For this first “Friends Friday,” I did an interview with the wonderful Nick Eubanks of From The Future.
Nick Eubanks is the founder of From The Future, a really successful digital agency. He’s a legend in the SEO game, starting Traffic Think Tank, a place for SEO practitioners to collaborate and test ideas before bringing them to market. Nick’s latest venture is 7 Figure Agency, a training program to help entrepreneurs build scalable and profitable businesses.
An edited version of our conversation appears below.
How do you decide what to prioritize?
I have two processes that I use for prioritization.
In the first, you keep track of how you spend your time for one week. Don’t write down the individual tasks—write the activities. Once you have that list, put them in a delegation scorecard. it will have 4 columns: $5, $50, $500, $5000.
Ask yourself, “what’s the hourly rate I’d pay someone to complete this activity for me?” I realized that I was focused more on finite tasks, spending more time on the $5/hr and $50/hr items. The $500 and $5000 are harder for someone who isn’t me to do because these are less tangible like finding strategic partnerships, working on the brand and growing my company.
Once I have that scorecard filled out, I draw a line down the middle. I focus on finding other people to do the things on the left—like VAs and contractors. Starting out, I’d take some of my revenue and set aside $1000/week for a part time operations person to run the $50/hr column which is your operations column. And hopefully, this role would eventually transition into a full-time position.
The second process is to create three big rocks, or tasks you really want to complete. Set an aside an hour a week to work on one of them. They don’t need to be company specific—they can be personal like buying a house or going to your kid’s soccer game.
Were there any mistakes you made when you first started doing SEO?
My start in digital was in email marketing at Morgan Stanley. We would try thousands of phone extensions at companies to listen for their names and try to crack the email address pattern so we could then get their email addresses and slide past the compliance issues. That’s where my introduction to HTML and SEO started.
It’s really important for SEO strategists to really understand HTML and how DNS servers work to get the technical parts.
My first real start in search was as a marketing manager at a startup. They really wanted to rank #1 for GRC software, but nobody actually searches for that. So I worked hard and eventually got them to rank #1 for that term, but it didn’t help generate any ore leads. This was because I let the clients dictate the search terms, rather than letting my research speak for itself.
It’s all about intent. What are your perspective clients actually searching for? And I think a big problem with beginners is letting clients dictate what they want to rank for.
What are mistakes you see beginners frequently make?
Taking any client: the penny pinchers, those who pay late, the ones who think they know more than you do. I think a lot of people will read a bunch of blog posts and then assume that they understand SEO.
Also a lot of people hold onto what worked in the past, but SEO changes day-by-day, week-by-week.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people who are practitioners don’t show the actual work they’re doing. They just write blog posts and thought leadership pieces but they haven’t actually had a successful client in a while.
What made you want to start Traffic Think Tank?
TTT was an experiment. I had the idea in 2016 to create a peer group of SEO practitioners. I wanted to share the stuff we’re doing in a small, private place. At first, it was only 32 members. I just hosted webinars with them.
I really wanted to see if the SEO strategies that were working for me would work in other industries. And I hooked up with Matt and Ian who really helped propel TTT forward.
The goal was to build a private group where we could share ideas and test what’s working. It was almost like an SEO insurance policy. It meant that people could ask the community about new ideas before testing them on clients.
Tell me about 7-figure agency.
I was on a flight listening to Clockwork, and I realized that we needed one solid metric to gauge the success of our agency. We were great SEO practitioners, but we had to remember that we were also running a business. And I started to realize that most SEO strategists were also asking us about how to run the business side of their agencies.
There was no system out there to help you successfully run an SEO business, so I created one. And my hope is that this will become a community with two tiers of membership: one with a hard cap at 100 people, and another with 10 people and myself. Through that group, I can help instruct other practitioners in running a successful SEO business.