20% Off My Easy-Peasy Proposal with the Coupon Code 20OFF (Now - April 30th)

On January 18th, 2023 I asked The Admin Bar…

What do you wish you knew earlier on in your agency?

Don’t be afraid of telling a client NO and sticking to it.

The only difference between a 2k website and an 8k website is saying 8 instead of 2…

Specific to transitioning from a 9-5 to freelance, I wish I would have had my pre-freelance clients on care plans. I’d say a majority ended up on one, but it would have made the transition less stressful

Cheap clients cost too much

Start your business alone (but not for too long) then invest in a coach that’s been there. ( I tried to figure it out for years ‘helping startups’ aka cash strapped, without investment… )my coach helped me to think differently and my life and business has changed immensely.

Charge more charge more charge more. People will pay it and you’ll weed out the yohos.

Learn people skills

Know your worth. Know your value. Don’t let anyone’s thoughts (including your own) make you doubt yourself in what you bring to the table.

Focus on one product offering and master it.

Differentiate your offering as much as possible.

Start niching down as fast as you can.

Spend every free minute you have building referral partners.

Whatever acquisition channel works the best for you stop messing around with the others and multiply your efforts into that one channel.

Build SOPs before you hire.

Niche down, focus on growing recurring income.

Retainers. Retainers, and more retainers. I love the 22nd of the month, it’s autopay day for retainers!

Trust your instinct. Take more risks.

Define early what success looks like for you. (And make sure it’s more than just financial)

Set some goals you are likely to fall short on. It’s important you learn what failure feels like.

Master one discipline before even considering expanding to others.

Offer value not services. Sell success not services.

Know your worth and price by your value, not your time.

Don’t neglect existing and loyal clients in the pursuit of shiny new ones

Be good to yourself. Don’t overwork and avoid burnout at all costs.

Instead of investing in “We’ll book you XX appointments for you each month” (and variations thereof), invest in creating a better, more compelling, and more specific offer.

Niche down. Focus to improve that skill. Raise prices. Picky about clients.

Do more cold visits to get more clients.

Say no more often.

Build recurring revenue early, and hard.

Learn to throttle (properly, not fully) the cheerleader inside you from making delusional projections of success.

Don’t start too cheap

It’s not that hard to raise your prices

Pick your clients

Remember to say NO

Be sure to make time for others, and yourself.

I know how difficult it is to switch off, and it is not until your kid is standing in front of you wanting to show you something they made from Lego, but you are too busy replying to emails on your phone, that you realise work isn’t everything, family is.

Switch off notifications at a certain time of day e.g. as soon as it hits 5PM, boom, no more thinking about work until 9AM the next day.

Also make time for yourself. We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders, not just work, but other factors in our life, so be sure to set some time to one side each day to check in with yourself. Doing a 10 minute meditation session each day is great for this.


Hire out your weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Also you need to hire someone to do what you do (i.e. Web Development) so you can focus on growing your business. Also I would have offered Care Plans years ago for the revenue.

I should have worked in a successful process driven agency when I came out of college. Learning how a successful agency was run would have been invaluable and accelerated my skills much faster than trying to freelance and teach myself everything.

Get your processes in place BEFORE you get so overwhelmed with work that creating them becomes difficult.

Already mentions, but get your processes in place and documented early.

Also create a long term goal or agency specialty as soon as you feel like you have some experience to consciously choose rather than chasing dollars.

25yrs of corporate experience wasn’t going to prepare me for the reality of knowing too much is just as dangerous as not knowing enough. If I had niched down when I started I would have saved myself a lot of time and headaches. Be great at something first then move on to the next.

Never rely on one client for more than 30% of your business.

I had two situations where I relied on one client which paid well, but then all of a sudden, without any warning or notice, clients just closed the long-term project.

That made me struggle for months to get back on track.

Stay true to yourself. Know your worth. Use your strengths to set yourself apart.

Always always add more to your estimates! It will always take more time than you think. Do not lower the estimated time because you want to make it cheaper for the client.

Add a “bureaucracy tax” when estimating projects with multiple stakeholders.

E.g. If there are other “partners” involved in the project, price is 1.5X what I charge for just working with the client.

Also, even when working with a client (if it’s a company) have clear reporting lines set up so you aren’t fielding emails from 4 different internal stakeholders, each with a different agenda and priorities.

Stay in your lane and don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Stick to what you’re good at and become a master at your craft. Knowledge = Efficiency = 💰

I wish I would have finished college, but it was financial and I don’t think time changes past fiances… so here I am finishing it now. I learned everything the hard way, but now I’m in college learning the names of what I know and the why behind it.

1) Listen to the red flags and don’t ignore them. They only get worse.

2) Don’t take on ‘just any client’ because you need the money. You’ll regret it every time.

3) Know your worth. Know your worth. Know your worth.

4) Be concise and clear in your agreements so both parties know what they’re getting into.

