Rise Above The Crowd - How do you go from building $500 WordPress sites to $5,000+ projects while fortifying and stabilizing your business with recurring monthly revenue - and not just for WordPress maintenance? When your clients stop seeing you as a service provider and start seeing you as their path to financial growth you dramatically increase your value. This podcast is all about how you can build an awesome, sustainable, and highly profitable business as a WordPress consultant while serving your clients more deeply and effectively than ever before. Join host Lee Blue as he shares his insights into High-Value WordPress consulting based on over 16 years of experience running his online agency.
Should You Subcontract With Agencies?
Lately, I've been in a lot of conversations about the best way for web designers to make the move to go out on their own.
The biggest problem is that the mainstream advice stinks to implement. For example…
Subcontracting With Agencies
One way to get work is to make a handful of relationships with other agencies that either lack your current skillset or that can send overflow work your way.
Your Prices Will Decrease Over Time
On a regular basis, people will tell me that they've been working with an agency for years – doing great work – then they get a call saying that they either need to lower their rates or they won't be able to keep the relationship.
I specifically remember talking to Andrea about this because she was in literal tears and it was wrenching my heart. She'd been working with this one agency for about three years, doing great work, improving her skills over time, and everybody loved her. She had no idea this was coming, but she got a call from her main point of contact at the agency and was told that the agency was having a hard time selling websites at their current prices and they were going to be lowering the price of web design. Therefore, Andrea was being asked to lower her rates too. Otherwise, she'd lose the relationship as the agency wouldn't be able to make a profit at their new, lower rates.
So, Andrea's justifiably freaking out on the phone with me because she had taken classes, learned new skills, and actually thought she should get a raise. But, rather than a raise, she has to either lower her rates or lose the work altogether.
What stinks the most is that there's not a single thing she can do about it.
You're Not In Control of Your Lead Flow
I believe that if you're not in control of your leads you don't actually have a business. In my mind, there is a difference between randomly freelancing out your skills and building a business. Sub-contracting with agencies is not actually putting you in control of your leads, it just moves the problem.
Invariably what happens is you get a few agencies that all need you right now. So, you're stressed and swamped. You don't want to say no because then they'll replace you. What if they like the replacement better than you? Will they send all the work to the new person now?
You can't say no, but you can't say yes either. It stinks.
You're Not Able To Leverage The Value of Your Knowledge
Almost all web designers I talk to severely undervalue their knowledge. Most of the time they give away all of their strategy and consulting for free just trying to onboard the client.
Ironically, the majority of the value is in the strategy and consulting. The implementation is the easy part.
When I say “the majority of the value” what I mean is the difference between a $1,500 website build as a “web designer” versus a $15,000 engagement as a “marketing consultant” who can also build websites.
If you're not leveraging your knowledge, you're leaving at least $10,000 on the table with every project.
You're Not Building Value In Your Business
If you ever hope to sell your business there is almost no value in your business if you're just freelancing for agencies.
All of the metrics that people look at when acquiring a business are missing. For example:
* You have little to no recurring revenue.
* There's nothing that makes you different or irreplaceable.
* Virtually all of the value is in your personal relationship with the agency. (That means if you remove yourself from the business the agencies have no reason to work with the new business owner.)
* There is no projected growth over time. In fact, oftentimes you have to lower your rates. (Remember Andrea?)
By working as a subcontractor you've positioned yourself as an easily replaced commodity.
The New Way To Get Results On Facebook With Adrienne Richardson
Everyone using Facebook for their business knows that everything is different now.
Ad costs are much higher. Targeting is totally different now – especially because of Apple's iOS privacy updates. Facebook can't even report timely, accurate information on your ad campaigns anymore. So, it is a whole new world out there.
If you're stuck in the old strategies you might not even be able to run ads anymore. But even if you can, you'll go broke on the ads if you can't see what's working.
This is one of my favorite episodes of our podcast so far because not only are you going to get some awesome insider secrets on how to get better results from your Facebook ads – especially after the iOS 14.5 privacy changes – you're also going to get to know an authentic, genuine person who goes above and beyond to help people.
Adrienne has PACKED this 30-minute conversation with incredibly helpful information including access to free training to bring your Facebook Ad account into compliance with the new Apple privacy requirements.
