From School Coordinator to Digital Marketer with Holly Powell

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Stuart Trier: Hey guys, welcome to SEO Cheat Guides. Today I have Holly from joining me today. She’s going to tell you about her journey, hopefully share some tidbits that she’s learnt along the way, building her company from where it was to where it is today, and hopefully you guys are going to get a lot out of this. Holly, thanks so much for joining us today here on the show.

Holly: Thanks, Stuart. Thank you. Guess you can tell I’m nervous. I’m going to be Holly.

Stuart Trier: You got to be you, and I got to be me.

Holly: That’s right.

Stuart Trier: Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you came into digital marketing, and a little bit about your company and where you are today. Then we’ll fast forward and walk through some questions and let the audience hear where you’re at.

Holly: Okay. Well, first I’m a mother to one and a mom to four awesome, beautiful daughters, who are grown, and I’m Mimi to eight grandchildren, seven girls and one boy.

Stuart Trier: Wow.

Holly: Yeah. So I started my journey back … really truly I have to say it started back in 1981 with network marketing, you know, and saw my dad, he could never work for someone. He sold Tupperware, he sold Rubbermaid, and literally had parties in the home. I think I got that desire to work for myself way back as a child. I always thought and knew one day I would work for me. I didn’t know how at the point at that time, but I knew that it would happen. So I started with that, started with network marketing, and love that journey. I love that industry, and I still dabble in it.

But then along the way I saw this big disconnect where people were signing people up in the industry in MLM, and then they would say, “Oh, yeah, now you need a website. You need a autoresponder, you need this,” and the people, they’d just spent their last $500 to join the company, and then another group at that time was charging $1,500 for a three page website, who the people had no control over enough. Oh, they’re ripping people off. I don’t know how, but I’m going to figure out how to help these people and do it cheaper, and that started my journey.

Stuart Trier: That’s how most businesses start. Identify a problem, pain point that you can solve, and you had your niche. It’s a perfect start to the journey, absolutely. So getting into it, did you have any particular skills that brought you into the industry in terms of seeing that you’d be able to create a website or do any kind of digital marketing for them?

Holly: None.

Stuart Trier: What were you doing previous to digital marketing?

Holly: I had worked in a grocery store. I had worked cleaning houses, and a real estate office. Nothing to do with online. I did go to college way back with the floppy disc, you know, and we would programming, and one of my teachers said, “Holly, you have a talent for this. You don’t know it, but you do. It just comes naturally,” so computers from day one were always an interest to me. I figured them out, and I think we started with an old Gateway. I mean, I’m dating myself, right? 2000 … I don’t know. Actually before that, ’97, ’96, with Gateway.

Stuart Trier: Yep.

Holly: Then I got on with the school system and worked for 17 years with a school system, and during this journey of creating websites, I met up with some folks and this one guy was … one of my partners at the time, he was working online, doing videos, and he hired someone to do some YouTube commenting and liking and all that. He said, “Holly, I got a girl. I pay her .96 cents an hour. She’s not busy. Could you use her?”

By this time I was building a few websites, and I said, “Yeah, I’ll take her, .90 cents an hour,” you know. He said, “She’s already trained,” so I started having her do some stuff, and this started with by building websites led to well, I don’t know how to maintain them. You know, WordPress needs to be maintained, so I started maintaining them for $9 a month, and back ups and all that.

Then I needed a web master, so I found that on, so it kind of grew over time, but it didn’t really start growing until probably 2010, when we were making cold calls, and my daughter actually called someone who was building websites, charging four figures, and wasn’t doing any marketing for them, no social media or anything. So we formed a partnership, and I quit in 2010 my job with one client: him.

Stuart Trier: Nice. Well, I mean, it’s a good lesson for people that are out there watching today, right? You come to this industry, nobody really has formal training in it. It’s something that you pick up along the way. One of the key things that you talked about is just taking action, and certainly that’s something that’s really important.

In this industry and in every industry really, and in every activity that you do in life, there is what you do in terms of learning and acquiring skills, having the confidence to say you’re going to be able to figure it out, and then taking the action. It seems like taking the action and having that confidence came naturally to you, which is great, and certainly something that our audience should definitely pick up on. It’s one of the traits of people that are going to have success, is they’re willing to swing the bat, right?

