How To Start an SEO Business (With Answers From Experts)

by | Sep 25, 2018

Ever wonder how successful SEO’s started their SEO businesses?

In this article, you will find a variety of responses gathered from my SEO community: The White Hat SEO Network.

Note: thank you to everyone who contributed.

Question 1: How Did You Start Your SEO Business?

Start SEO Bussiness

Dean Gravina
Got ripped off by an agency- digital 23 in Melbourne 2 years ago for an SEO campaign, wanted to start myself.

Ray Smith

The Boss

Wasn’t going to pay someone for sitting at a computer when I could simply sit at the computer myself.

Luke Prados

Display Ads

Trying to advertise my insurance agency, we built our website in-house, did our ads and research in-house, our own print and content, everything really. The last step is trying to figure out if organic rank and SEO actually works vs. having to buy expensive pay per click ads each month which is astronomically expensive in our realm where blue cross and big companies are paying 15 to 30 dollars per click. My co-worker just lost $500 last week on Google ads. The world of organic vs paid is not an easy space to operate in

Doug Seidl
Professional Web Designer of 18 yrs, decided to expand my skills to Digital Marketing in general to offer more value

Fabiola Singh

Web designer

Web designer of flash, then CSS, asp, net, WordPress, Seo was a must and 5 years ago PPC and social media, I work in south fl and able to work in Spanish and Portuguese. Isn’t easy to keep with everything but somehow I’m doing all by my house + 2 kids + 3 turtles and 1 dog πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Aaron Whyte

Floppy Disk

Back in the days of BBS (Bulletin Boards) and dial-up in the mid-80s. First I hosted the site on dual 3″ floppy drives then went big time onto a 20 MB HDD the size of a loaf of bread. My enterprise mainly consisted of downloading games and software from Europe and Scandinavia cracking it and then selling it via my BBS, Malware and by spamming/hacking other BBS. The rest is censored for the kids.

Thane Pullan
I’m a nerd, I was attracted to money in my younger days more, disliked high school, left asap.

Najib Zainal

SEO

My application for startup incubation program just shoved into some worker drawer..no reply..since then, I invested on my self by learning SEO, funnel creation and social media marketing..of course by learning, I mean from your SEO youtube channel.

Hayden Bingham
Sold 34 law firms in one month for this web design agency got fired and gave it a go the best decision I’ve ever made

Doug Seidl
Damn this thread is inspirational

John Smeth

Video Editing Software

Starting to specialize in doing yelp videos using after effects. Then upsell into SEO, PPC and FB ads

Robert Price
Mtg biz went to hell in 2007.

Jamshed Khan
It’s fun doing marketing for anyone

Glen Izevbigie
Around 2016 I was reading SEO and executing test but I was bs’ing at the same time. Then my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. The motivation has stuck ever since.

Tomas Dambrauskas

Ambition

By saying yes to a lot of stuff. Everything started with a project. After a few years of freelancing, I founded a company and been moving forward since then. But reading something is not a start. This morning I read about space so I am not a starting astronaut. You have to have a project to work with.

Question 2: What’s The Number One Thing You Would Tell Someone Looking To Start an SEO Business?

SEO Search Engine

Niall Roche
Have 3 months of bills in the bank before you start any business. You might be one of the few who can be successful from day one, but it’s not likely. So make sure you have enough money to keep a roof over your head and food in the fridge because otherwise, you’re making the work 10x harder. Btw this is advice I ignored and have paid the price.

William Burgess

Process

Build a process and follow it, optimize the process as you go.

Kevu Kaivan
Considering that you already know how to do a proper SEO, I’ll suggest to build a really unique website design and rank it for a unique SEO term and just do it for free for some of the small business, and outreach other big shots who need SEO.

Question 3: Is Managing An SEO Agency Easy?

SEO Digital Marketing

Note from Chase: To all of you who think that SEO is super easy and running an agency is going to be a piece of cake, let me tell you that this last month of my life managing 20 clients has been one of the biggest hells I’ve ever gone through. Remember that money can only get you so far.

Peter Oluka
Tell me about it, Chase! You have to know what you are doing and who you want to work with πŸ™‚

Chase Reiner
It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

Peter Oluka
I meant to say that too πŸ™‚

Darren Galvin
It’s tough going Chase Reiner I haven’t followed or watched live for a while just been preoccupied but I must get back on your channel. Do you have any before and after case studies?

Chase Reiner
I haven’t done a video in a while and yes I have many case study’s.

