We kicked off the year talking about “leveling up” your business in 2018. It sounds desirable (and ultimately, it is), but it can also be a struggle.
It’s not just the work you have to do to level up your business, or to start a new one. It’s also the fact that the process itself takes you out of your comfort zone, which can severely impact your confidence.
About a month ago, I featured an article about striving for the “next level you” in my personal growth newsletter Further. That piece struck a nerve in entrepreneur and fellow Coloradan John Doherty, so I invited him on the show to share his experience of taking a serious leap forward — and not only surviving the process, but thriving.
The Show Notes
Conquer the Discomfort of Taking Your Business to the Next Level, with John Doherty
John Doherty: Hi everyone, I'm John Doherty. I'm an entrepreneur, SEO consultant, contrarian, skier, traveler and writer, and I am 100% unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable. The show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one, and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our Free Profit Pillars Course, or choose to sign up for the newsletter only at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com, and take your business and lifestyle to the next level. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: We kicked off the year talking about “leveling up” your business in 2018. It sounds desirable (and ultimately, it is), but it also can be a struggle.
It's not just the work you have to do to level up your business, or to start a new one. It's also the fact that the process itself takes you out of your comfort zone, which can severely impact your confidence.
About a month ago, I featured an article about striving for the “next level you” in my personal growth newsletter Further. That piece struck a nerve in entrepreneur and fellow Coloradan John Doherty, so I invited him on the show to share his experience of taking a serious leap forward — and not only surviving the process, but thriving.
I'm Brian Clark and this is Unemployable. Thanks for joining us. This episode of Unemployable is brought to you by the all new FreshBooks. Easy accounting software for people like you. You've simply got to try it for yourself with this special, unrestricted 30-day free trial. Just go to Freshbooks.com/unemployable, and make sure to tell them that Unemployable sent you over there in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.
John, how are you, my fellow Coloradan? We are inside talking to each other instead of outside in the mountains and the sunshine. What is going on?
John Doherty: Not too much, Brian. It's good to finally connect with you. It is absolutely a beautiful day here in Denver though. Unfortunately, I just found out I have a herniated disc in my back, so I'm not getting out to enjoy the mountains anytime soon.
Brian Clark: Oh no, I'm sorry to hear that.
John Doherty: It happens, man. It happens.
Brian Clark: Just at the beginning of spring, that's…
John Doherty: Well, my hope is that it's between the horrible ski season and a good summer season and I'll be well enough to go hiking this year. That is the goal right now. If it has to happen, now is the time for it to happen.
Brian Clark: Yeah, best wishes with that. Speedy recovery.
What Does Your Company Do and How Have You Gotten to This Point?
Brian Clark: Okay. We're talking today about “leveling up.” This is a topic that's near and dear to my heart. We had already planned to do an episode, so this is kind of an overlap of my two side projects. In Further a couple of weeks ago, I linked to an article about going to the next level and basically intentionally taking yourself out of your comfort zone, putting you in a place where you don't feel confident, you feel a little freaked out. But that's how we grow, both as people and as entrepreneurs.
Then I saw, I think it was on Facebook, that this really connected with you. Let's talk about that today. But first, let's talk a little bit about what your current company, Credo does, and then maybe talk about your journey up to this point.
John Doherty: Yeah, for sure. Credo is a business that I started about five years ago as a side project, actually at the beginning of 2013. I basically had people coming to me wanting me to consult for them. I was working for an agency at the time in New York City, an agency called Distilled. Basically I had gotten to the point where I had a lot of people coming in wanting to work with me personally, that they couldn't afford to work with Distilled or something like that.
I was also getting out of doing my own freelance consulting, because I had gotten some promotions. I was spending about two weekends a month in my apartment in Brooklyn. I was 28 years old in Brooklyn, single, spending two weekends a month in my apartment doing work for clients for money that I didn't need any more. I was like, “I don't want to do this.”
