WPMU DEV’s Client Billing Makes Managing Clients and Processing Payments HassleFree (and Fast!)

WPMU DEV’s Client Billing Makes Managing Clients and Processing Payments Hassle-Free (and Fast!)

Imagine a room full of accountants, bookkeepers, and invoicing agents billing your clients, collecting, processing, and instantly depositing their payments into your bank account. That’s what WPMU DEV’s Client Billing does.

Client Billing is an integrated solution that is easy to set up, easy to use…and completely free!

In this article, we’ll explore the full gamut of top-notch features and show you how to set up and automate your client billing by integrating your services, pricing, and clients, with your payment processor account.

“Just now I input all of my websites and hooked it up to client billing, to see my MRR right there motivates me so much I think I will upgrade to the agency plan and push hard with business.” – Web Host Wizards (WPMU DEV Member)

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.

Feature-packed: Clients & Billing is Loaded

We weren’t kidding when we set out to make an elevated experience out of the customer billing and payment process.

Look at all the features included in Client Billing:

  • Bill Clients Fast – Create profitable subscription plans, and track your recurring revenue.
  • Invoice with a Click – Professionally branded invoices, automated and ready to send in minutes.
  • Clever Client Management – Includes everything you need to monitor clients, invoices, and subscriptions.
  • Profitable Plans & Subscriptions – Create tiered plans unique to your business, and maximize revenue.
  • Personalized Client Portal – Branded, user-friendly access for clients to remit payments securely.
  • Streamlined Payments – One-time or recurring payments, the latter of which auto-charge clients after the first invoice is authorized.
  • Per-Client Site Billing – Link subscriptions and invoices to site-specific products or services.

The above features are all part of The Hub, our all-in-one WordPress site management tool.

If you’re a member, you’ve already got access to this power performer. And if you’re not, sign up – it’s free – and The Hub & Client Billing are included.

Configuring The Components in Clients & Billing

Because there’s so much you can do in the Client Billing module, I wanted to lay out how we’ll go through the touchpoints.

  1. Connect your Stripe account.
  2. Initial setup of clients and products.
  3. Branding and your business profile.
  4. Create and customize invoices.

There’s a lot of great material to unpack, so let’s have at it. 🙂

Connecting To Your Stripe Account

Client payments in The Hub are currently made through the Stripe payment platform. Additional payment options (such as PayPal) are on the table for future inclusion, so stay tuned.

To start accepting payments in Clients & Billing, you’ll need to connect your Stripe account, so that’s our first order of business. And don’t worry; if you don’t yet have a Stripe account, you can easily create one through the Hub’s integration wizard.

Login to your WPMU DEV account, then navigate to The Hub > Clients & Billing.

From the Getting Started wizard, click the Connect with Stripe button.

Enter the Email and Password fields, using those you want associated with your Stripe account, then click the Log in button.

If you happen to have more than one Stripe account associated with the email address you’ve entered, they’ll be presented here.

Account selection in Stripe setup.

Select the account you want from the listed options, then click the Connect button.

Continue with any additional steps in the setup wizard. (If you need to start over at any point, just click Return to WPMU DEV on the left side of the screen.)

Upon completing the wizard, you’ll be directed back to the Getting Started screen in your Hub, and prompted to select the currency you want to use in your Client Billing portal.

Click on the box denoting awareness of currency not being changeable later, then you’ll be able to hit Finish Setup.

choose billing currencyYour connected Stripe account will automatically import after you select currency.
client billing configure tourThe purple dot is for a Client Billing popup tour, which you can choose to skip.

If you don’t don’t already have an account with Stripe, the Getting Started wizard will prompt you to create one. It’s a quick and simple process, which puts you right back in The Hub upon completion.

stripe account thru wpmu dev integrationCreating a Stripe account through The Hub integration.

If you prefer you can go directly to Stripe’s site, set up your account there, then return to the wizard in the Hub and complete the connection there.

create account on stripe's siteCreating an account directly on Stripe’s website.

