How to get the best Google PageSpeed Insights scores for your website

This weekend I gave a presentation at the yearly Dutch WordPress conference, WordCamp Netherlands 2016, about…

How to get the best Google PageSpeed Insights scores for your website.

 

You can find the slides of the presentation here.

And the video recording here.

 

The generic PageSpeed Insights tool is:

https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com

And the detailed version (best to use) is:

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights

 

The main things you can do to improve your Google PageSpeed Insights score are:

1. Choose a fast web host
2. Choose a good theme
3. Be careful with plugins
4. Use a good caching plugin
5. Optimize all images
6. Optimize javascript and css
7. Lazy load fonts
8. Enable gzip and browser caching

October 14, 2016
Robert Heessels
General

3 Ways You Can Increase Your Revenue Today

DATE: October 16 – 2016

Read time: ±20 minutes

Introduction

Some of us are struggling. Struggling to make ends meet. It’s hard to get the phone to ring or the door to swing. You’re good at what you do. That’s not the point. But you are so stuck working IN your business that you can not seem to find the time to work ON your business. And on the other hand, some of us are doing fairly well. You can support your family and you make a living. Yet you hardly every ask yourself the question; Can it be better? And if so; how much better?

 

In this article I’ll show you three ways you can increase your revenue starting today. I’ll use freelance WordPress developers and designers as examples, but this stuff applies to all types of businesses. 

1) Increase the number of customers

This is an obvious one, right? More Customers means More Revenue. 

So here’s a list of different  ways to get more customers.

Blogging
Website
Flyer
Facebook Ads
Twitter Ads
Google Ads
Direct Mail 
Affiliate Program

 

Referrals
Recommendations
Speak at local event
Email Marketing
Podcast
Webinar
Cold Calling
Networking

 

Partnerships
Testimonials
Case Studies
SEO
Special Price
Discounts
Seasonal Campaigns
Unique Selling Point

 

Now, by no means is this an exhaustive list, but it just goes to show that there are A LOT of ways to drive more customers to your business. 

 

Some are obvious, like having a website and doing some blogging. And others are perhaps a bit  less obvious, but non the less powerfull, like Direct Mail and Partnerships and Referrals.

 

In fact:

 

Let’s take a closer look at Referrals as an example

 

Now we all know that word of mouth is a very important way of getting new customers. And technically, word of mouth would qualify as passive referrals. It seems as if – for some reason – they just magically happen!

 

But what if you could put procedures in place that actively encourage your customers to provide you with quality referrals?

 

When you deliver the work you’ve done and you have made sure the customer is satisfied and happy – at that moment, – you ask for the referral.

The main point here is that it needs to be something that runs like clockwork. So you should attach it to things you’re already doing.

 

For instance, when you deliver the website or the work you’ve done and you have made sure the customer is satisfied and happy – at that moment, – you ask for the referral. Either in person, on the phone or via email. But you have to ask. 

 

So what if – come Monday morning – you called the customers you’ve finished projects for last week or last month and had a conversation that might go something like this: 

 

How you can ask your customers for referrals
Hi misses Customer! I just wanted you to know I really enjoyed working with you as my client.  Ideally, I would like to serve more customers like you. So I was thinking; you probably know some people that I would like to work with and that might benefit from my work.  Can you think of a couple of people in your network that might find it helpful if I reviewed their current online strategy for them?  See if I can give some pointers? Of course, it’s completely free for them and there’s no obligation whatsoever.  I’d just like to get to know them a bit and let them get to know me. So if I send you an email with this free online strategy review I have for them,  would you be so kind as to forward it as a gift, from you to them?  And maybe put in a good word for me? Thank you so much!  This will really help me grow my business AND  allow me to work with great people like you.

 

If you do this Monday morning – if you call your customers with a story like this – will they forward your email to a few of their friends?

 

And when they do, you should always send a thank you card – via snail mail – to the customer that referred a friend. It has a much higher perceived value than a thank-you email. You can have a bunch of them ready to go. 

 

And when the referral becomes a customer, in that case, include a crisp, 50 euro bill in the thank you card and see what happens. Not some vague promise or ebook or something. Warm-fuzzy cash right in their hands. 

 

Do you think they will remember you? 
Do you think they will try to refer more of their friends to you?

 

If you think that 50 euros is too much, you can always go to a popular restaurant in your town, offer them to create a new website for them in exchange for 40 Dinner-Gift-Cards and include those with each referral that becomes a customer. 

 

Now maybe you prefer to try some Twitter ads first, or blogging or AB-testing stuff on your website. And I get that. That’s fine. 

 

But I’ve included this example of getting referrals on purpose because it’s something we can all do and it’s free – and risk-free – and it’s something you can do this Monday morning. 

