Home – New Forums Tech talk Low budget startup website. What experiences have y’all had?

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1033007
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    Up
    0
    ::
    Big Col, post: 39642 wrote:
    The whole principle that I’m working with is that people don’t want to invest time in learning various programs or CMS, they just want the results.
    Hi,
    I don’t think you have clarified what results your potential clients will expect.

    Is the expected “result” publishing a few web pages interred somewhere in the bowels of one of the tens of millions of web servers?

    If they are expecting some sort of online marketing result, they are not going to get it unless you are intending to sell them Google Adwords campaigns.

    This is realy sounding like an exercise in generating cyber junk that is going to have you working for $0.10 per hour and the customer wasting $99 or whatever.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1033008
    Anonymous
    Guest
    • Total posts: 11,464
    Up
    0
    ::

    Sorry Big Col, your post got held up in the moderation queue, and has taken a little while to come online.

    JohnW and PowerOfWords, I’m sorry that you weren’t able to factor Col’s latest update into your comments, but it is here now for you.

    All the best,
    Jayne

    Big Col, post: 46459 wrote:
    Thanks again to all who provided feedback on this one, it is invaluable to have all of your experience at hand even if I do like to learn from my own mistakes.

    This project has taken a bit of a turn. As some suggested, selling templated pre-configured sites I had the following problems:

    Templates not matching up with businesses logos etc, customers needing something slightly different that would require a lot of work and of course the back and forth that made my price point ($100) untenable. I’ve done some cold calling and following that feedback and of course your advice have put together another offering.

    It is along the same lines, using templates (with option of customised) and a standard configuration and it is more targeted this time around. I’m going to release offerings for each of the trades starting with plumbers. One of the main problems that I had with the last one was that the templates weren’t suited to anyone in particular so no-one could just use them “out of the box”.

    The kicker with this one, and something that I really feel hits the market is a guarantee of front page results for Google or a full refund. I’ve given myself 6mths to hit this and am still playing around with the wording of the fine print. Trying to leave it open in terms of what key words/phrases count but still making it a meaningful promise (e.g. the site name won’t count). Any suggestions on this would be welcomed.

    I’m including 6mths of content updates because I’m just not seeing tradies getting that hands on and I really feel that this breaks through one of the initial barriers to purchase being that they no longer have to sit down and write up a heap of content themselves to get online. (Also helps me keep the search results promise).

    The price point will be a bit controversial at $1,490 especially since I’m offering a 50% discount for the first month to get a bit of traction. I feel that it can be profitable at this point and am fine taking a low hourly for the first month as an investment in the business.

    Any thoughts on this new tact will be appreciated.

    #1033009
    altima
    Member
    • Total posts: 131
    Up
    0
    ::

    Just want to add 2 cents regarding cheap templates.

    Beside being not very valuable from branding point of view and unflexible for concrete client needs, such templates may bring you serious problem: quite often they may contain images not clear from IP point of view and one pleasant day you, as a site owner will get a nice letter from Getty Images that kindly asks you to pay couple thousand greenbacks.

    If you did it for client (for $100) that client will surely come to you and ask for repair a loss.

    So, I would think twice before sell or buy cheap template

    Check this thread at Whirlpool to read stories from people who already got into troubles

    #1033010
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    Up
    0
    ::
    Big Col, post: 46459 wrote:
    …something that I really feel hits the market is a guarantee of front page results for Google or a full refund.
    Hi Big Col,
    With every post I get more concerned about the viability of your strategy.

    Front page listing on Google for what? Eg:

    a. The businesses’ name, business name + suburb, business name + Sydney, etc.
    b. Plumbers, plumbing services, plumbers & gas fitters, plumbers Sydney, emergency plumbing services, 24 hour plumbers, etc.
    c. Blocked drains, leaking taps, installing gas ovens, etc,

    For how many search phrases? How long will it take the client to achieve this ranking? Do you refund if they are knocked out of the top 10?

    “Plumbers” is not a particularly competitive search area but you will find there are dramatic changes in the top 10 rankings for certain types of “plumber” keywords, particularly as Google is re-indexing sites every few days now.

    What about other industries like: real estate, anything to do with money or finance, travel, entertainment, phones, etc. I can tell you how to rank # 1 for “real estate Sydney” but you will need a $multi-million budget to achieve it. Is your guarantee going to be locked in stone no matter how competitive the search market is?

    At the other end of the scale you have situations like this…

    This little 5 page website (http://www.statewidesleepers.com.au) will rank top ten on Google for several thousand search phrases. Each month there will be close to 700 different search phrases that generate a couple of thousand SE referrals and 85% of next month’s search phrases will be different to this month’s.

    Search engine ranking is primarily about the visible words used on web pages. If you don’t write or at least massage the content, you cannot control what search phrases are being targeted.

    Unless your strategy is to register a specific domain name and your offer is to rank first page for that domain name search. Now that approach sounds like it could be sailing very close to the deceptive practices mark, but I’m not a lawyer.

