This is a follow up story for SiteGuru. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi all, Rick here from SiteGuru! I started working on SiteGuru about four years ago. SiteGuru is an SEO tool for online marketers and website owners.
After working on SiteGuru as a side project for a couple of years, I’ve recently decided to quit my day job, and work on SiteGuru full time.
For a few months, I can now dedicate all my time to the project and that’s really paying off. My MRR was growing enough to give me the confidence and make the leap into being a full-time founder. So far I absolutely love it.
I was able to further grow my revenue to about $ 6000 a month. It pays the bills while I can do what I love, without the distraction of a full-time job.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Last time we spoke, my revenue sat around $400 a month. It’s currently around $ 6000, so a lot has changed. Let me take you through the steps.
Back then my main issue was that we did not have enough traffic. Without enough traffic, there’s hardly any sign-ups, no feedback, and definitely no paying customers.
To break through this cycle, we created a huge amount of content. We found specific SEO topics that weren’t covered, and created great content and tools around that. Not just simple articles, but extensive, readable articles that really answer people’s questions. Before long, we got much more traffic from Google:
This resulted in a lot of new users. And with tools like mine, the more users you have, the more feedback you get, and the better the product becomes. It’s a virtuous cycle.
One thing I learned was that most in-house marketers run a website audit once, make some changes, and then stop using the tool.
This is different for SEO agencies who run regular audits, but in-house marketers can’t only focus on SEO; they have so many other things to do. To help them manage their websites, we integrated data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Now, SiteGuru is no longer just an audit tool, but a dashboard that keeps you on top of all your organic performance. No need to dive into all these different tools. Our weekly update emails tell you everything. This was a game-changer: people wouldn’t just run an audit, but they kept coming back for updates and insights.
Now I had traffic and active users, but still not enough revenue. At this stage, we had lots of new sign-ups every day, but hardly anyone converted to a paying customer. Something had to change to make this a feasible business.
My main takeaway is to always focus on which problem you need to solve and use a data-driven approach to work towards a solution.
I worked together with a conversion specialist who coached me for 3 months. He helped me identify the problem and with some small tweaks to the product, pricing and messaging we managed to grow revenue to where it is now - and it keeps increasing.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
My main takeaway from this period is to always focus on which problem you need to solve, and use a data-driven approach to work towards a solution. This may sound boring, but it works.
I spent too much time focusing on the wrong things: changing paid plans when I didn’t have enough users that remained active. Link building when the real issue was people not converting. I worked really hard, but it didn’t get me any closer to my goals.
I’ve learned to first take a step back and identify what my main obstacle to more growth is. I define the KPI that I want to change and come up with actions to improve things. After making the changes, I’ll wait a while and go back to the data to see if it had any impact, and take next steps from there. This takes the guesswork out and helps me make better decisions.
Look back every week and every month at what you did, and how you grew. You’ll realize that despite the fact that your to-do list is far from done, the company is in a better position than before.
One of my challenges was to find the time to work on the project, especially when I was still working on my day job. With 2 kids, it’s always busy and hard to find focus time. I changed my daily structure and now I always (ok, almost always) get up at 5:30 AM.
This way I get 2 hours of super productive, uninterrupted work before the kids wake up. It’s a great start of the day, and really makes me feel like I’m a step ahead.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
In the short term I want to further improve the stickiness of the product: how can I keep helping people with great insights so they come back for more?
In the longer term, my goal is to make SiteGuru not just a great SEO tool, but also a tool that can be used by any marketer. The real challenge is adding the features that people need, while also keeping the tool simple and easy to use.
My dream is to make SiteGuru into the smartest SEO consultant out there. Run a crawl on your site and combine it with your Analytics data, and we should be able to give you some great insights into what to do to get more traffic. Just like a professional SEO consultant would, but fully automated.
I’m not there yet, but every step I take is aimed at getting better at helping people make the right decisions, without hiring an SEO consultant.
Also, working on SiteGuru full time is great, but I like some distraction now and then. So I’m starting up some new side projects, working with some newer technologies. Just to keep myself busy:).
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I got a bit tired of reading all the self-help and entrepreneurship books out there. There is some solid advice in most books, but you have to realize that it doesn’t always apply to you. Every person and every business is different, so being told by someone else what works is nice, but doesn’t always apply to you as a reader.
Instead, reading biographies is much more fun. I’m currently reading Creativity Inc. about Pixar. It’s a great book about how to work with creative people.
Amazon Unbound about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, and Billion Dollar Loserabout the drama at WeWork were also great reads: it’s inspiring to read about such ambitious people, but also a cautionary tail about growing too fast in an unhealthy way.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
As a solo founder, there are hundreds of things you need to worry about.
I always looked at my to-do list and thought: if I can just finish this list, the product is done and it will become a massive success.
The truth is, you’ll never be done. Success won’t come overnight. The more items you mark as done, the more new todos will pop up. This can feel unfulfilling, like you’re getting nowhere.
But it’s ok. You need to learn to enjoy the process. Look back every week and every month at what you did, and how you grew. You’ll realize that despite the fact that your to-do list is far from done, the company is in a better position than before. You’ll only see that by taking a step back, zooming out and getting out of the everyday hustle.
Where can we go to learn more?
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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