A while ago I published this SOP in a few groups on Facebook and a lot of SEOs found it helpful. And for you that have missed it, here is the document (google docs).
At the risk of sounding like a douche, I’m not going to waste your time with content filler introductory stuff here. You already know whether you need clients or not, and I’m going to show you a couple of ways to get clients today, and how to get clients coming to you over time.
Channels for getting clients quickly
When I started out client consulting, I dived straight into cold-calling… the only problem is, I went at it way too aggressively and tried closing clients like I was selling peanuts. After a couple hundred no’s, I got desperate and couldn’t be bothered with long conversations. I just wanted my first sale. I got close a few times, but I gave up on the cold-calling and tried to come up with more creative ways to get clients.
I had a revelation one day, and suddenly I had more clients than I could handle. The method I came up with is one I thought I’d never share, but I’m growing out of client consulting and heading more towards affiliate marketing instead.
The basic idea is, if you are looking for new SEO clients, you search the web for companies that do Adwords marketing. And if you are searching for web design clients, you search the web for businesses that don’t have a mobile-optimized website. I know 2017 is around the corner, and most sites are mobile now, but you can hit them with the AMP news and let them know they need their website AMP-optimized to keep up with the competition.
So when I found my potential clients, I sent them an email basically saying I’m running a workshop where I’m mobile-optimizing a website live for a small group of students, and I’d like to use their website to demonstrate this. In return, I will show them the results, and they can acquire their new mobile website for a discounted price. I need no logins or passwords, I just need their approval. People are usually curious and have thought of improvements long before you reach out. So if you do it right, you’ll be surprised by the amount of positive feedback you will get.
Now if the client says it’s ok to use their site, you tell them you will get back to them after your seminar. Then, follow up and ask them if you can come over to their office to show the results, or if you can set up a phone meeting a few days forward in time.
If they say yes, you go ahead and mobile-optimize the front page of their website, nothing more. Then at the meeting, you tell them that you only optimized the front page for the seminar to show the basic principles of mobile design. At this point, you also demonstrate the value of having a mobile optimized website. Then tell the client that you will go ahead and mobile-optimize all the subpages in the same way once you seal the deal. At that point, my closing rate was around 80%, and I’m sure you will have similar or even better results if you have some basic sales skills.
What does this do that cold-calling doesn’t? Well, you’re running a seminar which must mean you are an expert. By the time you follow up, they already “know” you… even more trust.
Also, you can only imagine the possibilities with applying this strategy to SEO clients: “I saw you are not ranking for this or that keyword, I’m running a seminar where I demonstrate for the study group how to rank quickly”.
The best part of this strategy is that you can grow online in the meantime. Create the work in the form of videos or document them as case studies, and you are building your brand as well as you are getting direct client work.
“I can’t compete with developers from India for minimum wage, I’m better off working at McDonalds” is one of the most common limiting thoughts when it comes to freelance platforms.
I gave Upwork a try and I made over $10k my first two months, and honestly, I was barely trying. So don’t limit yourself to thinking clients are only looking for a cheap price on these platforms. If you have a nice portfolio to show, you will barely have any competition.
Obviously, there are many more channels to acquire new clients, I only mention the ones I’ve had success with. I’ve tried on-site and cold-calling but the closing rates were nowhere near.
When you are in this industry, you will hear “everyone” has clients coming to them instead of them having to do the chase. Is it because they do killer quality work? Well yeah maybe it’s thanks to referrals, but most likely they are creating value in one way or another to their target market.
I’m talking about putting your knowledge out there… blog about it, podcast, run offline and online seminars, guest blog, help people online, you name it.
I reached out to two key players in the industry, Ryan Stewart and Dino Gomez, and asked them to share their most powerful advice on client acquisition, here is what they had to say…
A while back, I wrote a blog post about the basics of SEO. A couple of days later, I had clients calling me and emailing me. And this was the impact of one single blog post, imagine going all out on it. The CEO of one of the most successful SEO agencies in Sweden, Pineberry, recently mentioned to me that this is basically their only marketing effort. By putting quality content out there, almost all their clients come to them instead of vice versa, which just amplifies the fact that creating valuable content is one of the most powerful marketing methods around when it comes to client acquisition.
