Digital Nomad to Building up a Digital Team in South Africa

Digital Nomad to Building up a Digital Team in South Africa

Welcome to today’s podcast, I’m joined by Mr Matt Davidson. Matt, thank you for coming on.

Thanks for having me.

Hopefully, you’re going to share some good tips and advice. I think you must be the first guy based in South Africa to come onto the podcast, so another little box ticked for me. We’ve had guys from all over the place, but never, not an African member at all, so good to have you on there. Are you actually a South African guy?

Yeah. My dad’s British, so I actually quite like the UK quite a lot, but I’m South African, born and raised here. It’s really hard for South Africans to get jobs here, quite a high unemployment rate, so working online seems like a good way to go for a lot of us, but yeah, South African.

You actually sound Australian, believe it or not.

Oh really?

I actually had this thing that you were potentially Australian, I don’t know, but yeah, who knows.

I travelled for a lot, I travelled for seven to 10 years, so I think my accent is not that South African. Yeah, it’s got a blend, I suppose. It’s hard when I tell people to guess where I’m from, I never get Cape Town or South Africa.

Yeah, and you obviously don’t look that tanned either, you just look like your typical guy that’s hanging about in Poland or one of those colder places. Anyway, so a bit about yourself, how long have you been in the SEO industry for?

About Matt Davison SEO

I’ve been in marketing for about 10 years, but I was doing social media website updating and stuff like that, and then I heard about SEO, read it online, obviously on social media all those years ago. Yeah, so I’ve been in SEO properly for about seven years, very seriously for about five years.

In terms of monetization, what is it you do on a day-to-day basis, is it agency work, affiliate, or a mix of everything?

It’s actually quite interesting, so I used to be, I started as an in-house SEO, and now today, we try and have 50% affiliate, 50% client-agency side. On the one side, I have Travetractions, which is a travel marketing agency, on the other side, a lot of affiliate sites. I think I went to Chiang Mai SEO about four or five years ago, and I heard about all these guys making money with affiliates, and it just blew my mind. I was like, “Wow, okay, there’s another way to this.”

That was a big change, I changed my whole system to try and go after affiliate and client. The client pays the bills, and it’s good money, but yeah, the affiliate is a lot of fun. I try and distribute 50/50.

Obviously affiliates, I’m assuming you’re targeting the American audience and the same as everyone else, but in terms of client work, what type of client does a guy based in Africa deal with? Is SEO a big thing in Africa for African clients, or are they from all over the world?

We are so behind, like I think online buying in America is like 15 to 17, maybe even 19%, but these stats are a bit old, online buying of all sales, it’s about that. In Africa, it’s less than one or 2%, I know in South Africa it’s 2%, so that’s crazy. There’s not a lot of SEO going on too much in Africa, more so now, but if you want to make money or convert customers easier, then you go after the American market, the UK market, the Australian market because they pay. We hear it’s a lot of client education, and I think we all know how frustrating that can be sometimes.

What I was going to ask, obviously you’re doing the same kind of work that most others go after, the UK, US and everything else, and even for us in the UK, getting a client in the US is a hell of a lot better. They’ve got more money to spend, they don’t care about the budget. Well, it’s not that they don’t care, they just understand marketing.

They’re more open.

And more open to spending more money. Obviously, I think the fact that you’re based in Africa means that your overheads and stuff are going to be relatively low, so I take it you can go in with real competitive ask prices to beat most others, is that an advantage you’ve got as an agency?

It is, it really is. I think that’s what I hear from a lot of my big clients, is that we’re just so much cheaper than everybody else. To be honest, we don’t do a lot of pitching, so it’s not like I have to sell another USP of being the cheapest. I think my USP right now is that my main agency is in travel, so when we say that we specialize in travel, and I’ve been doing travel marketing for 10 years, that kind of sells it. We can definitely out-price anybody in a first world country, to a certain degree, but because we are behind in the SEO or the digital marketing phase, the knowledge is not so high here, so there’s a lot of training and development that happens in Africa. There’s a lot of time that you have to invest in people, but we definitely are a lot more affordable than other countries at this point.

