Founder of Linchpin SEO, Bill Ross, on creating value
How his background led him to start his own business
I’ve been working with agencies for a while. I started out when I lived in Raleigh and I worked for a pretty large agency. They went out of business rather suddenly, but I was intrigued when I started there. I knew I wanted to do something with design or computers since I was 10 years old, but just didn’t know how to actually take that and make it into something where I could make money.
A good friend of mine worked with a lot of start-ups and he developed for a company in North Carolina. We met and just started working together. I moved to Chicago and was doing Linchpin on the side for a while, just getting my client base built up. Then, I decided that it was time to do it full-time.
There was this need to be able to do things, and work with clients, in a way that I felt was the right way to do it. I ventured off about a year ago and have been doing it since.
Creating value for clients: blogging and link-building
We don’t do a lot of what I would consider more traditional advertising. We’re very much focused on the blogging, the inbound marketing side of things. Where we build our value and build client value through creating content of all types, whether that’s infographics, articles, videos or podcasts.
Our focus is really about creating value. We don’t look at it as a quantity play. We look at it more as: let’s create one great piece of content that we know the users of our business or the users of our client’s business will like enough to share on their social networks, or in best case, link to.
That’s really our basis, not only for creating that content, but also for our link-building campaigns. We’re not what I would consider a traditional type of link-building agency, we center on content and content is at the core of everything we do. We like to make sure that it is providing value to whoever is reading it.
The human element is the other portion of it. When it comes to link building, we like to first create that piece of content that we feel is putting our best foot forward, then doing the outreach through our connections, building those relationships from a human standpoint. We don’t usually do traditional outreach where we send out a ton of emails. It’s more that we have a select group of people that we know, that we have built relationships with, who have a group of followers or know somebody. So a lot of it is based in that kind of relationship building and then we use and leverage those relationships to help us for our clients.
That relationship is extremely important. It’s one of the most undervalued pieces of businesses, in my opinion. When it comes to link building, SEO or any type of marketing channel, that relationship is key.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek, I’m a huge fan of his. It’s very motivating for me. I’ve seen his TED talks a ton of times and it’s a great book.
His favorite tools of the trade
We use both Google Drive and Dropbox. I find Google Drive, with its integration with Google Docs, is helpful from a collaboration standpoint. We’ve dabbled with some other ones, but we always seem to come back to either Dropbox or Google Drive.
His Favorite Technology Giants
Apple is my favorite by far. They seem to follow that “why” before they start looking at product. They’re very focused on making sure the product fits in with what their overall vision is, so I would always go with Apple.
How he keeps a work/life balance
Work/life balance comes from defining and setting specific work hours. Sometimes that doesn’t always work, but, from an entrepreneurial or business owner standpoint, there’s not really any defined workweek. So for me to say, “Hey, I work Monday through Friday,” is not true. Some days it’s Monday through Thursday and then I take Friday and Saturday off and I work Sunday.
I try to keep that balance from a time standpoint and not look at it as; I have five days of the week, Monday through Friday, to get something done, but that I have X amount of hours in seven days. I can use those hours however I want. I can create something or help a client out, however I want to use those hours. I need to have and set aside a specific amount of those total hours for personal time, just relaxing or doing whatever.
His advice for other small business owners
It’s going to be challenging. Nothing happens overnight, but the best thing you can do is learn and evolve. Make sure you’re always in a position that you can turn, change and be agile. So that you’re not stuck in the same thing while the world is changing around you.