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Get My Offline Web & SEO Business to 10k/m (Business Already Running)

Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by llamaslayer, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    Hi everyone, I've been around these forums off and on for a while now. I've done some journeys in the past but let them fizzle out and not have any results. I'm taking this as a way to hold myself accountable for goals I'll create and have people who hopefully are interested waiting on my posts so I'll have that nagging at me to get things done and report back in.

    So here's a little background for everyone. I successfully ranked a few micro-niche adsense sites around 2 years ago that basically paid my way through college for regular living expenses, made around 1k/m from 2 sites for about a full school year and that gave me the internet money bug. After college, who woulda thought, I didn't use my degree at all. I got a degree in computer science and ended up working at a break-fix computer repair shop. It eventually turned into me managing the internal website and SEO for them and made me realize I could do that for anyone. I stepped out on my own and started my business in Dec 2014 and I have a pretty solid year up until now. I've done around 20 clients websites and a few of them have me on retainer doing their SEO which is 100% outsourced to BHW members. I do all the web design, sales, business backend stuff, etc.

    How I've promoted my business so far: I'm apart of my towns chamber of commerce, in BNI (the local business networking group) and try to find social engagements that have business owners involved, and of course am ranked between 1-2 for web design in my city. I've lived in the same city for almost all my life so I know a ton of people and have friends who I've been able to utilize for their connections and working for their parents/bosses/etc. I have never done any cold calling/cold door knocking ever (just the thought to me is dreadful lol) and haven't done any conventional advertising, so in a lot of ways I feel like I'm missing out on business and wasting time I could be finding new clients.

    The first year in business overall was good, but I made just a smidgen over my old computer job, which was great because I had a ton of free time and no boss, but I'm not happy with barely scraping by financially like I was. I made about 2k/m which is mostly all profit, but I have nothing really to show for it because bills and life ate away at it. I live on my own, have a car payment, and a son I pay for so that's pretty much my monthly bills. Where I'm at now is that I'm aiming to get out of the small business realm of just making a site and letting it sit, but finding the clients that can afford a new site and long term SEO/SMM plan. Ideally, they will agree to 6 month of 12 month terms and the numbers I've gotten from other business owners range from 6k-10k for that whole package. I think with the right clients that is an easy sell and potentially worth even more with a golden client.

    So the point of this thread for me is to inspire you guys to get out there and meet people, build trust and relationships, and make some money off the screen (which of course means back on the screen later that day :)). I also want a way to set goals that I hopefully will meet, can be held accountable for, and create a time-machine for me to look back throughout the next months/year and see where I've grown and haven't grown.
    Please let me know if this is exciting and interesting to you guys.

    Feel free to ask any questions you'd like! I'll keep the businesses names and cities out of responses, but am willing to answer most other questions.

    Thanks everyone!
    -llama
     
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  2. KingNay

    KingNay Newbie

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    Good luck buddy!
     
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  3. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    Also just so you guys know, I'm going to be working on my 2016 strategy in the rest of this month and theorizing how I go about getting in with the clients I'm talking about.

    We will get started making money again in 2016 but there is work to be done before then!
     
  4. Cross99

    Cross99 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I'll be following this closely. It's interesting that you have gained most of your clients so far through word of mouth and networking so marketing expenses thus far are minimal. Do you pay people commission for referring you, & if so how much? Also, how much do you charge for web design & do you include hosting? Thanks.
     
  5. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    Yep, marketing budget is $0 and was $0. It seems risky, but with 0 conventional overhead like office space/a second utility bill, etc it's a pretty easy risk to mitigate.
    I'm not doing any commissions actually, I offered that strategy for a little while but no one took me up on it and it honestly seemed kind of desperate and needy, so I stopped.

    Our web design is between $1500-$2500 for a standard small business web site. We don't set arbitray limits like number of pages or anything like that because I've never had a client so far want some insane amount of pages or content. Usually we advise against that because people aren't going to read novels on a small businesses website for the most part. We include hosting (it's so cheap I don't care to make a pittance every month) and include a year of changes like adding/removing pictures, changing text content, etc. (hardly anyone ever has changes!) This has been extremely well received, people hate the monthly bills and love it just "being taken care of." This leads into the monthly bills for SEO and SMM being rolled into a 6 month package with a discount, is my plan at the moment. Our area is a smaller, tourist focused resort town with enormous cash flow for most every business in the summer and the rest of the months are just standard for an area our size.

    Thanks for your interest and hopefully good things will come of this!
     
  6. BuildMoreLinks

    BuildMoreLinks Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    what is the project management tools and invoicing tools are you using. Also what are you using for whitelabel reporting?
     