Adrienne is about to tell you how to get your costs down on Facebook so you're paying less for leads.
Adrienne's Quotes and Concepts That Really Hit Me
People with a low-risk tolerance tend to focus on all the things that can go wrong. People with a high-risk tolerance focus on all the things that can go right.
There isn't a problem that can't be solved. Either I know how to solve it or there's somebody out there I can talk to who has solved this problem before.
If you get a low click-through rate on your Facebook ads you also get a high cost-per-click because Facebook is hoping you'll turn your bad ad off so they can keep good content on their platform.
To get your click-through rates up, when writing the copy for your Facebook Ads you need to focus on three things:
* Target a specific audience
* Create copy about a specific problem
* Present something compelling enough to make people wonder what they're missing out on if they don't click.
Adrienne's Awesome Facebook Resources
Free Apple iOS Training
If you're struggling to get your ads compliant with Apple's new privacy requirements I highly recommend Adrienne's Free Apple iOS Training. I went through the course and it works. I haven't had any trouble at all with Facebook shutting my ads down or not being able to run ads due to non-compliance with the new iOS 14.5 updates.
The Powerplayers Club is a membership club for people who want education on Facebook ads PLUS support. You get weekly Q&A calls, a private Facebook group, a copywriting coach, and more. It's incredible value. I'm personally enrolled in this program and really thankful for all the help I've gotten.
Adrienne's Facebook Page
Adrienne does Facebook Live presentations every Tuesday about stuff like:
* Choosing good images for Facebook ads
* Ad copy tips
* How long should you run your campaign before turning it off
It's a different topic every week and a great way to get free help. So check out Adrienne's Facebook Page.
Where’s Your Next Client Coming From?
Can you think of someone who you thought was going to be sending you referrals but they aren't?
It is really exciting when you meet someone and it looks like they're going to open up a whole new world of clients for you. Maybe you even do some heavily discounted (or even free) work for them because they are going to be sending you leads. But then they don't. No leads. Nothing.
Doesn't it feel totally unfair? How could they be such jerks? It seemed like you could trust them so you got your hopes up. You were ready to go out of your way to prove that you do great work and that you're a great person to team up with because – unlike those other options they were considering – you actually care about your work and your clients.
It's the kind of thing that can really make you angry. If only they would do what they actually told you they were going to do then everything would be great. But it turns out they were all talk and no action.
Don't they realize how important this is to you? This is your job, your life, your family. You were counting on them and they're not coming through like they said they would.
I know exactly how that feels because I was there once too. Then it hit me in the stomach. It's not their job to get clients for me. That's my job.
It's great to get referrals but relying on strangers you barely even know to sustain your business is nuts.
Having Skills vs Having A Business
There's a huge difference between having great skills and having a solid business. You can have the best skills out there but if you don't have clients then you don't have a business? There are some people who only want to focus on developing their tech skills and that's totally fine. But those people should work at an agency where someone else worries about lead generation.
If you want your own business, you have to have both the tech stack AND the marketing stack (thus the name DoubleStack).
If you are not in control of your leads you don't have a business.
That's a hard sentence to swallow, but it's the truth. That friend who was supposed to send you all those leads… they're busy thinking about their business and worrying about their life. They probably are not intentionally ignoring you. They probably just got busy with something else. The truth is it is not their responsibility to get leads for you. It's yours.
It's so easy to get frustrated and even angry because those referrals can seem like the answer to your biggest problem. But if you are depending on someone who you just met, who doesn't work for you, and barely even knows you to save your business that should be a red flag.
Where Will You Be In A Year?
There's another problem with relying on referrals. All the work you're doing is just tech work for clients. It isn't making progress towards building your business.
Is the work you're putting into your business now going to put you in a better position in the future? Or, are you going to be in the exact same spot next year as you are today – always hunting for the next project? What about five years from now?
It's one thing to have to really hustle right now to get things off the ground but what are you doing so that you're not always stuck in the same situation that you have right now?
Portfolios Don't Generate Leads
It's easy to slip into thinking that if you had a bigger portfolio then you would get more clients. The truth is portfolios are not marketing plans. Having a solid portfolio may play a role in converting a lead into a client but your portfolio does almost nothing to generate leads.
