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Some ideas about working with clients and a referral program


#1

I'm currently having an email conversation with the webflow support. Instead of keeping this discussion private I thought this might be a topic of interest for discussion with the community.

I'm speaking from the viewpoint of a freelancer/agency worker, using webflow to create many projects for many clients. As awesome as webflow is, I think the current situation of handling clients is unprofessional. Especially after having worked with Shopify.

Imo, their way of handling devs/clients is just right. Let me quote:

Development shops are free Shopify accounts made for working on themes, apps, or getting a store ready for a client. They have no time restrictions and all the functionality of normal plan, but cannot accept payment for orders.

Shopify workflow

  1. Register a developer account, create and develop as many shops as you like for free with no time limit
  2. Transfer the shop to a client (by changing account ownership, double-opt)
  3. Ask the client to add you as an admin inside their account if required
  4. Tell the client to buy one of the paid accounts from within the admin

Bonus: you're actually the referral of that shop, meaning you'll earn monthly revenues. The referral program is nice not only because of the extra buck and the appreciation for sending clients to Shopify. It also tells you inside your developer-account: we know this account is coming from you. It kinda takes away the feeling of "losing the client" as a developer.

Webflow workflow (say that 3 times)

  1. I finish the clients project inside our professional account (unrelated: why exactly can't I transfer from personal?)
  2. the client registers a new account, I transfer the page
  3. the client will - most likely - need to give me access (no user management, so I need his login credentials :(), so I can help out when problems arise

After working with webflow for some time and looking again at the webflow account & pricing table, I wonder:

Is this a pricing table for developers or is that a pricing table for clients?

At the moment it's kinda both and also kinda confusing what you're striving for at webflow. It looks like you're unsure who your customers are. I really think developers shouldn't be.

Would love to discuss, for now my heads out of fuel. :coffee:

:yellow_heart: webflow


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#2

Webflow plans keep me up at night sometimes (:

Here where I stand.

  1. I have a personal account that I'm supposed to turn to a pro one when needed.
  2. I have one Organisation, that I'm using with one client: they can enter the Organisation and we work on the site together, and we test other things in a sandbox, and we're going to work on mini-sites for specific features.
  3. I need to open another Organisation for another client that I'm doing a lot of things with, and a third one for my company, to be able to share projects with another developer and to build our new website.

Up to two weeks ago, you couldn't have more than one Organisation. I asked for more and Webflow staff unleashed this possibility (within an hour...). So you can have more than one Org plan and maybe I'm the only one to know about it (: I don't think it's a secret though... If it was I'm sorry!

Organisations are great for me. Because I bring my clients in, I invoice them most of the cost but I keep the ownership of the Org plan, and the sites sources. If the client want to get to ownership, to go work with someone else, I'd like to be able to decide when and how and this allows me to. Previously, I thought the client should host and pay the Org plan, but then, I'd loose ownership of my work and that I can't live with. So I'm being transparent with them, saying they need to pay =/-700 a year for the benefit of using Webflow with me, and I have to say when they see what we're going to do with it, they're always very happy about it.

I wouldn't mind transferring ownership to a client's webflow org plan if they wanted to after the first version achieved.

Now, I really wonder what my Personal or Pro plan is doing in the middle of this. I have hard time to understand why one I've started to pay the higher grade Org Plans, I don't get all the plans benefit coming with it. But this is also something that must not be very clear at Webflows. This is hard to craft plans, satisfy everyone and maintain a logic and profitability.

Reading about your Shopify knowledge is very interesting.

I am not using the hosting, for none of my present and upcoming projects. I know that Webflow really want us to use the hosting. I'll may be pushed (incentive) to do it when CMS features, who obviously will only work with W hosting, will come (I know nothing you don't, just reading here and deduction from the business model).

So far, I consider paying 70 a month for each of my good all the time clients is totally OK, and paying my perso or proplan for all the other smaller ones and web needs is OK too... price wise I mean, because it could be simpler. And at a moment, I'm sure I'll want a bigger only plan with no limitations, unlimited orgs, sites, pages etc.

I've been excited by good softwares all my life but Webflow is special. It's modernity, design, business right now. It's wonderful and it works. No promises, paychecks.


