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Building My $1M Digital Consulting Agencies Explained: Behind the Scenes

Digital consulting agencies are businesses that offer expert advice and services to other companies in the realm of digital technologies and strategies. These agencies specialize in helping their clients leverage digital tools and platforms to improve business performance, reach new customers, and achieve their strategic goals.

Digital consulting agencies typically work with a wide range of clients, from small businesses to large corporations, across various industries. They bring a mix of strategic thinking, technical expertise, and practical experience to help their clients navigate the rapidly changing digital landscape.

In my previous article I explained my strategic plan to build a $1,000,000 online business alone in 2024 using ChatGPT and automation.

In that article, I defined my five different income stream goals as being:

  • A Digital Consulting Agency
  • My Free Business Builder Program
  • My Social Media Content Income Strategy, Broken Down Into:
    • Affiliate Marketing Revenue
    • Ad Revenue
  • Creating and Selling eBooks
  • Creating and Selling Access to Online Courses

In this article I’m diving deeper, specifically into the process of building my two digital agencies, to explain exactly how I’m building each one and how I’m setting everything up behind the scenes.

Let’s get into it!

The Thought Process Behind My Digital Consulting and Free Business Builder Agencies

My Thought Process Behind My Digital Consulting and Free Business Builder Agencies

As explained in my previous article, everything essentially comes down to one key component:

The consistent production and output of high-quality, valuable content.

While content is the foundation for my books, online courses, and social media content strategy (which we’ll get into more later in this article), it’s also going to play a major role in my success as a service agency and digital consultant.

Not only will it act as my lead traffic source to bring engaged leads to my various products and services, but it’s also a way for me to showcase my skills and expertise.

With content being the foundation of everything else, you’d think it would make sense to start there.

But I’ve actually decided to move slightly backwards.

Rather than focusing on creating content first, I am focusing on building out some of my initial services first.

My thought process behind this is:

When I finally begin posting valuable, high-quality content consistently – I want there to be a product or end destination that leads can go to, in the event they want to invest in my skills and services.

If I were to focus only on content first, that’s a great way to build up an audience, but doesn’t help from a financial point of view if there’s nowhere for that audience to go and purchase anything.

Whereas if I lay the foundation for my agencies first, by the time I get around to putting out high-quality, valuable content on a consistent basis, the ability for me to earn from that content will be immediate rather than delayed.

Using ChatGPT to Start My Digital Consulting Agency

Using ChatGPT to Start My Digital Consulting Agency

Just like I am using ChatGPT to outline much of my book, courses, and social media content – I am also using ChatGPT to build the foundation for my digital services.

The process for both is relatively the same, so for simplicity sake I am going to focus solely on explaining the behind the scenes for my digital consulting agency, Solomain, as out of the two, it is the one that has a few more steps than the free business builder program agency.

First and foremost, also as mentioned briefly in my previous article, I am designing my agency based on the business model used by Brett Williams with his design agency DesignJoy, which I learned about from his interview on Starter Story.

Side note: I also have to thank Brett for introducing me to Trello!

As I mentioned in my previous article, I stumbled upon Trello completely by accident.

I was actually in the middle of trying to design my own app to achieve something similar, as up until that point, I had been struggling with keeping myself organized and productive.

Then, while watching Brett’s interview on Starter Story, he mentioned how he used it to interact with his clients and their project requests.

Not knowing what it was, I went and researched it briefly and was blown away by how much it included everything I had been looking for – and for free!

It has become an integral part of my day to day life, and has significantly improved my productivity while simultaneously destroying my procrastination.

Needless to say – it’s been an absolute game changer!

I’ll be diving much deeper into Trello and specifically how I’m using it in some future articles.

But I digress – back to building!

Anyone who has used ChatGPT for anything at this point understands how powerful it is.

But many people still don’t fully understand just how powerful it can be, because they don’t understand how to give it proper input to get the best results.

The devil is in the details.

The more information, background, and context you can provide, the better responses you will get.

It’s also an iterative process, meaning the more you go back and forth within the conversation, the more specific and contextual your responses will become, as it builds off itself.

So to start my process, I essentially took DesignJoy’s business model and explained the entire thing to ChatGPT from my perspective, based on research of Brett’s website and watching his interview several times to get as much of the nuances as I could.

With that in mind, I curated my first instructional prompt for ChatGPT, which turned out to be the following:

And we’re off to the races!

