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Saas vs Freelancer: What does SaaS mean, and why does it matter to your website?

Right here at Advisor Advanced, we get an opportunity to speak to numerous agency house owners, and every now and again, we come throughout someone who actually struggles to perceive our business (and pricing) mannequin.

Particularly, they don’t understand why we’ve got a month-to-month recurring charge and/or why it is the quantity that it is.

With that in mind, I assumed it can be a great concept to tackle how and why we do things internally here on the blog so people have a better understanding of the event and design area.

Prepared to dive in? Let’s do that!

First off, Advisor Advanced is a SaaS company/enterprise model. SaaS stands for “software as a service“.

This is identical actual model that hundreds of different software program and improvement corporations function beneath. You might not understand it, but you’re already utilizing several SaaS providers.

Your company administration system is SaaS. Your e-mail provider is SaaS. Your tax/accounting software is SaaS. Make sense? Those softwares and methods provide a service for your enterprise, and are subsequently paid in an ongoing, recurring style.

SaaS corporations are literally in all places.

I feel what makes it troublesome to perceive typically is historically within the net design business, individuals are used to the “freelance” mannequin. That’s, interviewing several designers or businesses, and hiring one among them based mostly on an hourly price to complete their activity(s).

While this has been an extended standing approach of doing issues in the design/improvement area, it has a couple of major drawbacks that may significantly hamstring you and your business website.

Listed here are some widespread drawbacks of the freelance model, and why SaaS is the easiest way to go if your website is an important part of your enterprise. Trace — it is.

Succesful and trustworthy talent is tough to find

To begin with, within the traditional freelance area, it may be onerous, like extraordinarily onerous to discover a good, reputable freelancer. Individuals in this area are a special breed people. You’d have to be in the business to absolutely understand what I’m saying.

I’ve worked with solo freelancers, larger businesses, and other contractors, and this may sound a bit of harsh but individuals in the design/improvement area could be, for lack of a greater word — flakey.

That’s, they are often exhausting to work with. They’re right here one minute and gone the subsequent. Not replying to your emails or calls. Perhaps they’re not on this country or in your time zone.

Smaller freelancers typically occasions have hassle delivering tasks on time (or in any respect) as a result of it’s simply them managing every part. Bigger businesses are sometimes rather more expensive as a result of they have a whole group of people they’ve to involve and feed.

What’s extra, many freelancers (usually) typically occasions work on the aspect or have other tasks or jobs happening, so it may be onerous to lock them down for what you need to do. I’m unsure how many brokers I’ve spoken to whose unique website was built by their neighbors’ grandson who just discovered Dreamweaver in high-school and did it for $500.

I take a look at the location and it’s principally falling apart.

The purpose is, there’s often no center floor, and discovering a reliable designer/developer is significantly like finding a needle in a haystack. All the nice ones are already employed by bigger businesses, so typically occasions you’re left using someone who will not be as seasoned.

Activity sites like Fiverr and UpWork might be good assets for one-off jobs, but hiring someone from either one of them to build out an internet site could be a dangerous proposition.

Clearly with Advisor Advanced, that’s one thing you merely don’t have to fear about as a result of we handle all of that for you. We do custom work, and even have a number of pre-built/designed layouts our clients can select from.

Not solely are our web site designs trendy, however they’re designed specifically for your business by people who find themselves in your business and know the pain factors and wants of insurance agents and advisors. This implies you don’t have to explain anything to us, or coach us up on your business. We know what you want already.

The same can’t be stated for random freelancers and/or individuals you might find on process websites.

Speaking of insurance coverage agents…

Freelancers are lots like insurance agents

Like insurance coverage agents, they arrive in call shapes, sizes, with various expertise ranges.

There are individuals in the net improvement area that pose as designers/builders, who’re truly reselling stock, off-the-shelf templates built by different individuals, as “custom” web sites. This is truly fairly vast unfold on this area.

You could have individuals who declare they’re builders, who can’t write a single line of code.

