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Interviews

Making $2k/month Helping Businesses Secure Quality Interviews on Podcasts

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Mark Colgan. I’ve got 12 years of experience in the B2B SaaS space, focused on sales and marketing roles, and started my career in sales and in recruitment. I then pivoted into marketing about 5 years later, where I’ve been usually the first digital marketer in B2B SaaS companies that I developed my skills, building out a lot of the MarTech systems and CRM implementations. 

In 2017, I took a year’s break and went traveling from South America to Southeast Asia, but did a couple of freelance projects whilst I was away. That gave me the confidence and then planted the seed in my mind that I could work remotely and not have to work from an office in the future. That was a really important moment for me. 

When I returned to the UK, I set up my own consulting company where I mainly helped B2B SaaS companies with their marketing automation, and just making sure that they selected the right tech stack and integrated it effectively — and that often resulted in me doing the implementation, and then they optimised it to get the best out of it and the return on investment. 

I met David Henzel about a year and a half ago. He owns a number of businesses, one of which he asked me to come on board to run the sales and marketing and I’ve done that for the last year. We’ve grown the business and I spotted an opportunity to utilize and leverage my skills of cold email outreach rather than pitch a product or service — instead, pitching people and secure them interviews on podcasts within their target audience. 

Now, if I go back to the very first job I had, I was representing individuals and selling them into roles. I really get to tap into a lot of the training and skills I acquired over a decade ago, and then utilize those skills for securing interviews for people on podcasts. 

I’ve been a big podcast fan for years! I’ve listened to podcasts before they were even apps like Pocket Casts. I see it as a huge opportunity at the moment, especially with the Coronavirus and the impact that’s had on the industry. It’s also an incredible way to get in front of a targeted audience. I think the mistake that a lot of people make is that they tend to only target the bigger and more established podcasts with have huge downloads, whereas I’ve seen really good results — in terms of revenue — generated from smaller podcasts with a very well defined niche audience. 

For the first 4 months of this year, I managed to book 30 interviews for myself, David and GQ, one of the other co-founders. I knew that my processes worked and knew that my system would work. In fact, we generated around 37% of net new revenue from podcasts, so we knew it was a good strategy. I proved that it worked for myself, and now I’m in the very early stages of building out this process so that we can offer the stuff that I do for other people.

Right now we are making a small amount of revenue, around $2,000 per month, and that’s with a couple of friends and family that trusted us enough to pay a slightly discounted rate for the service that we’re operating right now. We have six customers signed up. But again, a lot of them are friends and family that resulted in us reaching out to our network to see if anybody would be interested. 

Our current pricing is $849 per month. That secures a guarantee of four interviews booked per month now, though not every interview will go live in that same month. We’re seeing a really high success rate from outreach, to meeting, to interview scheduled, because we really personalize the message based on the value that our customers can give to the podcast audience. I think that’s the key. 

There are some lean expenses. We have a project manager and it’s just myself and her working at the moment. But, we are actively hiring a booking agent who will manage the day-to-day and the actual outreach for our customers. In terms of expenses and margins, a conservative expense would be around 25% of revenue, relieving 75% in net profit. 

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

My background is in sales and marketing and I love this stuff. I mentioned before that we got our first users just from speaking to our network, but one of the ways that one of the channels that we’ll be leveraging is content. I honed my skill on content creation over the years. 

One of the things that I like to do is forget about SEO at the very beginning. Because it takes a bit more time to see the compound impact of SEO, I definitely believe in it — but it’s not the quickest way to attract new customers. What we’re doing at the moment is we’re creating content that solves the problems that our customers have, one of which is utilising podcasts for lead generation. Another one is for building out relationships with podcasts themselves. How do they promote their podcast? And how do they encourage their interview guests to promote the podcast so we will be creating content which will then be used in our outbound email campaigns? 

I fall back to it every time because it’s the easiest way to build a repeatable and scalable sales process and have that Predictable Revenue coming through. 

In terms of customer retention, things I’ve learned from TaskDrive is that onboarding and the first experience that they have with the brand is extremely important. From a psychological point of view, if they have a negative experience, or it doesn’t go quite as to their expectations, it’s extremely hard to convince them that we are a trustworthy and credible business. 

Over-communicating, under-promising, and over-delivering when it comes to the onboarding and throughout the engagement is key.

There are a number of things that we’ll be communicating with our customers that they have no idea about, but we will add them into their engagement with us to surprise and delight them. 

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

I think one of the biggest challenges is getting comfortable building as you’re flying. In an ideal world, you’ll have your team ready, they’ll be trained, all the processes will be documented and tested. But it’s simply not the case when you’re beginning. 

Another challenge that I have is that a lot of this content and context is in my head. I have to make sure that I remove any sort of confirmation bias when creating processes, and I usually do that by asking myself: Could a six year old do this process? 

Everything has to be broken down into such simple steps, even though you’re employing small. Even with people who are very capable there needs to be no room for any guesswork in the processes that need to be followed. And for any of those processes which require some critical thinking and creativity, there needs to be frameworks and guidelines around how they should approach that to maintain the status tone of voice that we’re looking for. 

The speaker podcasts, in this case, it’s the email outreach: making sure that it’s personalized — not waffling on or pitching too much — and other challenges and obstacles. I think it just comes back to balancing that supply and demand. Onboarding is such an important process. I wouldn’t want to be in a position where we have too many customers for us to serve, although it’s a nice problem to have. I want to make sure that we are able to fulfill their requirements. 

Another mistake that I’ve made in the past is making sure that you qualify out people as much as you qualify in: if somebody might not be a fit from a demographic, or from a stage of their journey, don’t be afraid of saying no and rejecting them as a client. Personally, I always like to point people in the right direction. Pretty much 100% of the time my gut feeling has been right; when I know that someone’s going to be a nightmare client they’ve turned out to be. So don’t be afraid of saying no, even if it’s your only deal or first customer. When you’re starting out and don’t have too much revenue, you’ll want to say yes to everything.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

I think the first thing is maybe my habits and my own skill set. I’m addicted to sales marketing. And I have taken the approach to always learn by doing. I don’t read books and listen to podcasts if it’s solving a problem I don’t yet have. So I have a very good ability to focus intensely on just the one main problem or challenge that’s facing me at the moment. 

I feel I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so maybe that’s why that comes a bit more naturally to me. But having that ability to focus just on one key challenge is really essential. I often joke with my co founders and team that you have to hit everything with the simple stick and don’t overthink things. Sometimes we think too far ahead and get bogged down in material when we really don’t need to. 

I’m a huge fan of a number of different blogs and books. Podcasts are probably my main vehicle of how I learn. I listen to podcasts when I’m cooking, when I’m walking anywhere, when I’m at the gym, when I’m showering. It’s such a great rich format to listen to. Because it’s using the stories that people tell, it’s a lot easier to retain, digest, and interpret rather than reading a 4000 word guide on something. I tend to look at the challenges that I have all the things I’m trying to solve and then look to solve them by sourcing the content directly. 