 

Now let me ask you: 

 

Do you think you can get more customers using one or more of these techniques?

If you have 3 clients per month or per week, could you get 1 more using these techniques?

2) Increase the Average Sale Amount

Let’s take Mc Donalds as an example. When you order a burger, they’ll always ask you if you want fries with that. Same goes for when you buy a toy in the store that needs batteries. The sales person helping you should always offer you a pack of batteries. 

 

Okay, so what can you think of, that you could do this Monday morning, to increase the average sale amount or transaction amount in your business? 

 

Let’s see:

 

You could raise the price

Suppose you have a regular hourly rate of 75 euros an hour. Additionally, you could offer a drop-everything-this-is-an-emergency hourly rate of 89 euros an hour. 


Upsell Bigger volume

This means you offer more of the same, like a large fries instead of medium. Or a 10 page site instead of a 5 page site.


Upsell Longer period

Good idea when you sell subscriptions


Cross sell something complementary

Such as copywriting and photography when you sell a website. 


Cross sell something unrelated to the order

Such as logo design, business branding or creating a flyer or brochure.

 

The things you offer as an add-on, don’t even have to be your services. They can be services performed by reliable other businesses or freelancers you know and trust. 


You know you’re probably already doing this, right? When you sell hosting or themes or plugins to your customers. Just make sure you get a piece of the action :-)

 

Alright, now let’s take cross-selling and zoom in on that for a moment. 

 

Discounted Hourly Rate

One of the things you could do is offer a discounted hourly rate when they buy pre-paid packs of your time. Like 10 – 20 and 30 hours of your time that you sell as a pre-paid pack and that the customer can use as they go. That would justify giving a discount on the hourly rate. 

How many of your clients would go for this do you think?

How about selling your time as a monthly subscription?

 

Maintenance Plan

Another example of cross-selling is offering a maintenance plan for the website you’ve just created for your client. You know, where you do backups, WordPress updates and Plugin-and-Theme updates, security scans and stuff like that. You can then bundle that with an hour or half an hour of your time – per month – to fix stuff you encounter when you do the updates. 

To prove the value of your work, you can send a monthly report to your customer with what you’ve done, the problems that arose, that you fixed them and how much of the prepaid time is still available. 

 

If they pay for one year in advance, you can give them 1 or 2 months discount. 

 

Now let me ask you this: 

 

If you sell a website for 2000 euros, do you think you could upsell a prepaid pack of 10 hours of your time at 650? Do you think you could upsell a maintenance contract for 50 a month? Could you do both?

 

Alright; Let’s move on to the third and last way to increase revenue:

3) Increase the Sales Frequency  

By this, I mean selling more often to the same customer over time.

 

This is such an easy way to get more revenue and it is soooo overlooked! You know how hard it is to get a new customer. If you’ve done well on a project and that customer is happy, it is maybe 10 times easier to sell to that customer again and again than it is to convince a new customer!

 

So let’s look at some ways we can tap into this great source of additional revenue.

 

Now one way to do it is to just wait until they need something again but that’s not really pro-active, right? How about you offer to help your customer setup


Seasonal campaigns

Like for holidays or Valentines Day? You can contact them early in January to help them get ready for a ValentinesDay- campaign. You know, design an email template for them or facebook visuals and a landing page with some great sales copy. Then contact them in March to help them prep for a summer special. Contact them again in September to help them get ready for the shopping month of December. 


Can you imagine how glad your customers will be if they are offered some sincere help with this stuff? 

 

Maintenance contracts

Are a great way to sell more often to your existing customers. How many of them will go for a maintenance contract if you called them all this Monday? 1 out of 10? 3 out 10? Same goes for the

 

Pre-paid time packs

10-20-30 hours of your time bundled as a prepaid pack make for a great way to sell more often to your existing customers. 

 

Additional products and services

After you’ve done a project, you can always come back later with additional products and services, like doing SEO, Social Media Campaigns, help with Facebook-, Twitter- or Google advertising, etc. You are the expert in the eyes of your customer. 

 

Other peoples products and services

You can even offer other people’s products and services related to yours, such as logo design, copywriting, photography, business identity design. 

 

Loyalty program

You could set up a Loyalty Program – where you give a discount or bonus on next the purchase. Only available to return customers. 

 

Special event

Or organize a Special Event for preferred customers. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just share some of your knowledge with them in a cozy setting. And at the end of your presentation, make them a really interesting and benneficial offer that is only available that evening. Think: Tupperware party.

 

Now in order to pull this off, it’s really important you keep the relationship with your customers alive. 

 

So schedule in your calendar – at regular intervals – that you call all your customers to see if they are still happy and if they need anything or any help or any advice. Personal contact works best. Or a combination of an email every 2 weeks, a letter every quarter and a phone call every 4 or 6 months. 

