Leaving an Agency and Starting an Affiliate Empire


So, today’s podcast guest is one of my good friends. I’ve known him for a good few years now, and it’s Mr. Tom P. Livingstone. Tom, thank you for sparing some time to come on here and talk shit to me.

No worries.

So, first thing I’ve got to ask you, before we talk about anything, is what does the P stand for? What’s the P?

No, I don’t know where you’ve got that from mate because my middle name is William. It’s Tom W Livingstone.

So, what is this Tom P Livingstone that everyone told me about? And it’s not me by the way, it’s your staff.

Ah, staff. I think it’s you, mate. I think it’s just…I don’t know, mate.

I just went along with it with you. Like, I don’t know why he’s calling me that. It was in Brighton when everyone said, “Why’s he calling you Tom P Livingstone?” I was like, “I don’t know. I just let him get on with it.”

I don’t know where it came from but yeah, Tom P Livingstone’s what I call you. But Tom Livingstone also known as Tom from Bright Design. Yeah, so we’ve known each other for, I don’t know, three, fours years. Something like that, can’t remember. Obviously I’ve seen your journey from back, you know, I think you were relatively new into the industry. Did you used to work for someone called SEO Junkies?

Yeah, that’s right, yeah. When it first got started really. Just looking for an opportunity, went and found this agency called SEO Junkies. They were rubbish to be honest, when you look back. But at the time, it was a foot in the door, you know? And that’s what some people need, so.

Yeah, it’s always getting a foot in the door but when you say, “SEO Junkies” I mean, it feels like you’re joking to be fair. Are they still going?

Yeah I think they’re still going. Yeah, they’re down near Reading way. But yes, I wouldn’t recommend it as a good place to work. But it’s one of these, you’ve just got to get your foot in the door and try and get some understanding of what’s going on. But, as you know, there’s so much information out there and people doing things differently, doing it their way, and things like that. I learnt a lot from it. But it wasn’t until I was working for Dixon Jones’ agency, Receptional, when the penny started to drop, and I started getting a bit more confident about actual…what SEO involved and stuff like that. When you feel like you’re a better SEO than your Head of SEO, then I think it’s time to leave and that’s the point where you think, right, you got to do this for yourself.

I met my mate, who’s a good sales guy. We went out for a coffee. He had an idea to set up an agency, wanted me to get on board, so like let’s do it. So yeah, four and a half, five years ago now, we set the agency up and we’ve got about 100 clients now, about 25 staff, I think. Things are going well, mate.

Yeah, no, as you know, I’ve been in your office and stuff and I’ve not seen your 25 staff. I think when I was down there maybe about a year and a half ago you were up to about 10, 15.

Yeah, that’s right.

Ever since I’ve been speaking to you, it’s just been constant growth and even moving offices into the nice new place that you had with the pool table. I know you’ve moved again since. Not seen the new place but the agency model seems worth it. Before we go on to talk about Bright Design and all that stuff, you were in the RAF before. Is that right?

That’s right, yeah.

So, tell me, you know, you leave the RAF which is, you know, fine, you’ve done your time in the RAF. Why did you come out the RAF and go SEO? Like, why?

I did nine years and I just decided that I couldn’t be bothered anymore and I wanted to do something new. I didn’t really know what. But I was mucking about with websites and stuff like that and then I got a job just amending websites, working for Yellow Pages, actually. And then some guy came round and gave us a days training on SEO and you know, when going to this training session, I’m just like, straight away, I’m just like, “What is this?” And then he starts talking about algorithms and I’m thinking, “Like, what the hell is an algorithm?” And then from there, it just sort of snowballed. Just got the bug, mate. Just used to go home and read about SEO all day and night.