Holly: Yep, you got it. You have to.

Stuart Trier: Yeah.

Holly: Hire somebody to do it.

Stuart Trier: There you go. There’s always somebody out there that’s willing to do the technical skill, it’s a matter of just finding them, and certainly you’ve named a couple of places like, which is one that I use quite frequently, and obviously Upwork, formerly Elance and oDesk. So when you first got started, how did you land your first clients? I know you’ve identified the niche that you’re in, the MLM industry. You identified a pain point they had. You figured that you would be able to offer them that solution, so how did you go out and actually start to land clients?

Holly: Well, when I was working for the MLM piece, I had a group of networkers, that we were just crazy online, always online, and we were finding clients easily because they liked us. You know, we were on YouTube. Back then it was more YouTube MySpace. Oh my gosh, MySpace. When that went away, we just kind of broke up, that whole team. Then my daughter made that first call to this guy who had 100 audiology clients, so my team from 2010 to 2012, we went from myself and my daughter to 14 Filipinos and seven stateside, all family. But I put all my eggs in one basket, Stuart. He outsourced me, and I put them all in one basket and I had fuse of my own clients locally. Boy, what a big mistake.

Stuart Trier: Sure.

Holly: What a mistake. I mean, never put your eggs, never put your eggs all in one basket, because we lost that $30,000 a month overnight.

Stuart Trier: Right, right. So another key takeaway there. Definitely you want to diversify risk. Certainly if you’re going to take on a client like that, your main order of business is obviously A, to service them and B, to diversify out.

Holly: Exactly.

Stuart Trier: We’ve talked about one of the big challenges you had. You lost that client and then you’ve since rebuilt back up, so what were some of the steps you took after losing that client?

Holly: The first thing I did was join a local network group. We’re a local business networking. Not BNI. That’s another one a friend of mine started, but I met her. We actually went to a job fair at the local college and met her, and my whole team went, because we knew we had lost the contract. I said, “We got to get up and we got to get out,” so I did and we joined it. It saved my business. You know, I picked up some website clients. I picked up one or two SEO clients, and then I struggled from there. Of course, my whole stateside team went away. They all had to go out and get jobs, so it was just me for a little bit. Then I slowly started building up, and then I have to say that I joined a Facebook group, and now I’m an admin of the Facebook group, with 4,000 carpet cleaners.

Stuart Trier: Okay.

Holly: So what is it? Russell Brunson talks about centers of influence, right?

Stuart Trier: Sure.

Holly: So I think that that first audiology client was one of the centers of influence, and now I got in this group. I give value, I don’t pitch, pitch, pitch. I like to give, give, give, and I know you do a lot of that. Give, give, give, receive. Give until it hurts, and sometimes it does hurt, you know, but you just give because you know it’s going to come back to you. So now my clients are trickling in from that group, from word of mouth. Sometimes I get in the weeds with website clients and SEO clients, and now I just picked up another white label client. So that’s how I’m getting them.

Stuart Trier: Okay, awesome. Another … these are value bombs for people watching. I mean, understanding the whole concept of one to many, right?

Holly: Right.

Stuart Trier: So you’ve chosen an environment where you’re able to add value, position yourself as an expert. Somebody else has curated this group presumably, and you’ve come in and are just adding value, and no administrator or no group manager is going to say no to somebody that’s going to come in and add value, and certainly it’s going to allow you to stand out.

So that’s another way to definitely add value out there and to find clients, which is obviously what you’re doing there. So now that you have a way to bring on people, have you brought any of your stateside employees back or any of your overseas employees back on?

Holly: Yeah, I now have two designers from the Philippines, a web master and two virtual, I would say assistants, project managers. They’re assigned their own clients. One of the guys that I partnered with years ago in the network marketing world, in that group, the one that actually gave me the .90 cent an hour team member, he actually moved to the Philippines recently, and he lives with one of my girls, so he and I are talking about him being another me.

So we’re talking where he can actually be over there and build a team over there, especially because one of my accountability … I’m going to call him accountability partners … has said, “Okay, I’ve got some white label clients that I want to turn over to you. Are you ready?” So I immediately got on the phone with my buddy in the Philippines and said, “Hey, we got to get ready,” so that is in the works, that’s in the works.