 

And this communication can not be self-serving. It needs to be all about the client: Whats in it for them. 

 

Okay, now tell me:
 

Do you believe you can sell different things to your existing customers – multiple times a year – using one or more of these techniques? Some things that really benefits them?

One more (really amazing) thing…

Okay, so we’ve seen the three ways you can increase your revenue starting this Monday morning. Now I would like to bring this all together by showing you one really amazing thing. 

 

You’ve probably heard of compound interest, where you put money in the bank and leave it there for a long time. Then you get an annual interest on the money you put in as well as on the interest you received in the previous years.

 

Nowadays you’d be happy if you got any interest at all on your savings, but normally this generates exponential growth instead of linear growth which you would have if you only got interest on the money you put in.

 

Well, let me introduce you to

 

The Magic of Compound Revenue Increase.

 

Which works slightly different, but with a similar result. 

 

So we have the three ways to increase revenue: Increase Customers – Increase Sale Amount – Increase Sales Frequency.  Consider whatever the numbers are at the moment your baseline of 100%:


100% x 100% x 100% = 100%

 

If you increase either one of the these by 30%, you will have increased your revenue by 30% 


130% x 100% x 100% = 130%
100% x 130% x 100% = 130%
100% x 100% x 130% = 130%

 

That makes sense, right? That’s linear growth.

 

But see what happens when you increase all three by 30%

 

130% x 130% x 130% = 220%

 

You will have effectively more than doubled your revenue! My friend; this is exponential growth!  And it’s – totally – within your reach!

 

Now watch this! Let’s take this one step further: 

 

The impact of doubling revenue on your profits. 

 

In the example of a freelance WordPress developer or designer making websites for clients, the profit margin on revenue is what, somewhere between 40 and 60 percent? Let’s say 50% to keep things easy. 

 

You have some fixed costs, such as a phone, and internet connection, and the depreciation or your laptop and maybe some office space you rent. For a total of 30. 

 

And then there are the variable costs, like travel expenses when you visit clients or buying themes and plugins and web hosting for your customers. They make up 20. 

 

The rest is profit or your salary so to speak. 50%

 

Now, when your revenue goes from 100% to 220%, your costs don’t grow by the same numbers. The fixed costs remain the same at 30. I mean, you don’t all of a sudden need 2 offices. Or 2 laptops. Or 2 internet connections. 

 

So only the variable costs go up by 220 percent. They go from 20 to 44. And because of that Your profit will be 146 instead of the 50 you have now. 

 

Recap: 

 

  • If you increase the number of customers by 30%
  • And you increase the average sale amount by 30%
  • And you increase the number of times you sell to each client by 30%
  • You will more than double your revenue
  • And you will tripple your profits

 

Do you get this? 
If you increase each of these area’s by 30% – you will TRIPPLE your salary!

 

Let me wrap this up and get out of your way. 


I am a firm believer in the law of cause-and-effect. And more specifically the law of Sowing and Reaping. 

 

A farmer first needs to sow before there is anything to reap. But come harvest time, he needs to keep part of the crop aside to sow again next year.  Often that’s around 10%. 

 

And the same goes for you. 

 

You need to invest about 10% of your time in growing your business. You need this time to work ON your business.


There is no doubt in my mind that you can significantly increase each of these three revenue streams using multiple tactics we’ve covered in this article . And you have seen the cumulative effect it has on your total revenue. 

 

Exponential growth is within reach. The question is: Will you grab it?

 

Please take a moment to share this article on your favourite social media. Just copy-paste the url and share with your friends ;-)
October 10, 2016
Chris Vermeulen
General

Doing SMALL WordPress projects is a perfectly fine business model to pursue

DATE: July 12 2016

Read time: 4 minutes

 

Introduction

 

When you are new to WordPress, it’s a good thing to become part of the WP community. Great ways to do that are visiting local WP Meetups and WordCamps. And although in general, these meetings are very encouraging and uplifting, there is one area that is ‘less encouraged’. To put it mildly. And that is going after small WordPress projects. Well, let me encourage you with this article.  

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Here’s an example of what I hear at WP Meetups…

The other day a freelance designer told me:

 

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There is a HUGE demand for websites in the 500 to 1500 euro price range

Chris

“Over the years I’ve noticed that any WordPress website project takes me at least 20 hours. Minimum. And my hourly rate is 85 euro, so I never take on projects under 2000 euros.” 

 

Well. that’s great for her. Awesome! Especially if she can endlessly line up these projects back to back. 

 

But I’ve been to lot’s of WordPress Meetups and WordCamps talking to people like you, and I have found that there is a HUGE demand for websites in the 500 to 1500 euro price range. 

 

And in WordPress circles, sometimes people tend to scoff at the idea of going after these smaller projects. “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” But I’m here today to tell you it’s a huge market and it’s really worth while to go after it. 

