I pretty much can’t believe it, but it’s been two months since I chose a specialized direction for my web agency.
8 weeks after declaring that I would be working with wedding professionals on SEO services, I think it’s about time to share a progress report.
Be prepared to be dazzled.
Because everyone becomes a MAGICAL SUCCESS after a couple months of focused effort, RIGHT?
Um, not exactly.
This is honesty hour. I don’t make these videos and write these posts to pretend I’ve got it all figured out. I hope to show you that real business is a journey and is in no way magic.
So here is a look inside my business—My serious recap of what I’ve done in the last two months, lessons learned, and what I plan for next steps with my specialized web agency.
Stuff I’ve Done Since Deciding on My Specialty:
Took on Two Free Clients
My idea behind this was to build up my experience, portfolio, and case studies. I want to have relevant industry examples to share with my highly targeted prospects. You can read more about it at Why I’m Doing Free Work.
Got My First Paying Client in My Niche
Hallelujah! Thanks to a referral from someone who had heard about my specialty, I landed my first paying client in the wedding industry. I am so, so thankful to have received this opportunity to serve someone so quickly.
Did The Work and Sold An Ongoing Project
Guys, the work with that first wedding client was so fun. I had a great time working on their wedding SEO Roadmap, which is my actionable, high-value version of an SEO audit.
As Pia explains in this article on Forbes:
“Rather than giving away your knowledge in hope of winning a client, a Lead Product lets you take time to figure out what their real problems are, hash out a plan to solve them, and present it all for a nominal, upfront fee.”
I made revenue for my initial consulting, proved my expertise, and at the end presented options for additional paid work.
I ended up booking a 3-month ongoing project to fix some of the client’s SEO issues. When I saw this email from the client, my heart sang.
Oh wow Sara! SO much good information and I haven’t even watched the videos yet… This is all super helpful and I can’t wait to go through all of this and very likely hire you to help me implement some of this that is beyond my knowledge base.
Big win. This was probably my favorite moment of the last two months.
Bartered for Some Advertising On An Industry Blog
I am realizing that traffic isn’t going to magically appear for my niche, and I need to start getting my name out there.
So the most recent step I’ve taken is to barter some SEO help with an industry blog that serves wedding vendors. I’m going to write a sponsored post that she will promote to her audience.
Hopefully, that brings in some inquiries. At the very least, it’s a good backlink.
Lessons Learned Since Specializing
Lesson 1: You Can Build It. They Won’t Just Come (Sigh).
The very first step I took after deciding on my specialty was to create a niche microsite. This was a super simple website, 100% aimed at my target market.
I wanted a website to point to that was all about my niche. I figured this would be a lot more engaging and do a better job positioning me as an expert than a single landing page on my agency website.
I think having this as a separate website will pay off in the end, but so far… meh.
In the last 30 days, nearly 47% of traffic has been referrals from this blog at sara-dunn.com or from the StudioPress showcase (I used one of their website themes so I could get the site up faster). A good bit of the rest was from me sharing on Twitter.
So… visitors haven’t just shown up.
I was kind of expecting that, but here’s what I wasn’t expecting: I haven’t gotten a single inquiry through this microsite. I guess I thought someone might know someone and send them here? And that person would convert? I don’t know.
If you see a glaring issue that might be preventing conversions, I’m all ears 😉 Otherwise, it’s probably just that the site is still so shallow and I’m so unknown in the space that there isn’t a lot of trust there.
Lesson 2: It’s Hard to Prioritize Niche Marketing
The hardest part so far might be committing the time to this marketing.
As of right now, my generalist web design work is still paying the bills. With projects that need to get done and clients with requests, it’s been tough to set aside time for my moonshot over here.
I’ve still only published one blog post and haven’t done a ton of marketing or outbound sales other than that.
I want to be better about this, so I’ve put together a more concrete content calendar as of last week (with due dates!). I will also be setting some goals around this following the process from a book I just finished (The 12 Week Year).
Hold me accountable, please?
FEAR, FEAR, FEAR.
Choosing a direction and trying to take a big leap in business comes with so much fear.
Every day that goes by without an inquiry, I’m like
- This was a stupid idea
- No one cares
- Maybe no one wants to pay for this
- Maybe this site is actually awful
- Do I sound dumb in this paragraph?
- There is too much noise out there, no one will hear me
I haven’t found a way over this yet.
I’m not giving up, ya’ll. I have committed to focusing on this, and I’m going to do it until the snowball rolls down the hill.
Here are my next steps to keep growing visibility in my niche:
- Apply to guest on podcasts. I love being on podcasts and think I have something different to share with the wedding industry. So I’d like to get on at least 3 podcasts that creative entrepreneurs listen to and share some tips.
- Keep publishing content (bi-weekly). Not just any content. But awesome content. The kind that people will like, learn from, and share. Even if I feel like no one is reading it right now, I know I need to do it.
- Create an opt-in and email list. I’m trying to talk myself down from thinking my “freebie” or giveaway needs to be huge and epic. I plan to create some sort of download in the next couple weeks and put an opt-in form on the website.
Without a doubt, there have been some great highs in the last two months. I’m ready for more and bigger. I’ll keep you updated on what happens next!