Kari DePhiliips


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick Her Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Kari DePhillips, for our next ‘Pick His/Her Brain’ session and I want to thank her for the participation.

Kari has founded and grown $500 website called The Content Factory into a 7-figure agency covering SEO / digital marketing / PR / and content creation.

Tori Reid just called her the JK Rowling of SEO because over 100 million people have read TCF’s content but it’s ghost written for brands, so you’d never know it was her writing.

If you have any questions related to PR and keyword strategy (targeting search terms that will actually convert), please feel free to pick her brain.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until she asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM her and bother her. If you have a private question, ask for her permission on this thread when appropriate.

Please subscribe to our new Twitter account for the latest updates.




Table of Contents

What was the toughest hurdle in your journey so far and how did you handle it?

Finding my first clients. I actually got all of my clients, and find pretty much all of TCF’s employees, through Craigslist.

I would apply to 50 different jobs per day, until I built enough of a client list to quit my day job in advertising (it took about 3 months).

I made a video outlining my process, in case anyone finds it helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED8ITU2BAgs…

Do you still use Craigslist, does it still work?

No, all of our leads come to us via SEO now (I used CL while waiting for our site’s SEO to do its thing).

But the Craigslist strategy still works – there are several members of the Workationing: Support for Aspiring Digital Nomads and Remote Workers who have scored great contracts on Craigslist following this method.

What makes a “high quality article”? (Pointers please) or Does it even exist?

Depends, there are different types of high quality articles.

For instance, my team and I have written several blog posts that have generated over $1m in targeted organic traffic.

The quality is high there because the value is high there.

We’ve also gotten clients media coverage that has generated a lot of sales – and some that haven’t. What kind of articles are we talking about here?

When you do an amazing blog/article where do you put it to get such traffic and just on your website might only get seen by a few?

It depends on what the purpose of the post is. If it’s SEO,

I always put it on my site – it may not get a flood of traffic in the short term, but in the long term it’ll do its thing.

I don’t write guest posts on other sites with SEO in mind for that article itself.

Guest content is great for breaking out chunks of your long-form content/guides on your own site, talking about one aspect of the larger strategy, and linking back to your longer SEO post on your own site.

For instance, I have a monster post on the cost of social media marketing on my site.

I may write a 600-worder about the cost of Twitter marketing for an industry blog, then link back to my more comprehensive post about social media marketing costs on my site in that content.

If someone hands you a set of keywords, what does your content planning & creation process look like?

In my experience these keywords are almost always always off, so we check them.

This means looking at the search terms, if the client’s website has an actual shot of ranking, etc.

Usually they’re not optimized for conversion or are too short tail to have a shot at ranking.

Basically, they’re not targeted enough. In which case, I pitch them on our keyword research and competitive analysis services.

Let’s say they go with it.

Great! Then, we dig into looking at keyword revamp targets first.

That’s typically the lowest-hanging fruit of SEO (more here: https://www.contentfac.com/how-to-increase-organic…/)

Beyond that, we look at which search terms – that will lead to conversion – they should be targeting.

From there we look at the search intent of the user and build out content topics that can A) provide unprecedented value, B) rank, C) is likely to convert.

Once the kw list has been finalized, what does your content planning process look like from there?

We strongly consider search intent. What’s the intent behind these search terms, and what kind of blog content will satisfy the intent and also lead to sales?

What’re the juiciest keywords to target first, from a conversion and search volume perspective?

Once we’ve answered this question we’re left with a prioritized list of keywords.

Then, we batch them into groups that we’ll target with one piece of content.

For instance, if you’re writing a post about the cost of social media marketing targeting that as a keyword.

You should also include terms like cost of Twitter marketing, how much does Pinterest marketing cost, etc.

Then we come up with a list of blog topic pitches, which we put in a spreadsheet (see template below).

We give this spreadsheet of pitches to the client, they approve them, and we start the writing process.


What percentage of your clients are SEO vs content marketing?

Actually only about 50-60% of TCF’s business is SEO-only.

Content marketing is lowest on the interest list – we tend to sell clients on it rather than the other way around.

Some are PR-only, and solely for the list of link building for SEO.

Others are social media only.

I’ve been moving a lot of consulting packages lately, where I help marketing managers allocate budgets based on where they’re most likely to see ROI (and how to track that).

About 40% of our business is content based.

