One of the hardest things for me to do is to keep things simple when I'm working to make money online. Considering all of the website building tools, social networks, and other great stuff out there, it can be hard to keep from overcomplicating building your online business.
That being said… experience keeps teaching me that the best businesses are always the simple ones that you can stick with.
In this case study, I want to show you how I was once again taught this lesson.
BUT FIRST A WARNING:
If you are even a little bit tech savvy, what I'm about to walk you through is going to seem unbelievable because of how simple it is. I'd love to tell you that there was some secret sauce to it all, but there isn't. It's all about 3 pages and doing the same thing over and over again. I'm going to walk you through how those 3 simple pages turned into a highly profitable source of recurring revenue for me. And yes, I did almost mess this all up by trying to make it more complicated (because yes… I am stubborn). Luckily, I caught myself before I ruined it.
What We're Going to Cover in this Case Study:
- Part 1: Why I started Selling Websites (and why I almost stopped)
- Part 2: The Unique conditions that are making selling “Website” a Goldmine
- Part 3: The 3 Page Template that Makes us Between $99-$299/month
- Part 4: How we got to 10k per month with this Model.
- Part 5: How you can Build Your Own “Website Subscription Business” starting next week.
- Part 6: Where did we get our First 100 Clients?
Part 1: Why I started selling websites (and the big thing that I screwed up that almost made me stop)
I actually sold my first website back in 2011.
I was working as a full-time Chiropractor at the time and loved my job. I had built my practice up quickly using a combination of online marketing techniques that I had learned at night when I wasn't seeing patients. A lot of business owners in my city had seen the kind of stuff that I was doing and they started to ask me for help with their online marketing strategies as well.
As good as my Chiropractic office was doing at the time, I wasn't the kind of person that would turn down a good paying gig if I thought I could pull it off. One of the businesses that sought me out was a lawfirm. They offered me a website overhaul job and we quickly agreed to the terms. I had my first official “website client”.
They ended up paying me $600 a month to build, maintain, and optimize the site to play nicely with Google.
At first, this seemed like a match made in heaven. I hired a photographer to take professional photos of the lawyers and their staff and then went to work building everything. When it was all said and done, I felt like I had built them something that everyone could be proud of.
At first, everything was working out great. My contact at their office was extremely happy with the site and the work I was continuing to do.
When the $600/month client turned into a nightmare.
First things first, I should say that this wasn't anyone's fault at the law firm. What was about to happen was 100% my fault.
Within 3 months of taking on this job, I was ready to run for the hills and hand over the website that I had built and not take any more payments.
So what happened?
Right around 3 months into the job, my contact at the lawyer's office asked me to come sit down with all of the lawyers and walk them through how the site worked and how we could do certain things moving forward. I gladly agreed but when I got into the meeting, things went downhill fast.
It was me sitting at a table with 8 lawyers, and all of them had different opinions on what the website should be doing. I was completely open to all of the opinions (some were great ideas that I hadn't thought of). The problem laid in the fact that they started arguing with each other about what the website should be doing for their business.
I left the meeting with no clear direction on how to proceed because I had been given conflicting instructions. From there, things went downhill fast. I started making changes based on the meeting and it made some people in the firm mad. In short, I got stuck in the middle of a power struggle.
Nothing I was doing was making everyone happy. It seemed like all the progress that we were making with the site was always making at least one person mad.
My “$600/month dream client” was starting to look a lot like a nightmare.
Why I Ended up Firing that First Client after 4 Months.
When it was all said and done, the $600/month payment wasn't worth all the headache that I was going through with the firm. But the most important thing that I realized is that the way I had set up my service and client relationship was fatally flawed. I had established a business relationship that had forced my “website business” to be completely unscalable. I was giving them too much of my time.
I ended up telling the client that they didn't need to pay me anymore and I moved on.
At most, I could have taken on 3 clients with that model (and I would have been miserable).
That experience almost made me walk away from a business that would be booming just a few years down the road.
Why I Didn't Give up on the Website Business Model (even though I wanted to)
First off… I kept going because I'm a stubborn person.
Secondly… I blamed myself for the first project going wrong. I honestly believed that it was my fault that it hadn't gone the right way. I also had a strong sense that I could figure out a way to do it the right way the next time (if I worked on it hard enough).
For the next few years, I started looking for ways that I could set a client up with a really great looking website without having to put in a ton of my time (but it appear like I had spent weeks building it). I knew that there had to be a happy medium where the client would be blown away by what I had built for them and, at the same time, I wouldn't have to put in so much work.
After a few years and a ton of trial and error, I started to refine how I was building these sites, and what I was charging for them. I won't bore you with every detail along the way, but it ended up coming down to a few simple things.
