How Koala Rank helps B2B firms scale their audience
Grow an audience and generate more qualified leads for your small B2B firm. Guaranteed.
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Grow an audience and generate more qualified leads for your small B2B firm. Guaranteed.
The very first experience that led me to start my company was a simple blog. At the time (2017), I had no intention of starting a business because I didn't know what that meant. But I knew that I wanted to do SOMETHING online so I started writing some random blog posts and publishing them, playing around with the Squarespace interface. The more I got acquainted with how blogging worked, the more I realized that the value was all in marketing so I started learning more and more about the benefits of content marketing. Motivation-wise, it has to do with the next step in my career as a content writer which is when I started working on Fiverr first as a translator and then as a writer. The problem that led me to create Koala Rank was that Fiverr had convinced me to join their "Studios" beta program (think about it like a fully-remote agency made up of Fiverr sellers) but the tools available to sellers were severely lacking, with no way to sell monthly subscriptions or even communicate verbally between sellers. On top of that, clients were unaware of the benefits of content marketing and kept asking for articles that were purposeless. These two things are what motivated me to start educating clients and launch my own marketing agency.
At the time of building the first iteration of Koala Rank (August 2019), I didn't really know what a no-code tool was, I sort of stumbled into the term as I was getting things done. Due to its simplicity and availability, I started with WordPress as a CMS and kept adding plugins over time. I do not like this approach. Most times, it feels half-baked, like pieces of the site weren't designed to be linked together. But, also due to limited resources, that's how I got started. Today, I would have gone for something like Webflow since I have more experience with the platform and I love its painless setup process. With my continuous education in marketing, I eventually decided to shell out some money for HubSpot and started using their Starter tools (their Professional plan is too expensive to justify the costs for such a small business).
This was a big problem at the start of my journey with Koala Rank. Towards September 2019, I had decided I wanted to go for the best hosting possible for the website because I knew how important it was and I needed a reliable way to scale my business. That got expensive REALLY quickly. It's like I was paying another tiny rent, and it got me really stressed out in the first few months. As Koala Rank started acquiring its first customers though, the hosting costs became more of a reasonable fixed expense. I use Liquid Web for my hosting due to their reputation with speed and support. In the beginning, I was spending around $150/month to keep everything up and running between various subscriptions and hosting... Today, it's more like $500-600 as I'm investing in various long-term partnerships.
This was the most painful part of building Koala Rank and, in general, it's the most painful part of building any business. If you already know what you're doing and you have it all laid out in your head with exact execution steps and the skills to back them up (very rare), you'll breeze through it. For most of us, however, it's more of a learning journey. Before creating an actual business, I did my best to try and follow various branding guidelines with a "test" blog that would show my skills in translation (translationdomain.com, now sold to a third party). Once I was confident enough with the execution skills, it was time to brainstorm all kinds of different ideas for what Koala Rank would look like. This took a LOT of trial-and-error and decision-making in the process (months of work!) but I was able to pull through it. The hardest part of the process was coming up with a consistent marketing plan that matched not only the service offered but also the needs of our ideal buyer. This will always be an ongoing quest!
While I don't personally work on freelancing platforms anymore, my "legacy" is there so it makes sense that I still get some good leads from these tools. I'm also not planning to stop using them. Some of them offer so-called "corporate" or "agency" accounts meaning that they help you build brand awareness which is a great proposition for Koala Rank. Another way we attract customers is through ranking websites such as Clutch.co, GoodFirms.co, or 99Firms.com. The first one is our strongest partnership so far as it steadily (if a bit slowly) brings in quality leads. The other ones not so much. A third way we get leads is "obviously" through content marketing as that's our pitch so we apply what we sell to ourselves. Our niche is hard to crack in terms of content though since founders are wary of giving out too much data. Communities have been great for word of mouth so far but I haven't had the time to truly engage there while we're testing out some of the advertising platforms mostly to generate more data for ourselves.
There have been many different challenges throughout the journey but the first time I had to bring up the website still feels like I had to run a marathon that FELT like it would never end. When I got to the point where I was able to look at my website with all the professional assets I had created for it I simply couldn't believe it! It took me so much time and effort to bring that to life that I was exhausted (but very satisfied!) by the end of it. Another big challenge with Koala Rank was transitioning from a freelance to a retainer model. I had all sorts of headaches trying to figure that out but most processes are in place now.
In terms of revenue, we're at the $4K monthly mark (MRR). Due to its model, the company needs scale to become truly profitable. Right now I am able to even out investments from clients with all the "boring" regulatory and technical stuff that needs to be done in the backend to build a sustainable company but most things are completed by now and we're just about to launch a major marketing campaign.
This will sound cliché but the reality is that you should just do it. Go out there and take the risk to build up your landing page and TRY to show it to the world. You will immediately notice that nobody cares. The thing is, branding is more about perception than anything else. When I go on Twitter and I see a profile of a renowned professional in my field, I get a feeling that they know what they're talking about. This is exactly what you want to achieve with your company, especially in business-to-business. And it takes time. So don't get fooled by the cool technologies and tools. Just get your pitch up ASAP. The rest will follow.
I'm planning to take this all the way to a mature business that captures the niche of content marketing for small B2B firms. There are millions of companies out there who could fit the bill for Koala Rank and we only need a small sample of that to be considered "successful." I've been thinking about a potential exit once things are stable and the company steadily grows with all processes in place but I'd rather wait and make sure everything is documented clearly. One thing I do NOT want with Koala Rank is for it to disappear just because somebody had enough money to buy it and kill it. I feel that what I've built so far is a great offering for a specific type of person and that they will not get a better experience anywhere else because of the process that I've created over time.
It's huge honestly. Right now I'm building a side project in Webflow and I can't tell you how fast I was able to bring up my website and get it hooked up to some advanced features such as membership payments, dynamic pages, and so on. It took me months to bring up the Koala Rank website. In part thanks to experience, I was able to get this side project done in DAYS using Webflow. Technology has such a high barrier to entry for most of us that it just doesn't make sense many times. You have to learn how to code first, then you have to learn what you can do with that code, then you need a local or virtual environment, then you need to learn how to deploy the code, not to mention scalability issues, and so on and so forth. It really never ends and it's impractical for most solopreneurs looking to get their first online business going.
One thing I always wanted to say is, don't get fooled by the hype. I see a lot of buzz around the no-code world and for good reason but it only REALLY matters if the tools offered help you build something FOR YOURSELF and not the other way around. A lot of times you'll see tech companies use hype as a way to get people to create content for them and then take it all (I'm looking at you Facebook). So don't assume that the next no-code tool will be the "ultimate" thing to create an online business... Always be skeptical of business models and build redundancy into your systems from the get-go.