Online Drop Servicing: Building a $10k/mo Niche Productized Service Agency

Where there’s pain, there might also be profit…

That was the case for today’s guest, Pete Mockaitis. Pete was seeing some traction with his podcast, but was struggling to keep up all the off-air tasks — the show notes, the editing, the social media.

For Pete Mockaitis, that pain turned into AwesomePros.co, a niche drop-servicing company that he co-founded with Brian Kearney and is now doing $10k a month in recurring revenue.

This is something that will work in just about any niche where you can outsource tasks remotely, and in this episode, Pete and Brian break down exactly how they grew their business.

online drop servicing

Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to learn:

  • how Pete and Brian took this from an in-house solution to a $10k/mo business
  • the tactics they’ve used to grow their client roster
  • how you can figure out niche and pricing if you want to replicate this in another vertical
Table of Contents show

Free Bonus: 101 Service Business Ideas

101 Service Business Ideas

Guaranteed inspiration for your next income stream!

Enter your email to download the full list now:

You’ll also receive my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter. Opt-out anytime.

How the Idea of AwesomePros Came About

Pete had found and built his talented workforce to help him with his own business and realized he had some spare capacity.

He started out by mentioning it in a podcasting mastermind group he was in as this was the most obvious place where other people would need similar help.

Pete told me he said to his mastermind, “I finally found this person who is so helpful and they’re so good, and I have a little bit of extra capacity.”

A couple of the people in his group took him up on the offer and sent some work his way.

Shortly after that, Pete was doing a talk at a Podcast Movement event about the processes he has in place for producing a show.

He explained how he’s hiring help to speed up his processes, and also mentioned during his talk he has some spare capacity.

Someone in the audience reached out to him and said they’d like to use his team, so that was another client he’d secured.

This was when Pete realized that this could really be a thing. But he didn’t feel like he had the time or some of the skills required to scale this into a business.

That was until he met Brian…

Joining Forces With Brian and Niching Up – Then Down

“I don’t remember the exact conversation, but it went something along the lines of, ‘Hey Brian, you don’t have a job, right? You’re good at sales, let’s try to grow this thing,’” Brian told me recalling how Pete approached him to work on AwesomePros.

They ironed out some of the details regarding what their roles would be as co-founders and started working on growing the business.

Interestingly, Pete started out hiring assistants to help with his podcast. When deciding on their target audience for AwesomePros, however, they decided not to niche down to just helping podcast hosts.

Pete and Brian wanted to build a business offering the best virtual assistants for any remote work.

What ended up happening though, is that every single one of their clients was podcasters and they were all asking AwesomePros for the same services.

Changing direction to where the demand is, Brian said they decided to “double down and really focus on this podcasting market.”

This is where AwesomePros’ specialization for producing podcasts for people came about.

Finding a Place in the Market

There is no shortage of services already out there to help podcasters with their show notes, editing, and finalizing their podcasts.

So, I asked Pete what separates AwesomePros from the other services on the market and why he and Brian were confident they could find a competitive edge in the market.

“We’re not super innovative. We’re kind of like plumbers in that you need plumbers, and plumbers aren’t particularly cutting edge in terms of technology and offers,” Pete told me.

Something that does separate AwesomePros from a lot of other service providers is that their pricing is very competitive as they hire overseas help.

This means podcasters are able to spend more time working on their shows, and of course, spend less money polishing the finished product.

How to Find and Secure Clients

Pete and Brian decided to focus on two main niches; podcasting and YouTube.

With a background in sales, Brian was heading up the outreach. Brian knew that he needed to reach out to podcasters and YouTubers, so he took a couple of courses to sharpen his outreach skills.

He took a course by Remit Sethi, and also one by SalesFolk. “I really taught myself how to do outbound email prospecting,” Brian told me.

Brian said the goal when doing cold email outreach is finding ways to stand out. He put an emphasis on how AwesomePros provides a “Good service, at a good price,” and offered to get on a call with prospects.

