What are some of the challenges faced when starting an SEO agency


  • Running an agency means being responsible for more – staff, wages, insurance, and a physical location
  • Ensuring that you, your team and your internal operations are running effectively are super important at this level


John R:                  I know you’re probably busy, but you’re running an agency. A little bit different to us freelancers. Maybe share some of your thoughts with some of the things that you face building out an agency and having physical location, staff and everything else?

John:                     The biggest challenge I’ve had is, one of the things I did prior to Natasha coming on board was really clean house and be aware of my process. Then when Natasha came on board, I realised that it had to be cleaned another three or four times. It’s one thing to have it all in your head and what you understand. There’s so much unwritten and so much that you just pick up that, there’s five things that happen and I’ve gone through 12 in my mind. You can’t … that all to someone who works with you to say, “Okay. Sorry. You’re right. I did jump three steps ahead there. This is how we do it.”

John:                     You know we build our internal app for that benefit where we follow a process. Certainly that’s been the biggest challenge because we have to, when you’re looking at your processes, you’ve got to look hard at yourself and go, “Right. Is this working? Does this make sense to someone else?” Certainly, that’s been a big thing for me. Natasha’s been great, and fresh breath of air for us. Basically, also I’m 40, male.

John:                     Natasha’s half my age and female. It’s always nice to have a different perspective of a different age bracket. That brings a different tack through. Female, different age. You go, “Okay. I didn’t think of it that way.” That’s why I always talk with you, and we have a nice balance of concept is because there’s no written A, B, C, this will get you the result. I can deliver things five different ways to you and get the same result.

John:                     If you process and you refine it, you will. It’s just something that we’re both aware of. On the agency thing, certainly get your processes right before you build because it really shows some teething issues. If you haven’t got them, not only does the person that you’re bringing on inherit all of those flaws, but you start to be very inefficient. You’re paying for yourself, it’s one thing.

John:                     It’s your own time, but you’re paying for somebody there all day you start to go, “Wait up. Are we running as efficiently as we should be?” That’s probably something that we’ve made sure that we continually refine. I’m bringing on a second person, just purely as a content writer shortly. Maybe I can reach out to you if you know anyone that might be of value. That’s probably my next stage before I bring on another full-time person.

John:                     Knowing when to bring on that person’s a big challenge, too. How much fat do you need in the business? How many clients do you need? What’s your revenue? How many clients can a person manage and support you? My goal is to move less from doing the day-to-day SEO activity and having a process in place that my staff can follow, and I can get back to.

John:                     I bounce with you on concepts and training. I read Moz, Search Engine Land. Neil Patel, as much as he just waves his hand and talks nonsense, in my opinion. I look at it, I take tidbits from everyone and I apply it to us. That’s really something that I want to focus my time on, and new bids. I see the guys talking about growing, I started as a sales guy and I went into to SEO. I have always had sales presentation skill and know how to find deals.

John:                     I know how to communicate really, as effectively as anyone, I believe. Certainly I suppose, getting the clients on board I want to focus on. Strategy and new bids, and having a process where my team can work from 40 to 50, 60, 70 clients pretty seamlessly. I’ve got some nice partners that we’ve started to work with that send through three or four inquiries per week. That’s enough for me to manage.

John:                     I steer away from bringing on a salesperson because having had a sales background, I know the gap that can happen between what’s sold and what’s delivered. That goes back to why I like you. We’ve bounced well since I met you way back when through one of your blog articles on doorway pages, on suburb pages. Certainly, that’s how we met initially. You can’t have a huge discrepancy between what’s being positioned as promised and what’s being delivered. That’s what causes you shit fights….

John R:                  That expectations gap.

John:                     It’s a huge issue. You’ve got to be realistic about it. That’s why I’m the person who does all of the pitching and selling, and I’m the one who sets the right expectation. Then if it fails, I’m the person who has to defend the business. I’m the person who has to represent, where are we at.

John:                     Are they within their rights to say, “Look. We’re not feeling like you’re getting the result.” Like you would too, I take that rather personally if we don’t deliver what we promised. Because we do represent businesses. Those people have families that need to pay the bills and have done a job to get them the inquiries that get them a return on investment for what we do. It’s important.

John R:                  I think what you just touched on then John, and I won’t hold you up too much longer. Having processes in place and processes that actually work at an agency level, it’s so much more critical than when you’re freelancing from home. Because if I fuck something up, then it just affects me pretty much directly. It might flow onto my VAs but probably not. When you’ve got a physical location and you’ve got fucking staff sitting behind you, you are in the hot seat.

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