M.-J. Taylor is a moderator on V7N’s forums and has been working in SEO since 1997. She’s recently launched a SEO & social blog and offers services via her site Cyber-Key , focused on the web design and SEO in the Florida Keys.
How did you get involved with V7N?
I was a moderator on WebProWorld and kept hearing about V7N from other members. I checked it out. It wasn’t the most learned forum I’d ever visited, but it was the friendliest. I was made to feel welcome and a “part of.” And I felt I was needed, as well as wanted.
Of course, no one is indispensable on a forum, but I felt I had something to offer there. I started a daily SEO Tips thread and that’s kept me pretty busy.
What advantage do you find in participating on a forum vs a blog community like SEOmoz?
I haven’t experienced SEOMoz, and I have begun to think I should. I think the cost kept me away. My perception is that would have to buy into the tools to be part of the community. But I so respect Rand Fishkin and others I know associate there. It really is a next step for me, perhaps.
You offer clients web design and SEO services. Why do you prefer that over being an affiliate, or creating your own product and marketing it?
I am my own product. *laughs* Really, it was just how my business naturally developed.
I’ve always been a believer in following your bliss, and my discovery of the Internet came at a time when I wasn’t working. I had just moved from Miami to the Florida Keys and the Internet filled a void – people to talk to, and an opportunity to learn. Within a week, I was spending 8 or 10 hours a day online. I loved it! And I still do.
I wasn’t in a big hurry to get a job, but I wanted something to do, and I watched the want ads. When I saw an ad for a webmaster’s assistant, I knew it was for me. I had the basic skills – I had taught myself HTML to make what I called a vanity page. This was 1997 and it was all simple. HTML was a doddle, and SEO was about meta tags and a title, wasn’t it?
I was developing a skill few had; acquaintances hired me because I was the only person they knew who could make a website for them. I was enthralled with my business because it answered both my right brain inclination to be creative – I like layout a lot. And it challenged my left brain competitive nature.
People often ask about how to attract clients. A more important question is: what tips do you have on closing web design / SEO clients?
This is going to sound arrogant, but I don’t close anyone. People usually come to me because they have seen what I have done for someone else.
And most of the time I don’t take new business. I only take clients that really fit with what I already do, and it’s usually a chemistry that I develop with someone.
For example, I have had a lot of deep sea fishing captains as clients over the years. One of the most recent new clients was someone who approached me years ago and I said no at the time. A couple of years ago we got personally acquainted – he’s my landlord in Key West where I spend the winters now – and when he asked again, I said yes. I’m having fun with his site and part of that is because I care about helping him.
So, I suppose playing hard to get is a good way to hook ‘em.
I will offer this tip; it isn’t about closing, but it is about getting new business. Answer your phone. [Emphasis added] I have always been responsive . I answer the phone when it rings and I reply to emails very promptly.
So many web professionals are overwhelmed – especially the good ones – and they don’t always pick up the phone.
We all lose business when we let it go to voice mail or fail to return messages the same day. You have to make a customer feel they are important to you and that you value their business.
What are some mistakes you made in trying to close sales, when you started selling services?
I took clients I shouldn’t have taken. One of them yelled at me because of what his last webmaster did. I designed the site, and fired client as soon as I could train his staff to maintain the site. I learned the hard way that I have to have good chemistry with the client and I have to want to sell what they are marketing.
How do you differentiate your offering from others’ offerings?
I don’t think about that. I just do what I love and what I know how to do. I don’t believe in the scarcity principle. There is enough business for everyone. Someone will give you money or trade with you for your skills. But you do have to believe in yourself.
I was born blessed, I suppose. My mother made me feel that I could do anything I wanted if I would apply myself. I suppose getting me to apply myself has always been the biggest challenge. That’s why following my bliss is so important. I just started a new blog on my old, circa 2002 website. I am completely energized by this new venture, and I think the poor old site will finally get the update it has so long needed.
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