Update: How We Hit Our Best Month In 2022 And Pulled In $55K

Published: December 19th, 2022
Justas Markus
Founder, Get Found XL
Get Found XL
from Vilnius
started August 2016
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hey everyone. My name is Justas Markus, and I’m the co-founder of a search-focused content marketing agency GetFound XL. We have been specializing in link building for the last 3 years at least.

The years 2021 and 2022 have been great for us. The best month so far this year, we pulled in $55K.

Since the last time we talked, we leaned in heavily on doing things that help us scale - custom scripts, using OpenAI GPT-3 to classify keywords, writing a custom Python web crawler to find best-undiscovered link-building opportunities, using machine learning to help us classify millions of websites.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

We have grown to 5 full-time employees and a dozen part-time specialized contractors. Our most considerable growth came from inside sales. We’re just constantly iterating on how to bring the best value for our existing customers, sometimes at the expense of reaching out to new potential leads.

Last year we focused on streamlining our operations, ensuring that all processes we do regularly are written down and common issues are addressed. In best cases, a video walkthrough is also recorded. We used Loom for that.

This has helped us start hiring without hesitation, as we know we won’t need to spend as much time training new people as we have all these procedures documented. So we can onboard new people more quickly.

If you assign a task to someone else but need to answer questions and make decisions to get the task done - you’re not delegating. You’re deciding.

But probably most importantly, we worked on automating a lot of the repetitive work. The whole agency is now run thanks to various custom Python scripts and Chrome plugins.

In recent years, the hot new thing was AI and GPT-3, so we investigated how these emerging AI tools can be used in link building.

We concluded that there are some promising tools like Jasper (now a billion-dollar company), which can be used to quickly put together a simple article. Yet it’s easily detectable by anyone who knows where to look.

So, of course, Google can also tell if the content is written with the help of these tools. We concluded that these AI tools are not yet mature enough to be used for our purposes. So, we are sticking with our tried and true methods.

Overall, it has been a great year for us, and we are excited to see what the future holds. We are constantly innovating and expanding our capabilities, and we are confident that we will continue to be successful in the years to come.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

The biggest challenge in the last year has to be the war in Ukraine, as we have employees, freelancers, and clients from the country.

The conflict has made it difficult to communicate and collaborate with our team members and clients in Ukraine. We had to cut ties with multiple freelancers and SAAS service providers from Russia.

The instability has also made it difficult to plan for the future. We’ve tried to stay positive and remain productive despite the challenges, but it hasn’t been easy. We’re hopeful that things will settle down soon. In the meantime, we’re doing everything we can to support our team members and clients in Ukraine.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The biggest lesson has been to trust that others can do the job just as well as I can. I have learned to accept that I need to train people to do 70% and then get them to 80% through feedback.

It’s a slow process, but one that I’m committed to. This has been a tremendously difficult but necessary step to grow the business.

It has been exciting to see others take on new roles and responsibilities and watch the business continue to thrive.

This frees up my time to focus on high-value tasks, like building relationships with potential clients. I am confident this is the right decision for the company’s long-term success.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

There will be a massive explosion in the amount of content produced with AI in the next 5 years. With GPT-3, the upcoming GPT-4, DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, and other tools. The results they produce are spectacular and creative, and it’s scary how fast things are moving.

The tides have shifted in the constant battle between Google and black hat SEOs. AI-based tech, like deep learning-powered language models, specifically GPT-3, is giving spammers a significant leg up.

Combining that with other AI tools will enable mass video and audio content production. It will take Google a significant effort to free search engine result pages from AI-generated content - and at this point, I’m not even convinced it’s something they want to do.

So in the next 5 years, our client’s web properties and sites will compete with these new AI-based content productions.

Despite the talks of many about how links will become less relevant, I don’t think that’s exactly true. Moving forward, the expertise and authority of the website will play an overwhelmingly important role, the authority which is often established by websites linking back to your content.

If we can survive the coming recession, I think we will become stronger as an agency, with even more companies waking up to the importance of building links as a necessary part of their content marketing strategy.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

My co-founder gave me a copy of “Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself” by Mike Michalowicz.

I’m not usually one for business books, but this one spoke to me. It’s all about designing your business so it can run itself, so you can only focus on the things you’re passionate about.

It’s a great book for entrepreneurs who want their businesses to run like well-oiled machines.

It’s very anti-productivity and helps entrepreneurs see the difference between delegating and deciding more clearly.

Most entrepreneurs, especially those at the beginning of their journey, think about delegating wrong.

If you assign a task to someone else but need to answer questions and make decisions to get the task done - you’re not delegating. You’re deciding.

If your employees do the work, but you make every decision for them, you will not be able to grow beyond 2-3 employees.

Clockwork has helped me to think about my business differently. I now think that my role as a CEO of the agency implies that my priorities should be hiring, vision, and ensuring employees have what they need to succeed.

I particularly liked a quote from the book that said that entrepreneurs work like animals. Even if they hate it, they are familiar with it. And when you’re familiar with something, as ugly as it is, it’s easier to just keep doing it. But “doing what’s familiar will land you in a rusty lawn chair, with a nut hanging out of your shorts.”

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Jim Barksdale famously said there are only two ways to make money: bundling and unbundling.

Look at the work that you’re already doing but not selling. Something that is just “part of the process” but is not part of the final deliverable. There’s probably someone out there who’s looking to buy exactly that.

For example, link building, which is our focus, it’s a productized service where we bundle together multiple smaller deliverables to get our clients the final result - a link from another website.

So there are probably 5 or 6 steps in between that can be sold separately. From scraping Google, a challenge in itself, to prospecting relevant websites and finding emails of the best people to target. All of these are valuable, if not to end clients, then to other agencies who are often looking to scale and need to outsource these steps.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I haven’t been able to hire a good salesperson, so if anyone wants to earn a commission from selling link-building services to tech companies, hit me up. We’re also looking for new link builders - if you have an uncanny ability to negotiate a discount on a link, I’d like to hear from you.

Finally, we’re always looking for talented junior content writers who can produce articles for our clients. If you’re a whiz with words and have a knack for creating compelling articles, we’d love to hear from you.

Where can we go to learn more?

Or email me at [email protected]