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My New Hustle: Blog Consulting

by J. Money on Friday, May 11, 2012

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Yup, it’s official: The Blog Agency is now open! ;)  And pretty funny considering we literally JUST thought this up in our heads a few weeks ago, haha…  But what better way to combine my love of “the game” and helping others, while making money all at the same time? It’s like the perfect concoction for me right now, and we’ve already been blessed with over 10 awesome clients so far. Not a bad way to start a project :)

And honestly, 3 weeks ago it wasn’t even on our minds…

The Back Story

A while ago I had played around with the idea of doing 1 hour call sessions as a side gig, but back then I was more joking around about it than I was serious. And I knew it wouldn’t have been a good time anyways as I needed a lot more experience (and failures!) under my belt to really be able to bring some value and make it worth people’s money.  Something I still, to this day, have a hard problem with actually – charging people for something I can easily give away for free! (But then so can plumbers and dentists and other service professionals too, eh? It’s hard to remember *time” is just as valuable!)

So when my good friend and business partner, Nate St. Pierre, called me up the other week (The same Nate St. Pierre who fooled the internet this week that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook!*) asking me about new projects we keep pushing to the side – and what it’ll take to get them off the ground – I kept thinking that the real reason we hadn’t was just cuz I wasn’t all too excited about them much. I mean, I think they’re great, and we WILL launch them at some point in the future, but at the moment my heart just wasn’t into them as yet. He then asked me what my “perfect” gig WOULD be, then, like if all my sites exploded and I had to come up with something totally new right away, and the first thing that came to mind again was that “1 hour call” idea.

“Let’s do that!!” I said.  “It captures a bulk of everything I enjoy!  Blogging, projects, brainstorming, helping people, working AWAY from the computer, meeting new people, talking on the phone, AND getting paid!” I could tell he was still as leery about it as he was when I brought it up the first time, so I said “F it – I’m just gonna tweet it out there and see what happens” – even though it was like 5pm on a Friday night, haha…

And guess what??  People responded!  Positively! :)  Now of course we were giving away a FREE hour so we can test it out and all that, but still – it meant that there could be a market for what we were offering out there. So we quickly did our first two or so free sessions to see how the process would work (Nate gave away some too to further help our testing), and the more we went along, the more we realized it was a good fit. We were having FUN talking to people and sharing our ideas and insight, and they were getting pages and pages of notes at the same time :)

So we decided to start charging and building out the site.  And you know what?  That worked too. People were just as happy to pay as those who got our time for free  – pretty incredible.  And that’s where we are today.  Spilling the beans of our last 3 weeks of being all giddy offline ;)

What we’re offering

In a nutshell, Nate and I jump on a 1 hour phone call to help people grow and monetize their blog, project, or product. It can be as focused, or general as they wish, and the entire time it’s just us and them talking and figuring stuff out (we spend 30 minutes before each call prepping and going over all site info beforehand to reduce any wasted time).

And I think what makes it work the most is that there are TWO of us on the call, with our own set of opinions and experiences to share. Allowing us to give a much bigger variety of ideas and successes the entire time – it’s great. Then afterwards we connect them with our own personal network of professionals who can further help them along depending on their own areas needing improvement (say, with SEO or graphic design). It’s all rather fun :) And Nate pretty much becomes the “bad cop” of the duo, dishing out harder (but true) critiques, and I’m more of the “good cop” focusing on the potential as well as ways to improve stuff once it’s all laid out on the table.

Here’s one of our latest testimonials: (you can see more here too)

“Nate and Jay are incredibly knowledgeable, intuitive and helpful. When they’re working with you, your project is theirs – they care about it as it if were their own, and they don’t pull any punches to make sure it’s successful. Good or bad, they’re going to tell you the truth, and you’ll be glad they did. I highly recommend Nate and Jay as consultants and advisors on any project you really want to make an impact with.”

