Getting Started in Digital Marketing

So I’m going to be talking. I’m not going to sit and ram the same stuff that everyone else rams down your throat, you know, if you want to see stuff about black hat SEO, I’ve done a million talks, I’ve got a million videos on my website. If you want to see how to negative SEO someone, you can go on my website, I’ve got videos about that. There’s loads of different stuff on my blog and I’ve done loads of different videos. If you want to see how to audit a website, I’m on the SEMrush at five o’clock tonight, so I’m not going to talk about that boring stuff.

Getting Started in SEO

I’m going to talk about some of the stuff that I’ve learned along the way, how I’ve developed into being an experienced SEO and stuff like that, so I’m not going to blind you with jargon and stuff like that. So at the moment, I do a lot of SEO consultancy because I don’t like doing the work, it’s better to tell people how to do the work. I do a lot of training, affiliate marketing, and build links now and again.

I do a lot of work for SEMrush. I don’t actually work for SEMrush, a lot of people will associate me with SEMrush because I’ve done a lot of speaking events and stuff like that with them. But I’m not an employee of them, I just do a bit of affiliate marketing for them and make a few quid. So you’ve seen me on webinars on SEMrush, I speak at a lot of events, SearchLeeds, Chiang Mai SEO, these are all great events.

How did it all start for me? So, I started probably the same as some of you guys out here, sitting in a dungeon trying to figure out how I was going to make money. Crappy laptop didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I bought some books, SEO For Dummies was one of them, it took me about a fucking year to get through that one. It was hard work, it was hard work.

Getting an office

The next step for me was going into an office, a very, very small office. Obviously I’m too fat to get in that one, but I got a wee office because I hated working at home. It was tedious, I couldn’t be bothered. I would drop the wife off at work, and go back and lie in my bed and watch Jeremy Kyle, and never really get much done. I wasted a few years doing that. Got a small office to get myself out the house, and before I knew it, I ended up having all these staff going, “what the fucking hell is going on here?”

I didn’t actually set out to do that, all I wanted to do was make money, and before I knew it I had a content writer, a web developer, a sales guy, all this kind of stuff. I even had a shitty little agency called Pro Website Solutions, the website still kicks about. Really awful looking website there, and you’ll see that I done SEO, web design, email marketing, ad words, SEO training. Everything and anything to do with digital, I was out there taking people’s money, kidding on I knew what I was doing.

Even if you go to the second slide on that website, you’ll even see that I was nominated for some business awards. The business awards in Renfrewshire or whatever it was, and it was really funny, you’ll never guess who nominated me for that award. Does anyone have any guesses?

Someone I paid a lot of money to?

Was it a friend?

It was Myself, yeah! I nominated myself for that award, and I was put up there alongside the likes of Rolls Royce and whatever, Clyde Marine Training and Peak Scientific, all the local businesses. I had all these staff, and the only person I was really kidding on was myself. Nominating myself for awards, having all these staff, I thought it would be cool to have all these staff and go down to my mates in the pub and go “Yeah, I’ve got 10 staff and order them all about”, and all that kind of stuff, acting the big ‘I am’, kidding on I was winning awards. I was the most broke guy out. Wasn’t a good business model.

You’ll see that company has now dissolved. It was just an absolute shambles of a setup, and all I was doing really was taking on staff to kind of feed my own ego. Didn’t have a clue about tax, VAT, or any of that kind of stuff, and it was all a big learning curve.

I also thought I was really, really sly. So I had multiple companies set up, thinking “I’ll do a bit of training here, I’ll do a bit of this, I’ll do a bit of that”. These companies have also dissolved, they were all fucked. It was the wrong business model.

Common business mistakes

So I’ve made a lot more mistakes than anyone out there in terms of business, and how I approach making money, and stuff like that. But I didn’t give up, you know, it’s quite easy to have the VAT man chapping your door saying “where’s my money?”, and paying PAYE, and accountant saying you’ve not paid this, that and the next thing. And you’re shitting your pants in case a client doesn’t pay you, cause you’re not gonna be able to pay the staff at the end of the week, and all that kind of crap that we have, starting out in business.

