Finally, a business model that suits my lifestyle, and a $1500 sale to prove it works

24 replies
I don't post much on this forum, mainly because I feel like I don't have much to add. I haven't had overwhelming success, but I have run this business in this format for close to three years helping fellow business owners market themselves online, and it feeds my family.

During this time I have had trouble finding my way through the shiny objects and made my share of mistakes. I now feel I have a proper success story to share however, and I'm finally on the verge of something special.

First of all I'd like to give credit to the fine offline Warrior family for all their help. John Durham and Jason Kanigan for helping me get past my sheer terror of the telephone. Nameless for showing me how to take action and to hell with what anyone thinks. You guys rock.

Right, so what I've been doing all this time is focussing on business owners without a website. I started out giving away free websites and built residual income this way. I could have easily ramped this up massively using JD's Bower script, but I was terrified of the phone, so I had to find ways to get customers to come to me. Progress was very slow.

So I finally got the courage to get on the phone and started calling business owners to sell the same websites with the same residual, just started charging $495 for them. This worked too well. I sold a whole bunch of them (the intense, amazing power of cold calling with a good offer), then struggled to fulfil the orders. I spent a month trying to catch up, wishing I could just be happy with a job at McDonalds, my life would be so much easier. I realised I can't do everything myself and it's stupid to try.

Then I read 'Offline Quick Cash' (get a free copy in the War Room), which makes a very good case for offering redesign. The business owner already knows the value a website adds to their business, they're aware their website needs work, they just need someone to kick their butt a bit. A light bulb came on.

Everyone says 'focus on a vertical.' Well my first love is travel, but having recently had two children unexpectedly in quick succession, all hopes of a Mediterranean river cruise came to an abrubt end. So I decided I would target accommodation providers. Having travelled quite a bit BB (before babies), I felt like I spoke their language.

Desperately in need of a holiday after my month in overworked hell, I booked accommodation for two nights, just three hours north. Our city was recently destroyed in an earthquake so there wasn't much point talking to tourism operators here, no-one is visiting at the moment. It had to be elsewhere and it had to be a short trip due to other commitments, but I was determined to try this new business model, desperate to see if it would work.

So in the days preceeding our trip, I found eight websites that were absolute howlers, and rung the proprietor. One added bonus is it is usually relatively easy to find their name somewhere online. As per 'Offline Quick Cash' - I rung them first before I started on the redesign and said:

"Hello is that [name?]? Hey [name], I'm just calling because I was searching the internet for accommodation in [your town] this weekend because we're coming up that way on holiday, when I came across your website. I thought you may like to see how it would look with a shiny new design, so I've put together a new look for you."

They either qualify themselves out at this point, or they say, ok...

"Are you free on Saturday? We're staying at [where you're staying] so how about meeting me nearby so I can show you what I've done? There's no strings attached, if you like it we'll talk, if not, you can be on your way, how does that sound?"

Out of the eight proprietors I rung, two agreed to meet me! I've never managed two appointments out of eight calls, so I was starting to feel like this was the right thing to be doing. I spent the next couple of days redesigning their sites, using themes from Ink Themes, adding big beautiful imagery of the area in the slider. They looked like night and day from what they had in place.

On the day, one owner couldn't meet me because he'd had a sudden rush of bookings and had three couples arriving. Doh! should have made three bookings. The other owner did agree to meet me, and showing the before and after to him side by side virtually sold itself. His website designer went awol years ago, and they hadn't had a booking in six weeks. I layered bonuses on top as we were speaking, Google Places listing, Facebook page, logo design and other goodies. He was happy to deposit the $1500 for all the value I was adding to his business.

Now to scale this model up, I am going to need help. I found someone in Warriors for Hire who I have now outsourced a couple jobs to, and I now trust to take on everything else in this package besides the redesign (which I like to do). I had to go through a few service providers in there to find one I clicked with, and so will you. Luckily there are lots of reviews for you to read until you find someone.