It’s weird how it starts, though. You know, there was no rhyme or reason why I got into it. Just stumbled across it but it’s just weird, like you come out the RAF, I just wanted to know if there was…like, I’m going to leave and I really like digital marketing and, you know, you’re not your typical…and I’m not saying every digital marketing person’s a geek, if you like, but you’re not your type of typical guy that you’d expect to see in digital marketing. Now, and I know I fit into that category as well, I’m not your average guy for what I do as well and it’s just weird to see RAF straight into digital marketing. But, you done it. But yeah, tell us more about Bright Design, obviously I’ve met Luke a few times, great, big guy. I assuming he’s the mate that you met that’s [crosstalk 00:05:43]

Yeah so, we work really well together because Luke’s an exceptional sales guy. He knows how to sell and he understands the SEO product, he understands web design and everything so it was sort of like, without being too cheesy, it was kind of a match made in heaven because what I excel at is strategy and knowing what’s going on and being able to deal with the testing and everything like that. And so it just works well together. And you know, we put a model in place and we’ve jut scaled it, essentially.

Yeah, so it’s going strong. Obviously, you guys are out and about going to events and all that kind of stuff, 100 clients. And I know Luke has a goal to have 100 staff and all that kind of stuff. Is that still [crosstalk 00:06:36]

Is we were able to offer…well, what we offer is essentially, SEO is just like one piece of the puzzle. Like, we offer the full solution, you know, we say to small to medium businesses, we can set you up, we can do everything for you online. We can run the paid search campaigns, whatever the objective is. Like, if they’ve got certain targets, thing in their head, how they want to grow their business, then we can accommodate that and provide the solution and I think that’s what makes us a bit different from the agencies around like the midlands and the south and stuff, where they’re just like, “Oh yeah, we’d give you an SEO package, you get so many keywords and stuff like this.” We don’t really take that approach as such, we more look at it from like a conversion focused goal, really, for everything. Sort of how we’re going to get that…how we’re going to get those conversions.

So, you know, that’s sort of where we’re at.

So is it all local stuff, though, or do you do nationwide stuff or stuff for another field [crosstalk 00:07:41]

We’ve got about 65, 70% local clients. You know, clients that just want to rank well in their local area or maybe multiple local areas and that’s…it was more like 90% local clients this time last year but we’ve been attracting higher value clients, guys that want to rank nationally. We’ve got guys that are wanting to target international countries now as well, and a lot of the growth has come from referrals. So, you know, there’s been marketing managers that we’ve pleased that have done really well, we’ve made them look good, they’ve then referred on another business. Like, we’ve got a few clients at the moment, we’ve got a premier league football team, we’ve got premier league rugby teams now, and that’s all come from referrals. So if you do a good job, you know, it can snowball. We don’t always have to go outbound and generate leads that way.

Yeah. No I think, obviously you’re at a certain point in your career, what I found where you do get a steady flow of inquiries just because of good work and good effort and stuff. So yeah, no, it’s good to hear that’s still going strong and stuff like that. Now, I know that you…not going to say any change in direction, but you’re moving into your affiliate marketing and obviously you’re going to jump out of dealing with 100 clients [crosstalk 00:09:22]

Yeah, that’s right. Well, [crosstalk 00:09:22]…three years, two years ago actually and we said, you know, we want to enter the affiliate game. That’s the next step, really. But it’s taken time to…we’ve had to train up people, we’ve had to get the system right within the business and get people that can essentially manage that process. And so the way we recruited in Bright Design was a bit different. We didn’t want to bring people on that had maybe had like five years SEO experience and stuff like this, we wanted hungry people who wanted to enter the industry, who needed a chance because that’s how I got into the industry, I just needed a chance. Because then with that, you can literally train them up from the ground up. And you know, some of the staff that we’ve had that haven’t been able to cut it, maybe haven’t been hungry enough or whatever but we’ve got to a place now where our SEO team leader, he’s a very accomplished SEO now. Over the last six months, I’ve been able to take a back step from the actual day to day running and focus more onto entering affiliate market.

And it’s only really over the last couple of months, we’ve made a couple of mistakes and things like that as everyone does, but we are literally now ready to…I’m able to take myself out of the business and focus more on entering the affiliate market.