Meaning, we write regular monthly blog content for them (alone or as part of a larger package).

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Steve Wiideman

Do you charge content by piece or through monthly package?

Both, it depends on what the client needs.

I give a discount for longer contracts, though.

And in most cases clients are on a monthly package.

How do you do keyword research?


Are your services more productized or have you fallen into the traditional agency model as you’ve grown?

Both. I love scratching the strategy itch, which keeps me in the game and working with cool companies.

I can take what I learn and share it with people who purchase TCF’s online training courses.

How big of a factor is sales/marketing psychology when it comes to creating content that is also good for SEO?

Search intent is huge. Hitting that intent with value and a solution to their problem (oh hey, that’s the client and their product/service!) is equally important.

Any tips for developing content in an industrial B2B niche where typical intent modifiers don’t apply?

I’d have to know more about the niche to get more specific.

But think of the questions your target audience has an how you can answer them while also demonstrating your expertise and offering additional value (your goods/services).

How do you scale your content writing and write in-depth articles appearing as an ‘expert’ in industries you have no expertise in?

Interviews with subject matter experts, usually someone on the client side.

We also interview complementary, non-competing experts and influencers to help bake in content marketing (they’re always good for a share of the content on social, and it’s good for relationship building.

On the scaling side, workflow docs and I only hire top tier writers.

Over time they do become experts themselves – usually within the first 5 or 10 blog posts.

My website gets basically zero traffic. When I write something worth sharing, what’s the best way to get eyes on it?

If you’ve been doing this for a while and your website still gets no traffic, your SEO is off somewhere.

If you quote experts in your content (sending out HARO queries is great for this, or you can directly approach them) they’ll be likely to share it when it goes live.

This is a good way to leverage larger networks to increase the size of your own.

This video can expose any knowledge gaps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoaaCnGCh9A…

When you’re focusing on keywords to drive conversion, apart from the obvious buy/learn/best/cheapest modifiers, what are some of the common factors they have and how do split that research for all steps within the client buying cycle?

We look at the entire buyer journey while conducting keyword research, and then figure out what questions or problems the target audience would have while at that phase.

I’ve done zero actual research on the terms below, but for example content targets for a potential buyer of SEO services would look something like:

What is SEO?/Do I need SEO?

How to do keyword research

How to write SEO articles

How much does it cost to outsource SEO?

SEO article writing agency

How to audit my SEO agency

How to tell if your SEO agency is working

How to fire an SEO agency

This way we’re capturing people from the start to the finish, because if they’re firing their current SEO agency they’re probably going to need another one soon.

Once an article is posted to a client’s site, do you have a promotion strategy in place that you wouldn’t mind sharing? Also, whereabouts do you find good outsourcing partners for content creation as well as SEO?

We produce our content in-house, and occasionally tap contractors or freelancers we know well to handle overflow.

When I find myself tapping the contractor crew I know we need to hire again.

Just about all the content we produce for clients is evergreen, so we encourage them to share it across their social channels on an ongoing basis (if we manage SMM for them, we do this).

It’s important to tag all the people quoted and companies mentioned, because at the other end of every business Twitter account is a SMM just looking for something relevant to engage with.

This is why it’s critical to bake content marketing into the posts themselves.

Sometimes I give Neil Patel a shoutout in my content because his team is pretty good about hitting us with a backlink to the post in future content.

If you quote people and let them know when the content goes live, you’ll get some engagement.

The key is to never forget about the content – link to it often internally and in social posts.

Ideally you’re creating content that provides value for your target audience.

Keep putting that value in their faces by linking to your posts when somebody has a question that post answers.

You can also create content with the sole purpose of leveraging it to get media coverage.

For instance, I wrote the post below and then parlayed that into the BND article linked below.

That piece is also why NBC News called me a “CEO who takes job perks to the max” and Thrive named me a “limit-breaking female founder.”



What do you find is the most effective keyword tool (eg Moz tools, SemRush or whatever) to use for your keyword research? Also do you structure all your content around keywords then add backlinks for on page SEO?

To answer your question a little more in depth, the primary key is understanding the buyer and what they struggle with so you can provide solutions to their problems or questions in your copy.

Keyword research tools are great, but so many people go wrong with the search terms themselves.

The key to ranking is delivering killer content, and to do that you have to deeply understand each client’s potential buyer(s).

That starts at the keyword level.

