The $10,000 Per Month Agency Story

Published: October 7th, 2019. Last Updated: October 28th, 2019.
by Chris Von Wilpert

It's Wednesday night, 10pm. Suddenly a brilliant idea to get more clients hits me. 

I run over to my desk and start writing up a Facebook post about it:

It's Wednesday night, 10pm. Suddenly a brilliant idea to get more clients hits me. 

I run over to my desk and start writing up a Facebook post about it:

chris facebook post image

At the end of the post I offer the first person to land a client using my strategy two rewards:

  1. A $25 Amazon gift card.
  2. Introductions to more clients (via my email list).
  1. A $25 Amazon gift card.
  2. Introductions to more clients (via my email list).

10 minutes later, Justin Brooke drops this comment:

justin brooke facebook comment image

I’m thinking to myself: “Great idea JBizzle, but starting from 0 sounds like a shit ton of work.”

Then one hour later 34 people have reacted to the comment.

justin brooke facebook likes image

Now I’m thinking to myself: “f**k I’m really going to have to do this now, aren’t I?”

I start writing down ideas for a service offer I’ll make.

Content promotion is a good starting spot. Everyone wants more traffic to their content.

Now I just need to focus on the biggest traffic multiplier to content. Content Multipliers, Social Media Multipliers, List Multipliers.

Yes List Multipliers, I grew the Sumo.com list to 10k/month in 5 months. I know a proven strategy to turn traffic into emails. How about --- I offer a performance based service that turns clients blog traffic into hyper-targeted leads. Bingo!

My new Three Jabs (3J) strategy is born:

three jabs content strategy image

Screw $1k/mo. I think I can make $10k/mo profit with this one proven strategy.

The Dream 100 Hit List

I wake up late the next morning and eat some fried rice. I want to start emailing people, but let’s be realistic:

This strategy won’t work for everyone. 

Actually it will, but if I want to charge based on performance (and have a shot at hitting $10k/mo with a handful of clients), I need to get clients with as much or more traffic than Sumo.

So, instead, I open up all the email database tools I know of. LeadFuze, BuiltWith, Datanyze, NerdyData.

email databases image

My first instinct is to search the databases by tech stack.

What tools would a site with 200k+ organic traffic use? Ahrefs, Clearscope, Moz Pro.

I try all of them. None of the email databases have niche SEO tools listed in their database. WTF!?!?

Late at night (because I live in China), I get on demo calls with US sales reps and tell them my list criteria:

I need a list of websites with blogs getting over 200k organic traffic per month.

They tell me to use keyword filters like “blog” to narrow my search down to websites with blogs, but none have a traffic filter… except one:

datanyze semrush image

Time to build my Dream 100 hit list!

The only problem?

Datanyze pricing starts at $600/mo. WTF Datanyze !?!?

I don’t really want to pay $600 to build a list of 100 people. 10 minutes later I find this thing called “SEMrush Rank” in the Domain Analytics section of SEMrush:

semrush rank image

Turns out I’ve hit the jackpot. 

SEMrush Rank is amazing. 

You pick a country and it spits back a list of sites ranked by the most organic traffic.

So I export the top 10,000 sites in the United States onto a CSV on my computer.

semrush export image

These sites are my perfect audience. 

They’ve spent years building strong organic traffic to their sites, and I’m about to spoon feed them a proven strategy to convert that traffic into hyper-targeted leads.

For example, the business pictured below hustled from Jan 2012 to Oct 2014 (34 months) to get their first 1,000 organic visitors. Now, 7+ years after site launch, they get 261k organic visitors a month:

semrush organic traffic example image

Getting the sites is only half the battle though.

I’ve also got to:

  1. Find which sites run company blogs.
  2. Get the names of decision makers and their emails.
  1. Find which sites run company blogs.
  2. Get the names of decision makers and their emails.

To do it, I copy/paste the domains from my csv file into a Google sheet, and start manually doing it myself.

Starting from the bottom (SEMrush Rank 10,000) and working my way to the top.

Slam on my headphones and listen to Drake “Started From The Bottom,” whilst I lookup site after site after site after site after site.

After four hours and 50 rows of data, I’m exhausted (and start to hate Drake).

So I type up the following message to my ex-Sumo co-worker, Magic Matt (who led Sumo’s SDR team):

Yo Magic, any chance you have a good source for a VA to find a list of 100 prospects?

Magic responds:

I've sourced all my VAs via Upwork, but there are these outsourced firms that do this kind of thing, like DataBees. Bar happens to be using them now at his new company in Denver.

I hit up my homie Bar (ex-Sumo Head of Sales) and we jump on a quick 15-minute call.

Bar gives me the low-down on DataBees:

Bro, DataBees are great, but they have their pros and cons.