That’s good. I think, you know, from a personal point of view, I think it’s the right move to make and something that I’ve done in recent years is try and focus a lot more on the affiliate side of things than that…it’s obviously, it’s like starting again, though. You don’t know where your next [inaudible 00:11:16] coming from and it’s a scary though so what’s the transition process like? Like, have you guys saved up a bunch of money and you’re just going to hit it hard for six months and…I don’t know, what’s the transition process? Because it took me about, probably four or five years to make the switch from fully doing a whole bunch of client work to pretty much focusing on affiliate. Because I always needed that cash from the client side and I always had to get involved and you get roped in and, you know, as I say, I wasn’t [inaudible 00:11:54] enough to have stacks of money to be able to do that so it was, you know, jumping in [inaudible 00:12:00].

So are you going to just…have you got the set up right there where you can literally just say, “Bright Design, your stuff is all on hand, I’m going to go and [crosstalk 00:12:09] this affiliate stuff.” Is that the position you’ve got yourself to?

I don’t plan to take a wage out of the affiliate stuff, we was going to in the first six months, six to nine months, you know? We’re just, between us, we’ve been able to make a plan where we can afford to give this a good go, essentially. You know, it’s not that it won’t work but we’ve got a strategy in place and a plan than, you know, we’re just going to go out an execute it. And then at the end, you know, we’ve got a goal, we’re looking at the three year flip on potentially some authority sites if things go to plan. And we can look at it at the end of that and just say, “Well, at least we tried.” Or “At least we gave it a good go.”

It’s like anything, you know, if you don’t try and just talk about it all the time and before you know it, five years has passed and you’ve not got anywhere.

Yeah. Yeah, I’ve done that a lot of times in a lot of cases. So what is your plan in terms of getting these affiliate website? Now, I know that you’ve looked at them and all that kind of stuff but are you starting from scratch or are you going to find websites that already exist and scaling them…

No, it’s…sorry, carry on.

Yeah. Well, I was going to say, as well, is it going to be Amazon or are you trying to hold up different bunch of stuff?

So, we’re not going to buy a site in year one. We’re going to learn the mechanics first. We’re going to get our model in place so that we can, if we bought a site, we can literally just take that site, put our model and our process into that, get it all sorted out straight away, and then see what happens after that. Like, I think it’d be…we discussed buying a site, and I don’t think that’s the right way to go when we’re in such a steep learning curve as it is. So if we build something from the ground up, the time it takes for that site to become established, we can afford ourselves the time to learn as well at the same time. But I feel like we’ve got everything pretty much nailed. So we’re just going to run with it.

I mean, with regards to Amazon, I expect that quite a bit of our portfolio, especially on the micro niche sites, will potentially be the Amazon-type affiliates but I think that just from my experience so far, you don’t want to limit yourself to Amazon. Like, some people will say, “Oh, you don’t want to do Amazon.” Others will be like, “Yeah, do Amazon.” I think it’s got it’s pros and cons. Like, obviously, Amazon converts really well, so you’ve been raved not to.

But I don’t think the question should be about whether you do Amazon or whatever, it should be about the niche that you’re going to go into. You want to make sure that that niche is, you know, you’re forecasting that to be a profitable one. That comes from the market research. If you don’t do the proper research from the beginning, you’re wasting yourself a lot time. So you can sort of judge how you think a niche would respond, where the opportunity is. And then whoever’s, whatever products you’re promoting, if it’s Amazon or Direct or whatever it might be, you just go with it.

So is the job for you guys just going to be tying a few different monetization options, Amazon, maybe [crosstalk 00:15:41]

I think we’re just going to keep things simple for the time being. We’ve been speaking about maybe doing some subscription-based Amazon affiliate as well, so…but, you know, we’ll see.

We’ll see. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how that journey goes. I like seeing people taking action, if you like, and I know it’s something that you’ve spoken about for a while and I know you’ve got a big interest in Amazon…not Amazon, affiliate. You know and as I say, I think you’d be a good model to go down and test yourself and [crosstalk 00:16:28]

The affiliate game is just another, you know, it’s another strategy essentially. And I think like…my friend asked me last week why was moving into affiliate away from client, and I said, you know, I’m making SEO work for everyone else but I’m not making SEO work for myself and that of summarizes essentially why we’re moving into affiliate.