The reason people lean so heavily on their portfolio is that it's something they feel is in their control. I know I fell into that trap. I know how to build websites so I just buckled down and cranked out a bunch of sites.
What Is Solution First Marketing? (part 3)
Most web designers are stuck with a “Solution Last” approach to working with their clients. So, if that's you, then you're forced to market your services which are the same exact services everybody else is offering. So you blend into the noise sounding exactly like everyone else. Even if you do get a lead it's going to be a low-budget, one-and-done project.
Solution First marketing is a dramatically better approach because by developing your solution first you're able to establish yourself with authority and leadership. This leads to better clients, better results, and much better pricing.
Everything makes perfect sense except one thing. How do you get your first few clients? Now let's talk about, how to solve the problem of social proof when you are just getting started?
Five Pillars Support Every High-Ticket Offer
There are five things every high-ticket offer needs but only three of them are critical. The other two can be reinforced and included later.
So let's take a look at what you need to say on your website – at least at a high level – to land clients with Solution First Marketing even if you're just getting started.
What Is The Outcome?
What do I get?
The main thing you need to make clear as fast as possible is the result of your offer. This should be the headline of your website (or landing page).
It's very important that the outcome is described in a results-oriented way – not in a technical way. For example, when you go buy an apple pie you want to understand that you're getting an apple pie. Nobody markets an apple pie with the ingredients label, right?
So, point to a specific pain point that your client is experiencing and say that your offers solves that thing.
Who Is This For?
Will this work for me?
Next, we need to make it clear who your offer is for. It's great to be able to solve this big pain point, but I want to know if it's going to work for me. Targeting the right audience is critical because people are hardwired to assume that the “good stuff” is always for somebody else. People are quick to unfairly disqualify themselves. Even if you believe that this solution is good, it's really easy to think, “I'm sure this would work for them, but I'm different. It won't work for me.”
So, make sure you clearly define who your offer is for AND who it is NOT for.
How Does It Work?
What is the secret sauce?
The temptation here is going to be to describe all the skills and services you plan to exercise to get your clients the results they need but that's the wrong approach for Solution First Marketing. Resist the urge to get down in the weeds with all the nitty-gritty details of what you're going to do.
Present a few highlights for how (or why) your solution works not what you're going to do.
How Did You Figure This Out?
Why isn't everybody doing this?
At this point, people are probably going to be teetering on the edge of excitement but they might also be thinking this is too good to be true. They're going to be wondering where this idea came from. How were you able to come up with this brilliant solution while everyone else is stuck and struggling with the old-school, mainstream approach?
This is your chance to build your authority and establish your leadership by presenting your backstory. Don't talk about everything that's ever happened to you. Only talk about the relevant facts.
Share the aspects of your background and personal experience that positioned and prepared you to discover and build this awesome solution?
Even when you're first getting started you may still have some case studies that you can pull from.
What Is Solution First Marketing? (part 2)
Last week we began our series with Solution First Marketing (part 1) and how most web designers actually use Solution LAST Marketing.
When the solution is the LAST thing you do, you end up having to base all of your marketing around your services. That means you end up blending into the noise sounding exactly like everyone else who offers the same services as you do.
This is how we ended up in the price race to the bottom where everyone expects websites to be both cheap and ineffective.
Now let's look at how Solution First Marketing actually works with examples.
This will enable you to:
* Attract clients with a larger budget
* Build your authority through leadership
* Maximize your earning potential through value pricing
Get this right and you can more than double your revenue!
Here's how it works.
High-Risk Means Low Price
Clients are looking for a solution, not an adventure. Adventures are risky. People don't invest heavily in high-risk situations. To win high-paying clients the client needs to feel confident that their investment is going to have a positive return on investment with as little risk as possible.
But, most web designers have an incredibly high-risk business model for interacting with their clients. First, they accept leads from all sources even though it is obviously impossible to be a marketing expert in all markets. Then they ask the client (who has very little technical or marketing knowledge) what they want. This foundation could not be more high-risk for the client. So, the client feels uncertain and scared which then leads to endless change requests.
It makes sense though, right? When you're about ready to launch, they see what's about to go live and they second-guess themselves and start nit-picking the site. It's not that they don't like your design. The problem is they don't know if they're going to get the results. So, they run you through the wringer while they have access to you because once you officially “launch” everything is on them from that point forward.