And the biggest problem of all of that, the biggest problem in the whole situation when I was doing that, was me. Sadly, I was the biggest problem in that whole business. And the reason for that, was because I was a control freak, I set up a business based around my skills, and my ego, and everything else. You know, I was an SEO guy, and I was hiring content writers who were then giving me the content back, and I wouldn’t let anyone add that content to a website. I wanted to create every invoice that the business had, whether it was for hosting or whatever, I wanted to invoice every client, I wanted to talk to every client. I wouldn’t let anything go, everything was me. Me, me, me, me, me.

Learn to Delegate Digital Tasks

And I had to learn how to stop being a control freak, because it was killing me. I remember one day, sitting in my office, and I had about 17 people in the office at one point. I had, the government were throwing people at me to give them job experience, I had people on that I was getting half the wages funded, all sorts of crap. And I thought, “what the fuck am I doing here? I feel dizzy, I feel sick”, I had no work done. And I had to change.

Also, as well as myself being a big problem, clients were a big problem. And I’m sure a lot of people will resonate with it, they hate clients. So, being a control freak, hating clients, wasn’t really-, I was sitting thinking, “how the fucking hell am I gonna work my way out of this one?”.

You know, clients have got crazier expectations now, there are some great clients out there who totally get it and you know, not every client’s an arsehole, but a high percentage are. Crazy expectations, no budget, no realistic budget, the client may think that they’ve got a massive budget, you know, I’ve heard local guys in the past saying, “my mortgage payments are less than what I’m paying you per month”, and that’s a loser’s mindset. Someone paying you for your £400 a month realistically is not gonna make them millions of pounds per year. You know, there are people out there paying 10, 15 grand a month on marketing their businesses, and it’s those guys that earn the big bucks. You cannot get this stuff for £500 a month. £500 a month is 3, 4 bits of content. If you outsource that stuff, someone’s gonna be charging £70 a page, and then by the time you get your staff to edit it and look at it, and add it to a website, and all that kind of stuff, the budget’s gone. And you’ve also still gotta take profit as well, plus the tax man wants a bit of that money, so it’s hard going.

Affiliate Marketing Influencers

So, I followed a guy for years called Matthew Woodward, who was making decent money. So he started out in 2012, I think. And I’ve watched his income every month, and this guy was living the life of luxury, travelling all over the place, speaking at events, doing affiliate marketing. And he showed you everything, he documented it all, what he was earning per month, and he was earning, back in 2014, 25 grand a month. And I thought, “I’m not making anywhere near that, and I’ve got all these staff. And this guy’s flying about the world, chilling out on boats, and all that kind of stuff”. So I was jealous, and looking at that going, “there’s gotta be a way in for me”.

Get someone to fill in the gaps you hate?

Now, what I done at the time when my business was going bust, is I met this lovely chap here, nice photograph Colin. So Colin worked for an agency, so I tried to eliminate the client thing first, cause I thought “I’m not fucking dealing with clients, I hate talking to them, I don’t want a conversation with a client again”. So Colin worked for an agency in Glasgow, and they had all these shit-arsed SEO’s doing crap work and stuff, so I eventually started to get the work from Colin. So I was hiding behind his agency at the time. Perfect for me, I could just work in the background, get my money, didn’t have to talk to anyone other than Colin, and I’d just tell him, “listen, this is how it is. Fuck off and leave me alone, go and tell your client this or that”, and he would do it.

And that worked well. Now there’s a few funny stories actually. I’ll tell you a funny story about Colin actually, cause none of us really knew what we were doing, we were just fucking pissing about. So Colin left this agency after a while, I went, “Colin, we could fucking do something here. Fuck your agency, cut out the middle man. You sell, I’ll service the clients”. But we had to get a web designer, and I’m pretty sure anyone who does digital will say the web designer’s a pain in the arse, doesn’t deliver on time, overcharges, whatever, there’s a whole heap of stories. So I said to Colin, “can’t use my web designer, he’s mine. Bugger off, get your own, cause my guy can’t deliver on time for me, he wasn’t gonna be overloading with his shit.