I want to touch a bit on the affordability side. I think in probably the last year or 18 months, a lot of guys in the UK, US, and probably even yourself to some extent, outsourced certain elements of their work. One of the biggest pain points for any agency is going to be the content side of things, and we spoke about this briefly off-air, everyone just thinks you have to outsource to India, Philippines or whatever, but obviously, if you’re outsourcing content to the Philippines, which is not their first language, you’re always going to have people saying, “The content’s shite, it’s no good,” and whatever else.

Finding SEO Content Writers in South Africa

Obviously, you can peer at that more for a well-educated person from the Philippines, and the content will be better, but something that’s relatively untapped is the African market, because you guys, correct me if I’m wrong, by the way, but you guys, the first language in Africa are as educated as English, is that right?

Yeah, the first language for most countries, maybe French sticks its head up in some cases, like Congo and stuff like that, but generally it’s English. English is the language of everybody, because we have 16 national languages just in South Africa, so you kind of need one to mesh them all together. Yeah, English is the first languages in schools and everything like that, so our English level is actually really, really high, but the world doesn’t think so. To a certain degree, like if you want to become a TEFL teacher, teach English and foreign language, they need us to do tests and stuff like that.

A lot of people don’t think that Africa is that maybe good at English, but we have an amazing English resource, which is kind of nice because you can tap into that if you need it.

Certainly, a lot of the guys that I would consider very smart in the digital marketing space seem to have this thing now for African writers. I’ve had a few guys, and they’re going, “Yeah, I’ve got a couple of guys out in Kenya who are doing my content,” and I’m like, “Kenya?” As I said to you, again, off-air, Africa, obviously you look at the map and you look at Europe and you look across and you’re going across to Asia, and then you go left to America, and Africa somehow gets forgotten. I don’t know if that’s just a personal thing, but I would never, ever, ever have looked to Africa for content writers until someone said it.

Honestly, I was doing it too. I never thought about Africa … Everybody says their opinions, and you can outsource there, and for some reason, I was also a digital nomad so I wasn’t in Africa the whole time, and I had the same thoughts, like, “Okay, should I outsource to Africa?” It didn’t make sense to me until I moved back here and I was like, “Wow, we are so affordable and so good at English, why didn’t I do this sooner?” It’s very unassuming.

We say the prices are Asian prices as well, so I’m not far off it, so it’s a good thing. Obviously, for me looking to hire a Filipino content writer, I may go to onlinejobs.ph, or find someone in Upwork, People Per Hour or something like that. Is there somewhere, or where is the best place for anyone listening who maybe want to try an African writer, where’s the best place to find these guys?

Where to Hire good South African Copywriters

I can’t say too much for Nigeria and Kenya, but you guys have Gumtree in the UK, and I think Craigslist in the USA. Gumtree is quite big in South Africa, so if you advertise on Gumtree, you make an ad saying, “Hey, I want this and that, with some requirements, and this and that,” I think you’ll get a decent amount of recruits. Gumtree for me, and Facebook, Facebook is just killing everybody in the marketplace and the jobs and stuff like that, but we’re having a lot of success with Facebook too. I think if you made a job ad and targeted South Africa with content writers, you would be quite successful.

Interesting, because again, Gumtree in the UK is just saturated in its outreach, but certainly I’d be curious if there was another way, but if Gumtree is the way to find them, then guys, if you’re listening, get on Gumtree and try and find yourself some decent content writers out there. I’ve heard a lot, I’m going to probably try that out, and obviously you can vouch for it as well, Matt. Yeah, it’s all good, but I wanted to talk a bit about your digital nomad lifestyle as well.

You’re back in Africa, kind of based here, I know you do travel, and we’ve met at Chiang Mai, and I’m sure you go to many other conferences as well. More on the digital nomad lifestyle, what was your situation like, where did you go to? Were you just travelling on your own and outsourced all the work, or how does it set up as well?

