Received this attached private message. Three things about it…

  1. If you’re new, don’t be scared to ask others that are a step ahead of you for help. Most others that have been in your shoes feel a sense of pride/obligation to give back. They WANT to help you.
  2. If you’re a step ahead of others, don’t be scared to help others come up to your level.
  3. My answer the their question, and the good and the suck about starting a business.

Coincidentally, I started SEO National in 2007. We all know what happened in 2008. Not exactly the best of luck starting a business during a recession.

But it worked out all the better in the end, because people were looking to stretch their dollar further and do business with people that actually cared about their results. Making this post all the more applicable to 2020’s economic situation.

My first 10 clients came from being willing to build relationships.

  • doing minor site improvements for free (to establish a relationship)
  • doing SEO for free for a few months to prove the value (to build trust)

Sucks to work for free, but if they pay after it makes it worth while. Especially if they stay with you long-term.
Double bonus if they send referrals because you were a rockstar and helped them so much.

I still have at least my first dozen clients from 14 years ago.

Client # 1 referred client # 2. Client # 2 has referred half a dozen clients over the years.

Client # 3 I did free consulting. They appreciated my honest, actionable advice, which built the relationship, which led to them paying for SEO services about three months later.

Annnnnd, that client went on to build and sell 5 businesses in 10 years, me helping with all of those projects that needed SEO.

Annnnnd, annnnnnd, he also referred as much as 25% of all of my business during years 2-5, and to this day still sends a few referrals each year.

Annnnnd, annnnnnd, annnnnnd, those referrals have gone on to refer clients.

Not only are they referrals, but they are BETTER clients because they come into the relationships seeing results and trusting you.

A lot of opportunities out there if you look at it as that… an opportunity.  Doing “free” work in the beginning years and building relationships since then has -by bar- been the most profitable form of marketing ever witnessed.