For instance, SEMrush tells me TCF’s content ranks #1 for SEO articles and SEO article writing.

Awesome! But only a small segment of our target audience is searching for that.

This is why we also have blog content targeting terms like keyword research template, content writing, and cost-related terms.

The goal is to catch potential clients or online course buyers at every stage in their research/buyer journey.

We’ve done a lot, but we still have a long way to go.

We take the same approach to clients and their buyer personas.

If you can catch people in the research phase before making a purchase, provide value and demonstrate your expertise your SEO content will convert instead of just draw in organic traffic.

Can you rank a site well with only 20 posts?

It depends on the site and a variety of other factors, but theoretically the answer is yes.

It’s good that your strength is in writing long-from, you’re already well suited to create content that ranks.

Have you seen this video? It’ll expose your knowledge gaps so you can work on the areas that you’re weakest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoaaCnGCh9A…

Let me know if you have any other questions, I have a ton of resources I can point you to!

How did you move from content marketing (as the name suggests) to SEO? Did you take up any SEO courses or adopted a self-learning approach?

Actually, I started in SEO writing. I spend a lot of money on Botox and fillers to stay looking in my mid-to-late 27s, but I got into SEO in 2006.

I was working in advertising at a job I hated, and I started picking up some freelance writing assignments (see How to Hack Craigslist video linked above).

Most of those writing assignments were SEO articles.

Back then I could write 10-15 300-word articles per day, on everything from online dating sites to camera lenses.

I got good at it, and eventually had more work than I could handle solo and The Content Factory was born.

I’m of the opinion that if you want to become an SEO expert, it helps to become a PR expert as well.

At least, that’s what I convinced myself after sending my 10,000th link outreach email.

My team’s content marketing tactics are well rooted in PR, and I find it to be an effective and efficient backlink acquisition strategy.

I’m completely self taught, and a college dropout.

I created an online SEO training course that outlines our entire process, including how to get earned media coverage (which is good for more than just backlink juice).

https://rise.contentfac.com/rise BTW, Tori Reid wrote that sales page for me.

She’s awesome to work with and I highly recommend her.

How can i reduce the bounce rate for a small business website for a car broker and a for a Vehicle review website?

Any number of ways. Does the page take too long to load?

Is it mobile-friendly? Maybe something about the design is putting them off – does it look spammy or legit?

What technical skills do you think I need to learn now to stay ahead of the curb as SEO pro?

All of them or none of them, if you want to delegate technical SEO to somebody else.

Technical is one aspect of SEO, and where I see most people going wrong is with the actual strategy.

To stay ahead of the curve you need to be able to create holistic SEO strategies that will result in ROI for the client, and consistently so.

If you can do that you can write your own paycheck. Existing clients will want to stay and they’ll refer new ones to you.

Also, constantly collect case studies to show potential clients what you’re capable of.

Come to sales calls with hard numbers about how you increased traffic X amount, which resulted in Y increase in sales.

Most marketing managers and business owners don’t really care about the “brand lift” from high volumes of search traffic that don’t convert.

To be successful in this industry you need to establish a track record of success for turning targeted organic traffic into sales.

Aggressively chase case studies showing sales for clients, and you’ll A) make the client happy and B) get the receipts you need to sell more and bigger contracts.

How do we instill the confidence in visitors when we are writing the topics like health/fitness sheets visitors trust content written by expert on these fields?
We create fake persona? Pen name?

You could create a pen name of Dr. Iamtotallylegit, but instead why not just quote actual experts in the content?

Or, you could bring on a brand ambassador to write the content for you (or you can ghostwrite it for them).

We’ve had a lot of success with brand ambassadors in particular.

If you don’t have the budget for a brand ambassador but you do want to increase the legitimacy of your content, quoting experts is the way to go.

You can source them via HARO or direct outreach.

Worst case scenario, you can quote experts from other sources, linking back to that content but still weaving in that authority.

Any good resources to learn about PR that you can recommend?

I’ll be launching a course on it in August, outlining all the methods we use at TCF to generate media coverage for clients (and ourselves).

I’d like to answer your question, but it’s broad.

If we’re talking about PR with SEO objectives in mind, HARO is a great tool (see the link below for full tutorial on that).

RELATED:  The Comprehensive Guide to Freelancing Clients From Hell

Also, you can always hit me up for consulting and we can help you map out a PR plan (or teach you how to map them out for clients).