 

Let’s compare the website business with the home improvement business for a moment. 

 

There are the Do-It-Yourself home improvement stores. Selling homeowners everything they need to do the work on their home themselves. Much like hosting companies providing the tools a business owner needs to create a website. 

 

Then there are the Construction Companies that can do the job for you. They don’t sell the homeowner the tools and materials. They sell the end result. That would be comparable to a web design agency or an advanced freelance web designer that can do the whole website for the customer. But expectations are high. The end result better be perfect. And yes, of course the budget must be much bigger. 

 

But there is also a very interesting business model in between. And that is the model of the Handyman.

 

The handyman is the expert in the eyes of the homeowner. Much like a WordPress freelance designer is the expert in the eyes of the business owner that wants a website. 

 

When a homeowner hires a handyman to do a job, the handyman takes the lead. He or she does the measuring, the planning, and ordering of the materials. The homeowners role? Maybe offer an extra set of hands. 

 

The handyman and the homeowner get the job done together. At a much lower cost than when a construction company would charge for the same job. 

 

So, which of these three is the best way to go? 

 

I say: it depends on the job, the budget and the customers expectations. 

 

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People tend to defend their choices after they’ve made them.

Chris

There is no right or wrong way to go here. All three are multi-billion euro markets.

 

And yet, when you talk to people at WordPress events, they often discard the handyman option. They say it’s a pain in the butt, working so closely with the customer. And that there is no way to do these small projects profitably. 

 

Well I wonder… Could it be that they themselves were unable to crack the code? That they could not make it work? 

 

It’s remarkable that a lot of designers, who start out as freelancers, end up working for an agency. And then – when you talk to them – they tend to defend their choice. Of course.

 

To wrap this up…

 

The Swifty team is on a mission to help these small business owners and freelancers properly present themselves online. Through a website, social media, email, etc.

 

We would love it if you, as a freelance WordPress designer or working at an agency, will join us in this noble cause. Because when we help these people, they will be better able to help others and take care of their families. And that will make the world a better place. 

 

So by all means, go after this huge market. Go do small WP projects. I’m doing a series on this topic so make sure to follow us on <a href="https://www.facebook website here.com/Swifty.Online”>Facebook and Twitter

July 12, 2016
Chris Vermeulen
General, Small WP Projects, WordPress, Business, Freelance

Double your revenue. Quadruple your profits.

DATE: July 6 2016

Read time: 4 minutes

Introduction

 

At WordCamp Europe 2016 I had the honor to deliver a talk on one of the three stages. It was about: “How to do SMALL WordPress Projects profitably”. And when I came home I decided to make a blog post series out of this. Because I believe with all my heart, that when an agency, or especially freelance WordPress designers, read and do these tips, they will prosper.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the first problem EVERY freelancer has. And fix that.

Double your revenue. Quadruple your profits.

There are 2 major problems almost ALL freelancers face, regardless of their occupation

Improve 1 by 30% and you will have a 30% increase. Improve all 3 by 30% and you will have more than doubled your revenue.

And those are:

 

1) what happens before they to the thing they are really good at
2) what happens after they do the thing they are really good at

 

Let’s take a freelance WordPress developer or designer as an example. He or she is really good at creating beautiful and powerful websites for clients.

 

But after the job is done, they struggle with invoicing, getting the money, filing the taxes and doing the accounting in general.

 

In another blog post, I share some insights on how to solve this issue. But for this article I’d like to focus on solving the first one:
 

Are you having trouble filling your pipeline with new projects?

 

Lining them up nicely for when you are finished working on your current project?

 

A lot of freelancers struggle to get new business coming in. 

 

That is why many freelance WP developers and designers end up working at an agency. That agency has other people on the team to cover those areas before and after they do what they are good at.

 

Instead of presenting a lot of hyped up internet marketing tactics, I would like to help you with some basic, underlying marketing principles that are easy to understand and easy to implement. Today.

 

It comes down to this:

 

There are three, and only three ways to increase your revenue stream:

 

1) more customers
2) higher sale price per customer
3) sell multiple times to the same customer

 

I’m sure you’re smart enough to think of all kinds of variations. But they all can be categorized in one of these three categories. 

 

Now let’s have a closer look at each of these and dissect how you as a WordPRess professional can increase your revenue by implementing these strategies. 

 

More customers will increase your revenue

 

But how. Right? How do you get more customers? Here are a few suggestions: 

 

  • Focus on helping other freelancers that are just starting out. As well as small businesses that have a limited budget. Most agencies don’t go after this demographic because they can not deliver websites for smaller budgets. 
     
  • Make sure you are easily found in Google Local Search. Seriously. Google it. 
     
