How this agency owner is building a personal brand with scalable, predictable income
While he was still in high school, Eric Holter of Durham, North Carolina, began blazing his creative trail as a freelancer.
After graduating from design school in 1991, Eric enthusiastically launched his career as a freelance illustrator. Soon after that, he bought a small letterpress shop.
Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Eric to realize that fine-press printing wasn’t exactly “a growing industry,” and there wasn’t enough demand to support him and his young family.
Sad and disillusioned, Eric was eventually forced to cut his losses and find a traditional, day job doing print production work at a local advertising agency.
While working at the ad agency, he witnessed the radical transition from old-fashioned print production to digital pre-press production.
It wasn't long until Eric was itching to strike out on his own again. So, in 1995, he launched Newfangled Web Factory. This time was different because he took a wiser approach based on real-life experience and a better understanding of the market.
In just a few short years, he grew Newfangled into a successful web solutions company with multiple team members.
Finding his true passion
Although Newfangled was highly-successful, in 2008, Eric decided to sell the company.
As he puts it, “I ran Newfangled with a management practice of enabling the company to run without me, which succeeded, but then I had nothing to do! Not a good spot for an entrepreneur,” he says smilingly.
After exiting, Eric continued consulting the new owner of Newfangled, and similar firms, on the business side of creative entrepreneurship.
One of his consulting clients, Ray Parrish, had founded a digital agency providing web marketing strategy and services to museums and other cultural institutions. In 2016, Ray decided to relocate to San Diego, so he brought on Eric as CEO of Cuberis.
Today, Eric owns 100% of the company.
Eric enjoys serving Cuberis’ clientele, but his lifelong passion for helping entrepreneurs has grown stronger than ever. That’s why, drawing on years of freelance and agency experience, he recently launched a new venture dedicated to helping freelancers and creative service providers grow their practices into profitable businesses.
At his mentorship website, Eric offers advice, articles, and in-depth training videos that help accelerate the startup and implementation process.
Through online courses, small-group, and one-on-one coaching, he teaches creative entrepreneurs proven strategies and methods they can use to find higher-quality clients willing to pay more for their services.
The "glue" that brings it all together
As a ConvertFlow Agency Partner, Eric uses CTAs on many of his clients’ websites. He also uses it to drive more sign-ups on his mentorship site.
As he puts it, “I was looking for a system that would tie together my CRM and email marketing platform and also enable visitor aware "smart" CTAs that can dynamically change based on the actions of prospects.”
After doing lots of research and testing, Eric concluded, “There were very few, if any, other platforms that can provide both popup CTA and inline embedded CTAs and that can integrate with all of my other platforms.”
“Not only do I use ConvertFlow in my own marketing, but in my online training materials, I feature ConvertFlow as "the glue" that brings together all my other marketing platforms and makes them work smoothly as an integrated whole.”
According to Eric, ConvertFlow plays a crucial role in his business when it comes to lead generation, “It’s essential as our first point of contact using our forms to push data into all of our other platforms."
"Using ConvertFlow has increased our inbound CTA conversions significantly,” he adds.
Growing his personal brand
Eric uses a variety of channels to drive traffic and sign-ups for his mentorship program.
First and foremost, he blogs regularly to build up a nice library of content specifically targeted to his audience. To grow his subscriber base, he offers an email newsletter called BizCraft for Creatives, along with an ever-growing video gallery.
Eric’s mentorship website features calculators and other tools that are useful to freelancers and other creatives who want to build their businesses.
For example, he offers a freelance rate calculator, a creative firm hourly margin calculator, a suitability survey, and a cash flow spreadsheet template.
Eric uses his book, Blazing the Freelance Trail, along with his weekly podcast, 5 Minutes on Creative Entrepreneurship, to expand his audience, build authority, and promote his personal brand.
As a former freelancer and agency owner who has experienced the ups and downs of gigs and project work, Eric understands the value of building streams of predictable recurring revenue.
Practical, real-life insights for creative professionals and entrepreneurs
In his book, Eric shares much of what he has learned during his 30+ year career as a creative entrepreneur.
He teaches readers how to stay motivated (and creative) while managing the business and financial side of their businesses.
Here’s a quick overview of what Eric teaches creative professionals:
- How to figure out what your services are worth
- Proven time management strategies that won’t limit your creative flow
- How to understand and optimize the relationship between sales and marketing
- Knowing the best time to hire new team members and how to do it
- Where to find the tools you need to effectively market your creative business
- How to set your rates, track cash flow, and calculate profits
- Understanding the business aspects of making money as a creative professional
In addition to the book, on his website, Eric provides audio/video content that educates his audience and paying customers in an asynchronous fashion. By creating online training content, Eric finds that he's getting more leverage because he doesn’t have to be physically present to help people move forward in their businesses.
Whether he’s training his followers live, or through recorded videos of live webinars, this one-to-many approach is an essential part of building a sustainable business that can scale without having to work harder, or hire more staff.
Escaping the time-for-money trap
ConvertFlow's Agency Partner Program focuses on helping consultants, service providers, and agency owners like Eric build more successful businesses. As former agency owners, we understand their unique needs and the common problems they share.
One of the biggest challenges for consultants and agency owners is breaking out of the time-for-money trap. To escape, you need to find ways you can create leverage and deliver value to your clients asynchronously.
And this is why we’re featuring stories like the one you just read about Eric Holter. He is a good example of an agency owner who is building a personal brand and an audience of people he’s uniquely qualified to serve.
By sharing his experience and expertise through digital products, online training, and a membership site, Eric is creating multiple sources of scalable, recurring income, which is helping him free himself from the inherent limitations that come with running an agency or consulting practice.
In most cases, reducing the limits agency life places on you will result in a better work/life balance. It will also free up more time and energy to do more of the things you love like travel, hobbies and enjoying time with friends and family.
We sincerely hope Eric's story will inspire you and that you'll start doing similar things in your business. So stay tuned, we’ll be sharing more stories like this in the near future.
This story was written and published in collaboration with StoryOps