Note that you can only connect one platform to any Stripe account at any one time. (This is due to Stripe’s policies.)

Initial Setup of Clients & Products

All of the tools you need to manage the Stripe account connected to your Clients & Billing, such as your business profile, your custom branding, the importing of products and clients, and more, are housed here.

Let’s look at them now.

Managing Your Billing Account

From the Hub’s Clients & Billing page, under Configuration > Billing Account, you’ll see the info associated with your Stripe account (name, email, and connection date).

stripe account settings in the hub clients+billingStripe account settings in The Hub’s Clients & Billing.

The Payment Preferences section beneath shows the currency you selected, as well as the business name that will appear on your clients’ bank or credit card statements.

If you want to change the statement descriptor, just click on the name or arrow to the right of this row, and edit as desired.

stripe payment prefs & addtl toolsStripe payment preferences and additional tools.

Finally you’ll see Additional Tools at the bottom, which is where you can import customers or products & services from your connected Stripe account, if there are any associated with it.

To import clients or products & services, click on Import or the arrow to the right of the row.

From the resultant popup, select any clients you’d like to import, by checking the box preceding their email address. (Or, click the checkbox to the left of the email address header to select them all.) Then click the Import button at the bottom, which will reflect the total number of clients you’ve selected.

stripe import clientsClient importing in Stripe.

The clients you imported will be listed under the Clients tab, where you can manage all activity relevant to your Hub business. You can also Add New Clients from the Clients tab. (See Adding Clients Manually for details.)

Lather, rinse, repeat for Importing products.

stripe import productsProduct importing in Stripe.

Pricing plans associated with an imported product will be imported automatically.

You can also create new pricing plans from the Products & Services tab. (See Adding Products Manually for details.)

Understanding Client Roles & Access Permissions

There’s another element we should take a look as it pertains to our clients: assigning roles.

It’s important to define and understand what the purpose of a client’s site access will be.

For some clients, you’ll want to allow access to billing only. For others, you may want to give access to a couple of different sections, but not full run of the house.

And others still, you may want to allow them to view and edit everything.

Assigning roles gives you complete control over what views and actions clients will have in your branded Hub. This has the following benefits:

  • Omits unnecessary distractions and clutter; clients see only what you need them to see.
  • Protects against unintentional actions with potentially dire consequences. (They can’t break what they can’t touch.) This gives you and your client great peace-of-mind.
  • Allows clients to feel connected to their account information, and see the value of what they’re getting through you.

For illustrative purposes, we’ll target three arbitrary types:

  1. Regular Client = needs access to billing only (to view & pay online)
  2. Hosting Client = needs access to billing and hosting
  3. SEO Customer = needs access to billing and SEO for their website

Example #1 – Regular Client

Regular clients are the ones you’ll be doing all of the WordPress development for. You’ll provide reports, do site edits, and run the entire show. The only thing these clients will need is access to billing information.

Therefore, you just want them to be able to pay their invoices.

Clients & Billing in the Hub comes with three pre-established system roles, which are:

View All & Access Billing: client can access and manage their billing and view site data.

Edit All & Access Billing: client can view, edit, and take action regarding anything on their site and manage their own billing.

Access Billing Only: client can view and manage their own billing.

These preset roles can’t be edited or altered; that’s where custom roles come into play (which we’ll get into later).

Navigate to The Hub > Clients & Billing > Clients > Roles, and select Access Billing Only.

roles client rolesAccess Billing Only is one of three predefined roles.

Based on the premise that our Regular Client type will need to Access Billing Only, we’re going to select that as our default by clicking the Make default text in its row.

Now when you add new clients, it’s already established that this is their role. Of course this is editable should we need to change it at any time.

Example #2 – Hosting Client

This client plans on focusing some of their business on hosting in addition to billing. For this case, the client would need access to the following 4 areas:

  • Sites — to view the list of sites
  • Hosting — to view the hosting options
  • Site Billing – to view billing at site level
  • Access Billing – to view the Billing tab and pay invoices from either the site billing or the global billing tab

Start by clicking on + Create New Role.

roles create a new roleIt’s just a few clicks away from creating a new role.

