Starting an SEO or Internet Marketing Business

Profile picture of the author fourstepconsultant by fourstepconsultant Posted: 08/22/2011
Hi Guys,

While I'm new to Warrior, I'm not new to marketing or consulting. I wanted to post a thread that would really provide value to you guys who are looking to get in a business where you can make a lot of money, still work from home, and enjoy a great lifestyle and leverage the internet. For me it is in consulting! No Affiliate marketing or black hat stuff that comes and goes.

First, I'll share a little about myself and how I got into this business. In 2007, I owned a mortgage firm. I'll spare you the details, but as you can guess, it went bad. Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, and the like! I looked for a job for a while and finally got a job as a junior SEO guy for a small company in Orlando, about 10 employees. I was told to train and read. I did, but the week I was supposed to start I got a call from my future boss, that he couldn't hire me because he lost sales. We were broke, we were down, but we didn't give up.

In 2008, I launched my business LMS Internet, and tried to connect the dots. Growing an SEO company from scratch after going bankrupt wasn't going to be easy. In this thread, I'll share with you some important tips if you're trying to get a marketing business or consulting business set up.

BTW, I should probably share with you that we've had great success. I'm not saying this to be "proud", but I remember starting in 2008 without any help. Hopefully this thread will walk you through the steps of having great success and avoid you some pain. Since 2010, not only have we brought in more than $200 a year in consulting from home, but we've also trained many to do this as well. So, hopefully this advice will give you some good direction.

Business Set-up
Before you go out to the public and say, I'm a SEO consultant or I'm a marketing consultant, the key is to have your business set-up like you've been doing this a long time. If you don't put your best foot forward, you'll attract "bottom feeder" clients.


1. Professional Domain Name - We typically use our own names in our marketing. This helps us build credibility as the CEO of our businesses. So, for example you could be Smith Marketing Solutions, etc.

2. Professional Email and Phone System - While I do work at home, you'd never know it. We have custom email addresses using Google apps, and a toll free phone number that has several options. For example, press 1 for SEO, press 2 for AdWords, etc. These are different departments. Of course, they all ring my office desk, but it really makes us sound big.

3. Professional Site - DON'T start your business with a junky site. Get a nice one! Make it clean and professional!

So, when you're starting, spend some money on your business. Professional emails, 800 numbers, and corporate email. Professional signature and act like you've been doing this for 20 years. It is called posture!

What Work you Will Offer
I want to share a little bit about pricing out clients and how to handle the work that you will do.


1. Pricing and Packages - I have a PDF document that I give to my prospects that show the work we do. When I started it was only SEO, but I realized that if I built a team of global workers, that I could offer any type of marketing online that exists. We do copywriting, SEO, PPC, Website Design, Video Marketing, Social Media and a bunch of other things. Most of these are set up in custom packages, but I had to give a prospective client something so they knew we were legit.

2. Your Team - Since I outsource about 90% of the work to people all over the globe, I ask them for their portfolio to use in my proof package. When I started, my proof package was work from my outsourced team. These guys were great at SEO, link building, website design, and other things. So, I took their portfolios, with their permission, and I put it on some other PDF documents to show clients. Now, I had people I would use on my team and I knew their pricing. Over the years, I've replaced my portfolio with projects we've done, but it got me started. Of course, it was a win/win as I got the client and my outsourced team got the work, so they didn't mind me showing their work.

3. Thirdly, when it comes to working with clients and outsourced staff, you have to have systems. From Chat, phone, work hours, and getting the project completed, I worked very hard to figure out systems. Know exactly how you'll handle each project. We started out pretty dysfunctional, but in the end, it turned out great. We now have systems for invoicing, proposal writing, and updating our clients. I'd check out proposable dot com and also freshbooks. These are great for giving a professional appearance. Again, we work from home, just my wife and I, but the key is to NOT LOOK like you're new to this business. Systems are the key. If you've never read the Emyth, by Michael Gerber, it is key if you're starting a business.