Good decisions that I took in terms of hiring: at the moment, I have a project manager who I’ve worked with in the past, she knows me and how I like to operate. She knows that I’m extremely particular with the detail and that helps knowing that somebody understands that and can also uphold that level of quality. Another great decision is implementing this business with the EOS system from Gina Whitman’s traction book. 

In terms of habits, I take time to block everything. My life is run by my calendar. It took me a little while to personally get over that it felt very weird to put in things like dinner with friends or lunch with your partner. My calendar even says some stuff like shower, eat, just because it’s so packed, but I managed to really increase my productivity by having everything planned. I also block out time where it doesn’t actually say what I have to do, but it is just free time for me to do something. I’m doing a lot of work at the moment myself personally on meditation and journaling, which has been a bit of a struggle to get started with myself, but I know that I just need to persist with that until I then start to see the benefits of that.

Also, a word of advice: get glasses that block out blue light. It’s been a real game changer for me. 

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

I can’t stress this enough: any established business should always be speaking to people and connecting to new individuals. I hired a salesperson and her quota of new sales for the first month was ZERO because I wanted her to have as many conversations with our ideal customers as possible. I wanted her to understand what challenges they face on a day to day, what things are working, what things aren’t working, what strategies have they tried, what tactics are they using — because all of this information needs to be absorbed by you and your company so that you can communicate more effectively, and really resonate with your audience. 

When starting a productized service, the landing page doesn’t need to be perfect. The focus should be on perfecting the processes and refining our operations, rather than being worried about padding on the website, all the colours used and things like that. I would make sure to just throw up a landing page, articulate the content.

Just remember, everything is a constant evolution. You want to be changing your content on a regular basis, the more conversations you have with customers and hear how they describe the challenges that they face and how they’re overcoming them. 

I think one mistake I see others making is not having social proof on the website. It makes sense to record a video, perhaps of you talking through what the process is once people sign up — I’ve actually got that on my to-do list to do with Speak on Podcasts.

6. What are your plans for the future? 

Right now I’m focusing on perfecting the processes: making sure that somebody external can come in that hasn’t worked with me before, but can actually deliver the work, ensuring that we are planning ahead. We pitch for people to appear on podcasts and will essentially be reaching back out to the same podcast if we have another customer that falls within the same category. 

Any podcast host wants their guests to come on and promote the show/interview because it helps increase their own brand awareness and potentially bring in more subscribers for that podcast. So we’re going to do everything we can to assist our customers in promoting that podcast, even though that’s not part of the service that we’re offering. I want to get us to start thinking about helping our customers be more successful and how we can help potential referral partners be more successful and get a great referral. 

7. Where can we learn more about you?

Here’s my LinkedIn. You can also find me at speakonpodcasts.com.

My question for the community is: what’s people’s perceptions on podcasts? What do they think the future is for podcasting? Do they listen to podcasts themselves? I would love to start a discussion around the topic of podcasts.

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Interviews

Freelance to Productization: How I Make $5k-6k/month As A Zapier Expert

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

I’m Andrew and I founded Luhhu – we’re Zapier experts.

I’ve always been entrepreneurial – with a much bigger interest in running a business than working for one. As a teenager, I used to buy scrap computer parts, reassemble working units and sell them locally. Then when I got to university I started a web design business for extra money.

The next few years were spent in London doing sales, before I travelled and eventually found myself as an expat in Budapest. My next go at a business was setting up a lead generation company for language teachers – and through that I learned to use Zapier.

Did I mention I tried my hand at writing? That ended when I tried to sign up to Upwork but got rejected? Undeterred, and on a whim, I signed up again as a Zapier specialist and this time got through.

That was the end of 2017 and through 2018 I grew a very successful freelance career, starting at $40/hour and reaching $125/hour when, in 2019, I decided I needed to have an agency so I could scale. No real planning went into the move other than to create a brand and website and put together a small team of contractors to work with.

Fast forward to 2020 and after a solid year of $60k revenue and a double-digits profit margin, we’re on track to 2.5x that this year. Our running costs are minimal, with a remote, freelance team and just a handful of software subscriptions.

In terms of revenue – we’re doing on average $5-6k per month.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

Getting a listing on the Zapier Experts directory has been a real boon for winning new clients – UK ones in particular as I’m one of the only UK-based agencies listed.

Outside of that I continue to win clients through Upwork and Fiverr where I first started as a freelancer, and thanks to the active following I’ve built up on places like Twitter and Reddit by evangelising for Zapier and nocode in general, I continue to get semi-occasional requests and referrals.

It stuck with me the advice I’ve heard from a few people that everything you do compounds on itself – and it’s true. After doing this a few years now I’m always surprised when I get a new client or opportunity from an unexpected place.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

Most of the challenges we’ve faced are the natural ones associated with transitioning from freelance to agency. Aside from developing a brand and building a website – how Luhhu positions itself and the type of clients we look for is in constant flux as we learn and experiment.

A holdover from my freelance days, we’ve always tried to say yes to any client (that has the budget), no matter which industry they are in or which tools or processes they’re looking to automate.

We have our strengths, and that tends to be ecommerce companies, law and accounting firms as well as education providers – but we’ve taken other weird and wonderful projects, some of which we’ve struggled to make profitable, because they’re in an area we have less expertise in and therefore have taken us longer to deliver.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

Twitter’s ability to drive my business as well as help me solve all sorts of problems and get connected with interesting people has been invaluable. I invest hours a day in there, talking about Zapier, signposting resources, joining discussions and trying to help people – and the ROI has been clients, team members, new business opportunities and great resources.

On a wider scale, I think we’ve been lucky to join the market at the right time – the move towards lean businesses with as few staff as possible and a focus on efficiency, means the skills of an agency like Luhhu are in constant demand. In essence we’ve never really had to look for work, but as I mentioned before, it’s become more about working out the types of projects where we can do the most effective work.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Look for a skill you have (or can pull together in a team) that is in real demand. Understand why companies need it and what the value is to them. Manage that and you’ve got the basis of your product. From there you need to first deliver it once, at least, profitably, and then work out how to deliver it at scale.

6. What are your plans for the future?

As I’ve said, growing our revenue and client base – but in a focussed way – is the big target for 2020. To achieve that we’re investing heavily in SEO and I’m looking to work with a couple of different agencies to achieve that.

This will mean properly articulating the types of clients and industries we can really help people automate and then producing content and resources on our website to attract them.

7. Where can we learn more about you? 

You can check out our blog, or find me on Twitter at @AndrewJDavison

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Interviews

How I Started a $25k-30k/month App Marketing Agency

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

I am Steve P. Young and my business is App Masters. We are an app marketing agency. 

