This One Tactic Helped Andrey Kisselev of Addi Marketing Win His First Few Clients (Using Upwork). It took him almost 200 proposals to win his first paying customer 0.5% conversion rate. He’s now a top freelancer on Upwork and spends a lot less time on customer acquisition.
Since then, Andrey has grown his business substantially and has become a Google Partner. He runs a team all over the world and works closely with clients to ensure they’re receiving leads and overall marketing strategy.
Check out his website at: https://addimarketing.com/
check him out on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrey-kisselev/
Here’s the video interview:
Here’s the full transcript:
Ryan Shank: Here. All right guys, welcome back to another episode of growing your agency with Ryan shank today. Super excited. We have Andre Kissel f from Adi Marketing. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s great to be here. Thanks Ryan. Yeah, thank you so much. So, um, I know that you, I see obviously in the background you’re a Google certified partner. Uh, tell us a little bit about, uh, you know, your agency, your current company, uh, and also how you got into this. Like why, why go into digital marketing?
Andrey Kisselev: Okay. I the short story, how we started, um, doing g digital marketing. Actually it all started by, by accident a few years back I was a, my previous corporate job was coming to an end. I was working for blackberry and it wasn’t going great and I kind of was, um, I wanted to do something else, something different, start a new chapter in my life financially as well. Sure. I started thinking it was about three, three and a half, four years ago. And, um, are kind of looking, I’m thinking. Okay. I’m a, I’m technical by, I have an it by ground but not programmer. I like to learn. I learned fast what will be interesting stuff that goes on. [inaudible] so first thing I did, I learned solar cells, solar energy. Okay. Before it was a thing,
Ryan Shank: the product, learn about the product or, or
Andrey Kisselev: my product about how it works and everything. And uh, I, I was hired to the company, small a company I was living in Italy at that time. It was very slow. It was no a basically nor clients. And they put me, uh, they told me, okay, do some, get some client acquisitions, make a phone calls. And I was making cold calls and I hated it.
Ryan Shank: You were, so you were working for the company selling, but you were cold calling and just grinding it out? Yes.
Andrey Kisselev: That was called cold calling and I hated it. And then I kind of start thinking, so what, what’s a better way to, to get customers on these Google Edwards thing and it’s pay the advertising. And that’s how I learned first about it.
Ryan Shank: So who told you about it? Who told you about this? Google adwords.
Andrey Kisselev: It was in a company. They were, they told me, okay. Getting a new client call called list numbers, like a hundred calls a day. And that was, I hated it and I, and I started asking questions. So do you guys, is there any way to, another way to, to find the clients?
Ryan Shank: Sure. Yeah. How do we get, how do we get to this many people with out having to pick up the phone a hundred times. Yeah.
Andrey Kisselev: And the vessels, they were running this rudimentary Google Edwards campaign and that’s how it started. I started learning and started reading started at least in podcasts and basically I decided to, to put all my efforts, I uh, to learn to become a certified and basically do it on my own.
Ryan Shank: Did you, did you do that within the company and then decide to break out? Cause I’ve heard a lot of stories about people sort of learning the ropes inside of a company and then boom, they’re kind of like a, we’ll break off on their own.
Andrey Kisselev: No, I did it on my own completely on my own. And because this got the company wasn’t, there wasn’t very many clients.
Ryan Shank: Got It. So when you were at that company, you were only doing the cold calling, then you said, hey, I’m going to learn this on my own and then I want to leave and then I want to do this for other clients as well.
Andrey Kisselev: That was the plan and I took a sabbatical. Basically I quit that com bunny quit that job and I basically spent three months, months over um, Loring to get a certification, Google ads, sort of certification partner. Um, and um, after that I started searching for my first new client. But imagine with no background, not pre previous clients, it was extremely, it was probably the hardest thing.
Ryan Shank: Yes. This is what I actually love and this is what I think is really, really interesting and I think a lot of people listening to this or watching this are, are kind of in that exact situation that you’re in. Maybe they’ve like taken a course, they’ve learned, they probably haven’t gotten certified to be honest. But they’re saying like, how do I get that first client, you know? So what did you do? How’d you do it? Upwork. Upwork. Yes. Every single episode. So far people have using upwork. Every single one. Um, so, so what did you do on, oh, you posted as someone, you, you responded to a listing, right?