To get started, Pete put together a list of podcast hosts to reach out to with the help of a US-based virtual assistant company called FancyHands.

Next, Brian put together a list of the industries and podcasts he was interested in. He then started reaching out to all the hosts he could find contact details for.

Looking for ways to speed up and streamline this process, the guys found a coder in the Philippines. They had him create a Python script to pull emails from the industries they were interested in.

Brian said they were primarily looking for podcasters who had produced a podcast in the previous 6 months and were getting a decent amount of downloads.

The sweet spot – and this is where AwesomePros specialize now – is a podcaster that’s at the point where they need a little help producing their podcast and a way to save themselves time.

How to Estimate How Many Downloads a Show Gets

Pete shared a tip to help estimate how many downloads a podcast gets so you can find your target clients.

He said that most apps you use to listen to podcasts will tell you how many subscribers and downloads a show gets on that app.

For example, PodBean clearly shows you how many subscribers a show has. You can also look on AdvertiseCast, which is a platform for podcasters to find advertisers based on the size of their audience.

There is a bit of running around involved and it’s not an exact science. But you can get a good idea of a show’s reach based on the numbers you can find.

A quicker way is to look up a show on ListenNotes and look at its global rank. This will give you a rough estimate as to how popular the show is.

Outreach Templates, Tips, and Tech

Chances are, the people you want to reach out to get a lot of cold emails. If you want yours to stand out and be noticed, you have to do something different.

“The main aspect is to provide something of value, but be super-short,” Brian told me explaining his outreach approach.

Brian told me he doesn’t think “playing games” in emails works. He likes to be upfront, explain exactly why he’s contacting someone and what he’s offering, and offer to jump on a call to discuss it further.

The two main tips Brian said he picked up from the outreach courses he took were to; be short and direct and to not use certain words that might trigger the spam filter.

He said using terms like “Free trial” or adding lots of “!!!’s” can trigger Google’s spam filter. Brian also reinforced that you need to add value and demonstrate that you’re not just sending everyone the exact same email template when doing mass outreach.

Brian does not add any links in his emails. Instead, he asked people to reply if they’re interested to learn more and lets them know the first set of deliverables will be free so they can test the service.

Pete said they were able to find success following these tips without sending out a huge number of emails daily – they typically send out around 50-75 emails a day.

On the tech side of things, they started out using Outreach.io to manage their campaigns and now use MixMax.

Brian also added that “being in the right place at the right time is 80% of sales.” When you’ve worked through your list of contacts, don’t hesitate to start emailing them again to see if someone’s situation has changed.

Expected Conversion Rate on Cold Outreach

Brian said that from every 100 people they send an email to, they typically get responses from 10 of those prospects.

From those 10 replies, 1 will become a paying client. That’s a 1% conversion rate, which isn’t too bad for cold outreach.

Other Marketing Tactics That Have Worked

Behind email outreach, the next best driver for new clients has been word-of-mouth and referrals.

Brian said that the longer a client works with AwesomePros, the more time and money they see it’s saving them and the more likely they are to recommend them.

Podcasting is a fairly small, niche community. Podcasters often talk to one another, so this has been a good way they’ve landed more clients.

Balancing a Client/Team Member Ratio

Balancing hiring team members so there is enough workforce to satisfy demand without having a surplus is something Pete and Brian are always working on.

When working with a client, they assign a virtual assistant (or a “Pro” as they call them) and that same Pro stays with the client.

Brian said a Pro can handle around 3-4 clients, depending on the workload. This gives them a good idea of how many Pros they need to train up as they increase their client base.

They currently have 7 full-time Pros on staff at AwesomePros.

Expected Lifetime Value of a Customer

Brian said that most of their clients stick around for a long time. In fact, they’re still working with the very first clients they landed.

They’ll know better in a year or so when they have more data, but for now, Brian said it’s looking really good.

Ever Had Pros and Clients Try to Cut You Out?