Digital Nomad Lifestyle

My digital nomad lifestyle is quite interesting. I used to work for a travel agency, and I think anybody who’s worked for a travel agency realized that you actually don’t travel working in travel. To get out of Africa or Cape Town, you’re going to pay like $1,000 for a ticket anyway, where if you’re in the UK, you can just pay $50 or $100 and you’re in another country, we’re here it’s quite different. I went over to Asia, and also as a white male, we have quite an interesting history in South Africa with apartheid and whatnot, but as a white male, it’s actually very, very, very hard for us to get jobs.

I was struggling to get a job out of university, so it became a necessity for me to actually leave the country and go find jobs in other places. Thailand was looking for teachers quite heavily at the time, and I had heard amazing things about teaching in Thailand. I actually had been working as an SEO marketer for three or four years, and that didn’t occur to me that I could go overseas and maybe get a job in SEO. Anyway, I went to Phuket and I was a teacher for six months or a year, about 10 months actually, and during that time I told people what I did, and resorts or people who had websites would say, “Hey, can you help me with this website and that website?”

It just started spitballing more and more and more, and eventually, I could stop the teaching completely and just do consulting, almost, and occasional audits and whatever. I loved Asia, I think a lot of people who go over to Asia for six months or a year, they end up staying for a long time. I think I was in Phuket for a year, I went to Bali for three or six months, Philippines because I had heard such beautiful things, I was in Chiang Mai for awhile. I kind of hopped around Asia, as you have to do visa runs and stuff like that, especially if you don’t have a work permit.

I was in Asia roughly for about four or five years, just hopping around. I came back to South Africa for a year and did a stint at a digital agency because that’s what I was advised. A lot of people say that to get good at SEO, maybe to learn about systems and processes, a big agency is probably the best place to do that. A lot of digital nomads while I was travelling were saying, “Hey man, if you really want to level up and create a big company, you should probably do a couple of months at an agency.”

I came back to South Africa, found a good agency here that had won some SEO awards, and I knew that they were pretty good, and did six months there. Then I was like, “Fuck it, I’m going to go back to Asia,” so yeah, that’s how it happened.

Would you say that that advice that you got in terms of, you were fucking about, doing your own stuff, doing audits and consulting for people, would you advise anyone in the same position to maybe do spend that six months in an agency to get those professions?

100%. I was very self-taught, I was in-house, and actually my first job was with my mom. She had a couple of online travel agencies, and she’s like, “Hey Matt, I’m paying someone in the UK $5,000 to do this,” it was a long time ago. I was self-taught, whiteboard Fridays was the way I learned in some forums and stuff like that, it was very different back then, 10, seven years ago. Up until that point, I knew a decent amount, but I didn’t know the technical side.

The agency I joined was extremely technical, and I had six SEOs sitting in my table, so we were a very strong SEO team at that thing, but where I could get up and ask a question, or if someone asked a question, I could just go, “Look, watch this screen.” This was crazy to me, so I think in those six months, I probably learned more than I did in the three or five years prior, it was one of the best things I ever did. Whenever someone is a freelancer and they’ve been doing SEO for two or three years and they’re self-taught, doing three or six months, even in those three months, you’ll learn so much, doing six months in an agency.

Also, you get to use their tools. I think a big barrier to SEO starting is you need a lot of different tools, like all tools are good at different things like I like Ahrefs for their links, SEMRush is pretty good, Rank Trackers and stuff like that, and those things add up really, really quickly. When you’re at an agency, it’s like you’ve got five, 10 tools, you can try them out and it definitely levels you up a lot quicker, so I recommend it to every guy who’s starting out and maybe wants to build an agency, to be honest.

Out with taking their tools for six months without any kind of cost to you personally, was the processes the biggest thing though that you took away from the agency? Was that something that you were able to then take and replicate for yourself, and maybe the processes of the guys you were working with?

Yeah, big time. To a certain degree, the agency was a really good agency, and it was at the time 70, 80% agency, so they were using Slack and they were using Asana, and they were using maybe the tools, even Reich they tried to bring in, which I think is Guru’s tool,  CRM tool, or it’s a task management tool. I think I could take in a lot because they were big, I think when you get to that size, when you’re at 70 to 80%, you’re chunky. There are so many processes in our systems that are actually broken, so I could go into that as quite a normal person, and learn their processes and systems and find out what they were doing wrong, to a certain degree.

