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Have you ever wondered what happened to people who splashed the internet with luxurious lifestyle pictures claiming to be agency owners through high dollar contracts and multi-million dollar Annual recurring revenues? Well, the truth is that most of them just fade away. Their tactic is to “fake it till you make it” – initially it may be impressive, but it is not stainable.
I came across a client, who did some courses online and wanted to start a WordPress agency. Where the arbitrage they were looking was at price difference from online procurement vs offline sales. The client starts with splashing his IG and FB profile with him starting the agency getting a new Mercedes Benz etc. He did get a few wins and we helped him to get those contracts executed via our network partners. The course he was taking was wrong. He also got into the whole generating leads, but it turned out that leads were not generated but scraped from the internet. Our online consultant and Relationship Manager did sound out to the client that the approach was wrong. The advice was to focus on serious marketing and sales rather than such splash all over the internet.
After running out of money he finally stopped his so-called agency and started working on Instagram Agency, managing the accounts for his clients. He eventually started to give online live courses without Learning Management System. Over a period of time even his IG Management business failed and he was selling IG Account.
The lesson to be learned from this is that clients don’t always fall for gimmicks. Rather focus on a development strategy that will create tangible growth for your agency. By realigning your agency processes, you’ll be able to build on your core objectives to turn your WordPress agency into a business that is both sustainable, profitable, and that drives growth.
In this post we’ll guide you through creating a plan to get your WordPress agency off the ground, so you can create a new revenue stream and set the stage for taking your web design business full-time if you want to.
Who do you want your customers to be?
Most of the freelancer doesn’t actually think this through. They feel it’s “everyone”. Targetting everyone when you are starting out is a mistake. When you pick a niche that you’re interested in and know something about, it’s easier to specialize, get more efficient at your work, and build a portfolio that appeals to the kinds of customers you want to work with.
- You get to decide who you want to work with. It’s one of the best perks of owing your WordPress agnecy. It’s also practical: As a business owner, you want to work with people who can pay rates that keep your lights on, pay on time, and can refer you to other clients like them or come back to you for more design work later on.
- Every business needs a website, but each kind of business has specific needs. For example, an eCommerce site has different design requirements than websites for hair salons, software publishers, CPAs, nonprofits, or real estate agencies.
Assuming you have a portfolio for a specific niche, that specialty might be the place where you need to begin. Beginning without any clients? One methodology is to figure out the sweet spot of businesses that are in profitable niches and that also don’t typically have great websites. According to NerdWallet’s current list of the most profitable SMBs includes auto repair shops, food trucks, and car wash services. Most of them are local businesses and are generally leads from local directory services. These businesses are usually profitable and have the money to invest in better design to outperform their competitors and keep their growth going.
Plan your technology and tools
A lot of blogs tell you that you can set up your WordPress agency with just a computer. This is a fully exaggerated statement. When it comes to WordPress development, most of the development will happen online i.e. not locally on your PC. So you will need to ensure that you are able to get good Hosting for your demo sites or sandbox sites. You can use our Business Hosting plans for the same. But, it is better to get yourself a Cloud Server or Dedicated Server.
In addition to a computer, a good monitor, Hosting, and the usual technology or tools, you may also need:
- A digital drawing tablet and stylus
- A scanner
- A printer
- A Webcam (for your remote meetings)
- A laptop or secondary desktop in case something goes wrong with your primary machine
- An uninterruptible power supply to save you from outage-related data loss
- WordPress (can’t run a WordPress agency without WordPress
- Elementor (Builder), you can use others that are there. Free version of Elementor provides a lot more features than a lot of paid versions.
- Google Calender (schedule client appointments)
- Google Meet (Remote Meeting)
- Accounting Softwares (Any SaaS based accounting will do)
- PayPal & Stripe (to get paid)
Create your WordPress Portfolio
When you pitch to your clients, almost everyone will ask you for your portfolio. So, if you are starting with zero clients, start giving them free services or deeply discounted rates. This will help you to build your portfolio. I know of a WordPress agency that started working on sites as little as 25$ to 50$ per site! Yes! That cheap (for the first 20 clients). Because they wanted to get in the clients and build their portfolio. But, that risk paid off and today they charge over 300$ per landing page.