So the winning formula I've found with this method is:

1). Focus on a vertical you love and are interested in.
2). Offer redesign. A much easier sell than business owners without a website.
3). Get on the phone.
4). Stop trying to do everything yourself.

So that's my recent success story. Hope it motivates someone and maybe others can learn from my mistakes!
#$1500 #business #finally #lifestyle #model #prove #sale #suits #workable #works
  • Profile picture of the author AussieT
    Nice job Lesley.

    Could you not continue with the first model also and just limit the number of contacts you make so that you are not overwhelmed with work?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6974875].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
    Yes definitely, and I still will offer the $495 websites if it feels appropriate to do so. However it did take me a lot more calls and was a harder sell to convince business owners without a website they needed one. If I had the help I do now, I may have stuck with it and not tried to find something that worked better for me.

    But now I have started focussing on one particular business owner, in a market I feel most comfortable, working on websites I particularly enjoy building, I feel I've found what works best for me. I've had success working with business owners in the wedding industry and have really enjoyed working with them, so this is the market I will focus on here at home. Found a few websites tonight I am going to call about tomorrow.

    Wish me luck =)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6975007].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author payoman
      It's actually ridiculously hard cold selling websites to businesses that don't already have one.

      The last couple of days, I went back to my original formula of calling businesses in the Yellow Pages that had either crappy looking sites, or broken links/domains-but-no-website, and literally went from 1-2% leads to 30-40% leads.

      Almost 1 in 2 of the crappy site owners at least acknowledged the need, and about 1 in 4 were really hot leads that will probably buy in the next week or so.

      The only problem was that it was kind of rare finding really bad websites or broken links, but hey, they are there.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6975120].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
        Originally Posted by payoman View Post

        The last couple of days, I went back to my original formula of calling businesses in the Yellow Pages that had either crappy looking sites, or broken links/domains-but-no-website, and literally went from 1-2% leads to 30-40% leads.
        Wow, that's awesome. And really great news.

        I haven't found as many sites that need work here in our relatively big city, but I really did in smaller towns close to where we live. I found a tonne of accommodations websites that needed work that I could choose from.

        Not saying anything about people in small towns, perhaps just not as much local design talent? Not sure =)
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6975186].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author 3dy
        Originally Posted by payoman View Post

        It's actually ridiculously hard cold selling websites to businesses that don't already have one.
        ^This. I see hundreds of people failing at this every single days with sites like Flippa, and not because their sites are actually bad, but because - as you have pointed out - it is ridiculously hard to do it.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6978423].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author markcr
    Banned
    I'll focus os massage parlours then..talk about a labour of "love" :-)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6976341].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author zimbizee
      Really like the idea, i agree that its much easier to convince an existing website owner to have a redesign than an owner without a site to get one.

      Good luck
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6976930].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Preeti
    Thanks so much Lesley for your inspirational story...just love reading this kind of stuff! Isn't it amazing all the good & positive results that come..when you just take some action!!

    Congrats on you for stepping outside of your comfort zone and making it happy (and being a mom on top of that as well--that's a 24 hr job!!!)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6977114].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
      Originally Posted by Preeti View Post

      Congrats on you for stepping outside of your comfort zone and making it happy (and being a mom on top of that as well--that's a 24 hr job!!!)
      Thanks so much for the props Preeti, and you are so right about the 24 hour job! That was one of the things I struggled most with offering both the free websites and the $495 websites. It still meant I had deadlines to meet and orders to fulfil in a timely manner whether I'd been up all night, one of the wee darlings was throwing up in a bucket all day or any of the other treasured moments you experience as a parent =)

      With this model, you are much more in control of your business. You get to choose when you design a site or two, then the work is almost done before you get to the meeting. You then outsource the time consuming stuff (to someone you trust) so you can concentrate on finding the next redesign.

