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EXECUTION Journey of the German - Building a web design agency

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eekern

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I am thinking about doing a dedicated thread on my web development journey. Maybe some recorded interviews with other guys on here, cold calls, breakdown my business set up, easy ways to code good sites, pricing etc. While I don't consider myself hugely successful yet there has been a lot of PMs regarding stuff I know I can add a lot of value too. I will try get something up in the next week.

Don`t think about it - I know a lot of people who would get a lot of value form that.

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Hey guys and girls!

I wanted to give a little update about my situation. So, what happened in the last few weeks?

The before mentioned websites are already finished. Just the texts, that the clients need to provide me, are still missing.
I really need to get in contact with an excellent german-speaking copywriter in the near future, so I don't have to wait half a century for the texts of the clients.

It seems like the texts will be sent to me within the next week. So my revenue for my second month in business - September- will be around 2.000€

Revenue in August: 0€
Revenue in September: 2.000€


My main goal for the next month(s) is to maintain and potentially grow this number. Therefor I need to get in touch with more potential clients.
I will concentrate my client-search on lawyers since they have really reaaaaalllyyy shitty websites here in Germany.

Additionally, I will raise the prices I charge for a website to around 1.000 - 2.000€ for those kind of projects.


Oh, and I will pursue a second degree in computer science besides the economics degree.
This is the result of my interest in AI / machine learning, but this is maybe a topic for a different thread and a different time.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day,
goodguude
 
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goodguude

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A webagency I knoe here in Germany doubled their prices to seem serious to lawyers.. They told me those people expect a higher price - Good luck with that!

Gesendet von meinem XT1032 mit Tapatalk

Hey, thank you for this hint!
I will implement this.
 

goodguude

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Today, I approached somebody I have really no connection to for the first time.
It's a lawyer.

I built the main page of the potential new website and sent them an email. Tomorrow I will call them.

Let's see how it goes. @Fox said, that my website looks decent.
It would definitely be an improvement compared to their old website.

I will keep you informed!
 
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goodguude

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Well, the above mentioned approach went nowhere. I sent the email with the demo of the website. The next day I called them at around 11 am and asked the secretary I could speak to the lawyer himself. She denied and said "if he is interested he will answer your email later that day".
Needless to mention that no answer was sent that day.

So, my first try in "cold calling" was a F A I L. But I am happy that I did this step. My next approaches will become better and better, finally resulting in new clients in the future - at least that's my hope.


But I don't have just bad news for you. Another opportunity knocked on my door!
A good friend of mine has a connection to the owner of a renowned law firm in my city. They have an ugly website.

So I thought about building an awesome website for them for free - I will get a nice website for my portfolio and probably also some word of mouth.
This could be my foot in the door in this niche.

What do you guys think?
@Fox @Andy Black @eekern @Thiago Machado

Have a nice day!
 

Fox

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Ya if you can get a good contract do it for free and get rolling.

Also with your template that you used for the cold call - if you keep it generic maybe you can use it for multiple businesses. So instead of saying "Jimmys Law Firm" use "Your Law firm" and then ring every operation in town.

Try door to door two. This is a sales games so thats a huge main skill to work on right from the start. If you can get sales everything else will fall into place.
 

Thiago Machado

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So I thought about building an awesome website for them for free - I will get a nice website for my portfolio and probably also some word of mouth.
This could be my foot in the door in this niche.

What do you guys think?
@Fox @Andy Black @eekern @Thiago Machado

Have a nice day!

This worked for me.

Since it's a warm lead, they'll be way more receptive. And if you tell them you're going to give them a website for free, now their ears are wide open.
Do a good job, and they'll tell everyone about you.

So yes. Take this approach if you can.


Quick question:

How many cold emails did you send out?
You can't just send out 1 and then say you failed.
Send out at least 100.
It's reasonable to expect a 1 - 3% conversion rate (probably even more if you follow fox's method).


I think Fox's approach is brilliant.
Create a "your law firm here" mockup website and then cold-email prospective clients.
Do this with 100 people and then see how many respond.


So in order to do the free website approach, I'd do something like this:

Let's say you have a friend who's good friends with a lawyer. Ask for his contact info and then connect with him. Tell him how "billy" told you to contact him because you're creating these beautifully looking websites that generate massive sales for your clients, and now, you're looking to cater your services exclusively to lawyers. You asked around and "billy" said that you're one of the best, and that you have no website (or online presence or w.e.)