So Colin came back, rubbing his fingers, going “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve got this guy, fucking I’ve robbed him blind! He’s doing websites at £500 a pop”. Now my price in my head for websites, my web designer was like 150, 200 quid. So I thought, “fucking hell, that’s a bit expensive”, and Colin walks into the office, and I think Samantha was there as well, and he was rubbing his hands, and he shows me this website. And the guy actually just fucked up a theme off themeforest for £39. Didn’t even have the cheek to change any of the stock images.

So Colin thought he was fleecing the guy, when in turn he was the one being fleeced. So he thought he was getting a bargain, and stuff like that. So we had to iron out a few things, and then we went on to another client, and this is another good story. And why I hate clients.

Problem Clients

We started work for an online butcher’s, I’m not gonna name their name because they are in Scotland, and may be a friend or relative. But it was an online butcher’s, and they paid us about 4 or 5 grand over a four month period, to market the business. And out of that, they took off. This was a few years ago, online butcher’s wasn’t a big thing. They turned over a quarter of a million pound, now I’ve no idea what that turns into in terms of profit, I’m sure a lot of meat costs a lot of money, but let’s say they made … They’ve turned over quarter of a million for a five grand spend. We get fired, because the guy thought he should make half a million. We done really good work, crazy client fired us. We’re like “fuck”, you know, you can’t win. You do shit work, you expect to get fired, you just put the money in your pocket and hope that you’re gonna get three of four months out the guy, if they sell to someone else and someone else. That’s the way a lot of agencies work. We were doing good work and still getting fired.

Other Ways of Making Money

So we thought, “this client stuff’s not for us”. But what we had to do was surround ourselves with the right people. And including myself, having Colin as the sales guy and working with me, so it made total sense to get Colin into the business as a partner. And surround myself with people who can then do the things that I don’t want to do, and the things that I hate doing. And I think delegation was a big part of that. Before, I wouldn’t delegate anything, I was too scared to, I didn’t think anyone would match my standards. So I started to delegate stuff, obviously the first thing was Colin taking all the client management away, all the client invoicing, all the client meetings. And being able to delegate stuff’s a really important part of your business. You don’t even have to delegate it to a person in house, you can outsource that stuff, and we’ve got Mads up later on, wherever he is, I can’t even see him it’s dark, but he’s over there, who runs an outsourcing company. And you can outsource this kinda stuff as well, you don’t have to have staff, and that’s a key part. You can outsource 100% of your digital marketing, you don’t have to do any work

Scale up your business

So you can then start to scale up. Once you’ve got a good business model, you can really start to scale up. But you have to have the right processes, you have to have the right staff, you have to have the right delegation in place, the right processes, and everything else. And that’s where it’s really important, the processes in my office when I was running an agency, were absolute shit. It was just me making stuff up in my head, and if I remembered to do something a client had asked, it would get done. If I didn’t, they would shout at me in a couple of months, asking me where the hell it was, and I’d get it done at that point. There was no structure, no nothing, it was just a big joke.

Work on your business not in it

But what I decided to do was work on my business, and not in the business. I don’t particularly want to sit and do the work any more. Fed up of doing it. So I get to go about to all different conferences, talk all over the place, get drunk, can sell some courses, meet some new friends, do whatever. But we can still do good client work as well, by delegating, and this is an example of a client we took on in August last year.

Growing Clients Businesses

And you’ll be able to see, the start of the campaign, they had little or no traffic. They’re now up to over 20,000 in a year. That’s a client though, who pays a good monthly budget, it’s all organic search. They don’t bother us, they don’t mither us, they don’t want pie charts and reports, they just want to see progress all the time. And I think that’s what you have to hammer home to your clients. If we are to do a good job for anyone, as we have done, they’ve still got growth to July this year, good growth, 14% increase on the previous month, it’s important that we’re allowed to crack on with the job. Because with your budget, you can either talk to Colin all day long, and he’ll come to your office, he’ll buy you cups of tea, he’s charging you through the fucking nose for it, and that’s all there is to it. So if he’s out doing three meetings with you a month, and you’re paying us a grand a month, then your budget’s gone on Colin meetings. And Colin doesn’t do SEO, sadly. So you’re not really gonna get on anywhere with chatting to Colin, all you’ll do is get departed in some of his bad jokes.

