How do you price your offline SEO service for small businesses?

30 replies
After seeing some figures from folks in another thread, I'm curious to see how you guys price your SEO services. Some SEO companies I've checked out have a one-size-fits-all pricing model that is $XXX per month no matter who the client is or what keywords they want to target.

Personally, I have a formula that I use to give me a rough, roundabout estimate of what the potential traffic might be worth, which I use as a starting point. Generally the higher the client's potential revenue, the tougher the competition, but this also means I can effectively charge more.

Anyway, my formula is:

[Est. local monthly searches] * [Percentage of expected traffic] * [CPC]

A concrete example:
The keyword "chiropractor miami fl" gets an estimated 480 US monthly searches on broad match and has a est. avg. CPC of $4.23 - let's assume we think they'll get 20% of the traffic from page 1, which yields

[480] * [20%] * [4.23] = $406

Keep in mind this is a rough estimate of what their market dictates is the value of traffic based on PPC spending. This at least gives me a starting place to think about what I should charge the client to where it is reasonable for both parties to render a mutually beneficial voluntary transaction.

Thanks for your input.
#businesses #offline #price #seo #service #small
  • Profile picture of the author JohnnyBattles
    The problem I feel you would have is that keyword tools are not 100% accurate so you maybe over/under charging yourself.
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  • Profile picture of the author sloanjim
    that's nothing to do with it.It depends on the amount of work you are putting into the SEO work on the site.

    OS $50 worth work each month then charge $100. etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      I'm a business owner. I don't care how much time and effort it takes you. I care how much I get out of it.

      Sometimes, what I want to get out of hiring someone is revenue, sometimes, it's peace of mind. But I always buy based on how much it's worth to me. Why would I, then, sell based on how much it takes me to do something?

      What if I were to slow down 100%. Should I double my prices?

      If you're looking at it from the point of view of how many hours you're going to put into it, you're thinking like an employee... and will get corresponding results. If that's what you're after, then do it that way.

      If you want a business, think of positioning yourself and delivering whatever has value to your clients...

      You go to a store to buy bread. You see bread for $1.59 all the way to $3.79 where I am. They have pretty much the same ingredients (so, it would take about the same amount of time to make the dough and to bake). But they're not charging the same and I don't buy randomly. I buy specific ones... because of the value I perceive them to have (and, yes, I put value in relation to price... but I've never bought the $1.59... It feels wrong: too soft; it's all white flour, etc.

      Not convinced? I get hair cuts now and again. I pay $20. On my way to my barber, I pass shops that advertise $5 cuts. I used to go to the $5 type shops when I was a student. I can assure you, it takes them the same amount of time to cut my hair as it takes the guy who wants $20. Only difference? I like the barber shop that charges me $20. No, they don't give me better hair cuts. I've had better cuts from cheaper places (though not consistently).

      I am not paying by the time, in other words.

      You do the same... Unless you're dealing with commodities, price is not the 1st thing to come to you. The amount of time one outfit produces the product you're interested in didn't enter your mind either, let alone a comparison between the time outfit A needed vs the time outfit B needed to produce the product.

      To OP. Find out why they want what you're selling; then how much it's worth to them.


      Originally Posted by sloanjim View Post

      that's nothing to do with it.It depends on the amount of work you are putting into the SEO work on the site.

      OS $50 worth work each month then charge $100. etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
    Valid points.

    Like I said, I use that formula as a starting point just to get an idea of what it might be worth to the client.
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  • Profile picture of the author neeralt
    Wow, you came to the idea of the formula. Nice work. I myself don't exactly sure how to price my SEO service but I think JohnnyBattles and sloanjim have some point.
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  • Profile picture of the author maxrezn
    Good question. Here's how I do it.
    1) At the meeting, get them to tell you their average client value/ average lifetime value, then write this number down.
    2) Open Google Keywords tool, and estimate search traffic for the keywords they are attempting to rank for. Write this number down next to the client value.
    3) Inform them that the #1 position on the Google SERP gets about 30% of the clicks (No one knows for sure..some say 20%..others say 80%. Write down 30% next to the amount of monthly searches.
    4) Use 50% as the conversion variable.

    Here's an example for a client that I met with yesterday in the home services niche.

    $230 Average Client Value_____2600 Monthly Searches____30%_______50%

    $230x2600=$598,000

    $598,000x.30=$179,400

    $179,400x.5=$89,700

    According to known Google, statistics, and projected conversion rates, having a #1 spot would generate $90k in revenue monthly....or $1.8 million annually.