Yeah. I think it’s a, as I say, a sensible option and I’ve had that question. A client asked me that before. Like, you know, you’re the dumbest guy out, you’re making me all this money and what are you doing for yourself? And you’re like “Fuck, you know, you’ve really got a point there.” And yeah, as I say, sometimes you just have to experience it and then I think people will either jump into affiliate or something else, you know, whether that be training, consultancy, or a bit of something else, you know, whatever. But I think change is good as well, I think if you’ve done four or five years doing the agency thing, I think that’s [crosstalk 00:17:40]

Agency’s good. I mean, like, [crosstalk 00:17:43] but that’s all I’ve known and it’s time try out new, you know, new ways to make money. You know?

That’s it. So are you going to still be working in the same office or are you going to isolate yourself away from there? How’s that going to work?

So, Bright Design are actually moving office again, expanding. Like you said at the start of this, we moved into a new office two years ago, we’ve outgrown it, so we’re moving into another office and there’s a nice small office for myself away from the agency but in the same building that I’m going to be taking up, so.

So there is going to be an isolation where you can get away? Because I know what it’s like, if you’re there and people just [crosstalk 00:18:35]

No, it’s one thing that myself and Luke have spoken about is letting creep set in where, you know, just because I’m down the hallway in the office, doesn’t mean that people can come in and knock me off because you know what it’s like, when you’re in the zone and you get taken out of it, you might not get back in that zone again for the day. It could take 20 minute, half an hour to get back in it and it really messes up your productivity.

Yeah. I think I’m one of those guys that I’m very easily distracted and sometimes it’s good just to put headphones on, crack on and do what you’re doing.

Yeah, I mean I get massively distracted. If there’s a problem, my nature is to want to fix that problem, and you know, there’s problems daily in SEO and can’t help myself.

So as I say, that’s good that you’re leaving a bit of a legacy behind. You’ve sorted all your processes and you know, brought staff in and all that kind of stuff. You know, for anyone who is starting out in the agency world…now, it’s all good and well saying that Bright Design is doing well and they’ve got 25 staff and you’re moving up into affiliate. It doesn’t always work that easy for everyone else trying to do it. There’s obviously been pain points along the way, probably people scrapping in the office nearly and [inaudible 00:20:07] and hiding and firing crazy people, and all of that kind of stuff. So is there anything that you can advise people? Because I know you’ve hired people, you’ve fired people, you’re probably [inaudible 00:20:20] with Luke, you’ve felt like leaving and throwing the towel in and all that stuff, what would you say? How would you come out the other side and, you know, with success.

Because I know a lot of guys that would just throw in the towel and say, “Fuck this, you know, staff’s not for me.” [inaudible 00:20:37] So, you know, can you tell us some of the bad stories and how to resolved them. Like, you know, where do you look for your staff or some of the negative stuff that you’ve run into.

Well, I think the biggest problem has been staff. Without a doubt. It can be very frustrating when something seems so easy to you but is a more complex task for someone else. And everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and yeah, the biggest problem with the agency side of thing is the people management. You know, managing those people, getting the best out of them…well, I say problem, you’ve got to know when to…you can’t let emotion and sentiment get in the way of the decision.

Especially, most agencies are small agencies, so you’re spending day in, day out with these people and you have to know when you pull the plug and be ruthless with people as well. And some people, the could be the smartest person in the world but if they don’t get it, there’s only so much training you can give someone before you have to take responsibility and be accountable, and that’s one of the problems you get with recruiting staff that are like fresh out of the block. Recruiting staff like fresh out of university or whatever it is and you can train them up, that is a big selling point for us, it does come with its problems and stuff where people don’t necessarily grasp exactly what needs to be done.

I think I can relate to that very well. You know, I’ve always struggled with staff and getting them to grasp it and you know, with all the training in the world, sometimes you just don’t have time to train on a budget because someday you need to help the ground running. Have you guys every outsourced? Do you outsource, you know, any bits of work? Do you find that easier than having your own staff?

