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This is the first of several local-related articles. Local search is taking off, and if you’re not in the ballgame early, you’ll miss out on a huge potential for big bucks.

While you may not have a lot of money to spend on the ‘Net, you’ve certainly got plenty of ways to still make some nice money. Since you are alive and breathing, I’m sure that means you know people.

Do you ever go to the dentist? Good. So you know a dentist.

Are your kids in boy/girl scouts? Chances are a few of the other parents are business owners.

Go to church? Business owners galore!

Basically what I’m saying is that every day in our lives we run across people who have a local business. These businesses thrive on customers. New customers, as many of you know, are the hardest to get. They want new customers, but they know nothing about SEO. They don’t see it feasible to pay you thousands of dollars to optimize their site and run a PPC campaign.

But, mister or missus SEO amateur, why not use those mad SEO skills to your advantage?

Check this out.

Two months ago a guy who owns a local pool installation company asked me for a bid on redoing his website so he could get more business. Once I told him the price, he flipped out. That was pretty much the end of that deal, or so I thought. Then, last week I was reading Michael Wolf’s local search interviews when it hit me: I can still get these people’s business AND make probably more money than if they’d just pay me the original quote.

Here’s how:

I went and asked this pool guy how busy he wanted to be this summer. He (of course) said “Oh man I want to be swamped with work”. Sweet. In my most non-cocky-but-confident manner, I told him I believed I could refer a ton of work his way, and he could pay me for each lead I send him. First thing he asked was “What will this cost me?” Nothing up front, I replied. I’ll build a site, I’ll send you the leads, and you pay me for only quality leads.

So at this point, I’m thinking to myself it’d be nice to get $50 bucks per lead I send him. “What do you normally pay for a good referral?” I asked.

“If I close the deal, and it was a referral, I pay the person $200 bucks”.

I about shit my pants. I told him we’d work out a deal this next week and I’ll start sending him leads by the spring. So needless to say, I’ve already purchased a domain name and started building a site.

Now back to my point. You’ve got people. There are people you meet every day that are in need of your SEO expertise. Even if you don’t know a lot about SEO, you know enough to target a local campaign, most likely with little or no competition. You’re crazy not to.

Later on this week, I’ll tell you how I’m going to track and confirm every one of the leads I send to this guy.

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