We Grew Our SEO Agency To $20K/Month In Just 6 Months

Published: February 13th, 2024
Ilias Ism
Founder, MagicSpace SEO
MagicSpace SEO
from Zug
started September 2023
Discover what tools recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books recommends to grow your business!
Want more updates on MagicSpace SEO? Check out these stories:

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! I’m Ilias Ism and together with my co-founder Sasha, we started an SEO agency called MagicSpace SEO. Our main clients are startups in competitive fields. As they grow, ad budgets are exploding up to $5-20k per month and they don’t even always bring in high-quality leads. We help them reach their audience through SEO by using our growth marketing skills learned from being ex-SaaS founders and marketing leaders.

We know how hard it is to get noticed and get rewarded for building a great product for years. Our mission is to get startup founders the traffic they deserve. We do that with content marketing, technical SEO, backlinks, partnerships, and affiliate marketing. All focused on ROI, revenue-based marketing, and performance-based SEO.

Unlike other SEO agencies, we prefer not to charge for our time, outsource as much as possible to offshore contractors, or mislead clients with poor-quality spammy backlinks. That’s why we focus on pay-per-lead models or revenue-share agreements to get our work done. If they make a lot of money, so do we.

Now, just 6 months after we started, we’ve grown to $20K MRR. Mostly coming in through affiliate partnerships and growth partnerships.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I always wanted to have a blog and write. I bought my first domain (illyism.com) in 2009 because I wanted to blog, and I started making my little website in Flash and some basic HTML drag-and-drop editors. I’ve gone through countless versions and learned much about web development, graphic design, and how to run a small Internet business.

Some years later, I started freelance graphic design and web development before I started college. Throughout my college career, I started indie hacking and working with clients to help them create their own websites.

I got two massive viral hits: Music Player for Reddit made it to the front page of Reddit /r/all and had a million visits in just a few days, then HowClothesShouldFit soon after. I quickly became known as an expert to my friends in Belgium, and when I graduated, someone recommended me as a great front-end developer.

With this new client, our work went so well that we started a startup soon after with a team of 4 co-founders. Over the next 4 years, we grew it from $0 to more than $1M ARR, 30 employees, and 20k B2B customers, entirely bootstrapped. Here is where I learned everything about running a tech startup as an entrepreneur and was involved with everything from sales, customer success, back-end, product management, and finance to marketing.

I wish I started earlier with SEO. My own website was stagnant for at least 10 years before I started taking it seriously and started to compete on the SERP.

Marketing quickly became my thing. As a technical person, I saw the value of tracking everything in funnels, clicks, conversion rates, getting backlinks, writing content, lead generation tactics, cold email, cold calling, and so on.

When our startup was acquired, I took a short break and met Sasha while surfing in the canary islands. Being slightly fed up with working with a bigger team, I wanted to run a startup my way. Always being inspired by digital nomads and indie hackers, we traveled around the world, making little products here and there and trying to reproduce the success.

But, still, as primarily a developer, I overfocused on the tech side and didn’t spend enough time on marketing. After a few of my indie products failed (like castpush and solvenote), I moved on to other ones like GradientPage and MagicBuddy.

Here, I started building the landing pages differently and creating free tools and pages to get more traffic through Google. Over time, I focused more on SEO and recreated my own personal blog and kept monitoring Google Search Console to see what works.

Still, the tiny projects didn’t make me ramen profitable. I started offering SEO to people I’ve worked with before, and with my professional network in Belgium, I had a lot of connections. Soon, I made more in 1 day with SEO than the entire year indie hacking on tiny products had provided.

So soon, having moved to Switzerland, Sasha and I started our new SEO agency having proven demand and our expertise; MagicSpace SEO was born.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

There are many ways to run an SEO agency. We had to learn what clients wanted, how they would find us, what services we provide, what to charge for them, and how to do our work properly.

First, we focused on creating a productized SEO agency and our first product was SEO strategy roadmaps and SEO audits. We would DM people on Twitter and started growing our audience there. We would help indie hackers and charge roughly $150 for an SEO audit. After doing a lot of 100% free audits to get started and build up our testimonials.

However, we had to spend a lot of time on this, sometimes 1-2 days for an audit and it made no sense to charge so little. Our SEO audit prices then grew to $250, and now we charge $450 for our audit (soon $950).


We also started running our first affiliate partnerships, we would promote Tag Parrot on our blog and get a tiny 30% referral bonus for every sale people would make. This also helped us get some backlinks from Tag Parrot to our site. Doing these types of deals helped us get more in touch with other builders and also grew our domain authority to 50+ DR in a short period of time.

We expanded to more productized services like link-building packages and our growth partnerships soon after.

Describe the process of launching the business.

We were still running MagicBuddy at this time, and this served as a perfect playground to experiment with SEO and link building. We would be able to tweet and do “SEO in public” to talk about what works or doesn’t. We would grow it to now 150 clicks per day from 0 just 6 months ago when we started. Now MagicBuddy is at $300 MRR, one of our “side projects” at our SEO agency, contributing to a total of $20k MRR across all our projects, SEO clients, and affiliate revenue.


With this, we convinced some bigger profile Twitter hackers to work together with us on a revenue-shared basis, or just in return for a great testimonial or shoutout. So we received some great tweets from them, which helped us get great leads quickly.


We also used this strategy for our SEO audits, we would offer a free audit in return for a tweet or a testimonial. So we made extra effort to make it nice. And this helped us to get a sample report as well that we could share.