One of the reasons why we wanted to hire internally predominantly was because we focus a lot on communication with our clients. Like, everyone gets…because a lot of agencies, they’ll just spit out a report from [inaudible 00:23:08] and send that over and stuff like this. We customize our reports, we give our clients a call every month to discuss it to try and help this complex subject seem understandable to our clients. So you have to have people in-house, to be able to give that. Whereas, part of our strategy is setting up IFTTT networks and that can take a lot of time. Now, once you get a guy that does it for $50, you’re saving yourself a hell of a lot of money than somebody that we’re paying 20 grand a year to do that like in-house over a few days. So, we only outsource, not because of staff issues or anything like that, but just because of time. Some tasks are just cheaper to do.

I know agencies, like, I know people that are outsourcing things like he would research and stuff like this and unless you’ve got your SOP now properly, I just wouldn’t be outsourcing that type of stuff.

Yeah. No, I think you have to be very careful. Couple of things I want to touch on there. You’ve spoke about IFTTT and obviously that’s been around for a long time. Not something I’ve dabbled in too much but obviously I reached out to you last week and asked you to give me a recommendation of the boy you use, which by the way, guy was spot on, done it that day, he’s sorted it. He’s also done one for Gary Wilson, so you know, I appreciate that. But for people who don’t know what the hell that means or what it does, can you just tell us what that does for you as a company, you know, where does it fit in to your process and just explain a bit what IFTT does for you because obviously the sequence what goes on is entirely up to you and what you want to happen. I’m using it for videos, but you know, I’d just like to hear what you’re using it for and just obviously to give anyone listening a basic breakdown of what the hell it is as well.

So, every time that a blog piece on a clients blog gets published, we have three personas for each client set up. These are fake people, and they’ve got their own blogs on, like web 2.0 type blogs, type thing. And they’ve got their own Facebook, Twitter, nice filled out profiles. Just additional to that, we’ve got these personas on Mass Planner as well so that they’re generating a real following and things. But the IFTTT, so every time the client’s blog gets published, the IFTTT is saying when a blog gets published, post it to this whatever it might be, like craigcampbell.wordpress.com or whatever, post it on there. And so it’s just, we’re using it just for the syndication side of things. So the blog gets posted onto this web 2.0 or whatever or it gets…a better example would be it gets tweeted, so when they blog gets posted, then this persona will tweet about that post.

The main reason to why we’re doing is because it seems to work on a local level but after about three months, we seem to get some nice increases across the board for the keywords. We have to make sure that the posts, the IFTTT, well, the sites, are actually getting indexed as well so we’re making sure they’re indexed properly. But yeah, we’re just seeing nice results from syndicating the client’s blog content on other people’s social medias and things like that. And it helps with indexation as well for the actual blog post.

Yeah. No, I was going to ask you that because obviously indexation over the past year or so has got harder and tools are breaking, not functioning properly and you know, not as efficient as they used to be. So I think it’s great from that point of view as well, is indexation is obviously vital and you know, sneaky people out there who can look at your RSS feed and get it to ping them as soon as you publish a blog post and try to steal your content.

We literally had someone, one of clients has had that done to them and they’re now, our client is not the canonical of their own content so their rankings have tanked hard. I know a few other people that that’s happened to.

Yeah.

Yeah.

I’ve got to make money somehow. You know how it is. [inaudible 00:28:09] But, yeah, you need to be careful of that which I think is why IFTTT is a good thing because you can kind of eradicate those sneaky monsters who like to play those games as well. So I appreciate you telling us a bit more about IFTTT. You’re obviously still using Mass Planner which is a good old favorite of mine, still working well.

Yeah, it’s nice.

I still use it on [inaudible 00:28:36]. Yeah, it’s a great tool. I think automating a lot of stuff is the key where possible but have you got any other [inaudible 00:28:46] that I maybe don’t know about that you can recommend?

Well, one [crosstalk 00:28:54] indexation tool that’s worked on really well is, I’m still…Backlinks Indexer is still working really well. I know other people are saying, “Oh, they don’t work” and stuff like this but it does. Oh, man, you’re putting on the spot, mate. I know there’s been a lot of talk about Cora and Surfer and there’s another one, another page tool as well that people use. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And there’s another one as well but [crosstalk 00:29:32] anyway, I’ve been doing. Like, myself and a friend that’s doing well for himself in affiliate have been testing that Surfer tool recently. I know that it loads online, people saying it works and stuff.