    Realistically...they will probably see 1/2 that amount....Then you ask them "Mr. Prospect....I'm selling you money at a discount. How much would you pay someone to give you $900,000 or even maybe $1,800,000 this year alone?"

    Done correctly....you can charge $10,000k per month for SEO. The business owners were salivating and told me "you hit out of the park with that pitch".
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    • Profile picture of the author neeralt
      Originally Posted by maxrezn View Post

      Good question. Here's how I do it.
      1) At the meeting, get them to tell you their average client value/ average lifetime value, then write this number down.
      2) Open Google Keywords tool, and estimate search traffic for the keywords they are attempting to rank for. Write this number down next to the client value.
      3) Inform them that the #1 position on the Google SERP gets about 30% of the clicks (No one knows for sure..some say 20%..others say 80%. Write down 30% next to the amount of monthly searches.
      4) Use 50% as the conversion variable.

      Here's an example for a client that I met with yesterday in the home services niche.

      $230 Average Client Value_____2600 Monthly Searches____30%_______50%

      $230x2600=$598,000

      $598,000x.30=$179,400

      $179,400x.5=$89,700

      According to known Google, statistics, and projected conversion rates, having a #1 spot would generate $90k in revenue monthly....or $1.8 million annually.

      Realistically...they will probably see 1/2 that amount....Then you ask them "Mr. Prospect....I'm selling you money at a discount. How much would you pay someone to give you $900,000 or even maybe $1,800,000 this year alone?"

      Done correctly....you can charge $10,000k per month for SEO. The business owners were salivating and told me "you hit out of the park with that pitch".
      Yeah, that's a lot of revenue they will get monthly. But how you charge them for SEO? The formula you showed is how much they will earn if they get #1 Google rank. Do you have any other formula how much to charge from the previous calculation you made?
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      • Profile picture of the author maxrezn
        Originally Posted by neeralt View Post

        Yeah, that's a lot of revenue they will get monthly. But how you charge them for SEO? The formula you showed is how much they will earn if they get #1 Google rank. Do you have any other formula how much to charge from the previous calculation you made?
        3-10% of projected revenue.
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    • Profile picture of the author maverick8
      Originally Posted by maxrezn View Post

      Good question. Here's how I do it.
      1) At the meeting, get them to tell you their average client value/ average lifetime value, then write this number down.
      2) Open Google Keywords tool, and estimate search traffic for the keywords they are attempting to rank for. Write this number down next to the client value.
      3) Inform them that the #1 position on the Google SERP gets about 30% of the clicks (No one knows for sure..some say 20%..others say 80%. Write down 30% next to the amount of monthly searches.
      4) Use 50% as the conversion variable.

      Here's an example for a client that I met with yesterday in the home services niche.

      $230 Average Client Value_____2600 Monthly Searches____30%_______50%

      $230x2600=$598,000

      $598,000x.30=$179,400

      $179,400x.5=$89,700

      According to known Google, statistics, and projected conversion rates, having a #1 spot would generate $90k in revenue monthly....or $1.8 million annually.

      Realistically...they will probably see 1/2 that amount....Then you ask them "Mr. Prospect....I'm selling you money at a discount. How much would you pay someone to give you $900,000 or even maybe $1,800,000 this year alone?"

      Done correctly....you can charge $10,000k per month for SEO. The business owners were salivating and told me "you hit out of the park with that pitch".
      this is wrong is so many ways unfortunately. Your search numbers come from your keyword research and represent the total market. Therefore you wont receive all of the traffic. Plus the traffic you do receive not all of them will make a purchase. out of a total of 2600 searches per month you would be lucky to get around 520 actual visitors. and lets say you convert 8% of that 520 into sales. which depending on the product is a little high on average. your making 41 to 42 sales per month.

      42 * 230 = 9660

      Now that is still a good return but way off the 90k.

      if i knew i was going to bring a client in this much money i would be charging around $1500
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    • Profile picture of the author Carl Fridsjö
      Originally Posted by maxrezn View Post

      Good question. Here's how I do it.
      1) At the meeting, get them to tell you their average client value/ average lifetime value, then write this number down.
      2) Open Google Keywords tool, and estimate search traffic for the keywords they are attempting to rank for. Write this number down next to the client value.
      3) Inform them that the #1 position on the Google SERP gets about 30% of the clicks (No one knows for sure..some say 20%..others say 80%. Write down 30% next to the amount of monthly searches.
      4) Use 50% as the conversion variable.

      Here's an example for a client that I met with yesterday in the home services niche.

