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Challenge Report #2: Getting My First Client and Important Lessons

Just 2 months ago, I decided to test everything I’ve been preaching on this blog for the past two years by starting a public challenge.

The idea behind the challenge was to start a brand new blog, with a new identity and without using my connections or anything I’ve gained in the past 2 years. I would then turn it into a blog that resulted in freelance clients that yielded at least 4 figures in monthly freelancing income as a direct result of that blog – all in 3 months.

I started the challenge for a few reasons:

  • It’ll motivate readers of this blog to see that I know what I’m talking about and that what I teach on this blog works
  • It’ll revive my confidence in myself and help position me as a stronger authority in this niche
  • It’ll spice up my freelance writing career; things start to become boring at a point when everything is becoming too easy and predictable. I hate routine and predictability!
  • If successful, I can create a premium product or consulting service to help more people build successful freelance writing businesses while creating passive income for myself
  • It helps me refine my approach, know exactly what works and what doesn’t, and as a result ensure I only share my most effective tactics with you

It’s been two months already since I started this challenge and the first month was dormant with no activity from my part on the challenge blog. I explained my reasons here.

I decided to get into work in the second month of the challenge. While I’m still short of my goals for the challenge, I’m starting to see results.

Interesting things have happened, including getting 2 clients directly from the challenge blog.

This update will be revealing more to you about the clients, how I got them, what I’m doing for them and lessons I’ve learned.

Work Done in the Challenge’s Second Month

In the second month of the challenge, I was able to publish a total of 5 posts on the challenge blog and submit a total of 5 guest posts to top blogs.

Out of the 5 guest posts submitted, 3 have been published so far and two have been scheduled. One will be going live in January and another – towards the end of this month.

While I’m on track in regards to the number of articles published on the blog, I’m still far away in terms of guest posts. My goal is to write 20 guest posts monthly but I was unable to commit to that goal in the second month. I have no excuse.

I’ll be working on making up for that goal this month (the third month).

In regards to the hours involved, here are the details:

  • A total of 11 hours writing and submitting the 5 guest posts.
  • A total 10 hours writing the posts published on the challenge blog.
  • A total of 2 hours spent interacting and being active on Quora.

Total hours spent on the challenge in the second month = 23 hours.

I’m investing a lot of effort into producing the best content for this challenge in term of articles on the challenge blog and guest posts, so writing is taking me more time than usual. In this case, focus isn’t on quantity but on quality.

For now, I need to reduce how much time I spend researching and writing guest posts without sacrificing quality. That’s the only way I can be on track to meet my guest blogging goals.

Overall, while I’m not exactly happy about failing to meet my guest blogging goal, I’m very happy about the quality of work invested. Guest posts were submitted to top blogs like Problogger.net and DailyBlogTips.com and were accepted immediately. None of these blogs know of my original identity from this blog, since the challenge blog is operating under a pseudonym, but that speaks for the quality of the guest posts I wrote as well as the experience I’ve accumulated over the years.

With that said, I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing but at an accelerated pace.

Traffic Report for the Second Month

Here are traffic screenshots for the second month of the challenge:

Traffic Sources Overview

traffic sources overview

There were a total of 651 visitors to the challenge blog in the second month; 84 of those visitors are from search engines, 237 are from referrals and 330 visitors came directly. The direct visitors are mostly those who read about this challenge on WritersinCharge and are observing things.

Top referral traffic sources

challenge referral traffic source

The above shows traffic from referral sources.

The top traffic source is DailyBlogTips.com, which resulted in 138 visitors as a result of my guest post which was published there.

The second traffic source is Twitter, as I (under my pseudonym) was able to get Ann Smarty to Tweet one of my posts featuring MyBlogGuest.com

The 4th and 5th traffic sources are guest posts while the 6th traffic source was Quora.

That’s it for the significant traffic sources.

Keywords people used to find the blog

 

challenge keywords overview

The above is a screenshot of the keywords used to find the challenge blog, and they are:

1. (not provided)

2. guest blogging tactics

3. guestbloggingtactics

4. guest blogging service

5. guest blogging tactic

6. guestbloggingtactics.com

7. hire a guest blogger

8. how to write guest posts on blogs for backlinks

9. logo expert best practices

10. wrong

As you’d have guessed, the above keywords are mostly variations of the exact match domain name keyword of the blog. The majority of the search engine visitors to the blog came as a result of reading about the challenge on this blog and searching for the domain name on Google.

Of course, there are other long-tail keywords but nothing significant at the moment.

