Setting Your Side Hustle Up for Recurring Revenue: From Zero to $100k MRR


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ryan-golgosky

Making a sale? That’s great. But making a recurring sale? That’s even better.

This week’s guest is Ryan Golgosky from 180Sites.com. (Use promo code HUSTLE to get your first month free!)

He took what is typically sold as a one-off service — web design, in this case — and repackaged it for recurring revenue in a really creative way.

Tune in to the Side Hustle Show interview to hear:

  • how Ryan started his side hustle
  • why he picked the service business niche
  • how he found his first customers

Big thanks to Justin Tan for the intro!

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Inspiration to Start a Web Design Agency

Ryan was running a window cleaning business and teaching jiu-jitsu on the side — two very labor-intensive operations — when he underwent two major back surgeries and a neck surgery.

Ryan couldn’t do anything physical for a year, so he worked on his window-cleaning website in the meantime.

“I always just loved working on my website, playing around with marketing. I was just very, very enthralled with that,” Ryan said.

He decided to turn that into a side hustle and reached out to his peers, asking if he could do anything for their websites or marketing.

He started to get a few clients here and there. Eventually, a local service provider bought him out of his window cleaning business, allowing him to work full-time on 180Sites.

Why Target Service Businesses?

Ryan’s go-to clients, in the beginning, were all in the exterior cleaning business, like power washing, gutter cleaning, roof cleaning, solar cleaning — all those types of services.

This made sense for him as he was already part of that community and had some connections as a result.

What he found in targeting that niche is since it has low barriers to entry, most of the people running cleaning services have no previous business experience and are still figuring things out, including their websites.

“It was a great demographic for me to serve and provide some good value to,” Ryan said.

If you have a good website, you’ll look professional and prospective customers are likely to think that they’ll get more value from you than from a similarly priced competitor without a website.

Finding Customers for a Web Design Agency

Aside from reaching out to peers, Ryan found his first customers by joining Facebook groups.

He joined as many groups that were related to home service providers as he could, scouring them for posts related to web design, marketing, and pretty much anything he could relate to his business.

Ryan tried to provide prospective customers with as much value as possible and even offered them freebies. This allowed him to get his name out there and build trust in the early stages of his business.

Repackaging a One-off Service for Recurring Revenue

When Ryan started his side hustle, he charged customers upfront.

Many web design agencies follow an upfront payment model, so he figured he’d do the same. He quickly realized that the model didn’t work for him, so he opted for low-cost monthly plans instead.

Today, customers pay 180Sites anywhere from $180-300 per month, depending on the package that they chose.

180Sites currently offers three packages, all of which require a 24-month commitment. With this payment scheme, customers don’t have to fork up thousands of dollars upfront to get their website set up. Instead, they can slowly pay off the service over time with zero interest.

180sites-pricing

During those 24 months, customers also get free hosting, maintenance, and full support from 180Sites.

Customers have the option to host and manage their website on their own at the end of the 24-month period. But if they want 180Sites to continue doing those services for them, they only have to pay $150 per month.

Ryan says very few customers leave once the 24 months are up because of this model.

Building Custom Websites

Since starting his side hustle in 2018, Ryan has built a portfolio of website templates for various industries. Customers can simply choose a template and 180Sites will tailor it to their needs.

They build fully custom websites as well for an additional charge. Ryan says they usually take initiative for these orders because most customers just want an amazing website.

What’s Driving Traffic/Sales?

Informal Referrals

180Sites doesn’t do any ads. Instead, they largely rely on informal referrals.

Ryan says they make it a point to be personable with clients by sending them thoughtful gifts and handwritten notes.

For instance, anytime a new client signs up, they get a brownie box in the mail a few days later from 180Sites through SendJim.

The gift is nothing extravagant — just two brownies, a thank you card, and a bunch of cardboard confetti.

Another thing they’ve been doing lately is sending clients customized YETI cups. They have the client’s logo and key branding elements laser-engraved onto the cup.

Thanks to these efforts, they’ve enjoyed a very explosive rate of referrals from their customer base.

Ryan also has a lot of agency partners that send business his way and vice versa. Neither pays the other for referrals.