      $230 Average Client Value_____2600 Monthly Searches____30%_______50%

      $230x2600=$598,000

      $598,000x.30=$179,400

      $179,400x.5=$89,700

      According to known Google, statistics, and projected conversion rates, having a #1 spot would generate $90k in revenue monthly....or $1.8 million annually.

      Realistically...they will probably see 1/2 that amount....Then you ask them "Mr. Prospect....I'm selling you money at a discount. How much would you pay someone to give you $900,000 or even maybe $1,800,000 this year alone?"

      Done correctly....you can charge $10,000k per month for SEO. The business owners were salivating and told me "you hit out of the park with that pitch".
      50% conversion rate? are your clients giving away gold for free or what?
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  • Profile picture of the author underworld90
    Interesting thread and discussion. As someone that's learned SEO and also paid people for the service, there's a huge spread in thinking about what value you get for the dollar value you charge or are charged.

    You want to place a reasonable value for the money that you bring to your client, but as someone mentioned earlier in the thread, Google doesn't give you a precise figure on what the # of clicks are in the various positions. Getting a client to the first page but ranking #5 on it is going to be a lot different than ranking #2 or #1.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Grant
    Originally Posted by John Williamson View Post

    After seeing some figures from folks in another thread, I'm curious to see how you guys price your SEO services. Some SEO companies I've checked out have a one-size-fits-all pricing model that is per month no matter who the client is or what keywords they want to target.

    Personally, I have a formula that I use to give me a rough, roundabout estimate of what the potential traffic might be worth, which I use as a starting point. Generally the higher the client's potential revenue, the tougher the competition, but this also means I can effectively charge more.

    Anyway, my formula is:

    [Est. local monthly searches] * [Percentage of expected traffic] * [CPC]

    A concrete example:
    The keyword "chiropractor miami fl" gets an estimated 480 US monthly searches on broad match and has a est. avg. CPC of $4.23 - let's assume we think they'll get 20% of the traffic from page 1, which yields

    [480] * [20%] * [4.23] = $406

    Keep in mind this is a rough estimate of what their market dictates is the value of traffic based on PPC spending. This at least gives me a starting place to think about what I should charge the client to where it is reasonable for both parties to render a mutually beneficial voluntary transaction.

    Thanks for your input.
    Use the CLV.
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  • Profile picture of the author kylemarvin
    I see the idea of a formula being a good starting point, but my methods take into account the human element. I take into consideration the following things before proposing a price:

    * How much am I going to spend on outsourcing it?
    * How likely is the campaign to succeed in increasing revenue for the company?
    * How much would this client be willing to spend

    The third point is really the widest variable. For example, if one niche is accustomed to spending very little on marketing, I'm not going to just throw them out because I can only make $500/mo on them, rather than $5000. Why do that? So I tailor a package that would be worth that much and close the deal.

    I suppose even my methods could be worked into an algorithm to shoot out a number, but I haven't gotten to that point yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
    True. I didn't mean to make it sound like I completely overlook my expenses and time spent and things like that.

    Consistent with your third point, I try to target niches that I know are bringing in massive revenue and have massive ad budgets to match.
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  • Profile picture of the author marketwarrior06
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    30-40$ a month. Not more than that. Because from the SE you get the visitors. you don't know the conversion rate. So you can't charge the rate without knowing the conversion rate.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andres1986
    I think it also depends on the profit a client can expect to make if ranked, and using this to decide how much to charge can be a good rule of thumb. In that sense, you can't charge a plumber the same SEO fees you would charge a plastic surgeon
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    • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
      Originally Posted by marketwarrior06 View Post

      30-40$ a month. Not more than that. Because from the SE you get the visitors. you don't know the conversion rate. So you can't charge the rate without knowing the conversion rate.
      Is this serious?

      Originally Posted by Andres1986 View Post

      I think it also depends on the profit a client can expect to make if ranked, and using this to decide how much to charge can be a good rule of thumb. In that sense, you can't charge a plumber the same SEO fees you would charge a plastic surgeon
      Correct, that definitely comes into play.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adrian Browning
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    • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
      Originally Posted by Adrian Browning View Post

      One size doesn't fit all.

      You ask how I price SEO services? Well I don't personally sell my own services, my sales department does a fantastic job for me.

      But... the general procedure is to first find out what your prospect's budget is, based on that you'll know what approach to take when it comes to negotiation.

      You then put forward the advantages or benefits of your solution in the best possible way that you can, without coming across as a "slick salesman"... Then you name your price.. and it should ALWAYS be in excess of what they "tell" you their budget is..

