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Alexa Steinbrück
Alexa Steinbrück

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Have you used Netlify for real client projects?

I read a lot of case studies of developers who use Netlify for their personal projects (blog, portfolio, experiments, ...).

I've almost never heard anybody telling how they used Netlify as a hosting/CD solution for real-world client projects.

I would be curious to hear about your experience using Netlify for your client projects.

  • Which plan did you choose (free or professional)?
  • How did you explain Netlify to your client? I have the impression that the decoupled nature of JAM stack websites is confusing for clients (as opposed to a monolithic Wordpress site)
  • How was the handover? Did you make a Netlify account for your client?

Please share!

Discussion (20)

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iwaniukooo11 profile image
Mateusz Iwaniuk

Yes, lately I have had a client, who wanted a very simple portfolio for photograph. Because of the fact, that client didn't want to buy a domen, I served it on the netlify. Both of us are happy with this solution :)

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author

Hi Mateusz, thanks for sharing! Out of curiosity: Did you use a static site generator for this site (e.g. Gatsby)? Did you use Continuous integration? What kind of (headless) CMS did you go for, or no CMS at all?

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iwaniukooo11 profile image
Mateusz Iwaniuk

Hi, the project was built on sapper. I was obliged to do this, because the first plan was to create a SPA. I have decided to do this in svelte - It is nice environment to create such small nice webpages. And when it was done, client said me that now he thinks, that he needs a multipage -_- .The only way to do this and not rebuilding my code was to move to sapper. If i knew, that it will be a multipage, I would do it in Gatsby. If you are curious - I don't recommend using sapper, but svelte as a framework works fine.
I also gave a headles CMS to my client - In my case it was DatoCMS. I did a whole job with it, and at the end gave account to my client, and then teached him how to manage content with it.
Client has no problems with managing content and netlify hosting works absolutely fine

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author

Nice, I'll check out Svelte + DatoCMS. So I guess that DatoCMS also has webhooks to connect with Netlify?
Speaking of image-heavy portfolio websites, I also recently built a Gatsby site for an artist. The gatsby-image plugin is really great, I can absolutely recommend: On the server side it does automatic resizing of your image files, and on the templating side it helps you with responsive images. That being said, the image resizing also eats up build minutes on Netlify, but up to now, we're still not at capacity at Netlify's Free Plan :-)

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iwaniukooo11 profile image
Mateusz Iwaniuk

Thanks, I know Gatsby very well, my own portfolio is built on it. I like this environment, it's amazing. I'm not sure if Dato has any webhooks, I'm just doing request on the front-end site and getting necessary data :D

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author

I checked out DatoCMS and I'm already a fan :-D So simple and intuitive for both devs + clients (that's not easy to achieve I guess)!

I found a sample project for Gatsby + DatoCMS + Netlify that establishes the hooks automatically.

Checking out the free plan of DatoCMS: 200MB file storage is not that much though. Especially for image-heavy websites and if you want to store the raw files and do further processing with gatsby-image...

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iwaniukooo11 profile image
Mateusz Iwaniuk

Yeah, that's true. If you want to build a big portal, dato has limited memory. It also allows you to use only 20 models (or something like that). But for really normal pages, like 4-page portfolio, dato works perfect :D

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author • Edited on

Up until now, I've used Netlify's Free Tier for a couple of client projects. In terms of features and capacity, it has everything I needed. But then if you look at the Pricing page, they say that the Free Tier is for "personal projects, hobby sites or experiments". Which doesn't exactly describe the business-critical sites I build for my clients.

The next tier is the Pro Tier which is pretty expensive if you just want to host 1 static site with them.

It seems to me that Netlify's plans are not really suited for developers or small agencies who develop websites for small businesses. What do you think?

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stu profile image
Stu Finn

Hi Alexa, I have been running into this lately too.

Until now I have kept client sites on my own Netlify account. So far it works because they are small businesses with low traffic but I can see it causing issues down the road. I would prefer to hand off everything to the client, but retain access to the account for support. The Netlify Pro plan is definitely overkill and too pricey for my use-cases.

The only alternative option I can see is to create a new free account for them and have them add me as an ad-hoc team member for $15 US a month. Still not ideal. Have you found a better solution to this since you posted about it?