To the untrained eye, it might be onerous to spot an excellent designer/developer from a poser.

Identical to in insurance, the uneducated shopper can’t really inform the distinction between someone who just acquired their license and a 40 yr veteran who has seen it all, as a result of everyone is promoting the identical thing, from the same corporations, with the identical supply. That’s a dialog for an additional day although.

The point is, individuals within the net design area could be like a cross between a used automotive salesman and a shady mechanic, particularly as it relates to search engine optimisation for insurance.

I’ve been in this area for nearly 20 years, and might inform you story after story about shoppers being ripped off, tasks left incomplete, web sites being hacked by malware, taken offline for no purpose, domain accounts being hacked, stolen, and extra.

All….the….shifting….elements….

What’s more, when it comes to creating an internet site, there are a variety of shifting elements concerned. Typically they’re all handled by the identical individual, however when coping with larger design businesses, they’re sometimes delegated to numerous staff members.

You could have the designer who truly maps out the visual format of the website based mostly on what audiences you’re serving, and what actions you need these audiences to take.

Then you’ve gotten the developer, who turns that design/mockup right into a dwelling respiration net web page by writing code.

Then you might have the content workforce, who helps an typically uncreative shopper discover the suitable phrases to articulate their brand, service offering, and calls to action, as well as optimize their content material for search engine optimisation.

As soon as the venture is full,… then what?

An internet site shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it sort of software.

If your on-line presence is going to achieve success, you need ongoing help and maintenance — a gaggle of people who find themselves there to maintain the health of your web site in order, reply questions, assist you to if you get stuck, and remove another technical barrier that stands between you and your potential to use your web site as a true advertising, gross sales, and service software.

At Advisor Advanced, we mix all of these things for the shopper, in order that they don’t have to scramble round, making an attempt to piecemeal all the things collectively on their own, with little to time or information of how it all works and matches collectively.

Probably the most underrated aspect in your online success is that this:

Ongoing help and website upkeep is probably probably the most underrated ingredient in any successful business as it relates to your on-line presence. Lots of our clients would inform you that they didn’t understand how much help they wanted till they actually had somebody they might lean on.

In truth, there are literally corporations out there, who cost a recurring month-to-month payment for website help/upkeep solely.

No website. No content material help. No advertising consulting. Little or no telephone help. Not one of the issues we offer (in addition to our designs).

Simply website maintenance, backups, uptime monitoring and the occasional repair.

(That’s how essential these things are though to the health of your website and the capacity to use your website).

At Advisor Advanced, every part you get with that sort of help firm (and extra) is included in our monthly charge. Take a look at our plans web page for an entire breakdown.

We mix the design, improvement, internet hosting, content material, backups, uptime monitoring, customer help, and rather more right into a manageable month-to-month cost.

Not solely are we a software-as-a-service sort of company, however we’re a customer help and maintenance-as-a-service company too.

Web site upkeep is essential

What’s the point of an internet site if it never works right?

On the maintenance piece — don’t overlook that a web site is built with software program, and software is constantly being changed, updated, and patched. If your web site is an important a part of your business, which it is, it wants to be maintained identical to anything.

Would you set 60,000 miles on your automotive without changing the oil, flushing the transmission, or getting new tires? In fact not, yet that is how individuals deal with their web sites all the time. Once more, it’s not set-it-and-forget-it.

We’ve seen all varieties of nonsense unfold. Websites contaminated with malware. Tremendous sluggish loading occasions. Broken code, damaged plugins, out-dated variations of inner software. Knowledge not being archived. Websites utterly down for months without the shopper figuring out it.

Did you know Google uses the web page load of your website as an search engine optimisation ranking signal? It’s that necessary.

Your website is a dwelling, respiration a part of your enterprise and ought to be handled as such. In the event you’re an Advisor Advanced buyer, there’s completely nothing you need to fear about with this, as a result of once more, it’s all included in our month-to-month charge.