      You have to remember that a business will NEVER tell you what their 'true budget' is.. They'll only let you know the price that 'they'll like to pay'.

      What your job is, is to stretch them as far as they can possibly go. You can only do this buy stating a very high price, which still gives them some room, enabling them to feel in control as they slightly negotiate downwards.

      But of course, they aren't in control. Because they are now on the back foot, pitching high prices at you instead of the other way round.

      Doing this, we have always managed to close at higher than expected at the negotiation table.

      None of my b2b companies have any set prices.. It isn't at all practical to operate that way.

      Adrian
      Thanks for the thorough response, Adrian. Very valid points.
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    • Profile picture of the author socialbacklink
      Originally Posted by Adrian Browning View Post

      One size doesn't fit all.
      This is so true. Everything you said is. Really when you think about it knowing what they would "like" to spend is where it's at. It's not what you value the traffic at. It's what the client values the traffic at. It's not our job to convert to sales unless they hire us on to do landing page optimization. It's our job to drive targeted traffic to their site. If they need us to do website work as well to convert those leads so be it.

      Someone mentioned a plumber. A plumber can easily charge $125 per hour. Say the average call is 2-3 hours. Don't you think even 5 leads per day is quite a bit to them? Let's say they get 3 - 2 hour calls as a result of our SEO traffic. They just made $750 for working a 6 hour day. These people aren't selling $20 ebooks. Also, if they could SEO their own sites they wouldn't even be talking to us.

      Most of the guys I've talked to selling packages as a one size fits all are snake oil salesman. I can tell you of a couple of them right off the top of my head. That's why I don't offer the price on the site. I want to grab the lead and get them into a webinar or a sales call. Will I lose sales that way? I'm sure. But, I end up with better clients as a result. Clients who know my value. I've been doing IM a long time and I've noticed that if you go in as cheaper you will end up getting nothing but squeaky wheel clients that don't value you at all. It's been that way for every product I've ever done. Doesn't matter if it's SEO or info products. Selling services is more about confidence than the actual service. The actual service itself is the retention part of the business. Sales is confidence.

      And for the guy that said $30-$40. I get that from time to time from clients. Then, I tell them when the guy charging $40 screws it up it's going to cost you more for me to fix it.
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  • Profile picture of the author sloanjim
    some of your views on value are crazy. That's like acoffee shop charging a millionaire $30 for a coffeee just because he can afford it then charging ther local bum 10C.

    One thing is sure..offer great value or you will only have a short relationship.

    "ask now what my country can do for me but......................................."
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  • Profile picture of the author sloanjim
    for small local SME that's about right. You get 100+ and it's nice passive income.

    30-40$ a month
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  • Profile picture of the author Mach1Marketing
    I always go to Manta and see an estimate of what they are making per year then decide. If they are making under $100k I shoot for $247-$500. Over $100k I shoot for $1000 +. You can always go down. I also double up the initial payment to include setup. So $500 monthly would equal $1000 up front which would include setup and the 1st month. This is just for SEO.
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  • Profile picture of the author Defacto
    I try to make it a habit to ask them what their budget is. It goes back to the old saying that he who mentions a number first loses, or something like that. That really sets the tone in their mind that money will be spent, and they are deciding how much. Many times it will be much higher than you may have been prepared to offer.
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  • Profile picture of the author luke1213
    Let me get this straight... You guys are valuing your potential seo customers off of a broad keyword search? I use exact keyword search to get the value. I understand that broad offers "more value" in the customers eyes, but isn't that somewhat misleading?


    For example, I just pitched an SEO job to a local auto repair shop. They would like to increase their online presence. Now granted, I don't live in a huge city but for the "keyword" and "city" I had 500 exact searches per month for one keyword. Now I take this 1 keyword and rank it with another 4-5 keywords that would put them in the running to rank in the top of google for about 1,100 exact searches per month when you combine all the keywords.

    I believe with exact searches for keywords, you could up your conversion factor to around 35% since it is localized more than a broad search.

    The way I priced it to him was basically if he recieved 35% of the 1100 exact match searches per month to his website and he converted 10-15% (this is his conversion rate) of those visitors to customers at an average of $200 per customer, he would generate an upwards of 12,000 dollars per month. That's only an extra 47-55 customers per month. My cost is 12% up front and then a 3% recurring fee. I also offered him a deal where I get paid per lead whether he converts it or not but we didn't get into much detail of the pay per lead.
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    • Profile picture of the author Defacto
      Originally Posted by luke1213 View Post

      Let me get this straight... You guys are valuing your potential seo customers off of a broad keyword search? I use exact keyword search to get the value. I understand that broad offers "more value" in the customers eyes, but isn't that somewhat misleading?
      The broad is usually more to the point because when you rank a site or video it won't just be for that one exact term. You will see from your Awstats that you get all kinds of related searches, so I have no problem showing prospective clients the broad results. I will routinely see 5 to 8 word long keyword phrases that people use to find my client's sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author mrtrance
      Originally Posted by luke1213 View Post

      Let me get this straight... You guys are valuing your potential seo customers off of a broad keyword search? I use exact keyword search to get the value. I understand that broad offers "more value" in the customers eyes, but isn't that somewhat misleading?