Then, proceed to tell him how you'd like to design him a website 100% free of charge.(All he has to do is pay for hosting).

And if he doesn't like it, he can just cancel the hosting subscription within 30 days.

So he has absolutely nothing to lose.

Why I think this approach is better:

You start off by having a "mini-relationship" with them. You have a friend in common. And a good friend wants to add value to your life. He wants you to happy. So there's a lot of social proof in that. Lots of credibility and influence too.

When you contact someone 100% cold, most people will just see you as an annoying salesman, interrupting their day, while you out their "preying" on people for a commission.

Sure, cold calls work. But I think there are better, less-stressful ways of going about this.

So from my experience, stop selling and start developing relationships.

P.S. - I'm actually having a lot more fun with the whole website + design thing than copywriting lately. It seems like an easier sell too. Idk... I just might have to create a progress thread on this as well. What do you think?
 

Fox

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@Thiago Machado Some excellent posts recently. Rep sent. Ya web design and copywriting is a great mix. Best of both worlds for your client.
 

goodguude

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Thanks for your replies! You are really helping me with this.
Also sent you some Rep, @Thiago Machado .

I already thought about a generic website to show in emails but thought that the potential client may thinks that he isn't something special haha.
Regarding the efficiency when using this for hundreds of emails to hundreds of clients it would be extremely useful.
I will accumulate a list of emails of some lawyers and eventually try this.

Nonetheless, I think warm leads are far superior compared to their cold counterparts. Therefor I need to get my name out to as many lawyers and people who know lawyers as possible. So, the free website for this renowned law firm seems to be a good step.
 

Thiago Machado

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Thanks for your replies! You are really helping me with this.
Also sent you some Rep, @Thiago Machado .

So, the free website for this renowned law firm seems to be a good step.

Awesome. Try it out and let us know what happens.

Be sure to bring so much value to him, that he'll want to keep you around forever.
This is what will land you on-going projects and monthly retainers.

Think of it this way: a free website is basically like giving him $3,000.

Now, strangely, in the client's mind, (in a unconscious sort of way), if you're giving him something that costs $3,000 for "free", just imagine what the returns would be like for something that requires a financial investment?

He's going to happily want to invest in your services.

P.S. I finished reading my life in advertising by claude hopkins last week. Mind-blowing. So much value in that book. Golden nuggets everywhere. I higly recommend it if you're looking for something to read. His pinciples can easily be applied to a web design agency.
 
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Thanks for your replies! You are really helping me with this.
Also sent you some Rep, @Thiago Machado .

I already thought about a generic website to show in emails but thought that the potential client may thinks that he isn't something special haha.
Regarding the efficiency when using this for hundreds of emails to hundreds of clients it would be extremely useful.
I will accumulate a list of emails of some lawyers and eventually try this.

Nonetheless, I think warm leads are far superior compared to their cold counterparts. Therefor I need to get my name out to as many lawyers and people who know lawyers as possible. So, the free website for this renowned law firm seems to be a good step.

Most of my thoughts you seem to have had already. Personalized products are great, people don't know what they want until they see it -- and their name on it.

Also, please don't use a template. I know it can save time by shotgunning everywhere, but differentiate with different styles and personal-flair. You're adding value to someone's life, not trying to muster up bail (unless you are :p). Make a personal connection and tether yourselves. Ex: You're both from so-and-so city, you both played handball, etc. I'd imagine you're going to maintain your relations with these firms, yes? They'll help you with getting more customers (in areas where they're not competing, i.e colleagues from yonder over), so it's pertinent that you have some connection.

I've searched through the thread and I couldn't find your letter. Would you mind sharing it with us so we can critique it?
 

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Any updates?
 

goodguude

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Any updates?

A bit late, but yes!

So, I had some more clients. For one of them I built an eCommerce website and now he pays me around 300€ / month just for looking after his shop and minor changes to it every now and then since he absolutely doesn't want to deal with the technical aspects of that website.
I also rebranded the agency a bit. New logo, new own website - targeting higher paying clients in the real estate and law sector. Still have to look how it works out.

Recently I started to learn more about Google Adwords. Really interesting topic - and there are just so so many things one can do wrong.
Wanted to learn it because two friends of mine and me decided to start our own eCommerce business, selling products for pets.
We had a little test, lasting 3 days, to see if the product we want to sell gathers some interest. And it did, we made a few sales! (And refunded the money directly after their purchase, saying we are out of stock, of course.)

