Discover more from WiFi Money
How To Manufacture a "Real Service Business" From 0
With job cuts coming, it’s always valuable to have a backup consulting/service business if/when you need it.
OR you actually want to build a service business and want it to look professional.
OR you don’t have the capital to do ecommerce. While affiliate is a great way to learn, it doesn’t help with your immediate capital needs. That’s where a service business comes into play.
Maybe you don’t want to have a full time service business. I get it. What happens if you get laid off and the job search takes 6 months? What happens if your online business has a bad few months (Google update/ad account locked) while you’re building?
Being able to do client work whenever you need to has it’s upsides.
The downside is you’re 90 days out from a check even before finding clients.
If you consult with your personal network, everything in this article doesn’t matter except for the timeline. Unfortunately, most people overestimate what work they can get from their personal network.
If you’re doing cold outreach, you have to do most things in this article to look like a legitimate business. This adds another few weeks to your timeline on top of finding clients. That is unless you lead with “I’ve been laid off and I need to do consulting work to survive. Please hire me…”
If you’re doing organic inbound lead gen, add another 6-12 months to the timeline at least.
The sooner you build the infrastructure, the longer you give yourself to “age” your service business. Age of business (GMB profile) seems to be a ranking factor. Yes. You could just rely on ads or outbound marketing, but wouldn’t it be nice to constantly have inbound leads that you just say no to when you don’t need them?
This is why we’re here today. Whether you want to setup a service business or setup the infrastructure “just in case”.
WiFi Money is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This can be used for more than a service business. How better to make your ecommerce or affiliate site look legitimate by having a real corporate HQ.
Here’s your goals in this endeavor.
Get the business ranking so you have constant qualified inbound leads
Look like a real business so businesses don’t think you’re a freelancer and treat/pay you as such
Have at least the first page of Google filled so you can build trust that your “successful” business has been around for some time
Remember, you can have 0 clients and have a business look like it’s real. Even though it’s best to have some occasional clients so you don’t have to lie so much…
Also, if you’re really interested in learning how to build digital businesses, this Substack was designed to read from the beginning. Go to the beginning of the archive and read in reverse order.
Miscellaneous Things to Acquire/Build
Before you start being or pretending to be a real business, you actually have to have the basic functionality of a business.
You don’t need to get a dedicated phone. VOIP has made this unnecessary. You can get a free or paid ($10/m) Google Voice number in about 5 minutes.
This is a little bit more tricky. You can use your home address and have Google hide the address. Set your service area to your city or whatever geo you want.
The problem arises when you’re trying to rank a local business. NAP citations (Name Address Phone number) are supposably a ranking factor for local businesses. When building citations, most websites will not allow you to create a profile without an exact address…
So do you:
Plaster your home address all over the web & leave it off for Google Business Profile
Not do NAP citations
Rent a PO box or virtual office
Use an old address as the HQ and move so the citations don’t point to your actual house
There’s no right answer here. I’ve done all of the above for myself or clients. As with most things in SEO, if you have enough links, it doesn’t matter.
If you need an easy guide to start a website, click that link. The important thing here is that it needs to look professional. Installing a stock WordPress site is not going to look professional.
Upgrade to GeneratePress pro theme and install one of their site templates to quickly make your site look professional.
For a deeper dive on how you should do this, read this post on website structure.
High level, your service pages should be heavily focused around that service and your specific city.
If one of your service pages is tax preparation, make sure you’re constantly mentioning “tax preparation in Columbus, Ohio” and other variations of tax preparation. Do this for each of your service pages.
Your posts should ladder up to each of the service pages with heavy linking to the service page. It should be a semantic tree.
Ideally, you use your name as the author and have an author page to build trust and credibility.
For those that can’t have their name out there due to their day job, let your company name be the author.
If you’re planning to pump out a bunch of content then not keep up with it, IE a just in case service business, make sure you take the date of publish off of your website. You don’t want people to notice that your last published post was 2 years ago and think that the business isn’t still doing work.
If you can get case studies, get them. These can even be had by doing some free side work for friends and family.
Here’s some other things you should have on your website:
Address/phone/email on site
Hours on site
Trust badges from 3rd party websites. You can easily/legitimately get these by running an ad campaign on a 3rd party website (see below)
Client logos or featured on logos
Professional headshots of “team”
Then do a high level site audit with that post
“I’m calling on behalf of [business name]” instead of “I’m a freelance whatever” instills a lot more confidence and a higher rate that can be charged.
How much work you plan to do as your service business is going to decide whether you should incorporate or not. If it’s a meaningful amount of work or you want to be extra careful with liability, incorporate. Go talk to an accountant.
There’s nothing about a business that screams “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” more than a email@example.com email address.
Google Workspace makes it super simple for like $6 a month. All you need is one $6 email and you can create a bunch of free email aliases to look professional.
This way, you can have:
firstname.lastname@example.org (main email)
email@example.com (alias email)
firstname.lastname@example.org (alias email)
email@example.com (alias email)
firstname.lastname@example.org (alias email)
Age of GMB profile is one of the bigger ranking factors so get this set up sooner rather than later.