Selecting the Right Clients
If you follow the right path, which is have your stuff together before you start looking for clients, you'll find the business is easy. You will look professional and clients will find it easy to say yes to working with you. Additionally, you'll have proof from your staff members who will do the bulk of the work for you. Lastly, you have systems in place of "how" you do things. The last thing is to pick the right clients.


1. Because SEO and Ecommerce marketing are in high demand, it is really easy to land new clients. There are many guys on the forum here that probably make well into the six figures consulting. Those that want to have a life, know this all to well.... The secret to your success is clients who have money to spend. With a $200K per year consulting business, I have to tell you that I only have 7-8 clients at a time. Most of them have been with me since 2008. In 2008, we did about $50K, 2009 we did $150K and in 2010 we did $200K. I'm on pace to do that again this year as well. Just to give you a heads up, if a client doesn't have a budget of $10K or more, I don't take them. After all, if you're a successful consultant who is good at what you do, would you take on small clients? Probably not. I turn away a lot of clients, which will surprise many. However, I have had a lot of new clients come with $500 month budgets and leave spending $1000 minimum. If you position yourself correctly, then you can charge more.

2. Close Ended Contracts - While some of the advice you'll receive on the forums might disagree, I always have closed contracts. Which means, they will go for 6 months or 8 months. There is work laid out on these projects. If it is a new site, 500 blog links, AdWords set-up, it is all listed there. The client pays a deposit and then we invoice them monthly for payments. We always work in arrears of payments, so I've never been burned. I did this in 2008, because of not having the cash, and I do it now because it works. Some of you reading this will say, but what about keeping the client longer... Well, I do keep clients for long stretches of time. Some 3 years or more. However, at the end of the campaign, if you've done the SEO correctly and given them things that will grow their traffic, they will renew. You'll write a new proposal, and in most cases, my clients end up spending more money the next round because they want to grow more. It also gives me a chance to review their business, which is key.

3. Weed out bad clients - Yes, I have fired clients. How? By raising the price so high that I know they won't go for it. The best way to weed out clients is to not deal with the wrong ones from the start. In 2008, I spent over 20 hours working with a client on proposals, calls, emails, and the final result.... They hired someone else. It burned badly and I said, everyone who wants to work with me must pay the $300 proposal fee. So, yes, I charge $200 to $300 for every client that wants to work with myself. It works! If the client doesn't have $300, then they are not serious or they are shopping on price alone. This last year, we've booked a $19K seo deal and a $27K seo and marketing deal. Both of these clients paid the proposal fee.

Consulting Tips
I didn't realize this at first, but there is good money in just giving advice. So I started offering consulting. In the end, it worked great. I've been all over the USA consulting. Seattle, LA, Denver, Phoenix, all paid for by my clients. I even flew first class, which was pretty cool. At the same time, I've charged as much as $300 per hour for a one day meeting.

1. Have a plan of growing a clients business - One day when I was sitting down trying to figure out how I would grow a business, I came up with the four steps of marketing. They are pretty simple and I'll explain them.
a. Have a good Unique Selling Point
b. Always try to generate a lead with offers
c. Use the weapons of the marketing Arsenal - SEO, PPC, Etc.
d. Use technology for follow-up automation.

So, now when I meet with a client, I measure them against the growth. We've had clients grow as much as 300% who were not marketing correctly. We doubled their sales and as you can imagine, they are willing to keep paying me every month. Some know that I work from home but could care less because we've grown their businesses so much.

Reading Tips
I'll list a few books here that will also help you...


1. Anything by Dan Kennedy
2. The 4 hour work week
3. The Emyth Revisited
4. No BS time management for entrepreneurs
5. Raving Fans

Planning out your business
The secret to success is that you have a plan for your business. No, I'm not talking about some marketing plan or corporate business plan to get funding, but a plan of action steps. Since we've been training people to do this business, I realize that the secret to success is first and foremost, getting your business launched. If you get your business launched, you can be successful. That does take time, work, money, and good training. We have some of our guys we've trained in Orlando, who've made $10K on their first contracts. However, they followed the business plan. So, my encouragement is to write down everything you have to do and get it done, a little at a time.

