A word of caution, this is going to be a pretty lengthy post. It is not a rags to riches story, nor have I become a millionaire in 6 months. It does, however, include a fantastic insight in to the trials and tribulations of the offline marketing world and how I tackled them. If you're interested in that kind of thing (which I guess is why you're in this sub-forum, right? ) then I'm sure it will be a good read!
For those unsure of my story/why I quit my job. Read this thread from 6-7 months ago.
Let me start by saying the first 2 months were AWFUL. I mean bread and butter for dinner awful. I was scrimping and scraping to get by, had little to no cashflow to invest in any kind of marketing and was even debating about returning to a j.o.b. If you read my previous post you may note I had bundles of enthusiasm and raw excitement - 2 months with nothing coming in quickly put an end to that. If anyone is in this hole right now, I know exactly what you're dealing with and my only advice is it can only get better. Good days can only turn to light and when you reflect on this moment 6 months, 1 years, 5 years later...you'll realise how insignificant it truly was. If you're in a serious hole and can work with Wordpress/Photoshop to a good level, let me know via pm, I may have work for you, I may not, but it's worth a shot.
Anyway, overtime I had picked up a few jobs through coldcalling as that's all I could do. I was literally picking up the phone and calling businesses through a phonebook. I used one of John Durham's methods, I can't remember exactly what it was called but it was basically just introducing yourself as a new business and simply asking if they had any need for web design/marketing related services. 99% wasn't interested, but 1% was. That 1% are now paying me monthly retainers to ensure I don't work with anyone else in the local area in their industry. I created websites for them from premium themeforest themes, outsourced the SEO to eLance and wrote the copy myself. I got 4 clients this way at around £300 ($500) with a retainer of £100 ($160) each. So, I now had just over $600 to play with per month on marketing my business.
After a drought from cold calling for a while I turned to the freelance sites. The quality of my work is high, so I had no problem selling sites. I targeted mainly jobs that were in my country and offered a phone consultation in the proposal. Most found this refreshing and I ended up tying them down with hosting contracts outside of the freelance sites on top of the web design to help get my recurring income growing. Surprisingly, I bagged some pretty high-ticket jobs on there. With one particular project (an e-comm site) netting me £3k.
I reinvested that money (key) and began to become a BUSINESS rather than a FREELANCER.
I have tried my hand at most things: direct mail, cold calling, ppc, seo, blanket flyer drops, social media, freelance sites...you name it, I've tried it. PPC works pretty well for me, I'm spending around £200 a day with a 50% ROI. I know this can be a LOT better, but I haven't had time to fine-tune my campaign - it's on the to do list. I won't go in to detail on each specific aspect of marketing as most of it will be repeated, but if anyone would like any specific details feel free to ask.
The major change came when I was approached by a competitor as they liked my work and was interested in outsourcing to me on a permanent basis. They'd just invested heavily in some lead gen campaigns and wanted to outsource the design process. They currently put around 10 jobs through my company per month, which we bill at around $4-500 per site. Not a HUGE amount, but pretty impressive for an 18 year old . Add to that our recurring income and we're growing at an impressive rate.
I'm now focussing on reinvesting a portion of my cashflow in to a variety of other projects such as CPA and I'm currently writing a book to promote on my authority dating/seduction site. I'm also looking to offer my company's services on WF when I get a chance. Working as outsourcers has worked well for me in some instances, so this is something I want to explore more. I'm striving to diversify revenue streams and really get a solid foundation going. I think this is crucial to any successful business in order to ride out the inevitable droughts in jobs.
I have now worked with clients in 4 different continents. I've worked on projects for major UK tv channels, nigerian nightclubs and US law firms. I absolutely love the variety that the industry brings and wholeheartedly encourage anyone who's pondering taking the plunge - do it. It's a hard slog, but when you crack it you will look back and laugh. I'm not where I'd like to be, but I'm on the way. My top lessons I've learnt along the way:
1) Be nobody's bitch. I can't even begin to explain how important this is. I never take on a client who I feel I can't work with, no matter how big the project is worth. Honestly, health is more important than wealth and the stress it'll cause you isn't worth $100k. I've learnt the hard way that some clients cannot be pleased and will try to sue you. No matter what you do. Now, the second a client becomes aggressive, unreasonable or treats me as a lowly employee (you know the type), I offer them a full refund and leave it there.
2) All marketing methods work, YOU are the problem. Cold calling works, it relies on the power of numbers and mathematical probability (initially, of course. As one would become more skilled the importance of these elements would decrease). PPC works, otherwise millions of people wouldn't be paying for it everyday. Direct mail works, you may have the wrong copy, image etc you'd be surprised how much an image can affect your CR, always split test.
3) One thing at a time. Become the master of your chosen skill before you move on. This requires a great amount of discipline and it always irks me when I see people complaining that they've tried 17 different marketing methods and none work. If it was as easy as that don't you think everyone would be doing it? There is no free pass. Get used to it and get on with it. Become the master not the jack of all trades.
4) Be different. Be unique - a true maverick. Only then will your business truly shine. An idea that you've had and implemented that's failed is worth 10 successful ideas you've read on the forums. You'll learn so much from simply DOING that you'll be left wondering what you've be doing all these years.
This post is getting kind of long and I want to make sure it actually gets read! So, if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask here or via PM and I'll do my best to answer what I can.
The key, which is repeated every day on the WF is to take action. Risk is rewarded. Don't let life lull you in to a false sense of security. On average we live under 30,000 days. If you're over 18 then you've got under 24,000 days left. That's 24,000 days to make your life count. YOUR ONE CHANCE. How are you going to be remembered?
I'd like to thank everyone who contributes to this forum and to wish everyone a healthy and profitable 2013.