But we’ve always taken bets to do good work. Because over time, we know we can get good results and really make a difference in growth for founders. Having seen other SEO agencies do it entirely the opposite. Getting slow-churning monthly contracts that only give them results over 6 months or a year! But it’s often a lie to charge more.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Currently, we work with just 1-3 growth partners as SEO clients. This is a tiny amount, but it allows us to focus on providing the best experience for our highest-revenue clients. Each best deal starts at around $5000 per month as a base fee, with bonuses on performance, via revenue share, or affiliate commissions.

Originally, we started providing SEO audits to 10-20 websites per month, but we noticed we’d spend days making a great SEO audit, but only receive $200 for it, which was not enough to make ends meet and provide a great service to everyone, so we had to scale to less clients but more revenue.

Twitter is amazing for growth. Together with SEO, it can truly help you get a bigger reach. What always worked is to provide unique value and be honest with feedback. If you give some tips, people will reach out and ask YOU if you can help THEM.



Together with building a high-value blog that can truly help your audience get their job done, you’ll be seen as an expert in the field and you’ll get organic traffic from Google.


Since having started SEO, my personal blog has exploded in traffic, backlinks and keywords. It’s something you can build on over time and each article is an extra pillar of value that keeps the foundation of your business strong. It’s hard to take that away from you. Even if you stop tweeting, sending newsletters, or other marketing activities, your Google traffic will not stop.

With a successful inbound marketing funnel, you can get leads and sales on autopilot.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We have been profitable since the beginning. As a breakdown of our current revenue streams: 70% growth partnerships, 20% affiliate revenue, 9% on-and-off backlinks or SEO audits and a final 1% from side projects like MagicBuddy.

Although our time of course can come at a cost. We have not hired yet, but we’re planning to expand to a few writers or junior SEOs at least to help spread the work and do better work for our clients.

However, we have been looking at other SEO models like rank and rent SEO and we made a great blog post about AI girlfriends that keeps bringing us new clients and interest in this niche. Virtual girlfriend apps want to be on this list, as it ranks at the top of Google, so we either charge for a placement or negotiate a higher commission.

We want to double down on affiliate marketing, as we can sell leads, products or clients instead of selling our time. If we can negotiate a higher commission, we can help creators of something like LinkedIn carousels (blog post on Swiss Observer, our news website) or Headshot Pro get real traffic whilst all we have to do is make sure our articles and links rank on Google.

These partnerships are some of the highest ROI deals we can do with clients and we want to do more work like this.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I wish I started earlier with SEO. My own website was stagnant for at least 10 years before I started taking it seriously and started to compete on the SERP. I made a lot of mistakes, like too long titles, and not focusing on the user intent, but it’s all part of the learning process.

Building tiny SaaS products that are not profitable quickly is just a waste of time. If I had thought about what I was doing before, and if it made sense, I’d have been at this point in half the time without building multiple failed apps. But I did learn how to build quickly and become a super generalist with skills in startups, development, and marketing.

I still struggle with impulsivity, and taking on too much work, which causes 80-hour work weeks and working through the weekends. In my previous startup, I did this for 4 years and it caused some burnout before I picked up running my own business again.

I’m glad I discovered other models for SEO. Like rank and rent, affiliate marketing, pay-per-lead, and growth based models. I think it’s difficult to sell your time without hiring a lot of staff, and the results are not always clear to clients.

I’ve also seen the value of an audience, and I sent out my first newsletter last week. I’ve been posting on Twitter daily for the last weeks and the results have been paying off, I grew to 3000 followers (+1000 just this month) since I started indie hacking seriously 6 months ago. I’m now reposting on LinkedIn and growing there as well.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The SEO tools that we use are SEMrush, Ahrefs, ScreamingFrog. These are the essentials. We use SPP for our productized services, our CRM, invoices, and payments.

Notion for reports and audits and for making a general plan to share between us and the clients.

Slack for communication and lots of email (with Spark). We always recommend our clients get a website indexing tool and, collect testimonials via Senja.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I listened to the E-Myth book, and it made me realize how much of the work I do “in the business” would just mean me coding or designing something.

Meanwhile, this book tells you that working “on the business” is that I have to structure, organize, delegate, and plan our processes and work.

We’d make SOP and general outlines for how to conduct an audit, what’s inside a backlink package, what are the exact steps to conquer a keyword, and so on.

So if someone would take over, they’d be able to keep running our SEO agency without us even being there, because all the steps are clear, written down, and outlined.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I think growing your audience is a great way to showcase your skills. Offer “free roasts”, “free audits” or free advice just to get your foot in the door and be seen as “that SEO guy” to everyone else. It worked really well for other productized agencies, and most of their clients come from Twitter.

I see a lot of people build in silence, working for months, not doing marketing. But if you focus on SEO you can avoid a lot of the mistakes early entrepreneurs make.

Do the keyword research FIRST, this is a valuable way to find if there is any demand for your product or service. If there is, you already have a very fast and easy way to get started if you just make a great first impression and alternative.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

  • We’re always looking for great content writers or junior SEOs who can help us spread out the work between clients and our own portfolio of websites. There is just so much to do.
  • We are always looking for partnerships and unique ways to grow a startup. We love to work on challenging projects and it’s always interesting to discover a new niche most of the indie hacking community does not know about.
  • Anyone can contact us here

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!