Hi! I’m Andy McIlwain, the Senior Community Manager for GoDaddy Pro.
What follows is a compilation of advice, pulled from what we’re seeing and hearing from small businesses, and those who help them succeed online.
When I started freelancing, I had a very narrow focus. I built websites. That was it. But most of my clients came to me looking for something else. They were looking for more customers, or more sales, or more donations, or more engagement.
They thought that just building a new website would solve all their problems. And because I, along with many others, only sold websites, that’s all we would do. We’d build a new website, say thank you, and move on to our next project.
Chances are our clients wouldn’t see the results they wanted. So they go to someone else. And once again, they’d say, hey, we need a new website, because that will solve all of our problems.
And so the cycle would continue.
An effective online presence is more than just a website.
It’s an entire experience. It covers how your clients show up online, how they get found, how they communicate, and even how they get their work done behind the scenes.
Our opportunity, as their go-to web experts, is to help our clients understand and own their entire online experience.
If you’re already building sites for clients, I hope that this session will give you some inspiration on new opportunities worth exploring.
And if you’re thinking about doing this as a side hustle, well, I hope it shows you that businesses need us for a lot more than just building them a website.
Let’s get started:
- Content creation
- "Back office" setup
- Marketplace integrations
- Virtualizing your client's services
- Email marketing
- Social media management
- Digital marketing campaigns
- Ongoing retainers
- Reports and recommendations
Waiting on clients to get us their content is a massive bottleneck. And if we do get the content on time, it might not work for what we need. So this is a chance for us to step in and provide a service by creating the content for our clients.
Marketing copy is the low-hanging fruit here. It’s where everything starts, regardless of the type of site that you’re building. This includes product descriptions and specs for online stores, by the way. If you don’t fancy yourself a writer, contract out the work.
Keep it easy for your client, and protect your relationship, by having contractors invoice you. Then you invoice your client. You can set your price by adding the cost of your time on top of whatever the contractor charges.
Content isn’t limited to the written word. It also includes images. So that’s our next opportunity: sourcing images for our clients.
At one end, this could be a service where you choose images from a stock provider like Adobe Stock, Getty Images or Stocksy. Then you charge for the cost of the images and for the time you spent on curating those images.
At the other end is original photography. If you don’t fancy yourself a photographer and have no interest in becoming one, I suggest you pair up with local photographers.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world, but because of the video production overhead and learning curve, it’s also less saturated by your client’s competitors.
For example, let’s say that you have a hardware store as a client and you’re building an ecommerce site for them. You could create product demo videos, upload the videos to YouTube, then embed them on the product pages.
As with writing and photography, if you don’t feel comfortable doing the video production yourself, not a problem. Hire someone local to work with you as the video producer. They invoice you, you invoice your client, everyone wins.
“Back office” setup
Your client may need help figuring out the “back office” responsibilities and end-to-end experience.
What happens after a customer places an order? Where does that information go? How does the order get fulfilled? How does it sync up with what they’re already using?
You can help with all that.
Platform setup & configuration
Let’s start with the platform setup and configuration. It’s not that different from building an online store. Sure, your client could learn how to set up their own ecommerce site.
But is it worth their time to do that, versus hiring you? Probably not.
These are all things you can help with, even if you’re just setting it up for them, following instructions and troubleshooting as you go.
Rolling a custom solution
But what if your client has needs that aren’t met by some out-of-the-box platform? This is where you get to be a creative problem solver and build a custom solution.
And no, I’m not suggesting that you go and build custom software.
You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with forms and spreadsheets. Excel Forms, Google Forms, Wufoo, Jotform, Formstack, and Airtable are all incredibly powerful tools if used properly. That’s where you come in.
Tip: Some platforms have partnership programs that offer things like priority support, exclusive discounts and other perks. For example, there are Solutions Partner Programs for both Square and HubSpot.
Speaking of integrations, let’s talk about marketplaces for a moment. These are the platforms that your client’s customers turn to when they’re looking to make a purchase.
Google My Business
Google is the biggest marketplace by a long shot, and that makes Google My Business a priority. A strong listing on Google can make or break a local business.
All the details matter here: the company profile, the photos, the contact information, customer reviews.
Optimizing for local search is a service in itself. That’s an opportunity for you to own.
Restaurants & local delivery/pickup
Apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats can help your restaurant clients get found. You have an opportunity here to help your clients get up and running with those services.
But these services also take a big cut of the order. So you can help your clients even more by figuring out how to offer order and pickup (or delivery!) through their site, bypassing the need for a 3rd party app.
This all ties back to what I was saying about creating custom solutions: you’re tapping into your web expertise to give your clients an edge.
Products & online shopping
Amazon is the elephant in the room here, and it’s a good fit if your client wants to expand their reach to a broader market.
You can help your client navigate the setup process to sell on Amazon. To do this securely, they can add you as a user to their Amazon Seller account.