So I started getting rid of those clients and needed a good place to send them. And fortuitously, about three weeks after I stopped doing freelance consulting, I met my now wife. I actually had time to date her, which was good.
I started sending, basically, leads and projects to some friends and I had a buddy that I got in a lead that was perfect for him. I sent it to him, though it was like, “Hey man, would you be willing to pay 50 bucks for this lead?” And he goes, “Yeah, what's your PayPal?” Three minutes later, I had 50 bucks in my PayPal account. I sent in the lead, he closed it, and I went and bought a domain name.
It continued on for a couple of years as I went in-house and worked for Zillow Group for a couple of years, running marketing on a couple of their brands. Then the story goes, I got laid off September 2015 and said, “You know what? I'm going to work for myself.” I already had this thing going under a different brand name and decided to pick it up and fix the website and start writing some more code, and picked up some consulting clients along the way. Got hit with a cease and desist the day before Thanksgiving that year and had to rebrand.
Basically within four months of losing my job, I picked up a bunch of consulting and also had to rebrand my fledgling company. And it's kind of gone from there.
It went from nothing in September of 2015. I think I did about $80 in revenue that month, so not very much. Right now, we're doing around 25K a month in revenue. It's myself and I have three part-time employees. We've sent almost $10 million worth of work to agencies and consultants over the last two and a half years. So it’s doing very, very well.
Brian Clark: So it's basically like a matchmaking service for consulting leads.
John Doherty: It is. There are a lot of businesses out there, the Upworks of the world, the Gigsters, the Growth Geeks, etc. They're kind of the gig economy. It's like, “I need someone to write two blog posts a month for me,” sort of stuff. “Right now, I have $300 a month to spend, if that.” That problem's been solved.
I'm not interested in solving that problem, but there are a lot of businesses out there. I was like, “What about these businesses that are legit, that also have a good budget, but they don't really know how to hire the right agency or they don't know if they should work with an agency? If they do need to work with an agency, they don't know how to vet them out. They don't know who's actually good at ecommerce, SEO, for example.”
Basically what I've done is I've created a network of people, agencies and consultants that I know, that I trust, that I’ve vetted out. I've seen some of their work, I've spoken with them on the phone. Some of them I've spoken with some of their customers as well. When people come into us needing…let's say they’re a new ecommerce company and they need an SEO agency to help them out with technical SEO and content writing, link building, and then maybe some Facebook ads as well. We have some agencies in our network that we know are fantastic at ecommerce, SEO, link building and Facebook ads. We can connect them up and then we help the business make the right decision for them by helping them review proposals.
They still make the decision and they sign the contract directly with the agency, but we get them to the point where they feel confident making the right decision.
How Did You Get into SEO?
Brian Clark: Excellent. So, pre-Distilled, how did you get into SEO? Because Distilled is a really great agency, really well-respected. Obviously you knew what you were doing before you got that job. How did that happen?
John Doherty: I did. I was actually trained. I graduated from James Madison University in 2007, in Virginia where I'm from. I was trained as a technical writer and a web developer. So I was a technical writing major, but they had what they called “online publications” as a concentration. Basically, it was web development. I learned HTML, CSS, PHP at the time there. We’re still talking about DHTML, Dynamic HTML with drop downs. That was groundbreaking at the time.
I was trained as that, and I'd actually been blogging for a while before that. I started blogging in about 2001, 2002, something like that on BlogSpot, and had learned how to build a bit of an audience there.
My first job out of college, 2008, I was working for a software company. I was a Technical Support Manager, but also their webmaster. And they basically needed a new website, they needed to get more leads coming in the front end inbound, as opposed to all the outbound they were doing. So I started learning SEO on Joomla. With my web development background, I picked it up. I was like, “Oh, I understand this — search engine, URLs and all this stuff.” I just started going from there.
I helped to run a company in Switzerland for about a year. We did the website, started getting customers and such to the website there. We were publishing English language books, but I was living in French-speaking Switzerland. It was me and the founder. So how else do I find people to buy these books? I find them online, right? So I had to generate an audience online.