To create a lot of content, you need to work with many writers. So, how do you manage a lot of content and writers them? Do you rely on any tool?

I have a full-time editor who manages the writing department.

He was an English professor at a university before I poached him, and he’s one of the best hires I’ve ever made.

All content is organized by him, and edited by him. We’ve got a process for everything, so the workflow is clean.

We rely on all the tools. Slack, Trello, Gcal and tracking spreadsheets for days.

By the way we source just about all of our writers via Craigslist or referral from another employee.

Facebook groups are also a great source of talent.

Your thoughts on expired domains best way to get benifit from?

I’ve never bought an expired domain before, so I don’t have any advice here.

Any tips for PR? Using HARO and #journorequests with mixed results to date. Worth spending money in a PR distribution list? Any advice / help much appreciated.

A couple of links while I finish up some other responses: https://www.contentfac.com/how-to-write-a-haro-pitch…/

I’ve got lots of tips for PR, but I’d need more information about the company we’d be talking about here (or at least, industry).

Pitching journalists only works when you actually have a story that they may be interested in.

Unique stats, through internal company data or generated via survey, can be a real goldmine.

There are never any guarantees in PR, but we have a 100% success rate with generating top-tier media coverage from stats-based press releases.

Brand ambassadors can be a great tool, too. For instance: ASTROGLIDE (the lawyers make me all caps it) is one of our clients.

As you might imagine, not too many journalists are waking up each morning to write stories about personal lubricant.

However, they do wake up and churn out a ton of health/wellness/relationship articles every day.

Intro our PhD and MD brand ambassadors – they get quoted as doctors, the journos get experts for their stories, and the client gets more brand awareness and backlinks for SEO.

As to if buying a journo list is worth it – how much are we talking about here? I’ve never sold a list individually and I’m curious to know what people are charging.

It’d be worth it, assuming you got media coverage out of your pitching.

Again that’s all in the story itself, and your ability to tell it to journalists in a way that makes them want to cover it.

Could you explain a good team structure for a content team and SEO team? What role should be the first hire? And how do manage the team efficiently without too much of micro management.

Barring maybe one tech SEO expert who only focuses on that (obviously more as you grow), the content team should be the SEO team.

I often say that I can teach a good writer SEO, but I can’t teach an SEO to be a good writer.

Top level writing talent is essential to successful case studies.

So, I find writers and I turn them into SEO experts. It’s not hard to do, because SEO is pretty simple once you understand the principles and process.

Actually, that’s the reason I built out TCF’s online SEO course outlining all of our processes and strategies.

I give new hires that instead of training them individually. That video course is literally our training manual.

Everyone on my team starts out in the writing department.

Want to work in PR? Great! You start in the writing department, and by the way you also need to learn how to do SEO our way.

My first hire was another writer.

Assuming you hire talented and competent writers, they should start writing SEO content for clients.

As for management, it’s all about having a process.

They should know what content they’re producing, what keywords they’re targeting.

The buyer they’re trying to provide value to and what existing assets they should link to on the client’s site.

There should be an influencer marketing/content marketing plan in place.

We have an internal editorial calendar spreadsheet outlining clients/blog posts/deadlines/etc., use Trello and Slack.

They all know how many words they’re expected to hit per week, and I get weekly recaps from each employee outlining what they did that week, what they’re struggling with, what wins they had, etc.

Sometimes I go for days without talking to employees.

How does it feel to have a 7-figure company. Do you feel more or less at peace with yourself then before?

I feel like I have a lot more work to do because it should be an 8-figure company.

I work a lot, and often put in 14+ hour days.

I genuinely love what I do and geek out over the strategy aspect of it all.

My team regularly creates viral moments (or years, via the SERPs) for clients.

It’s really freaking cool to not just be a part of those moments, but to actually engineer from the ground up.

We’ve scrolled at the bottom of all of your favorite 3-letter news networks, but if you saw it you never knew TCF was behind it.

To keep myself sane I try to live as hard as I work.

I’m a full-time digital nomad and I created the Workationing podcast as a passion project to encourage other people to do the same.

I aggressively attack my bucket list.

Last week I was on a beach in Turkey, now I’m comin in hot from a coffee shop in Amsterdam.

SEO has enabled me to live a pretty cool lifestyle, and I think more people should get into the industry because there’s plenty of room for us all.

Basically every business needs good SEO, and almost none of them have it.