Andrey Kisselev: Yes. I created the profile saying I’m doing Google ad words. This is my service on my certifications. And I started basically searching for war for jobs for all first. And then you’ll basically, I spent every day, like two, three hours putting a peachy for jobs and occasionally they asked our, started getting coals and that’s how it works. You start getting calls, people interview, talk with you and then
Ryan Shank: talk to me. Talk to me about that funnel. Cause that’s actually something I’m really interested in cause I’ve posted on there, I’ve never actually, uh, like tried to get hired on there. And I know whenever I post I get a lot of responses. So I’m curious, you know, when you’re responding to these job postings on there, you know, how many, how many of them do you respond to? Cause you take time, you put together a little proposal, then you get the phone calls, then you actually get the, uh, get the client. What is that like upward hiring funnel look like?
Andrey Kisselev: So that board basically it’s a side that connects, connects them professionals with, with employees and employees are people who need some kind of project, um, be done quickly. And, uh, so in addition to having my profile, uh, I, every day I go to the list of, um, list of offers and I searched by my keyword. Like in my, in my case it was Google ad words and I see a in, I see job offers where basically roughly it says what needs to be done, what kind of foray the they prepared pay. Yep. My, first of all, I select the ones that, that, that sounds more interesting in optimized level. Yeah. And I, uh, and I write the short proposal. Ideally, I include all my case studies when I do have anything in the beginning. I do have that in back. Any testimonials. It was, that’s why it was like the hardest thing to do.
Ryan Shank: We don’t price like how did you win in those early days with no true case studies, no experience, no verified hours, which I actually know is really important on upwork. Verified hours and reviews. Like how, how did you, how did you win those initial deals?
Andrey Kisselev: Well, uh, partially by luck, uh, but also I was pricing very um, uh, more, uh, modestly myself. And, but even though, uh, even though some people, a lot of them, a lot of um, clients, they just want to hire someone from Asia, even tutor, like, like, but mostly people then realize that to get quality you need to have something, something different, someone and the soul. I think I spent two, three months before getting my first actual client,
Ryan Shank: two to three months. Okay. And then, so, so kind of going back to the funnel question, how many, how many proposals do you think you sent in order to confer?
Andrey Kisselev: I think like 15 proposals a day, 1520 proposals because you want to, you don’t want to send the cookie cutter kind of template. You want kind of to be very personal with every proposal.
Ryan Shank: 10 to 15 a day for how many? Like how many total proposals? Like hundreds before you got one
Andrey Kisselev: block. 15 yeah, probably two to 300 to 300. Wow. Another thing is when like if you keep searching on upwork, I mean there’s, is also, there are so many offers a day you cannot really invent more because there is no, there are no more.
Ryan Shank: Exactly, exactly. There’s a finite amount of amount of jobs. So, so anyways, so maybe like a three to 5% conversion rate from proposal to actually landing the job if it’s two to 300 proposals. Um,
Andrey Kisselev: dap. Now curious, kind of like
Ryan Shank: transitioning forward or are you still getting jobs off of there and do you have a higher conversion rate? Maybe not. Okay.
Andrey Kisselev: So, so now, uh, I thought after I incorporated two, two years ago and I’m, uh, um, almost, uh, having a 20 clients, uh, uh, first year, like a previous year, I was getting, I would say 95% of my clients from upwork. Uh, then going forward, um, I started getting clients through referrals, um, at least for through, through referrals from my previous clients. And that’s getting this, um, part is getting bigger in upwork part is getting smaller, but I still do, some clients get, get some class I’m leads from, from upwork actually, honestly. And now I reached the level where I have so many, so much work that I, I spend much less time of client acquisitions acquisition. So
Ryan Shank: how do you, um, for the clients, I guess now and even back then and just kind of going into some tactics, uh, how are you pricing like, like back then you said you were pricing low, was that mean flat flat fee, percentage of ad spend, some type of blend? What is your pricing model look like for, for the clients that you have?
Andrey Kisselev: Yeah. First, uh, initially I kind of, um, some, um, when you see job offers so they don’t, some of them don’t tell you how much the span, some of them kind of give you an idea. And by looking at the history of that client, how much they were paying to previous um, previous freelancers, I kind of get an idea what they, what they are ready, prepared to pay and also a, and also what kind of job, uh, what, how, how expense, how complicated and involved the project is for me because I didn’t want to spend 10 hours and get $20 off of pay. So, and then I kind of,
Ryan Shank: you mean for accounts set up, kind of like going through keyword research, that sort of thing.
Andrey Kisselev: Most of them wanted to, to fix their Google ads. We should reach a, involve the optimization or set up from scratch. Now I call it set up and I said, okay guys, I will do, I was really pricing, hit it low. And I say, ah, I said, I would do your optimization for you and a manager for 30 days for $500, which was really, really low.