Then I moved back to the States in 2010 and got a job full-time basically building links for a small agency in Philadelphia, and then leveraged that into a spot with Distilled when they opened up their New York office.
I was actually fortuitously in London for their first ever Link Love Conference. I was visiting friends in Switzerland. The agency I was working for had sent my two coworkers to a conference in San Diego. I was like, “Well, I'm already going to be in Europe, would you guys pay for me to fly from Switzerland to London and back to go to go this conference in London?” And they're like, “Yeah, sure, no problem, cheaper than sending you to San Diego.”
So I went and it was there that they announced they were opening up a New York office. I didn't want to move to New York. Actually, I was like, “Dang it! I really don't want to move to New York, but Tom Critchlow is opening up this office. I really want to work for Tom. I'll give it a go. I'll apply.” Tom likes to say — Tom’s now one of my best friends — that I basically pestered him to give me an interview until he finally gave me an interview. And then he basically hired me and then emailed Duncan who's the co-founder of Distilled and said, “Hey, so I need that hiring budget, because I just hired my first person.” There you go.
Brian Clark: That’s the way to do it. For a relatively young man, you have seen a lot, and you've been in employment situations, you've been in freelance situations and now, you are the founder of a SaaS startup that is apparently succeeding. You seem comfortable with change. Is that fair to say?
John Doherty: I would say I've had to become comfortable with change. Yeah, I don't know. I feel like I always put myself in these situations where I just have to learn, I have to level up, and my personality thrives off of that.
Why Did This Article Resonate So Strongly With You?
Brian Clark: Yeah. I guess that's part of why this particular article, it's called actually, 13 Things That Will Happen When You ‘Level-Up’ as a Person. When you go through these initial, like the initial nine or 10, they all sound terrible. Yet as a person and as an entrepreneur, I am so familiar with this and I put myself in these positions where I'm no longer bored, but I'm also no longer comfortable and I'm no longer 100% confident that I know what I'm doing.
I mean, I always have a certain amount of confidence, because I've been doing it for 20 years, right? That even if I fail, it's not going to be a disaster necessarily. But you’ve got to stretch and lean into it a little bit.
What was it about this that really hit you a couple of weeks ago? It seemed like maybe just the phase you're in right now with Credo. I know it's challenging even if it's doing well, right? People don't always understand. Even when a business is succeeding, it's still tough. It's still challenging.
John Doherty: Absolutely. The way I like to say that to people is, “They’re growth problems.” They're good problems to have, but they’re still problems. They’re still something you have to solve. It's still stressful. Even when you reach a certain point – I, by no means, would say that my business has succeeded.
I would say that we're doing pretty well, but I'm a typical entrepreneur. I always want to do more. I always want to go faster, I'm never satisfied for better or for worse. I think it drives my wife crazy sometimes, where she's like, “Just relax a little bit.” I'm like, “But I don't want to. I like pushing hard. I like being uncomfortable.”
But, as you said, they are still very much problems that we have to solve. I think the thing that resonated with me is I've been doing this for two and a half years. I pivoted my business model three times and have been through a bunch of things that worked, a bunch of things that didn't work. Basically with each stage that you get to, you have to figure out what's going to then take you again to the next level. Because what took you from level one to level two isn't going to take you from level two to level three. Otherwise, you'd already be at level three. So you're constantly reinventing yourself if you want to push harder, if you want to grow your business more.
What hit me this year, I'm actually calling 2018, “My year of no hustle,” which is ironic, because I've been working a ton recently because of just being flat out on my back and being like, “All right, I'm just going to work hard.” But I'm also learning to be a CEO. I'm learning to be a boss. I've hired two new people this year, and I brought on my developer into a bigger engagement. So I basically have three people that are doing consistent work for me every week, every month with defined roles and things that I can be like, “Hey, can you get this done? Hey, what do you need from me?”