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  7. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    At the moment, I don't have any sort of project management tool in place. I really have only ever had 2 or maybe at the most 3 projects at once so it's been really easy to manage just inside email and phone calls. I've been looking at Zendesk because it's cheap and seems pretty powerful. I do want that for tracking and reportings sake pretty soon.

    The reporting tool I love is semrush. It's such an awesome site full of great reports, most of the time they're super sleek and shiny so I can just turn around and show it to the client, with really no work to make it look nice. Also just taking the clients own Google analytics data and making it easy to read, just using the report generation function already inside there

    For invoicing, I'm using quickbooks online, but the CC fees are really high so I'm looking at switching but haven't made a decision yet. It's nice with all the automation like auto-generating and sending recurring invoices and stuff like that. The interface is also great on my iphone/ipad so thats awesome for mobile payments.

    Any advice on invoicing systems and ticketing/project management would be awesome!
     
  8. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    So yesterday I found and signed up for the free trial of salesgenie. It's a business directory tool that lets you filter businesses by industry, size, annual estimated revenue, etc. and they give you 150 free credits. I used all my credits and got a list of clients I think would be good for this type of service. Private medical, lawyers, etc. I set the annual revenue to $1 million+ and then to 3 zip codes in our area. I'm hoping to find someone who can help me with cold marketing so I don't seem salesy, but can get into businesses like these
     
  9. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    Using the list I generated from sales genie, I'm going to target 5 clients a week. Instead of cold calling or emailing, I spoke with a good friend of mine who does IT service and he said he had fantastic results with cold-visits. He brought along some "swag" that was like quality pens, no some cheap junk, nice mousepads with his logo, a brochure, and then business cards and so forth. He would then keep it simple, extend the gift first to catch their attention and focus and then explain his services briefly. Depending on their response, he would then ask for the point of contact.

    I'm going to explore this same tactic. What do you guys think about me going in with their current rankings and showing what we COULD do for them?
     
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  10. jak19

    jak19 Elite Member

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    loving this, surely if you show them where they are now and the leads/traffic from your seo work it is an easy ish sell?
     
  11. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    Awesome man, I'm glad.
    that's exactly what I'm thinking, show them their current rankings and the search volumes. Then, talk about needing to optimize their site and get their social media marketing going as well, so bring it around full circle with the ultra upsell.

    This is where I envision 10k/m for my business. One client a month at 10k, hopefully we can get one signed up by February!
     
  12. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    So because sales have been slow in Nov and Dec, what do you guys think about customized, personal cold emailing to local businesses?

    My plan is to mention very early in the email I live in the same city their business is in, and point out issues and their implications. Also include a screenshot of their current rankings and their competitors rankings, maybe? Then ask if they have time to get together to discuss the benefits of fixing them.

    Thoughts? I would manually produce a list of local clients emails (some of which I have from salesgenie as mentioned earlier in the thread), take those and hand write the emails, not use a template. Use a general structure, but not a template. I think I'm going to try it. Only investing time, nothing more.
     
  13. onelettershor

    onelettershor Supreme Member

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    Wow amazing! Good luck on your journey :)
     
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  14. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I actually did that cold e-mailing thing with lawyers and other businesses in my city a few months ago as I've been trying to shift my client base to at least 90% lawyers. I had listed out my other current clients who owned similar businesses, security issues on their site, how their search presence could be improved, and how their design could be improved, although I only received a couple of responses from people, neither of which resulted in any conversions. Cold e-mailing isn't something I'm good at as I rely on referrals for clients, although most of the businesses in my area aren't the most tech-savvy and respond better to phone calls rather than emails.

    Anyway, this is an interesting journey thread as you and I operate very similar local businesses albeit in different states, so I'll be sure to keep following it.
     
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  15. Cross99

    Cross99 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I've never tried cold-calling by email as I figure there is a high chance of it being deleted without ever being read. There can also be problems if your emails are continually treated as spam. For this reason I prefer to send letters which I think shows a more personal touch.
    Whichever method you prefer, be prepared for a hostile reaction from some business owners when you criticise their websites. One owner rang me up to say I was 'vile' for politely pointing out his website was shit.
     
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  16. masta2133

    masta2133 Registered Member

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    My two cents, you are not focused on a single marketing/sales channel. Thus, you are not able (and won't be) to gather enough data about one method or the other to know it really works.

    -There are people that were able to successfully get a couple of clients from desk/elance/upwork and work it from there. After a couple of months they pulled their clients out of Upwork and were getting a regular steady income.
    -There are people making a killing from cold visits (your friend is the closest person to you and as you can see, this method works).
    -Cold emailing works and it works very well check out Closer.io. They are growing strong and profitable. Basically, it is a CRM for sales people. And they consider cold emailing as an effective way for prospecting and getting new clients. Check out their blog there is an article about that.
    If you don't know the book predictable revenue, get it and read it, it will help you understand what's involved to scale sales and get the results you are looking for.