Ryan Shank: Separating out, you know, campaigns and ad groups doing some broad match modified
Andrey Kisselev: that all of included I will, I will create an I managed for 30 days for, for this amount of money. And uh, uh, even then, uh, I not kind of, everyone was jumping at this opportunity, so people maybe they found something cheaper elsewhere. Yeah, that’s how I got first, second, third client and then kind of going forward, I started a little bit, uh, saying I, I won’t, I can do all of that without actually a rating myself. And then next step they would call me, we will chat and kind of then I would, I would give them proposals and numbers, but firstly we’ll break to break in. I, I actually, I was, uh, I was attracting them by this super low offer.
Ryan Shank: Got It. So almost like an od, an audit plus optimization at some low price and 100 bucks, something like that, whatever it is
Andrey Kisselev: typical, the most typical, uh, the need for people.
Ryan Shank: And then that gets you in the door, that gets you to the proposal state and then whatever it is from there, you at least get to have the conversation, then you convert, you know, whatever it is. So, so then once you get a, you know, past that stage and even, and maybe even transitioning to now, what’s, what’s, uh, what’s your pricing model and do you have a retainer? Like tell us about that.
Andrey Kisselev: Yes. So, um, I do, uh, I do mostly Google ads, Google ads or some being ads. And I started doing also design a landing page design. Uh, I don’t, uh, I don’t require a con any contracts and um, usually, uh, there is a a one time set up fee for the initial optimization or account creation. Yup. A kind of low because I don’t want to scare clients away. And after that I say I’m going to manage this campaign proactively for you and I will charge you in the beginning of the month, no contract, but I charge you in the beginning of the month. Yup. Oh everyone is free to walk away. I ended up the months and I, I have to earn my job next month,
Ryan Shank: put the ball in my court, give me a shot.
Andrey Kisselev: Yes. And actually the reason I did it, uh, I’m doing it because I want to simplify it as much as possible for clients. Sure. And uh, kind of feel, feel free and um, keep the options open.
Ryan Shank: So, so it’s a flat management fee then going forward, does it vary based on ad spend? Is it based on a percentage of ad spend? Like how do you price it necessarily?
Andrey Kisselev: Uh, well, uh, I have kind of minimal where, where, um, someone is starting Google ads and they obviously they know when to spend probably under a thousand dollars a month and that I say, okay, I can do this for this fixed fee, which is my absolute minimum bare bottom minimum couple a hundred bucks a month, 500 bucks a month. Yes, we have 300 actually for managing that type of account because lower than that is becoming kind of fun.
Ryan Shank: And those are probably like local service businesses anyway that are like, Hey, I want to try this out, you know, that sort of thing. Lower ad spend.
Andrey Kisselev: I’m heavily interested in interesting businesses. One of my first very good clients who is still with me, he is a dance, a local dance instructor. I have a great school in Louisiana and other one is a recent client. He is a private investigator. So very interesting kind of speaking with people. You, you learn some businesses you don’t know even they exist. You read it in the, in the
Ryan Shank: totally, you know, it business surprised me that does a ton of online uh, digital marketing. And Lead Gen is hearing aids. Actually there’s massive hearing aid companies that are just doing these like national ad buys. And I guess their whole thing is, you know, they drive people to their landing page, like very simple large texts and then just drive like phone calls or, or leads like it’s kind crazy. Um, but yeah, it’s same, same thing where it’s like, I never even like would think that, that, think about that, those kinds of businesses. Um, so in terms of deliverables, right? So are you, you know, I know, let’s say they’re giving you your, uh, your management fee to, to do the ongoing management. What are you reporting back to them? What kind of tools are you using to report and then, and then like what metrics or is it just spend and leads where you going into like cost per click? Um, what does that look like?
Andrey Kisselev: Yeah, it depends on the client I’m trying to, to go, um, their, what, what do they need? Uh, I, I tell them, uh, I report you, uh, will, I’m going to report monthly and I will report to you as high level or as detailed as you want. So most clients want just to know how much was spent and what’s the result, how many calls, how many leads, how four, four submissions. Others want to know a little bit more. And I kind of, I expanded. Got It. And, um, so, uh, some clients ask questions, they want to learn, uh, know, uh, learn more, uh, specific questions during the month. And I sent them a video explainers which are screencast with, with the voice over, with all voiceover. And they’ve, they find that very helpful.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, I love that. And what is the cadence again of the reporting? Is it weekly? Is it, is it just monthly, monthly, and it is always a call. It’s like a, you jumped on a call to kind of go over it or, because what I’ve found, and I work with like almost 800 agencies now, is that they find it hard to get the clients to actually jump on those reporting calls. So I’m curious if you’re running into the same, same issues. Right.