Reinvesting again into the product

Help and upkeep is one factor, and an important thing at that, but what concerning the underlying product? The SaaS mannequin permits you to reinvest again into your merchandise. This can be a greater deal than you assume.

You already know when your company management system or CRM receives an update?

Most individuals click on a button and their system is up to date. They don’t understand that months and months of work and tons of money was invested into that replace. Refactoring code, enhancing consumer interfaces, and including options value cash.

At Advisor Advanced we are constantly reinvesting again into our merchandise, infrastructure and providers to give our clients (and their clients) higher instruments and a better experience.

Many people don’t know this, but our PowerPack device which is now a fan favorite among our clients (and what some call a “game changer” in the insurance coverage advertising area) took eight months to and a number of 5 figures to develop.

This can be a device that flat out helps individuals write enterprise, and the time and revenue that was invested in it’s creation would not have been out there if we weren’t a SaaS operation.

Freelancers don’t reinvest into your website

Reinvestments again into the product/service is something that you simply don’t get utilizing a freelancer. A freelancer isn’t going to name you up out of the blue and ask you when you’d like the most recent version of X, Y, or Z.

They’re never going to run updates for you or enhance your website. Their job is completed once they deliver the product or website.

At Advisor Advanced, we’ve pushed out lots of of updates during the last yr (sure tons of) from small bug fixes, to updates to our server infrastructure, and brand new options, and 99% of the time our clients by no means hear about them.

Why? As a result of that’s our job and that’s what our clients pay us for — to hold them online with an awesome, conversion pushed design that works. We don’t even inform our shoppers when WordPress is up to date, or make a small enchancment someplace.

That’s previous news and something they don’t want to be bothered with.

On our pricing mannequin

Every on occasion we get “wow, $150/mo? This website better wash my car, dishes, and take the kids to school”

Here’s the factor, and chances are you’ll not understand this since you won’t be in the design/improvement area, however that’s very affordable on this area.

Some may even name it low cost. Sure, low cost.

The truth is, we’ve been informed by a lot of people from carriers, business groups,  large associations and business consultants that we’d like to cost extra based mostly on our worth and product, and the place the competition is priced.

If you worth a services or products there are a ton of metrics that go into it like what the market value is for your product/service, where rivals are priced, the demand, and in the long run, how good your product is.

Once I looked at all of these issues, I saw an enormous hole out there.

There have been either low tier providers that have been round $20-80/mo, or corporations charging $1600/mo. There are also free DIY options (or virtually free) the place the agent is liable for doing the whole lot themselves.

There was no middle ground in any way in each the product offering or the pricing. The product choices have been primarily The Basic and Chubb.

There was no Safeco Optimum Package deal or Vacationers Excessive Value Householders product within the marketplace.

In the long run I checked out these variables and based mostly our pricing on value. I needed to supply quite a bit to the shopper, at an inexpensive value even when it was a one-person or scratch company.

$150 is about than the commission most agents make promoting one $1000 premium policy (based mostly on a mean 15% commission in fact), whether or not that be an auto or householders policy. Only one coverage pays for your website for that month.

Once you take a look at what some corporations are charging for upkeep only, and what others are charging for outdated and ineffective merchandise, we felt that our pricing was extremely truthful, if not low based mostly on the variables at play.

Sustaining and sustaining

The other a part of such a model is, when you’re not sustainable, you’ll be able to’t supply your product or service for long. I used to tell my insurance shoppers on a regular basis when rates went up, “insurance companies need to make some kind of profit, otherwise they can’t insure anyone.”

Operating a enterprise, whether or not it be SaaS or not, is not any totally different.

We would like to ensure that we are sustainable for the long term so we will fulfill the needs of our shoppers properly into the longer term, whereas providing an amazing product/service at an inexpensive value.

Conclusion

On the finish of the day, whether or not something is reasonable or expensive is all relative, and I definitely don’t want it to sound like all freelancers are hassle as a result of they’re not.

Finally, the SaaS mannequin has allowed us to supply a really robust product and service at a competitive worth, and will permit us to enhance it so it’s even better in the future.