You’ve got a new website, and it’s beautiful! Then…you login to draft a blog post and find a bunch of little scary orange warning circles all over the WordPress sidebar and top bar. Ack! This is WordPress’ way of of letting you know that you need to do some WordPress Website maintenance.
To do this, you need to update plugins, update your theme, delete spam comments, and even update WordPress! Why all these updates? And, how do you do all of that without breaking your site?
First, why do plugins, themes, and even WordPress itself have all of these seemingly never-ending updates?
It’s because the web is an ever-changing landscape. WordPress is always evolving and updating which means that the plugin and theme developers need to update, so their products continue to work with WordPress.
Many of the updates are also security fixes. Since WordPress powers somewhere between 25%-30% of the sites on the internet (depending on which stats you find), hackers target WordPress. If they can find a backdoor into WordPress sites, especially those that aren’t updated, they can hack into hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of sites.
It’s up to you to keep your site updated and maintained which means keeping:
- a daily backup of your site,
- the WordPress core files up to date,
- all plugins updated,
- your theme updated, and
- spam comments cleaned up.
There are four ways to get this done. You can do this for “free” or you can pay. I put “free” in quotes because if you charge $50/hour for your time, but you spend 1-2 hours per month on site maintenance, then you just cost yourself $100 by doing it for “free.”
#1 – DIY your Maintenance for free
If you’re bootstrapping your new blog or business, and you’ve got the time, this is the cheapest way to keep your site updated.
Set your site to alert you of any needed updates. To do this, first, install the WordFence security plugin. Once it’s installed, activate it and head over to the Options panel. Once there, make sure your email is entered for WordFence to send you alerts.
Then, scroll down to the bottom of the WordFence Options panel. Under “Dashboard Notification Options,” make sure you have the boxes checked next to “
In the Scan panel, make sure you have WordFence set to run regular scans. If you have any needed updates to plugins, your theme, or WordPress, you’ll now get an email letting you know which is helpful.
Set up automatic backups. The next plugin you want to install is called Updraft Plus Backups. Set it to run daily or weekly backups. If you don’t change the content on your site very often, weekly backups are probably fine. But if you’re blogging regularly, you’ll want to run backups more frequently.
Make sure your backups are sent somewhere you have access to, like your email, dropbox, or the cloud somewhere.
When you need to update anything on your site, run a backup first. Then, update ONE plugin. Don’t ever use the bulk update tool. Update ONE at a time. Once a plugin has finished updating, check your site. Is it still working? Can you click around to different pages? If so, go ahead and update the next plugin.
If you’re using quality plugins, you shouldn’t have any problems. Sketchy plugins that aren’t coded well can cause sites to break.
Follow the same process for updating your theme and WordPress. Run a backup. Save the backup. Then, run the update.
If an update breaks your site, first see if you can install your back-up. If you can’t do that, call your host and they can help you install your backup OR they can install their backup. A reputable host should also be backing up your site daily or on a regular basis.
If your host can’t fix your site, see #4 for a link to my fav web dev angel who can help you out.
To delete spam comments, you need to open your comments and delete spammy ones.
#2 – DIY for $4-$5/month
For this one, install the ManageWP Worker plugin. Then, go to managewp.com and set up a free account. Once you’ve got an account, you’ll need to link ManageWP to your website which you do by following their super simple instructions.
Now that your website is linked to your ManageWP account, you can set up premium backups for $2/month. You can also add whatever other features you’d like for $1-$2 per month. I usually add Uptime Monitor for $1. You might add Security check for $1 as well.
When your site needs an update, ManageWP will send you an email alerting you. Login to your ManageWP account and open your website dashboard. Here’s where the ManageWP magic happens.
Check the little boxes next to whatever needs to be updated. Then, click on “Safe Update.” ManageWP will backup your site, update the plugins and themes, and check to make sure your site is still working. If an update broke your site, it will automatically re-install the back-up and leave the offending plugin “un-updated.”
To delete spammy comments for a small fee, install the Akismet plugin and follow their instructions for getting a key. If you install it on a personal site, it’s free. If it’s on a business site, it’s $5/month which is well worth it. This plugin keeps your comments un-spammy (not sure if that’s a word but I think you know what I mean)!
You’ll need to do this whether you pay for a maintenance plan or not. Website maintenance plans don’t generally include comment clean up.
#3 – Pay for a maintenance plan – $30-$130/month
A maintenance plan is for you if you have ZERO interest in keeping your site updated as you’re focusing on growing your business. This is a service that many web designers and developers offer. It’s steady monthly income for us, and you don’t have to worry about your site – a win/win all the way around.
The other bonus is that many WordPress website maintenance plans also come with security as well as guaranteed fixes if something does break.
The pricing varies so much in these plans based on what you get with them. For example, you might get site backups; theme, plugin, and core WordPressupdates; security; uptime monitoring; responsive personalized customer service for any tech issues you have with your site; and/or design updates.
Also, if your site does go down, getting it back up is usually included in these plans which is HUGE!! A good developer is truly a magician which you’ll understand if your site crashes, and they wave their web dev wand and fix it!!
I offer maintenance packages to existing coaching and design clients which include all site updates as well as an hour of my time each month for whatever they need.
#4 – Hire a developer once your site is down, broken, or hacked – $100’s+
If you don’t keep your site updated, it will probably get hacked or broken. And trust me, this is NOT fun. The easiest strategy to keep your site running and happy is to keep it updated!
However, if you do get hacked or your site crashes, I recommend Neil Matthews over at WP Dude to fix your site. He’s my go-to web dev guy and has been for years. I also team with him for the WordPress Website maintenance packages that I offer clients. Finally, if you’re not one of my clients, he also offers maintenance packages, but you’ll need to contact him to get a quote.
Keeping your site updated and secure is SUPER important. I honestly can’t emphasize this enough. It’s a horrible feeling to try to login into your online home and find that you can’t, that’s it’s down, or all you can see is a white screen or some sort of scary 403 or 504 error code that you have NO idea how to fix.
Instead, keep your site healthy. This is way easier, and more economical, than it is to try to fix it when it’s down. I promise!