7 Lessons Learned Making $477,426 In 12 Months Doing SEO from Home

I’ve been running my business now for quite some time and I still remember when I first started, how excited I was to get my very first few clients and be making money working from home.

I felt like “Id made it”.

For whatever reason, I’d always sort of aspired and aimed for making $10,000 thousand a month. I guess I just liked the sound of it. However within in a very short period of time, I blew right past that and have now far exceeded that figure in terms of the money that I’m making within my SEO business.

As the title reads, in the last 12 months, I’ve made almost half a million dollars running my SEO business from home.

It’s been interesting to look back, to see what’s happened within my business. Clients that I’ve worked with, mistakes that I’ve made, things I’ve learned and how I’ve grown in that time.

Having said that, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some thoughts off the top of my head, some of the biggest takeaways or lessons that I’ve learned.

These are what I would consider key items, not just small-time details. These are all the biggest factors that I think have really made the difference between me making a couple hundred dollars a month to where I am right now.

Confidence

The first one I want to mention is confidence.

Confidence has played such a huge part in how I’ve been able to really grow this business and achieve the sort of numbers that I have. However it wasn’t always this way.

When you’re just starting out, you’re often surrounded by self doubt and uncertainty.

  • Will this business work?
  • What if I screw something up?
  • Will I make enough money?

When you’re unsure of yourself it fucks with your confidence, and when you’re not confident, you end up doing stupid shit or making silly decisions.

Without boring you with the details, there were two problems I had –

  • I didn’t back myself
  • I listened to the wrong people

Infact, just 6 months before my business exploded, I almost quit and went back to a regular job.

I look back at my mindset during those first few years and even though I was determined, I still had wobbly wheels, and when you’re in that position, things can go either way. You’ve got to back yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.

Confidence is key and its something I cover in my SEO business coaching program.

Process

The next one I want to talk about, is the importance of a process.

There’s a great show, that I’m a huge fan of, it’s called The Profit by Marcus Lemonis. It’s very similar to Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares where he’ll step into a failing business, pull it apart, fix what’s broken and have that business making money in a very short period of time.

Marcus always talks about the three P’s of business – people, product and process.

I’ve adopted this approach, and it just works.

It’s such a simplistic model, but it makes sense and it actually works.

So I often think about my product, which is SEO, the people, which are my virtual staff, (which I’ll get to in just a moment), and lastly, my process. I know a lot of people that work in similar fields to me – they’re web developers, or they’re doing SEO, or they’re doing some form of online marketing and they don’t have a process at all. They just totally wing it.

I know a lot of freelance web developers, in particular, tend to do this.

They have absolutely no process at all. There’s no onboarding process, there’s no customer acquisition process, they don’t pre-qualify their leads, there’s nothing. They just send a few emails back and forth, have a chat on the phone, agree to everything, shake hands then sit up til 3am every morning yelling and swearing because the job has blown out and they’ve realised they’re working for $2 an hour.

I understood the importance of having a set process – and let’s face it, without a process, you can find yourself becoming extremely stressed out and overwhelmed very, very quickly. Having a set process in place is an absolute must.

It’s interesting, one thing I’ve learned is that my processes are always evolving. It’s ever changing. It’s never static. You’ll always be learning. I find that I learn with each and every new client that comes on board. I learn something new, I adjust my process in order to accommodate that, whether it be to improve something or to prevent a mistake or something that perhaps went wrong from happening again.

But you’ve got to have a process. If you don’t have a process and you’re just winging every client that you work with, then you don’t stand a chance in hell running a successful SEO business.

PS – This is probably the most important part of my coaching, because I can give you my entire process that I’ve refined over several years, so you’re not fucking around wasting time and making mistakes.

Team

This really falls under my previous point where I mentioned people.

You’ve got to have the right people helping you.

This one’s always quite tricky. One thing I’ve learnt, is that it can be very, very hard to find good people. You can spend a lot of time looking for them, but Ill say this much – once you find the right people, do whatever the fuck you can to keep them, even if that means paying them a bit more than you should.

Within my business, there are two staff members that I absolutely must have. The first one is my web guy or web developer. Having someone to assist with technical web tasks is always necessary. The second is someone to assist with content. SEO done right is heavily dependent on content. I produce a lot of content for my clients, so having someone in place to provide high-quality content is absolutely crucial.

There’s no way in hell I could be sitting here servicing 20 clients and producing more than 100,000 words of content per month on my own. It’s just not possible.

So having the right people is absolutely essential.

