It's fun to look at all questions I've gotten throughout the year and tally up the stats. Here are the top five most-asked questions this year (and the answers).
What Should A “Jack of All Trades” Do?
There are a lot of people, especially in the WordPress community, who feel like they are good at a wide variety of things, but they haven't specialized in anything to the point of mastery. Consequently, they feel stuck charging low prices because they don't feel like they have “expert” skills in any specific area. Sometimes it feels like you have nothing to offer that's worth a high-ticket price.
So one of the most common topics that comes up is…
What's the best way for a “Jack of All Trades” to start landing higher-paying clients?
The Answer: Develop a productized bundle that delivers a business outcome to your client.
Gather together a collection of the skills you have. It doesn't need to be (and should not be) ALL of the skills you have. Just pick three to five high-level services that you can offer. Bundle them into a single package that you charge for on a monthly basis (plus a setup fee). Then, market the package based on the business outcome your clients will experience as a result of your work.
I call this a Solution First Agency and literally guarantee that if you do that, you will at least triple your revenue.
If you'd like to see an example, take a look at Blue Theory, our coaching community, where you discover how to deliver all five pillars of our most popular web design and marketing package.
Why Agencies Heavily Mark Up Your Rates
If you've worked at an agency or you take “overflow work” from agencies, it's easy to look at what they are charging for your work and think it's unfair. If the client just worked directly with you, then they could get everything they are already getting (and more) for about half the price.
At least once a week, I hear someone say, “Agency X is charging so much, and they are barely doing anything!”
How can agencies get away with charging so much for doing so little?
Disclaimer: I know there are some agencies out there that abuse their clients. They take advantage of their client's lack of knowledge about digital marketing and overcharge. Mechanics do the same thing. Shame on all of them.
The Answer: There are two things that are very easy to overlook, especially when you're just starting your own business. These two things account for the discrepancy between what agencies charge their clients and what they pay for your work.
Client Cost Of Acquisition: Most web designers work almost entirely off of free referrals. This is inconsistent and won't scale. Web agencies have a marketing budget so that they can pay for leads. If you're serious about building your own business, don't forget to consider the cost of getting leads.
Salary vs. Profit: A business is not a business if it's not making a profit. There must be a difference between the prices charged and the cost of fulfillment, even if you're doing all the work yourself. That spread is the profit.
The difference between what agencies charge and what it seems like you would charge comes from the cost of acquisition and profit margin.
Why Do I Attract Cheap Clients?
Have you ever said (or thought) something like this?
I've can do great work, but my clients can't afford it. How can I get myself in front of clients that have bigger budgets?
There are usually two parts to this problem. Sometimes you are stuck with “friends and family” referrals, and everybody expects a “good deal.” So, you're just in the flow of low-ticket leads. The fix for this is to change your audience. (More on that later.)
The second (and more common) problem is you're selling stuff you don't want people to buy.
Someone will tell me they are only getting calls from people looking for a website under $1,000 instead of $10,000 marketing packages. So, we'll hop on a coaching call with a site review. We fire up Zoom and start sharing screens, and I'll see either a pricing page or a services page listing options for less than $1,000.
I'll say, “Show me the page that offers the $10,000 marketing page you want people to buy.”
Their face throws a 404 – Page Not Found.
Me: Why wouldn't you put this $10k package on your website if that's what you want people to buy from you?”
Them: Because that will scare people away!
I'm not saying you have to (or even should) put your pricing on your website. I'm just saying stop promoting things you don't want people to buy.
What Do You Think of My Website?
The second most common question I got this year was for my feedback on people's websites. It's hard to generalize an answer for this. I know it's self-promoting, but if you honestly want an in-depth site review where I can take a deep dive and actually create a website that pulls leads for you, hop into Blue Theory even if it's just for a month. We build a landing page together – start to finish.
Normally, the problem starts with the headline. Most of the time, the headline is far too big and broad to hook an audience. For example, it's very common to see a headline like this:
We create high-performance websites that help you build momentum.
Headlines like this don't pull leads.
For your headline to pull leads, it has to answer these three questions:
- Who is this for?
It's too broad to feel like it's talking to anyone specific.
- What is the outcome?
Saying generic things like “build momentum” doesn't inspire anyone. If you want leads, offer something people want.
- Why does it work?
You can't even give something away for free unless the other person understands why.
Here's an example headline that hits all three points:
Done-for-you lead generation for local businesses.
- Who is this for? Local businesses.
- What is the outcome? More leads.
- Why does it work? It's done for you.
What Does It Take To Be Successful?
This was the #1 question this year. I'm going to give it to you exactly how I see it – no pulled punches – the good and the bad.
The Good: Successful entrepreneurs are built, not born.
The pandemic proved this once and for all. Over the last two years, I've worked with people who have never run their own businesses and saw them land five-figure clients. I've seen people turn a little side hustle into a full-time business. It's not at all uncommon for someone to tell me that this year was their first 6-figure year.
The Bad: Few people have the perseverance required for entrepreneurship.
Let me say it even more plainly. Most people can't take the pain.
I've been a part of launching four different startups that each cleared well over $ 1 million in revenue. I owned three of them. I've also coached hundreds of web designers into launching their own successful businesses.
In my experience, it takes these five things to be successful.
Pain tolerance: You have to do stuff you don't like and tolerate circumstances that suck. Some things are super fun. It's not all bad by any means. But, there will be a considerable load of crap to crawl through. I've discovered and developed a lot of hacks to get through the pain, but it's still pain.
Emotional control: You'll experience amazing highs, but there are also deep lows. Great if you're talking about the audio quality of headphones – bad when it's your heart. Again, I've got a library of tactics for dealing with it, but you'll certainly fail if you can't control your emotions. My biggest tip is not to make decisions about anything when you're feeling overwhelmed. Take a walk, sleep on it, split some wood, whatever you need to do. Just don't make any decisions when you're feeling overwhelmed – about anything – not just business stuff.
Focus: Shiny object syndrome will keep you poor. `Nuff said.
Develop Solutions: People don't want websites anymore. The pandemic permanently changed that. If you want to be successful, you have to offer solutions to problems. I'm not talking about renaming services as solutions. I'm talking about offering a solution that creates a measurable business outcome for your client.
Market Results: To attract qualified clients who are willing to pay high-ticket rates, you have to wrap your marketing around the outcome of the solution – not the collection of services.
I've got an entire video with a real-world example demonstrating exactly how to create a solution. I'll see you there.