March 2016 marks exactly 1 year when I’ve been officially self employed. I wrote a personal post on medium on this subject about business in general but also wanted to take a more SEO focused approach and give a 1 year round up about being in such a volatile industry. I’ve also got a couple more posts lined up and an update on the bing case study which is looking very interesting 2 months in! But more on that in a few weeks.
Although I’ve been flirting with the online marketing industry for years I only officially set up an “seo front” in the form of Ghost Marketing in late 2014 (October I think.) Initially the site was absolutely terrible and my ranking strategy itself was pretty weak (compared to nowadays.) Anyway 5 months later I’d managed to pick up 3 monthly clients through a bit of luck and being the best SEO in a small city (Salisbury, Wiltshire.) People say you don’t get any leads from ranking for “seo city” but I’d say as long as you don’t live in a village you can pick up 1-2 good leads a month. That doesn’t sound like a lot. But I landed £2,600 directly from ranking for “SEO Salisbury”… And that probably took 20 hours and £200 to rank for, so not a bad ROI.
Fast forward to today and my process of ranking a website itself is greatly improved. I’ll never stop testing, but I think once you have a process in place for just about anything in life, it becomes a lot easier. There is so much BS in the industry that sometimes its difficult to see what actually works, BUT it’s been the same for years…Seriously. My outlined strategy has never changed:
- Keyword research.
- Competition analysis.
- On-page optimisation.
- Level 1 Link building.
- Level 2 Link building.
It’s seriously that easy.
For any new website I’m creating, any client proposal, or any website the process is the same. The methods of each are obviously hugely different but the baseline itself never ever changes.
Through the 1st half of my year I was lucky enough to pick up a couple more clients and really start to get moving in the right direction, I also posted alot to SEO Oasis and also started to build up what I call “digital assets”, my PBN network, affiliate websites and other types of sites. Although these still make up a tiny proportion of my income, its constantly growing and isn’t directly related to client generation, which is always good.
The second half of the self employment year wasn’t so good. I didn’t pick up as many clients, got a bit lazy and essentially lost the drive I needed…. Luckily by November time it was back and I felt a lot better by the new year. January was a great month and I also started another business and everything is now going in the right direction again.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin – I tried to create 5 of everything, and do 50 of everything that my competition was doing. Although this was great from an effort point of view, I quickly ran out of cash-flow before I saw a return.
- It takes longer than you think – I thought I’d be on at least 40-50K profit by the end of year 1. I was not even close. SEO (like most business) has a very large lag time. Something you do today might take 6 months before you profit from it.
- Bad clients aren’t worth it – At first I said to myself I’d take on any client I got. Even if they seemed like A holes, I was good at what I did and they could see this, even if they didn’t understand SEO itself. Nowadays I realise it seriously isn’t worth the hassle.
2016 & Year 2 of Self Employment
Every 6 months (or so) I like to re-write my business goals and personal aims. What I did well, what I did badly and just act as a self review. In my second year of business the 3 aspects I would like to increase/improve:
1.) Increasing the number of good clients I have. Clients = Money, and although might be frustrating at times, they are 100% the easiest way to make some money in SEO. I (unlike some others) still like client SEO, getting a site to rank and knowing your making another persons business money is a good feeling, so by the end of 2016, I would like to have 10+ “Good” clients.
2.) Grow the digital assets to £3k / month. Ideally more than this figure but as a baseline this is what I’d be looking for. This is everything online marketing related (adsense/affiliate marketing ect) that isn’t client based. More on this in the coming weeks & months.
3.) Grow the fitness business to £10k / month (sales). As I mentioned above I set up Ghost Fitness in late 2015/early 2016. This figure sounds high but really isn’t from a pure revenue point of view. Given the cash flow I believe the business could be up to £20,000 / month within a 6 month period, but purchasing stock takes huge chunks of cash and hence grow slows as a result. If I manage to acquire funding in this time (which I am currently trying to do) this figure might go up!
As I mentioned above, a more definitive round-up is at: https://medium.com/@TomBuckland/rant-1-year-on-the-self-employment-grind-57483f227fcb
Thanks for reading.