So you read my post on how to get your first seo client, and now you're out bustin' down small business doors and teaching classes to seal a deal. You get a few solid leads, but when you follow up, they all tell you the same thing: We don't have that kind of money.
Well, you've got a few choices...
Cheapen yourself and practically beg them for the work.
Not a great idea. You're screwing yourself out of income that, if you're good at what you do, just isn't fair (to you). You've worked hard to learn SEO, you read tons of blogs and maybe even run your own.
On top of that, you're also presenting yourself in a negative way to the business owner. Trust me, business owners can spot a desperate and cheap-working soul from miles away. If they see that, sure they may end up hiring you, but they'll be quite demanding and not fun to get along with.
Blow them off and move on to the next customer.
While this sucks if you're in the position of needing the money/client, it may be the best move if you can tell that the business owner is just a cheap bastard.
Also, you should realize here that some of these business owners just don't have the time or money to invest right away. But they may still keep you in the back of their mind, so don't be rude. Let them down easy and you may reap the benefits months down the road.
Offer to work for trade
This only works if
- the client has something you need
- the client is willing to do it
The markup on some items is crazy. You need a new widget? It's $800 with the extra widget handle, but only cost the client $500. So they may be willing to trade $800 worth of work for the widget you want. You both win.
There are a few advantages to this. First, you get something you need, and you aren't really losing anything. Second, you can probably avoid claiming it as income.
The client likes it because he just got $800 worth of work from you for a cost of only $500 to him. Small business owners love that. Second, they'll probably write off the mattress set and save a little bit more.
The only disadvantage: no cash in your pocket.
Offer to do the work on an hourly rate, at a definite amount of work/hours per week.
Here's where you can get some serious long-term money from them. Most small businesses don't have a few thousand dollars to shell out for a site rebuild. Since that's the first step towards better rankings for them, its also the most costly one-time expense. So offer to break it up, redesign their site at their rate.
Let me create a scenario to explain:
I teach a class on basic SEO and am approached by Mr. Smith, who owns XYZ Widgets in town. They are a small business, making maybe $25,000 in sales in a month. After expenses, their actual profit per month may only be $7,000. Out of that, they may be able to allocate $1,000 towards marketing.
Mr. Smith inquires about some SEO work, so you take his card and tell him you'll contact him after you check out his website. Once home, you check out the site, and it's horrible. Geocities. Flashing icons and even a scrolling marquee. Lots of wasted real estate. Lucky you.
So now that you've decided the website is pretty much useless, you work up a quote for basically a total site redesign. There's some good content there, but it's terribly misplaced. For the site, you quote Mr. Smith $2,000 up front, with an ongoing SEO fee of $1000/month.
When Mr. Smith gets your quote, he freaks out. He second-thinks his entire website, considering actually dumping the entire thing. It's not making him any money, and he's put a lot of time into it.
The next day you call him up to talk about the quote. He's probably calmed down a bit, but still isn't going to throw 2k your way. Let him vent, then come in as the savior.
"Listen, Mr. Smith, the Internets are teeming with people searching for widgets. Your widgets come in blue, and only three other companies online are even selling blue widgets. You can easily corner the market, and then use that to springboard you into the more lucrative world of green widgets."
Of course, don't say that, but you get the idea. Tell the client that they aren't making the money because you aren't working for them. Make it a win-win situation. Then deliver the coup-de-gras.
"Mr. Smith, because I'm confident that I can help you, and I understand that you don't have a few thousand to dump at once, how about you setting a limit of hours per week, and I work on your site with your budget in mind. You'll know what you're going to pay, and I can get as much work done as possible each week. Your site won't start pulling in traffic right away, but any changes towards better rankings will pay off."
There's the key. The client may not pay you $2,000 at once, but they may just pay you $300 or $500 a week to get their site in line. If you don't mind doing an hourly gig (hey, it beats $0), then you'll end up making more in the long run. As long as you can produce results, the company will continue to pay you.
And if you're good at marketing, you'll have trackable increases in blue widget sales within no time.
And if you're really good at marketing, you'll find ways to turn that relationship into even more money. So take those SEO skills you're learning and put them to use.