That was invaluable, I could take a lot of their stuff thereafter. After that, I freelanced for Ryan Stewart for a little bit, and his processes and systems are pretty amazing. I think a combination of having a big, chunky agency of 70 people, and then Ryan, when he was getting deep into affiliate back then, that was invaluable. I would say Ryan’s stuff is very good, so it was a combination of the two.

Ryan’s obviously a massive hit out there now, he’s obviously grown arms and legs over the years and stuff like that, so you obviously don’t do that without good systems, good processes, and obviously good people behind him as well. How long ago was it you were working with Ryan Stewart?

I don’t want to say it was too long, it was like five years ago, and it wasn’t long. I applied for, I think, and did a job on, it was Lawrence or something like that, and at the time I worked really hard at the agency, I had been working for a long time, so I said, “I would like to travel for a while.” I worked with him for two weeks or a month, it wasn’t very long, and then I went and travelled. In those two weeks and seeing some of the stuff that he was doing, obviously, gave me a big leg up.

After you left the agency and went back to Asia, were you just freelancing again, or were you starting to think about building a team?

At that stage, I was just trying to enjoy life, to be honest. I love what I do, I love SEO, so at that stage, I just wanted to have a high quality of life. I think you can do that in Asia with having a fairly moderate paycheck, so I was staying in hostels and meeting people, and just enjoying life. I was probably not doing that much SEO, I was doing probably two or three audits a month, but I was very good at [Onpage 00:18:39], Onpage was my background back then.

I didn’t have to do much work for a year or two, I was chilling, just enjoying my life, travelling. Then I came across, it was before the Chiang Mai SEO conference, was just hosting a thing of high-level SEOs back then, and I happened to be in Chiang Mai at the same time. Just hearing what these guys were doing and what they were making, it just blew my mind, and I was like, “Okay, shit, I’ve got to step it up a bit.”

I think a lot changed then. Then also at that time, I was getting to the age of 25 or something like that, and I think you start getting a bit more serious. I came across a startup that I was extremely passionate about, it was how to find events and things going on in different cities around the world. At that time, I had been travelling all around the world, and the best way to meet people for me was hostels or Tinder, and then now there was this cool event app that had just started.

At that stage, I moved back to South Africa and I had to build a team for the second time. That’s when I realized that, “Shit, building a team is actually a lot of fun.” I got back into SEO and stopped travelling because I think when you travel a lot, it could be hard to be productive the whole time. When I came back to South Africa is when I got really, really, really serious and started working 16-hour days again.

How much do you need to earn to be a Digital Nomad in Thailand?

Going back to what you just said there in terms of productivity leading the digital nomad lifestyle, I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions on that before we go on to you building your team. For anyone out there who thinks, “I’d love to travel and do what this guy’s doing, and stay in Thailand and travel, Phuket and all that,” what kind of monthly money do you need to earn to live a sustainable life over there? Because obviously, the cost of living in Thailand is far cheaper than what it is in the UK or the US but is there a rough figure, do you need $1,000 a month to survive?

I always say $1,000 a month. I encourage a lot of people to become a digital nomad and live that lifestyle because in this day and age you can do that. A lot of people at Travel Attractions, they are aspiring digital nomads, so I’m like, “Guys, as soon as you get your $1,000 a month, you can just go over to Asia, to the Philippines, to Thailand and go and experience that and travel.” Yeah, generally $1,000 a month is the right amount.

What Visa Does a Digital Nomad Require in Thailand?

You mentioned something about you had to hop around different areas and whatnot because of the visa run or whatever you wanted to call it. Again, for a guy in Europe, and I’ve probably got a lot of European listeners, when we fly to Thailand, you fill out a bit of paper on the plane, and that’s your visa, and you get there and there are no fucking problems, but we were only going there for Chiang Mai SEO. What is the situation in terms of visas, how long can you stay in an area?

