Hi, I am needing help and suggestions with how to proceed with a client who has asked for SEO work. I am a newbie at SEO, have done it before on a basketball blog a friend and I had, with excellent results and decided to offer it as a service to my clients. They have jumped at the offer.
One client has an assistant and after ascertaining what she wants I started doing research on the best methods that will get her to the top. I've already spent a few hours on the research, do you guys charge for this research phase? Also, a lot of the things I see that she needs to do to improve could be done by her assistant, or easily done, for example adding her to some directories. Other things are telling her to reach out to others in her field and do some guest blogging. She asked me to write her up a proposal after the research was done. My question is if I tell her all these suggestions why would she have to pay me? Or do I tell her to pay first and then give her my suggestions? Obviously, some work will have to be done by me, by I feel like I am giving away all the trade secrets for nothing if I put them in a proposal. How is this handled by SEO pros?
I suggest you tell her that you will write the proposals as requested, and your fee for doing so will be X (you have to decide what X is). Also say that, if she subsequently asks you to implement any of the proposals, you will quote a price for doing so before you proceed.
Don't approach this in a belligerent or officious way. Just mention your fees in a tone that indicates that this is a perfectly normal thing to do (which it is).
Should you ask for payment in advance? Personally, I wouldn't. At the point that you agree the fee, tell her that you will invoice at the end of the work (the invoice would include any subsequent work you do as a result of the proposals). Of course, you know the client better that I do, so make your own judgment. But, in general, insisting on payment in advance is tantamount to saying "I don't trust you" - not a good basis for a relationship.
One final point. Since this is the first paid-for SEO work you've done, and you admit that you are not quite sure how to go about it, I would keep the fee on the low side. Use the job to get some experience so that you will be able to justify a higher fee for future clients.
Mike, Thank you for your suggestions. They are very helpful.
Mr. Mike. How are you charging, whether by hour basis or project basis? And which is one far better for SEO projects?
Personally, I would always charge on an hourly basis. I think that's essential for any kind of product that involves giving advice (not just SEO), because you can't know in advance how much advice the client is going to need. The client must always feel free to come back to you for follow-up or further help, and you don't want to have to negotiate a separate fee for that each time.
How are you tracking times you have worked? Are you using any software for time tracking and preparing invoice with it?
No, I don't use any software for time tracking. I just use an old-fashioned (paper) timesheet.
Mine is a one-person business, so I only ever bill for my own time. And I rarely have more than two or three clients on the go at any one time. All I have to do is to add up the hours for each client at the end of the month (which takes about two minutes), and then prepare the invoices accordingly (which takes five to ten minutes).
Trying to automate this process would be over-kill. I do have a semi-automatic way of preparing invoices, but I believe that an automated billing / time-recording system for a one-person business just wouldn't be worth the effort. (But I'd be happy to hear other people's opinion on this point.)