Cons: 

  • They’re a bit more expensive than a full-time Philippines-based VA.
  • You have to give them very specific instructions

Pros: 

  • They manage your VA for you so it’s way more hands-off.
  • They have a whole team, so you can scale your leads up and down easy.
  • The lead data they get is accurate AF.

Cons: 

  • They’re a bit more expensive than a full-time Philippines-based VA.
  • You have to give them very specific instructions

Pros: 

  • They manage your VA for you so it’s way more hands-off.
  • They have a whole team, so you can scale your leads up and down easy.
  • The lead data they get is accurate AF.

I was sold.

It’s midnight, so I quickly jump over to DataBee’s website and buy the one-week trial for $99. That gives me one full-time assistant for 40 hours.

databees trial image

10am the next day I check my email for something from DataBees.

Nothing. F*&k. I need leads.

So I go back to their site and use the “Schedule a Call” widget on the bottom right of the site to book a time for 11pm that night (my time).

In the meantime I record a Loom video with specific instructions on exactly what I want my DataBee to do:

On the call I send Joe from DataBee’s my Loom video and tell him to “make me honey".

Joe says his people will start building my list on Monday, and have my Dream 100 hit list done by the end of Wednesday.

I hit up my buddy Guillaume Moubeche from Lemlist, and tell him “I’m ready to make it rain.”

The Timmy Traffic Outreach Funnel

It’s time to build a cold email sequence.

The whole “Hey {{firstName}}, loved your blog post on {{topic}}! Would love to chat about {{product}}” is overdone.

So I ask Guillaume Moubeche from Lemlist:

Got any tips on the email sequence I should use?

Guillaume sends me a link to Lemlist’s complete collection of cold email templates:

lemlist cold email templates image

I’m all over it like a fat kid with a cupcake (18 of them).

My whole Saturday is spent studying Lemlist’s cold email templates.

I read every word. Study every template. 

Then start merging my copywriting skills with some of Guillaume and Vuk’s ideas from the blog.

Open up Facebook and pretend to write a message to one of my Aussie mates: Joey Big Pig.

cold email draft image

Copy/paste the message into a text doc on my computer and move onto email #2.

At this point, there isn’t much to tell you. There’s no magic formula to follow. Just hours on my laptop thinking “If I was on the other end of this email, how would I respond?”

The answer to that one question guides every word I write.

I write. Then rewrite. Then rewrite again. Tweaking sentences all day as I slowly read through all the Lemlist cold email templates for inspiration.

In 2015 I sent 100+ cold emails in a desperate attempt to land more clients for my ad agency. I even shot personal videos. It was time consuming and hard.

cold outreach example image

I’d just won Australia 30under30 and thought I was top shit.

Then I got slammed:

cold outreach example fail image

Again, and again, and again, and again, and again.

I felt like giving up, but I took the hits on the chin and kept moving forward. Haters gonna hate.

Just over one week into building my new $10k/mo agency it’s still hard.

My copy feels like a mess, and I’m afraid of looking like a spammer AGAIN. Waa-waa. Don’t be a cry baby. Nobody cares. Figure it out. Everyone else figured it out.

I think back to a mastermind I went to in Florida with Justin Brooke and the AdSkills gang. 

At the mastermind Justin reverse engineered Tai Lopez’s most successful YouTube video ad “Here In My Garage”.

Tai’s secret?

Charlie Munger’s 25 cognitive biases.

I figure if I can give context and frame the information I send in a specific way like Tai:

I’ll be able to influence decision makers judgment and decision-making to hire me.

I start mapping out Charlie Munger’s cognitive biases to every stage of my outreach funnel. Every time I get stuck I go back to YouTube and rewatch Charlie Munger’s speech on The Psychology of Human Misjudgement.

It’s Mayweather vs McGregor. I’m copywriting like Mayweather ducks in and out of punches with Philly shell shoulder rolls. Pivot hooks. Throwing haymakers. Writing hit after hit.

Word after word. Sentence after sentence. I’m becoming better at human persuasion than Tai Lopez himself. Personalizing an outreach campaign Ogilvy would be proud of. And I’m loving every second of it.

cold outreach funnel image

Lemlist Cold Emails

I wake up the next morning, rush over to my laptop, and create a new gmail account with the pen name “Timmy Traffic.”

gmail account image

This is the pen name I’m going to use to prove I can get clients with zero testimonials, zero connections, zero social followers, and zero email list.

I tell my wife, “We need to go to Starbucks and order two Grande Lattes With Extra Caramel Drizzle.”

She looks at me weird. I tell her it’s for a marketing project. She gives me that “what are you up to now?” look, but agrees to come if I take her out to a movie.