I'm going from me doing everything basically for a little over two years of my business to basically building out a team and learning how to be a manager. And then at the same time, trying to punch up to the next level of revenue, of business, of relationships with people, all of that. I found that really, really challenging recently.
The first bullet point in that post is, “Your confidence will drop.” A couple of weeks ago, I was like, “What am I even doing? Do I have any business actually running my own company?” Because it just felt like everything was breaking. We were about to push out a new software release and for some reason, our lead generation volume had dropped a bit. It's now come back up, but it had dropped a bit. And I was like, “Did I completely screw something up?”
One of my consulting clients stopped working with me, because their business was imploding. Picked up another one, but it was still all this stuff. And I was having pains, like sciatica pain, shooting down my right leg, which doesn't help things out. But it was still like, “All of this stuff is going on.” And I was basically questioning, “Should I even be running my own company?”
And then it was good to realize that other people go through this as well. Talking with other entrepreneurs and reading this post, I was like, “Wow, this is what happens when you're really trying to push.” Whether it's leveling up who your friends are, sometimes business changes and your life changes and you know what? Some of the friends you've had before, it sounds bad and I hate to say it, but some of the friends you've had before just aren't in the same place as you anymore, or you're not in the same place as them.
So relationships change and you're forming new relationships and other relationships are kind of waxing off and you're not seeing those people as much. It's just the change that comes with life. But when it all hits at once, you're just like, “Oh my gosh, what is even going on?”
And we were buying a house, so…
What Drove You to Pivot Your Model a Few Times?
Brian Clark: One thing that article touched on that I'm super familiar with is the distinction between opportunities and distractions. When you're entering into your next phase, your next level, you're bombarded with new opportunities, but are they? And that can be one of the most difficult things.
Now, you mentioned that you've pivoted on your model a few times. Was that basically adaptability based on what you saw or did you see new opportunities that seemed better than what you were dealing with?
John Doherty: Brian, I would say it was pure survival instinct. Not even instinct, it was all the numbers seemed to be going in the right direction. Why is my revenue not growing and why is my business not growing and why am I working 80 hours a week when I shouldn't be?
I've never taken a business class in my life. I used to brag about that. Now, I think it's absolutely a liability and I should go back and take some business classes.
But basically, I had a business model that incentives weren't good both ways, where the more work I sent to someone, my business basically wasn't making any more money. So I was basically just continuing to make a lot of other people a lot of money, but my business wasn't going anywhere.
What I've had to do is — and I don't know if I'm alone in this, I suspect that I'm not. But for some of us, especially a lot of entrepreneurs, it can be very hard to reach out to other people for help. Because the Silicon Valley model tells us…I know you're not in this, I'm not in it, but I lived in San Francisco for three years. It's just, “Everyone is crushing it all the time.” And it's totally not true.
There are very hard things that happen in business and I'm not crushing it all the time. I would say more of the time than not, I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing at all. I'm trying to learn how to do better marketing automation. I'm learning how to be a better manager and all this stuff, and I'm struggling.
If you keep all of that inside, I think other people have talked about this on your podcast as well, but I have some struggles with mental health myself. My whole family does — depression and that sort of thing. I'm not on medication, but I have some biological stuff that I take medicine for every day. It’s like basically a mood stabilizer, and I'm perfectly comfortable talking about that.
We have these things that go on that affect each of us individually and that can make it harder to succeed or just to manage all the things that are going on. And I've found that I can't do it alone. I don't want to try to do it alone. So I very much try to get in touch with people that are a bit ahead of me — two, three steps ahead of me in their careers. And there are some that are four or five steps ahead of me in their careers that I basically consider mentors as well.
Reaching out to these people through friends, getting introductions from friends, being open with other friends. Like, “Hey, I'm struggling with this. Do you know anyone I could speak with?” And they're like, “Oh yeah, you should totally talk with this person.” They email them. They're like, “Yeah, a friend of yours is a friend of mine,” and they hop on the phone with me and they become a mentor. That is the thing that's been pushing me forward constantly.