Stuart Trier: Awesome.

Holly: I have three writers that I outsource, US-based. I have to say, writers … you’re in Canada, am I right?

Stuart Trier: Yes.

Holly: You’re in Canada, so even US-based, I’ve had clients in Canada, and I would have to send back content because favor is not F-A-V-O-R.

Stuart Trier: You got to use the American spelling for sure.

Holly: Exactly, exactly, and when I have a Canadian client, I would have to tell them to re-edit it or learn how to spell it for Canada. I know some people say they’ve had success. I have never had success outsourcing my writing to another country. It’s just one of the things, so pay … I know you haven’t asked, but one of the things people need to do is pay your writers in the country you live in. That’s vital, you know.

Stuart Trier: Definitely in the country your client’s in.

Holly: Exactly, yes.

Stuart Trier: Yep. I one hundred percent agree. I mean, one of the strategies that we put into place for sure is to hire locally for writers. We don’t go through Upwork, we don’t go through Job boards. We tend to go to universities and look for English majors and/or journalism majors. Generally students are willing to work inexpensively and their quality of work is really high, and teaching them SEO quite frankly is not that hard. Teaching an SEO to write properly is impossible, so we don’t try.

Holly: No.

Stuart Trier: So if you were going to look back in time, so basically you left your job in what, 2010?

Holly: ’10.

Stuart Trier: And you’ve built a business. You lost a big client, you’ve rebuilt your business to where it is today. If you were to look back to yourself in 2010, what are three pieces of advice you’d give to a younger version of yourself starting out on the journey? I’m sure a lot of our audience will appreciate getting that advice because a lot of it probably applies to them today as they begin their journey.

Holly: One would be get your [Standard Operating Procedures] in place. You know, standard operate- … you do that. From day one I’ve always been, when I had that … I tell you, I hired someone to do … I will tell an experience of hiring good people and one of hiring bad people. Way back in the beginning when we started building websites, I had five in queue, or six, and I didn’t know how to load WordPress and I was relying on this guy who I hired to do it. He was taking weeks. I’m like, “Really?”

So I went out online and I searched and I found the five minute install for WordPress and thought, “Wow, I can do that.” It took me about three or fours hours to learn it, because I’d make mistakes and I didn’t create the SQL and I didn’t do this and I didn’t add the user, those type of things.

After I learned it, I loaded those five websites so I could turn it over to the designer, and I fired the guy the next day. So I try not to assign anything to my team that I don’t know how to do, or that I can’t find … You need to tell them how to do it if you want it done right, so standard operating procedures, get those in place.

Project system, I could not live without teamwork; I love it. And the last one is get over yourself, you know? I mean, it’s not about you. Do what you need to do. I’m an open book. There’s no secrets in SEO. People think, “What’s the big secret?” There’s not. There’s no academy. I mean, everybody … you know, you’ve seen it: “Oh, I’m going to be certified for SEO.” Who’s certifying you? Who’s certifying you? There’s no SEO academy, but if you want to learn it, get out online, study it. There’s Udemy, there’s YouTube, just Google it.

Stuart Trier: Yep.

Holly: And put standard things in place. So when I go through training, as you know, I do 15 minutes every morning of reading and 15 minutes every morning of training, and I did your training this morning. I’m watching all of your videos and I’ve got notes. And when I see a leader in the industry say you need to do this, I go into my project system. I add it. I add that thing to the list of things to do, and then I go out and do a short video on how to do it right then, it’s right then. So I’m not sitting there thinking, “Oh my God, I have a hundred tasks to teach.”

Way back I sat down one Saturday and I sat down and went through all the tasks that we have, and I said, “Okay, I need a video, I need a how-to, I need a video, I need a video, I need a video,” and I probably recorded 15 videos in one Saturday on how-to.

So the three things: SOPS, a project system, and I even wrote it down: Get over yourself, be an open book, give to the people that are just starting in this industry. Help them out. Don’t say, “Oh, who are you to bring in clients when you don’t even know how to do it?” Well, we were there before. I’ve been there. I didn’t know how to build a website, but reach out. Reach your hand out and pull them up. Say, “Man, you’ve got this, you can do it.” There are how many millions of businesses?