- I needed to create a simple site that accomplished a few core things for the client.
- I needed to stick to just a few business types (I stick to dental and chiropractic)
- I needed to set it up so that a client only had to pay $100-300/month. (this just seems to be the sweet spot)
Once I nailed those 3 things, everything started to get really interesting because of a few key things that were going on in the business world.
Part 2: The unique conditions that are making selling “websites” a goldmine in 2018.
As I said above, I spent 5 or so years developing a system of building websites and selling them. This was between 2011 and 2016.
In 2017, something happened that I didn't predict, but that was a huge boom to the website market that I was already doing pretty good in.
In the last 3 years, demand for business websites has grown because of 5 things.
- Big companies have set the “Website Cost Line”.
One of the very interesting things that happened over the last few years is that big “digital services” companies have been aggressive in going after small businesses for web services. These companies have signed up a lot of clients and they have conditioned small business owners to a certain “cost line”. Almost all of these plans cost at least $100/month for the lowest level of service (and much more for higher). This has effectively preconditioned a mass audience of small business owners that having a website (and other web services) is a monthly cost that they should have a budget for. When we surveyed a segment of small business owners in our local market, around 70% were paying at least $100 per month to a national digital services company.
- Big, National Website companies are selling a lot of low-quality sites.
When we really started looking at the quality of the websites that the big national companies were creating and selling, it was apparent that it wouldn't take much to beat the quality of their work. This presents a huge opportunity for anyone who can build a site that looks professional. It presents an even bigger opportunity if that site can be built quickly.
- The competition got a lot smaller.
Even though the quality has gone down with the rise of the big website building companies, they have done a great job of running the competition out of business. From our research, the smaller, boutique web companies moved on to other things because it didn't make any economic sense to keep building websites using their current business model (large projects for a large upfront cost). While the larger cost website projects still exist, the technology available made these kinds of jobs a lot harder to come by. In turn, people who were focused on building high-cost websites largely moved on to other types of work.
- Websites continue to be a “price of doing business” asset.
Even with all of the moves to Facebook and other digital marketing trends, the vast majority of business owners still recognize the need for websites as a home for their business online. Even with better tools for building them, many business owners would rather pay someone to build and maintain their site for them, than to do it themselves.
- Business owners are experiencing “Second Wave” syndrome.
Many business owners who had their website built professionally 5-10 years ago are now recognizing the need to modernize their web presence to keep up with their competitors and their customers. This factor has created an extremely large group of business owners who are looking to have their 2nd or 3rd website built (This typically hits every 5-7 years in mass).
All of the above factors have created a market full of business owners, who have a monthly budget to spend on digital marketing and their website. These people are looking for something that makes them stand out from the crowd. They want all of these things for a price that won't go above $300 a month.
Luckily for my team and I, we had been developing a way to deliver high-quality websites, in a way that allowed us to take on a lot of clients at once, for a small monthly fee.
In the next section, I'll walk you through the 3 Page templates that we use for every business that we work with.
Part 3: The 3 Page Template that we use to make money online ($100-299 per month for each client)
WARNING: Odds are that you skipped over everything above and just came to read this part (I see you!). That's totally cool, but I want to remind you that what I'm about to show you might not make sense unless you know how I got to this “3 page model”. If what I show you below doesn't make sense, you can read above and I promise it will help put this all into perspective.
So here's a confession:
From everything that you've read so far, you may think that I'm selling websites. I'm not actually. I'm selling “lead and conversion funnels”. These are basically the equivalent of a long form sales letter that you'd pay a copywriter thousands of dollars to write. My “3 page templates” are essentially sales letters made up to look like a simple website.
The 3 page template that I'm about to walk you through is full of “traps” that are designed to get a business' website visitors to turn into actual customers. This is very important when I get into showing a small business why what I do for them is much more than just making their website look prettier.
With that said, let's dig into the actual 3 page template.
The 3 Page Template that makes our Clients a lot of money
As you can see from the image above, there are 3 core pages that we refer to as the “Bait”, the “Bond”, and the “Closer”.
Each of these pages serves a very specific function. I typically charge a small business a $500-1200 setup fee and $100 per month to set up and run our basic package. That package only include the “Bond” page and the “Closer' page (this will make more sense in just a few minutes). Our advanced package is $1200-2000 to setup and it cost between $200-300 per month. It includes all 3 page types.
Let's cover each page type and I'll explain how they work:
“The Bond Page Template”
The Bond Template or Page is designed to look like the home page of a website. As you can see in the image below, however, we have it setup in a way that makes it easy for any casual browser on the website to instantly feel like they know the people that make the business work. This goes a very long way in getting people to pick up the phone.