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author

Hi Stu!
The workflow that works best for me now is the following:

  1. During development, I keep the project on my own Netlify account
  2. Once it is ready, I ask the client to create a (free) Netlify account and pass me the password via onetimesecret.com
  3. Then I transfer ownership via a request to the Netlify support

2+3 seems a bit hacky, but it works. Paying the $15/month for an extra team member doesn't seem necessary to me, since the clients themselves probably won't work actively on the Netlify setup, and your work as the developer will be finished at a certain point.

I also explicitely asked Netlify if the Free Plan is reliable for small business projects (and not “personal projects, hobby sites or experiments” only), and the answer was YES. You can read the thread here

I am planning to write a blog post about this (and the practical implications of using JAM stack for non-technical clients). Hopefully soon!

Cheers!

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taylorpage71 profile image
Taylor Page

Do you have continuous deployment linked up to these kinds of websites? I've been wondering about this use-case method myself with some Gatsby and now an 11ty site that I'm working on for some clients. Was curious about the handoff with site ownership and how this should be handled. Would be nice if they had site owners and dev access as separate things rather than paying $19/member.

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author • Edited on

Yes, I usually have CI/CD from Github in place. In this case I also create a Github account for the client. I am still struggling a bit with this approach, because it feels like it involves the client a bit too deep into the infrastructural/development part of the project. Seems like this is a side-effect of the JAM Stack...

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jgeis13 profile image
Jarick

Hi Alexa,

A year or so later are you still using Netlify's Free tier for client projects? I'm beginning to run into this conundrum myself. I read their reply to your question about the TOS and it's hard to know if that still holds up. Some other threads seem to say for commercial use they want you on the Pro plan.

I've started using NextJS and I love it. But realizing when it comes to hosting a small business website, Netlify and Vercel (especially) have awkward pricing. It's either overly expensive if you want to setup an account for each client, or you have to deal with TOS uncertainty (more explicitly commerce requires paid plan in Vercel) if you keep them on the free tier. Sure I could upgrade my own account to Pro and host multiple websites but I don't always want to maintain the client site. But making a small business pay $20/month for hosting a small site when it could be hosted more "traditionally" for much less feels strange.

Maybe I'm overthinking this whole thing. I love both Netlify and Vercel and their services (and their generous free tiers) and understand they need to make money, but it sure seems like they could have a cheap "lite business" plan or something where only 1 site is allowed with much smaller limits.

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author

Hi Jarick, thanks for sharing your experience! Yes, I am still using Netlify one year later, also for client projects. It feels like we are the only people who view it from a critical angle, so maybe we're overthinking it (like you said) :-D I will add an update to this blog post if I ever run into problems with Netlify free tier.

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ktutnik profile image
Ketut Sandiarsa

Hi Alexa,
Thanks for bring this topic up, I curious too about it. So its been a year since you post it, are you getting any issue by using the free tier for client project until now?

Currently I used AWS S3 for my JAMStack websites, its quite cheap for a low traffic websites. For the backend I used Free tier of GraphCMS which gives a fair amount of traffic and space. For form submission I used FormsSpark + UploadCare.

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück Author

Still on the free tier and never ran into issues. I try to detach the client projects from my account tho, by creating a Netlify and a Github account for my clients and migrating it there

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jeremyjosephabraham profile image
Jeremy Joseph Abraham

Is transferring the ownership of the Netlify CMS free?

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evankapantais profile image
Evan Kapantais

Quite the interesting discussion going on here. I was curious about the best way to manage client projects as well and bumped into this post from Netlify's blog.

I hope you'll find it useful 🙌

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miguelhv profile image
Miguel

Such an interesting discussion! I was wondering the same, as I'm planning to build a Gatsby site and deploy it on Netlify. It'll be for a friend, but still I wanted to know how to do it properly haha

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matheusdamiao profile image
Matheus Oliveira Damião

Amazing post! Didn't find anyone else talking about this aspect of the JAM stack. I'm a junior developer, new in this JAM stack world, and was wondering what's the best way that I could manage my clients' code within this stack. After reading the suggestions below, I guess migrating the project to my own client's account both in netlify and github is the best option in long term, at least to detach myself from the project. Did you guys still do something like that or have you come up with a better way to handle? Thanks for sharing