Did you write a content to be able to ‘READ’ google analylics and apply the data to my website to get better ROI?

Not yet but that has been on the list for over two years.

I promise we’re going to get around to it soon-ish!

Who has been your toughest client and why? Did the client stick with you and any lessons you learned by dealing with this client.

I’ve had lots of tough clients, in different ways.

ASTROGLIDE is a challenging one, because it’s tough to nail that tone in a way that’s relatable and not creepy.

There are a lot of other considerations, too.

ASTROGLIDE is an FDA-cleared medical device, which comes with a lot of restrictions.

None of the social channels will let them advertise, aside from Twitter and even then there are restrictions.

As I mentioned above, reporters don’t exactly wake up each day and write articles about lube.

Bringing in brand ambassadors was a key part of our SEO and PR success.

This Venn diagram below via SEMrush provides a visual representation of keyword rankings/overlap between ASTROGLIDE and their (bigger) competition.

When we first brought them on as a client, they were the blue dot on the left.

Three years later, they’re the blue dot on the right and dominating the competition in the SERPs.

That translated to A LOT more organic traffic.

We also got the brand millions of dollars in earned media coverage (as calculated by the ad value equivalent) via brand ambassadors.

The challenge here was creating a strategy from the ground up for a highly visible company in what I’ll call a very interesting industry.

It’s a high pressure account. Last week Grimes mentioned “astro-gliding” in an Adidas ad and Twitter went wild in a way we had to jump on in an instant.

This account in particular has taught me the benefits of being flexible, and that flexibility is often required in order to deliver the highest ROI possible.

Any place you would recommend finding new writer (freelancer, contactors, etc)?

I feel like I’ve tried sourcing writers from everywhere.

The best and most consistent source of high-quality applicants is Craigslist, in my experience.

You’re going to get a lot of terrible applicants, so brace yourself for that.

However, you’ll be able to spot the gems right away and there will be lots of them.

If you’re a remote company (like TCF), don’t limit yourself to posting job ads in the city you’re in.

Post your ads in Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Atlanta…pick a city in your preferred time zone.

While you’re at it, post two ads so you can cast an even wider net for talent.

It’s important to have a process in place for testing out new writers. Mine is this:

1.) I like their cover letter/application.

2.) I ask them for pitches, incorporating keywords I provide (sometimes I ask them to provide them, to gauge their competency there).

3.) If I like their pitches, I greenlight a post.

4.) They send in the OUTLINE of the post, so I can check the organization of information.

I make any adjustments and then greenlight the writing of the post.

5.) The writer almost always faceplants on the assignment.

No matter how good their cover letters may be, you’ll be astonished at how bad their writing is.

You’ll think something inside you is broken, because you had such high hopes for this particular applicant.

6.) About 20% will make it to step six, which is a rinse and repeat of 2-5.

Sometimes I give them the specific topics to write to speed the process along.

7.) SURPRISE! They miss a deadline and then ghost completely.

8.) Now you’re looking at the rare 5-10%. Rinse and repeat 2-5 two or three more times, with the knowledge that half of the applicants will ghost at some point.

9.) The final 2.5-5% is your writing pool.

I pay applicants at every phase of this process.

I pay for a lot of pitches that never get used, but it’s a filter half the applicants don’t get through.

This is all money well spent and time well saved.

Do you get clients who don’t feel at ease while sharing their brand info, which you think can help to produce killer piece? (As you stated you interview from the client’s side)

Our contract comes with a mutual NDA attached, so I don’t run into this often.

If a client is hesitant to get into details about something, we are too – we just work the interview/article around those areas not to be talked about.

Typically clients are open books, because it’s in their best interest to be.

We’re also very transparent on our side, which helps to set the bar for open communication.

What has been your favorite workationing spot so far? Have you found one that you could see yourself planting down roots in one day?

I have crazy love for Puerto Rico. Swimming in the La Parguera bio bay was the most amazing experience with nature I’ve ever had.

It looked like stars were dripping off of us.

Right now I’m splitting my time between Amsterdam and Antalya, Turkey.

I consider Amsterdam my home, but I still travel a lot.

I’ll never go to Acapulco again.


How did you start SEO? What was the reaction of your friends and family when you first started? Full story please.

I called in sick to work one day, and spent an entire afternoon applying to writing jobs on Craigslist.