      Originally Posted by Kung Fu Backlinks View Post

      Do you find you're able to sell the service now by just referencing the work you've already done for others, or are you still offering to do a mock up for them?
      Well I still do have my portfolio, but this is something I hadn't thought of actually, this is a great way to get started if you don't have any work to reference. Your experience is assumed in the meeting, because you already have something to show them.

      So this brings up a great point!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6978836].message }}
  • Sounds like a great way to build a business. I would imagine it just gets easier and easier as your portfolio grows, too. Back when I did web design, I definitely found it an easier sale when I had a dozen websites to show as examples.

    Do you find you're able to sell the service now by just referencing the work you've already done for others, or are you still offering to do a mock up for them?
    Signature
    G+ LOCAL SETUP ___and____ Custom WordPress - Genesis Child Themes (see portfolio here)

    SCHEMA.ORG + GEOTAGGING + KML + PUBLISHERSHIP + so much more...
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6977273].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Zen Warrior
    Nice idea...what I am wondering is who you are calling, and what your sales pitch is to get all these $495 plus monthly website sales?

    Is it that much easier in NZ to sell websites? Let me in on your secret
    Signature



    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7057233].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author word12
    Love it! I myself had the idea a couple days back of selling my services on vacation. And I would imagine mobile websites would be an easy sell to businesses at vacation hot spots. All the tourists are carrying around their smartphones and use them to navigate around the area.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7058269].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author kymobilemedia
    Awesome job.

    I am going to be doing redesign services as well. My plan is to do a home page mockup of what their new site can look like, shoot a short video showing them and emailing the video to them.

    Then follow up with a phone call and email.
    Then either drop off a printed copy in person, or mail it to them if they are out of my area.

    Hopefully this will bring in some business quick.

    Also, do you mind sharing your script that got you so much design business? I would like to contact businesses withou a website as well. I can always hire the work out if I get too much work.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Jason
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7073126].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author peter_act
      Hi Leslie,

      I'm in that accommodation market too, but haven't found a decent theme which has all a motel/hotel would require.

      I'm talking pictures of rooms with prices, and a booking facility for the room they have chosen.

      A list of available dates would be nice, so that the hotel doesn't overbook, but that may be a bit hard.

      You can pm me if you like.

      I really feel for Christchurch, I used to visir a lot when I worked for PDL

      Cheers,
      Signature

      Cheap websites for small businesses: Affordable mobile websites
      Get a free autoresponder here: Money Making Opportunities

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7075680].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author 300SMG
    Great plan. I myself started doing web design in '99 and officially made a go of it in 2001 as a business. I found out after 2 years of banging my head against the wall trying to sell websites to local business owners (who didn't have an existing site) was a slow and long road. It was then that I started doing basically the same as you, only I used email marketing to reach out. I was fortunate enough to sell 1 out of every 10/12. Some were basic redesigns..some full overhauls..and others were simply new hosting but I was happy with the results.

    Congrats again on finding a plan that works and putting it to use for yourself. Keep up the great work.
    Signature

    Don't focus on the money - focus on the plan!

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7076596].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sundaymorning
    Great job great job!!!!! When it comes to cold calling I guess my question is what about those lousey business owners that so need help with their marketing but they are in denial. Like seriously beyond repair. I know you can't help people who don't want to be helped but honestly I really was like "Come on. You know youre website sucks and you are not doing anything about it??" I don't understand the logic behind that at all.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7076788].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author 300SMG
      Originally Posted by sundaymorning View Post

      Great job great job!!!!! When it comes to cold calling I guess my question is what about those lousey business owners that so need help with their marketing but they are in denial. Like seriously beyond repair. I know you can't help people who don't want to be helped but honestly I really was like "Come on. You know youre website sucks and you are not doing anything about it??" I don't understand the logic behind that at all.
      Some business owners STILL don't understand the value of a website. One client my company worked with did nearly $3 million in sales without a website. A majority of their offline sales came from big contracts with all the local colleges. The owner was not for a website, thought it was a waste of time/money...he finally caved at the urging of his wife and biz partner. When we put them online they did just over $100 K in online sales. But because 75% of that came between thanksgiving and Christmas the following year we were asked to remove the shopping cart and only include a phone number for orders. Needless to say the sales dropped down to under $10 k. To this day, 2 years later he still refuses to return to a shopping cart system.