In the last couple of years, as my business has gotten to the point where literally I cannot handle it on my own, I very much hit that breaking point. I was like, “I have to start hiring people.” Having those mentors on my side, and then now having a team working on stuff with me, that has very much pushed us to the next level and pushed me to the next level and has made me learn new things as well.
Brian Clark: Yeah. This show is all about pulling back the curtain on the myth, especially the Silicon Valley mindset. I mean, it's a joke, right?
John Doherty: Totally.
Brian Clark: When you put up the armor all the time and you're not connecting with people on an authentic basis who understand the things you're going through — because they've been there, right? That's the worst thing we can do as entrepreneurs, is isolate ourselves and think that everyone's Instagram feed is reality. It's not. It's carefully curated. Only the highlights. If I posted all my bad moods, God, it would be a train wreck.
It sounds like a couple of weeks ago you really got some really timely reinforcement that, “Hey, I'm not alone. This is what everyone goes through.” And I hope, it sounds like you came to the conclusion, “I'm not doing all that bad. I'm doing the best I can, and it's working.”
John Doherty: Yeah, totally. I think I’ve very much come to that and a lot of those things are still there. The problems haven't gone away just overnight, they never do. But by a, realizing that I'm not alone and this is natural and it's happening because hopefully, I'm on the cusp of a bigger and better business. Those two don't always come hand in hand, but that's very much what I'm trying to build. That you have to go through the fire, right? Diamonds become diamonds, because they're just put under so much pressure for a long amount of time. And they come out something that De Beers has told us is very valuable and in short supply, which is totally not true.
The point is diamonds are made, because they're put under pressure. It’s that same thing with businesses, it’s the same thing with people.
There's this guy I follow on Instagram, his handle is semi_rad – semi underscore rad, I believe. He's actually based in Denver. He’s involved in the outdoors industry and he just posted a photo today on Instagram where it basically shows a long under the line, under the radar, someone just slogging it out, and then it's a hockey stick above the lineup “Success.” And the question is, “Wow, how did you do this so quickly?” It's like years of time of just slogging it out and no one sees. It’s the whole “Seven years to overnight success” thing.
Brian Clark: I usually say 10, but it's the same concept.
John Doherty: Yeah, totally. 7 years, 10 years, whatever. It's a lot of years. I look at my business and I'm like, “Man, I feel like I should be so much further ahead.” And then I look at, “I've been doing this for two and a half years.” And actually, when I put that into context, it's like, “Wow, actually doing okay.”
So I think it's that combination there, Brian, of realizing that a, you're not alone. None of us are alone in this. Hopefully, we have friends that we can reach out to when we're struggling to say, “Hey, I'm not doing okay right now. Can you help me out?”
Then b, putting it into context. Saying, “Okay, what are my expectations for this?” I might not be meeting my own expectations, but let's take a real look at it and say, “Okay, I'm two and a half years in. Am I doing well? Can I still pay my bills? Am I happy doing what I'm doing? Is my team happy? Are my customers happy?” At the end of the day, that's what matters.
What Is Your Advice to Listeners? How Can They Tell If Discomfort Is Due to “Leveling Up” or to True Overwhelm?
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. So, what is your advice to someone out there who may be listening and maybe they feel overwhelmed? What's your advice for being able to tell whether, “Okay, I'm just leveling up and this is what everyone goes through and I’ve got to stick it out” versus someone who's like, “I'm really in over my head and I should stop?” I mean, it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes. But what would you say to someone?
John Doherty: It can, yeah. So I would say two things. And I've definitely had things that I quit doing, because I was like, “This just isn't worth it.” I would say two things.
One is get some space. Everything feels really hard when you're in it, when you're just directly in it. If you're sitting in front of your computer 12 hours a day and you're just absolutely exhausted, you're not getting sleep, you're not eating well, you haven't gotten any exercise. Go do that. Take half a day.