Now what happens when you get that call or email?
Before I got into web design and internet marketing, I used to work at a cold-calling company. I was one of the top sellers and month after month I used to compete with this one guy. We would come up with creative strategies that put us way above the numbers of the others. After having been on the phone day in and day out for three years I had enough, I started getting tired of it but I’m glad I learned a few lessons from it at least…
If you make it a big deal, the clients will too
I remember when our team coach took that other guy and me into a room, and she asked us how it’s possible we can sell 50-100 iPads with mobile broadband subscriptions to a single small company CEO. I told her “because we don’t make a big deal out of it”. We made our pitch so straightforward that they would feel stupid for not saying yes.
Without getting too off-track here, I’ll try to give you with an example of what we did:
A random seller called and sold a phone subscription including a device to a client. Then I called the client back up afterward and told him/her that the first seller forgot to mention that they had discounts that were activated in combination with their purchase. And these discounts allow them to buy a mobile broadband with an iPad. Unfortunately, the client only has discounts on 5 iPads, so he can’t purchase any more than 5 even if he wanted to. I would make this pitch so obvious without flinching that it seemed like an everyday thing.
If the client said yes, I would call back again and tell him in a “private tone” that I went against the rules and managed to unlock an additional 5 discounts. This is basically massaging the client. Even if he said no here, the chances are that the initial sale will be rubbed in and the likeliness of him regretting it will be drastically lowered.
Now, what does this have to do with acquiring clients for SEO or web design you might think. It’s just an illustration of the point that you shouldn’t make your offer a big deal. Everyone else “says yes” to your offer right, so why shouldn’t they?
Momentum is a must
I had periods where I would question reality. It felt so unreal that every single client said no during one period of time. Nothing worked, I mean nothing worked. And the deeper I went, the more confidence I lost.. and as a result, the more “no’s” I got. It’s important to maintain your sanity in these periods of drought, and keep pushing through until you get that sale. It’s inevitable that it will happen sooner or later – it’s a numbers game.
Don’t half-ass it
If you throw yourself into a call, own it. Don’t just “try” or “feel the temperature”, instead throw yourself in there head first and rip the hearts out of your leads.
If you’re starting out new in the business, you need to be reminded that there are people out there that have been doing this for decades. Why would someone buy from you if you haven’t done any research or any extra effort to try to outhustle the competition?
Eliminate desperation or your potential clients will eliminate you
What happens when you call any successful professional out there? Be it a surgeon, lawyer, or a successful marketing agency… When you want that appointment, they will all initially tell you that they can’t take on any further clients at the moment, maybe in a few months.
Now what happens if a potential client gives you a call, and you get over-excited to start working the very same day? It doesn’t look good right? It will most likely even make the client cautious before sealing the deal.
You want to mimic that very same feeling of success that the above-mentioned professionals radiate. My suggestion is to create some kind of client qualification form, be it on your website or as a PDF you send out to the client. Before working with you, they must fill the form out, or you simply won’t take on the client. While you maximize your chances to close the deal, you also get the information you need before taking it to the next step.
To scale and take your business to the next level, you need to either create some kind of automated system, or have a sales team working for you. If you don’t have the budget, the option is obvious.
A good way to go about it is to create a funnel where you generate “free” leads. A step by step example for this would be:
- Find out what businesses you want to target. Is it dentists? Restaurants? Lawyers?
- Research your target group
- Create a landing page that resonates with your potential clients. Make sure you have a form with enough fields to give you the information you need about the client (i.e., their problem, budget, phone number, etc)
- Create a Facebook ad that leads your potential clients to the landing page where you have them fill a small interest form.
- Follow up and cash in.
This can be broken down quite a lot, but it should be enough to get your ideas flowing. If your Facebook ad is appealing enough, you should be able to drop a lot of that marketing pressure off your chest.
You can combine this automation with consistent creation of killer content, and you should be moving forward and thriving in no time.