Now this is only a tiny snippet of what ChatGPT gave me in return, but a few of the different business ideas included things such as:

  • DigitalJoy: A subscription-based digital agency that offers tailored solutions for individuals and businesses looking to establish or revamp their digital footprint. Leveraging a deep understanding of technology, marketing, and content creation, DigitalJoy offers unparalleled expertise with a personal touch.
  • StrategyJoy: This could be a digital consultancy service where clients come with a broad goal or problem, and you provide a detailed, step-by-step strategy on how to achieve or solve it. It aligns perfectly with your love for reverse engineering.
  • LifeDesignJoy: A personal coaching platform that’s asynchronous. Clients share their personal or professional challenges, and you craft a tailored roadmap to guide them. This will leverage your skills in personal development, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence.
  • TechMind Blueprint: An intersection of your tech and personal development skills, this would be where startups or individuals approach with a tech or business concept, and you reverse engineer a feasible plan, keeping in mind both the technicalities and the human elements.
  • Digital Solutions Lab: A blend of the DigitalJoy idea, but more focused on problem-solving. Clients provide you with a digital or marketing challenge, and you deliver a solution – whether it’s a revamped digital campaign, a website fix, or a content strategy.

I’m not going to paste every back and forth interaction between ChatGPT and I because it would make this article ridiculously long, but you can see the full conversation in this YouTube video or view the entire conversation within ChatGPT by clicking here.

But we went back and forth for a while, where based on my personal preferences I asked it to remove things, add things, or even combine several ideas into one or two new ideas.

The key with using ChatGPT for anything is that you don’t want to take what it gives you as a copy and paste.

You want to take what it gives you, go back and forth through several rounds of conversation, and use the information and results provided to curate your own unique end product.

Case and point, ChatGPT felt the need to include the word “joy” in the majority of the business names simply because of the name of the source company I used as an example – even though I had no interest in using the term for my own business.

Once I had a solid foundation for the type of business I wanted to put together, I gave ChatGPT my updated terms of business and asked it to provide me some additional information based on my new business idea, such as:

  • Key Features
  • Membership Benefits
  • Potential Deliverables
  • Potential Problems and Obstacles
  • Ideal Target Audience and Customer Avatars
  • Service Tiers
  • Possible Package Addons
  • Client Onboarding Questionnaires
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Service

Essentially, it created a minimum base for me to start with each item in order to get my agency up and running as quickly as possible.

Once I gathered all the results from ChatGPT, combined the features I wanted to keep and scrapped the ones I didn’t, the next step was to put it all together into a productized service.

I bought the domain name Solomain.com, installed WordPress, and began building out my new agency’s landing page and client onboarding funnel.

Coming Soon: Watch Me Build My Digital Consulting Agency Website From Scratch, Start to Finish

Building My Digital Consulting Agency Client Onboarding Flow

Once again, using DesignJoy for inspiration on how to set this process up, I researched how Brett had his customer onboarding process and flow set up.

There were a few key features that stood out to me in which I wanted to mimic:

  1. Asynchronous communication and project management through Trello, meaning there’s no need for phone calls, zoom calls, meetings, or any type of link up.

  2. Everything was automated. As soon as his customers subscribe to his service, they’re immediately given access to their Trello board and can begin submitting design requests.

  3. The “pause or cancel anytime” feature, which allows his clients to only activate their subscription when they have work requests. This means they’re not wasting money by paying for time they’re not using the service.

Based on these key features I was interested in, there was three pieces of information I needed to figure out:

  1. How to use and set up Trello in a way that asynchronously teaches new clients how to use it in the event that they’re brand new to Trello and never used it before.

  2. How to automate the process of creating a new Trello board for new customers when they subscribe to my service.

  3. How to implement a similar “pause or cancel anytime” feature for my clients to have the same kind of benefit.

1. Teaching Clients How to Use Trello

I felt like out of all three of these, I knew this one was going to be the easiest to accomplish.

Essentially all I had to do was create a short “how to” instructional video at each major stage in the sign-up process.

So I recorded two simple videos:

1. A welcome video that explains what to expect and next steps, which appears on the sign-up confirmation page after a new client has successfully subscribed.

Welcome to Solomain Video Thumbnail

2. A short 5-minute guided walkthrough of the Trello board from a new client perspective, showing the exact step-by-step process of how to begin submitting requests all the way through to the completion of a project. This is linked inside the client’s Trello board with additional instructions for getting started.

Solomain Introduction to Your Trello Board Video Thumbnail

Once I had these two videos setup and live, the next step was figuring out how to automate the Trello board creation process.

2. Automating the Trello Board Creation Process for New Clients

I’m not sure how this process works for DesignJoy since it’s something that happens behind the scenes, so they may do it somewhat differently.

But one of the greatest tools I know of for automating processes across multiple services and platforms is a website called Zapier.