When I lived in San Francisco, I would take every Friday afternoon. I would shut my computer at 1:00, I'd grab my dog, throw him in the car and we'd go to the beach for three hours just to get space every single week. Those three hours were probably more productive than most of the rest of my week, because I was just able to get space from it, not directly be thinking about things, and things would kind of work themselves out. I'd get a lot of clarity during that time.
That's the first thing I would say. Make sure you're taking care of yourself and getting some space.
Then, the second one is reach out to people that are smarter than you, that are ahead of you. Maybe you're connected with them on Twitter or a mutual friend has introduced you or you saw them speak at a conference. Something they were talking about is something that you're feeling right now, a challenge you're having. Email them, say, “Hey, I'm so and so. I saw you speak at this conference and you said this. Can I ask you a couple of questions about it? I'm struggling with that in my business.”
I've been amazed at how many people are willing to email you back and be like, “Yeah, absolutely. Send them through.” It's a simple ask. To get out of your own mind, get out of yourself and go talk to the people that have done it before, because they will give you an incredible amount of insight. They might only have to say three sentences and you're like, “Holy crap, that just completely changed my perspective on my whole business.”
Quit trying to figure it out yourself, quit trying to reinvent the wheel. There are people that have been through this before that are more than happy to help you out.
Brian Clark: It's interesting, because we've had recent shows…I talked to Dan Pink about timing and how important taking breaks and doing them outside, how it rejuvenates you, and like you said, gives you space. But then we've had another show on just avoiding the isolation that some of us feel working alone by intentionally forming your own networks out there. And those are also support networks that help with your mental health.
John Doherty: Right, exactly. I very much try to do that. That's actually one of the big reasons why we moved from San Francisco to Denver. I mean, there were other reasons as well, the expense, etc., we wanted to be near to the mountains. But I found it extremely hard to build a really good group of peers and such in San Francisco, because it was a different mindset towards building businesses.
I feel like I was pretty insane from bootstrapping a business. I bootstrapped it to six figures in annual revenue while we were living in San Francisco. But there weren't a lot of people there bootstrapping their own business. Everyone was hustling and trying to get funding and all that. And I was like, “That's not how I'm trying to build a business.”
Sometimes it's going to involve making some big changes to your life as well. You don't have to move from the city where you are to somewhere else, but don't take things off the table when you're trying to punch up to the next level. I think everything should be on the table for reconsideration.
Brian Clark: Yeah. Spending time actually building a product instead of trying to raise money. What a concept.
John Doherty: Amazing, right?
Brian Clark: Yes, yes, yes. Don't get me started on that. This has been fantastic. It's been great to talk, and we definitely need to get together more often here since we're both within 30 minutes of each other at least.
What Is Your View of SEO Today for the Business Owner with Limited Funds?
Brian Clark: I feel like I need to pick your brain on behalf of the audience on your view of SEO today for the little person who maybe can't afford to hire a link building specialist. I'll say content, but there's more to it than that. What do you think?
John Doherty: Yeah. The link building front, absolutely, I would say the best link building is driven by content.
Ahrefs.com is one of the most popular tools. SEMrush is another one. If you look at either of those, if you plug in my domain, you're just going to see basically a straight line up. I mean, like a 45-degree angle up of domains linking to my site and all of that.
I haven't done any active link building. It's all been about content. It's been podcasts like this. It's been guest posts. It's been through connecting with good people and getting those connections and putting out content on my site, and having it referenced.
There are a lot of people out there now in the SEO world, or not even in the SEO world, just people that are learning about SEO, they want the silver bullet. I talked to a startup a few months ago and they were like, “We get that SEO is a holistic thing and that the whole company needs to be involved, etc. But we just need the six quick tips that'll get our SEO to the next level.” I was literally told this on a phone call. I was like, “I can't help you out, because you say one thing, but actually what you're wanting is not actually going to help you out.”
What I tell people is, especially if you have a small business, you have a WordPress site, you're becoming a food blogger or whatever, go learn the basics. The basics are going to get you 90% of the way there. As DHH at Basecamp says, it will get you 97% of the way there.