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Christoph C. Cemper

I got my first contract that same day.

On weekends and at night, I would teach myself SEO and hit Craigslist like it slapped my mom.

Within 3 months I was making more freelance writing (mostly SEO content) than I was at my day job in advertising.

I’m an evangelist for the work from home (or wherever) lifestyle, and most of my family and friends didn’t understand what I was doing.

It’s been over a decade of me working from weird places, and they understand it more.

This video outlines my CL strategy/process, which you might find helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED8ITU2BAgs…

How do you get your leads?

The vast majority come via SEO and email marketing (we also grow our list through SEO). Referrals and social media account for around 15% of our client list.

What point did you decide to venture from being a one-woman team? How did you start? Hiring outright or did you start with subcontracting?

When I had more work than I could handle, I’d ask one of my friends if they wanted a freelance writing assignment.

That sounds more glamorous than it is, by the way, but they didn’t know that.

I knew which of my friends were good writers so they got first dibs. We were all in our (actual) early 20s back then.

I’d take a cut and edit their work before turning it into the client.

Everyone was happy with the extra money. I did this for a couple of years.

In 2008 I took a job at a startup, where I started and staffed their writing department.

This was the greatest source of experience ever, as I was gambling with somebody else’s money on the hiring front.

It’s also where I developed a lot of my hiring processes that I still use today.

Turns out, I was pretty good at it. Some of the people I hired stayed with the company for years, and when that startup failed I re-hired several of the employees at The Content Factory.

There are three people who worked at that startup working for me now, 10+ years later.

Work fluctuates too much in an early-stage agency to anchor yourself down with a bloated payroll.

I’d strongly recommend keeping your team as lean and contractor-ey as possible while you get your legs under you.

After a couple of years of consistency and growth, switching over to employees is advantageous.

How to you get featured on Top Publication?

A few options, in order of easiest to most difficult:

1 – HARO (see links above for my guides and templates for that).

2 – Proactively pitching company executives to journalists as expert sources.

3 – Interesting brand stories. For instance, one of my clients is a $30m company that is carbon negative.

They’re moving into a new facility that is completely solar powered, and generates enough electricity to light up their little industrial park, which includes a brewery. That’s cool! Reporters care about those kinds of stories.

4 – Generate your own stories via unique stats that you either dig up from the company’s internal data or create via surveys.

There are no guarantees in PR, but TCF has a 100% success rate – over the course of almost a decade in the game – of generating national media coverage via unique stats.

What are your favorite social media channels?

I love Twitter for PR, and connecting with influencers.

The right @ can drive a lot of traffic to a client’s site, and we’ve sent several tweets that’ve gone viral.

Twitter is also great for jumping onto trending news, live tweeting event, staying on the radar of journalists and connecting with movers and shakers at events/conferences.

I once got a client a full feature in Wired magazine by sending a tweet during CES.

Facebook groups are largely untapped by brands but I think they can be a real goldmine for affiliate and targeted paid campaigns.

There’s a Facebook group for everything, including Sisters in SEO – skill sharing & networking for women

What, in your opinion, should growing agencies shoot for with regards to both Gross and NET profit margins in order to maintain a healthy enough balance sheet to thrive.

I’m actually a terrible person to ask. I fight with my accountant all the time on profitability of pet clients.

In order to thrive, you need more than a healthy balance sheet.

You need case studies and experience so you can keep clients happy and those checks coming.

To sort of answer your question, I think it really depends on the agency and there areas of specialty.

The higher the profit margins, the fewer clients you’ll need to work with.

Also, what’s your value to the client? The more value you offer the higher your margins can be, and if you can show short term wins (web design) you’ll get more than if your timeline is longer (SEO content).

Early on my margins were a lot lower, because I didn’t have as much experience and I was trying to just get clients through the door to build case studies.

Anyway, this can vary wildly but I’ll say 50-60% gross and 30-40% net.

You can make a smaller margin on higher paying clients and still get paid, but your margins need to be bigger if you’re dealing with smaller clients (unless you have a lot of them).

Whose been your favorite client/brand to work with?

I have a few.

We’ve gotten to do some really cool things with ASTROGLIDE and Fairtrade America on social, which has been fun (although also exhausting, because each time you have a viral moment it eats up 1-5 days of your time on interaction and monitoring).

I love doing work for myself/TCF/Workationing, because I have complete control over everything and no real metrics to hit.