But yeah, I mean, far as I say as well, it’s definitely shown some nice increases. You know, key words, we’re sat on middle of page two for eight to 10,000 monthly searches, we’re pinging it up into sixth, seventh position for them. It’s causing spikes in traffic. It’s working and it’s, for what it actually is and the cost and the time it takes, it’s a no-brainer. And that content optimization tool within Surfer as well is superb. Like, our copywriters are using that now on updating some of our existing blog posts with Google Search Console.

Yeah. No, I think adding that to part of your content process or whatever is definitely a valid thing to do. I’ve seen great things with Surfer and as I say, you’ve got to use them as a guide but I think certainly adding that to your content process has got to be an important part. Not just Surfer, you know, any of those deals just to give you a bit more of a [crosstalk 00:30:54]

Actually, mate, we’ve just hired a copywriter. He’s been with us about three weeks and I’ve just said to him, “Here’s an overview of Surfer. You’re going to need to get used to using this tool. I want you using it.” And he is absolutely loving it. So, you know, anyone that’s got in-house content writers or anything, get them a Surfer license because yeah, it’s really cool. I’m not an affiliate of Surfer by the way, I’m just saying, it’s a good tool.

[inaudible 00:31:25] does have an affiliate link if you reach out to him, so. But, I was going to talk to you a bit about your processes. So obviously everyone talks about SOPs or processes, whatever you want to call it and obviously you referred to it as SOPs earlier. You know, do you make all your own? Now, obviously given a new person or a person to write content or go and add title tags or whatever it’s going to be, there has to be a process involved. Who makes these process and are the processes text or do you just make videos?

Both. So, we do videos for…so, the systems that we use as a business and processes and things, that’s all been done manually. I wouldn’t say they are…I supposed they are SOPs as such but our SOP in-house are more for individual tasks. Like how to optimize your title, you know, what sort of…how you should be [inaudible 00:32:30] your content, how to add internal links. Like, all of these things, we’ve got…for every step in our month one process for new clients on board, we’ve got a SOP for each step with a supporting video as well. So the new guys that come in, you know, because we recruit from the ground up, we give them a week’s SEO training and it’s a very in-depth training then they shadow the team for a couple of weeks following what they’re doing. But, you know, it stops them saying, “Oh, Tom, how do I do this? Tom, how do I do that?” It’s all in the process. It’s all backed up with SOPs as well.

Yeah. I think you would probably agree with this but having those in place from the get-go is, you know, it is going to cut you down a lot of time. There’s just mucking about with people asking you questions, that you have to have these in place so that there is no…and also, to give people the right guidance. You don’t want to to be that snappy guy where you’re unapproachable to a new member of staff [crosstalk 00:33:36]

Oh, exactly, yeah. Yeah, the SOPs really helped us grow when we sort of…because I’m sure SOPs have been around for a while but it’s only been really over the last 18 months, two years that everyone’s like, “SOPs this, SOPs that.” And it’s because they work. So yeah, highly recommend people get them in place.

100%. Now, before we let you go, I just want to talk to you a bit about the SEO community and all of that kind of stuff, how you find it. Because obviously, you go to a lot of events and guys like me will wind you up and all that kind of stuff. We have good banter and all of that kind of stuff so I want to talk a bit about…obviously some of the banter will tell Tom Livingstone that the HD access files, the [inaudible 00:34:36] and you know, you rank well and all that kind of stuff, those good camera [inaudible 00:34:40] but what can also happen with that comradery is you end up not knowing who the fuck to believe. Because of people joking around and you know, saying crazy tuff just to get a reaction out of people. How did you figure that out? Because it doesn’t matter whether it’s deliberate bullshit by a speaker on stage or your mates jacking around, you know, saying that this works just so that you go away and test it and find out that it doesn’t.

