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I was scrolling through my email inbox when I spotted a message from noted Scrapebox expert Loopline.
It was about a Scrapebox side hustle with a pretty simple premise:
You find websites with broken SSL certificates which can cause Insecure Content warnings when you visit their website.
Then, you contact the businesses and offer to fix the issue for them. If/when they agree, you outsource the fix to a developer and take a cut of the fee.
Loopline suggests charging $100 for an SSL fix and then buying a $5 Fiverr gig for a $95 profit.
Here’s what it looks like:
Do You Have an Hour a Day?
I decided to give it a try.
Annoyed with Google’s glitchy ‘helpful’ updates and deindexing issues, I decided that it makes sense to experiment with some alternative make-money-online methods.
I used to work at a coaching startup back in 2016 and I managed all of the lead-gen process, so I do have some extra familiarity with the process of generating, vetting and closing leads over the phone and email.
As well, I had a marketing blog for therapists with a warmed-up Gmail business email address lying around, so I figured I’d experiment with outreaching private practice therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
I’ve been running outreach campaigns for about 10 days now and here’s what my lead funnel looks like:
You can see that the open rates are pretty good- basically 50% across the first 3 outreach emails with 255 leads in the funnel.
The call to action in the first email is asking for a ‘response’ and I added a ‘buy now’ option in Steps 2 and Steps 3. (No purchases yet).
I have received 2 positive responses- someone who wanted a fix and another who wanted to discuss SEO services once she had her website fully set up.
And a couple of negative responses like this one:
The unsubscribe does work! But, I digress…these type of ‘negative’ responses are a necessary consequence of aggressive, cold email out reach.
Here’s what my first email outreach looks like:
I also include a snazzy signature of me with my Poodle in the pool and links to my website and socials:
Have I made any sales yet? No…
The TikTok video makes it seem a lot easier than it actually is…
That said, I’m not giving up, and will be tweaking my approach going forward after letting this current Campaign finish up its 4 email sequence.
What I Like
Anyway, here’s what I like about the *potential* of this ‘side hustle’:
- Scaleable way to make some fast cash
- Alternative to the slow and treacherous SEO ‘journey’
- Ability to upsell pricier packages- like monthly SEO or Google Ads consulting
What I Don’t Like
- There’s a big ‘trust’ hurdle- to fix the SSL, you need hosting and site credentials!
- Many of these sites run on weird/old content management systems, complicating and potentially increasing the cost of the fix. Plus the Fiverr gig guys I spoke to only work with WordPress
- Scraping and list management is time-consuming and detailed work
- Requires cold outreach: can be distasteful, especially for people coming from a passive SEO background. And especially if you trigger the outrage of your recipient for unsolicited emailing!
- There are extra costs like a ScrapeBox license, Proxies, an email validation and a cold email outreach tool like Lemlist
- A bit of a learning curve dealing with Scrapebox and emailing technicalities
- You need to trust your provider- Loopline suggests using Fiver…which may not be a great idea
- The buying process is not so cut and dry- you might need to get on the phone with prospects to increase trust
What I’ve Learned So Far
There’s a trust barrier
Fixing an SSL requires hosting and site access. This is a huge ‘trust’ barrier to conversions. People aren’t eager to fork over their hosting and site credentials to an internet stranger, no matter how personalized I make my emails.
Focus on people who can afford to pay
One of the first positive responses I got warned me ‘I don’t have a lot of money to spend’ to fix the problem.
I need to target business owners who have the budget to actually spend money on my service.
I had initially chosen to focus on therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists because I happened to have a website and associated email address targeting these ‘healing’ professionals. But they are definitely not great prospects.
Going forward, the focus should be targeting more well-heeled businesses.
Validate the emails!
I screwed up by not verifying the emails of my prospects before sending them my pitch.
I wasted time emailing a dead end and seemed to have jeopardized my Gmail account.
I knew about ‘warming’ up my email account- but this email address is several years old and is used as part of an autoresponder series, so I didn’t think getting a couple of ‘bounces’ would matter much. But I did get a temporary deactivation that I was able to fix…I think.