I always knew I wanted to start my own business. Back when I was 12 years old, I used to sell cassette tapes to my classmates in elementary school and I never knew what that journey would look like, but I was just climbing the corporate ladder and hitting all these achievements, but didn’t feel fulfilled. I didn’t know how I would eventually start my own business or where that business would be. 

But, in 2011 I started making apps on my own. My son was 18 months at a time and I was just started creating apps for him and through that, I started building up a little bit of side income. I was like, Whoa, this is kind of cool. I was generating anywhere from $1,000 — 2,000 a month of income on the side. I was running marketing for a startup in San Francisco at the time, but in 2013 I decided to start a podcast and I thought: 

Oh, I love listening to podcasts. I wish there was a podcast on apps. Let me just start a podcast and interview some of my heroes in the app space and see if I can turn this side business that I have with ads into a real business. Maybe finally I’ll be an entrepreneur that I’ve always wanted to be.

I built up an audience and they started coming to me for marketing help. Now, I thought I was going to be making money off an app, not off of providing services for apps. That journey always looks different than when you originally envisioned, but it now started coming to me that six months after starting the podcast. 

I ended up leaving that startup job in San Francisco to pursue this full time. I’ve been doing this ever since in 2000. At the beginning of 2014 I officially went independent and full time.

Did you have an MVP? How did you get your first users?

What happened was, while I was still at my corporate startup job, somebody in the audience said, Hey Steve, I work for a bigger company and he was out in India and we’re launching a new app. Can you help me? 

And I was like, What? I don’t know much. I don’t know how to do this. 

He’s like, Don’t worry, I trust you, because he’s been listening to me from day one. So he had that embedded trust that I could then sign my first client that way.

My MVP was an ugly landing page. It was just that simple landing page that just said, Want help with your app launch? That was it. Contact us. I think I was charging $500 at the time. Obviously we’ve increased our rates now, but that’s how I first started and included a lot of things that I don’t actually focus on anymore.

What do your business model and pricing plans look like now?

We’ve productized our services, so instead of doing customized proposals, our packages start anywhere from $1,000 and we even have a different model where it’s $470 a month, and that’s for a certain set of marketing packages. Our base package really starts at $4,000 and includes a couple of different things with ASO, PR, Apple features, core things. We started stripping out different things that we didn’t feel like would add value to our customers. And it goes all the way up to $20,000. We currently have an MRR of $20k-30k.

We’ve got three full-time staff in the Philippines and one in India.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

What I found in my business is the more content I create, the more business is generated. And so I think I need to do a better job of this, but there are seasonal impacts. December usually is a slow month for us, and the summer is usually slow too. But I’ve also seen a correlation between the number of inbound leads versus the amount of content I create. So long as I continue to create content on YouTube and through the podcast. 

In 2015 I really got serious about YouTube. I started creating more and more, but before people would just find me through the podcast. Now people are finding me from YouTube and that’s primarily where most of my business comes from now.

Video marketing is huge, and I think if you start creating more video content and sharing some of your best strategies with your audience – even if you don’t want to build a following on YouTube – just having that video on your homepage with your best marketing tips and what that does is for all those who are interested in working with you. They see you, they trust you,  and you’re sharing really valuable tips. So when they come in as an inbound lead, they’re already warmed up.

If you don’t want to do a podcast like I do or a YouTube video, a simple content marketing hack is using big publications (such as Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, or Business Insider) and become the source for their stories. You can do this if you’re a designer, writer, or if you love to talk – you can do this anywhere. That’s how I found my first initial podcast guests.

In terms of retention, it’s as simple as continuing to add value to your customers. What I’ve also found through the years is that if you just continue to be in the space, people start connecting with you. Some of the heroes I wanted to reach out to when I was just starting out to have them on my platform are now reaching out to me to be in mine. It’s being consistent with whatever you’re doing, whether it’s creating content or serving your customers

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

The beginning of the first year was horrible. It tore my relationship apart with my wife and we just had a lot of fights cause I didn’t know where that money would come from. She had her own business. So she was starting to feel the pressure of having to earn an income back when she was doing her business. I was feeling the pressure too and it was detrimental to our relationship. 

Obviously we’re over it now, but that’s one on the personal side. 

The other challenges were trying to do too much, especially in the beginning when I didn’t know where the money’s going to come from. I was trying to do courses, create an agency, all this content stuff, and I had a consulting client and I was trying to do too much at once and nothing was really taking off until I realized that what’s working right now is people are coming to me to help with their marketing of apps and I need to focus on that right now. I canceled all the courses, I stopped doing everything else and I just focus on growing the agency. 

And just like that, I doubled my year one revenue in year two.

I think the one thing that I’m most proud of is diversifying the business. Those courses that I created back in 2014 are still things that I use today and now I’ve diversified the business so that it’s not just an agency model. We do have courses, we do have podcast sponsorships, so there’s a lot of money coming in from different things. While most of it’s coming from the agency, there are still ways I can diversify and make money other ways, especially during uncertain times like these.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

There’s one book that I’ll recommend called Story Brand (by Donald Miller). This is like 7 years into my business and I was like, Oh, I’ve been marketing so poorly — and I’m a marketer! But sometimes you better market other people’s stuff than you do your own products because you just have a better understanding and outsider view. Story Brand is a great book because it ‘concises’ all the messaging for marketing.

For me, masterminds have been super helpful. I built a mastermind with just app entrepreneurs when I first started because I joined a mastermind before I even took the jump to entrepreneurship. I think masterminds and that Story Brand book are ones that have been super, super helpful because then you can bounce ideas off of other people.

In terms of hiring, it helps to have someone you can rely on. Obviously it takes a long time to hire that person, but that’s been the best decision. The fact that you can hire somebody who can oversee the rest of your team. One of the people I’ve been working with since the beginning has been a game-changer, and she’s been amazing with hiring good people under her.

As for habits, I wake up really early, usually around 5-5:30 AM to get an hour in of work because actually during these quarantine times, we have to homeschool the kids. The work is limited and I just try to decide the most important thing that if I only got this thing done, I would feel so accomplished. I won’t check emails or anything like that, I’ll just go straight to the computer and focus on the single most important thing I need to get done. Exercise has always been important because I feel a lot happier when I do. So I usually try to work for an hour, workout, and then start the day.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Build the audience, create content even before you start thinking about what it is. Once you build that audience, they’ll start telling you what they want. Be able to talk to your core audience, get them on the phone and batch all of your calls back to back.

Secondly, look at unlimited services. I am a big believer that that’s where we’re all headed. I pay for a lot of unlimited services like Bench for my bookkeeping and Video Husky for my video editing. I have a business called Copy Masters where we provide unlimited copywriting.

