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Thread: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

  1. #1
    Travis Van Slooten's Avatar
    Travis Van Slooten is offline Local Search Pro++
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    If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    I'm good friends with Steve, a guy who runs a great website that provides small business tips, strategies, expert video interviews, etc. You can check it out here:
    Home Page | Great Business Content

    One of the primary things he does is interview small business owners throughout the country. He recently did a "video tour" down south where he interviewed something like 20 business owners. These are truly small business owners - think mom and pop shops. One question he asked them all was if they were making a profit. Surprisingly, almost half said that at the end of they day - if they factored in their time - they were breaking even at best and most were losing money! Sadly, Steve said this is common for small business owners. Most work around the clock and at the end of the day really aren't making the kind of money they should be making.

    This topic came up because Steve and I were talking about my business and the struggles I've had to get my business off the ground. I was telling him how I was barely breaking even. He then shared his findings with me to let me know I wasn't alone - so now I'm sharing it with you to let you know you're not alone if your local SEO business is struggling.

    Of course the key is to retool your business so that you can make a profit and prosper. His challenge to me was to sit down and put my goals, dreams, etc. on paper and come up with a plan for 2013 to achieve them. I'm in the process of doing that right now I hope to have a totally revamped game plan for 2013 so that I can profit and prosper with the best of them!

    Travis Van Slooten
    Linda Buquet and mborgelt like this.
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

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  3. #2
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    Awesome post Travis and so generous of you to share something so personal. But I bet there are at least 50 others in the same boat that are regulars here.

    One of the VERY tough parts of this business is that to do it right is extremely time consuming, especially if you hit lots of bugs and unexpected problems. So it can really be a challenge doing the balancing act between time, profit, client expectations.

    I have a post coming to the Consultant's Corner next week that may provide some ideas and inspiration for those of you trying to reach the next level of success in your Local Search business.

    Thanks again for sharing and wonder what other members have to say on this topic?
    Marie Ysais likes this.
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  4. #3
    Travis Van Slooten's Avatar
    Travis Van Slooten is offline Local Search Pro++
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    I look forward to your post, Linda. I'll just say for me personally, I've had many challenges but the main ones have been...

    1. Lack of a clearly defined USP
    2. Pricing - I price my services way too low but I struggle to land those deals when I try to price my services higher
    3. Prospecting/Selling - I don't have any systems in place to prospect.

    I'd be interested to hear what the primary challenges are for other local SEO consultants.

    Travis Van Slooten
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

  5. #4
    MiriamEllis's Avatar
    MiriamEllis is offline Top Contributor + Local Site Design & Copywriting
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    Good thread, Travis,

    My own biggest problem, money-wise, has always been volume of clients. Often, we just don't have enough of them at the same time, so that paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle has been ours pretty much since day 1 (despite the fact that Top SEOs continues to erroneously list us as making millions a year as a top Local SEO firm - LOL).
    '
    The recession has affected us. We did very, very well in 2008, but everything began falling off in 2009, while at the same time, the cost of living has risen and risen. Rents, food, gas and clothing are at outrageous highs in California right now. Interestingly, I've just finished reading The Rich and The Rest of Us by Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, and this featured countless tales that match those dates, even including one from a web designer who lost his home after his client base dried up in 2009.

    Things seem to be picking up a bit for us at the end of this year, thank goodness. We've been able to afford bird seed for our outdoor feeders again which, for our family, is a mark of being more comfortable financially. But there have been many times when we and the birds have been living on pretty slim pickings.

    Hang in there, Travis. You are clearly a really talented guy. I think you will have success in 2013!
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

  6. #5
    Travis Van Slooten's Avatar
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    Thanks for sharing...and thanks for your vote of confidence

    I didn't get into local SEO until the summer of 2011 so I don't know life in this industry before then so I have nothing to compare it to. I have wondered from time-to-time if the economy the past few years has played a role because when I talk to business owners none of them have money to spend it seems.

    Travis Van Slooten


    Quote Originally Posted by MiriamEllis View Post
    Good thread, Travis,

    My own biggest problem, money-wise, has always been volume of clients. Often, we just don't have enough of them at the same time, so that paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle has been ours pretty much since day 1 (despite the fact that Top SEOs continues to erroneously list us as making millions a year as a top Local SEO firm - LOL).
    '
    The recession has affected us. We did very, very well in 2008, but everything began falling off in 2009, while at the same time, the cost of living has risen and risen. Rents, food, gas and clothing are at outrageous highs in California right now. Interestingly, I've just finished reading The Rich and The Rest of Us by Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, and this featured countless tales that match those dates, even including one from a web designer who lost his home after his client base dried up in 2009.

