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EXECUTION After almost 7 years on here, I have finally have a revenue-generating business

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
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Mar 4, 2012
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As you can see by my join date, I am approaching my 7 years on this forum. I joined this forum when I was 15 and a lot has happened since then. I joined in high school and have graduated college. Now, I have my own business.

I can't even begin to count the number of businesses I've "started". Everything from dropshipping, marketplaces, blogs, local services and the list goes on. I cringe when looking through my post history on here :D

I was the biggest wantreprenur and I was really comfortable during college. I didn't take much action and the little action I did take would only last 2-3 weeks. I was simply just too comfortable.

I graduated and got a job. Surprise, I didn't enjoy it. Even though I didn't enjoy it, I learned a lot. I got a job in digital marketing and found my passion for SEO specifically. I studied and learned about SEO 24/7 and practiced all on my own. I was simply obsessed with it. It fascinated me and really captured my interest.

That job was temporary and it ended on December 5th. I had some money saved up and gave myself a 3 month period to try to start my own SEO agency (which is basically freelancing in the beginning). I was very confident in my ability and the value I could provide. I worked my a$$ off and managed to sign my first client after 26 days. I would spend a lot of time prospecting and preparing for meetings. Since I didn't have a previous track record I would have to show the value I could bring in the meetings. I would prepare for 3-4 hours for each meeting basically giving away my strategies for free. After about 6 meetings like this, I signed my first client and have recently signed my second a couple days ago!

If you're curious about the numbers, the first is a 6-month, $1300/month contract and the second is a $630/month, 3 month contract. This is a start I am more than fine with and it is only up from here!

I'll be updating this thread periodically. Time to get to work :D

Edit: Maybe I should double check my title next time lol
 

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Zcott

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That is great news, well done!

Is that $1300 and $630 a month each?
 

RazorCut

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Excellent work. Well done. Starting is often the hardest part. Once you have clients on your books new ones will be much easier to acquire.
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
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Mar 4, 2012
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Excellent work. Well done. Starting is often the hardest part. Once you have clients on your books new ones will be much easier to acquire.
Yup, this is how i'm viewing everything. I just really worked hard and had to go the extra mile to secure my first clients. I am also undercharging so my work but that is fine as I'm just starting a looking to build a SEO portfolio.

Good job!
Can you explain what SEO services you provide for that monthly fee?
Thanks!

I provide a complete SEO solution which includes content writing, link building, website optimizations, local SEO, directory listings, keyword/competitor research. The specifics change per client depending on multiple factors.

I never offer a set package. I offer 3 pricing tiers depending on how aggressive you want to be. Each pricing is different depending upon your website, competition and industry.
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
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Can you explain your prospecting method?
Sure, I tried a lot of different things.

  • Cold calling myself
    I got tired of this after 30 calls. I know it's really effective and I would have picked it back up if I needed to later down the line
  • Hired cheap appointment setter
  • Cold emails
  • Reddit outreach
  • UpWork
  • I work in a coworking space. There are about 30-40 private offices and I created a free SEO audit for each of them. I printed them in nice color and put them in a laminated report cover so it looked nice. I got a couple meetings but didn't close any.
  • Craigslist

I think that covers the majority. As soon as I left my old job I spent that next day building a MVP in terms of a website. I used to spend weeks perfecting a website and basically action faking. The next 24 days I focused 100% of my efforts on getting clients.

It's nice that now that I have a revenue stream I can pick and choose my clients. I learned that I need to qualify the clients as I was wasting a lot of time preparing for meetings for clients with little marketing budget. However, at first I didn't care as I would take any chance I got to get to a meeting.
 

Thomas Baptiste

Third of His Name
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This is great man. Good on you for persevering through those first 26 days, I can imagine the joy you experienced officially getting that first client. Nothing sweeter than reaping the fruits of your own labor. I'll be taking a page from your book and applying that attitude to myself. Thanks for your contribution.
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
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Mar 4, 2012
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This is great man. Good on you for persevering through those first 26 days, I can imagine the joy you experienced officially getting that first client. Nothing sweeter than reaping the fruits of your own labor. I'll be taking a page from your book and applying that attitude to myself. Thanks for your contribution.
No problem, thanks for the kind words! Those first days I was working really hard. I quickly learned that I don't deserve anything. Just because I was working 12+ days 7 days a weeks doesn't meet I "deserve" a client. That's just not how things work. I have to earn clients.

The most important thing was that I was confident in the value I could provide to these businesses. It was just about communicating the value and getting a business to bite. This was harder since I don't currently have a portfolio or anything so I had to give away a lot of value for free.

If I wasn't confident in the value I can provide I would have given up after a week.
 

AdamUK

New Contributor
Sep 14, 2018
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Nice going,
this and fox's thread is exactly what I need to get my a$$ in gear and take action. Rep added.
 

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OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 4, 2012
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Nice going,
this and fox's thread is exactly what I need to get my a$$ in gear and take action. Rep added.
Appreciate it! I read through fox's thread yesterday and it's great! I have wasted the past 7 years action faking so I am making sure that this time is different.
 