How do you…because obviously you’re still relatively new in the grand scheme of things and probably still learning, I mean, I’m still learning and I’ve been in this for donkeys, but how do you feel about the bullshit and the jokes [crosstalk 00:35:24]

So I do frequent the groups and things like that and that’s where I was able to sort of start learning different things, like when you sort of introduced me to PBNs when you talked about it online and stuff. And you spend so long just…well, certainly when I got into the groups, just following every single, as soon as someone posted in an SEO group, go and read that or whatever. Now I won’t go in as often but a long time ago I was able to establish who I should listen to, so you know, if Craig Campbell commented on a post, I’d get notified of that. Like, I’d make sure the people that I knew were actually worth listening to, I’d only want to see comments that they’d put on certain posts so that I could follow them and engage with those. It’s hard to sift through and filter through everything. I mean, that’s just a huge challenge. I think you need to…you’ve got to get yourself a mentor. Especially if you don’t really, you know, you can’t see the wood for the cheese a lot of the time in these groups. Try and stick to one group as well, I’d say.

Well, that was going to be my next thing I was going to ask you. I remember saying to you a while back, I said, “Tom, you’re in too many groups chatting so much fucking shit to too many different people.” And I said you, “You need to try and get out of so many groups.” Would you say that was the right advice?

Yeah, 100. 100, mate. I found myself getting unproductive, frustrated and just finding myself spending more time in these stupid groups than actually getting any work done. And before you know it, time…I don’t know about you, mate, but I’m 35 now and time seems to be flying, right? And I’m just like, before you know it, a few months have gone past when you had this great idea and you wanted to do this great thing and then you just like, forgotten about that and done something else because you’ve been in this group and they’ve been talking about this and that and, so yeah. I just don’t bother anymore with any of that.

Yeah. Shiny object syndrome. That’s what I always say to people, stay away from groups, anyone I talk to. I don’t really…I dabble in your group here and there but I don’t try and participate too much and I just think life’s hard enough without adding all that shit at night time or whatever. And as I say, can be very misleading and you know, someone talking about something or a great tool or whatever it may be and you jut stopped your affiliate marketing hire to go and play with the next best social media automation tool and you become obsessed with it and you start making fake personas and you’re not earning any money doing any of that stuff, it’s madness. I know we all love gadgets, we all love tools and automation but there has to be a time where you say [crosstalk 00:38:36]

Exactly. Because what I do now just to manage my own time is I’ve got a…I basically bookmark anything I’d like to read later or just anything, like add to my reading list on my phone and then when I…instead of waking up in the morning and checking Facebook like I’ve done for many years or going to sleep sat on Facebook in the evening, I’ll just be going through that read folder and just checking these tools out and spending a bit of time, half an hour, an hour, just going through that. And it sort of keeps me in touch, it stops me from sifting through loads of shit all the time and means I can spend more time focusing on the stuff that I’m actually doing and the projects I’m working on. It’s better than to do one thing well than to do loads of things all right, you know?

Yeah. Interesting. And one final question. I heard in [crosstalk 00:39:32] that you sneaked up to Mark Walker’s office for a day [inaudible 00:39:38]. I can’t remember who told me that actually but I was like, “The dirty bastard’s never invited me.” But obviously Mark, one of the richest SEO guys I know, [inaudible 00:39:52] absolutely everything. [crosstalk 00:39:54]

Well, he’s trying to get me to buy [crosstalk 00:39:56] but I didn’t want to do that. No, I’m only joking, I’m only joking. But no, it was really good. The main reason why I went to see Mark is because Mark’s been doing affiliate and he’s sort of where I’m sort of heading towards. So that was the reason why, I just thought, you know, he’s got to be resourceful. Like, be a nice guy is SEO, like help people out and other people will help you out and vice versa. So, you know, it’s all well jut messaging Mark but Mark probably gets 100 messages a day, you know?

But I thought, can I come up, take you out for lunch, we can maybe chat some ideas, you might be able to give me a bit of advice, I’m not his…I’m not a competitor to him, you know what I mean? Like, we’re all like friends, we like to help each other out and that’s why I went up to see him. I think you were in America at the time, that’s why I didn’t come see you.

Oh, you’ve been up to me a few times anyway, it’s good to mingle and get some stuff from different people. I think that’s always wise but yeah, I’m disappointed that you [crosstalk 00:41:03]

Oh, we’ve had some fun times.