Many will say, get clients and then set up your business. NO! I say, set your business up the right way and then getting clients is easy and you'll get high end clients with $$$ to spend.

The rewards of being a marketing consultant and an SEO consultant are pretty great. Our clients love us and pay us very well. We can also spend time at home with our kids. My wife works with me 2 days a week and the painful foreclosure and bankruptcy are far behind us. I love this business and love training people in the business. It is so awesome when I see a new consultant land a big contract and can't believe the system worked.

If you have any questions on setting up your business or want some tips, feel free to post your questions. You can also PM me if you'd like.

Thanks,

Matt
Four Step Marketing Consultants
#business #internet #marketing #newbies #seo #starting

  • Profile picture of the author Avanyx
    Avanyx
    When you say setting up your business the right way can you explain that a little further as to what you mean?
  • Profile picture of the author Warrior Ben
    Warrior Ben
    Matt,

    This is a most excellent post on getting a business up or running! This type of post is what makes WF so great and such a good resource to both newbies and experienced marketers a lot. Kudos for this!

    Thanks,
    Ben
  • Profile picture of the author fourstepconsultant
    fourstepconsultant
    @Avanyx - check out my corporate site - www.lawmarketingsystems.com - You can see we look fortune 500, but we're just a small hole in the wall. Those are our systems. The phone number, the schedule a meeting, the walk on video, makes people say, "Big Successful Company" and that is how you can convert bigger clients.

    @ Warrior Ben - Thanks man, wanted to encourage some guys to keep trying.
  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    iAmNameLess
    I must say I'm disappointed in the lack of responses this has received so far. This is money right here. This isn't just for people that are wanting to start an SEO/IM business, as the OP stated, but this is for everyone in the field. Everything is mapped out wonderfully.

    Suggested reading is spot on, this is truly a great post.

    Good job and thank you for sharing.
  • Profile picture of the author danielp310
    danielp310
    Originally Posted by fourstepconsultant View Post

    @Avanyx - check out my corporate site - www.lawmarketingsystems.com - You can see we look fortune 500, but we're just a small hole in the wall. Those are our systems. The phone number, the schedule a meeting, the walk on video, makes people say, "Big Successful Company" and that is how you can convert bigger clients.

    @ Warrior Ben - Thanks man, wanted to encourage some guys to keep trying.

    Just wanted to thank you for your post.. I am currently in the process of starting my internet marketing consulting business...and your post has inspired me to keep going..
  • Profile picture of the author gbvehiclehire
    gbvehiclehire
    I am satisfied with this info about setting up & running of a business. These ideas are helpful for any of the business. Marketing can be done in many ways & it depends that which is helpful in promoting the business.
  • Profile picture of the author robertsjill40
    robertsjill40
    Wow thanks for this info! I really appreciate this one! It was kinda too long to read but still I make time to read this one, thanks!
    ___
    Jill @ Professional Web Design
  • Profile picture of the author activelearner
    activelearner
    WOW!!! Very interesting article. I want to learn more!! What is the best way to learn AND get experience with SEO and other internet marketing? I'm trying to get back into the advertising world after taking some time off to raise my children and I can't seem to catch a break because I have no experience in this kind of marketing. Heck, I think the agency that I worked for had up-graded from dial up right before I left! I REALLY want to learn about all of the new media outlets, analytics, etc. but no one wants to give me a chance. I'm willing to go backwards and start from the bottom again as an assistant or even as an intern (my last position was as an account executive), but that hasn't seemed to work either. ANY advice would be GREATLY appreciated.
  • Profile picture of the author sgtsavvy
    sgtsavvy
    thanks for the advice man. What do you have to say for the doubt and the worry and feeling like there are a million things to do...

    Could really use something more than "just take it one step a time..."

    I get that. thats all anyone can do... There are just so many things.

    Frustrating.

