Ask DN: What way do you create recurring revenue?

over 6 years ago from , Founder, Lead Designer at Black Airplane

I know I ask a lot on here and you guys and gals always have incredible answers. Our company (Blackairplane) is a product-based business. We do branding, web/application design, and development. Those are great and we are doing well but they are here and then gone.

We are looking to create recurring revenue. Repeated revenue, month to month from existing to new clients.

I know 'maintenance plans' are the major way of doing so, but I know they can also be a huge hassle because of all the time. Some of the maintenance plan items can be setup and then automated month-to-month, but not all.

What do you do? How well is it doing? Something you can share to help us get our feet off the ground?


  • Hans KuitHans Kuit, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    In the long way I think stepping up as a real (consultative) partner to your clients helps creating recurring revenue. The typical project approach tends to focus on delivering the project and moving on the the next project/client. Maintenance plans can help, but showing your client that you keep them up to date with new opportunities, shows real value.

    With everything new I see coming by every day, I'd like to think how this can help (one of my) clients. Sometimes random digging into Analytics reveals some excellent opportunities to follow up. Your client will be really thankful for showing him this opportunity.

    Don't try the "Hey client, there's a new social platform, I can include a button for you in 2 hours" approach. Instead, be consultative: "Hey client, I think hopping in to this new social platform can really help your business."

    Hope this was helpful, it sure was for me when I got this advice a year ago.

    5 points
  • Ross JohnsonRoss Johnson, over 6 years ago

    We have a variety of ways but like you are trying to find more opportunities. We do provide maintenance plans which for the most part don't require a high level of skill to execute allowing us to put more Jr. team members on which helps with the margins.

    We much prefer retainer agreements where clients agree to spend X amount per month in exchange for ongoing evolution of their digital properties. We meet once or twice a month to discuss opportunities, go over past progress and identify what we should be doing for the next month. It can be a really win/win provided you can identify and provide value at that sort of cadence.

    Finally last year we started packaging and selling some of the internal tools we developed which has been going better than expected.

    2 points
  • Adrian HowardAdrian Howard, over 6 years ago

    Generally I've moved away from projects to ongoing value-building things. Things like:

    • Half-hour/hour weekly/monthly remote-coaching
    • Monthly onsite workshops (either teaching client staff in methods or facilitating client project sessions)
    • Informational cool-stuff-in-domain-X updates.
    • Monthly A/B experiments, design improvements, etc. - incremental change rather than big-bang-project work.

    None of these are passive-income type recurring revenues, but they are relatively simple for us (e.g. across many companies you see the same problems multiple times, so you have some pretty standard options) and very high value for the client (immediate solution to problem X they're having right now).

    As a secondary effect the regular client contact means both the client and ourselves are better places to see other non-recurring opportunities for us to work together pop up.

    2 points