I’ve done some pretty good work for myself over the years, in a way that results in business coming to me on a consistent basis.

My all-time favorite client is a new one – Cindy Gallop, of MakeLoveNotPorn.

Cindy Gallop is the absolute baddest woman in the advertising game, and this was one of those relationships I manifested through the process I outlined to Adam above.

I read the article linked below, and I couldn’t send her a connection request fast enough.

Beyond basically inventing cause-based marketing, she was also named Advertising Person of the Year and her apartment was featured in a Nelly, Diddy and Usher rap video.

Those rappers could’ve shot their video anywhere, and they chose Cindy’s apartment. #GOALS

Twitter and Facebook both sent her necklaces to thank her for being on their platforms.

Her TED Talk has 2.2m views. I’d say I’m her biggest fan but I know there are a lot of others waving glittery Cindy signs in the crowd.

Anyway she didn’t accept my connection request, but I stalked her content and commented regularly.

She is 1,000% worth following, BTW. At some point I mentioned that the Sisters in SEO were huge fans of hers, and she said she needed SEO.

Not only am I now officially connected with one Ms. Cindy Gallop on LinkedIn, but we recently signed her on as a client.

She’s my favorite for several reasons, but mostly because I get the benefit of A) basking in her Skype presence because she’s freaking fabulous, and B) working with a mentor who is at the absolute top of her game and can help me level up mine.

She just recorded a podcast with Gary V on his yacht in Cannes. Again, #GOALS. And I get to talk to her every day!

SEO is a killer way to weasel your way into working with larger clients. SO MANY BIG COMPANIES are totally face planting on the SEO front.

And most of them know it, they just don’t know what to do about it or what the tangible ROI would be so they’re not just blowing budget on strategies that don’t work.

If you can step in and show them that you can help increase their organic traffic in a way that will convert, they’ll want your help.

And if you have a stack of case studies that demonstrate you can do this, they’ll feel more comfortable releasing more of their marketing budget your way.


What are some must track metrics, such as impressions, mentions in hashtags? And what are the recommended tools to track that.

You can pretty easily calculate the AVE (ad value equivalent) of media coverage in Meltwater or Cision.

You might have to weed out some links, depending on how commonly your clients’ names end up the media.

But that will give you a “what this would cost to buy” metric.

It’s always insanely high and I think it’s mostly BS, but this is the industry standard so who am I to argue?

Anyway you’re going to want to take that giant number and multiply it by three.

Because in-content media coverage was long ago said to have 3 times the value of ads taking up the same space.

To some degree this makes sense, as it’s more credible to the reader (this is a double-edged sword, if the coverage is negative).

These tools will also tell you about potential reach.

You also want to track referral traffic from any links (both visitors, and buyers), and monitor for a few months to see if there’s any noticeable SEO lift you can tie to the increase in rankings.

To monitor hashtags and media coverage, we use a variety of different tools. BuzzSumo, Twitter itself, Sprout Social, Hashtracking, Hashtagify and Hootsuite spring to mind.

What are your favorite tools to determine:
– keyword semantics
– variable keywords

Backlink acquisition – here’s a pro tip based on something that just hit my (Twitter) inbox.

For yourselves and your clients, use all the outreach channels you have on hand to your advantage.

Larry Kim just pitched me a backlink via TCF’s Twitter.

I’m going to accommodate because:

1. He told me he’d promo the post across his social channels (especially since he has 800k Twitter followers).

2. I inquired about an affiliate link…still waiting to hear back.

But if I update it with an affiliate link the post will make more money over time AND I have a shot at getting a payout whenever Larry promos the post on social.

3. Networking with Larry more is a fine idea.

In the past my team and I have used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even free gifts by mail to coax out links to our content.

If your client has a baller LinkedIn profile, leverage that to your advantage and use that as a tool to get backlinks.

How do you do more SEO for clients when you don’t have time to set up a podcast, get a bunch of backlinks, like the big stuff? Should I hire/outsource?

If you don’t have the time, outsource it (or aspects of it).

I’d put podcasting lower on the priority list…like, at the bottom, when you’ve got a solid base to build off of.

Start with content, then backlinks. More content, more backlinks.

Repeat that a few dozen more times.

As you build a bigger platform, you can expand into other areas (like podcasting, or creating video content).

At some point it becomes too much for one person to do, unless they’re doing it full time.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.