      The old adage ..cut your nose off despite your face comes to mind. Must be nice to be able to leave $90k in cyberspace and not in our pocket.

      I should add, the company was gourmet cookies, biscotti, and granola bars all individually packaged or sold in gift baskets, boxes or bulk.
      Signature

      Don't focus on the money - focus on the plan!

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7081026].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author theimbible
    Excellent work, keep it up and good luck, would love to hear how you are getting on down the line, keep us posted
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7078107].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
    Hey Warriors, sorry for the delay in my reply, I have been trying to clear a backlog of work which doesn't seem to get any shorter. Even though I want to move on to what I want to be doing which is the above, I am still getting referrals so I must be doing something right.

    Originally Posted by Zen Warrior View Post

    Nice idea...what I am wondering is who you are calling, and what your sales pitch is to get all these $495 plus monthly website sales?
    Originally Posted by kymobilemedia View Post

    Also, do you mind sharing your script that got you so much design business? I would like to contact businesses without a website as well. I can always hire the work out if I get too much work.
    Ok this is everything I had typed out on a piece of paper in front of me, just for prompts. But basically I would just end up chatting and the conversation came naturally.

    Hi there, my name’s Lesley and I run a small website design and marketing company, would you be the right person to speak to about getting more customers through the internet?

    Yes:

    OK, is this a bad time to talk? Well to start with, do you have a website up and running?

    Yes: Oh! OK, because I couldn’t find it when I Googled your business name, but that’s not to say it’s not there. How’s it working for you, does it bring you much business?

    No Website Not Working: OK, well would you like me to take a look at it for you? I can look over it, see what going on and email you through a PDF report?

    Yes Email Report: Ok great, can I have your web address? And email address ____? Ok great, I’ll email that over later this afternoon and I’ll give you a call back to discuss it if you like, in case you have any questions. When will be a good time to call back tomorrow? (I would then go to Fiverr and get a IBP report.)

    No: Have you ever thought about getting a website up, and using the internet to help market your business?

    Statistics:

    Studies have shown as much as 81% of people now go online first to find information on local products and services, so it’s kinda no longer a luxury to have a website, especially if your competition has one.

    NZ’ers spend on average 12 hours a week on the Internet, some less, and some a lot more, like me. That makes up around 20% of the average NZ’ers media consumption.

    No don’t need one:

    Even though ____ people a month are Googling ______?

    Yes I have thought about getting a website:

    Oh ok what’s held you back? Price or time…

    Time:

    Well I would only need an hour of your time to get the information I need to create the five pages of content for you, and make a note of any ideas you may have for the design. Then I would only need you to check in on my progress and tweak any concepts until you are completely happy. So, shall I drop by and have a chat to you about helping a few of those ____ people a month find your business?

    Price:

    Ok well, we’re a small website marketing company with low overheads so it’s probably much cheaper than you would expect to get started with us.
    We’ve got a really special deal for businesses on a 5 page direct response website at the moment, it requires an investment of only $495 which is half price down from $995.

    This includes all on page optimisation to ensure you get picked up by the search engines, custom graphics, professional logo, a contact form and a Google map so all your lovely new customers can find you.

    All I would need is a deposit of half that, just $247.50 and I can have you up and running in just a day or two.

    Too Much:

    I could make a start for you for as low as $100, then you can do monthly instalments of $100 until we’re square, then I'd get started. How does that sound?

    Yes, and the websites we create have all the on-page search engine optimisation you need built in, that means you have the best possible chance of getting to page one for ____ without any extra help. And if you do need extra help, we can look into that later. The main thing is to just get up and running and see where that takes you.