  • Make sure your own website is awesome and responsive and has a clear call to action on every page that can be acted upon on a mobile device. 
     
  • Offer to wrap the one-time fee for setting up the website into a 12 or 24-month payment plan that includes backups and updates. So instead of charging 750 for the setup and 29 for the maintenance, charge 99 per month for the package. 
     
  • Go to local coffee meetups and see if there are people that might need your help. 
     
  • Offer to do a talk on web design at multiple entrepreneur meetings in your area. Position yourself as an expert. 
     
  • Ask. Ask each of your customers for a referral. Ask them every 3 months if they know someone in their network that might need a site. 
     
  • Share some of your knowledge on Facebook. In short snippets of insight that your customers and their friends can do on their sites themselves (or call you to do it for them). 
     
  • Create case studies on your website of succesful projects. 
     
  • Don’t be discouraged. It’s a numbers game. Approach a lot of prospects. Don’t sell them. Help them. Physically walk through their door. Introduce yourself, leave a flyer and business card and be on your way. Position yourself as a helper and the go-to person. Be the guy or girl who knows a guy who knows a guy. Need help with your computer network? I know a guy. Need some professional pictures taken for your newspaper ads? I know a guy. Need a copywriter? I know a guy. You get it right? Make sure they tape your business card at the bottom of their keyboard and don’t dump it in the trash bin. 
     
  • Team up with one or more design agencies that do not have a web designer on staff but do want to offer web design as part of their package. 
     
  • Do a website for a very noticeable local non-profit for free in exchange for free publicity. 

 

If you now have 6 customers per month, do you think your can find 2 more using these ideas? If you have 10, could you find 3 more if you really tried?

 

A higher sale price per customer will increase your revenue. 

 

Obvious. Right? So why not just do it?

 

You have to realize the budget for your target audience – small entrepreneurs and freelancers – is limited. But you also have to realize that is flexible. 

 

On average any small business spends about 3% of their annual revenue on marketing. So a freelancer doing 50.000 a year still has a total marketing budget of 1500 euro. And a shop owner that does 500.000 a year has a budget of 15.000 euros. 

 

So even tho the budget for the website might be limited to 500 or 1000 euro, their total marketing budget is not. And that is good to know. 

 

So here are some pointers on how you can ethically increase the average sale amount for each of your customers. 

 

  • Take on the initial job for the agreed upon price. Then try to expand the scope of the project. Maybe do more pages for the site. Or offer to migrate email or setup email. Offer to create an email template. Offer to setup and integrate MailChimp for them. Create a set of html5 ads fro them. You get the picture, right?
     
  • See if you can upsell external services. For instance, ask if the customer does the copywriting or if you should hire a copywriter (and take a cut). Ask if the customer provides images or if you should use stock photo’s (with a markup) or hire a photographer (take a cut). Maybe they want to have a logo (re)designed. 
     
  • See if you can upsell tools such as a theme and or plugins. Get them at the developer license price and sell them for the normal price. 
     
  • See if you can upsell subscriptions such as hosting. Get the hosting at a discount (reseller or affiliate) and charge the customer the normal price. This is obviously besides the time you charge for setting things up.

 

Maybe you can think of a few additions that are very helpful for the customer and that can come out of the remainder of their annual marketing budget. 

 

So, if you really had to, could you increase the sale amount from 600 to 800 by adding valuable and fitting extras? If you had a sale for 1000, could you make it 1300 by adding Mailchimp, hosting, photography?

 

Selling multiple times to the same customer will increase your revenue. 

 

Getting a new customer is way, way harder than selling to an existing customer that already knows you. And selling multiple times to your existing customers is not only a sure way to increase your annual revenue. It’s also a great way to get some stable, recurring revenue coming in. 

 

So let’s see how you can sell multiple times to the same customer. 

 

  • By far the easiest way is to sell a monthly subscription plan. Offer three plans: 1 has hosting, backups and updates included for, let’s say 39,- a month. The second, costing 59,- a month has the same as 1 but includes you being available for questions. The third may cost something like 89,- a month and includes pack 1 plus on average 1 hour of work on the site per month. Beware, most clients will pick the middle option. 
     
  • Contact your customers months before a seasonal event, such as the summer (set up a summer sale for them), Christmas (help them set up advertising and such), and way, way more. Your customer needs help in these areas. Position yourself as the go-to person. Remind them in advance that it’s coming and that they can jump on the bandwagon. Af they decline (as well as when they say yes) ask them if they know of anyone else that might need help. Offer these 3 packs at these prices for monthly payments. And offer them at a discount when paid for a year in advance. 
     
  • Regularly offer other people’s services to your clients and take a cut. 
     
  • Keep the relationship with your customers alive by contacting them regularly. Ask them for referrals. Ask them for testimonials. Ask them if they’re working on new business ideas they might need help with. 
     