There’s another hack called clarity.fm and I was one of the first people to sign up. I have clarity.fm/steve and I ranked really well on that platform. If you’re looking for experts in any space, you can search for them. In the early days I would use it to schedule my calls. I got a ton of reviews and it became a social proof element for me.

6. What are your plans for the future?

I wanted to build out more unlimited services especially in the app space, and I am working on a couple of different virtual summits while also doing the courses. We’ve been doing these for the past couple of years already, so I want to continue doing that.

We’re aiming for slow and steady progress. Sometimes we as entrepreneurs, especially me, tend to have too many different ideas and then half-ass most of them. I’ll be focusing on one project at a time. This month is all virtual summits; we’ve got a virtual summit in June, and we’ve done the recording and everything’s done so now we’re just driving traffic towards it.

7. Where can we learn more about you? 

You’ll find everything at appmasters.com. If you want to check out our YouTube channel, it’s appmasters.com/youtube.

For me, as someone who always knew I wanted to have my own business since I was a very young kid, but I never did it. I’ve been a lifelong side entrepreneur and I never took that leap, I was always hustling. 

So my question to the community is: What’s holding you back? I want to challenge you to think about deeper levels.

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Interviews

Building an $18.7M/year SEO, Content, and Marketing Agency

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

I’m Clayton Johnson, CMO of The HOTH

The HOTH started in 2010 as a productized service for link building. We had 1 product and launched an offer on an internet marketing forum in a buy-sell section. The offer hit and the company started. 

Over the course of the last 10 years, we expanded from that 1 product service to now over 17 products, mostly around SEO services, content, and marketing. Price points vary from $50 to $50k+ per month. 

You can see our product lineup here https://www.thehoth.com/products/

Now we have an office of ~50 core staff in St. Petersburg FL and work with thousands of freelancers around the world that work on producing the products.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

We were lucky because we started with a strong product market fit – our first product was in high demand so it didn’t take a lot to have people try it out. We went through a few phases of growth just trying the normal stuff – small partnerships, some conferences, some blog posts, etc, but finally stalled out and couldn’t grow.

I was at the time the COO – I was in charge of ops. I’m obsessive about operational procedures but it turns out, that’s not what drives growth, so I started shifting into marketing.

We focused on creating marketing & sales systems that produce leads and sales consistently. All of our marketing pretty much stems from this idea of identifying customer questions, creating that content, and promoting that content. This is mostly what we focus on now and it works really well.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

There were so many obstacles, but I forget most of them because I’m mostly focused on solving them and moving on.

One obstacle that I do remember was that we stalled out in growth in 2013. These types of plateaus happen all the time in businesses, and you usually need to change something internally to get over that hump. 

In 2013, I focused on myself and tried to make a personal transformation – my outlook, my personal goal setting, eliminating complaining etc. Then I focused on moving from operations to learning marketing and implementing marketing like a mad man. That was a big growth change for us, we 20x’d over the next 5 years.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

I read a couple books early on that made it clear that we should focus on productizing – the E-Myth and Built to Sell. We went hardcore into ops mode there and made our business scalable. 

In the beginning, we really focused on running a tight ship but keeping it lean. We use a lot of Google docs, spreadsheets, and then graduated to tools like Asana, Groove, Slack. We hired a developer to build our platform as well and that was huge.

My favorite book that is required for our marketing team is Dot Com Secrets by Russel Brunson. It’s the best book if you don’t want to have to jump between 1 thousand courses. 

In terms of learning, I try to balance 1 skills book with 1 mindset/self-help book. 

For instance, read dot com secrets (marketing book) and then read the power of now (self help book).

If you keep just reading marketing books, you’ll find yourself stalled out because you don’t have the emotional foundation to do what you need. If you only read motivational type books, you’ll have all the motivation in the world but you won’t be able to actually execute anything.What really helped grow our business though above everything was the people we hired & the culture we created. I wrote a whole article about that here.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Focus on your customers and finding product market fit. This will make everything way easier. If you skip this it will make everything WAY harder. 

Once you have product market fit, make sure you do marketing, and don’t stop. Learn real marketing and apply it to your business. When you stall out, realize you gotta do something different.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We’re continuing to develop more products for The HOTH that expand outside of SEO, for example we just launched HOTH PPC which is a productized Google Ads management service.  We applied all the principles we learned with our other SEO / content products to this. We also recently acquired FreeUp, a platform that connects you with top freelance talent. I’m excited to grow this company as well and implement a lot of the things we learned growing the HOTH.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

You can find The HOTH Blog here: https://www.thehoth.com/blog/

You can contact me via email clayton@thehoth.com

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Interviews

Making $160k/year Offering Unlimited Membership Site and Tech Support

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

I’m Vic Dorfman—founder of MemberFix

For over 5 years we’ve been working with WordPress membership site owners (and aspiring membership site owners) to plan, set up, and maintain their subscription businesses. This includes strategy sessions to pick the best tech stack for each project, full project management services, and high-level implementation by an experienced and passionate team. 

We operate on an agency / productized services model in which we sell both ‘flex’ developer hours and monthly support plans. We work with prospective customers to determine and clarify their requirements, develop acceptance criteria, scope out their projects along with estimates, and once we have expectations on the same page—get it all done!

We’re very passionate about this industry. We’re always proactively learning new software, refining best practices, and nurturing relationships with many of the key tech providers in the membership site space, which allows us to help our customers pick future-proof software solutions that work best for their unique needs.

I’m a Ukrainian-American who was laid off from his cushy job and impulsively bought a one-way ticket to Thailand about 7 years ago with $2k in my checking account and $22k in credit card debt. Mission: start an online business or die trying. Since then, MemberFix has grown into a fully distributed organization with over a dozen amazing team members (mostly from Eastern Europe). In calendar year 2019 we brought in roughly $160k in revenue with approximately 20% profit margins. We’re on track to top $200k in 2020 with improved margins. We work tirelessly on our processes which results in efficiency gains each and every quarter. Our most substantial expenses come in the form of team salaries but this is one area where we don’t skimp.

We never built an MVP as such. Rather, we took the “unlimited ‘insert your service here’ for only $XXX per month”, productized services model popularized by Dan Norris (WPCurve) and kept iterating on it. We also introduced hourly work because we realized that our insistence on recurring-only business was a huge hindrance to our growth as a company and as individual professionals. This hourly offering has been a big part of our recent growth and has forced us to evolve at a rapid pace.

Our mission is to be the premier WordPress membership site agency in the world, and the number one authority on WordPress membership site software.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

We get a lot of our customers through our prodigious content marketing efforts, including our YouTube channel. We also get a fair bit of business from referrals. This is our main marketing technique. 

In terms of retaining customers, I think that’s an evolving process. First, we aim to do a great job on our customers’ projects, under-promise, and over-deliver. We’re not always successful and we’ve invested heavily in business consulting around critical areas like customer service and project management to ensure that we absolutely delight everybody with whom we work. 