    Do you really have a handle on all of this? Are you sure you are not inadvertantly heading in the direction of making or offering misleading or irrelevant claims?

    I’d be taking legal advice from someone with expertise in the online world, before you lose your house.

    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1033011
    Big Col
    Member
    • Total posts: 28
    Up
    0
    ::

    Cheers John for being so active in responding. I probably should have provided more details upfront but you’ve asked some good questions.

    JohnW, post: 46867 wrote:
    Front page listing on Google for what?

    We are agreeing with the customer on ten keywords (or two word phrases) and guaranteeing that a couple of these will be in search terms that are getting them front page results within six months. We have a separate list of target locations so we don’t find ourselves guaranteeing them top ten for “plumber sydney”.

    Eg. Targeting “plumber” results would count for “good plumbers sydney”, “I need a plumber in Manly” and so on. With reference to a later point you have made we have tried to keep it flexible as to what words or phrases appear so long as they will contribute to the business results of the customer due to their relevance.

    I feel this is broad enough to be very realistic but offers customers a much needed assurance that they will get results.

    JohnW, post: 46867 wrote:
    Do you refund if they are knocked out of the top 10?

    In short no. We’ll maintain their site for the initial six months, I considered it sufficient that we get them to a certain level. I’m planning to have a piggy bank for the event of a guarantee but would “release” the money from the piggy bank to my pocket once we had achieved the results. It is too long a period (6mths) to have money on hold for in my current situation and would kill cashflow in any growth situation. No thank you. I’m trying to offer a guarantee that I’ll do my job, I think this achieves it sufficiently.

    JohnW, post: 46867 wrote:
    What about other industries…

    Sticking to the trades. Services being offered specific to a location. Tilers Caulfield or Electricians Gold Coast etc. I’ll leave the big business sector to others. Though you are very right, taking this same approach into that arena could get someone burnt.

    JohnW, post: 46867 wrote:
    Search engine ranking is primarily about the visible words used on web pages. If you don’t write or at least massage the content, you cannot control what search phrases are being targeted….

    Content is king of our offering. We are managing their content for the first six months with a clause in the guarantee that they have to keep their mitts off certain areas of the site so that we can do our thing. New content every few days feeding through twitter and facebook is a bit more than just massaging their content and I’m pretty happy it will do the job.

    JohnW, post: 46867 wrote:
    Unless your strategy is to register a specific domain name and your offer is to rank first page for that domain name search….

    No. Fair question and I’m glad you asked, because the answer is very much no.

    JohnW, post: 46867 wrote:
    Do you really have a handle on all of this? Are you sure you are not inadvertantly heading in the direction of making or offering misleading or irrelevant claims?

    We are still fine tuning the wording on the docs and I might have to make a separate call out to the SEO guys here for a bit of input but I’ve got the intention of making a meaningful promise to deliver search results (and of course over delivering). I think we’ve got it to a point where we putting ourselves on the line enough to give people confidence without “losing the house”.

    Oh and big thanks to Altima for that tip. I’ve gotten a bit lazy with the stock collection from time to time and just checked iStocks terms to confirm we would need an extended license for ones built into the templates. We generally let customers choose their own for the ones displaying on their sites anyway so no probs there.

    Thanks all for the feedback and look forward to any other input.

    #1033012
    kbrookes
    Member
    • Total posts: 265
    Up
    0
    ::

    I’ve only just come across this thread now, but it’s timely as I plan to write on this topic shortly.

    Over the years I’ve come to believe that there is no place for cheap design in our studio. We’ve had many clients over the years ask for discounts and so we negotiate to do less or do it quicker with fewer revisions.

    And it always always always comes back to bite us in the ass.

    Because no matter what a client is paying you, no matter what they’ve agreed to, they expect quality anyway. They expect you to put in 100% effort and expect all the little extras that seem like a few minutes to them but add up to hours of unpaid work for you.

    In their mind they’re paying you therefore they expect to be 100% satisfied.

    There’s just this cognitive dissonance that surrounds paying for something – you expect it to be what you want it to be and nothing less satisfies.

    For us, that translates to it simply not being worth it to do cheap design.

    We lose a few quotes over it, of course. But it’s meant a much higher grade of client and a willingness to invest in their brand in the longterm.

    #1033013
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    Up
    0
    ::
    Big Col, post: 46896 wrote:
    We are agreeing with the customer on ten keywords (or two word phrases)…

    We’ll maintain their site for the initial six months…

    We are managing their content for the first six months…

    New content every few days feeding through twitter and facebook…
    Hi Big Col,
    How many hours do you expect this to take? All this for $100?

    You may also want to check out how competitive things are in Google for “trade” + “suburb name” type search phrases. The Google Mayday upgrade had a major impact on these search results. You will find directory sites like the following have been boosted dramatically in results since then:
    Start Local
    Hot Frog
    True Local
    Little Birdy
    Yellow Pages
    Home Improvement Pages
    Local Yahoo

    If the search phrases coincide with words on Job sites, these are likely to occupy three or four more top 10 listings now.