You get a 30-day visa when you arrive. Actually, before I went over, I got a six-month visa or something like that, but generally, you get a 30-day visa when you arrive. Then you can extend that for a month, and then you kind of have to leave, so you can do a visa run. You can catch a plane to whatever, or you can just get on a bus, and three or four hours later, you’re in another country, and you cross the border and you literally sign some more papers, you come back, and that’s what a lot of the guys do.

I think in most of the countries, it’s generally 30 days, I think Indonesia has a 90-day, but generally, it’s roughly that. It’s so easy to do it, but it is disruptive, having to do that, you’ve got to write off a day or two, which is not cool.

Is there no way a digital nomad can just get like a year visa, nothing like that?

I think it’s coming, I think we make money in the USA and the UK and stuff like that, and then we’re buying food and services and property may be in these Asian countries. I think that they’re definitely opening those doors, and it’s going to be very exciting when that happens, but there’s a lot of progressions happening. I think Thailand is working on that, but I don’t want to say it for sure.

Just because I know there’s a lot, people often say to me on a personal level, “When are you moving to Thailand?” and everyone’s out there in the SEO industry, and I’m like, one, my wife wouldn’t allow it, and two, with all that visa bullshit, having to leave the country. I think the alternative option is to marry someone from that country as well, which is your other way in there. I think it seems a lot of hassle, but hopefully, they can work on that, and in the future maybe someone can go out and spend a year out there, just travelling and working, because as you know, and I’ve been to a few places in Thailand, a lovely, lovely place, great atmosphere, great weather, great people, not so much about the food, to be honest, but that’s another story.

Really? I love the food, it’s the best thing, for me.

Man, no, the food is … You’re obviously from Africa, I’m from the UK, your perception of it might be different, but I tell you what, we got to Chiang Mai one day, and it was three of us staying in that villa. We went to the local Tesco and we saw these chicken feet lying there, as the actual feet of the chicken just lying there, and also the meat counter, it wasn’t packaged, there was no butcher guy there, it was literally everyone’s hands were in the meat counter. We’re like, “Oh my fucking god, the hygiene here is insane,” extremely bad, by the way.

We lived on, for the two weeks of Chiang Mai, it was McDonald’s and orange Lay’s, we had a cupboard full of orange Lay’s because no one would eat anything else. We had other guys, and there was probably people like myself around and stuff, who were saying, “The street food in Chiang Mai is amazing,” and they’re eating this shit in there. That does look like shit you’re putting in your mouth right there, it was awful, but that’s just a personal opinion.

I think one of the worst things about Thailand or Asia is just that the price of meat is so expensive. If you want to buy good meat, it’s so expensive, and if you want to buy good cheese or dairy and stuff like that. Those are two of the best things in the world, man, so that’s one of the negative things about Asia, is just those two things are quite expensive, but otherwise, the food is good.

On a positive note, in the pharmacy in Chiang Mai, you could buy Valium, you can buy antibiotics without a prescription from a doctor. As I say, the event and the people and everything else, it was a great place, so it’s got a lot of positives as well that outweigh the food, in fact.

Every place has its pros and cons.

Exactly, and I’m staying in Scotland, and lovely people, nice place, but the weather is absolute dog shit. Everywhere has got good and bad, but enough about that stuff. Going on to building a digital team, so you’ve obviously had a team before, you’ve done your nomad thing, went back to an agency, went back to do some more nomad stuff, now you’re coming back. You’re older, wiser, more experienced, and you have to build a team, let’s talk about that. One thing that I think is a big bugbear is finding the right people who are reliable, trustworthy, who actually have a bit of a passion for SEO. I think trying to find staff isn’t that easy, so what was your secret to building a team?

Tips when Hiring Digital Staff Members?

I think passion, it’s just instilling that passion or finding people that are passionate. You can’t teach passion and you can’t find passion, and I think that you have to be fairly passionate about SEO or digital marketing because it just changes the whole time, so you have to have a genuine interest in it, otherwise you’re just going to be left behind. I think that was the hardest thing for me. Man, I’ve probably sat in two or 300 interviews in the last two years and I’ve had thousands and thousands of applications, so it’s a numbers game, actually, to be honest.