Maxboost

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where did you learn SEO tactics. I know the very basics but that is about it....
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
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Mar 4, 2012
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where did you learn SEO tactics. I know the very basics but that is about it....
I learned everything for free.

1. The person I ended up sitting next to at my old job was a SEO specialist and I literally talked to him all day lol. Luckily he didn’t find me annoying and answered all my questions.

2. I slowly started to help him with SEO tasks and it progressed to more advanced stuff.

3. I had my personal website where I blogged so I optimized that and implemented techniques.

4. I read every blog post there is. I keep up with Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Neil Patel, SE Land, Journal, Backlinko and much more.

5. It is really important to learn how to use SEO tools as a lot of work revolves around them. I picked Ahrefs, SEMRush and screaming frog and watched hours upon hours of tutorials on YouTube. I also started using these tools at my old job and progressed onto my own site.

6. My favorite way to learn was the SEO subreddit. It’s really good for more specific questions and it’s nice getting practical answers. On top of that, people do SEO differently as there isn’t a set method a lot of times so it’s nice to learn about the different ways to solve the same problem.

There’s more ways I learned such as Twitter discussions and podcasts. I never read a book and think they are very inefficient with SEO and unreliable since SEO is always changing. It’s best to read updated and new blog posts.
 

BancroftPl

New Contributor
Sep 27, 2017
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Great job! When I was dabbling in SEO work, I would reach out to web design agencies that didn't list SEO in their services. If they didn't have the skill set, they may want to outsource SEO to you so they can provide better value to their clients. Just a suggestion for you if you're looking for more work. Good luck and I hope it all works out for you!
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 4, 2012
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Great job! When I was dabbling in SEO work, I would reach out to web design agencies that didn't list SEO in their services. If they didn't have the skill set, they may want to outsource SEO to you so they can provide better value to their clients. Just a suggestion for you if you're looking for more work. Good luck and I hope it all works out for you!
Thanks!

I've heard of this method of acquiring clients. I have a referral page on my website setup for something like this. I reached out to a couple and even talked to an app development agency in NY. Not something I have put much time into but I will look into this soon as I'm looking to slowly ramp up.
 

JeffH

PARKED
Jan 14, 2019
2
0
4
Kentucky
Pick up a copy of Franchise Times, and use that as a potential client list. There are 1000's. When I owned a franchise, we used a company that all franchisees used. The franchise paid for the service, however, we paid for how we wanted to rank and PPC.

I'm new and haven't done all the "require stuff," yet, but I saw this and wanted to comment...I haven't read through all of the replies, so someone may have already brought this up...

EDIT: Oh, and way to go!! Thanks for taking the time to share your success!
 
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OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 4, 2012
342
359
194
23
Pick up a copy of Franchise Times, and use that as a potential client list. There are 1000's. When I owned a franchise, we used a company that all franchisees used. The franchise paid for the service, however, we paid for how we wanted to rank and PPC.

I'm new and haven't done all the "require stuff," yet, but I saw this and wanted to comment...I haven't read through all of the replies, so someone may have already brought this up...

EDIT: Oh, and way to go!! Thanks for taking the time to share your success!
Hey! Welcome to the forum.

So instead of trying to land individual clients, I should try to land a franchise?

I feel like there would be too many steps involved and especially unlikely for a small and new agency like me? I also couldn't handle more than 2 to 3 more clients as I want to slowly scale my business.

I'll look back into this when I get bigger and have more systems in place with a bigger team. Thanks!
 

UnrealCreative

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Awesome Work!

  • Cold calling myself
    I got tired of this after 30 calls. I know it's really effective and I would have picked it back up if I needed to later down the line
  • Hired cheap appointment setter
  • Cold emails
  • Reddit outreach
  • UpWork
  • I work in a coworking space. There are about 30-40 private offices and I created a free SEO audit for each of them. I printed them in nice color and put them in a laminated report cover so it looked nice. I got a couple meetings but didn't close any.
  • Craigslist
Curious about this. What was your most effective method?
Also, are you sticking to your local geographic area or beyond?
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
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Mar 4, 2012
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Awesome Work!



Curious about this. What was your most effective method?
Also, are you sticking to your local geographic area or beyond?
My most effective method has personally been UpWork (I use it as a platform to find people in need then take it off UpWork after meeting with them) and reddit outreach. I have very little data as those were the 2 clients I secured lol.

I don't stick to a geographic location. Why should I? People need help all over the world and that's the beauty of an online business, you can help them from anywhere. Both of my clients sell all over the USA anyways so it wouldn't matter where i'm located.
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 4, 2012
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Update

Closed a small client for $499/month for 6 months! Total monthly revenue is now about $2388 per month!

I'm going to focus on these three clients and build out my portfolio for now. I will be casually looking for opportunities as I can still take on 2 bigger clients since i'm working a lot of hours. I don't say that to brag but just so you know i'm not producing low quality work or taking shortcuts by spreading myself too thin. Although i'm not too worried because once I have a solid portfolio it will be much easier to charge higher prices and get new clients so no rush now :)
 

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AdamUK

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Sep 14, 2018
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Why do you use more than one paid SEO program? (ahref, semrush and screaming frog)
And that must eat into your profits. I think ahref alone is about 99$ per month.