Services, whether productized or otherwise, require you to always put the customer first, own up to mistakes, and have a kaizen approach to continually improving your workflow so that errors and mismanaged expectations become less and less of an issue as time goes on. 

We also offer all of our customers complementary strategy sessions with me monthly. This is a big value add to many of our customers as another experienced entrepreneur can often provide a second opinion. These sessions have have resulted in our customers making changes that have directly resulted in significant revenue growth. It’s a win / win.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

It would be impossible to list the never-ending onslaught of challenges and obstacles that come with growing a business. 

One salient challenge was scaling from “just me” to a full team. I initially attempted to hire help in India, Philippines, etc. but soon found that the work culture in those countries ran counter to my professional values. I made two unsuccessful attempts to scale with team members from South Asia before I decided to start hiring in Eastern Europe exclusively. This was a critical decision because we were able to start filling our team with individuals who are not only talented and ambitious but share a certain value set that’s conducive to doing business in a professional manner. 

This was also the catalyst that propelled me from the “do it” guy to the “work on the business” guy, which itself presented a whole universe of new challenges that I’d not faced before. I would say our rockstar team is synonymous with our success. And while hiring methodologies like the A Method and TopGrading are probably appropriate for a certain size organization and discourage intuitive (“voodoo”) hiring methods, my ability to hire great colleagues has been directly proportional to my ability to listen to my gut.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

Bringing on our operations manager, Viktor was a huge shift for us. He helped us implement Airtable and Python to automate many time-consuming, mundane, but important parts of our business like Payroll, time tracking, accounting, etc. Viktor is also responsible for creating SOPs, trainings, hiring, and other efficiency-gaining activities. 

Airtable, by the way, is critical to our business. Promoting from within has also been a stimulus to growth. In particular, promoting one of our talented developers, Sorin, to the technical project manager role allowed us to properly invest in project management consulting, adopting ClickUp for PM activities. It also energized Sorin in an amazing way to be in a more challenging and interesting role, which taught me that you have to have the right people on the bus and have them in the right seats!

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

My main advice would be to focus on selecting the right type of business.

Our own business is exciting and dynamic but it’s also undeniably difficult to scale because every customer comes to us with unique requirements that can’t be handily documented, repeated, or automated. This has essentially required us to grow into a proper agency in order to learn the business technologies that work in a dynamic, high touch, services context.

Certain other businesses like SEO, for instance, can lean much more heavily on automation because the tasks involved are often repetitive and technology-centric. This is the kind of business that lends itself to smooth scaling.

The other suggestion I can make is to get very clear on terms and track your numbers ruthlessly. You’ll find that you’re operating unprofitably for some percentage of customers, and you need to build in enough cushion such that you can make a profit on even the most demanding edge-case customers. Not to mention, meticulous books could be the difference between a smooth acquisition one day and a pass.

6. What are your plans for the future?

While we have well-defined relativistic goals (OKRs) for things like traffic, revenue, margins, and so on, the main focus for now is to continually invest in getting our core business processes to a world-class level. 

Our aim is for every customer whom we help to experience delight and a totally smooth delivery of their projects and tasks. This to me is the foundation of any real success because truly great customer service is its own marketing. Doubling revenue while churn and refunds also double because you bit off more than you can chew doesn’t help anyone, does it?

This is why we reinvest heavily in education and high-level consultants. We want to be the absolute best at what we do.

Apropos to this point, we were in talks with a company eyeing us for a strategic acquisition late last year. and it made me realize that I would like to exit MemberFix in the next 24 months or so. But I wouldn’t dream of selling an investor an asset that wasn’t first running like a Swiss watch, largely self-managing, and ideally self-multiplying. And on the same token, any acquisition would have to involve a distinct upside for our team in the form of access to better opportunities, career path, money, access to high level mentorship, etc.

I don’t anticipate any specific roadblocks but I anticipate that there will be roadblocks and plenty of them. On any given day I’m vacillating between “I hate this shit…” and “I love this shit!” because there are constant challenges with being an entrepreneur. Ups and downs. But I know that because of the difficulties that I’ve been through with my wonderful team, and specifically in a services based business like ours, I’ll be able to handle just about anything.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

You can find us at https://memberfix.rocks

Categories
Interviews

How I Slowly Built Up a $10k/month Content Provision Business

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Nigel Bowen and I am the founder of Content Sherpa

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved words and wanted to make a living as a writer. Back when I graduated from uni, it was still feasible to make a (modest) living as a journalist and I did that for around 15 years. Then one day I woke up at age 40 – with two young children and a wife on maternity leave to support – and found that I no longer had a job and my industry was in a death spiral. 

While I’d like to pretend I had a brilliant business plan and the foresight to see how content marketing was going to take off, the reality is I just answered an ad one day from a content marketing agency. At the time, I had no idea what a content marketing agency was, but I was delighted when the staff there started sending a lot of my work my way. In stark contrast to the legacy media publications I was still doing a little bit of work for, the agency paid reasonable rates and processed my invoices in a timely manner. 

I then started producing content – articles, blog posts, case studies, e-books, infographics, social media posts, whitepapers how-to guides and thought-leadership pieces – for other content marketing agencies, PR firms, custom publishing houses, government agencies, educational institutions, Australian companies and multinational corporations. 

Most of the time, clients wanted articles that were around 800 words long and I was usually able to charge A$1 a word. In a good week, I might write 3-4 articles. Even during the slow weeks, I usually managed to write 1-2. Over four years, I attracted more and better-paying clients and got to the point where I was earning a six-figure income for the first time in my life. 

I work from home and don’t have any staff, so my overheads are pretty low. Like most people in this line of work, I have periods of feast and famine. But, overall, through some combination of tireless hustling, hard work and luck I’ve managed to make a go of being self-employed and now can’t imagine ever returning to wage slavery.   

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

When I first started out, I took a spray-and-pray approach to attracting customers. If there was some indication a business might be in the market for a content provider, I’d cold email them. One of my more intelligent decisions was to invest time and money in creating a good website and growing my LinkedIn network early on. I presume that 99 per cent of people who are considering hiring me look at my website first and they often tell me that they found it reassuringly impressive.  

Somewhat ironically given my line of work, I don’t think any Jedi marketing techniques will work miracles. You can and should make potential customers aware of the product or service you are offering. However, you need to deliver a quality product or service to generate repeat business and enjoy long-term success. 

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

The main challenge I’ve faced with my business is either having too much work or too little. When you’re a one-man-band, it is difficult to get the balance right. 

I’ve experimented with farming out work to other writers at various times, but I never found a way to make that financially viable both for myself and the writer I was sending work to. These days I either just work really long hours to get big jobs done or respectfully decline them. Having too little work is more worrying than having too much. I’ve found I can avoid that situation – most of the time – by making sure I make time to keep pitching for future work even when I’m stressing out about getting through all the work I already have booked in. 