What we charge

You can read more about everything here, in our work with us page, but we pretty much have 3 packages right now ranging from $150 an hour to more bulk stuff with multiple calls and correspondences. And so far our feedback has shown we’re right about on the money – especially since there’s two of us. In fact, a couple of our clients have said they’d have paid anywhere up to $400/hr!!  So who knows, maybe we’ll increase it later ;)

But as I mentioned before, this is the hardest part for me. Charging people when I’m so used to giving away everything for free.  I’ll still continue to do so on this blog, and in emails y’all send, etc, etc – especially since those are more money-related questions than businessy anyways – but now it’ll feel good having a main place for all those who REALLY want to step it up a notch with their own hustles. And those that are more excited about too.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent 2-3 hours a PIECE on an email helping someone strategize, only to have them never write me back or even say a quick “thank you.”  Most people are good and appreciate your time, but I can tell you that when you PAY for something you’re a lot more focused and “into it” than when it’s free. It’s all rather fascinating ;)

Lessons learned so far

For those of you who are already bored with this post, or who would never take us up on our offer anyways (not that I’m trying to sell you on it or anything), there are a handful of takeaways here that could be applied to many things in life – even money:

  1. You have to ASK for what you want.  Until you do that, you’ll never get an answer!  In our case here we threw it out on Twitter and Facebook to gauge interest, but my wife just did something similar with asking her library to cancel her late fees she felt wasn’t her fault. She was charged $8 bucks for an overdue book that she didn’t know about (long story), but she called up and asked nicely (the key!!) to please have it removed.  90 seconds later, they did!  So ask for stuff. It’ll automatically be a “NO” if you don’t…
  2. Follow your dreams every now and then!  I know we all *think* about some of this stuff, especially making lots of money and nabbing that ultimate job of yours, but just like with asking you also have to TAKE STEPS towards them if you ever want ‘em to come true.  Anyone can dream, but it’s much harder to take action.  Which is why the rewards are so high when you do!
  3. Consider marketing a project/company/etc before it’s built.  I don’t know where I first saw it (some book?), but I once read that you can market a product two totally different ways:  1)  By making it and THEN offering it out for the world to consume, or 2)  By sharing it as if it’s already made (when it’s not), and seeing what happens.  The latter doesn’t work for *all* products, of course, but the takeaway here is that you can test things in REAL LIFE right now to see if you have a winner on your hand, rather than 6 months later after you’ve already build the whole thing – and/or spent hundreds of hours of time on it – *hoping* to have a winner on your hand. Two different mindsets that could make or break an idea, depending on what it is (you also don’t want anyone to steal an idea before it’s made too, so pros and cons to either route).
  4. Your time is worth money!  I’ve already touched on this a little bit, but there’s nothing wrong with offering a service or product out there and asking to get paid for it.  Even though it’s hard and you’ll feel bad like me ;)  Not *everyone* will be willing to pay for what you’re offering, but there might be an audience who WILL.  And those are the types you’re catering too. Your “target audience.”  We’re all skilled in different things, and just because you’re an expert in something (or it comes naturally), doesn’t mean everyone else is. And that’s exactly why they’re paying YOU – to learn and get better (and avoid all the heartaches you came across in the process! haha…). So if you have a skill that someone can use, be open about allowing them to pay you for it if they want. It’s a free market out there, and if there’s a demand try supplying it!

In Summary

In summary, we launched a new service, and we hope it’s successful :)  If you want to check it out, you can go to it here: NateAndJay.com, and then hopefully tell me what you think. All opinions and impressions are gladly appreciated!  And if you think we could help you, or someone you know of, we’d love for you to pass on the news to them too…

So far all our clients have come from word of mouth, and I’m kinda hoping it stays that way so we can continue to grow our own little family here :) Thanks for reading today!

—————
* That whole Abraham Lincoln/Facebook thing?  Check out WHY Nate created the whole thing here, and how far it went before people finally caught on…. it’s not every day you can bring 100,000 people to your site in under 24 hours, OR have CNN knocking on your door to “break” the story, for that matter.  Guess we’ll be able to offer that too at our agency! ;)

(Awesome doodle by lorraine santana)


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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe @ Retire By 40 May 11, 2012 at 9:11 am

It sounds like a great product – a win win for everyone. Good luck!

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2 Alex May 11, 2012 at 9:21 am

Good Luck Jay, you guys will do great!