[crosstalk 00:41:07] beer, actually. What’s the funniest memory you’ve got from any of the meetings [crosstalk 00:41:16]

Oh, mate. Well, so I’ll tell you the funniest memory, was when I just started with Bright Design and we were doing agency and stuff like that and you know my experience was very limited but my ambition was, you know, fueled and stuff. So I came up to see you and it’s the first time I seen you and we went out for a beer, I don’t know if you remember this, we were walking back to my hotel and it was…you were like, “What is it you do, Tom? What is it you do?” And I’m like, “I just do SEO.” You said, “Well, what do you do?” And I remember laughing me head off, I was like, “I don’t even know what you mean, what do I do?”

But then as time’s gone on, you mean like, what do I do? Do I do affiliate, do I do client side? Do I do this, do I do that? Yeah, I just thought, Jesus, it just…because that was only like four years ago and that was when I thought I knew what I was doing but actually didn’t really know too much. But it’s all gone to show that you just…just don’t hesitate to chuck yourself in at the deep end and just sort of see what happens and that’s what we did when we set the agency up and then I look back on that moment and I just think, Jesus, I knew fuck all.

I remember it very well, it was one of…it was a great night and obviously you’ve not told the full, slightly, the story. I asked you what you’d done after the first pint and you gave me, “Just SEO” this and that, and then it was like, on pint 10, I was like, “What do you actually do?” What the fuck [inaudible 00:42:46] and then you still somehow evaded the question, nipped to the toilet, played the puggy or whatever it was. [inaudible 00:42:53] I’m like, “You have no fucking idea what you’re doing.”

I don’t know what I’m doing, yeah.

And you just burst out laughing, you’re like [inaudible 00:43:00]. But obviously, what I would say to anyone in that position, it is very, very easy for someone experienced in SEO to identify a blagger like Tom standing there just talking, you know, making it up as he’s going along and thinking I was buying it, and you know, I never bought it for one minute. But I wanted him to tell me he didn’t know what the fuck he was doing and then I was able to point you in the wrong direction and you know, hopefully at some point in your career [crosstalk 00:43:33]

Oh, mate. You know a lot of the reasons why we are where we are is bitesize through your help, so yeah, we’re obviously appreciative of that. 100%.

No, as I say, I love helping people, like doing success stories and everything. It’s good to then obviously meet up and you’ve been up to the Glasgow SEO meet up to talk, so [inaudible 00:43:57] working in SEO Junkies [inaudible 00:44:01] to, you know, doing well with Bright Design, hopefully do well in affiliate and also do a bit of speaking and stuff like that. So it’s good to see someone coming from complete and utter noob, who had been doing all the wrong things to coming out the other side and, as I say, that’s why I wanted to get you on here with anyone else listening that we’ve all been there and obviously [crosstalk 00:44:22]

I didn’t even what SEO was until 2012, so.

So it shows that you can with the right attitude and you know, obviously taking times to run up to see Mark in an office or going to Chiang Mai or going up to Glasgow or wherever the hell you’ve been in the UK and I’m sure a lot of people have contributed to your success story but it obviously, success comes from you as well. You know, you put yourself out there, you jumped up on flights up to here and you know, God knows [crosstalk 00:45:07]

I think it helps when you genuinely love what you do. Like, it’s what I want to do so I’m fortunate in that, that I actually, you know, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life and that literally I what I tell every single guy that comes in to work Bright Design, so.

Yeah, yeah. That’s a good old niche, but sadly, Tom, we are out of time. That’s 45 minutes of us talking absolute garbage. But I’m sure people will be able to take away some good stuff from it so I [inaudible 00:45:44] joining on here but for anyone listening who might want to reach out to you, ask a question, whatever it may be, where’s the best place they can go?

Just seo@tomlivingstone.co.uk is my email, but just private…just ping me a message on Facebook, add me up. I’m on LinkedIn, add me up and message me on there, or tweet me or whatever. Yeah, I’m readily available. Nice one, appreciate it, Craig, cheers.

Cool, no worries, Tom. Appreciate you coming on, man. Cheers.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 17 years.

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