Adam
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 4, 2012
342
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Why do you use more than one paid SEO program? (ahref, semrush and screaming frog)
And that must eat into your profits. I think ahref alone is about 99$ per month.

Adam
I use them for different tasks and each have their own strengths. I like to keep them all as imo it's a necessary expense in order to get the best research.

Ahrefs is best for backlink building and competitor research.
SEMRush is best for keyword research.
Screaming Frog is best for technical website audits.

I use a mixture of these 3 tools daily and I don't want to rely on just one.
 

FinnVenture

New Contributor
Oct 5, 2018
8
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Thanks for sharing and AMAZING PROGRESS! How do you keep up to date with the blogs that you follow?
 
OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 4, 2012
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Thanks for sharing and AMAZING PROGRESS! How do you keep up to date with the blogs that you follow?
I'm not sure if I fully understand your question but i'll try to answer.

In SEO, things are always changing and it is VERY important to keep up and stay current. There is always something new to learn since there are so many ways to do the same thing. What you do now and 2 years from now might be completely different.

I always make it face to read and consume content. Throughout the day I read SEO blogs totaling around 1 hour. I make it a POINT to read and learn everyday. At this point i'm not consciously doing it, I just do it during breaks or whenever I feel like reading new content. I have a couple blogs I regularly keep up with.

Also, anyone that runs an agency will tell you that we don't know what we're doing. Kinda. We know how to figure out things and find the answers. Not only do I work with Google but Google is also my "mentor". There is so much information available online that I am consistently searching for answers.
 

JeffH

PARKED
Jan 14, 2019
2
0
4
Kentucky
Hey! Welcome to the forum.

So instead of trying to land individual clients, I should try to land a franchise?

I feel like there would be too many steps involved and especially unlikely for a small and new agency like me? I also couldn't handle more than 2 to 3 more clients as I want to slowly scale my business.

I'll look back into this when I get bigger and have more systems in place with a bigger team. Thanks!
Sorry I didn't reply sooner. I usually read the forum at work and don't want to actually log in from there.

Yeah, franchise seem to have a typical punch list for marketing. After being in a franchise, myself, I truly learned a lot. After I left, I've always kept it in the back of my head that if you wanted to drum up some business for something that may be of use to a franchise, you could just use "the list" of franchises and play the numbers game; mailing each a sample, contact their marketing director, operations manager, CEO, etc.

Looking at my first reply, I worded that a little weird. I said all franchises use the same place. I meant the franchise picks the marketing agency and we, as franchisees "all" use the one they chose.

Yeah, if you can handle 1-2 more, you may contact some of them and just start working through them- although landing one may land you a small number of franchisees or 100's. I don't really know how much work the agency put in behind the scenes but usually they scheduled an appointment with us, verified some information (so that our info. would be consistent across our website, review platforms, etc) After that, if I wanted to change how much I spent each month on ranking and PPC, I just made a quick call. Honestly, when you own a franchise, we always joked that you just try to survive every day and it was a hat I didn't wear. Looking back, the agency had control, I didn't.

EDIT: We used a company called Dri ven Local....I pretty sure they were very small at the time. Looks like they were acquired by Scorpion
 
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OP
OP
Twiizlar

Twiizlar

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Mar 4, 2012
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Can you tell me more details about how you used Upwork to find clients and how you were able to transition clients away from it?
Well, I my 2nd client posted on UpWork and I sent a highly personalized proposal to him. We then chatted on Skype and had 2 phone meetings. I put a lot of time into them and the first one was a complete personalized proposal.

I presented myself as professional as possible. I am not a freelancer (in their eyes), I am an agency owner. I explained in the beginning that I will invoice them monthly. I made sure my invoices were branded and also my powerpoint. This gave me legitimacy. I did not lie to the client and say I was a big agency or anything, I just acted like one :)

The only reason a potential client would want to deal through upwork is if they don't trust you. Which is fair for freelancers. I made everything super professional and built trust so that I could invoice him directly. It was also important to build trust as I would be invoicing at the start of the month, not after the work.
 

Mazzolini

Contributor
Feb 13, 2017
25
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I never understood why people want to be a “freelancer” and not an ageny. If i were a business owner, i would much rather hire an “agency” than a “freelancer”. It just sounds a lot more professional and concentrated.

Thank you for the posts, this is very inspirational. I will work on my own PowerPoint template :p

Well, I my 2nd client posted on UpWork and I sent a highly personalized proposal to him. We then chatted on Skype and had 2 phone meetings. I put a lot of time into them and the first one was a complete personalized proposal.

I presented myself as professional as possible. I am not a freelancer (in their eyes), I am an agency owner. I explained in the beginning that I will invoice them monthly. I made sure my invoices were branded and also my powerpoint. This gave me legitimacy. I did not lie to the client and say I was a big agency or anything, I just acted like one :)

The only reason a potential client would want to deal through upwork is if they don't trust you. Which is fair for freelancers. I made everything super professional and built trust so that I could invoice him directly. It was also important to build trust as I would be invoicing at the start of the month, not after the work.
r j
 

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