“We’re trying to be the very best at what we do and we don’t do what the other person does,” he said. “And so, it’s just a no-brainer.”

Formal Referrals

Ryan also has a formal affiliate program.

If a company refers work to him but he knows that not many of his customers are looking for that company’s services, he’ll pay that company their commission.

Ryan uses AffiliateWP to track those referrals.

Facebook Groups

Ryan isn’t as active on his Facebook groups today as he used to be when he started 180Sites, but he still gets a lot of shout-outs.

He usually chimes in when he gets a shout-out or when someone tags him in a post. “I have a little army of advocates for me in these Facebook groups.”

Partnerships

Ryan has partnered with influential figures in different niches in the past, helping drive traffic and sales.

He recommends pursuing such partnerships if you’re just getting started with your business. “If you can do a great job, seek out those people and offer them a free service.”

Doing so allows you to get your foot in the door and build credibility. Plus, it won’t hurt to have someone influential be an advocate for you and your business.

Site Footers

Site footers have proven to be very useful for Ryan when it comes to driving sales.

By default, they put a footer tag on the websites they build, which clients can have removed for a small fee.

Ryan says they have a lot of clients that reached out to 180Sites because they saw the company’s footer tag on someone else’s website.

Onboarding Clients

There isn’t a way to directly purchase a package on 180Sites.com. Instead, new customers start with a short form. It asks for some basic information, like their name, email, phone number, and business name and/or website.

Ryan already has welcome messages prepared for different niches and will send the customer the message tailored to their niche.

He also creates a video tailored to the customer using Vidyard. The video includes information about the package the customer chose and what they can expect from 180Sites.

Because of how transparent they are from the get-go, most customers sign up without needing to hop on a call and after just a couple of emails back and forth.

In a nutshell, their signup process has three steps:

  1. Review and sign the monthly billing agreement – 180Sites will send a link to the package that the customer wants. They’ll be shown the monthly billing agreement, which they’ll need to review and sign.
  2. Pay – Once they sign the agreement, they’ll be redirected to the payment page.
  3. Answer the onboarding form – After payment, they’ll be redirected to the onboarding form. The form takes about five minutes to complete and gives 180Sites everything they need to start the project.

From there, all of the project setup is automated. After the customer fills out the onboarding form, the form gets plugged into the company’s project management system (they use Trello) with the customer’s information cleanly categorized.

The system also automatically adds the customer to the company’s email marketing system and sets up a Dropbox folder for them where they can upload any important files.

The system will even initiate the process for the brownie gift and schedule things six months and 12 months down the road.

After everything is set up, Ryan will assign the project to a developer. He won’t have to touch the project again unless the customer requires further assistance.

The initial stage of development takes a week max. Once that’s done, a project manager will take over to launch the website and finish any post-launch tasks.

Overall, they do around 20 projects per month, with each one taking no more than four weeks to complete from the time the customer signed up to the time their website goes live.

Tools and Tech

The tools and tech Ryan is using to run his business are:

  • SendJim – This is the software Ryan uses to send customers gifts.
  • AffiliateWP – This plugin allows Ryan to manage affiliates, track referrals, and pay out affiliate commissions.
  • Vidyard – This is the online video platform Ryan uses to make introductory videos for customers.
  • Trello – This is the software Ryan uses to manage projects.
  • TextExpander – This tool helps Ryan save time by eliminating repetitive typing tasks.

What Does a Typical Day Look Like?

On a typical day, Ryan spends most of his time doing high-level admin tasks, like billing and selling, and communicating with clients and his team.

What’s Next?

Ryan’s next biggest goal is to hire a director of operations to take care of the team and the clients.

He still plans to work on marketing and product development, but he hopes that hiring a director of operations will allow him to focus on growing the business.

Last year, they had 211 new signups and hit $950,000 in revenue. They’re shooting for 250 new signups and $1.5 million in revenue this year.

Ryan’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

Focus on differentiating yourself.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

5 thoughts on “Setting Your Side Hustle Up for Recurring Revenue: From Zero to $100k MRR”

  1. Did he share what hosting he uses? There are so many supposedly WP-optimized hosts out there… it would be good to know one that is tried and true with this business model.

    Reply

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