    Sorry for being harsh, but I think that the problem you have, as a one man operation, is spreading your efforts and not focusing on a single sales channel until you crack the code.

    P.S.: I have been able to sell software development services to startups in the valley worth 5-6 figures over the phone and using email as an introduction.
     
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  17. amylou78

    amylou78 Newbie

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    Great post op, I have been doing mainly web design but going to be concentrating on seo services in 2016, have read loads and am a bit overwhelmed.
    In your experience what do you really need to get started. To show clients.
    I.e should I have some of my own sites ranked first, what programs/software do you use to track progress, do I need to have the clients tracking data first to keep a record of my progress.
    Any advice would be helpful.
    cheers
     
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  18. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    I appreciate that advice. My initial response to this is that I'm not in going to critique in the standard sense of saying its bad and needs to be improved, but show them how it can be improved and the expected results that could come, collectively, from performing x,y, and z. I want to target local businesses and make the subject line "website question" or something along those lines, then the
    first line in the body say my name and that I own a web design company in x area to immediately show them I'm not a spammer. I usually end up reading the first line of the spam SEO blasts I get, so I imagine many people will do the same with an interesting subject.

    -Great info, thank you. I don't take this as harsh at all, you're 100% correct about me not focusing marketing effots on one specific avenue. More or less, I've never spent any time marketing in the conventional sense so it'll be a new deal entirely.
    -I actually just signed up for upwork and am curious to see if I can win any jobs from that. Any advice in that endevor? I've read a lot about it and it seems USA based web designers and developers have had some really good luck with those kind of sites.
    -Going to look at Close.io now, thanks for this. I like what I see so far a lot.
    My goal is to reach out to an equal number of people with cold calls/visits and email, decide what works best and push that full time from there.


    Thanks, I hope you end up getting a ton of good info.
    My very first SEO client was a lawyer (and still is a client of mine) and I won him as a result of his dissatifaction with a marketing company called Yodel that charged him some ridiculously low monthly fee to perform SEO. He never saw any results and I found he didn't actually have any keywords ranking and showed him search volumnes in our area for his particular focus and he was pretty much sold after that. I was willing to share and show him everything from the SEMrush page about his own site to explaining the SEO process (he wanted to know down to the small details on the process) to traffic estimations on opensitexplorer and google adwords keyword tool. All of which I didn't charge for because this was in the initial meeting which is a "free consultation." It should be obvious that coming prepared is what sealed the deal and being receptive and not having to leave at a certain time.

    As far as getting that first client, I stumbled across him because he is in the same building as another one of my exisitng website clients and they are friendly with each other so the inital referral was super easy, no cold marketing necessary there.

    My advice to geting that first SEO client is either tying that into a website build or make a list of companies in your area you know exist but cant find or are low in search results and reach out to them. Granted, I've never done that but if they're already ranking it would seem to me a waste of time.
     
  19. hanakuso

    hanakuso Newbie

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    Like masta2133 I think cold emailing + a call is a good thing in the B2B environment.
    I used to gather contacts for machine related business (not really selling, I mean not until the closing), and after educating myself on the subject, I good like 10% results.

    I used also this process when I ran my defunct small machining company, and I got +30 new customers like that - but not enough turnover/customer to reach the 0 (I bought it cheap when the business was - 40 k in term of results after tax, so the aim was the reach 0 in the first year - I just did not expect that an employee would put the mess to get laid off ).
    Same ratio, 10% conversion.

    An experienced salesman told me that large emailing still work. However I have not tried yet, I prefer targeting, then looking for the good person (1st by linkedin) then emailing. Usually once you get a name - even if it is not the right person - it is much easier. As this time, I usually called 6-7 days after the email. Still fresh but does not look too pushy.
    Once you get the call, you can ask for a visit to make your free consultation - because fuel costs more money than a call.
    Bring then your goodies along your "unique" business card, it really helps to remember you (that is the key).

    I had a business card with 2 names on it and a check box for my machining business (me and the workshop technician head). People were amused by the "economy card" :)
    The design was also simple and clean while I used good paper for it. But important point for me, it was easy to understand what we did in 5 sec just looking at our business card (drilling/lathing action). And also potential customer could write on the card without any problem (I hate glossy card where you can not write).

    Hope it can help.
     
  20. llamaslayer

    llamaslayer Junior Member

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    All extremely good info! Thanks for sharing and I am going to email 20 of the leads tomorrow with their customized email.

    I'll post the general "template" I used on each person after I'm done and of course share results as well