Manuel Diaz
Keep grinding chase

Darren Galvin
Ah, that will be why! Well, fire over some links to case studies I would love to see the work. I have picked up some nice contracts recently and intend to deliver the best possible results.

Adam Gallegos
Chase, do you have any VAs? A lot of 1-man agencies have several VAs. Have you opted out of that? I can only imagine it makes things slightly easier
Manage

Chase Reiner
Yes, I have two.

Adam Gallegos
Fewer clients and bigger contracts, at least that’s what I’ve heard some people do.

Chase Reiner
That’s exactly what I’m switching to

Darlene Jaye Hanchett

Money

I only have 3 big clients….they pay enough to keep me happy. I’ll never be rich, but I’ll never have to work in someone else’s office to make someone else rich. I used to offer sites for $500 and $250 SEO, those days are gone…..if they aren’t willing to pay big, 1) they aren’t serious about getting great results and 2) it’s a waste of my time. I’ve even tried to discourage new clients by throwing some obnoxious quote at them. Some bite and some run but the ones who bite make it worth my time. πŸ˜€ Hang in there, we’ve all been down the road you’re on.

Ian McNicol
Chase Reiner, it sounds like you do a lot of the work yourself which is smart because you’re good at it. Do you outsource any of the work to free up time? A VA or two could be helpful but I know it takes a bit of time to train them.

Chase Reiner
Yep I have two VA’s

Avaone Mariaonly

Contract

Just don’t be a pushover, have contracts, iron clad and written by lawyers (you make the draft of what you want to be covered and have a lawyer review and fix). I am one of your biggest fans and wish you all the best.

Chase Reiner
<3

Matt Kakuk
Amen to that Chase

Matt Kakuk
We should all post our favorite client quotes that made us want to jump off the cliff. I had a client once looking in his email for his google rankings instead of safari. I am not making it up.

Morris Melara
Yeap F* that. Being there, done that. I don’t want clients.

James Thomas
What do you do now??

Jacob Punton

people

Hire more people! And if you have a team, what about the hell they went through lol.

Matt Kakuk
Haha. Payroll day becomes hell day then. Every two weeks. Hell

Jacob Punton
Matt Kakuk sure I see where you’re coming from. But surely he would have an accountant or something that deals with that.

Matt Kakuk
Jacob Punton missed the point. When you have to come up with $50k every other Monday that’s a different challenge. πŸ™‚

Jonathan LaRocca
Agreed

Jonathan LaRocca

Clients

I only have 7 clients, 4 currently building, 3 more need to get started, + 2 more that want a build but can’t even more forward with their interest, building and marketing these things is getting a lil out of hand but we are just starting out and will manage.. but yeah 20 haha can only imagine.

Aaron Whyte
What to you hit 60-80 a few hundred… fun times a head time to get systems in place.

Joshua B Allen
That’s why you need to build out a system with sops. It’s easy once you have the system in place. Less juggling and frantic moments.

Djahill Zwawi
Funny I had the same thought when I was watching the video of some SEO guy that is “fake it till you make it” kinda influencer. He was like “most important is generate leads and sale, with that money you’ll solve all other issues such as delivering quality service” I was like https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images…

Chase Reiner
Reminds me of an ad I saw recently on, “how to sell SEO without knowing it”

Djahill Zwawi
Or “how I built a digital agency in 90days and made 40,000$ after only 40 days” kinda blog post on medium πŸ™‚

Chase Reiner
“how to do things without knowing what you’re doing”

Djahill Zwawi
How to take the money of people and bragg about it then epic fail at delivery cause hold no freaking accountability πŸ™‚

Aaron Whyte
“How to sell half a mil of digital in a month and survive on 2 hrs sleep for 6mths”.

Djahill Zwawi
I sell for 500$ per month and actually get very little sleep πŸ™ I don’t know where the Million$$$ is technically possible to handle πŸ™‚

Djahill Zwawi
Oh Lord, I’m not there yet! I’m surely underpaid, that I agree with. I work my A** Off as I’m tailoring every single strategy for the sake of the fun it’s brings me. I have no “template work” I do to standardize. I assume lots of agencies have these SOP they follow with each and every client that they call “Framework from years of practice”, I don’t have that yet πŸ™‚

Aaron Whyte
Perhaps some Henry Ford tactics will help you.

Matija ZajΕ‘ek
Beeing SEO here on a small market in Slovenia. Currently having app 13 clients per month. As some of you above, I also know I am never going to be big, but I am happy.