On this page, we also include an optin form with a download that is a good fit for the niche. This is something that would take months to create for each individual client. Because we work in just 1-2 niches (chiropractic and dental), we are able to use the same proven optin funnel and download for all of our clients in that niche.
This page (along with the other 2) takes us about a day to customize for our clients. The best part is that our clients don't really mind that its a template. We customize everything to fit their color scheme and logo and the end results gives them something that works great for their business, at a fraction of the cost that other people would charge.
“The Closer Page Template”
The Closer page has one simple function. It is designed to give someone, who is almost ready to become a customer, the last pieces of information they need to start spending money with our client. This page works because it is designed to answer any last minute objections that a potential customer might have.
This page took a lot of time to create for our first few clients, but now we have the full template down and each client only has have us make a few tweaks to the already proven page template.
“The Bait Page Template”
This page isn't included in the main $100 per month package. This page is effectively a blog. We are able to write amazing content for our client's blog's because we are able to take the same content and rebrand it for whoever the client is (this is only possible because we only work in 2 industries (Chiropractic and Dental). Our clients that are in more competitive markets sign up for this more advanced package if they need something to help them stand out and brand them as “the expert” in their market.
The 3 page templates previewed above are the core of our business and help our clients look great and convert more customers, without having to pay a large sum to have the site built.
Part 4: How we got to 10k Per month with this model
If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to focus on delivering one thing and delivering it at a high level. That was the key for us.
I'm not going to give you every single up and down as we built this business, but I will show you what I focused on. It was broken down into 3 simple stages.
Stage 1: Getting to 10 Website Clients paying $100/month
I've had website clients for years. When I really started to focus on this model I didn't want to count any of the businesses that we already paying us monthly. My first goal was to get to 10 clients. The map I had laid out for myself is illustrated below.
Note: In the image below you can see that I am making around $70 per month after my cost. When I charge $99.95/month, I come out with about a $70 profit. This is hosting fees and email autoresponder software.
Stage 2: Get to 30 Clients Paying $100/month
In this stage, I'm just focusing on doing more of the same. My cost stays the same. You can see what that means in terms of income in the image below. Keep in mind that there is only about a day's worth of maintence work, even when we get to this many clients.
Stage 3: Get to 100 Clients and pitch all clients the “Advanced Package”.
My goal at this stage of the game was simple. Make money online by stacking clients at the basic $100/month mark until I hit 100. Once I hit 100, I stopped prospecting for new clients and simply went back and pitched the upgrade to the advanced package. This is the package that included the “monthly blog writing”.
The core $70/month profit came out to $7k in recurring revenue. The time cost to maintain this with our system was minimal (2-3 days a month if I did it by myself). The rest of the profit came from the upgraded packages and the $100-200 a month that they were bringing in each.
Did all 100 buy the advanced package?
Heck no! But it was more than enough to hit my goal of 10k a month.
Part 5: How you can Build Your Own “Website Subscription Business” and make money online.
I didn't get a chance to go through every nook and cranny in this case study post. I hope that I gave you enough to understand what I'm doing. If you'd like to learn more, I teach a webinar every Thursday that walks you through exactly how all of this works.
If you'd like to be a part of that training webinar, you can click here or on the image below.
Part 6: Where did we Get Our First 100 Clients?
Confession. I totally threw this last section in just because I had some people asking for it. I should have included it in the original post, but it slipped my mind.
So… how in the heck did we get the first 100 clients for this service?
This isn't exact, but it gets pretty close to the breakdown of how it all worked.
10-15% of the first 100
The first 10-15 Clients came from us showing up cold to local businesses. I approached them using a technique we invented call “the Donut Drop”. If you've never heard me talk about it before, you can find a general walkthrough buried in my “90 Day Hustle” Post.
Around 35% of the first 100
We got around 35 clients through us doing Chiropractic and Dental trade shows. And yes… if you're imagining me sitting at a booth all day talking to people and sneaking mixed drinks in between sessions, you are correct in your visualization. This may seem a little old school, but it works.
Around 20% of the first 100
We nailed about 20 down during this time period through referrals. These folks came in because one of our clients told them about us.
Around 30% of the first 100
We nailed around 30 clients using web-based lead generation funnels and via Facebook (just people seeing what I was doing and reaching out).
Want to Learn More?
I hope you enjoyed this case study! It's something that I've been wanting to write for a while now, but haven't had the motivation to just sit down and write. I got a free day and thought that it would be a good time to knock it out.
Want us to work with your small business and help with your marketing?
You can contact my agency, ContentDFY and we can chat.
Want to Learn more about how you can do everything in this case study and build your own Digital Services Agency?
I do a training call every Thursday at 2PM EST. Click Here to Grab a Seat for it.
Got Questions or Comments?
Type them Below!