    Thanks for taking your time to post this info.
  • Profile picture of the author addison.agnote
    addison.agnote
    Great advice for those who are just starting with the IM business. I agree that when it working with clients and outsourced staff, you have to have systems. There should be an open communication among the people who are involved in a project.
  • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
    iamchrisgreen
    There's some GREAT advice in that post. Not just for newbies but for all of us.

    For me, one of the BIG lessons above is "get paid before you do the work".

    This was one of the biggest lessons for me. If we are doing a project that has a monthly payment then get them to make that payment before you do the work.

    If it's a decent size website ($3000+) then we usually ask for 50% up front and 50% at the end.

    This will help you in a huge way control your cash flow and stop you running around wasting time chasing money from people.
  • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
    iamchrisgreen
    Originally Posted by sgtsavvy View Post

    thanks for the advice man. What do you have to say for the doubt and the worry and feeling like there are a million things to do...

    Could really use something more than "just take it one step a time..."

    I get that. thats all anyone can do... There are just so many things.

    Frustrating.

    Thanks for taking your time to post this info.

    There's always a million things to do. I've been at this for over 10 years and it never gets any less.

    The key is to chunk the tasks together and get really organised.

    Use help where you can to do the tasks that don't make money.

    Also, get yourself a system like Basecamp to manage all your tasks.
  • Profile picture of the author fourstepconsultant
    fourstepconsultant
    Hi Guys, thanks for your comments on the post! I'm glad it helped you out. My goal is to motivate those who are doing the business and help you push harder. We landed a $27K contract last week from a guy who installed my AC.

    The secret in this business is to sell marketing. Not, technical services.

    It is also helpful to have a support system. Like people who are already doing this business. I've been training people since 2009, and I have to tell you guys that not everyone gets this. They really want to do it, but they are not prepared to pay the price to have a successful business. We actually started screening people we train to make sure they are a good fit.

    If you set things up the right way and develop good systems, you'll see a great return. I know there are a lot of posts on these internet forums about making $20K a day using twitter, and how to spam CL, but guys once you see the opportunity to have a business that gives you time freedom and is very stable, it shows you that this is the wave of the future.

    I'll answer any questions I can and help those of you who are trying to get this set up, unless it is our proprietary systems taught in our Four Step Marketing Consultants business opportunity.

    Thanks again for the great feedback.

    Blessings,

    Matt
  • Profile picture of the author Matty40
    Matty40
    Originally Posted by fourstepconsultant View Post

    Hi Guys, thanks for your comments on the post! I'm glad it helped you out. My goal is to motivate those who are doing the business and help you push harder. We landed a $27K contract last week from a guy who installed my AC.

    The secret in this business is to sell marketing. Not, technical services.

    It is also helpful to have a support system. Like people who are already doing this business. I've been training people since 2009, and I have to tell you guys that not everyone gets this. They really want to do it, but they are not prepared to pay the price to have a successful business. We actually started screening people we train to make sure they are a good fit.

    If you set things up the right way and develop good systems, you'll see a great return. I know there are a lot of posts on these internet forums about making $20K a day using twitter, and how to spam CL, but guys once you see the opportunity to have a business that gives you time freedom and is very stable, it shows you that this is the wave of the future.

    I'll answer any questions I can and help those of you who are trying to get this set up, unless it is our proprietary systems taught in our Four Step Marketing Consultants business opportunity.

    Thanks again for the great feedback.

    Blessings,

    Matt
    Id love to chat to you on skype if you could spare some time.
  • Profile picture of the author PhilaPM
    PhilaPM
    Great post and I think something we can all relate to. I definitely want to treat and grape this like a business. Can you explain more about the business plan you help people create and the action steps they are taking to setup their business and land clients?
  • Profile picture of the author dlink
    dlink
    I completely agree with setting up your business before getting clients -- but as you've probably seen or you'll notice if you haven't already, many WSO's talk about just going to and doing services and getting clients.... only a handful talk about contracts and setting up your business correctly.

    I live in California, so setting up a business there's a $800 yearly tax on top of the setup fees for a LLC..I bit the bullet in the beginning as a way to force me to get my business going to make back the costs of setup and yearly tax.