I take a shower and put on my best button-down shirt. Then jump on an hour long bus ride to town. Walk into Starbucks and tell the waitress:

Two Grande Lattes With Extra Caramel Drizzle please.

She grabs two Grande size cups and asks me my name. I tell her:

Please don’t write my name, I need the cups to take pictures.

Waitress looks at me weird. Asks if she can write my name on the back of the cup instead. I say “that’s fine.”

My lattes come out. I find a spot with good lightning. Then I hit my best pose while my wife takes a picture. 54 poses, three location swaps and a lil’ bit of Insta-magic later. I have “the money shot”:

Back at home, I sit down on the couch and open up Chapter 14 of The Boron Letters.

On June 25, 1984 Gary Halbert wrote a letter to his son. In it he wrote about a dirt filled plastic baggie. An “attention grabber” he attached to a real estate investment sales letter. He then tied his sales copy back to the dirt baggie in a relevant way that made sense. 

The result = cold prospects replying to his sales offer.

gary halbert dirt baggie image

I login to Lemlist. Inside email #1 I strategically place Timmy’s beautiful barista smile aka “the money shot”.

(with the name of my prospect elegantly handwritten on one of the cups.)

starbucks personalized image

Then I tie my email copy back to the “attention grabber”:

lemlist email image

Ain’t nobody gonna be calling your boi Timmy a spammer after getting this email 🙂

Get the focused attention of my prospect. Check.

Humanize cold email with a personalized image. Check.

Build rapport. Check. 

Now for Step 2.

I open up my AdSkills Ad Journal. Tell my wife to take a pic of me pointing at a blank page in the book.

Then I use it to present a personalized image with the "opportunity gap" I've found on my prospects site:

lemlist email 2 notebook image

BOOM! Look at lil’ Timmy go.

To seal the deal I add a diagram of my Three Jabs strategy. Drag the company’s name and logo onto the diagram. Then make a specific ask to meet me tomorrow at 9am EST for 15 minutes.

lemlist email 2 diagram image

My second email can now be answered with a simple “Yes Timmy.”

If that doesn’t land me a meeting, I’ve got a wild card up my sleeve for Step 3.

A personalized video.

lemlist email 3 image

One click on that video thumbnail. And my fully personalized landing page with company logo, name, first name, video and calendar magically appears:

personalized landing page image

When the video is played, I blow my prospect away with my Three Jabs strategy.

I spend five minutes giving insane value, then 30 seconds pitching my prospect to get on a call:

In the last second the video finishes, this chat box pops up:

lemchat image

Crazy, right? That’s the power of Lemlist.

Now, what if email one, two, AND three don’t work?

It’s time to say goodbye.

If you ain’t got time for Timmy Traffic, Timmy ain’t got time for you. Simple as that.

Like any good breakup… we let it go (deep breath in, deep breath out).

lemlist email 4 image

I woke up with an idea to go order Lattes at Starbucks. I’m ending the day with a 4-step cold email campaign. I’m happy. It’s done. 100% personalized. 100% automated. 100% my own voice and style. 

I hope Gary Halbert would be proud.

I hit up my buddy Guillaume (CEO at Lemlist), and ask him to hop on a call tomorrow to review my sequence. Then I fall into bed.

The next day Guillaume and I get on a Google hangout:

Guillaume gives me some killer feedback:

  • A/B test your subject line.
  • Make your call to action in email #2 for a specific day and time.
  • Follow-up every three days.
  • Send Monday to Sunday (because entrepreneurs open on Sunday).
  • Spread out email sending 7am-6pm to maximize deliverability.
  • A/B test your subject line.
  • Make your call to action in email #2 for a specific day and time.
  • Follow-up every three days.
  • Send Monday to Sunday (because entrepreneurs open on Sunday).
  • Spread out email sending 7am-6pm to maximize deliverability.

The only problem?

guillaume new gmail account image

Shit.

I grab my Dream 100 list and start importing it into Lemlist.

If you want to see how many client meetings I land, enter your email below to ride along:

The form above will subscribe you to the Content Mavericks email list, send you my best traffic tips, and put you on the list to get notified about Part 4 of this case study.

Note: If you already subscribed you don't need to subscribe again.

PS - Want me to buy you a copy of The Boron Letters? Guess how many meetings I land in the comments. If you’re right I’ll ship you a copy.

Then, if you’d like to help me promote this case study to your email list, DM me on my personal Facebook. I love helping people who promote my stuff.

And finally, if you're trying to get recurring revenue clients to grow a small, profitable agency, and want a predictable system to grow your client’s traffic, I teach everything I know here.

  • John says:

    Chris Bacon as in Chris “bringin home the” Bacon.