When I first got into content marketing, much of the content I produced was for cashed-up financial institutions – banks, insurance companies, superannuation funds. In recent years, I’ve pivoted to doing a lot more work for tech companies, but I guess most businesses are essentially tech businesses nowadays. 

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

There are a lot of overpriced and dubiously qualified ‘entrepreneurial gurus’ out there, but it’s worth taking some time to sort the wheat from the chaff and locate a wise man or woman who can give you the benefit of their experience. 

Face-to-face mentoring is great if it’s available. If it is not, you can learn plenty by reading books by Scott Adams, Michael Gerber, Dan Kennedy, Cal Newport, Peter Thiel and listening to podcasts featuring people such as James Althucher, Naval Ravikant and Eric Weinstein.  

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Producing content is an art rather than a science. Unfortunately, you can’t entirely systemise the process in the way Henry Ford did with cars or Ray Kroc did with hamburgers. Nonetheless, you need to learn from trial and error what is the most efficient way to get the necessary research, writing and revisions done. 

I’ve found the most important thing is to get a clear and comprehensive brief from the client and raise any issues you have with it at the start of the process. Ideally, you want your client to sign a contract that explicitly sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties.  

6. What are your plans for the future?

I’m old enough to remember the pre-Internet era and I don’t think people appreciate just how incredible the time we are living in now is. Or how much the near future will resemble a sci-fi movie. Barring exceptional events, I’ll be working for another couple of decades. I’m excited at the prospect of making a good living explaining miraculous technological developments to the general public as we approach 2040. (Hopefully, the singularity will have occurred before I reach retirement age.)   

7. Where can we learn more about you? 

I’ve got a Twitter account (@NigeBowen) but I’ve never been much of a tweeter. If anybody wants to reach out, the best way to do it is via LinkedIn.

Categories
Interviews

Running a $23k/month Advertising Agency

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

What is up productizedstartups.com readers. 

My name is Brice. I’m originally from Austin, Texas and I run an advertising agency called Major Impact Media

How We Got Started

I got started online in 2012 after college. Once I graduated I quickly realized that no one was offering small liberal arts graduates high paying jobs, so I went online to figure out what would be a better option.

I ran an eBay store in college for a while and grew up very tech savvy so it made sense when I started to offer freelance services to a number of different services to local businesses.  I was diving into things like WordPress, SEO and website analytics.

I realized that a lot of these businesses were struggling to generate more leads and sales. 

When I found Google Ads (or AdWords at the time) I saw a huge opportunity helping businesses with paid advertising platforms.

I started Major Impact Media in 2015 at the end of another business venture. I met most of my initial clients by showing up to networking events and connecting with the entrepreneurial community in Austin.  

Networking today is still our number one source of business. We’re running about $23,000 a month with a 50% margin.

We offer Facebook and Google ads to digital product creators and service professionals on a monthly retainer model.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

Today for growth we’re working on doing more inbound marketing to attract clients. Creating valuable content and doing free training helps to start conversations and give us a positive reputation when people are doing research about us during the sales process. 

But the best places that we have ever got customers are from past customers who know about us, have used our services and recommend us to other people. 

For customer retention I believe the most important thing is creating a strong relationship in the first 90 days. My goal is to help our clients understand they have a partner to grow their business and not just another service they are paying for.

We get to know them, their goals and work together to figure out the best way to keep growing with paid advertising.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

The biggest challenge to growing an advertising agency is being able to internally develop high quality advertisers to deliver high quality work.

In the ad world your ability to deliver high quality work is what will keep you in business. And if you don’t want to be stuck doing all the work you need to be able to train high quality advertisers.

After spending years inside of accounts and working with dozens of companies I’ve become great. But one man can only manage a few accounts.

Today I’m focused on training my team members to be able to execute our services.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

I think one of the biggest things that we keep learning to help us grow is how to niche down and how to specialize so that we can more and more systematize our services and be able to provide high quality work without having to reinvent the wheel any time a new client comes on board.

If there’s something I could go back and change sooner, it would be developing our internal systems and processes for us to be able to train up quality media buyers internally sooner.

Technology also helps a ton, especially when we are running a remote team.

The tools that I could not live without in my business are: 

  1. Project Management Tool – Asana https://asana.com/
  2. Communication Tool – Slack https://slack.com/
  3. Online Documents – Google Doc https://www.google.com/docs/about/
  4. Knowledge Base – Confluence https://www.atlassian.com/software/co…
  5. Video Conferencing Tool https://zoom.us/
  6. Scheduling Tool https://calendly.com/
  7. Screen Recording Tool – https://www.loom.com/

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Check out questions 2, 3. and 4

6. What are your plans for the future?

What’s Next For Major Impact Media

Going forward I’m looking to expand the team to be able to help our clients grow.

We’re also going to start to offer our internal training as a do-it-yourself product for small companies who can not afford our services.

Most of the training out there is not focused on how teams can consistently produce winning ad campaigns, and we want to be able to reach more companies by starting to train them on the methodologies and frameworks we’ve developed.

I see breaking into the training market to be competitive but I believe there is a lot of room in the space for quality training.

You can follow us online to see how it goes.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

If you want to get a hold of me or learn more about us, please come check us out at majorimpactmedia.com

I’m also active on Facebook.

Thanks for reading! I hope you got some good tips out of this and it helps you with your service-based business.

Categories
Interviews

Making £500/month Roasting Startup Landing Pages

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

I’m a straight-talking freelance digital marketer based in London working with various early-stage startups. Early this year a client suggested I should host a podcast roasting startups. There’s enough bearded white men with podcasts, so I decided to productise the idea instead. At roastmylandingpage.com you can book me to undertake a 10-minute roast of your landing page with a view to doubling the conversion rate. I built a landing page and had my first customer in less than an hour through Twitter.

Since then I’ve roasted 100s of startups. Today I’m making about £500 a month (10 roasts) with the cost being 200 mins of my time and a small amount of marketing spend (< £100). The model is simple, at 6 roasts an hour I can earn £300/ hour which is 3 times my freelance rate. In reality they take longer but it also funnels work into my core business.

For my customers, 10 minutes is all they need to get the high-level first actions to increase their website’s conversion. It’s silly for them to retain a freelancer over weeks to iterate on changes. It also means I can charge a fair price to Indie Makers with limited budgets. 

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

I love building audiences! Content marketing was key. Two main assets I used were a flowchart called ‘Does Your Landing Page Suck?’ and my free, public Notion board  ‘100 Actionable Ways To Get Your Startup’s First 100 users’. Both of these worked well in communities and the social web, driving people into roastmylandingpage.com. I boosted these assets with some paid social and was able to get a CPC of less than 8p.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

I am still very early stage. But like everyone I had problems getting my landing page to convert. Very meta. I increased conversion in two ways: driving people through content first, and reducing the number of questions in the checkout page. Previously people would answer 5 questions about their page, and checkout. Now the questions are emailed after checkout.