Give it a Name (in this example, we’ll call it ‘Hosting’) and select what access the client will have. We’ll enable the 4 areas as listed above.

roles example hosting clientAn example of a Hosting Client, and the roles you would enable for them.

Customize even further when clicking on each category dropdown. You can select View & Edit, View Only, or Custom.

If you select Custom, here’s a look at all the options you could select for the client to have access to in custom role creation, pertaining to Hosting.

roles create a new role customSelect any hosting options you want.

Customize further by clicking the dropdown in each specific category (Staging, Analytics, Logs, Emails, etc), and selecting any/all of the options.

Here’s what Staging looks like:

roles create a new role custom stagingThere are plenty of options for Staging.

Once you have everything customized, click Save – and that’s it! You now have a new, customized role you can assign to any client.

roles create a new role role addedAs you can see, Hosting is now a client role.

Example #3 – SEO Customer

This client wants to view SEO details, in addition to billing. We can take the same approach we just took with our hosting clients: create a new role, name it, and select SEO as an option available to the client.

Specifically for this case, access to the following 4 areas would need to be enabled:

  • Sites — to view the list of sites
  • SEO — to view the SEO options
  • Site Billing – to view billing at site level
  • Access Billing – to view the Billing tab and pay invoices from either the site billing or the global billing tab
roles create a new role seoIn our SEO client example, we would select the SEO option (instead of Hosting), along with the other 3 options mentioned above.

If you choose to customize your SEO options for your client, they’ll be able to view SEO information, run new SEO Crawl, Apply config – basically anything you select here in permissions.

roles create a new role seo selectionsChoose any options you’d like.

Hit Save, and the new role is now available.

Of course, this was just a demo of three random client types. You can set up ANY client type and customize it to fit your business needs.

For more information on setting up Users & Roles in The Hub, see How to Simply Set Up Users & Roles in The Hub for You and Your Clients.

Customizing Your Emails

Prior to inviting our clients to the portal, let’s customize the emails we’ll be sending.

If you’d like, you can configure an SMTP plugin that allows you to enable your own domain address as the sender email. That would result in a from address like this: [email protected]

While your own domain as the from address is the most professional, it isn’t required. Without any changes, your from addresses will be something like these:

You can use any SMTP plugin of your choice; we recommend our (free!) Branda plugin, which handles this task with ease, and comes fully loaded with additional white-labeling features. Check out this how-to guide on activating SMTP mode in Branda, and this helpful walk-through on SMTP setup through Gmail.

There are a number of different emails that are sent from The Hub Client to you and to your clients, depending on various triggers.

Emails that come to you will be branded with WPMU DEV, while emails that go to your clients will be branded with the logo & colors set up in your Business Profile.

email settingsBranding and footer settings for your Hub emails.

Two additional informational pieces can be included or excluded from your email notifications:

  • Business Branding – toggle for your logo & brand color (from Business Profile).
  • Emails Footer Note – add a custom message at the bottom of all emails.

Here is an example of an email your clients could get:

email payment issueA sample email clients could get for a payment processing issue.

Of course any of the placeholder text in double brackets would be auto populated by the associated data in your hub before it is sent to you or your client.

Alright, roles have been considered and created accordingly, emails have been formatted… let’s put the finishing touches on our business profile.

Branding and Your Business Profile

Break out the logos and color codes! We’re going to make these billing materials our own.

From the Configure screen, click on the Business Profile tab.

In the Branding section, you’ll decide on the branding that will appear in your business invoices, emails, and billing receipts. It takes only a few seconds and minimal clicks.

Click on the right side of the Brand Logo row to upload your visual identity; likewise on Brand Color, to select your shade match via color selector box or hex code.

biz profile configure brandingBranding your business documents.

The logo you select will also appear in the top right corner of your clients’ profile menu when they log into your Hub via WPMU DEV.

Now we’ll add our business coordinates in the Business Info section – which will appear in any client documents you produce.

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