Our plan is to launch the whole thing end of may. Until then I have to become a Adwords Genius haha.

What else is there to say?
Well, I did an internship at the private equity unit of a german bank. And I f*cking hated it.
Sitting in the office every day, doing useless stuff in some Excel files (those tasks really make me aggressive). It was like "hey, here we have a list of 600 companies. Please add their email addresses, phone numbers, bla bla bla to it".

That internship showed me again that I want to build a business myself. I would become miserable after years at a job like this.
 

goodguude

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Hey guys,

another little update from me.

So, I just turned 21 last month. And I am pretty unsatisfied with the results I achieved with my business(es) so far. The web design business is constantly doing between 1,000 - 2,000€ per month. I am feeling like I am making no real progress here, despite working a lot. It seems like the usual "work smart, not hard" problem.

So, I have a few things that I know need to change, to become more successful in the long run. They are

(1) Learn to say "NO
I have to stop taking on clients who are penny pinchers and don't acknowledge my services, selling websites for less than 1,000€ just to "have some work in the pipeline". THIS. NEEDS. TO. STOP. Really.

(2) Start doing more work to acquire new customers
I am bothered selling my services to other people. I don't want to make promises about "how a beautiful new website" will benefit their business, because I can't guarantee that. It always can happen that, despite having a professional looking website, their will be no significant effects for the client. And then he will be like "Wow, that dude really overpromised and underdelivered".
At the moment my only way of getting new clients is through referrals.

- I need to become more confident in the services I offer (hey, how can I expect that clients acknowledge the value of my services, if even I am not confident about them?)
- I have to pick up the phone and start cold calling (which I am quite afraid of, to be honest).
- I have to start attending local business meet-ups a lot more to network with other business owners.

(3) Making the transition from "the dude who builds websites" to an agency which provides complete online solutions for businesses
Made the first step when I started working together with freelance photographers. My next step needs to get in contact with some copywriters, so I can take that burden of making time to write the text for the website off the business owner's head. That's one of the problems I am encountering the most. Website delays because the client just has no time to deliver the content.
Now I will deliver it for him. I want that he doesn't have any work to do after an initial conversation. So he can lay back, do the work which is most important for his business, while I bring his whole online presence to a new level. That also brings me to point (4).

(4) Start offering SEM services
What's the worth of a professional and fancy website, if no one sees it?
Back in May I started going through a pretty extensive Udemy Course about the basics of Google AdWords. Simultaneously, I started implementing the things I learned there in some own campaigns, e.g. for our pet product test or for the AdWords account of my dad's business. At the moment I am taking two more courses about proper Landing Page design and some Advanced Remarketing Tactics. And, starting in August, I will work as a working student for a really successful online marketing agency (especially PPC and Social Media Marketing) here in Germany. There I can further improve my skills and also have a look at how those successful agencies manage all the communication and pricing and so on with their clients.
Also, I am having a pilot project with a local roofing company. I will set up their online marketing. And I do this for free for the first month, so I can get some more experience in this field. I just need to see that this really works, before I can confidently offer it as a paid service to other customers.


Wow. That text was longer then I expected. But I had to write those things down. They will help me progress. They shall keep me accountable.
I would be really happy to read some thoughts of other fellow fastlaners. Feel free to comment.

Have a nice day!
 

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Hey guys,

another little update from me.

So, I just turned 21 last month. And I am pretty unsatisfied with the results I achieved with my business(es) so far. The web design business is constantly doing between 1,000 - 2,000€ per month. I am feeling like I am making no real progress here, despite working a lot. It seems like the usual "work smart, not hard" problem.

So, I have a few things that I know need to change, to become more successful in the long run. They are

(1) Learn to say "NO
I have to stop taking on clients who are penny pinchers and don't acknowledge my services, selling websites for less than 1,000€ just to "have some work in the pipeline". THIS. NEEDS. TO. STOP. Really.

(2) Start doing more work to acquire new customers
I am bothered selling my services to other people. I don't want to make promises about "how a beautiful new website" will benefit their business, because I can't guarantee that. It always can happen that, despite having a professional looking website, their will be no significant effects for the client. And then he will be like "Wow, that dude really overpromised and underdelivered".
At the moment my only way of getting new clients is through referrals.