Saying to to certain clients

But you have to learn to say no to clients. So when I was doing the agency model, I was taking on every Tom, Dick and Harry, whether they had £200, £500, or £1,000. I wasn’t giving a shit, I had bills to pay, I had staff costs, I had overheads. And all I had in my head was, “I need ten grand a month to cover the overheads”, I wasn’t giving a shit who the client was, how much of a bastard they were gonna be, how much energy and time they were gonna drain from me, I just took them all on. And that actually is what bogged me down, so you have to learn to say no to certain types of clients.

And now we want to diversify, the client thing is still really hard. And I know loads of agency owners still think clients are a pain in the arse, but you have to diversify, and people often say “what are you doing to supplement your income?” and all that kind of stuff. SEMrush, who people think I work for, actually pay me 40% recurring commission, for everyone who signs up for the lifetime of that client, so it’s easy money for me to say “use SEMrush, it’s a great SEO tool, go buy it” when I’m doing my training courses, and people do it. And you can make a hell of a lot of money doing that, and you’ll be able to see there over the last six or seven weeks, you can make 15 grand.

Buying Digital Assets

And also, what we try to do is buy digital assets. So something else I’m doing now is buying and selling websites. And that’s a website I bought in January this year. Now, I paid 10 grand for that website. It was earning $362 a month when I bought it, I’ve now got it, it’ll probably hit $1,500 a month, which is not great money. But when I pay, it’s the sellable value of that, that’s really important to me. So a website that turns over roughly what I’m turning over just now, with that website, is for sale on Empire Flippers for 38 grand. Now I’ve only done about … I’ve not really spent any money on it, I’m just gonna go back a slide.

What I have done, is bought links, I’ve got a content writer who manages the whole process for me, I’m not employing a local member of staff who wants to shaft me for two grand a month and do little or no work, and add no value. I’ve got a content writer in Romania who works like an absolute dog, and I rank for 2,000 keywords on page one. So you’ll be to see at the top there, position one to ten. I’ve got 2,000 keywords on page one, from a golf website in America, because it’s a much bigger place than the UK. And you’ll be able to see there, the growth of that website. Now it’s went from 10,000 to over 20,000 hits a month. It obviously dips off because it’s obvious it’s not finished yet, but hopefully that will probably level out, or there may be a slight increase on that.

Buying an affiliate website

Now, I bought the website for 10 grand. I spend two grand on content, I spent two grand on links with Gary Wilson, he’s doing the talk later on. So the site’s earned about four grand, and that paid the time for Amazon. So my total spend is still 10 grand, and I’m sitting with something that’s worth 35 now. I could sell that for 35 today, no bother, I think someone would bite my hand off, and I’ve basically got a 25 grand profit there. Now, when you get a model like that, which I’ve probably spent about 20 minutes worth of time on, I’ve then got a business model that I can scale up. So I can go and buy a website for a hundred grand, and flip it for five hundred grand, and so on.

You know, and you can go in it whatever way that you want, you can buy a website for one grand, it’s just gonna be a slower process. But you need content, you need links, its relatively simple. Obviously Steven was talking about UX and all this kind of stuff, and mobiles, which is right, you obviously want your buttons and all that to work, that’s bog standard stuff, you need a website that works. But after that, it’s all about monetization.

And as I say, you’ll get 25 times multiple on that website out of your 37 and a half grand, or 37 and half thousand dollars. Most websites are actually selling for 35 multiples, the websites probably relist, it’ll be worth about 50 grand. And that was just a wee project as an example, I don’t mind sharing that example. I’ve got other website that I’ve invested more in, all right guys? You’ve just got to work harder, scale that stuff up more, because it beats doing client work. The only person I’ve got to answer to is myself with that affiliate model, and I’ve obviously got the hunger and desire to make more money.