Project management

You’ll find as your business grows and evolves, just like mine has, that I’m spending less time doing the work and more time project managing. I’ll never move right away from doing the work, because I enjoy it. I think it’s important, because when I’m sitting with clients, I need to know what the hell I’m talking about and if I’m just sitting in a leather chair, smoking a big fat cigar and I’m just pointing and yelling at people, then my skill sets are going to slowly drop off and I don’t want that.

I want to make sure that I stay sharp with what’s happening in the SEO space for a number of reasons.

  • Firstly, so that I can train my staff.
  • Secondly, so that I know I’m confident when I’m speaking with new or existing clients.
  • And lastly, just for my own sake, I want to make sure that I have those skill sets in place, because it’s crucial to the success and growth of my business.

I have worked tirelessly in order to develop a refined system that I know works. I know that I’m not going to miss deadlines, I’m not going to miss meetings. My campaign workflow and my priorities are in check and everything is running smoothly.

You don’t need a big fancy fucking office

Making almost a half a million dollars might lead most people to think that I have this huge office, with hundreds of clients and dozens of staff all running around in cirlces like a scene of out Wolf of Wall Street and everything is extremely stressful.

But it couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, I have two virtual assistants. Occasionally, my girlfriend helps out with miscellaneous tasks, and most times I have between 12 and 15 clients, at most, I have 20.

However 20 is more than enough. At that rate is when I put the brakes on, because it becomes a little bit too much for such a small operation.

But, I’m certainly not sitting here in a big office with expensive rent and wages and 30 staff and having to put on a suit every morning. That’s not what I do at all. I’ve got a very good work-life balance. I work Sunday through Thursday. I have Friday and Saturdays off.

I have a small home-based office. I live near the beach. I often spend time with my girl lazing around cafes and doing my own thing. Whether that be going to the gym or whatever else it is that I might feel like doing at the time – but don’t get me wrong, it’s not all cupcakes and candy canes.

Which brings me to my next point.

I’ve worked my fucking ass off

Every now and then someone says to me “You’re so lucky!”

Fuck off. Luck has nothing to do with it.

I work my ass off.

There’s no shortcuts. There’s no overnight success. There’s no magic wand.

I still remember eating chicken noodle soup for a week because my first client was late with payment.

To suggest that I’m sitting down at the beach every day, lazing around, sipping on caramel lattes would be absolute nonsense. Most days I’m here working. I put in at least 10 hours every day and I do that day in day out. This is not a business where you can just push a few buttons and pull a few levers and the money’s going roll in.

You’ve got to be prepared to work your face off.

And that’s exactly what I do.

I am absolutely relentless in that regard. In fact, I have a lot of people ask me, “John, how do you stay motivated?” For me, it’s about fear. And this is probably true for a lot of people. People are driven by fear. Some people have fear of leaving a job. For me, it’s the fear of having to go back to one. I couldn’t think of anything worse than to have to swap this life that I’ve built in exchange for some shitty job where I’m working for $20 an hour.

I just couldn’t do it.

So that keeps me highly motivated. Plus of course the money is great too.

Learning to say no

This is a big one.

I see this a lot when I work with coaching clients. Freelancers in particular, because they’re often desperate for money. They’ll say yes to anyone.

I understand it. I mean I get it.

When you’re first starting out, you’re going to need the money.

Someone waves $900, under your nose for a website or something and you’re flat out being able to pay the rent – chances are you might take it, but that leads to problems in itself, because you’ll end up working for $2 an hour.

And that shit becomes a never ending cycle of chasing shitty clients.

I’ve already been there and done that.

So I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with saying to a person, “Hey listen, we’re not a good fit. I don’t think this is going to work. Perhaps you could try this, this or this.”

I never ever just leave a person hanging.

I’ll never ever just say, “Listen, I can’t help you,” and hang up. I always make suggestions. I often get a lot of calls from people that are wanting cheap SEO. They might have a lawn mowing business and say, “John, can you help me?” I always bring up my rates early on in the discussion, and say, “Listen, I charge $175 an hour, $2,100 a month,” in which case that’s not a good fit for a lot of people that don’t have that sort of marketing budgets.

But that’s okay, because I prefer to work with businesses that are well established, where they have a marketing budget and they see it as an investment, not an expense. So I certainly very comfortable in telling people, “No, I can’t help you,” but I always make suggestions.

“Perhaps you could try this, or give these guys a call or, have you considered XYZ?”

And that, that’s often a good thing, and they’ll thank you for it.

You can’t simply be saying yes to everyone.

Interested in working with me?

If you’ve enjoyed this read and you think you’d be interested in working with me, and making this sort of money then get in touch. I can take you from zero to running a highly profitable SEO business quickly without any mucking around.

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