- I need to become more confident in the services I offer (hey, how can I expect that clients acknowledge the value of my services, if even I am not confident about them?)
- I have to pick up the phone and start cold calling (which I am quite afraid of, to be honest).
- I have to start attending local business meet-ups a lot more to network with other business owners.

(3) Making the transition from "the dude who builds websites" to an agency which provides complete online solutions for businesses
Made the first step when I started working together with freelance photographers. My next step needs to get in contact with some copywriters, so I can take that burden of making time to write the text for the website off the business owner's head. That's one of the problems I am encountering the most. Website delays because the client just has no time to deliver the content.
Now I will deliver it for him. I want that he doesn't have any work to do after an initial conversation. So he can lay back, do the work which is most important for his business, while I bring his whole online presence to a new level. That also brings me to point (4).

(4) Start offering SEM services
What's the worth of a professional and fancy website, if no one sees it?
Back in May I started going through a pretty extensive Udemy Course about the basics of Google AdWords. Simultaneously, I started implementing the things I learned there in some own campaigns, e.g. for our pet product test or for the AdWords account of my dad's business. At the moment I am taking two more courses about proper Landing Page design and some Advanced Remarketing Tactics. And, starting in August, I will work as a working student for a really successful online marketing agency (especially PPC and Social Media Marketing) here in Germany. There I can further improve my skills and also have a look at how those successful agencies manage all the communication and pricing and so on with their clients.
Also, I am having a pilot project with a local roofing company. I will set up their online marketing. And I do this for free for the first month, so I can get some more experience in this field. I just need to see that this really works, before I can confidently offer it as a paid service to other customers.


Wow. That text was longer then I expected. But I had to write those things down. They will help me progress. They shall keep me accountable.
I would be really happy to read some thoughts of other fellow fastlaners. Feel free to comment.

Have a nice day!
I'm on my phone so here's an unstructured jumble of thoughts based on first reading:

1) Take what I say with a pinch of salt. Take what anyone says with a pinch of salt. You don't "need to", "have to", "must do", or "should do" anything anyone else says. Careful using those phrases yourself too... they can blind you to alternatives.

2) As per point 1)... maybe you don't "need" to do cold calls. I don't do them and get plenty of leads. I'm not saying not to, just to get you to question everything.

3) What works for me instead of cold anything (cold calls, cold emails, cold "traffic", etc) is to "spend my money on diesel and coffee". Consider physically meeting everyone you know locally, getting to know then, and finding out if you can help them. You can check out the thread I created of the same name. (Notice how I didn't say you "need" to spend your money on diesel and coffee, or that you "should" check out the thread...)

4) So you're positioning yourself currently as the dude who does websites. Is that "the dude who does websites in <your neighbourhood>"? That could be pretty niche. When people find you, what were they looking for? When people introduce you to someone else, how do they refer to you?

5) Getting clients to create copy/content is a big bottleneck. They don't know where to start, and make it (starting) a bigger job than it is. We throw up something into pages as best we can. This helps the client to get going as they tear into what you've written. They can't start with a blank canvas it seems, so go darken the page for them maybe?

6) Maybe don't worry so much about not being as niche as you'd like yet. Myself and @JoeyF chat about this in a recorded Skype call (see my signature for link to master thread of all calls). Our experience was we took on all comers and learned over time what did and didn't work for us. We found patterns and almost found our focus through natural elimination. That's one way of doing it... not saying it's the only way.

7) Consider *not* telling everyone their beautiful new website will bring more business. Literally, some people just want to be proud of their site so they can give out business cards when they meet people. Yes, it should bring them more business, but for some people they are literally embarrassed by their site and want to make it look pretty.

8) Positive feedback from clients will help your confidence, help your stories, help you make sales, and help you increase prices.

9) Me personally, I prefer lots of smaller clients coming though my pipeline as I can learn faster and grow my network quicker too. I know @Fox has a different philosophy, which goes to show you don't "need" to do anything other than what suits you, adds value, and helps you achieve *your* goals.

10) I'm biased, but I think you're onto something if you can offer AdWords *and* the websites/landing pages.

11) Beware positioning yourself as doing everything. I get "in" as a specialist and then clients start asking for other services.

12) A way to niche down while adding more services is to focus on a specific vertical. What if you were the "guy who does websites and online marketing to help dentists get more leads?"
 

goodguude

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Hello fellow fastlaners,

nearly 2 months have passed since the last post. Time for a small update.