Procrastination is a topic that lies close at heart for me, and I think many can relate. Anyone in the online marketing business would agree that there is a massive amount of distractions and impressions we get exposed to every day. It’s just so tempting to stay on social media and interact with other people instead of focusing on the important parts of your business. Or learning how Reddit works, or learning how Pinterest works, or learning about the other 1,000 tools and websites we could use to improve our businesses. It’s just too easy to get caught up and overwhelmed nowadays.
And this is particularly the case for the new warriors of online business, or even the ones who haven’t yet, but badly want to start making money from home. There are an endless amount of threads and posts that are repeating the same thing over and over again. And starting off fresh, the natural thing to do is consume as much information as possible to maximize your chances of succeeding. It’s just too hard taking action. Do you know anyone who made money from sitting around consuming information? I certainly don’t. Money can only be made from taking action.
When I first got into internet marketing, I was looking at successful people in the industry thinking to myself “how the hell can they make so much money? I am way better prepared than this guy or that guy.”
It took some time before I fully embraced the fact of how little it has to do with knowledge or smarts. You can read millions of articles about making money online, but if you don’t put yourself out there and start putting in the work, you won’t make a single dollar online. It’s Newton’s first damn law… whatever stands still tends to stay still, and that which moves tends to keep moving. You just need that small fragment of energy to start; the rest will take care of itself.
And here I am, writing yet another article for you to read. Why would you even bother? For whatever it’s worth, I am mainly writing this for my own sake – so I can have something to go back to in case I ever lose track. Though if I can give someone else a little push in the back, I’d feel great about it.
So #%!& the fear of failure, take action no matter what. Do shit before it’s too late! Time really flies when procrastinating. You are better off starting today than in 2 years when you’ve realized you just lost two years playing video games or partying. Fail a thousand times if you have to. I know people will laugh at you when you fail, people will think you are insane because you quit your job to go doing something amazing. And when you fail they will feel so satisfied saying “see? I knew it”. But who cares really? It’s not like they will pay your bills if you stay nice and quiet.
People are scared man. People are afraid that you will make it. So of course they have to mock you and do whatever it takes to keep you shackled, nobody likes change.
What are your friends going to do when you detach from the herd to go and be successful? They will keep living their lives in mediocracy and enslaved by the 9-5 system. They can’t stand the bare thought of you breaking free. This video by Gary Vaynerchuk is spot on here.
Laser focus to cut through the bullshit of everyday life
It’s a fundamental principle of nature, the more energy you concentrate on one point or one task; the more effect is outputted. Just take a look at a laser cutter, would it be able to cut steel if the beam is scattered all over the place? Or imagine if Lionel Messi focused part time on being a professional tennis player, would he have the energy to be one of the greatest soccer players in the world? Of course not, it doesn’t make any sense to think you could compete against the elite who put in 100% effort into that one thing while you invest 25% or 50% of your energy into it.
So if your focus is all over the place, I can recommend this simple exercise borrowed from Warren Buffet. Even if you try this out for one day, I’m positive you will be blown away. So grab a pen and paper and
- Write down the top 25 tasks you want to accomplish within the next seven days.
- Now circle the top 5 tasks that are most important.
The 20 tasks you didn’t circle should be avoided at all costs. You simply give them no attention whatsoever until you have accomplished your top 5 tasks.
Now let’s be real here, it’s not going to be easy to stay away from the avoid-at-all-costs-list. Those are all tasks you really care about, so it’s going to be tempting to get all over the place.
You need to be ruthless about this, really don’t touch that forbidden list until you have accomplished your five most important tasks. If you don’t have some sort of strategy or extreme discipline for staying focused, there will be a lot of temptation out there just waiting to devour your time. And if you are working from home and keep falling victim to clicking every persuasive title you see online, you’re setting yourself up to get overwhelmed and burned out sooner than you might realize. As an internet marketer, you want to be the one who persuades your target to click on your stuff, not waste your time clicking on anything you see only to be promoted a bunch of affiliate links.
