Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi there, my name is Bruce Jones and I am the Founder and CEO of 1ON1 SEO Training. I created my business two years ago, offering personalized search engine optimization and digital marketing courses for startups, small businesses, and individuals interested in learning about SEO and improving their businesses.
As a B2B company, I help businesses to not only improve their Google rankings and online presence but understand how to perform these processes on their own with one on one classes. I sell my knowledge to equip others for success.
Today, I have worked with dozens of businesses from all around the world and earn over $10,000 a month working out of my home office. I started serving local businesses in my area, which quickly expanded across the U.S., and now have clients as far as New Zealand and Ireland.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Before starting 1ON1 SEO Training, I had worked for 15 years in the SEO industry, where I successfully ran my own SEO and digital marketing agency, Design & Promote, for over 10 years. I built that business from the ground up, starting as the sole employee until it became a prominent business in the area with a full staff and multiple offices. Eventually, I got an offer I couldn’t pass up and decided to sell the business.
Sometimes people think that SEO is about broad strokes and taking general actions when in reality the situation needs to be looked at with a microscope to really pay off. Many times it is the smallest details that make the biggest difference.
With that business off my plate, it was time to take on a new project. I realized while running my agency that what I loved to do most about my job was teach others how to do SEO. In the past, I had become known for my “free services”, where I gave free consultations to clients that other companies normally charged for, and my free monthly seminars where other business people were invited to come and gain knowledge about search engine optimization. However, those moments had always been my way of giving back next to my business endeavors.
Ironically, my wife is a French teacher whose business I had helped build through years of SEO work. One day I thought about how she teaches classes from her own, and then the idea occurred to me that I could be doing the same with SEO, which has always been a passion of mine. I also figured that I could address a lot of the problems I ran into in my old business and rework them with my new one to better serve my clients - more about that later. This allowed me to offer a new and improved model for spreading the effectiveness and benefit of SEO to businesses.
With SEO being more important than ever for businesses and the need for such services growing tremendously, I decided to give it a go.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that personalized SEO classes could solve a lot of the problems that I had encountered with the traditional business model of selling SEO services through a digital marketing company.
For example, one of the biggest challenges I found with the traditional way that companies do SEO - which is outsourcing to an SEO firm - is that there is a financial and time commitment when it comes to working together because agencies make you sign a 6-month or one-year contract. There is a lot of trusts involved in that, which puts businesses off. I was able to understand this challenge and mitigate the risk by offering a month-to-month service - there is no contract and it is easier all around.
Another big inspiration from my agency life dealt with reporting. When you are a digital marketing company, you send your clients reports of the work you have done for them to prove you’re doing their job, but clients don’t know how to read these reports. They focus only on whether the phone is ringing or not to measure if the SEO is working. Unfortunately, SEO is a mechanism that takes a long time to show results, and not being able to understand the measurement points along the way means not understanding the value of what is being done. With my personalized training, I teach students how to read the reports and understand exactly how SEO is working for them, so that they can properly measure value.
Then, I had a cost-related issue. In my agency life, I was paying SEO guys to do basic SEO things, like add a business to a directory or change an image name. While these little steps are necessary for SEO, they are simple tasks once you are taught how to do them. So, in my new business, I decided that clients can learn how to do these tasks and perform them for themselves, This cuts down my costs and in turn, lets the client save money as well.
Finally, I launched my service which essentially looked like this: sign up for a month and get a weekly course teaching you how to do SEO with your business in mind, through a custom plan that strategically attacks the components that will offer the most value back for your business, rather than a routine step-by-step plan.
Describe the process of launching the business.
My initial business startup cost was 9 dollars. This was the price of the domain name that I needed to buy 1on1seotraining.com. From there, I was able to build my business by implementing my knowledge about SEO and digital marketing, with the exact methods that I teach.
The great thing about my business was that it was all virtual, meaning that I was able to work from home with the computer that I already had, and truly launch my business for next to nothing. I set up my webpage, created my business listing on Google, and started developing all of the tools and methods that I normally would teach to businesses on my own business.
The first step was to build a website that is optimized. Luckily, optimizing websites is what I do best. I was able to do the work that I would normally do for customers on my own site, like setting up a theme with the proper plugins and mapping my website, adding keywords and landing pages, getting started on off-page SEO, and more. With time, my website and brand became more established and I was able to move onto the more intricate steps of SEO, always trying to better myself.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
There are three main parts of SEO that I work on constantly for my business and others: 1) keywords, 2) content, and 3) backlinks. I divide my marketing strategy into these three main categories.
Keywords consist mainly of researching often for the right keywords and doing analytics to pick up on trends and evolutions. Then, I implement them into on and off-page SEO and strategize about when to use which one. I also keep track of the competition.
Content is all about developing my website and other GMB page. Here, I work on developing new pages, bettering my website to please visitors, and develop my blog and content.
With backlinks, I focus on off-page SEO and get my business to appear in directories and other important sites, This is actually one of the most overlooked parts to search engine optimization, and is key to making the difference between you and competitors.