Just streamlining that process, having basically an SOP of hiring and stuff like that is probably the best thing, but I hire for passion. I hire people straight out of university or even people straight out of school, but if they have built a website and have a little bit of spark of interest, then hopefully I can turn that spark into a fire, and then it’s good to go.

You would get someone, and three weeks into the job, they would say, “Ah, this is not for me, fuck this,” and we’d given them two weeks worth of training. It was very, very hard to get the right people, but I think you’re right, I look for younger people who’ve got some kind of passion, those are the ones that seem to stick around. I think there’s no right answer in terms of hiring an older person over a younger person. I think if you’re not interested in SEO, you’d as well not hiring that person.

Generally, people who are interested and online or have a penchant to try and solve problems, so people like gamers, gamers make great hires because they’re so used to researching things online and trying to find cheats, cracks, hints and stuff like that. I really like to hire gamers, but it’s a tricky thing to hire, it’s taking me a long time. I’m quite fortunate in the fact that both my parents are entrepreneurs, so at dinner discussions or whatever, it was often about business and not about hiring, but generally dealing with problems that are in their business, so I was quite fortunate in that regard.

If you hire for passion, you really can find some great people. When you hire for experience, it’s a bit tricky, and they’re more expensive, so you’re paying for an experience that you’re maybe not necessarily wanting.

How big is your team right now?

We’re about 25 or 27 people right now, which is fairly big.

Are those all in-house staff, or do you hire some in-house, some remote workers?

No, they’re all in-house, and then some of them are part-time and freelancers, but they’ve gone through a six-month training process where we’re happy for them to be freelance. We write SEO content, I don’t think you can just take someone up the street and be like, “Hey, here are your keywords, and write this content.” You could, actually, and a lot of people do that, but we find that we train the writers to do keyword research at least for their post, so that stems ideas and gives them ideas of what their heading structure should be like, and stuff like that.

When you have to write a 3,000-word post and you’ve got your keywords, or you’ve got like five keywords, I think it’s quite hard, but when they go through the keyword research process, it helps them a hell of a lot get ideas and at least brainstorm a little bit before they get into the right process, which is cool. We have most everybody is basically in-house, and it’s about 10 are part-time.

10 are part-time. Obviously, I think you’re probably in a much more fortunate position wherein you don’t have to outsource because of the cost of the labour there, where here in the UK, you’re faced with £1,500 a month or two grand a month, versus hiring a good African content writer for four or $500 a month, that is the flip side of it. You are in a more favourable position, and it would make sense to do that in-house. In terms of your training, you said six months, is that how long the training takes for you like there’s loads of different processes, you give them an extensive program. Do they do that whilst they’re still doing some form of work though? They’ve got to be productive from day one, surely.

Yeah, they do, that’s the biggest thing is, I think with SEO writing, you can learn and then you’ve got to apply it, otherwise it’s just useless. Well, not useless, but it’s just much harder, so we have a three-month and a six-month course or internship program where we hire people. Some people just want to be writers, but our end goal at least at Travel Attractions is to try and turn people into digital strategists because I want to make SEOs.

We are a content mill at the moment, to a certain degree, about 70% of our revenue is content. There’s a three-month thing that’s really structured, extremely structured and it’s very hard to deviate from it. We give them a bit of taste of everything, they do a couple of courses, they do a lot of feedback and training with others. I normally hire in batches of three to five, so there’s a bit of a competitive element, and maybe some interns ask questions that others haven’t asked and they kind of assist each other.

We have a super, super structured three to six-month, and we’re hoping to actually flesh it out more and make a proper course that we can maybe put online and let other people do.

One final thing I want to ask you about that though is, do you tie these people into some form of contract? Because obviously that’s a massive commitment for you, to take people and give them that level of training, are they tied in for a minimum of two years, or how do you make that stick for yourself?

I think that’s one of the biggest pain points for us, is that it’s so much investment. Just our recruitment process takes some time, and then the training of them, they only really start adding value in month two. What we do is we scale it up, so we start them super low, and then we increase their salary by $40 to $70 a month every single month until they get to market-related salaries. We just start them off super, super, super low and the contract is normally six months, so it stays within the regulation of pay for South Africa and actually allows us tax deductions.