Amazon isn’t the only option, though. Google recently enabled free product listings on Google Shopping (US only). This means your clients don’t have to pay to list their products.
As with Amazon, your client can grant you secure access by adding you as a user to their Google Merchant Center account.
Major ecommerce platforms, like WooCommerce and our own Online Store builder, have integrations with Amazon and Google Shopping, along with other marketplaces like Etsy (for handmade goods) and eBay (for auctions). This makes it easy for your clients to keep their ecommerce site in sync with what customers find on those sites.
Virtualizing your client's services
So far we’ve looked at how you can help your clients take their existing products and services online. But what if they could offer something completely new, something designed for the web?
I think services are a great fit for this, and you, as the web expert, can help make it happen. Your client brings their knowledge while you handle the tech.
Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live are all popular for streaming a wide range of content. For example, my wife follows a personal trainer who’s taken to Instagram Live to host daily at-home group training sessions.
Do you have any clients who could do something like that? Your client could also sell access to these sessions through their site, where customers receive an invitation to, say, a Zoom call, that only paid participants can join.
Private 1:1 sessions
Sticking with the Zoom theme, what about private 1:1 sessions? Barbers and salons have started selling “virtual haircuts” over Facetime and Zoom. Do you have clients who could sell their time and expertise this way?
Your job is to figure out the best way for them to connect, to make it as easy as possible, including what tech to use.
For example, let’s say you have a client with a WooCommerce site. Using the WooCommerce Zapier extension, you could automatically create a new Zoom meeting for every booked appointment. Then your client sends the Zoom invitation in a personal email.
It can be really hard to find a time that works for everyone. So why not make services available on demand? We talked about this a little bit in a previous webinar.
Help your client package their knowledge and expertise into evergreen content that people pay for.
The upside of email marketing is that you’re reaching an audience that’s already opted in. So there’s already some level of qualification there. They might have subscribed to receive a newsletter; or they may be existing customers.
Your opportunity here is to set your clients up with an email marketing platform, like GoDaddy Email Marketing, if they don’t already have one. This usually goes hand-in-hand with a CRM, and some CRMs include email marketing as a feature.
With the platform in place, you can work with your client to figure out what kind of emails you want to send.
I like to think of emails in three broad categories: one-off, recurring, and triggered.
One-off emails are often tied to a unique event. For example, a lot of the Covid-19 emails we’ve received over the past few months were one-offs. Your client might send these for special announcements or major sales.
Recurring emails are sent at the same time every day, week, month, etc. They should only go to recipients who have opted in to receive them. Newsletters, weekly deals, seasonal promotions are all common examples of recurring emails.
Triggered emails, also known as autoresponders, are sent when a certain criteria is met. For example, if you have a client with an ecommerce store, you could send a triggered email to customers who put products in their cart but don’t check out.
Drip campaigns, sometimes called a nurture series, are a set of emails sent one after another. They rely on the same autoresponder tech as a triggered email.
Email courses are one example of a drip campaign. Someone signs up for the course, then they’re sent a series of emails, one after another, stretching out over multiple days or weeks. These campaigns are great because they can help your client to build a rapport with customers.
So let’s say you have a landscaping client. They create an email course called Five Days to a Better Lawn. Each email includes a helpful, practical tip for lawn care, along with a link to an unlisted YouTube video that shows how to apply the tip. The call to action nestled in all of these emails and videos is “let us do it for you”.
Could you create something like that for your clients?
Transactional emails, also known as system emails, are the emails your client sends in the course of doing business. Think invoices, receipts, booking confirmations, stuff like that.
Most platforms will have generic styling for those emails. WooCommerce has a default template for receipts, for example. Chances are those templates won’t be consistent with your client’s branding. So you can go in and update those templates, customize them, with styling and messaging that fits their business.
Social media management
I know I’m stating the obvious when I say that the only useful social media presence is an active social media presence.
Unless your client is comfortable with living and breathing social media, chances are it’s a daunting task and low on their priority list. So you, as their go-to web expert, can step up to help them keep their accounts buzzing with activity.
Let’s start with the Facebook page. I think a Facebook page is really important for a local business. Consider all of the community groups on Facebook where folks ask for recommendations about local businesses.
Now imagine tagging a local business in a group thread and that local business jumping into the conversation. These little interactions add up, and for a local business serving local customers, that helps them stand out from the big brands and chain stores.
So where do you come in? You can help them by setting up their page and connecting it to their site. You could also help them develop a content plan and posting on their behalf.
It’s a similar situation with Instagram. It’s another way for potential customers to discover and share independent businesses.
Strong visuals matter the most here, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to video and photography. Text-heavy images work if they’re well-designed, and Instagram captions are like micro blog posts.
If you don’t consider yourself a designer, you could contract out that work -- or you could use an app like Adobe Spark, Canva or Over to create the images yourself.