    I've spent about 2.5-3 months now completely setting up the things you mentioned in the Business Setup, setting up systems, figuring out my services, pricing, and packages (almost complete still working out pricing so I don't price too low).

    A major setback for me was learning how to provide value up front to get a "foot in the door" ... a lot of WSO's teach you a service to provide, but you're left wondering how it's valuable to a potential client or how to deliver it in a way that the prospect sees value in it and wants to work with you. Just today I've finally started reaching out to prospective clients, because I have enough of everything setup in a manner that I'm confident in what I can do and that I can provide value. I already have one client, which is a co-worker from my outside full-time job and I've cut them a major discount (almost free), solely because they're my first client and I'm using them for the experience and referrals.

    Since, I'm still pretty much just starting out, I have a few questions..

    1. When it comes to proposable dot com, how does it compare to using echosign? Are they even comparable or just two different systems? I plan to use echosign to have clients sign contracts/proposals without having to fax...does proposable do the same or can you only create the proposal?

    2. I plan to eventually outsource...where do you find your outsourcers? Are you also outsourcing the SEO?

    3. What's your method for finding clients with a large budget that can afford to work with me? My current pricing package I've been toying with the lowest price package of $1k and each single service (no package) $500 each.

    4. With contracts, can you explain why you use 6 month and 8 month contracts vs 6 and 12? I was going with 6 month and 12 month contracts, just wondering if there's a benefit over using 8 or 12..

    Excellent free information Matt, I look forward to more posts from you on the forum.
    I'd also like recommend the book "Book Yourself Solid" by Michael Port.. it's one that helped me with grasping firing clients and weeding out the bad one's.
  • Profile picture of the author danielp310
    danielp310
    Originally Posted by fourstepconsultant View Post

    Hi Guys, thanks for your comments on the post! I'm glad it helped you out. My goal is to motivate those who are doing the business and help you push harder. We landed a $27K contract last week from a guy who installed my AC.

    The secret in this business is to sell marketing. Not, technical services.

    It is also helpful to have a support system. Like people who are already doing this business. I've been training people since 2009, and I have to tell you guys that not everyone gets this. They really want to do it, but they are not prepared to pay the price to have a successful business. We actually started screening people we train to make sure they are a good fit.

    If you set things up the right way and develop good systems, you'll see a great return. I know there are a lot of posts on these internet forums about making $20K a day using twitter, and how to spam CL, but guys once you see the opportunity to have a business that gives you time freedom and is very stable, it shows you that this is the wave of the future.

    I'll answer any questions I can and help those of you who are trying to get this set up, unless it is our proprietary systems taught in our Four Step Marketing Consultants business opportunity.

    Thanks again for the great feedback.

    Blessings,

    Matt
    Hey matt could you send me a pm...Im not able to send private messages yet..

    Thank you.
  • Profile picture of the author sloanjim
    sloanjim
    you this to me is the key..i am bit jaded by making great money one month and gone the next..it kind of wears you down. I'd rather a nice sterady/stable $120k+ p.a biz than 20k one month flat the month after....running around looking for another short term method.

    If you set things up the right way and develop good systems, you'll see a great return. I know there are a lot of posts on these internet forums about making $20K a day using twitter, and how to spam CL, but guys once you see the opportunity to have a business that gives you time freedom and is very stable, it shows you that this is the wave of the future.
  • Profile picture of the author sloanjim
    sloanjim
    but ultimtaley this is sales letter for you busines opportunity right?
  • Profile picture of the author StrategicCheetah
    StrategicCheetah
    OK so, you say choose the right clients, with lots of money to spend, tie them into a contract and fire bad clients..

    That all sounds lovely, but how are you finding these clients and more importantly how are you signing them?

    What is your strategy for dealing with these bigger type clients who have various people involved in the decision making process? Do you cold call, direct mail, etc?

    The number one thing newbies find difficult when starting out on an offline venture is signing clients, so if you could elaborate on your methods there, it would probably be really helpful.

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