      For example, I just pitched an SEO job to a local auto repair shop. They would like to increase their online presence. Now granted, I don't live in a huge city but for the "keyword" and "city" I had 500 exact searches per month for one keyword. Now I take this 1 keyword and rank it with another 4-5 keywords that would put them in the running to rank in the top of google for about 1,100 exact searches per month when you combine all the keywords.

      I believe with exact searches for keywords, you could up your conversion factor to around 35% since it is localized more than a broad search.

      The way I priced it to him was basically if he recieved 35% of the 1100 exact match searches per month to his website and he converted 10-15% (this is his conversion rate) of those visitors to customers at an average of $200 per customer, he would generate an upwards of 12,000 dollars per month. That's only an extra 47-55 customers per month. My cost is 12% up front and then a 3% recurring fee. I also offered him a deal where I get paid per lead whether he converts it or not but we didn't get into much detail of the pay per lead.
      Were you able to close this client? When you say conversion rate of 10-15% you mean those that land on his site from your SEO effort and then contact the business either thru a phone # or contact form correct?

      Do you have tracking phone# on the site to monitor how many leads they get per month from your efforts? I think the SEO part is to actually get the customer to the business owner and the actual conversion to customer will then be on shoulders of that business correct?
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  • Profile picture of the author luke1213
    Not yet. I did speak with him this morning and he is still very interested, just waiting for a meeting where I can present this to his partner.
    When you say conversion rate of 10-15% you mean those that land on his site from your SEO effort and then contact the business either thru a phone # or contact form correct? No the conversion rate is what the business owner believes he can convert from the traffic to the site through a contact form or a phone call.

    Do you have tracking phone# on the site to monitor how many leads they get per month from your efforts?I will use a number to track calls once I get the client. I think the SEO part is to actually get the customer to the business owner and the actual conversion to customer will then be on shoulders of that business correct?Yes this is correct. I explained to him that my service is to get traffic to the site and it was their service to convert those visitors to paying customers. I can't be responsible if no one uses them especially if my seo efforts work.[/quote]
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    • Profile picture of the author mrtrance
      Originally Posted by luke1213 View Post

      When you say conversion rate of 10-15% you mean those that land on his site from your SEO effort and then contact the business either thru a phone # or contact form correct? No the conversion rate is what the business owner believes he can convert from the traffic to the site through a contact form or a phone call.
      I think I was saying the same thing.

      So if we use your example for the numbers....so if he got 350 people to visit his site in one month by way of your SEO efforts...then out of those people if 10-15% make actual contact by way of calling or contact form...that would be 35-45 new leads for him a month.

      Now it's up to him to convert those into paying customers so typically that would be around 1-2%. So Overall he could be getting around 4-9 paying customers a month @ 200 which would equate to about $800-$1800 revenue each month from your efforts. So how would you base your fees on those numbers as far as one time fee plus recurring monthly fee?
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      • Profile picture of the author luke1213
        Originally Posted by mrtrance View Post

        I think I was saying the same thing.

        So if we use your example for the numbers....so if he got 350 people to visit his site in one month by way of your SEO efforts...then out of those people if 10-15% make actual contact by way of calling or contact form...that would be 35-45 new leads for him a month.

        Now it's up to him to convert those into paying customers so typically that would be around 1-2%. So Overall he could be getting around 4-9 paying customers a month @ 200 which would equate to about $800-$1800 revenue each month from your efforts. So how would you base your fees on those numbers as far as one time fee plus recurring monthly fee?
        He believes he can get approximately 50 new customers per month, this was his own numbers. By his calculations, he could make an extra $12k per month. I let him give me the numbers.

        I am going to charge him 12% of his $12k figure for the up front fee. Then 3% of his 12k number for month service.

        If going by your example of 1-2% conversion, base your rate on a how much he would make in a year. If he would make 24k more in revenue in a year, charge him 10-15% of his annual revenue for the setup and 3-5% of the 24K for the monthly recurring.
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