    Things seem to be picking up a bit for us at the end of this year, thank goodness. We've been able to afford bird seed for our outdoor feeders again which, for our family, is a mark of being more comfortable financially. But there have been many times when we and the birds have been living on pretty slim pickings.

    Hang in there, Travis. You are clearly a really talented guy. I think you will have success in 2013!
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

  7. #6
    MiriamEllis's Avatar
    MiriamEllis is offline Top Contributor + Local Site Design & Copywriting
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    Travis, you're just taking your first steps on what I'm sure is a bright path ahead. I'm sure you've accomplished a ton as a 2011 start-up.

    We've been in operation since 2003 and there have been ups and downs, but I am grateful every day for the opportunity the Internet has afforded us to make a living (even a very modest one) by helping business owners. We had built up a pretty good business by 2008, but definitely started to see a toll taken because of the recession. Let's hope we see some real uptick in economic stability for everyone in 2013.

    Interestingly, I've talked to many high level pros who have suggested that we should charge more. Obviously, you can thrive with less clients if your fees are high enough, but working largely with quite small local businesses and having countless proposals refused because they were 'too expensive' even at our rather low rates, I have not been aggressive about raising rates. My take is that the market can't bear it, but at the same time, I know that some Local SEOs do charge much more than we do. Maybe it all depends on the client base.
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

  8. #7
    Travis Van Slooten's Avatar
    Travis Van Slooten is offline Local Search Pro++
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    9 years in the business? That's awesome! I hope I can celebrate 9 years in the business someday

    Ya, the whole pricing issue is a tough one. I go around in circles about it. I try to price my services as low as I can and still make some money but like you, people tell me I'm giving the farm away and need to charge more. Of course as a start up, you hate to see any business go so you have the tendency to give stuff away just to keep the business. At least that has been my mentality.

    That is one of the big things I'll be working out over the next few weeks and that is coming up with a pricing model that I'm confident with. I'm also going to commit to turning business down in 2013. I'm willing to give business owners a "great deal" but my breaking even days are over...lol. If a business can't afford what I'm offering, then they'll have to find someone else to work with.

    Travis Van Slooten

    Quote Originally Posted by MiriamEllis View Post
    We've been in operation since 2003...Interestingly, I've talked to many high level pros who have suggested that we should charge more.
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

  9. #8
    Marie Ysais's Avatar
    Marie Ysais is offline Top Contributor - Local Search Pro
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    Travis, Have you checked the prices of your competitors and checked to see what type of services they are offering compared to yours?
    Do you get caught up with any unforeseen problems? Is it the clients perhaps that just don't have the marketing budget for the SEO services?
    I have found that the entire mind set for SEO is changing and clients now more than ever have decided they need SEO.

  10. #9
    Travis Van Slooten's Avatar
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    I did when I set my prices a while back but haven't lately. I'll be doing that during this retooling process for sure.

    As for client budgets, I've just been running into a lot of businesses who just don't have a lot of money to spare for their Internet Marketing activities. Which gets back to my prospecting challenge. I need to develop systems where I can prospect the "right" type of clients for what I offer and what I want to charge.

    Travis Van Slooten

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Ysais View Post
    Travis, Have you checked the prices of your competitors and checked to see what type of services they are offering compared to yours?
    Do you get caught up with any unforeseen problems? Is it the clients perhaps that just don't have the marketing budget for the SEO services?
    I have found that the entire mind set for SEO is changing and clients now more than ever have decided they need SEO.
    TVS Internet Marketing: Helping Small Businesses Increase Their Visibility & Sales Online.

  11. #10
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: If You Aren't Making Money as a Local SEO Consultant You Aren't Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Van Slooten View Post
    As for client budgets, I've just been running into a lot of businesses who just don't have a lot of money to spare for their Internet Marketing activities. Which gets back to my prospecting challenge. I need to develop systems where I can prospect the "right" type of clients for what I offer and what I want to charge.
    My Suggestion: Pick a niche and build your rep.
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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon". ;-)

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