Pinterest is interesting. I think of Pinterest as a digital scrapbook. It has social features, sure, but it’s more of a search engine for inspiration and instructions.
I’ve also heard that clickthrough rates from Pinterest pins to web pages are surprisingly good, and a solid chunk of the Pinterest audience is in shopping mode. So if you can connect the dots between Pinterest and your client’s online store, you may have a solid channel of organic traffic that converts.
Digital marketing campaigns
Digital marketing campaigns, in my opinion, work best when they’re treated like a premium add-on to work you’re already doing.
To put it another way: you don’t throw a housewarming party when everything is still packed away in boxes. You get the place looking nice first, then you invite people over.
So take your client’s website, for example. The essentials should already be covered. All the information a customer needs, straight through to the follow-up emails after requesting a quote or making a purchase.
Then you go and start thinking about paid campaigns, about landing pages, and sales funnels, and ads and placements. If you don’t have you’re getting ahead of yourself. And you’ll probably waste money because of it.
Every campaign has an objective, an audience and a budget. The objective could be raising awareness, driving traffic, or making a sale. The audience could be broad or narrow, depending on who you’re trying to reach. The budget is how much you have to spend.
Your opportunity is to help your clients figure all of this out, then set up and manage the campaigns on their behalf. Your pricing could be based on time spent, a flat fee, a percentage of the campaign budget, or some mix.
Facebook and Instagram ads
Get your clients up and running with a Facebook page and/or Instagram business profile first. Then go through the Facebook Blueprint course before you start selling Facebook ad services to your clients. It’ll give you a good lay of the land and you’ll get a nice little certification coming out of it.
Even better, try running ads for your own business, even with a small budget, so you have some practical experience under your belt.
As with Facebook, Google has a large collection of courses and certifications that you can go through to get a solid understanding of their products. You’ll find these on the Google Skillshop site.
I consider Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google My Business as prerequisites - your client should have those set up before jumping into Google ads, as all these services connect with each other.
I’m gonna be really brief here because integrated cross-channel campaigns might be more than you need for your clients. These are typically managed through third party platforms that pull multiple channels together (Facebook, Google and others).
If you’ve ever wondered why you’ll see the same ads follow you from an online store to Facebook to YouTube to email and beyond, this is why. Your opportunity, if you choose to take it, is to help your client work with these platforms.
If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s a recurring theme to all of these opportunities. They shift you from being someone who builds websites for clients to someone who helps their clients build an online presence.
There’s a lot to it, and I’m definitely not suggesting that you do all of it. Some opportunities will resonate more with you than others.
Whatever you choose to do, I want you to think about how you keep it going. These opportunities make you more than a contractor. They make you a valuable long-term partner.
This kind of arrangement is so much better for you and your clients.
It’s better for you, because you’ll have a more predictable income stream. It’s better for your clients because they know they have you to rely on. You’re a member of the team who isn’t on payroll.
Website care plans
You might already be doing this with a website care plan. If you’re not familiar with care plans, they’re basically retainers for monthly support. Your client pays you a set rate per month while you handle tasks like site updates, backups and monitoring. They’re good as a sort of baseline coverage, and it’s a popular project add-on for many of our GoDaddy Pro members.
Here’s a slightly different take on it: Growth plans. This shifts the conversation from “I’ll protect your site” to “we’ll grow your business”. It’s insurance versus investment. So what you can do is take these new services you want to provide, package them up at different price points, and sell them like products.
For example, you might have a Content Marketing plan that includes blogging and newsletters; a Social Media plan that includes social media setup & management; or a Performance Marketing plan that includes campaign creation and management. It’s completely up to you.
Reports & recommendations
Alright, so this brings us to the end of our session. But before we wrap, I’d like to call out one last thing: client communications.
It doesn’t matter how much great work you’re doing if your clients don’t know about it.
So, if you’re not already sending your clients a monthly report, start doing that immediately. Why? Because it shows your value. It shows that you’re paying attention. It shows them that you’re doing real work.
From this report you can go on to make recommendations. And it’s in those recommendations where you can start to call out opportunities for improvement, where your new services can drop in to help your clients grow their business.
Tip: White-labeled client reports are included in the GoDaddy Pro dashboard. So if you’re using that to monitor and manage your clients sites, you have something to start with.
An effective online presence is more than just a website
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this session, covering different opportunities for new services that can help your clients adapt:
- Creating content for their website
- Helping them choose and configure new tech platforms
- Setting them up with online marketplaces
- Virtualizing their services
- Staying in touch with their customers through email marketing
- Managing their social media profiles
- Running digital marketing campaigns
- Keeping things going with retainers/subscriptions
If nothing else, I hope it’s got you thinking about new ways to expand your business.
Editor's note: Are you building websites for clients? Join GoDaddy Pro to manage all your clients, their websites and GoDaddy products from a central dashboard.
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