tools
While your client may not know how to setup a caching system, they should understand what it does and how to handle outages. They might contact the web host or a service like Cloudflare but either way this is essential.
Other online services like Pingdom are great because they track server behaviors and uptime. Webmasters want to know what’s going on with their website but they can’t check 24/7.
Some web hosts even give you access to dashboards for tracking server speeds, memory usage, disk space and other metrics. These may not be useful for every client but if possible try educating them about these features.
Give your client the necessary tools for maintaining their site’s basic performance. Or at least explain these concepts to them so they understand why performance is so important.
2. CMS’ & Visual Editors
Finding the right CMS platform can be a labyrinth of confusing features and difficult choices. An ecommerce website requires more than a law firm site, yet both clients deserve control over their content.
I usually recommend WordPress because it’s free, open source, and has the largest community of any CMS in existence. The trouble is teaching your client how to use WordPress and this is why other options might work better.
Big ecommerce platforms like Bigcommerce or site editors like Wix both offer friendlier features that clients may prefer. Web designers often think that just because they understand WordPress that clients want to as well.
Understanding the options and weighing them with your client is the best approach.
Figure out which platform is best for your client’s needs and offers the easiest method of maintaining content.
I think it’s best to go over a list of website builders with all the features, pricing, and dashboards in one place. This way the client can decide which feels best and you can guide them along with expert advice.
The key is to educate them along the way and encourage them to be more hands-on with whatever platform they choose. There are tons of tutorials out there for everything from Shopify to WordPress so if you can find educational materials it’s worth guiding them along.
3. SEO Tracking Tools
I can’t say this is valuable for every client but search engine rankings matter. Small businesses and ecommerce clients alike should care about their rankings.
The three biggest tools on the market are:
All are fantastic but with different goals. I’d say most business clients prefer SEMrush for tracking rankings and studying competitors, two things that every online business should do.
But with Moz you can track brand mentions of the company on the web. This way clients can see who’s writing about the website/company and even try gaining links through Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer.
Ahrefs is more about studying backlinks although it has some great ranking estimates too.
Consult with your client and see if they’d want to study their SEO competition. It’s a valuable skill to learn but not everyone cares or has the time to do so.
4. Easy Graphic Editing
Graphics are huge on the web so I absolutely recommend teaching clients some simple tools for this process.
These days most people use Canva because it’s easy to get started and applies to pretty much everything.
It lets you edit photos with tons of filters and effects much like Photoshop. But you can also create simple icon styles and even design infographics all with this one tool.
Regardless you should introduce your client to a design tool and bring it up as an option. If the client really wants to manage their own photos/graphics they’ll follow your lead.
5. Email/Inbox Platforms
What modern website doesn’t have an email address? A business inbox is probably one of the most guarded spaces since it has customer info, industry news, and important connections for B2B offers.
Help your client understand their email setup and ideally teach them to manage it on their own.
Outlook is still a popular program but you can also recommend a web-based email tool like the GSuite.
If you’re really daring you might even introduce newsletters into the mix. Small businesses should use newsletters to keep in touch with clients while ecommerce sites can use them for promos or abandoned cart messages.
There are dozens of ESPs out there for newsletter management so it’s a trickier area to get into.
But just communicate with your client and see what they need. If they’re open to managing a newsletter but don’t have much technical experience then a platform like MailChimp would be great.
6. Social Media Management
This fits right along with email where it’s crazy to not have social accounts this day and age.
But when you manage a few profiles across many networks it can become tiresome. Granted not all of your clients will have massive social followings but it is worth mentioning social media tools like Hootsuite.
Large dashboard areas are great for clients because they’re all visual so they can interact with every network in one place.
Need to drop a press release or share important info? Do it all at once from one account rather than 4-5.
Another related tool is automated social posts with something like CoSchedule. It’s like an online content calendar for all social accounts and it lets business owners re-share popular content, schedule deals, and curate social content weeks in advance.
Learning to manage social accounts is not easy. But if you can educate your clients on this stuff they’ll have much more control over their marketing long term.
If you’re looking for other posts on this topic I recommend these easy-breezy intro guides:
- The Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing
- Manage Multiple Social Profiles: 6 Simple, Powerful Tools
- The Complete Guide to Being a Successful Social Media Manager
The Wrap Up
Every project is different and you have to treat each client as an individual. Most of these tools are valuable in the aggregate and if your client wants to learn they’ll be grateful to have a freelancer that cares.
But there’s no denying communication is key so make sure to talk these things over with clients before making recommendations.