White labelling SEO as a freelancer. Can it work?

Keynotes

  • White labeling can work, however it can add another layer between you and the client which can cause communication issues
  • Be sure to set and agree to all terms before getting involved in white label SEO
  • White labelling can remove the worry of constantly having to chase new leads
  • Avoid white labelling your services if you want absolute control

Transcription

Marc:                    That’s it. Yep. How about white label? Have you ever sat in a situation where you had to be sort of white label?

John:                     Don’t like it. I’ve never done it and I don’t think I ever will. And the whole reason I don’t like it is because I can’t establish, I can’t communicate directly to the business owner, right. So I could be sitting here doing fantastic SEO and I can also be finding issues on the website that, “Look, fuck, this has got to be fixed and we need to change direction here and they really need to like focus on this and not this.” And I could have all of that in my head, get to the end of the month, say, or the billing cycle, report back to the person that’s actually providing the service on the front end, who’s communicating with the client.

That message could either get lost completely, it could become distorted, or they may not just pass that message on at all. Do you know what I mean? I like to work directly with the client. For me it’s about clear communication, being transparent, being honest, establishing that relationship with the client for longevity. So that they’re going to stick around. I’m sure that white-labelling it might work for some people, it’s just not for me.

Marc:                    Yep. Yeah. I can already see the problems with it. We’re partnering with a national company at the moment where I’m brought on as the white-label partner into another web design agency and they don’t provide SEO, but now they do because they’ve brought me on as someone off their team officially. But of course I’m still running my own agency and doing my own thing, and it’s already a bit tricky. Even just the onboarding process, because I’ve got my own process and we can’t really use my onboarding documents and stuff because-

John:                     I think the upside to white-labelling would be, it would alleviate the problem of constantly having to chase clients or find leads, right. Find clients and chase leads, because they’re going to be bringing you the leads. But I don’t know. For me it just feels like dumb SEO, “Ah, here’s a site. We’ll pay you $500, we’ll charge them two grand. I’ll sit there and build some links and maybe change some tags, meta tags. Okay, thanks. Who else have you got?” Like just, it’s not for me. Like I said, I’m not saying white-labelling doesn’t work. I know there’s a lot of people out there doing it, but for me personally, it’s just not my thing.

Marc:                    Yeah. Yeah. I also think it has to be done in a strong long-term partnership, where there’s actually an option to talk to the client directly, but be under the brand of the other white-label, partner because otherwise if you’re-

John:                     For me, I see it as being too problematic, because you’re not in control, right. Control is probably the main reason. Control is really important for me in my business. I want to have control, quality control, making sure my staff, the quality of work is there, we’re meeting deadlines, I’m communicating clearly with the client. SEO is difficult enough already to control, right, but it becomes, you lose control. Once you go, when you’re on the other side of that relationship, working behind someone else, could you imagine busting your ass, doing great work – They’re not relaying that message to the client, the client, “This just feels like, you know, I’m throwing money at you and nothing’s really happening. We want to cancel out.” And then the person you’re helping as the reseller comes back and says, “Sorry, Marc, it’s not working out, mate. See you later.”

Why isn’t it working out? Where aren’t you passing on those recommendations? “Ah, no, no, no, you just,” I don’t know. Again, it’s just not for me. I’m sure it could work, but I want to have control. I want to be able to, as Byron says, “I want to be able to get on a call and look into the whites of their eyes,” the client, like this, and say, “Are you happy? Are you happy? Am I doing a good job? Is there anything I could be doing better?”

So that you’re in a position to, if there are any problems I want to know about them now, so that, “Ah, John, fuck, it would have been great if you had a focused on this a bit more,” or, “Look, we’re getting plenty of calls, but they’re not for the right types of…” Shit like that. When you’re working directly with the client, you’ve got more control and you can make sure that you’re steering the campaign in the right direction. And that all comes down to not charging peanuts, your retention rates go up. People are more likely to send you referrals. Everyone’s happy. And that’s where I prefer to be, not just white- labelling for XYZ SEO company, and essentially fucking working in the dark, and probably not making as much money.

Marc:                    Yep, yep. Yep.

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