  • If upselling extra services or products did not work at the time of the project, maybe it will be good timing later. So ask again after a few months. 

 

How many of your customers might take you up on your subscription offer? Imagine upselling your 39 euro subscription with a 600 euro site. That’s an extra 468,- revenue!

Could you – on average – sell one subscription for every 2 sites you create? What would happen if you had a phone call with every one of your clients every 3 months? How much work would flow from that?

 

The magic of additional multiplication

 

Okay, I made that up. Additional multiplication. But what I mean by it is this: 

 

If you increase either the number of customers with 30% or the average sale amount per customer with 30% or the number of times you sell to the same customer with 30%, you will have increased your revenue by 30%. 

 

HOWEVER

 

If you increase the number of customers with 30% and the average sale amount per customer with 30% and the number of times you sell to the same customer with 30%, you will have increased your revenue by 120%

 

Here is the simple math: 

 

1.0 x 1.0 x 1.3 = 1.3
1.3 x 1.3 x 1.3 = 2.2 a 120% increase in revenue!

 

How awesome is that?!

 

If I asked you if you would believe it’s possible to more than double your revenue, you might not have believed me. But an increase of 30% in each of these areas? Sure, that’s possible!

 

Raise one of these by 30% and your revenue has increased by 30%.
Raise al three by 30% and your revenue has more than doubled.

 

Now one final thought and I’ll be out of your way

 

Imagine the impact a doubling of the revenue will have on your profits.

 

Doubling revenue might equal quadrupling your profits!

Chris

In your profession, you make a lot of expenses, such as the depreciation of the laptop you work on. The mobile phone plan you are on. The internet connection you have at home and the car you drive. 

 

There are also costs for visiting nice cities to attend WordCamps, such as Sofia, Sevilla, Vienna and next year Paris. (You are going to these events and charging all costs of the trip as business expenses, right?)

 

But doubling your revenue does not necessarily mean you need 2 laptops, 2 phones and 2 internet connections at home. So…

 

Doubling revenue might equal quadrupling your profits!

 

Just for a moment imagine what life would be like…

Now go out and get it. You can totally do this.

July 6, 2016
Chris Vermeulen
General, Small WP Projects, WordPress, Business, Freelance, Marketing, Profit

How to do SMALL WordPress projects profitably.

DATE: July 1 2016

Read time: 10 minutes

Introduction

 

At WordCamp Europe 2016 in Vienna, the annual WordPress conference, I had the privilege to speak on one of the three stages. The subject of my talk was: “How to do SMALL WordPress projects profitably.” Here is the video and the the transcript of this talk. I believe it can be very helpful for WordPress freelancers and small agencies. 

 

Let me start with a story…

 

Please PLEASE hire a professional designer

Chris & Robert

Just two months ago, a friend asked me and my business partner Robert if he could come over to our office and discuss some ideas he had about switching from being an employee to being a self-employed freelance consultant. 

 

His name is Norbert. And he’s a really smart guy. He has been improving and tweaking production processes for big companies and factories. And though it was a well-paying job, he felt he could do better being self-employed. So others could hire him. 

 

Like I said. Smart guy :-)

 

So he came over and we talked for a few hours about his plans. He was very well prepared. He even created a logo and a mockup of a website in PowerPoint. And at the end of the day, the main takeaway tip we had for him was: 

 

“Please PLEASE hire a professional designer to create a logo, a business identity and a website for you.”
 

We even introduced him to another friend of ours who is a freelance designer.

 

So Norbert took our advice and got in touch with Bjorn – a brilliant freelance designer that does everything from Business Identity design to photography and web design. Of course, he uses WordPress. 

 

Now imagine for a moment being in Norbert’s shoes. He has a wife and 2 children. 2 cars and a mortgage and NOW he decides to give up his secure job and step into the unknown as a freelance consultant. Not knowing if and when he will be hired and start making money. 

 

AND now he is asked to take 2500 euro’s from his life savings – his security buffer – to invest in a logo, letterhead, business cards and a website. 

 

Can you imagine how that conversation went with his wife?

 

Anyway, Bjorn split the budget into 1500 for the logo, letterhead, and business card stuff. Including the printing costs by the way. And 1000 for the website. 

 

And that brings us nicely to the topic of my post: 

 

How can Bjorn do this small WordPress project for Norbert for 1000 euro and STILL make a PROFIT?!?

 

Well, I could talk all day about how you CAN do small WordPress projects profitably, but let me give you a few quick pointers and then I’ll be out of your way. 

The biggest problem ALL freelancers have regardless of their occupation: What happens before and after they do their thing.

 

Having a pipeline of new projects lined up to start working on and after the job is done, getting the money, doing the invoicing, taxes and accounting. 