Andrey Kisselev: Well, I in 80% of cases I just sent the report, which is I know will be satisfactory for the client. We will
Ryan Shank: the push for subpool right. You sent them
Andrey Kisselev: of course. And they don’t, they uh, we don’t really call for some clients. Uh, we would have calls but actually I um, I encourage feedback because that kind of helps me do my job better. Not always I guess.
Ryan Shank: Do you guys, um, so said you tracking, you know, the web leads, the phone calls and then I’m assuming you come to like a blended number of leads and then obviously total spend and then your, you know, ultimately reporting on a cost per lead. Do you guys kind of like back solve into like what the client can and wants to pay for a lead? Like how much education I guess are you doing for your client on, you know, cost per lead and you know why it might make sense or not make sense to pay that much for a lead?
Andrey Kisselev: My, first of all, I a I a very important part is managing the expectations from, from the get goal. So I don’t tell them I will get, I’ll guarantee you, you a guarantee you is that many leads or that many clients in the first month, second month. Instead I tell them, uh, I actually, as I underlined that, I don’t guarantee their the end results. What I do guarantees you you’ll be getting there. Um, good traffic, relevant traffic. You’re not going to be wasting your clicks essentially. Especially in many cases when I take over account, I see a lot of traffic was just spent on completely irrelevant clicks and that’s, that’s what I failed them. And also, uh, it’s kind of metro of trust little bit because you cannot really convince someone without some context and background. And people look at my upwork testimonials. They basically, I’m with, I’m a dope, uh, dope freelancer on upwork and I in my proposals now I include, I add my testimonials and they kind of, they kind of see, okay, he did a similar kind of project for similar type of industry.
Ryan Shank: So good. Do you use, um, do you, how do you create those proposals? Like do you use Ninja cat or anything like that or are you just kind of like using like a template you have in like Google docs, Google docs?
Andrey Kisselev: Well, uh, I have a, I have a template, but for each, for each proposal I, um, I use it as a base and by I I work, I customize it by based on, on client. Now I found another good, uh, proposal tool inside the phrase books, which is actually the proposal part. You can write a proposal with the, with your, uh, with your quote. And if people kind of like it, they accepted, you can convert this proposal into an invoice. Oh, I love that kind of professional.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Freshbooks is really good. I feel like it’s kind of under the radar. They got sort of like overplayed by quickbooks, but I feel like they’re differentiating with stuff like that. Um, and I’ve heard a bunch of,
Andrey Kisselev: because I was using quickbooks for the first year and now I switched recently to freshbooks because they, it seems like they have little bit more than the better, more features. Yes.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. All right. In terms of, uh, tools that you’re using, um, I gotta ask, what are you using to track to track the calls on, uh, on the site? Like Google call tracking or
Andrey Kisselev: I use mostly Google, a Google called tracking and also for a couple of clients I use their Colorado, Colorado because historically they were using corollary colorectal and that’s,
Ryan Shank: yeah, we’re going to have to get you switched over to phone wagon from that. But anyway, uh, I’m just, I’m just messing around and then, um, I’m actually curious what the makeup is in terms of like, when you do see a higher percentage of calls versus web leads, um, and if so, does it vary by industry? Cause what, yeah, does it vary by industry?
Andrey Kisselev: Well, of course it’s Hilarious, uh, by interesting, most, uh, like, um, uh, local businesses. And, um, I spoke to service businesses. They really rely on phone calls and uh, they just, if they don’t, don’t get enough phone calls last week they keep calling me and telling me what’s, what’s going on. So I really, and for them we, I really, not only I tried the commercials, but even uh, send them the list from Google ads, how many calls, even though they were short calls and there is, they really analyze it very, very closely. Yeah. Some clients they accept also forms and in phone calls. But strange for me was to to find out that one client, he didn’t want to be contacted by phone actually and he wanted to go receive the forms. It was kind of SAS, uh, um, Internet software provider.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. SAS. Yup. Got It. Yeah. He just wanted the, the form signups. Yeah. One of the things that, you know, some agencies that we’re working with have been doing is like the, there’s, and I’m, you’re starting to see this kind of all over, it’s not even just related to us, but people are like making the numbers textable like we actually had to just launch this texting feature because so many people kept asking for it. They’re like, I want a two way with my customers from my business line and things like that. So we’re starting to see, I think like kind of the rise of a, of that happening. Um, but yeah, you know, the other thing that’s interesting is, you know, do you ever find that your clients, like you could be doing your job as a marketer? This is what I hear all the time.