#3

Thanks for the very detailed feedback guys! It's a hard problem to solve - the whole client+designer workflow, while keeping the functionality flexible for those that have different workflows with clients. We're considering allowing collaborators on a per-project basis without the need for a whole organization plan. Your feedback is very helpful!


#4

Thanks for you input Sergie... as I need to go forward I'll continue in the existing way, subscribing to yearly org. plans. If you change something on the way I'm sure you'll make it even for me, regarding the plans I purchased and the new options Webflow propose.


#5

Thanks Sergie,

Yes the ability to have collaborators on a per-project basis without the need for an org account would be a good start but really only helps in more of a CMS context rather than a fellow designer/creator context. But I think the bigger issue for me is the Org account in the first place, its price, and the structure of webflow's designer vs. user mentality.

I fall in the spectrum along with many other web designers where we don't operate a huge business or large team. The smallest Org account is $70/month which is neat and all but just not sustainable without any kind of residual income on the clients we bring to webflow on that level of an account.

Now I see a great way to solve this issue:

The ideal process would be simply a way to add a client to a site as a CMS user upon which the client begins playing for some plan level. For example, I just finished a website design for the client and I'm ready to either give them CMS access or Transfer the site to them.

If they want me to remain the admin and just be a CMS user: I would invite them to the site as a CMS user and they would get a notification to accept via email. They would then either create their own webflow account or login to their existing webflow account. If they do not have a paid plan they would begin paying for whatever plan level they need to run their site(s). If 1 site then just the basic plan plus the $4.99 custom domain. The site remains in my webflow view as I am the admin but now in the client's webflow dashboard they just have CMS capabilities of this site and are now handling the cost of the site.

The beauty of this method is they would also see any other sites they have created themselves or other sites I have given them access to in their dashboard; as well as any other designers that have invited this person to CMS level access. This allows me as the designer to remain the client's caretaker of their site (which is is almost always what the client wants since they don't know web) while both webflow and myself getting 50/50 income sharing.

Then if the client wants another website designed by me they just upgrade to the personal plan which allows 20 sites and I invite them as a CMS user for another site and so on. This method makes it sustainable for me as the designer and furthermore once I reach a certain number of sites I would imagine us designers would no longer have a "paid" account plan but simply split profits with webflow Maybe this would be around 5 websites or something. Essentially attract designers by giving us free accounts and both webflow and the designer make money off of the client CMS sites. Win win for all involved!!! Obviously I would cover the cost of any sites I create for myself in my webflow account.

Related note would be no charge for sites under development and only charge for sites that are published or for sites that have CMS users invited.

But what if I break ties with a client all together OR they just want to bring in a different designer OR hire and in-house designer? That's when I would "transfer" a site to the client's webflow account. Upon transfer the client now has full admin access of the site and I no longer see the site in my webflow account view. BUT I would still receive some (much smaller percentage) residual income for being the person to refer this client to webflow in the first place. Again win win for webflow, the designer, and the client!

( Ok, whew... so a quick picture of how I currently work may also help paint a picture of the problem that exists. I currently tell clients to create their own webflow account on the personal plan level. Then tell them to give me their login credentials. This is both annoying to have to remember a bunch of client credentials but more so a huge bummer that I'm not receiving any residual income for bringing a client to webflow platform. Plus the client now as full admin of the sites I'm creating which spells DANGER DANGER DANGER for us web designers! )

I hope that makes sense and would love to hash this out more if needed. Even by phone or personal email if anyone on the Webflow team wants to discuss more.

Last note is this might be further simplified by separating the two different types of Webflow users into Designer Accounts and Standard Accounts:

Designer accounts would be free with the designer and webflow splitting profits from the CMS clients and site transfers. Until a certain number of CMS sites are reached designers would only pay to cover any sites they create for themselves after a certain number of sites are reached maybe desinger account would have a gradually growing number of sites allowed for themselves. Such as 5 client sites gives the designer 1 site for himself etc...

User accounts would be self created webflow sites and accounts with CMS access.

Thoughts? Ideas? Could this work?


#6

Thanks a bunch for sharing your thoughts @bsetter! We're definitely going to take your feedback to heart and consider it as we plan on adding features to improve your designer<->client workflows.


#7

How about just a simple LINK affiliate program to give people who spread the word and bring you paying subscribers a little free month action?


#8