SEO Plans

Controling and choosing with who I do, constantly increasing value and price of my services, gives me each month more free time than less. Probably will not upscale it to bigger portfolio never – but that is not even my intention.

For me is the big win already to have constant leads, constant customers and satisfying work for them and me. Why would I want more? Time always get rid of bad customers (believe me: if you don’t like them, they surely don’t like you – so why stick with them). We are SEO’s – at least good ones, doesn’t have to worry about getting new customers.

Tim Capper
Think of it as a lesson learned :). When I first started out I went hell for leather taking on clients and it burned me out. I now stick to 10 at any one time, 1 in – 1 out.

Edgar Serrano
Hi everyone, thank you for sharing all your experiences.
Chase, you’re very generous with all the knowledge you share. I just want to say thank you. I’m a new digital marketer and still learning, but groups like this and people like you really help. Thanks again man!

Sandy Allain
I stopped working with clients, now only doing rank and rent… if they complain bye bye😏

Steven Kang

Digital Marketing

I’ve been doing digital marketing for almost 20 years and it has always been a challenging process. I can say the number one thing that helped me the scale is automation and semi-automation. Keep in mind that automation doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It just means you have a system in place to either manage it easily or can get the job done using a team without you being there.

Many years ago, I’ve done everything including web design, programming, SEO, and consulting. I’ve probably built close to 5,000 websites in my career. I’ve even had Fortune 500 companies and major agencies as clients. I was working 12 hours a day for 8 years without a break. I’ve realized it wasn’t sustainable.

I’ve finally started to let go of some of the projects and clients who did not fit my business model. I’ve learned to leverage one-to-many instead of one-to-one over the years. Anytime you are spending a ton of time doing a particular task for a client, you need to ask yourself whether the task can be outsourced or automated. If you have a task that’s eating up much of your time, you need to seriously consider changing your business model as it will stifle your growth.

Running a business is never easy. You just have to evolve and make smarter choices along the way.

Sam Deane
Thanks for your share, Steven. I’m finding I’m spending a lot of my time testing and setting up new programs/software etc in the hope it will save time later. How do you find the time to test new tools etc as well as running your business, servicing large numbers of clients etc

Steven Kang

SEO Rankings

Mostly automation, I figured out a way to make everything formulaic for both on and off-page. I also specialize in large scale rankings. Since I can demonstrate the result, clients don’t question my abilities. I also don’t go after all niches. I like to work in niches with tons of long-tails. This was a strategic decision that made a huge difference. Once my clients are plugged-in, it requires minimum involvement on my part.

Ian McNicol
Great conversation here guys. Steven Kang care to expand on “I like to work in Niches with tons of long tails”? Sounds smart

Steven Kang
Some niches have lots of procedural keywords as an example.

Steven Kang
and subspecialty phrases.

Ian McNicol
Thanks. Can you give an example?

Steven Kang
A dentist I am working with has tons of specialty keywords in addition to a certain type of insurance. Combine that with location keywords and you now have thousands of easy-to-rank keywords to work with.

Sam Deane
Steven that is very cool 😎Thanks for that. From now on I’ll be asking my clients for a long list of these niche related specialty keywords and then combine them with (Uk) local prepend and append terms – that’s awesome thanks

Ian McNicol
Awesome. Thanks Steven Kang!

Steven Kang

Basic SEO techniques

Instead of asking your client, do a research and suggest to them first. You want to position yourself as a valuable asset. I have positioned myself as a long-tail expert.

Bradley Shaw
You seem successful, wtf would you live in Grand Prairie Texas for;)

Steven Kang
LOL, I get that a lot from people who don’t know the area well. Grand Prairie has a lot of industrial complex as a whole but the community south of Joe Pool Lake is a different story. Some of my neighbors are Fortune 500 executives, Dallas Cowboy team members, Olympic athletes, ML baseball retirees, and business owners. My wife is also making a killing in Grand Prairie. She became number 1 in Dallas in sales volume as a real estate broker. πŸ˜‰

Bradley Shaw
Just giving you a hard time. I live in Frisco, summer in Coronado. My claim to fame is that Zeke is my neighbor. I just can’t take the Texas summers.

Ted Rinshed
Hi, Chase you might want to learn how to scale your business from a guy named Brian…He’s done it several times. He currently is selling a Google Maps ranking course for $500 I’d check it out and see what you can take away from his presentation. https://www.mloagencyblack.com/training

Prod Charles
It’s been awesome watching your expansion over the last half a year. Hope you can organize something that makes life easier for you, dude. ✌☺ #CRYC