After connecting a Pro with a client, you may think it’s tempting for a client to try and cut Brian and Pete out and just work 1-on-1 with a Pro to save money.

This isn’t a problem they’ve run into though. For one, Brian said both Pros and clients sign contracts agreeing to honor their arrangement and not take their relationship “off-platform”.

This isn’t what keeps their Pros loyal, however. Brian said he and Pete are creating a community within the company, somewhere the Pros enjoy working.

They also pay their Pros well, as well as paying for healthcare and offering some other perks. Pete added that they’re also taking on a lot of the risk by hiring Pros full-time.

Clients don’t necessarily want a full-time assistant. They’re not able to pick and choose when and how often a virtual assistant works for them, this is something AwesomePros is able to offer.

Pricing the Service

“We were thinking if we could price it to be just under minimum wage in the US for the end consumer, that would be like a crazy bargain,” Pete told me.

They took the figure of $15/hr as a kind of pseudo minimum wage as the actual amount varies from state to state and set that as their base for pricing.

This also allows Pete and Brian to pay their Pros an amount well above the average for their country. So, it’s a win-win for both sides.

Target Gross Margin

Brian said they’re shooting for a 30-40% gross margin at AwesomePros. There are some overhead costs that need to be covered, but it’s not a “super cash-intensive business” Brian told me.

Tech Used to Run the Business

With all of their Pros working remotely and in different time zones to Pete and Brian, they’ve built a simple tech stack to track and handle everything.

The tools and tech they use to run their business are:

  • Clockify – This is the tool they use to track their Pros hours worked, record vacation and sick days, and everything else related to time spent.
  • Google Meet – Pete and Brian use this software to interview candidates, as well as host meetings with their Pros and clients.
  • Slack – This is a team communication software they use to communicate with their Pros.
  • Typeform – This is the software they use when asking candidates interview questions. It allows them to easily export all the data into an Excel sheet to work with.

Training and Onboarding Pros

Brian said they try to recruit Pros with excellent English skills and experience editing podcasts, but there is usually some training required.

They have prospective hires answer questions and write test samples for them, so they’re sure they’re able to write well and produce show notes.

Training someone to use software like Audacity for editing podcasts takes a little more time. Brian said it can take up to a couple of weeks, but they’ll have someone ramped up and ready to go.

Pete added that their philosophy when hiring is, “Don’t tell me what you can do, show me what you can do.”

Pete said they ask prospective hires a lot of questions to make them demonstrate what they’re capable of.

Once they’ve narrowed down their list of candidates a bit, they offer paid tests. They will also do face-to-face interviews once they’re down to the final few candidates.

Pete said that they’re looking for exceptional people, and as a result, they end up hiring just 1-2% of applicants.

OnlineJobs.ph is where Pete and Brian find most of their candidates. They’ve also had candidates referred to them from their Pros, and done some outreach on LinkedIn.

What’s Next?

“What’s next is hopefully turning this from a side hustle for me to a full-time gig for me,” Brian told me.

Brian hopes to be working on AwesomePros full-time within the next 4-6 months. Instead of having 7 Pros, he said he wants to have 17, then 70, and keep growing it.

Pete said AwesomePros is going to continue to be one of his side hustles. His main gig is HowToBeAwesomeAtYourJob.com, a podcast for people wanting to improve their careers. Pete also does some coaching and training off the back of this.

Pete and Brian’s #1 Tips for Side Hustle Nation

Pete: “Validate your concept upfront.”

Brian: “Education is key. Set aside an hour a day on education.”

Free Bonus: 101 Service Business Ideas

101 Service Business Ideas

Guaranteed inspiration for your next income stream!

Enter your email to download the full list now:

You’ll also receive my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter. Opt-out anytime.

Links and Resources from this Episode

Sponsors

freshbooks 2021

Want More Side Hustle Show?

The Side Hustle Show podcast

Find The Side Hustle Show in your favorite podcast player app, or listen in right in your browser.

listen on spotifylisten on google podcasts

Source