    If a page from a newspaper also matches the search phrase then you could see those types of sites grabbing some more spots (This was a consequence of Google’s “Universal Search” change.)

    You will also find that there are already many people out there flogging varioius web services to tradies.

    Good luck!

    Regs,
    John W

    #1033014
    Big Col
    Member
    • Total posts: 28
    Up
    0
    ::
    JohnW, post: 46974 wrote:
    Hi Big Col,
    How many hours do you expect this to take? All this for $100?

    Yeah, we’ve got our wires crossed. I should have started a new thread for this one but in my mind it was a fluid progression from the previous template site concept.

    I mentioned in the post on my change of tact that the pricing was moving (slowly) to around the $1500 mark. I’m working at half that for the first ten to iron out any bugs and get a few good results under my belt to justify the higher pricing. I spoke to a lot of people, it may not be many for the real pro marketers but almost two hundred cold calls is A LOT to me.

    The people that I thought would jump at the template offer just simply didn’t know what they would do with it once they had it. The feedback I got was that with a reasonable quality design and some results guaranteed the $1500 would be a no-brainer. Although I’ve put some templates up I’m still reworking them to something that I would truly be happy presenting to a customer so that it really does become a solid offering to that particular area of the market. This isn’t so much an exercise in web design but in a whole offering design, content & seo that I think is of real value and at $1500 I no longer consider myself a budget option. Is it still cheap? Somewhat. But I can still afford to invest a good few hours in each project keeping everyone happy.


    @kbrookes
    – I hear you. Even at $100 for a templated site there were incredible demands being requested. And you are right, it is not the client’s fault for making these demands, it was mine for not providing a quote that accurately reflected the cost of the work that would reasonably be assumed to be done. I don’t do unhappy customers so sacrificed my hourly rather than quality and came to the same conclusion. Not a good use of my time. I imagine you would have seen quite a few of these offers come and go in your time. Cheers for taking your time to point me in the right direction. Even if you had have told me this a couple of months ago I would have gone through the exercise anyway just to see.

    #1033015
    MikeNash
    Member
    • Total posts: 35
    Up
    0
    ::

    Some of the worst prospects/customers I have ever dealt with are the “I want a $20,000 custom design website for $200” crowd.

    The poster who said that you’re heading for hell had it exactly right.

    Lets say even at your revised price of $1500 you sell 10 of these a month. Sounds like a good income, right ?

    If the work involved in getting these a sites to a finished state where the customer is happy comes to 30 hours all up, counting the time that it takes you to work with the customer, their revisions, last minute changes and so on then you need to work 300h per month to service it, or hire someone else to help you, and that’s before you keep your Google promise.

    The Google promise is an extreme risk to your reputation, and to you legally.

    Are you outsourcing that part ? My experience with legitimate SEO tells me that there cannot really be guaranteed front-page placement unless you are fortunate enough to get niche sites with little competition as customers.

    It took me a long time to realise that bad business should be rejected; you do not need to win every deal that comes in and sometimes saying no to business is the smartest thing you can do.

    Mike

    #1033016
    Big Col
    Member
    • Total posts: 28
    Up
    0
    ::

    Mike,

    Cheers for your input. Re the pricing it’s based on reasonably generous “admin/back & forth” estimations but I still see the jobs coming in under 20hrs providing an hourly that’s good enough for the time being. Extra work I”ll charge hourly so that it doesn’t get eroded too much by client demands.

    MikeNash, post: 47146 wrote:
    The Google promise is an extreme risk to your reputation, and to you legally.

    I understand your point and do worry about how to manage the agreements such that there aren’t any misunderstandings. I play with a pretty straight bat so will work my a@@ off to deliver the results I’ve promised or in the worst case fulfill the offer of a refund but yeah, there is always the possibility of a claim beyond that. I feel that it is a risk I can manage through clear communication and clear documentation though am very actively looking for ways to minimise it.

    MikeNash, post: 47146 wrote:
    Are you outsourcing that part ?

    Outsourcing the content writing & generation though doing the rest in house. I’ve set a halfway review point (3mths) in the guarantee period at which stage if the results aren’t coming I’ll step it up and that may involve outside help.

    MikeNash, post: 47146 wrote:
    It took me a long time to realise that bad business should be rejected

    I agree, but that’s almost true by definition, I guess it is just what you consider to be bad business. I’m going into these on my own terms, which I know you don’t agree with however I am happy with them.

    My dream with this is to develop a good system for getting these done and through a balance of price increases and efficiency gains get to a point where we can handle 3-4 a week and deliver great outcomes for clients and ourselves. This is very much a work in progress and I’m sure that in the future I’ll take on some of the advice that I’ve received here that I’m not accepting as gospel currently. Cheers again for your help, I find these dialogs invaluable for clarifying ideas and plans.

Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.