  • Nick Smith says:

    Ben Franklin 🙂

  • Dejan says:

    Chris “The Content Guy” Von Wilpert

  • Paul says:

    Hey Chris von Wilpert, is your pen name Chris Von Wilpert?

  • Greg says:

    VonWilpert is the pen name

  • Les says:

    Gee Chris, you are refreshingly transparent. But in some way, I feel like an aeroplane passenger invited into the cockpit and the captain invites me in as his copilot. He is presuming a lot of me and I am totally overawed by the sophisticated instrumentation and have no idea of anything. I’m likely as not to just freeze or crash the damn plane.

    • Chris Von Wilpert says:

      That’s an interesting analogy. I’ll try to breakdown everything I do so the complex becomes simple for you Les. We’ll have you flying your own private jet after the next month 🙂

  • Jeremy says:

    If your Pen name’s not Drake (or Aubrey Graham), Imma be sad af sir

  • Naren says:

    Hi Chris,

    Alexander Supertramp. In the movie “Into The Wild”, Christopher Johnson McCandless change his name to Alex Supertramp and then goes into the wild to live an unknown life. My all-time favourite movie. If you haven’t watched it, then it’s a must.

    Story:
    The McCandless story is well known: how the 24-year-old hiker, born in California, raised in Virginia, abandoned his safe suburban upbringing, donating $24,000 in savings to charity and styling himself Alexander Supertramp, and set off on a two-year hitchhiking journey that ended with his death in the bus.

    Let me know where I can send my Paypal details for the monies you promised.

    • Chris Von Wilpert says:

      You put a lot of thought into that one Naren, niiiiice! I actually haven’t seen that movie, will need to watch it. All will be revealed on the pen name when Part 2 comes out next week.

  • Chris' Inner Voice says:

    Your pen name will be Justin Brooke. Revenge is a dish best served cold emailing…

    • Chris Von Wilpert says:

      Haha, the only problem is if I use Justin Brooke I remove the whole “start from 0 audience” challenge cause JBizzle has got a small army of raving fans.

  • Josh says:

    It’s either Bloggy McBloggerface or C-Money Von Breakdance.

    Has to be.

  • Hey m gonna go with Jbizzel

    Love the drake video!

  • John says:

    Pen name => Dream 100

  • Dig it dude. I bet your own name is Dirty D from Pootie Tang.

  • Steve says:

    JBizzle seems appropriate.

  • Dan Lacey says:

    Love the dancing!

    I’m basing this guess off you leaving some kind of breadcrumbs in your email and gonna go Kenneth Ryan Anthony or some form of… real name of Prophet the rapper.

  • Shehu says:

    Awesome job, Chris.

    I’m guessing that the pen name = Nick Smith

  • Alex says:

    Von breakdance

  • Dazza says:

    I reckon “Chris Tenk” is a good’un 😉

  • Yudi says:

    Chris “T-Rex” Von Wilpert

  • T!M says:

    Bic Cross… 2 pen names in one!

  • Troy says:

    Chris, having a pen name that doesn’t reveal who you are so easily… use good old “John Doe”… Hah, but I like “Joseph Simmons” (Run, of Run DMC.)

    • Chris Von Wilpert says:

      Nice suggestions Troy. Trust me… the pen name won’t reveal who I am at all and I’ll be using a new email address.

  • Vanessa Davies says:

    Love this! Is the pen name “List Multipliers”?

  • I’ve seen the Von Wilpert hit some things out the park before. I’m going to go 28 out of 100. Who could resist that smile!

  • Dam says:

    43 meetings booked

  • Karen says:

    I’m guessing you’ll land ~50 meetings.

  • Yudi says:

    4 Meetings

  • Dan Lacey says:

    Can I just guess between 5 and 27 meetings booked? You didn’t say I could only guess once or couldn’t choose with a range…

  • Andrew Pontius says:

    I’m gonna go with 3, but those three will be :fire:.

  • Nuno Poço says:

    I’ll go with 8 meetings and 6 closed deals.

  • Stuart Read says:

    You could also look at the Majestic Million for traffic per TLD: https://majestic.com/reports/majestic-million

    • Chris Von Wilpert says:

      Nice one Stuart. What’s a “referring subnet” though? It’s not really clear on the page. Is this basically a list of domains ranked by number of backlinks (instead of traffic)?

  • Justin says:

    You can take the list of domains from SEMrush and then import those into the Account Based search in LeadFuze. Then look at specific roles you want to target (ie, CMO, Owner, etc). It will give you contact info for all the people in those roles at those domains.

    • Chris Von Wilpert says:

      Nice one Justin, I did see that when I first signed up for LeadFuze, but forgot about it. Will def give it a shot if I need to source another 100 leads using the domains I’ve got from SEMrush.

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