Stuart Trier: Oh, there’s tons of people that need help, for sure. There’s no lack of them.

Holly: Yeah. All you need for a really good living, if you’re pricing it right, is you could probably live on 20 clients, literally.

Stuart Trier: One hundred percent.

Holly: Yeah, so those are … I went on my soapbox for a minute there, Stuart.

Stuart Trier: It’s great. We’re coming to the end, so I’d like to ask a couple more questions. One, how do you currently divide your time between major activities in your business? You’ve touched on a number of points that are near and dear to my heart. Obviously I’m big on SOPs. I’m big on having project management software in place. I’m all about systems, tasks, and process maps so that you can hand it off and set your employees up to win, as opposed to handing them something that you haven’t documented and expecting them to figure it out. That’s how come employees fail, is because we expect them to be entrepreneurs, and if they were entrepreneurs, they likely wouldn’t be working for us.

Holly: That’s right.

Stuart Trier: So I mean, I think there’s huge amount of value in that, but what I’m curious about is how you break down your time now. You mentioned your 30 minutes in the morning that you invest in yourself, so you’re starting your day right. I follow in those footsteps as well. What other activities do you do during the day so people can see how you chunk down your day?

Holly: Well, I still am learning not to spend too much time in my email. You just did a email hack, right, yesterday or the day before? I think it was yesterday. But I know I could spend eight hours a day in my email, completing the tasks that clients are coming in and saying, “Can you do this, do this, do that?” So I’m getting away from that, and I’ve got someone who’s going to come in and look through my email so I won’t have to touch it, and say, “Okay, John’s got to be assigned this task. Susan’s got to be assigned this task,” because I’m like, “I can do that in five minutes,” and I get in there and I do it in five minutes, and then I’m on to, “Oh, I can do that,” and if you’re doing that, stop. I’m working on stopping. So I spend too much time.

And I’m also still in my business, Stuart, so I’m really working on getting out of my business. In other words, I need to be spending time prospecting, putting systems in place. I am doing that. I found an incredible Fiverr resource who writes awesome copy; I’ll share it with you, oh my God. So I’m now trying to get out of my own way and let somebody else assign all those tasks so that I can get out and reach out and help people, and at the same time maybe get their business. You know, give, give, receive. Give, give, receive. So I’m in the process of doing that.

So to chunk my time out, I’m still probably too much time in it. You know, too much time in it. But here’s my perfect day. I did start the 30 minutes several months ago. I get up in the morning, feed my dogs, grab my book, go read for 15 minutes to 30 minutes, and then 15 minutes of training. How many things have you purchased online and paid for and never went through the training? So awhile back I said, “If I buy it, I’m going through it,” so that’s my goal.

This month is all of your videos, and if I find something that you’re going to be giving away, because you’re awesome at that, I’m going to add it as a task to my team and do a video on it like you did the other day with the email hack, which I shared right away with 4,000 carpet cleaners. So yeah, I think that’s something I’m still struggling with, is managing my day, except for those first 30 minutes in the morning.

Stuart Trier: Perfect. So tell me about a recent purchase you made under $100 that you’re enjoying. Anything you like. It doesn’t have to be business-related, but if it is great.

Holly: Oh, okay. LinkedIn, my friend, Melanie Milletics put together a LinkedIn training. I don’t know if you know her. $27 bucks. I went through the training, best $27 I spent. Love it, love it. Actually, before this interview I got hit with a $614 bill from LinkedIn, so I need to go say, “Hey, that was supposed to be monthly, not yearly.” But anyway, the training is incredible. I started at 800 connections. I’m up over 900 now, and I implemented her training, so $27, best $27 I’ve spent.

Stuart Trier: Awesome, perfect. Well, I’ll get a link from you and I’ll share it with the people that follow. Thank a lot for joining us here. If you guys got a lot out of this, definitely hit the subscribe button below us. You can hear from other entrepreneurs as they share their journey and how they’re building their businesses. Give us a thumbs up. If you have any questions or comments, definitely leave it below. We’ll make sure to engage with you here on the channel, and we’ll see you in the next video.

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