The key is just to communicate, as you learn more and you add more value to the business, your pay is going to increase. Yeah, we just start them off super low, but it is tricky because we are quite strict in that first month. We also try to bore the shit out of them with SEO stuff, so we give them huge guides because I think you want people who are dedicated and who are tenacious and who will get through stuff. We give them like I think one of my readings is, I think it’s called The Beginner’s Guide to SEO, which three years ago at the time when I built this course, it was pretty long and boring.

It’s like 150 pages of reading, writing for SEO and beginner’s guide to SEO, and it takes them like three days to read. It’s just a long course, it’s really structured and stuff like that, and we weed out a lot of people out, to be honest.

You’re always going to have dropouts, but no one’s got the magic trick for building the teams just yet, but I was curious to find out more about some of the intricate deals you do to try and make people stick, or some of the processes you do.

I think what we do there, so after the three or six-month, they can choose to be a freelancer, or if the leadership team or the senior team wants to keep them as part-time, then I’ll offer them. What we do here is we offer revenue share, so 10% of all revenue of Traveltractions of all the websites that are owned goes and gets distributed between the leadership team, so I think that’s a big thing. Then what we also do is after six months, but it’s changed to a year now, I actually give them one of my internal projects for one of my websites.

I think running an agency and running a lot of websites is quite tricky, so what I do is they become the digital strategist of that, they become the lead person of that. I think they also get 10% of all revenue of that, and if we flip that website, they get 10% of that. That’s my golden parachute or my handcuffs, it kind of ties them into the long term goals of the company, gives them independence and allows them to try their own things on their own website, where they can be quite fluid and flexible.

I think that’s worked really well, we have extremely high retention rates for people who are part of the team, which is pretty cool. I think that’s quite important, is to try and tie people’s performance into the long term longevity, and give them rev share, I think that’s quite a cool thing to do, and it’s helped us a hell of a lot.

I think you have to do something to, as you say, golden handcuffs or whatever you want to call it, you lure them in, and I think humans by nature follow the money.

Yeah, and if they can see that-

Glad to hear that’s all working out. Sadly, we are out of time. We could probably spend 24 hours talking about all sorts of different shit, but I feel we’ve only scratched the surface with some of the stuff we could’ve talked about. What’re your plans, do you offer services, or do you do content writing services for anyone who’s maybe watching this going, “He’s quite a cool guy,” do you just stick to what you’re doing, or do you offer services to the general public?

Yeah, we do. We do offer services, but to be honest, we’re so busy. We’re doing quite well, and I think if you grow too quickly, if you hire too quickly … Like we’ve grown to 25 people in a year and a half, which is fairly quick. At the moment, we’re chock-a-block full, I’m hiring like crazy at the moment, I think I had three people start last week and three people start next week. We do offer services, we have content writing services, we’re really damn good at travel SEO.

I think the goal is to be the best travel marketing agency in the world, so that’s the long term goal at Travel Attractions. If anybody has a travel website, I think we are the right people to speak to, especially for SEO. Then we’ll be going into social media and develop a little bit more this year, and opening up new services. I don’t like client stuff too much, so we have a business where it’s kind of like SEO, but I have a huge amount of respect for Jonathan and I think his business is quite nice, where people can order on the website whatever they need, conversion rate optimization or content or links, or whatever it might be. We’re going with that kind of business model, but at the moment we are chock-a-block, but I’m happy to take any more clients.

Where is the best place for people to find you, what’s your domain name?

Traveltractions.com is probably the best place to find out more about us, and then Matthew Davidson on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. I’m a little bit active in the groups, but not really, but yeah, hit me up on Facebook, it’s probably the best place if you want to get in touch with me directly, but travelattractions.com if you want to find out more about the agency and whatnot.

No worries at all, Matt, I’ll put your links in the blog post that comes out with this as well.

Appreciate it.

Thank you very much. Are you going to Chiang Mai this year?

I am, I’m going to take some of my team, I think I’m quite excited. I think it’s one of the best conferences to do, I want to do a little more conferences this year.

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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