So it's almost 1:30 am Toronto and I have no work tomorrow (no I don't work from home... just a day off), so I decided to post my strategy of how I landed offline clients. I want to start by saying this is by no means all my creation but after reading all the valuable info on this forum and putting some of it to work, I had some success. This is my way of giving back so I hope some of you will find this helpful.
A special thanks to GoGetta who has inspired me through his various posts to begin my offline approach.
So here is what I do...
1) Niche Research
Now you hear this all the time but it can't be stressed enough. For me this is the most important part of my strategy. I like to target business that sell a service that is at least a few hundred dollars (think rentals, repairs, fixes, etc). The reason I do this is because I don't need a ton of traffic before I can contact people to rent my site. In fact one of sites which I rent only gets 3-7 visitors a day.... targeted visitors!
2) Creating the Site
I'm not going to go into detail with this as if you are looking to sell to offline clients I assume that you have knowledge of domains, SEO etc. I choose a domain name (carefully) and create a very basic site. Here is what I do... I create the site as if it's my business. I put my phone number on it and I create a contact page where people can fill out the form with their enquiry. For example, if I create a site about house renovation (just an example, I didn't do any research on this niche), I create the site as if I'm the renovation company with my contact info.
The reason I do this is because I want to see if people are going to call/email me about this service. No sense of trying to rent a site that doesn't convert. When and if people start to call, I tell them it's the wrong number (to be honest I really don't like doing this but this is the only way I can see to test out the site). If they use the contact form then great, now I have leads that I can show a potential client that would like to rent the site. I test for at least a month.
3) Finding potential clients
What I did with the sites I rented is find people that already have existing sites. I find them to be better prospects then guys that don't have a site. Let's face it, if you have a business and don't have a website than you probably don't realize the potential so I stay away from them. So I look for sites that are on the 4 and 5th pages of Google and send them an e-mail telling them that I have a site that caters to their customer base and it gets xx amount of traffic and xx conversions. I also tell them the website URL.
I don't talk prices! I leave them my contact info and my phone number and tell them to call/email me if they are interested. I got calls by following this approach. Remember that people with sites on the 4th or 5th pages of Google probably don't see any traffic from the search engines. They do however make good prospects because they have already taken the steps of building a site which means they know (I hope) the potential power of the Internet.
4) The meeting
If they contact me by e-mail I answer all their questions and again tell them to call me. I find that if you are looking to close the sale you have to begin by talking to them on the phone to arrange a face to face meeting. Again, I try to avoid giving prices on the phone (more on prices later) and push for a meeting. Believe me, the first time I did this I was nervous before but I knew that without a meeting you can forget about closing the sale. Remember also that you are the expert and the worst that could happen is that you'll go your separate ways without renting it to that client... no big deal. We usually arrange for a common place like Star Bucks!
When I meet the client, I usually begin with some small talk. They may ask you about yourself and you can casually ask them about their business. I find that most brick and mortar business owners are social! I don't lie! I don't do this full-time (I'm hoping I will one day) so I tell them that. I don't need to lie to them and pretend I'm some BIG name company. They will sniff you out... especially if this is your first time.
I usually let them initiate the business conversation but that will depend on you. I basically tell them the same stuff I told them via e-mail. That I'm in the business of renting sites and I have a site in their particular niche that gets regular targeted visitors. I tell them that to test the site I put my phone number on it and I got xx calls and I got xx e-mails. I tell them that if they choose to rent the site, I will change the contact info on the site to theirs and give them access to the e-mail where they can check the e-mails themselves.
5) The Contract and the Price
For me, this has been the hardest part to bring into the conversation. This is where the possible negotiating starts and where business can be made or broken.
I'll start with contracts... I have none! Let me explain. I have a contract that says that they will renting site www.xxxxxxxxx.com for $xxxxx amount per months. Do a search on SEO or rent a site contract (or something like that) and you will find them. Other than that, I don't require any long term obligation from their part.
Rent the site for a month and if you like it, pay again for the second month etc. If you don't like it don't pay and I remove their info from the site and look for another client. No sense of requiring someone to sign a one year contract if they won't be happy with the service. If they are not happy believe me you will hear about it and you will probably end up terminating the contract anyway so I don't care if they sign a termed contract .
I like to live my life stress free! Keep in mind that one of the clients I work with we didn't sign anything and she pays me monthly (the irony is that she has been the one to always pay promptly). She knows... she stops paying and I stop showing her contact info on the site.... simple.
A note about the actual site
More often than not, the business owner, if they choose to go forward will want to change certain aspects of the site. I'm usually not picky here. I tell them that I'm not a web designer but if they show me what they want I can change it at no cost if its basic. I'm going for residual income and don't mind making some changes to make them happy. What I do tell them is that if they make changes that the conversions can't be guaranteed as layout may actually affect visitor response.
The Price - I know some people here may not agree with me but I have found that the $300 to $400 price range to be my sweet spot. Again I don`t have any major testing done on this but as I gain confidence and some more clients I will begin testing out some more price points. All I can say about this is that I`m happy with that price for now! I know this price will vary based on the amount of traffic and conversions your site gets but based on my own traffic and conversions I found this to be a fair price.
Why I like the rent a site model better than selling SEO services?
I have both tried to contact business for SEO and have worked with business on their SEO and I don't like doing both. I find that the response rate when you are trying to sell SEO service to a business to be much lower (NOTE: please keep in mind that I have never cold called. I always send e-mails). When you contact a company for SEO service it is most often seen as spam. Heck, my own websites are constantly flooded with e-mails about increasing my website traffic and get to be on the number one spot on Google type of e-mails so their is a high possibility that your e-mail will be viewed like that as well. Second, I find it to be way more stressful when working on someone's site. The Google Dance, their site completely dropping etc. are all stress factors for me. When I rent the site, yes I have a stake in maintaining the rankings but if something was to go wrong with the site, it's my site and they don't have to continue renting it and that's it. By no means I'm I trying to scare anyone from selling SEO services but that's when I think you may need a more thorough contract explaining that rankings fluctuate and possible remedies if the site drops or disappears.
I hope someone has found my extremely long post useful. I'm in the process of creating some more sites and will see how it goes so wish me luck