 

Well, this could be a talk all on its own, but let me give you this piece of advice: HIRE someone who is good at accounting and have him or her do ALL of that stuff for you. It’ll probably take that person 1 or 2 hours a week tops but it will take you at least double AND it will take you out of your flow. 

 

And if you are just starting out, you could offer a satisfaction guarantee. Don’t be afraid to offer this. It will reduce the risk on the customer side and it will increase trust. And when a customer is not satisfied, you can then still decide to abandon the project and take your losses or make an attempt to make the customer happy. 

 

Be clear about the process

 

Be very clear to your prospects and explain on your own website exactly the way you work. Explain that there needs to be a certain way to do this project together. Manage the customers expectations. Position yourself as the expert. The project lead. 

 

Build in 1 or 2 review rounds where the customer can tell you what changes must be made. Then have the customer confirm that if you make these changes the customer will be satisfied. If you communicate this clearly up front, you avoid endless rounds of feedback and changes. 

 

Be clear on your pricing

You can make 3 offers, 3 packages the customer can choose from. With three different price points. Like does the customer write the copy for the site or do you introduce a copywriter you work with? Does the customer provide images or do you use stockphotos? Do you send over a photographer you work closely with?

 

Be extremely clear on what is included in your packages and what extra work will cost. 

 

Maybe you could have 3 different hourly rates: 
One for regular work that you can schedule in at your own discretion
One for drop-everything-and-do-this-now-this-is-an-emergency work
And you could offer a pre-paid block of 10 hours at a discount

 

Embrace the 80-20 rule

 

You know: get 80% of the result in 20% of the time?

 

I know, this is probably the hardest to do if you are a creative person. But you need to understand that when you might consider a mediocre design is still amazing in the eyes of your customer! Remember: you are the expert in the eyes of the amateur, your customer. 

 

Many designers fall into the trap to not be satisfied and wanting to keep making it juuuuuust a little better. That’s a sure way to spend way too many hours on a project. Focus on the end goal and be realistic about what end result can be expected for this budget. 

 

Embrace the  80-20 rule

 

Find tools that allow you to work FAST

 

One major problem is that the customer has seen some website that may have cost 10-15.000 euro and wants you to build a similar site for only 1.000 euros. For you to pull that off, you need to find themes and plugins that allow you to create a beautiful website fast. 

 

Save time on the setup

 

Without taking a cookie cutter approach, you need to find a base set of tools that you need that you can install with only a few clicks. If you want to do small WordPress projects, you need to look at it as an assembly line or as a process that you repeat over and over again, but every time with a unique outcome. But none the less the process is the same and can be optimized. 

 

Save time during the delivery of the site

 

When you hand over the site to the customer, you not only hand over the end result, you also hand over the tools you have created the site with. WordPress, the admin area, the theme, and the plugins. 
A lot of time can go into explaining the WP-admin area and the plugins. So look for tools that your customer will understand. And make a non-admin user account for your customer that limits what your customer can do in the admin. It also limits the things the customer can break. 

 

Upsell a maintenance plan

Sell either a prepaid pack of 10 hours at a discount that the customer can use to let you do extra work on the site. Offer 3 different maintenance plans at three price levels. For instance 

 

29,- a month for backups and updates. 
49,- a month for backups, updates and being available for questions and 
89,- per month for backups, updates and on average 1-hour work on the site. 

 

Offer all 3 at a monthly plan and all three at a discount when paid in advance for 1 year. 

 

This gives you more continuity in your cash flow, allows you to plan maintenance for multiple customers more efficiently and it allows you to maintain the relationship with the customer over a longer period of time which allows you to upsell even more services. Be them your own or the services of other freelancers you work with where you can take a cut. 

 

Let me wrap this up with a few closing remarks.

 

SwiftySite helps you with a lot of the stuff we talked about in this post.

SwiftySite is a free plugin, available in the WordPress.org repository, that can help you, as a freelance WordPress designer or developer, to create beautiful and unique websites for your clients fast, easy and profitably

 

Setup is fast. 

Designing and filling a site is fast and easy. 

And handing over the site to the customer is fast, because you can completely hide the WP admin for the client. 

 

You can read all about SwiftySite here  :-)

 

Oh! One more thing!