Top content on the blog

top content for challenge blog

The above screenshot shows the top content on the challenge blog.

For reasons we all know, I won’t be able to link to the exact posts on the challenge blog. You’ll probably have read them if you know the challenge blog, but other than that, I’ll only say that 210 people visited my hire me page during this month.

Since I’ve closed deals with 2 clients already, that’s like a 1% conversion rate into clients.

The number is a lot higher than I’d expect due to the fact that some readers of this blog are also checking out that page just to see what I’m doing. I’ll eventually be tweaking the page for more conversions in the future, but that’s not the goal for now; a lot still has to be done in regards to marketing.

Traffic Analysis

While I’m not exactly particular about traffic for this challenge, I still think it’s important.

We have to know the exact number of visitors I got that resulted in a certain number of clients. We have to know what sources convert most etc. That puts things into perspective for those following this challenge.

Other than that, traffic is completely irrelevant for this challenge. If  WritersinCharge had the same number of visitors as the challenge blog,  this number wouldn’t even bring in a client. For example, on average, over 1,000 people visit this blog every day and I don’t get a new client every day. I don’t even get a new client request every day.

Getting My First Client!

Considering the fact that I’m a little slack in terms of meeting my guest blogging goal, you can only imagine my excitement when I got my first client email.

It was around 1 AM, my time, and I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep.

Yeah, I’ve achieved things more significant on this blog and I was barely affected, but this was a new blog – barely 2 months old (it was exactly 1 month and 10 days since I started the challenge blog). Also, the client came 10 days after I really started working on the site.  Most importantly, I learnt that what I teach on this blog (YPP) is effective on any level.

Here’s a screenshot of the email I got (taken 4 hours after I received it):

first client email

Take a look at the stats a month before I got my first client, here are the details:

Date I got the client: 25th of November 2012.

Total Traffic Numbers: 455

Direct: 389

Search: 50

Links: 10

Email: 4

Syndication: 2

When I got this client, the hire me page has only been viewed 144 times.

Total number of articles published on the blog: 4

Total number of hours spent marketing: 6; 4 hours guest blogging and 2 hours on Quora.

Client source: Google organic search

Project I’m working with the client on: A $400 guest blogging project at first and a $1,000 monthly content marketing project – to start this week.

Earnings with client: I was paid $200 up-front before I started, and will be paid the remaining $200 at the end of this month. That’s for the guest blogging project and before we discussed the monthly content marketing deal.

What I was most excited about was the $1,000 content marketing project with the client. After a few emails and chatting on Skype, the client was convinced to hire me to help handle marketing for their website. I suggested content marketing, including maintaining their blog, handling guest blogging and other content related tasks. I was hired and part payment of $500 will be made the week of publishing this challenge post. I’ll also be starting then.

With this client alone, the challenge should already be a success but you’d be surprised to hear that I got my second client exactly 2 days after I got the first client. Yes, 2 days after.

Here’s the screenshot of the email from the second client:

second client screenshot

As you’ll notice from the above screenshot, this client found me directly from a guest post I published on another blog.

After discussing with this client, I went on to close a deal worth $650 for the second month with potential for future work.

I haven’t completed this work or been paid for it, but I’ll happily discuss about it in future updates. Based on what I’ve seen so far, this client is a long-term client.

Another Potential Client

I also got an email from a potential client on the 15th/16th of this month, which is exactly the end of the second month of the challenge  (I’m yet to close the deal so I’m not including that in this report). I’ll be revealing more about what happens with this deal in future updates.

In case you’re curious, this client also came from Google organic search.

4 Important Lessons Learned from the Second Month of this Challenge

I’ve learned a lot from this challenge, but here are my most important lessons:

1. It’s not all in the numbers: On a low performing traffic day, WritersinCharge still gets more traffic than the challenge blog got in one month. Yet, the challenge blog resulted in 3 client emails and 2 closed deals totaling over $2,000 in one month and a lot more on the long-term.

I’ve occasionally said it in a few posts on this blog that I’d probably get more clients doing what I preach in another niche that isn’t writing, and the challenge blog has proven it.

Not getting as many clients from WritersinCharge is intentional, though, since this blog is about writing and I’m not expecting fellow writers to hire me.

One thing this challenge blog made clear, though, is that it’s not all in the numbers. Over $2,000 in one month from just 600 visitors, a potential 5 figure income in one year as a result of those 600 visitors, proves this beyond doubt.

