Blog Post

How to start an SEO business

If you are interested in starting an seo business, you can watch this 3 minute video to learn the ins and outs of starting an online business. How did HubShout get its seo business off the ground? For starters, we worked backwards! Watch the video by HubShout CEO Chad Hill and President Adam Stetzer for great advice on starting an seo business.


Chad: Hello. Welcome to our How to Start a SEO Business video. Adam, how are you?

Adam: I am good, Chad. Good afternoon. We are talking about how to start an SEO business; big juicy topic. I am very interested in your thoughts. You are an entrepreneur, I am a serial entrepreneur, and we have been around this block a few times. I know there are a lot of folks out there who are looking at how to start an seo business and maybe they are studying the numbers, seeing the charts, and they know this is a growing industry. They know there are profits to be made in the seo business, but I think we are here to stay. It is not a magic bullet and it is some hard work. How exactly do you start your own SEO business?

Chad: I think that for most of the people that we work with, there is the traditional what you learn in business school about how to start a business, and then I think there is the bootstrapped entrepreneur approach. I want to go through that today, because I think that is ultimately where we see people being the most successful, especially in this business. Rather than the ready, aim, fire-type approach to many things in business, I am going to call this 'how to start an SEO business with our ready, fire, aim approach'.

There are 3 points I want to make. The first one is to really identify your target market and sales channel. This might seem a little odd to come into the business and say, 'Figure out what your sales channel is,' but it is really important in starting an seo business, because there is so much demand that it is hard to be a generalist. We have some people that are very much focused on a specific industry, and then we have other people who come to us and say, 'I am just going to be the SEO guy in my little town, or my bigger market.' Think about that upfront, and really, in order to make that determination, I think you need to go out, have some lunches, re-establish contacts with any of your network out there, and start to understand you know what your opportunity is. You may be coming out of an industry and you know everyone in a particular market, so being the local SEO guy is not the right approach for you, you should go after an industry.

Really out of that, those discussions and networking events that I think you should do in the first few weeks of getting this idea going, you want to identify your first customer. Again, 'That is weird I have my first customer before I have my business?' The answer is yes, because in the second step you really want to define your solutions around that target market. We are talking SEO business, but that is pretty easy to stay focused narrowly or to broaden slightly and ask, 'I am I doing SEO? Am I going to be doing pay-per-click? What about social media?' You got local SEO, webdev, and email marketing. Start to figure out what is it that that target market is going to be looking for. Are they likely to want one guy to do everything or are they going to have different vendors doing different things?

That is where I think HubShout can help you a lot, because we have what I would call 'a business-in-a box'. We have taken and thought through all the operational processes of how you actually can deliver these solutions to the market. We have a great system for delivering the work, tracking the work, helping you sell the work, and build proposals. Really in that second phase, you are starting to define what the solution is. Then oddly enough, the third phase is name your business, incorporate, design your logo, and build your website. The reason I leave that for last is because I have seen it happen, I know you have too, Adam; we have talked about this many times. Too many times and too often, people go out and spend months and months picking their logo, website, incorporating, and picking their phone system. They maybe 6 months into their business before they even start looking for their first customer. What I always tell everyone is, 'You do not have a business until you have revenue, which means you have to have a customer.' Start there, and then work backwards. That is what I would do to start an SEO business.

Adam: That is great advice, Chad. We have had that discussion many times. How we come across these people is they call us and we talk to them every day, and they are really laboring over picking the name, logo, and getting it just right. Sure, those things are important and the marketing consultants will tell you, for the long haul those things are important, but until that check is coming in, you really do not have a seo business. I like the order that you have picked. It is not the traditional order, but it puts the sales and the customer acquisition first. I liked that right after that, you were talking about what they need; you are defining the product to make sure, 'This is where I am going to find my customers. Do I have the product that is actually going to serve them so they stick around?' Then lastly, you get to the things that often people just get so stuck on. The other piece of advice that I got early on that I thought was really helpful, which is fail as cheaply as possible.

Chad: Right.

Adam: You are pretty much saying the same thing. Try these things, but do not spend a lot of money as you try them, because as good an idea as you think something may be to bring to the market, positioning, branding, or whatever you are working on, you have got to recognize 9 out of 10 of these businesses do not make it. The objective is to fail through the bad ideas, or the ones that just will not stick in the market place, as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Then the things that are working and the checks are coming in and you are making money; that is your business. Come back, refine, and reinforce, which I think is essentially what you are recommending. Great, fascinating stuff.

That is how we think you should start your SEO business. Thank you.

Comments (7)

  • Chris Reply

    It makes a lot of sense to target an industry that you are familiar with. I wonder though, does that give you a lot of clients that are competing with each other?

    12/11 at 09:31 AM
  • Chad F Reply

    Great Video guys! Chris I have a re-seller that works strictly Bankruptcy attorneys. I wondered the same thing but as I started to manage his accounts I noticed that each client he has is in a different state or part or state. Once you have a business model that works for a targeted industry it seems like it would be easy to go into another market with the same game plan & tweak as needed.

    12/11 at 09:34 AM
  • Reply

    RIght now my clients are coming from all types of industries. In my sales I do feel really spread out and unorganized, but the checks are still coming in, so that's a good thing. I know an internet marketing company that only works with dentists and he's been very successful. I think that there is something to be said about targeting a specific industry and if that's the case, you need to make sure you're broadening your geographical areas to minimize competing against yourself.

    12/11 at 12:21 PM
  • Renee Reply

    Landing the first client takes a lot of work. I get your point about not getting too wrapped up in the perfect logo, name, web site, etc before you even have customers. But what's the middle ground? How do you convince that first customer to trust you and sign on the dotted line? Do you dazzle them with your knowledge and understanding of their industry and what is needed for their business to carry out a successful online marketing strategy?

    12/11 at 02:50 PM
  • Reply

    It may sound cliche, but I've found that the best way to get clients to sign up with you is to be sincere and build a relationship. Clients say yes to me when I offer a great solution, and when they can tell that I have a vested interest in their success.

    I like to say, "I can't make a living if my clients aren't seeing a great return on their investment.", and I really mean it.

    12/11 at 03:16 PM
  • Terrance Reply

    I have to agree with Chris on the relationship building it's the same as Resellers selling our product they have to trust us and we have to build a relationship with them to do so. Your quote is one that I would have to say gets to the point with people. Great video guys and Chris nice input.

    12/12 at 12:53 AM
  • Matt Reply

    When stating an SEO business, relying on an outsourcing partner makes sense. Most new people quickly realize that the actual implementation is time consuming and limits their ability to take on enough clients to make the kind of money they want to make.

    12/13 at 03:47 PM

Leave a comment

You must log in to comment.