10+ yrs of reflection in this response talking to my younger self:

– Stick to one thing and go all in. Being the “Jack of All Trades” is stressful. WordPress Development is your speciality and THAT IS IT!

– Its more people spending 5 figures on websites than spending 4. Charge your worth then add tax.

– (adapted from Richard Branson) If the project fits in number 1, say yes. Then figure out the details later.

– Recurring revenue is ALOT more closer to sanity than one-off projects.

– The client knows nothing of what you do and how you do it. They don’t care. They pay you to be smart.

– The same energy you put into a 9-5, you can put into running an agency. Delegate/outsource and don’t “hustle” your way to success. You’ll burn out.

– The key to unlocking the door…collaborate & educate. The more people see you as an expert problem solver, the easier it is for them to want to work with you.

– Cheap, pestering clients…drop them at the first sign of a 🚩

– Procrastination and Perfectionism is your bullshit excuse to not get work done. Either go see your therapist for help or stop being lazy.

– Make friends offline too. Having a crew to connect with will ease the loneliness.

I still work through some of these in some way

Do NOT take on projects that are outside of your area.

(MMR) Monthly Recurring Revenue keeps you alive.

Buy premium plugins from the get-go. Stop trying to do everything on the cheap.

Don’t be detrimental to yourself and your sanity by being a people pleaser. Learn to say no.

1. +1 for recurring revenue. Think of that as your salary source. Project payments are bonuses.

2. Set up an LLC or an LLC filing as an S-corp to pay less taxes and protect yourself. 3. The word No mean you have a choice. Some clients are just not worth it.

4. Not following your processes trains a client to expect it the next time.

When the big red flag is waving in your face, smacking your head from side to side… no amount of money will make it worth the hassle that the person waving the red flag will bring.

Know when to turn down work!

I should have skipped law school and just launched my agency, and when I did so include additional benefits like SEO from the outset. Would have made a lot better money than the lost years trying to workout what I wanted to do!

Where do I start? LOL. So many things…

1. Don’t take on everything and anything. It’s OK to say no.

2. The goal is not to win every client or project.

3. Pick a niche!

4. Fire clients who don’t respect your processes!

To only work with people i want to work with. Working with good people are far more important than having good paying projects

Recruit early. Work with others early. Scale as quickly as you can. Go after everything to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Curate your findings and SOP as much as you can!

That care plans are easy to sell and you should start selling them earlier.

That setting up systems, easy to follow steps and boundaries for both myself and clients, and following through all these is the most important thing to avoid burnout. You have to make it easy to follow otherwise you will loathe it.

Become a maniacal obsessive unwavering asshole about whatever your narrow thing is.

Doesn’t matter what it is. You could be the agency to beer bars in Chicago. You could be the agency to non-profits that help recently released ex-cons.

You could be an agency that helps agencies make servers appear out of thin air.

You can’t really go narrow/specific enough. And you’re probably not nearly there yet, on the narrowness.

But find that Narrow and *then* commit to doing it for at least ten years. That’s it. That’s all.

Just ten short years.

Things will start to get a little bit easier after 500 days of consistent effort.

500 days after that you might even feel like you know a thing or two.

Add on 500. More. Days. and you’ll finally realize you’re still not qualified and you never will be.

Congrats: you’re halfway there! Maybe.

Keep going.

Almost all of winning is merely a byproduct of refusing to lose.

So don’t stop. Don’t you ever EVER fucking stop.

MRR and Care plans!

Don’t be so trusting of other people 🥺

Trust your vision. If they say you’ll fail it means they wouldn’t be able to do it, not that you will fail.

Never be afraid to just start something and do something for yourself over others.

Document everything. Plan from Day One to get hit by a bus and have a complete stranger step into your shoes. (Notion is great for this.)

Have a crystal clear process / checklist written down for yourself to follow; and associated helpful messages (pre-written, but customisable) to send the client for each phase of the project, or topic.

Make the client agree to your terms & conditions at the start. Cover cancellation, delays etc, so you can keep that non-refundable upfront 50%.

Make yourself fill out a post-mortem form at the end of every project. Think about what could have been improved. Then go and add to your process docs and your T&Cs so the next project will be better.

Include a change budget in the agreement – a block of time to cover inevitable ‘new ideas & change requests’ that will arise during the project. This helps avoid scope creep; the client is then prepared for the concept of changes, and also to pay more when the change budget runs out.

Ask for text content in final form; if they give you multiple versions of a page, it’s a change (or they can use WP and do it themselves).

Make the client pay extra for font & image licenses. Warn them never to use an image without copyright, so you don’t get roped in when Alamy send threatening letters 5 years later.

Take backups.

I wish I had learned earlier when to tell a client that their request isn’t worth the time it would take to pull it off. I gave away a ton of time in my early years trying to figure out how to customize plugins and themes and mostly just gave that time away.

While I *did* learn a lot, I also could have spent that time more wisely.

A huge thanks to everyone who shared their advice. This page represents decades of lessons learned the hard way.