If WritersinCharge readers weren’t checking out the challenge blog, I’m sure the total number of visitors would be around 300; so that’s more like 2 clients and a four figure income from 300 visitors.

It’s really not about the numbers.

2. Google is king: On this blog, Google constitutes over 80% of clients I’ve gotten. In fact, I made almost mid five figures income (a little over $30k) this year alone from just one client who discovered me via Google earlier this year.

I’ve tried guest blogging and other sources for client generation, but clients from Google are the most consistent and the easiest to convert.

On the challenge blog, I got 2 client emails from around 84 visitors from Google and one closed deal. I got double that number of visits from guest posts and only got one client email/closed deal.

While there’s a lot of bashing of SEO online today, I think those who ignore it will end up losing a lot on the long run.

How you approach SEO is important, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored or underestimated.

3. Communication is important: From a one-time $400 deal not yet completed to a content marketing deal of $1,000 monthly, I’ve realized that communication is important.

The particular client I converted has repeatedly let me know that my effective communication made him realize that I’m right for the deal. He’s also not comfortable when I take too long to reply to emails.

I’ve ignored this principle for a long time on WritersinCharge, but it became clear when I knew this challenge had to succeed at all cost.

Whether you’re dealing with customers or clients, communication really is very important.

Timely email replies and effective communication will help you close deals and put you on a good side with your client. Even when there are issues, effective communication will solve a lot of problems.

4. Quality trumps quantity: I could have sacrificed quality just to meet my goal of publishing 20 guest posts in one month, but what will be the result?

The purpose of this challenge isn’t to publish 20 guest posts in one month but to start making 4 figures monthly within 3 months of starting; whether I achieve that with a single guest post or 200 doesn’t matter as long as I meet that goal. My reason for setting 20 guest posts as my goal is to make it clear to those following this challenge that getting results takes hard work, and to ensure that I have no chance of failing.

My guest post for DailyBlogTips.com was published just 2 days after it was submitted. It resulted in over 100 visitors to my new blog, and my guest post for Problogger was accepted immediately. My guest post hasn’t once been rejected since I started this challenge.

Yes, I have 2+ years of experience guest blogging for myself and clients but that’s not the only factor involved. I invested significant time in the quality of content submitted as guest posts and that had an impact.

Also, talking with one of my clients, he remarked that while he found me via the search engines it was the quality of my content that made him hire me.

SEO is important, tactics are important and marketing is important but only quality will help you benefit on the long run.

Discovering My Identity

It is difficult sharing this since some people will believe WritersinCharge had an influence in getting my first client, but since I promised total transparency and don’t want any issues when people find out in the future, I have to share this:

A few weeks after hiring me via the challenge blog, my first and major client eventually discovered that I also own WritersinCharge.

It should’ve been easier finding me out earlier considering the challenges I have with payment (Paypal doesn’t support Nigerians), but what really triggered it was mistakenly signing off my email as “Bamidele”.

The pseudonym I use for the challenge blog is “Joseph” – one of my names I haven’t revealed online before – but replying to thousands of emails here has registered “Bamidele” into my brain that I mistakenly included it in my response without realizing it.

The client sent emails to several blogs on the same day, including the challenge blog and WritersinCharge. To make this challenge as uninfluenced as possible I didn’t disclose my identity. But since the client had communications with me via this blog before, he discovered I was the same person.

Thankfully, I didn’t lose the client and he ended up connecting with my story here and appreciating my “honesty” after I explained the challenge as my reason for hiding my identity.

I firmly believe this blog had no influence whatsoever on the client hiring me, so I’ll still count it as getting the client as a result of the challenge.

Some people might doubt still, so I won’t be stopping the challenge anytime soon. I’ll be working harder to a stage where I’ve gotten at least 10 clients within the 6 months period and a $3,000+ monthly income. I think that’ll dispel any doubts anybody might have.

What Do You Think about the Challenge so Far?

I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be revealing so much detail in this update but I’m glad I did. I want everybody to benefit and have a clear understanding of what I’m doing to get which result.

If you’ve only been reading about this challenge, it’s not too late to get started. You can get previous challenge updates on this page.

I’ve revealed everything I’ve been doing or plan to do so far.

I’ll also be revealing more in future updates, including how I get content ideas, how I close deals and negotiate with clients, how I write my articles etc. Make sure you’re constantly following this blog so you don’t miss anything.

With that said, what do you think about this challenge so far? What would you like to read more of and what would you like clarification on?

If you’re taking part in this challenge, what are your results so far?

Category: challenge

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Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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