Screenshot of Zapier Homepage

If you’re unfamiliar with Zapier, it’s essentially a powerhouse of automation that works by linking different apps together to perform certain tasks when specified events occur.

It basically performs high-level versions of “IF THEN” statements, meaning “IF this happens, THEN do that.”

With over 6000+ different apps that integrate with it, there’s endless possibilities on what you can automate and how you can create flows of productivity.

So that’s where I went.

The process was relatively straight forward:

Step 1: Connect apps to Zapier.

In my case, the apps I knew I needed to connect were Trello, Stripe (my payment processor), and Gmail:

  • It needs access to Stripe so it can see when a new subscription is purchased.
  • It needs access to Trello so it can create new boards.
  • It needs access to Gmail so it can send emails.
Screenshot of Adding Apps in Zapier

Step 2: Set up automations in Zapier

Once connected to the apps I needed, it was time to set up the automations (called ‘Zaps’).

Depending on how complex you want to get with your automations, or how many automations you need, will determine what plan you’ll want to use.

The free version limits you to a total of five one-step Zaps (automation setups) and 100 tasks per month.

Since I only need two very basic (one-step) automations, and I don’t anticipate signing on 50+ clients per month (which would cross the 100 tasks per month limit, given 2 actions per every new customer), the free version is suitable for my needs.

Screenshot of Creating a New Zap in Zapier

Zap #1 – New Trello Board for New Client

In this zap, I connected my Stripe account to my Trello account.

I set my trigger (the event that activates the automation) to be any time I get a new client in Stripe.

I already have a pre-made board inside my Trello workspace called NEW CLIENT TEMPLATE, which has everything in it a new customer needs.

So I set my reaction event (what happens after the trigger is set off) in Zapier to create a new copy of this template board, in which it renames the board to the name of the new client.

With Zap #1 activated, now every time I get a new client, Zapier will create a new Trello board for that client using the information it pulls from Stripe.

Screenshot of Solomain New Customer Onboarding Zap

Zap #2 – Send Welcome Email

In this zap, I connected my Stripe account to my Google Workspace (Gmail) account.

The trigger event for this automation is the same as Zap #1 – anytime I get a new client in Stripe.

I set my reaction event to send a predefined welcome email to the new customer that includes additional information, instructions, relevant links, etc.

With Zap #2 activated, I now have a completely automated new client onboarding process.

3. Setting Up the ‘Pause or Cancel Anytime’ Subscription Feature for My Digital Consulting Agencies

I noticed DesignJoy was using Stripe for their billing and payments processor.

I assumed since Stripe is the payment processor Brett’s using to manage his client subscriptions, they must have the pause or cancel feature built in.

Conveniently, I already had a Stripe account that I set up ages ago and never ended up using (up until this point I’ve used PayPal for all my past client transactions).

So I logged into my Stripe account, made some quick information and security updates, then created a new product, set the pricing to be subscription-based, and began browsing around their various features.

After some digging, I did indeed find where you could activate the “pause” feature to allow clients to pause their subscriptions.

To activate this feature, all I had to do was:

  1. Go to Settings from the top right settings menu
  2. Under the Billing area, select ‘Customer Portal’
  3. Activate the Customer Portal (if not already activated)
  4. Scroll down to the ‘Cancellations’ dropdown menu
  5. Turn the ‘Pause Subscriptions’ feature on

This also created a Customer Portal for my clients to manage their subscription, which I also added a link to inside their Trello Board for easy access.

Building the Apex Haus Free Business Builder Program Onboarding Flow

As for the content creator collaboration side of my business plan, I essentially did all of the same stuff as I did with setting up my digital consulting agency.

The only major difference between the two is that the way I have this business builder program setup as of right now, a potential collaborator does not have the option to immediately book a session with me or buy anything (whereas a client for Solomain does).

In order to join my service agency, leads must first go through my Free Business Builder application and get approved in order to set up a free consultation call.

In order to do this, I added two additional steps:

  1. Created a questionnaire page on my website that includes a submission form using Kartra.

  2. Set custom parameters to auto approve or deny applicants based on my specified requirements.

Get Your 30-Day Free Trial with Kartra by Clicking Here!

Only after they’ve completed those two steps and get approved by my automated system, can they continue on to book a consultation.

But everything else – outlining, building, and process wise – was essentially the same.

Screenshot of the Kartra Homepage
Click here or the image to start your 30-day free trial with Kartra.

At this point, both my service agency and consulting services are officially live, which means I can now move into the second half of my 2024 $1,000,000 business strategy: content creation; which you can learn all about in my next article!

-Z

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