It doesn’t matter how many videos you watch or how many posts you read about online marketing. One thing is for certain; nobody is going to hold your hand throughout your journey. You have probably read more than a few posts on how to make money online. Most of the advice given is outdated or lacking information. Nobody will reveal their exact niche if it’s profitable. Why would they want more competition? Because they enjoy the thrill of competing? No, you will be served the left-overs, niches they haven’t had the time trying or the ones that used to work well in the past. Then again, would a fisherman show you a pond where there is fish? He might show you a few spots where there might be fish, but revealing his spot means he is putting his survival at risk. So really, there is nothing new under the sun. No need to waste your time looking at “how I made a fortune on Amazon” videos, you already know what to do. Go get what’s yours.
Will you be tempted to open up Facebook and scroll through the timeline like a zombie? Sure you will. Will you want to launch a game and procrastinate for a couple of hours thinking you are actually accomplishing anything? Your whole soul will be screaming to do other shit than staying focused on the task you’re doing, but eventually, it gets easier.
Often we might feel too anxious about doing things we don’t like, like writing that blog post we have tried getting done for the last couple of days but never had the energy to start. Don’t listen to your mind, just push through anyway. Try this for a week and see what happens. Just push through without having your laziness or lack of motivation holding you back. What happens is you will develop mental toughness over time. After a while, you won’t have anything holding you back from doing the shit you don’t want to do but need to do.
Similarly to the Warren Buffet trick, The Ivy Lee Method is a simple and great routine for getting stuff done no matter what.
Bend reality into your favor by slowing down the perception of time
If you are like me, you don’t see the benefit in some methods or practices until you see them proven. Well, it’s a researched and known fact that mindfulness can slow down your perception of time.
Time can warp when our brain receives much more or less input than usual in a three-second span. (For example, time slows down when you are about to crash your car, but you can easily lose a whole day watching things on YouTube.) So the solution to the time-flying problem? Do more, or rather, notice more. – Carolyn Gregoire in the Huffingtonpost
Here is another interesting point by Neuroscientist David Eagleman:
The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. – David Eagleman in The New Yorker
So how can we bypass this taking the world for granted? It’s obvious; by being mindful. If you go through your day with a “child’s eye”, you tend to notice a lot more than you normally would. You might even notice objects or colors in your own home you never paid attention to before. Through practice, we can integrate it into our daily lives and slow down our perception of time.
Track your time
By tracking what you do, down to the very second, you will get your mind blown what you actually spend your time on. Besides, you will naturally accomplish more when you track your time. When you start getting mindful about your time, it suddenly gets too costly to browse Instagram for hours. I use toggl for this; it’s free and easy to get started with. Try it at least for a day and let me know in the comments what impact it had on you.
Split up your tasks into smaller chunks to avoid overwhelm and procrastination
It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve pushed everything aside in the past because the tasks and projects were too many to even know where to start.
James Clear shares some interesting thoughts here, which are extremely helpful to keep in mind if you are suffering by wanting to do too many things or endlessly coming up with too many ideas. He basically says that your mind is like a rose bud, you must consistently be trimming and pruning for it to thrive. If you don’t, the rose will be quick to die out.
Not too long ago, I was doing web development within the digital agency UsTwo, for one of their banking clients. After a couple of unexpected obstacles arose from third parties, there was not much time left and a lot of tasks left before we could deliver the project. Being overwhelmed with all the small chunks of work, I didn’t know where to start anymore, so I ended up feeling exhausted and unmotivated for a while. Then we did something we should have done a long time ago, arranging every single one of the tasks onto small post-it’s and pasted them up on a board split up in “To do” and “Done”. Not only was it more motivating to move the tasks to “done”, but I also cleared all my mind space that was taken up by remembering all the tasks, and knew where to start since everything was ordered by importance. Even though it might seem obvious to most professionals to organize things in this manner, this was an invaluable lesson I’ve had with me ever since. Instead of wasting resources in your mind of what’s to do, organize your to-do’s and tick them off once done.
