Earlier this year I had a brainstorm: Why don’t we offer a new BOGO service? That’s right, a buy one, give one.
See, we’ve been working with non-profits for years. Like, since this company started. Really, Maine Creative wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for our early non-profit partners, like Waban and Make Music Portland, organizations that gave us the freedom to experiment creatively and the opportunity to spread our work and our message.
We love non-profits. We think they have enormous power to transform the world. And we want to make it easier for our clients to connect with and support our partner non-profits, not to mention continue supporting those non-profits ourselves!
Right, so here was my idea: We’re going to transform the way we do web hosting. That means two things. First, we’re going to restructure our hosting program to offer a $20-per-month, personal hosting plan, in addition to two tiers of our business hosting. Then, the big change: For every web hosting account we sign up, we’re going to offer completely free web hosting to a non-profit.
We looked at the numbers and we can do this without increasing our business hosting plan cost. It will mean some added hours every month on our end, but we think that’s well worth the extra work.
And it’s not just about offering hosting for non-profits (though, to be fair, that’s mostly what it’s about). We want to create a stronger network of corporate and non-profit partners. We want to connect for-profit resources to deserving non-profit organizations. To that end, we plan to send quarterly updates about our Hosting with Heart service to all organizations involved, and down the road we’re thinking about meet-ups and forums to bring these organizations together. In the mean time, we’d love to hear from anyone who knows of a non-profit that could benefit from free web hosting.
‘New’ Hosting with Heart service isn’t totally accurate. Actually, that gets to the meat of this posting. I came up with this idea–wow–nearly a year ago. And even though we’ve hosted one-off websites for clients for years, it’s been tough getting this off the ground. That’s largely because I consistently break the cardinal rule of building and growing a successful business: figure out your niche, perfect it, and repeat.
On the contrary, I’m a dabbler. And in my dabbling, I didn’t really give the right amount of attention to building out and growing this service.
Last month I took a long and rejuvenating trip to Turkey, where I met with my business coach, Elif Demircan. In our discussions about Maine Creative, she reminded me of two things: first, the importance of focusing on one thing at a time, and second, that our Hosting with Heart program, above every other service we offer, has the ability to create positive change. Needless to say, we came up with a plan for publicizing and promoting this service.
Like anything, that plan began with objectives:
* Grow our Hosting with Heart program (in addition to our domain management service) to 100 monthly accounts
* We’ll be working diligently at this, so it doesn’t seem super necessary to put a time-frame on it, but I’d like to see that happen by early 2019
* Assume a $50-per-month revenue from each account
* Sign up one non-profit account for every paying business account
And since I’m a very tactile person, I needed to draw out my objective by hand…
It helps that Maine Creative already had several web hosting and domain management accounts, so we can start to fill in those objectives immediately.
I knew for myself that I would need some accountability to hit these goals. Hence this blog posts, and more to follow. My plan is to write a new post every few weeks. But not simply for the sake of accountability. We also thought that this would be an excellent way to explain, step-by-step, what goes into launching a new business service, as well as the finer points of digital marketing, advertising, audience outreach, content creation… basically, much of what we do as an agency. Finally, we recognized that illustrating and publishing this process would be an effective first step to promoting Hosting with Heart.
In fact, here are the first steps that we’re undertaking:
✓ Envision and outline the plan, consider what it will entail and what work will be needed, and create guidelines for clients
✓ Create the website subpages and business materials for the hosting plans (here, here, here, and eh, here)
✓ Talk it up with existing clients, especially among non-profit clients who could use free hosting
* Begin creating social media content for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram (namely blog pieces, program materials, and posts)
* Create and manage a plan for paid social media promotions + Google AdWords promotions
* Network, send out emails, talk to people, and spread the word
So, that’s where we’re at right now. This has been a long first blog post in what will inevitably be a long series of long blog posts, so I’ll cut myself off. But hopefully some of this info was helpful to those curious about managing a digital agency.
And I sincerely hope it helped to spread the message about our new, er, revamped Hosting with Heart program. If anyone is interested in the details of that, or better yet, if you know of or represent a non-profit that’s interested in free web hosting, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or get our details off the contact page!
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