Why Develop The Solution First
The core concept of Solution First Marketing is to develop the solution before interacting with the client. Developing the solution first is literally the opposite of solution last marketing and fundamentally changes everything. By starting with a solution first, you've got something that you feel confident will bring the results your clients are counting on. It's a combination of your best skills and services so it builds your authority and sets you apart from the crowd. Since it's your best stuff, it's what you can charge the most for. You also know exactly where to go and who to talk to with all of your marketing.
* Confidence (for both you and your client)
* Collection of your strongest skills/services
* The best results you can create
* Delivers the most value to the client
* What you can charge the most for
With Solution LAST Marketing, you're stuck marketing the same exact services as everyone else (web design, branding, SEO, social media management, etc.) With global freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, you're literally competing against the whole world.
With Solution FIRST Marketing you talk about the outcomes your solution delivers NOT the individual services.
By talking about the outcomes instead of the services you are rising above the noise of all the people shouting for clients who want “affordable” websites. You have something new and authoritative to say. You're talking about what your clients actually want which makes you much more attractive and valuable in the eyes of your clients.
Why Would Someone Hire You?
Ok, so let's look at an example of how this works and what you actually...
What Is Solution First Marketing? (part 1)
Do you ever feel like all the referrals you get are for really small projects? Or, maybe they are demanding projects but with small budgets? How do you break away from that and upgrade to clients who are serious enough to have a budget that will allow you to spend the time to actually get them results?
In the next few minutes, I'm going to tell you something that's radically different from what all the other web designers are doing. It's also hard, but it's not complicated. But, if you pull this off successfully you'll be able to land far more than enough clients to get your income up over 6-figures. You can even build an entire agency if you want. The secret is Solution First Marketing.
In this series, you're going to discover what this is, why it's so effective, and how to implement the strategy.
Solution LAST Marketing
Most web designers are stuck in the old-school approach of Solution LAST Marketing which goes like this:
* You get a lead (probably a referral from someone).
* You interview the client (usually called a discovery or strategy meeting) to figure out what they want.
* You develop a solution to meet those needs.
With this pattern, the solution is the LAST thing.
Why This Fails Today
This is a legacy system from the days when software development and web development were basically the same things. Today, software development is still software development but web development is marketing. Solving marketing problems is not at all the same as building software.
Lost In The Noise
First, it has become incredibly easy for businesses to get a website. It's been watered down to the point that a completely untrained person can spin up a pretty decent website on their own. Or, if they don't want to do it themselves, there are millions (literally) of people out there who would be happy to do it for cheap. So, if you're marketing web design services then you're just a drop in the ocean. You're just one voice in the noisy crowd all shouting for attention.
How are you going to set yourself apart? Better (lower) pricing? Isn't that making the problem worse? This is how we got into this price race to the bottom.
High Risk, Low Confidence
The business owner clients don't know what they need to get the results they want. All they know is that they want more business. So, if your solution is based on interviewing the client to find out what they want the client isn't going to have much confidence in the solution. In other words, they might say what they want but they really have no idea if it's going to work. In fact, they probably assume it is NOT going to work. Therefore the perceived RISK IS TOO HIGH to invest a lot of money. So, you wind up with scared (therefore highly demanding) clients who are going to work you to death for as cheap as possible.
Value – Can I Get The Same Thing For Less?
What if you've been doing this a long time and you're good at doing these “strategy” sessions and feel confident in your solutions? So, you decide to slap a high-ticket price on it. You don't have to be the cheapest person in town. You can get away with charging more for your experience. The problem is, you really need to be charging a LOT more – like 10X more – than everyone else. In DoubleStack, we work with $10,000 and up clients. That means you'll be charging about $15,000 while everyone else is charging $1,500.
We charge high ticket rates because that's what it takes to get results for our clients. Nobody gets results with just a $1,500 website. You have to have an integrated marketing solution. Part of the solution is a website, but there's a LOT more that goes into it.
But, when the experience of working with you is identical to the experience of working with someone else who is WAY less expensive than you ...
Each time I listen to an episode I think ‘how’d you know that about me??’ Definitely my favorite WP podcast.