A good place to start building your portfolio is to design for yourself, your family, friends, etc., It can not always be free, you make money with a commission when you have to host their website. Making money during this stage will need you to be creative.
Constant And Consistent Marketing
The world of WordPress is plagued with freelancers who are bidding, the race to the bottom. The fierce competition, low-cost results in the poor quality website, the missed deadlines, and all the unhappy clients. This is not a curse but an opportunity. Most clients are now looking for agencies rather than freelancers.
This means whether you like it or not your marketing efforts have to be a lot more steeper. You are not only competing with other agencies but freelancers and even for clients who have burnt their fingers.
Marketing efforts like lead generation should begin as soon as you have started with your agency. The right marketing message will need to cut through the chatter – should be able to let your potential clients know as to why they need you vs others and/how their experience with you will be good. Remember most of the clients have burnt their fingers.
Most of the WordPress agencies are living from project to project. This means they will always need a pipeline full of qualified clients at any given point.
This is a lesson we need to learn from traditional ads agencies. How they transformed their revenues to more retainer-based earnings. In simple terms, this is something that can’t be applied directly. Primary recurring revenue will be to manage WordPress services charged monthly. Also, instead of buying media space for clients, tie up with Hosting companies who provide recurring commissions. At first recurring commissions seems smaller than a one-time commission, but over time add a lot of incremental value, and revenue will grow exponentially.
Know more about TDWS Affiliate program.
Monetize your bench strength
All agencies will need to maintain a bench. This is where agencies can get creative with their bench sizes. They can commission in-house projects such as:
- Develop a theme
- Develop a plugin
- Turnkey websites
- WordPress Courses
All businesses have cycles, instead of having your team being idle, it will help the agency to create additional revenues – converting expenses into income.
Documented Systems and Processes
When I have my mentoring sessions with freelancers and small businesses who aim to become an agency. I always tell them one thing, is to create a process as if you were an agency today. Like, have a CRM, Ticketing System, Billing Software etc. in place so that your process can be scaled up as and when you scale up.
Surely, it’s easy for a freelancer to run their business via Excel. But, having processes in place will help them to scale with ease. This will also ensure that all issues in the processes are ironed early on.
When we talk to a lot of our clients, one of the things we have noticed is that they always complain about their freelancer or agency not giving them clear communication. Ambiguity leads to doubts, procrastination, and delay in project delivery.
Let me share an experience with you. Just the other day, I was talking to a client of ours, it seems he had given someone a bulk order for turnkey websites. Now the confusion was on a silly thing like domain name, client was under the impression that the freelancer will be providing the choice of domains and freelancer thought client will. After that, there was confusion on who will register the domain. This led to a delay in the project and we hooked up the client with an agency partner within our network. Now the freelancer lost a bulk client and the client was left with a sour taste about working with freelancers.
Strong Compliance and Administration
A lot of freelancers make it to a great agency. Usually, they crash hard when they don’t fully understand compliances and administration. Not knowing your working capital or projected monthly/weekly cash flows will often lead any business into the ground.
Knowing these critical elements will help them to price their services. When I talk to new agencies one of the things they fail to price into their services is their overheads. Most of the billing is done on per hour basis. For instance, They have a concept of CTC as salary payable, this is wrong; a CTC should include a fraction of all the overheads like rent, travel, sales and marketing expenses, etc. If such things are ignored soon they start eating into the profits and those profits turn into losses. So-called unsexy “paperwork” will ensure that the business will generate constant profits.
Within our group we have total control of such compliances and administration in fact we have our balance sheet and profit & loss statement done weekly. If you are a small agency and can’t do it weekly, always try to do it monthly. Even though we are not a listed company, we run our administration much better than some of the listed companies that are out there.
Grow your agency with Managed WordPress Hosting
When it comes to agencies, most of them will also take a server and start offering hosting services. Hosting as a business on a small scale is not feasible. Keeping the server up, server administration, solving hosting-related issues for the clients, etc. will not justify the cost for the managed hosting that an agency will provide. Sooner or later they will need to get a system administrator instead of a WordPress developer.
So if an agency is losing revenues by moving their clients to managed WordPress hosting providers like us, we always compensate them with recurring commission upto 35%. Giving agencies a win-win, where they can focus on growing their agencies and we focus to ensure that their clients WordPress sites are always up and fast without them losing on the revenues or customer satisfaction.