    Already have Directory/Yellow Pages:

    It's still pretty important to have your own piece of virtual real estate. The thing is with directory listings is that it is pretty hit and miss, they are very cluttered most of them, usually with ads for other businesses. Even the Yellow Pages places ads to you competition on your page if you're not paying enough for your listing.

    Directories are ok if people are just doing a search for your business name and just trying to specifically find you, but if they are doing a targeted search such as _______ then it's more likely they are going to find a business website rather than a directory.

    For example, what would be your main service you provide, your bread and butter? (Do Google search and prove the point).

    So that's all I had written. I would basically just say I'm calling to introduce you to our half price website design offer, and the conversation would either end or flow.

    Originally Posted by kymobilemedia View Post

    I am going to be doing redesign services as well. My plan is to do a home page mockup of what their new site can look like, shoot a short video showing them and emailing the video to them.
    Awesome idea, please keep us posted!

    Originally Posted by 300SMG View Post

    It was then that I started doing basically the same as you, only I used email marketing to reach out. I was fortunate enough to sell 1 out of every 10/12. Some were basic redesigns..some full overhauls..and others were simply new hosting but I was happy with the results.
    Wow, 1 in ten! I haven't even tried email marketing for this thinking it wouldn't work, because that's what everyone reports. I'll definitely give it a try for that conversion rate. Any tips?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7089502].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author epark732
      Lesley,

      When you do the site re design, are you basically keeping all of the content the same, all the pages the same, etc...and simply changing the look and feel if the site?

      If you don't mind, could you share what your re design entails?

      Im thinking of really going after this business model, and throwing in extras like a free mobile site, and 3 months of seo or something along those lines to really really sweeten the deal.

      Thanks
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7091296].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
        Originally Posted by epark732 View Post

        When you do the site re design, are you basically keeping all of the content the same, all the pages the same, etc...and simply changing the look and feel if the site?
        With this project I broke the content up a little as it was relatively wordy and created two extra pages. I also added a video (optimised at YouTube) and gallery page, optimising all the images I got from the proprietor while I was there and also adding some spring daffodil photos I took. I optimised each page for one keyword, with LSI keywords bringing the total up to just under 40 keywords. I added these to the images, URL's and all the usual places.

        Another beautiful thing about redesigns are they usually have a fairly decent page rank because they have been online for as many as a few years. The on-page optimisation is usually horrible, (well it was in this case) and the site hasn't been updated for years. Just a gentle nudge with that domain age and page rank, and the results are very satisfying. The website has already made it to page 4 for it's most competitive keyword, and the others it was actually in place for have jumped from the bottom of page one to the top.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7092063].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author muzzy4u2
    Hi lesley congratulation on your success being a mom you did a great job as most of the time ppl are afraid to move out of their comfort zone and try something new.

    Hats of to you great job once again.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7110562].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author dejoliet31
    Lesley, you are to be congratulated for sticking to the task and being committed to growth. We all face hurdles of one kind of another. The key is not quitting.

    I look forward to your continuing success.
    Signature
    Simple Free Cash Cow Moneymaking System - The Lack of Start-up Money Is No Longer an Excuse
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7110798].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author aaallday2010
    Great thread!

    I'm trying something similar. But a word of caution... For those clients of yours with good search engine rankings (page one) be very careful with how you redesign their site. I know off page optimization holds more weight than on page, but a lot of their high rankings coincide with their on page key word and content lay out.

    I try to do a quick test and decipher what is getting them ranked so high first, and then go from there. If it is a seasoned website with lots of incoming links and very little on page keywords, then its safe to assume that a redesign wont affect their rankings. Whereas if it seems like they are ranking more so due to content (newer site) it is essential you keep the layout (keyword ratio of page and amount and type of content on page) relatively the same.

    You can screw up their rankings if you're not careful.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7111105].message }}

Trending Topics