I tend to over-invest in my ideas so I tried to keep an objective, distanced view on things.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

The IndieHackers community has been an incredible resource for feedback, support and leads. I use HotJar to watch users browse the site, and through the funnel. The landing page was quickly put together in Versoly which is my preferred landing page builder.

The landing page roasts are filmed using loom for a video-in-vide experience which was incredibly easy to setup and use.

I always work lean. As mentioned, a client suggested I do a podcast roasting startups and I decided to put a landing page up later that day. I had my first customer from my existing Twitter followers with an hour. This motivated me to start iterating and spend more time on the project.

5. What is your advice for those are starting productized services?

Two words: work lean. Get into the validation stage as quickly as possible. That means real feedback, real visitors and real customers. For me, when productising your skills, almost anything else is a blocker.

6. What are your plans for the future?

Help more people. Giving people useful, actionable feedback and seeing it implemented is immensely gratifying.

I don’t think I’ll iterate on the product unless customer feedback suggests I could be doing something more valuable.

Increase revenue to £3000/month through increased landing page conversion (always room to refine) and more content marketing using unique formats, and targeted at the persona. This would place me in a position to travel more while working on my own terms. 

7. Where can we learn more about you?

Come say hello on @helloitsolly on Twitter or checkout roastmylandingpage.com.

What small change to your landing page had a big impact on conversion?

Categories
Interviews

Starting a $1122/month WordPress Support and Maintenance Service

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

Hi! I’m Kevin, from California, USA and currently in Austin, Texas. 

After spending some time in the corporate world and hating it, I got laid off and was forced to either find another job or start something myself. The idea of another job didn’t interest me, as I couldn’t seem to fit in with work/corporate/office life.  

I instead went with my passions at the time with fitness and sport and started coaching a local masters (adult) swim team making $12/hour for a few hours of work a week.

This lead to giving swim lessons, and designing programs for triathletes (swim, bike, run) to accomplish a distance or open water swim. 

I started taking this online, and I eventually got my start in the world of online business with triswimcoach.com – swimming training for triathlons. I hired VA’s, then teams, to help build and run my niche business.

In 2017, after years of hiring admins, developers, and designers, I started Work Hero. My original plan was to offer these three categories as a productized service, where businesses could pay monthly for the design/development/VA services, instead of having to go out and hire everyone themselves. 

I quickly realized this was a little too much to take on and not what I wanted to do. I dropped the admin portion and focused on design and WordPress development.

However, I eventually realized that trying to do design AND WordPress support was not only not ideal for my customers, it was very hard to sell. In November of last year, I hit the reset button and dropped the unlimited design.

So we focused in on WordPress support and maintenance, doing the small edits (less than 1 hour), and helping businesses with all the headaches they experience with WordPress sites.

Our pricing plans are here: https://useworkhero.com/pricing

$149 for unlimited edits, $79 for 5 edits a month. All plans include

– Weekly updates

– Weekly reports

– Daily scans

– Off-site backups

– Speed optimization

– Mobile optimization

– Security optimization

– 24/7 uptime monitor

We landed 1 customer in December.

In January, we picked up 2 more.

February we got 2 more.

In March we added 3, and April so far 2, losing 1 as well.

Most customers are paying the unlimited fee of $149/month 

Revenue is currently ~$1122/month.

I’m running a small team of 4 developers, and a designer. 

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

The customer acquisition methods I have used that have worked have been:

Referrals: We have referrals from previous customers. Most of these are not from our affiliate program, but we are ramping that up now.

In-person networking: Typically, there are people who need WordPress help in most small/solo business communities. Meeting people in groups like the Dynamite Circle has resulted in new business.

Cold social outreach: We have campaigns going out to related group members on Facebook. These open up conversations and can lead to business.

We have recently started some content marketing, posting weekly WordPress-related articles on our blog. 

For customer retention, the best thing that is working is amazing customer service & support. We are very fast in replying to customers, and give each of them the best treatment. Also, always being willing to get on the phone with customers. We’ve had customers leave, and come back, leave again, and come back again. It’s important to really understand what their needs are and to also be okay with “letting them go”, knowing that they could be back. 

Lastly, we have a few autoresponders going out to customers to remind them that we are here for them, and send out any new info that may help them succeed in business. 

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

Challenge #1: Not having a tech/development background myself. I knew from the start that this business will come down to hiring, and the team I surround myself with. I made sure that I had people who knew what they were doing in WordPress right from the beginning, and that we could work on a wide variety of issues businesses face. It was worth it to pay a little extra early on for talent in this area.

Challenge #2: Competitive market. When we moved into being a WordPress support company, we had the challenge of not just becoming another of the many companies who offer this kind of service. To stand out, we focused on coaches and digital nomads, and put lots of attention on our few customers. Sometimes two developers will work with one business. We also accepted that there is endless amount of work out there, so there’s still nowhere near enough businesses who offer WordPress support. Plenty of room for more!

Challenge #3: We had customers in Hawaii, Asia, and East Coast US. We’ve had to hire developers from the Philippine and Eastern Europe to provide coverage for all of our customers. 

Challenge #4: Despite trying many systems and help desks, every once in a while, a task would slip through the cracks. Now that we use Teamwork, this is no longer an issue. We connect Teamwork to Slack, and have a customer portal where all tasks go called SPP. The systems have finally been worked out to where it is much easier and transparent, so everyone can see where tasks are, who’s working on them, when they last worked, and the notes.

We pivoted from being a productized design and WordPress company, to just focusing on WordPress maintenance and support. The reasons we made the switch: Design was much more difficult to execute. Customers have so many various tastes and preferences. We also found that we could not go below about $300/month, and the sales process could be quite long- whereas, with just offering WordPress, we could be more focused, and bring in the below $100/month customers without a lot of back-and-forth.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

  1. Getting organized at the beginning with SOPs. I used a lot of the methodology from a book and course called Work The System. This allowed us to automate and organize the business right from the start.
  2. Using the tools available to make work easier and more efficient. We use Slack and Zapier all the time.
  3. Hiring for attitude and training on the rest.
  4. Staying updated on the latest ways to run a productized service. The Productized Startups group has been an amazing resource.
  5. Being a member of the Dynamite Circle, and making great contacts through it. Some have become customers, others have given super helpful advice and feedback.
  6. Following companies who have already been there, like WPCurve, WP Buffs, Design Pickle, ManyPixels, etc.

The best decision I made was bringing on my Brazilian partner, who has been the innovative as well as technical mind behind Work Hero. I took a huge chance as he’s a young guy without a lot of experience going in, but has been incredibly valuable in the building and managing of Work Hero.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?