 

Wanna see how the 1000 euro website that Bjorn created for Norbert using SwiftySite turned out? Check this out: https://www.movaere.nl

 

July 1, 2016
Chris Vermeulen
General, Small WP Projects, Stories, WordPress, Freelance, Talks, WCEU, WordCamp

The day Google showed the world who’s boss

Here’s how you can survive Mobilegeddon. Today, April 21st 2015, Google released an update of it’s algorithm that will make webpages that don’t look good on a mobile device disappear from the search results More Help. More accurately, when someone searches on a smartphone, Google will rank web pages that look good on a phone higher than websites that do not look good on a phone. So sites that are now in the top ten, might slip to page 8 or 10. Game over. No more visitors. Rest assured, searches on tablets, laptops and desktop computers are not affected by this change. It’s only about searches on smartphones. But those make up about half of all searches these days. Which explains why Google is doing this. It’s a good thing. Sometimes progress needs a violent push in the right direction. The end user will benefit. So what can you do? You can either make a separate, mobile optimized website or make the existing site responsive. We prefer to make existing sites responsive, because that way the page rank is consolidated on one website instead of spread thin over two separate sites. In order for your website to be responsive, it needs to be ‘smart’ in a way. It has to know what the screen size is, if it is held in portrait or landscape and it must show content in different ways on different screens. So your site needs a Content Management System to power it. Like WordPress. All SwiftySites are responsive out of the box. They look good on all devices, load fast and are Google friendly. We are very close to releasing SwiftySite to the public. It’s a matter of weeks. Not months. And although your site might seem to totally disappear for mobile Google searches, once you’ve copy-pasted your site in SwiftySite, it’ll up right back up in Google. So take a moment to enter your name and email address below, so that we can notify you of the release. Help is on the way.  
April 21, 2015
Chris Vermeulen
General, News, Stuff Google Likes, Swifty, google, mobile, Mobilegeddon, swifty
2 Comments

Do you know your own cellphone number?

You probably do, but I hear it all the time when I ask people their number. You know they have to look it up in their phone?! I guess it’s because they hardly ever call themselves, at least, that’s the reasoning I often hear. Makes sense. But isn’t it like that with your website as well? Have you visited your own website lately? I mean, as a customer. A visitor. And really looked at it from the perspective of a user. I’m afraid most of us don’t do that often enough. And when we do, it’s like we’re blind to what’s wrong with it, because we created it ourselves. Or at least we’ve seen it so often that, well, you just don’t see it anymore. Feel that way too? Maybe a fresh set of eyes can shed new light on your website. Maybe even come up with some suggestions or improvements. Well, as long as we’re here anyway, why not have a go at it? Just put a link to your website in the comments below or as a comment on facebook and I and some of the other readers will have a serious look at your website and give honest feedback. And then, you can return the favor. Sounds like a plan? I’ll go first: http://www.www.swifty.online Don’t hold back now! Just tell me what you really think and then put a link of your website in and I’ll return the favor. Chris
February 11, 2015
Chris Vermeulen
General, Website Improvement, improvement, website
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Gathering customer feedback on Swifty Content Creator this January 13th.

January 13th is a big day for us. On that day we will present the Swifty Content Creator to a select group of end users for the very first time.  Of course they can test drive it themselves. We are looking forward to their feedback. It’s like Bono said on the Web Summit: “When we as a rock band have been working on a new album for over a year, we’re always a bit nervous when we make it available to the public. Will they love it?” Well, although we’re not a world famous rock band, we do feel like that when we show our work to the first few end users. Anyhow, we’ll keep you in the loop.
January 7, 2015
Chris Vermeulen
General, alpha, content, creator, swifty
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My New Year’s Resolutions

It’s funny to see how new year’s resolutions change over time. In my thirties I used to set ambitious business goals. This year, I will celebrate my 42nd birthday and now I’m thinking more along the lines of spending more quality time with my family, work on my health and long term future finances. How about you? The mere fact of thinking about your goals for this year and writing them down primes your subconscious to go to work for you during the rest of the year. Just try it. Write down your goals and put them in a drawer or folder on your computer and forget about them. Then, at the end of 2015, look it up and see what happened. At least some of your goals will be reached in one way or another. It’s just the way it works. Results improve dramatically when you review your list every month or so. In 2015 I want to do these things:
  • read (and listen to) at least 20 books in order to add 1 book to my list of (now 4) life changing books
  • make small changes to my daily routine to improve overall health and well being
  • make a roadtrip through all of Italy with my family this summer
  • educate myself on the subject of investing (as opposed to building a business)
And of course, Robert and me, together with our incredible team, will work hard to bring you the best solutions and coaching to build your online presence and make it work, staring with the release of SwiftySite as soon as possible! My wish for you at the beginning of this year is that, with our help, you will be able to crack the code and make the internet work for you and your business.   Chris

BAM! There it is! 2015!

What will this year bring for you and us? Challenges for sure. But many beautiful moments too. We’re gonna work our buts off to create more and more simple to use tools for you to shape your online presence with. We really appreciate your support, endorsements, business and general interest in what we do. We hope to exceed your expectations this year. We wish you an awesome new year! Chris & Robert and the rest of the Swifty team.   photo credit: RichK – theracephotographer.com via photopin cc
January 1, 2015
Chris Vermeulen
General, 2015, new, year
3 Comments