Ryan Shank: Like you can be driving them relevant leads from people that need their services in their area and then they’re just either not answering the phone or they’re like not responding to their leads and it’s kind of fresh. You know? What I’ve heard is that there’s just like a level of frustration because it’s like, you know, it’s like, Hey, I’m doing pretty much everything I can and then you’re not, you know, taking this like really warm lead and servicing it properly. So how do you, like, how do you deal with that? And then if, so, how do you,
Andrey Kisselev: how do you get around that? Well, uh, when, when I manage income paid for someone, I’m kind of becoming, I feel that I am inside in the company, I’m becoming like a barker. And I, uh, when, when there is a, um, phone call or from call only campaign with a clique that costs $22, which actually happened yesterday in one of my clients. And this call was missed. I feel really bad because this line was waiting for the goals for leads. And, uh, I, uh, I emailed them, I let them know about Luca, this goal. It was [inaudible] and uh, and some, some clients get defensive same year and I was there. But, uh, but they appreciated the, and they feel, I mean, they know that I’m, I’m trying to help him, but not all is that I also look at the client, I look at the, um, kind of mass marketing, um, channels and I, you know, analytics especially, you can see how they getting leads from other channels and I help them can kind of compare, um, performance from different channels and kind of give them bigger picture. And that’s what clients always appreciate.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. That’s awesome. Um, all right. Just wrapping up, just a few more questions. Um, so you said you’re, you’re kind of positioning it as a freelancer on upwork. How many clients can you possibly take at a time? Like what are you, what’s your cat?
Andrey Kisselev: Okay, now I’m kidding. 20 clients and I’m, I’m becoming really overloaded. So last year I was spending like 30% of my time on two learning. This year I’m spending only half of that. Most of the, I’m spending administering managing clients. So, uh, I tried to optimize my workload. I use different kinds of techniques and little tools, but I know that I at certain point I need to or expand or hire other people or keep doing what I’m doing and charge, oh, charge in charge higher rates. Uh, actually I’m inspired by one by the book, $1 million one person business. As I recently read hurdles that people like one person companies can actually create a lot of uh, value. But I think I at some point problem, I’m gonna need to hire someone.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. I was reading something recently where they were talking about how like it used to almost be an indication of success, uh, based on the number of team members you have or number of employees. Whereas now it’s like with so many, you know, people working remote, all these tools, everything is like pretty, you know, optimized for, uh, for scaling, um, that you can, you know, get away and you can go really, really far and build a pretty big business with a, with a lot less people nowadays. Um, probably similar to,
Andrey Kisselev: it’s a question of strategy and question of what you want. Do you want to scale? Become really big or you want to keep it small intentionally and a and a and have a really good lifestyle that you want.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, exactly. So by the way, speaking of lifestyle, where, where do you, where you live, where are you at right now?
Andrey Kisselev: I’m located in Newark, New Jersey. I work and make my own hours and I spend time with my family, so
Ryan Shank: that’s awesome. Yeah, we’re in New York. I’m a New Orleans. Yeah, we’re on right in nomad and like 26th and Broadway. Cool. I’m in New York, New Jersey, Newark. Nice. Um, just went through there yesterday. Cool man. Um, all right. So last thing I ask everyone this, what is your morning routine?
Andrey Kisselev: I wake up at five o’clock. I swim in the pool for an hour and then I have breakfast and that eight o’clock from eight o’clock start work. Well, I made the date for 10 minutes, then I start working.
Ryan Shank: Oh, interesting. I’ve had a lot of people that made gee, use any guided meditation like apps or are you doing so
Andrey Kisselev: I use a headspace.
Ryan Shank: Headspace. Love headspace. You do the usually the 10 minute, the 10 minute guided one.
Andrey Kisselev: I mean, the guy that won it, it helps me actually even in business and be kind of,
Ryan Shank: so it’s so good. I just started doing it, um, maybe like two to three months ago and it’s like, I can’t even explain it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s like, it made you feel like you just got like a full night’s sleep. Um, because I feel like my body’s always just like tense and crazy. Um, are awesome. Thank you so much adi marketing. Uh, and uh, where can everyone find you?
Andrey Kisselev: My website is a idea, marketing.com, which is adi marketing.com and a sometimes oil. I’m also on Twitter. Uh, Achy Celeb a. K. I. S. S. E. L. E. V. All
Ryan Shank: right. Andre Kesler from Adi Marketing. Thank you so much for joining us on growing your agency. We’ll see you later. Thanks Brian. All right. See Ya.