Things are pretty good at the moment. Secured some bigger contracts, so that September will (probably) be my first month with more than 5,000€ in profits. Started building a team of freelancers, consisting of copywriters, graphic designers, photo- and videographers and already used them to outsource some work on the current projects.

The quality of the work is better than if I am doing everything myself and I don't have to invest that much time in building a website anymore.


Regarding my other business venture in the pet niche:
We had some regulatory issues and therefor couldn't sell anything. Fortunately I have a meeting tomorrow, where this issue probably will be resolved so that we finally can bring our product to the market.


Thanks for your time!
 

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though know I am not goodguude, but can do a good design for you. Have portfolio you can check out
Hey goodguude,

do you have a portfolio? I'm looking for someone who can do some design work for me.

Cheers
 

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@Fox and @Thiago Machado is there a way to create a mockup website to show potential clients that you don't need to purchase hosting and have it up on the live web? Or is hosting it the only way?
 

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@Fox and @Thiago Machado is there a way to create a mockup website to show potential clients that you don't need to purchase hosting and have it up on the live web? Or is hosting it the only way?

Do you have any hosting at the moment?

If so you can make a subdomain/folder for free. Something like demo.yourdomain.(com)

If not you will need to get something unless you want to just send it as an image (not recommend).
 

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Do you have any hosting at the moment?

If so you can make a subdomain/folder for free. Something like demo.yourdomain.(com)

If not you will need to get something unless you want to just send it as an image (not recommend).

Makes sense, thanks! I have a few sites hosted, so I could make it a subdomain folder.
 

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@Fox and @Thiago Machado is there a way to create a mockup website to show potential clients that you don't need to purchase hosting and have it up on the live web? Or is hosting it the only way?

Most hosting plans include a number of subdomains. They look like subdomain.yourwebsite.com.
I've installed several of those subdomains, so that I have a place to host the website where the client can see it. (e.g. client1.mywebsite.com).

EDIT: whoops, didn't see the posts on site 3. Thanks for clarifying, @Fox
 

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If you don't mind me chiming in, I found having clients.yourdomain.com/client1, clients.yourdomain.com/client2, clients.yourdomain.com/client3, etc. to be the best approach.

This means you have a subdomain called 'clients' or 'demo'... then you use a subFOLDER in the directory where that subdomain lies to show the specific demo. This will keep your server files better organized and easier to navigate. Just make sure http://clients.yourdomain.com doesn't reveal all your clients. You can do this by putting a blank index.php file or something in the root folder for clients.yourdomain.com.
 

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Just had a meeting with a specialist who will help us getting registered, so we can beginn selling our product for pets.
I (probably) was able to sell him a website for his business, too. (unintentionally)
Seems like my in-person selling skills become better, haha.
 

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Just had a meeting with a specialist who will help us getting registered, so we can beginn selling our product for pets.
I (probably) was able to sell him a website for his business, too. (unintentionally)
Seems like my in-person selling skills become better, haha.
Lol... I get this all the time when I'm chatting to other business owners. I'm naturally curious and interested in how they're getting leads and sales, and can't help but make suggestions. One thing then leads to another.
 

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Lol... I get this all the time when I'm chatting to other business owners. I'm naturally curious and interested in how they're getting leads and sales, and can't help but make suggestions. One thing then leads to another.

Exactly. Just asked him how he got into this business and how he is getting clients at the moment since he has no website at all. It's only word-of-mouth at the moment. That was really interesting.
 
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PatrickWho

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Invision App is okay, but in my experience, clients need to see an actual working demo of their site to give decent feedback.

I once had a client get upset because his site was 'broken.' He couldn't grasp that I had sent him an image, not an actual website =\

Really... when dealing with your typical business owner that knows nothing of the web, send them the real deal. Invision would be fine for the tech savvy corporate exec, but it's far too complicated for your average mom and pop business owner.
 

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Invision App is okay, but in my experience, clients need to see an actual working demo of their site to give decent feedback.

I once had a client get upset because his site was 'broken.' He couldn't grasp that I had sent him an image, not an actual website =\

Really... when dealing with your typical business owner that knows nothing of the web, send them the real deal. Invision would be fine for the tech savvy corporate exec, but it's far too complicated for your average mom and pop business owner.
We put an image of a landing page up on a URL as our first iteration. We tell the client it's just an image, but then our dev guy can start coding it up while we get feedback about copy etc from the client.
It's working well for us.
 

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