Find a provider you trust
In the TikTok video we’re told to just go to Fiverr and source a $5 SSL fix. And while some of the Fiverr providers had good reviews, I was still highly wary.
I posted a job on UpWork and found a bunch of developers that would do the work. They would cost more, but I felt more confident in their reputation.
Personalization & transparency
Since I own 20+ websites, I’m routinely besieged by shockingly bad outreach emails trying to sell me services or demand a link in broken English.
So, when I do cold outreach, I make sure that I have:
- a well-written and gramatically correct email
- a friendly Gmail avatar
- an email signature with a picture of me, a link to my blog, and links to my social profiles
- an unsubscribe link
- and I mention their website in my outreach emails (you can configure this in Lemlist)
The way it works (broadly speaking)
Basically, you’re using Scrapebox to find local businesses with SSL errors on their homepages, scraping their contact information, and then contacting them to offer a fix.
I know, it sounds spammy- but I promise only emailing people with *actually* Insecure homepages- a huge, but easily fixable, technical error.
Anyway, the idea is to outsource the fix to an UpWork dev and take a cut of the profits.
Luckily, I already had a lifetime deal for LemList, a drip campaign tool, so I just drop the leads in and they get a sequence of emails that sells/educates them about the problem.
From there, you can upsell other services and similarly outsource them- speed fixes, social media management and more lucrative recurring local SEO services.
How’s it going? I’ve received 2 positive responses from about 130 leads that are currently in my funnel…and then I managed to get my Gmail account disabled.
Which I *think* I have fixed…I’m working on targeting a different demographic with a broader offer so I can get more emails in my funnel.
Read More Of My Niche Reports
The way it works, specifically
Here’s my process, which I’m still honing.
- Use Scrapebox to harvest the sites by inputting keywords like “therapist new york” (you can concatenate a huge of [provider] + [location] in Sheets
- Trim resulting domains to their root and remove duplicates
- Run the homepages through a bulk SSL validation tool to find sites with actual SSL errors on their homepages
- Paste these URLs back into Scrapebox, then grab their emails
- Use an email validation tool to remove bad emails
- Clean up the list in Sheets/Excel as much as you can, removing irrelevant URLs and associated emails
- Dump the leads into Lemlist and approve the leads to run in the Campaign
- Respond to the leads as they come in
What I’m going to do going forward
Find better prospects
I’m going to target better prospects.
The annoying thing is that the email that I’m using, and the site itself, a marketing blog for therapists, would be misaligned if I used it to outreach to plumbers or medical facilities.
A somewhat minor point, but if I wanted to keep using my blog as a form of ‘social proof’, I’d need to either convert the existing blog to a more general, local-business audience, or start an entirely new site.
Find larger amounts of prospects
The other annoying thing about the SSL outreach process is the limited amount of prospects.
I can easily find hundreds and hundreds of therapist websites, but after whittling them down to the ones that have insecure content issues I may be left with 40 prospects from a list of 700, for example.
And then, maybe I’m only able to get email addresses from 75% of them, so the list shrinks more.
The logical thing to do is cold outreach the larger segment of prospects who don’t have the SSL error and try to sell them on a service.
It’s a harder sell. And now I’m offering a lot less value in that initial outreach. I’ve become no better than the thousands of anonymous SEO spammers harassing my contact forms on a daily basis.
Niche down or go general?
I think to truly do it right, I’d want to target a specific niche industry.
Something eminently more cash-rich than private practice therapists. I’d build out a niche marketing blog and contact them from the associated email address.
Or maybe I’d build a generic local business site and test out different outreach campaigns- that would give me more flexibility.
I like the potential here- but the scraping/list cleanup is a hassle…especially if you’re only looking for websites with Insecure Content homepages. It’s better to broadcast to a larger audience- but the trick is how to provide value unless you’re comfortable trying to sell SEO services cold.
Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Ryan Nelson