Learn how to write great content that people actually want to read, people want to share, people want to link to. Build relationships with good people. Learn the basics of the technical stuff. If you're on WordPress, there are so many guides out there to SEO. Install Yoast SEO and read their documentation, read their helpful articles and implement on your site watch.
Watch Moz’s Whiteboard Friday, which Rand Fishkin used to do and now there are some other people doing it now that Rand has left the company. Watch those. You can learn most of the stuff that you need to know there, and then it all comes down to implementing it.
Once you've gotten to the point where you're super busy, your business has grown and you're worrying about partnerships and all this other stuff, at that point, then you have the budget to hire someone.
But when you're first starting out, you need to dig in and actually learn it yourself. Then your business a, can survive. And then b, when you're going to hire someone, you know how to basically vet out, figure out if they're actually good at what they're saying that they can do or not.
There Is No Silver Bullet
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. You sound like me, but I just love to hear an experienced SEO say the same thing. Sometimes it seems like people don't want to believe you. They do want the silver bullet. I'm like, “There's no silver bullet. It's really about building an audience and through the process of that, Google figures out that you're putting out some good stuff.” It sounds too vague for people. Again, they want the super-hot tip, but I'm afraid it just doesn't exist.
John Doherty: Totally. When it comes to people that have products, whether it's a SaaS company or something like that, or you're offering specific services, marketing services, or I don't know, dog walking services, yeah, you do need to do the basics. Do your keyword research, figure out what people are searching for and create those specific pages. It's not just about editorial content.
I think sometimes you love editorial content, I love editorial content. I love blogging. I've been blogging for probably 16, 17 years now. I absolutely love writing. Content isn't just editorial content on your site blogging. That can be a huge part of it. It's a great way to build links. But also make sure that you have pages dedicated to the specific things that you're doing that people are also searching for.
Brian Clark: Yeah.
John Doherty: If you have proposal software, don't just have your homepage that says, “Proposal Software” and a Pricing page and an About page, and then your blog.
Who are your best customers? Are you doing proposal software for small businesses, for lawyers? Who are you doing it for? Go to Google.com. Start typing in “Proposal software for…” Hit space. Don't hit enter (I got this tip from Will Reynolds) and guess what? Google will autosuggest all of the things that people are searching for the most often, starting with those words that you put in.
If you use a Chrome extension, like Keywords Everywhere, you can see also the search volume that Google is willing to tell us from their AdWords tool — how many times a month people are searching for those keywords?
What’s Your Favorite Keyword Tool?
Brian Clark: What's your favorite keyword tool right now?
John Doherty: Oh man, that's a great question. There are so many. I would have to say that Ahrefs.com is my favorite keyword research tool right now, because it gives me insight into what I'm already ranking for. You can see the keywords that you're on page two for, that you can bump onto the first page and start getting traffic for. Then you can also see what your competitors are ranking for. They have a really big keyword database. It's the best one that I’ve found. That tool’s pretty expensive. I think I pay them, I don't know, like 100 bucks a month or something like that.
Keywords Everywhere is a free Chrome extension that can get you a long ways there. Moz has some free tools that'll help you out. The AdWords tool is completely worthless at this point basically. For keyword research for SEO, yeah, it's not useful. But I would say start with Keywords Everywhere. As I said, Moz has some free tools. Then, if you have the budget to get one SEO tool, I would either get Ahrefs or SEMrush is the other one that I recommend as well. I pay for all of them.
Where Can We Find You?
Brian Clark: Excellent. John, thank you so much for being here. Tell people where they can find you.
John Doherty: Sure, thanks for having me, Brian. My website is getcredo.com. The best place to personally get in touch with me is on Twitter. It's my last name, Dohertyjf – John Francis; Dohertyjf. I'm on there and super responsive. So, hit me up on there.
Brian Clark: Awesome. Thanks, John. Take care of that back. I'll see you on the trails.
Everyone out there, thanks for tuning in and keep going.