Outsource Digital Tasks

So you can outsource a lot of this stuff, you can get virtual assistants, which we’ll hear probably Mads talking about. Work smarter, not harder. This guy, who some of you might be familiar with, is your- schools don’t teach you how to work, or they teach you how to work for money, but they don’t teach you how to make money work for you. And it’s probably taken me 17 years to figure that crap out. I was working like a dog trying to make ends meet, get money, employ people. And that’s just because when you’re brought up, that’s what you’re taught to think like, and I didn’t know any different.

So the real winners are the guys that are actually just pushing money about, investors, investing their money and taking a step out of the business. Trusting and finding the right people to do the work. And as I say, this is another Amazon website, it’s not owned by me, but you can see the kind of scale these websites go up at. That website ranks for 1.2 million key words and has organic traffic of 1.8 million. You can imagine that website makes hundreds of thousands a month and is worth probably about 25 million. Their guys only really scaled that website up round about here, for real proper scaling up. So it’s only a couple of years old. So you can make a hell of a lot of money, out with doing the bullshit client work.

As I say, buying and selling website assets, digital assets, is better than buying real estate at times. Obviously I wouldn’t say it’s- , you know, property never goes away, a website could go tits up, Google could do a chain, so it’s a slight element of risk here when you buy digital assets, but I think a lot of people now are going into it, because the profit and everything else is a lot higher. You can basically make millions from doing nothing.

Black Hat vs White Hat

And something else I wanted to touch on, was this whole black hat, white hat crap that you hear out there. There is no such thing as white hat SEO, it doesn’t exist. No-one’s ethical, everyone’s here to make money. They’re cutting corners, they’re paying shit staff and all that kind of stuff. That’s as unethical as it gets. So there is not such thing as black hat or white hat, it’s just about making money and doing the right things, getting the right shopping list or whatever it may be, or the right bunch of guys to do the job for you. And follow the right people, do not follow a lot of the bullshit that’s online, there’s so many bloggers selling courses on how to make money. And these guys don’t even make any money, well they make a slight amount of money, but it’s off of the fools that are buying that kind of course. You need to be very, very careful, because you get sent all over the place, and talking to the wrong people, and it’s just an absolute nightmare and a complete waste of time.


Networking is also very good. When I had the agency, I didn’t bother with networking. Didn’t want to talk to anyone, just sat behind my desk, wanted to hide behind everything. So networking’s really important. And also don’t be a dick. Help other people. You know, we’ve got loads of guys in the SEO community, some are here today, some are not, that we all talk to, get business advice from and stuff like that, you don’t have to be a dick and sit there and say “I’m not telling this guy anything, he might steal my clients”, and all that stuff. Chances are they don’t need to steal your clients, what you’re doing is bullshit work and no-one wants it anyway. We throw clients in the bin every other day, physically say to clients “fuck off” on the phone, because no-one wants that work. So if you have an agency and you do want crappy leads, give us a shout, Colin’s in the corner there, he’ll work out a deal with you. We can do that. But don’t be a dick, just try and be open, transparent, network, talk to people, and you’ll probably get a lot further on in your digital marketing career.

Now, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus is dead, I keep forgetting to change that slide, I don’t know why, but you can follow me. There’s a load of blogs on my website, where you’ll be able to find out about social media automation, how to scam people by stealing their Google My Business listings. There’s everything in there, I’ve got the good, the bad and ugly all on my blog, so there’s a lot of stuff on there that’s worth reading. And if you are an agency and you want training, we can come in and train your staff how to work efficiently. If you want to do outsourcing, we can put you in touch with the right people as well. We do have Colin over there, who’ll be hanging about that wee stand there as well, so he will be able to give you advice or whatever, or tips if you want anything else from us.

But sadly, that’s all from me, my little talk. Not a lot of knowledge bombs, they’re all on the website though, so if anyone was turning up for black hat stuff, go on there, or speak to me later on. All right?

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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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