Reframe negativity. It only distorts your perception
Depending on what type of person you are, you might or might not suffer from negative thoughts. But it’s certainly not uncommon to have your vision clouded by negativity now and then. Some people even take it as far as anticipating the worst possible scenarios in any given moment. I know because I used to be like this. It used to be some kind of defense mechanism, always being ready for the worst so it won’t hurt as much when it happens. Sure, that sort of thinking might make sense if you are in a cage full of lions, but in everyday life, it won’t ever be helpful.
Imagine continuously looping thoughts like “Ugh I’m never gonna make money”, “Why is everyone else successful but me?” or taking on any other kind of victim mentality will only be like a huge block along your path.
Stay above your negative thoughts to maintain a healthy vision of your goals. This is where meditation comes into the picture again. Apart from allowing you to slow down the perception of time to get more stuff done, it can also help you remove all focus from negativity. Or better yet, reframe limiting thoughts into positive.
The cheat code for success
It doesn’t matter in what field I’ve tried this, this small trick has given me more results than anything else. Namely running the extra mile after you’ve completed your goal.
Did you have as a goal to go out and walk for 30 minutes? Try walking 40.
Was your goal to write a 500-word article? When you are done, proofread it and add another 250 words.
Was your goal to read for 10 minutes today? Read 15.
Was your goal to get through with the design of your website? Create something timeless instead, down to the micro-details. Believe it or not, in the end, this shit really shines through.
But we don’t want to do more than we have to. Take the amount of people complaining they can’t find a job… most of them are not even trying. They send out their applications then fall into the comfort of having done their part. It’s easier to launch your PlayStation, sit back and play video games while barely hoping you get that call isn’t it? If you are half-assing your way through life, you honestly don’t deserve to be successful. There are plenty of people putting their heart and soul into this shit so it’s only fair that the lazy will remain in the low tier.
Step back a moment to think
This is a concept I picked up from Charles Ngo and it’s actually much more powerful than one might think. It’s just a simple thing as taking an undisturbed timeout every now and then to think through stuff, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. The majority of your competition fall into the belief that they are too busy to do this, which makes it even more powerful.
Here is how some of my SEO-related timeouts look like just to give you a brief idea:
What would I add to the ranking algorithm if I was Google?
How could I increase my CTR?
What could I do for my site to convert better?
You get the point. Instead of reading up on what others do, outthink them. If I’d do what all other SEOs do, if I used all the overused tactics that are written about and talked about in every single SEO article out there, how could I ever outrank my opponents? (note: I am not doing any SEO for this particular blog).
Eat or starve
If you were a man in a village a couple hundred years ago, would you go out and kill a lion so your wife and children could eat and survive, or would you keep searching for more knowledge on how perfect your preparation before you put yourself out there?
Hmm, I wonder which angle I should attack the lion from?
Wonder if I need to wear any particular shoes when hunting?
What will others think of me if my execution isn’t perfect?
Tell you what, the others don’t give a living “¤!# about you, someone else will go get it if you don’t. Your execution will never be perfect, this shit is messy. Your campaigns will fail, google will slam your sites and you might have to start all over again. The highs and lows will be nasty. Though there is a reward at the end of the tunnel. So just throw yourself out there and have some faith. You don’t need more knowledge than you already possess, you are ready.
Comparing a VPS to your regular shared hosting is like comparing a Lamborghini to a public transport bus. Apart from having a full control over your hosting, the speed differences are ridiculous.
Although setting up a VPS, installing all the required modules and getting the security part right is not really done over a cup of coffee. Therefore as an SEO or affiliate marketer, hosting your WordPress sites on a VPS isn’t normally the obvious choice.
Thankfully there is a solution to all this headache, it’s called Serverpilot. They are offering a free automated process for setting up your VPS and installing WordPress simultaneously, and I’m going to show you exactly how to set it up in less than 10 minutes.
Step 1 – Creating the droplet at Digitalocean
First we need to create a droplet on Digitalocean. I recommend starting off with their cheapest package, the $5/month VPS. This will do in almost all cases unless you are running a heavily trafficked site. Register here and get $10 which makes the first two months free.