I have learned that to retain customers, the best thing I can do is work closely with them and give them my knowledge. Based on these three main parts, and with a special focus on their business, we go through their website together during our hour together and make necessary adjustments. When people see the value and begin to see results, it is easy to keep working with them.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Less than two years later, my business is thriving. I work hard to keep up with trends and constantly evolve my business. When I am not working with my clients, I am actively looking for ways to boost my own rankings, make necessary changes to my website, gain authority, and add backlinks. A typical day for me involves having various Zoom meetings with clients, having consultations with prospective customers, doing some work on client websites, and doing some work on my own.
One tool that I use daily is Google Analytics, a very valuable tool in SEO for measuring search terms and trends. Below, you can see the different search terms related to my business and how interest related to SEO has grown. Of course, the number one way that people find me is through Google, as it should be for a search engine optimization specialist!
Each day, I work towards boosting my rankings for different keywords related to being a search engine optimization consultant and SEO training teacher. Below are two examples of my rankings in the Chicagoland area, where I am based, for “SEO consultant” and “SEO training”. As you can see, I have managed to get myself to the top of the search engine for these terms, particularly for “SEO training” where I have focused my efforts up until now. I do the same thing for my clients.
Nowadays, I am focusing a lot on expanding my geographical demographics. While I originally was focused on the Chicago area, I started getting clients from different parts of the country, thanks to my rankings for different search terms. This eventually led to international business. With everything being virtual, it is easy to work with clients anywhere, and this kind of practice has definitely picked up since the Coronavirus pandemic hit and people have had to adapt to digital working environments.
Google never wrote the bible for SEO. The best way to find out about SEO is not through books or published resources, but by doing experiments yourself.
While business is good, it can always be better, which is why I look for new niches in the market that I can corner to help me get more business.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Though I am an SEO expert, becoming a consultant and teacher has helped me to improve a lot in my own field. The thing with search engine optimization is that it is always evolving, and to stay at the top you need to evolve with it.
Working with so many businesses I have learned that you need to deal with SEO scientifically. Sometimes people think that SEO is about broad strokes and taking general actions when in reality the situation needs to be looked at with a microscope to really pay off. Many times it is the smallest details that make the biggest difference.
While I never made any huge mistakes (thankfully), I certainly have learned valuable lessons and applied them to improve my business strategy. For one, I improved a lot at marketing a particular clientele. I found out that I could get very good business from niches like realtors and vets, and made a name for myself within these industries that tend to be smaller and have local clients, and therefore benefit the most from SEO.
Maybe the most important thing that I learned in the process of starting 1ON1 SEO Training is that many people aren’t aware that they can do SEO for themselves. This meant that not many people were looking for that in the search engines. Since they typically look for SEO services or consultants, I have adapted my strategy to rank for those keywords as well, and then show them, my teaching model.
Out of my control has been the Coronavirus pandemic. Overall, it has been positive for my businesses, and I know that I am one of the lucky few. I noticed three main changes. First, before the pandemic, I was driving to meet with some clients or have them over to my office. Now, with only virtual training, I am saving a lot of time and have additional space for extra lessons.
Second, the world is different and people are stumbling into marketing who didn’t need it before, as they relied on location or their loyal clientele and now need to resort to using the Internet to stay in business.
Third, a lot of people lost jobs and started new ones, and they are looking to gain new skill sets and be successful. Since my service is low-cost and all-encompassing (it goes beyond SEO and caters to general business skills), they really enjoy it.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I have a whole lot of different tools and platforms that I use for my business. Since it is important to me to share these tools with my students to ensure their business’ success, I have created a long list of all of the favorite tools for search engine optimization, digital marketing, and more: with everything from keyword research tools to content creation inspiration to miscellaneous tools like a password memorization plugin for your computer. Check them out for yourself.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Google never wrote the bible for SEO. The best way to find out about SEO is not through books or published resources, but by doing experiments yourself. There is a lot of information out there about SEO, but also a lot of misinformation. I suggest that you always do the experiments for yourself and get your own answer.
I do have a few resources that I like to use when I have doubts or want to track what I am doing. Along with my list of resources above, here are a few places I often turn to:
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Through playing the SEO game for so many years, I’ve picked up some valuable lessons that really apply to any business. My biggest takeaway would be that in business, you need to think like a customer - make decisions based on what the customer would want or need, not what the system seems to ask for in exchange for success. The reason being that the system will change and your games will stop working, but the customer is always going to be right.
In SEO, I learned this with Google: the algorithm for top rankings is always changing, so adapting your strategy based on what seems to work for Google is only going to get you success for so long. If you try to make changes to your business based on what will genuinely help and serve your clients, then you are always going to be heading in the right direction. This can really be applied to all areas of your business.
My last bit of advice may sound a bit cliché, but it is to do something you are passionate about. I enjoy SEO and have fun doing it for free. For me, it is like a video game, only that it takes a bit longer to see if you made the right move as results take a couple of months to appear. If you want to be in the SEO industry, you really need to have a willingness to test things out and keep on learning.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
At 1on1 SEO Training, we are always hiring. I am eager to work with new people and benefit from their expertise, which is why I offer everyone to get in touch with me and see how we can collaborate. Even if you have your own business, we can find a way to work together. Visit my website to find out more!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Are you ready to boost your revenue?
Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!
Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!