When building this out, you want to fill it with as much information as possible. Leave nothing out.
Make sure you set hours and have everything on this profile match what’s on your website perfectly.
There are no consequences to having fake reviews. Google doesn’t punish the business when a review gets flagged and doesn’t get posted. (idk about mass reviews, always been smart about building slower)
So what does this tell you? There’s almost no repercussions for people to have employees, friends, family, and multiple email accounts review their business. I’m not saying you should do this, I’m just letting you know what most businesses are doing.
Note that when your GMB profile is new, your first few reviews won’t show up. Keep trying and eventually they’ll start to stick.
This is not going to increase your rankings directly but it can increase your clickthrough rate and give people & Google a better idea of the services you offer.
Your images/videos should be unique. This doesn’t mean that you have take the pictures/videos yourself.
For videos, programs like Pictory, Lumen 5, and Synthesia make video creation for things like this simple.
You can also go the AI route to create images if you want to go that route.
Fill up as many of these as you can. Have your one main category and as many subcategories that make sense.
This is not just link building for SEO. The goal here is SEO, legitimacy, and owning the SERPs for your brand name. It’s about social signals.
If you Google a business and there’s no other website that mentions it other than the main domain, that’s a bad sign.
Humans are social creatures and if it looks like nobody else is using your business, it instills doubt. This is to convince & reassure the buyer that they’re making a good decision by contacting you.
LinkedIn & Other Social Media
Did you know that you can create a LinkedIn page without being listed as an employee? What about creating a “fake” LinkedIn profile that has a similar background that you do? You can also have your VAs be employees of the company on LinkedIn.
If you need followers for the business but don’t want to out yourself to your employer, you can also send invitations to like the business to your extended network. Those that aren’t in your immediate work bubble.
There’s also ways to buy followers on every social media platform which we won’t go into to here.
Bottom line is there’s no reason to not have at least 1-2 social media accounts for your business.
HARO & Publications
HARO is going to be the best source for high quality links. If you don’t want your real name attached to the publications due to your employer, use your first and middle name assuming it’s a common mix.
I’m being intentionally vague here as I don’t know the type of service business that you might start. Write for trade publications under your name or your businesses’ name. There’s a lot more publications that you can go after than you probably think.
This is going to be a weird mix with 3rd party websites. NAP citations is what Google looks at to confirm it’s information on your business is correct.
A quick and easy way to do this is to use SEMRush’s citation tool. It’s $20 for one month and should provide enough citations for your needs. You only need to keep this tool active for a month but make sure everything matches your Google business profile exactly.
I don’t mean cheap directories that nobody ever visits or knows exists. I mean veteran directories, local chamber of commerce, etc. Find local websites that focus on your city/county/state.
These are really relevant for Google for increasing the trust of your business.
3rd Party Websites
Google almost any service now a days and the first 3 pages are filled with 3rd party aggregator websites. Yelp & Angi are the biggest but there’s a ton of others depending on your niche.
You should have a profile on all of these (in your niche) unless they charge a monthly fee to be listed. Fill these out in the same manner you fill out your GMB. Make sure everything is filled out with reviews, images, etc.
If you sponsor the company for a month or quarter (less than $100 usually), they’ll give you a “Best X Service in Y City in 2023” badge that you can put on your website to increase trust that your business is “the best”.
Lastly is press releases. You can get a cheap press release for $100 that’ll show on the first page of the SERPs when someone Google’s your business.
All of this stuff may seem like a waste of time. It’s not. It will increase your conversion rate for the percent of customers that do research on your brand first.
It will also help your rankings on Google which is mostly the goal here. Make it look like you’re an active service business so that when you need it, you’ve developed leads and trust.
If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, you need to keep in mind why we’re here.
Your boss and company, no matter how nice, doesn’t care about your future. Nobody outside of a few family members and select friends care about your growth and your future.
You are the only one that can save yourself and make your life what you want it.
Single player. Just you.
This Substack is here to help you build a business and build the life that you want. I’ve laid out the basics to understand, analyze, & grow most any online business.
Free articles on WiFi Money are supported by:
►SiteGround - SiteGround is one of the easiest hosting providers to get setup on quickly. For a full guide in getting setup with your first website in less than an hour, read how to start your own website.
►Shopify - The #1 and only ecommerce website builder that you should be using. If you’re selling a physical product online, look no further. They handle 90% of the hard stuff. Start building on Saturday morning and be selling by the afternoon.
►Surfer SEO - Save hours by using Surfer SEO to prepare content optimized to your domain, niche, and audience. Use the #1 AI writing tool on the market that the best affiliate marketers are using.
►SEMRush - The one tool I cannot live without. This tool has almost everything you need. Keyword research, spy on your competitors, local SEO, site audits, social media management, paid advertising tracking, PR monitoring and much much more.
If you want to get smarter about all things digital, upgrade today from free to paid for only $10 a month. The paid posts are where I dive even further into the weeds to help you truly understand and capitalize on the digital landscape.
Disclaimer: Nothing written here should be construed as legal for financial advice of any kind. These are opinions and observations, written by an anonymous cartoon Opossum, built up over years working in e-commerce & affiliate marketing.