Once you have finished the registration process, you will be prompted to create your first droplet.
Make sure you pick Ubuntu 14.04 like shown in the screenshot below, since Serverpilot only works with this OS for now. Choose any datacenter you like and create your droplet.
Once your droplet is created, you will receive an email with the details you need for Serverpilot, your IP and root password.
Step 2 – Setting up the nameservers
Navigate to the Networking tab at Digitalocean and go to Domains on the left side menu. Here you add your domain and choose your droplet from the dropdown, then just create the record.
After you have done this, go to your registrar for the domain and change your nameservers to Digitalocean’s nameservers:
Step 3 – Connecting Serverpilot
Now head on over to serverpilot and create an account there as well. Make sure you choose the free account unless you need their SSL certificate and priority support.
Once you have created your account and logged in, you will be prompted to Connect a server. Click to connect and enter the details you received in the email from Digitalocean.
You also need to add your own SFTP Password of choice here, which you will later be using if you need to connect to your site through FTP.
Step 4 – Installing WordPress
Now you will be prompted to create an app, in other words, installing WordPress.
Here you set a name for your app (you can type in whatever you want here), your domain, and your WordPress details. Don’t forget to save your details for you will need them to log in to your WordPress site.
And that’s it. Now just wait until your nameservers are updated to Digitalocean’s as this can take up to 24 hours in some cases, and then you are all set.
If you need to connect to your new hosting through FTP make sure you choose SFTP protocol, use your droplet IP and port 22. The username by default is serverpilot and the password is the SFTP password you set in step 3.
Leave a comment if you need any help and I’ll try to reply as soon as I get some time over.
Not many SEO’s know about this, but there is actually a way to get free hosting on a blazing speed host, namely GitHub.It serves static content on their global CDN, so the response times are instant.
Back to free hosting now, this process is relatively advanced the first time you do it, but I’ll guide you through it step by step.
- Create an account on GitHub
- Click the top right plus sign to create a new repository
- IMPORTANT! For your repository to get recognized as a GitHub page, you need to make sure your repository name is username.github.io. In my case, this is
- Download GitHub for desktop (available both for Mac and Windows). When installed, you just log into your previously created GitHub account. At the configuration step, you can enter whatever name and email you like, it’s just for configuring your local git user. At the final step, just continue to the dashboard.
- Now go back to GitHub and click Set up in Desktop. Your repository will open in the desktop software you just installed.
- Here you can just choose which folder you want the repository to be initialized in. When you have selected your folder, go ahead and click open this repository in explorer from the software dashboard.
- Copy your complete website to this folder. This folder will automatically sync with the software. When you see all your files in the file tree, go ahead and type in any comment in the Summary input and hit Commit to master.
- You have now committed these changes to your local repository, time to push our changes to the GitHub repository. Just hit publish at the top right corner.
- If you go back to your Github account and refresh the page, you will see your files have been uploaded. Now if you open
http://username.github.ioyou will see your website is instantly live. Here is the one we just set up grindtime.github.io
- The next step is to point your domain to your new Github hosting. To do this, you need to create a file called CNAME and put it in your local folder where you uploaded your whole website.
The file should not have any file extension or it won’t work. In this file just enter your domain.com and save it.
If you don’t know how to create a file without an extension, feel free to download my file. Remember not to save it as a text file. Then just open it up in any text editor and replace my domain with your domain.
- Now go back to your GitHub software. Make sure you’re at the changes tab, add a comment and hit commit to master.
- Don’t forget to hit Sync at the top right corner now. Then go to your GitHub repository in the browser and make sure the CNAME file has been added.
- The final step is to change the DNS at your registrar.
You need to add the following records:
- Two A records with the following IPs:
126.96.36.199(those are the IPs for GitHub pages found here).
- CNAME record for the
wwwsubdomain pointing to your GitHub page.Your DNS should match the image below, with your own github.io CNAME of course.
And that’s all. Normally takes a few hours for the DNS to update so don’t worry if you don’t see the changes instantly.
If you get stuck, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll help you as soon as I got time.