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3 J. Money May 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

Thanks guys! We’re pretty excited about it :) I never (EVER) would have thought I’d be doing consulting down the road, but it’s funny how things change over time… I like to think of though as just a nice phone call between 3 people working on a problem together. Nice and un-scary! :)

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4 Edward Antrobus May 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

Best of luck to you, but I’m sure you won’t need anything as mundane as luck! I have to say, though, that a phone-consulting gig isn’t the first thing I would imagined aa team including an avowed introvert and someone with ADD would be jumping into.:)

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5 Nate St. Pierre May 11, 2012 at 9:34 am

@Edward – Don’t worry, man – me neither, hahaha….

Seems to work for everyone, though, so we’ll run with it. ;)

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6 J. Money May 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

Chatting on the phone may be one of my all-time fave things to do, if you can believe it.

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7 Trinnie May 11, 2012 at 10:13 am

You guys are going to do amazingly well at this, I feel it!

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8 Miranda May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

Congrats on this new adventure! And good luck. I’m sure there are plenty of people eager to benefit from the insight you and Nate have to offer. :)

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9 Michelle May 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

Dude, what can’t you do??? While I don’t chime in often, I keep up with your blogs and many endeavors and have to say way to go! You are definitely an inspiration and motivation when it comes to taking an idea and making it work for you. The few things I’ve just stepped out there and done in recent months have been a result of keeping up with your blog and saying “why not?”.

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10 Glen Craig May 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

You’ve certainly done an awesome job building this site. The beginning blogger can’t fathom what there is to learn along the way.

Best of luck and can’t wait to hear how well it’s doing for you.

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11 Lance@MoneyLife&More May 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Congrats on the new gig! I’m sure you’ll do great and be raking in the money. I bet the price goes up too, $150 for 2 people isn’t bad at all from the customer side of things if you are dealing with larger clients. I wouldn’t be able to afford it yet but maybe down the road.

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12 Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley May 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

What a great idea! You have generated another income stream, and you are also able to help others. I may take you up on this! Love the idea.

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13 The Happy Homeowner May 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Wahooo….happy to be one of you first clients ;)

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14 brooklyn money May 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Will you guys sign an NDA?

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15 Peter May 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Sounds like a great opportunity you guys, both for you, and for anyone looking to get some insight into your vast blogging knowledge. Good luck!

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16 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager May 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Woot! Congrats guys!

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17 Aloysa @ My Broken Coin May 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Congratulations! You should be very excited about this. It is such a great idea with two awesome guys behind it. :)
I should admit that I absolutely agree with the fact that you have to ask for what you want. People cannot read your minds! (thank God!) :)

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18 Brent Pittman May 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Sounds like a fun hour! Would you allow someone to record the session to play back later or you record and send back to them?

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19 J. Money May 12, 2012 at 12:31 am

Thanks guys!! Should be lots of fun! And yup – we’ll sign NDAs and allow recordings, etc. Whatever makes people more comfortable and helps out – its all good :)

Thanks for always supporting us! Really really means a lot.

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20 Evan May 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Good luck with the new venture! If I can do anything to help you know how to reach me

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21 Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life May 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I can totally relate to the difficulty of charging people for something you could give away for free. I just launched a side hustle doing job search coaching, and it’s something where I know there’s a need and I know that my time and expertise are valuable, but I just want to help people so much that I want to offer to help everyone for free. I am working with a few free clients right now to get references and spread the word, but I know it’s going to be hard for me to charge my first client.

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22 Barbara Friedberg May 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Good luck. You have a tremendous personality, charm and success. I’m sure this new endeavor will help you grow your winning brand.

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23 J. Money May 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thanks so much :)

And Jessica, I think you’re doing it right too with that route. Go through the process and work out all the kinds while helping people for free (and getting those testimonials), and then once you’ve gotten it down start putting out that price :) We did the same thing and the part I wasn’t expecting was how much more CONFIDENT we got after each and every call we did. We learned parts that worked well, and parts that didn’t, but overall we felt a lot more secure in what we were offering, and how much we were helping, once we started DOING IT. There’s a lot more effort and behind the scenes work that can go into a lot of these services that the customers/clients don’t see, so it only adds to the reasons why charging can be important. Good work getting it out the door! :)

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