I Started An SEO And Lead Gen Agency With No Experience And Took It To 110K/Month
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Deepak Shukla and I am the founder of Pearl Lemon. Our flagship service is SEO and more recently B2B lead generation services. Our clients range from small businesses all the way up to public companies that are interested in generating more leads and sales for their business.
Today as of February 2022 we generate between 80-110K per month. I founded the company in October 2016 but it’s in August 2017 that I believe our true beginning starts - and I’ll go on to explain why!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
So I started the business when I was 30 after having a bit of a breakdown at what became the end of my 3-month stay in the Netherlands. I was in Amsterdam for my actual birthday and spent the afternoon crying having spent the last year pursuing endurance events and races across Europe.
It was time to come back home to London and start a company. Being British-Indian, being ex-Deloitte and having believed I had some talent - I felt disappointed that at 30 I had nothing to call my own. So I returned back to my folks place and resolved to continue my entrepreneurial journey - but with a renewed seriousness.
My birthday was in August , and by October I registered Purr Traffic with my friend Nick Ellison. Ultimately we ended up not being the best fit as business partners and so in June of 2017 we split and I become the sole director of Pearl Lemon Limited.
Over the course of those 8 months I took any work I could find basically. But it was George who changed my career. George is a wholesaler of party store supplies. I distinctly remember in August of 2017 when we had our first call that he explained that he was happy to wait 3-6 months for the results of our SEO work. I’d never had an SEO client in my life up until that point nor had I done any SEO training.
But I won the work, and so my YouTube, Udemy and blog fuelled learning and ‘delivering’ journey began.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I had always been interested in marketing. Through my 20s one of my biggest skills was starting small businesses and being able to position myself as an expert (much like SEO :). Smaller businesses I had started include Deep Impakt Recordings (a recording studio), Gobsmackers (a tutoring agency), and being a careers advisor known as the CV Guy.
Fast forwarded to the Pearl Lemon Group today - and the first service we launched was Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). I decided to setup an outsourced team and made many mistakes trying different remote teams ranging from Birmingham to Sydney to Ahmedabad (where my current team is based today).
I think looking back upon the whole experience of developing our positioning and the team - I wish I did the SEO for our first client instead of finding a team to execute it. I think I would have learnt alot more and then longer term it would have been better for the overall company development.
Not getting my hands dirty cost me alot over the years.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For us, I got lucky living with my parents, so the initial startup costs were mostly in relation to the website set up and hosting. My drive to be successful pushed the business to launch with the only other costs being travel and..well nothing.
LinkedIn was a big part of my journey - I went viral on their a couple of times and that led to us finding our first tranche of clients.
From here I also setup an Upwork profile and pitched daily. Upwork has actually been excellent in bringing in clients - I still use it today to win clients even though the bulk of our leads come in via organic traffic.
The first 2-years I really worked upon building a dependable pipeline of clients through cold outreach, LinkedIn, Upwork, Facebook and more. It’s only truly been in the last 6-months I’ve been able to take the time to allow SEO to drive our enquiries.
The whole process of launching the business has really been about grafting every day to do outreach, pitch and win clients whilst in parallel trying to build the brand - and the brand growth now has been instrumental in helping us win new clients.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Due diligence has been the biggest thing regarding attracting and retaining our customers. For us this means we have had to do constant link building and constant content production to attract clients. Additionally demonstrating our work, case studies and reviews, is also critical in attracting clients. Video interviews and case studies were super important as not many marketing agencies were doing this. It set us apart and demonstrated our expertise.
Clutch has worked great for us. We spend about $1500 a month to help us generate leads from Clutch. Further more, cold calling has also begun to become as important as cold emaill. Linkedin has also proven useful for lead generation.
Be sure to spend time building up your own name and tying that to the business...it helps build trust and authority.
Drift, our live chat bot, helps us with inbound leads. We have team members monitor drift and chat with prospects as they engage with the chat feature. From here we ask for a phone number and have a sales team member reach out and call in real time.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The Pearl Lemon Group is in the process of expanding into other services and niches and we plan on continuing to do this.
Starting with SEO and lead generation, we have also expanded into the PR space, web design and development, accounting, recruiting, SaaS tools, and more. We have grown to a team of 60 distributed as SEO specialists, content writers, group leaders and more. We have six core leaders that then lead their respective teams.
Today we are doing great, we have had record months in terms of leads coming in. Our goal is to have 1000 leads come through each month within 18 month.
Additionally, we have been able to expand into other niches. We are currently building a no code development studio and a no code gaming studio.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The biggest lesson learned has been the need for continual iteration of processes and the business. There is a need to continually test and tweak things as needed to improve and scale-up. This has meant keeping up with best practices and going through trending keywords week by week and making adjustments as needed.
I wish I would have thought more about our website positioning and who our target client was in the beginning. Changing the name from Purr Traffic to Pearl Lemon and changing a lot, in the beginning, felt like lost work and having to restart after rebranding.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Pearl Lemon is on a variety of platforms. Clutch and Upwork have been great platforms for reviews and generating our leads. Additional review platforms include Agency Spotter, Design Rush, GMB are a few other platforms as well. We have over 15 listings across various review sites.
Trackabi is our chosen tool so our team can track work hours. This is critical because our team is so widespread and works different hours that this allows for individual time tracking. Trello is our go-to for task tracking as well, everyone has their kanban board to track the status of their tools.
Linkedin Sales Nav, Sendzilla, Zoominfo, Mailshake, and a few other tools are critical to our internal and external lead generation campaigns as well. This also includes CrazyCall as our power dialer. The combination of these tools allows for omnichannel lead generation and data to be scrapped.
Other productivity tools include LastPass to save passwords, Whereby to host meetings, Monosnap for screenshots, Grammarly to ensure there are no errors for grammar or spelling in documents, Loom for screen recording, and Krisp.ai for blocking out background sound. Pearl Lemon has also begun the development of our own tools to help with our productivity and overall effectiveness. Some of these tools include Lemlinks, Send Koala, Serpwizz, Upform and more.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There have been a variety of influential books and resources I would recommend as a part of the business owner and start-up journey. Two books I would recommend would be the 10x rule by Grant Cardone and Atomic Habits by James Clear are also highly recommended.
David Goggin’s Can’t Hurt Me is great for motivation and productivity. How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Charisma Myth are both good for improving your sales and people skills.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Invest in your brand and your business as a brand. You want to be seen as an expert in your field and your business to be seen as the best or an expert agency in whatever you do. Be sure to spend time building up your name and tying that to the business...it helps build trust and authority.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently looking for web/web app developers and a variety of other positions.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Pearl Lemon
- Pearl Lemon Leads
- Pearl Lemon PR
- Pearl Lemon Content
- Pearl Lemon Sales
- Pearl Lemon Accountants
- Pearl Lemon Web
- Pearl Lemon Recruitment
- Pearl Lemon Group
- Our official story
- Our PR process
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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