This is the general outline of how I work with people. When needed, we can deviate from this and develop our own working relationship. If this is a little too wordy for you right now, check out the TLDR (too long; didn't read) version.
This is a conversation to understand what goals you have for your website and/or what is possible. I'll also be making sure you understand exactly what services I offer and what my business model looks like. This will give us a really quick understanding of whether we are a good fit for each other or not.
Once we are generally on the same page and want to continue, I'll need more context about what value your business provides and who your primary customers are. This will give me a good idea of what problems we are going to solve. Through this discussion, we'll be able to have an outline of what the high-level goals/features are.
As stated in my business model, I build sites and then charge a monthly rate for them (and offer a buyout). I acknowledge that I am taking a risk there, but a way to mitigate that risk is by making sure you know what the monthly cost number is going to be before I start any work. This cost will be based on our conversations of the features to be included (generally $40-100/month). If requirements change through the project, as they often do, we can revisit this number. The buyout number will also be determined here.
The build phase is when I first start writing any code. There will need to be a lot of communication between us. I'll seek clarification on requirements, feedback on designs and implementations, and things like that. Effective communication during this phase is wildly important to the success of the project! You should absolutely not be surprised as to what you are getting at the end of the project.
After the site has been developed and thoroughly tested, I'll get it shipped out there so your users can start to enjoy it! This is also when your monthly billing starts. The site will remain live as long as you're current on your payments.
My support model is maybe a little different than others. For as long as you are paying the monthly fee, I'll make sure your site is operational and will fix any bugs for no additional cost. It is important to understand the difference between things that should work but are broken and things we didn't build in the first place. Any features of the latter type can be discussed and implemented with either a flat additional charge or an increase to the monthly fee.
At any point after the website is completed, I give the option for my customers to forgo the monthly billing option and pay a one-time fee to buy the website outright. This number was agreed upon during 'Cost Agreement' and effectively means you are now the sole owner of the website and are responsible for 100% of the maintenance. This is entirely optional based on what you're comfortable with.