Get out there and talk to people. Talk to as many potential customers as you can. Find out as much as you can about their businesses. 

Single biggest learning would be that things take a LOT longer than anticipated, but it’s worth it to have patience. I had times when I was losing a decent amount of money every month and was ready to quit, however, we made it past the dip and are on the upward slope now. I thought we’d be profitable far sooner than we were, but there were some learning curves that I did not expect. 

Also, be ready for brutal feedback. After 2 months of building we released a beta, free version of our service, and it did not go well. Many complaints and some constructive feedback. Some of the complaints got me down, but I used it all to learn and grow instead of be defeated.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We are almost to 10 paying customers now and that is a big milestone. At that point, I will be hiring someone to take over the management of task distribution (PM role).

We just started offering hosting, and will likely branch out into other areas like SEO, which is a fascinating area to me. 

Our next goal is to get to $10,000 of revenue a month. From my estimate that’s about 80 customers. This will be done by:

-Expanding our affiliate program

-Hiring a PM

-Beginning a Facebook Ads campaign

-Continuing our content marketing and SEO efforts

-Podcast advertising and offers to groups like Dynamite Circle

Challenges will be keeping the right number of developers to match with the amount of work we have coming in. It’s easy to over- or under-hire as things grow slowly, or if they grow quickly.

7. Where can we learn more about you? 

IG: https://instagram.com/useworkhero

FB: https://facebook.com/useworkhero

Personal site: https://freedomlovin.com

Question for the community: What kind of challenges did you face AFTER you got your first 10 customers? How did you expectations align with what happened in reality?

Categories
Interviews

How I Built A $2.8K/Month SEO Content Writing Business In 6 Months

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Adam Crookes and I am the founder of Freshly Squeezed, a productized SEO content writing service. Ever since a young age, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of entrepreneurship. I had always wanted to be able to run my own business. After parting ways with a digital marketing agency in October of last year, I was in a position where I could go all-in on an idea that had been brewing in my head for a while.

It was a scary time. There were a lot of unknowns. I wasn’t sure if I could make it work and I was worried I would fail. Failure is definitely something I was concerned about. At the same time, I was fully aware that allowing negativity to consume my head would be unproductive and distract away from the task at hand. I knuckled down and did everything that I could to build a customer base as quickly as possible.

I knew that if I didn’t at least try to pursue my life-long ambition, I would regret it. The last six months have gone so quickly. In terms of revenue, I am currently generating $2,800/month. I have several customers in the SaaS industry and I also work on content for businesses in an eclectic mix of other industries. I enjoy the variety!

After six months of building Freshly Squeezed, I am now earning more than I was at the digital marketing agency. I can’t quite believe it. In a way, I think it’s good that it hasn’t sunk in yet – and I don’t think it will anytime soon. I’ve been working towards my own financial targets, but I never really attach any emotion to it. I treat it like a competitive game.

Freshly Squeezed provides on-demand SEO content writing services for small businesses and startups. We offer productized packages which include the development of a full SEO strategy for businesses. SEO is one of those things that founders always say they’re going to look at, but never do. For many, it’s difficult to know where to start with search engine optimization.

Fortunately, our service does all the heavy lifting for you. When it comes to producing high-quality blog content that is well-positioned to rank highly for industry-related keywords, there are a lot of things to consider. If only it was as easy as writing a 1,000-word blog post and sprinkling in a few keywords. It’s much more complex than that. In fact, we consider 51 Google ranking factors when writing blog posts for customers.

SEO content writing is, without a doubt, the most cost-effective way to bring regular streams of traffic to your website. Once you start ranking highly for certain keywords, the magic starts! Freshly Squeezed is working with many customers to build domain authority, which will help them to rank for competitive keywords more easily in the near future.

During this uncertain time, I’ve seen a lot of businesses increase their focus on SEO – it’s been very interesting to see this happen. As I said, it’s a cost-effective form of marketing that can generate long-term results. Websites are not going anywhere any time soon. Building a solid presence on search engines is the best marketing investment you could be making right now.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

The first few customers were obtained through cold emailing. More recently, I have been focusing on running Facebook and LinkedIn advertising campaigns with hyper-focused targeting. I absolutely love it. There’s nothing better than logging in and checking all of the data. I’m very proud of my click-through-rates! Probably too proud! The campaigns for Freshly Squeezed have successfully generated lots of conversions and sparked many conversations.

In terms of retention, I always go out of my way to provide customers with additional value. I do my very best to overdeliver and surprise my customers with the blog content. I’m always coming to them with my own ideas that always tie into the strategic SEO that we established from the outset. I think that you should try and get engage with your customers as much as possible.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles to growing your business?

There have been many! It’s a constant learning process. I had to learn on-the-job with Freshly Squeezed. Fortunately, I’ve found great mentors who have helped guide me through certain challenges and obstacles. I’m always trying to push the quality of the content writing to a consistently exceptional level.

At this present time, I do all of the content writing myself. If I hope to scale further, it may not be possible to do all the writing forever. I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), so the idea of handing the reigns to someone else is a little nervewracking. My keen eye for detail has definitely helped me to deliver content writing that exceeds expectations.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

Becoming a productized service has definitely helped to grow my business. Potential customers want to be able to see pricing instantly and the productized model facilitates this. I always loved the idea of having productized packages and it has worked very well for me thus far. It adds a level of predictability to my monthly revenue, which is always helpful. As I said, I have targets to hit! Facebook and LinkedIn advertising campaigns will continue to play a significant role in the growth of Freshly Squeezed.

5. What is your advice for those that are starting a productized service?

My advice for starting a productized service would be to just go for it! Lots of people often say they don’t have any time. If you have time to watch an hour of Netflix each day, you have time to start building something awesome.

The ultimate goal for a productized service is for it to eventually run itself. You will then be able to watch Netflix as much as you like! Also, never be afraid to ask others for advice. It’s a strength – not a weakness.

6. What are your plans for the future?

Oh, I have a lot of plans! I think there’s always a danger of trying to grow too quickly. Nevertheless, I’m immensely hungry and want to be able to scale Freshly Squeezed both in terms of customer base and the service offering. Currently, we are focused solely on crafting SEO strategies and blog content. However, in the future, we could explore branching out into delivering other forms of written copy.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

Great question! I’m always down for a conversation, especially if you’re currently dreaming up your next big idea. If you’re looking for some encouraging words of support or just want to chat about the trials and tribulations of business, feel free to email me at Adam@Squeezed.io.

If you would like to find out more about the SEO content writing services of Freshly Squeezed, please visit our website and request a free blog article for your business, on a topic of your choice.
Also, just under five years ago, I launched an online magazine, featuring exclusive interviews with actors and music artists. It continues to gain a lot of interest. For me, it’s always just been a passion project. If you’re a fan of film, television and music – it’s worth a read!