Welcome welcome back to Boss Uncaged podcast. On today’s show, we have a special guest he goes by the name of Damon Burton, but I call him the SEO Beast Master. And once he starts talking, it tells you who he is and what he does. It’ll make perfect sense why i call him that. So, Damon, the floor is yours man. Give the introduction to who you are.
Thanks for having me, Chantelle. Yeah So, Damon Burton, I’ve been doing SEO for 14 years. I started a company called SEO International. We worked literally all across the board. I can tell you some funny stories in a minute, but, you know, worked on the high end with, like NBA teams, worked with multibillion dollar international real estate companies. And then on the other side of the spectrum, we still got our our first dozen mom and pop clients from 14 years ago, 14 years ago, still with us, married for 14 years as well, and got three kids. So and I have a beard
And a beard as part of your branding as well. Right.
It’s become it’s it’s like taking on a life of its own, for sure. So, you know, if the listeners can’t catch this on video behind me and my backdrop is a logo of my face with the beard. And it just like one day I, I just grew the beard out like I had the beard, but I looked very like Amish because I didn’t have the mustache thing going on and then one day I grew the mustache and I don’t know if I was lazy or what, but and then I was on a podcast and this was like two years ago and the person said something about my beard looking good. And I’m like, that was weird. And then I posted a picture on Facebook or something a couple days later, and then I just kept getting people commenting on my beard. Let’s just see where this goes. And it just took on a life of its own.
And then from that, you get brand equity.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.
So, I mean, just tell us a little bit about your business. I mean, to start with, like, the basics. I mean, how did how did you even get into SEO?
Yeah. So those that aren’t familiar with SEO, It stands for search engine optimization, the the abbreviated answer of what that is, is your goal is to have your website show up higher in search engines for words that you can monetize, but without paying for ads. So I got into it. My background was originally design. So me and my team, we still do a lot of design. We just do way more SEO and what happened was, I mean, how far back do you want me to take this?
I mean take it back to the roots.
So when I was in high school, you know, 20 something years ago, they didn’t have WordPress, they didn’t have Dreamweaver and they didn’t have Shopify in these builder programs and so I had to learn HTML by hand. But I tell you what, now that’s like the best thing ever, because when you use those programs, they don’t know if the thing looks ugly. They just do whatever you tell it to do. So it’s nice to go in there and manually override things. So I kind of picked up a little bit of HTML back then. And then when I went to college, there was a communications class and they said, hey, we’re going to learn some HTML as well. And so I said, sure I know a little bit. And what happened was that the teacher says, all right, we’re going to build a website and it has to have A, B and C, this criteria. And I got think and I’m going to spend a lot of freakin time on this this project and then at the end of semester, they’re just going to delete it off the school servers. So I thought, why don’t I ask if I can buy a domain and keep it? And so I built up this car enthusiast Web site because, of course, I’m a young 20 something male. So of course I’m into cars. And so I built like this car hobby site where I would showcase local cars that I would see. I’d be driving down Main Street or whatever, and I’d see somebody else. And it’s kind of like wave them down. And surprisingly, the majority of people pull over. And I keep these little sheets in my car and I’d say, hey, you know, I feature cars. Can you tell me a little bit about it? Kind of take a couple of pictures. And so I built, like this little profile website for cars. And and it ended up getting.. I ended up noticing that it was getting traffic. So then I said, OK, how do I make this better? And that’s when I got more into design. And then after it continued to grow, I said, how do I monetize this? And that’s when I got into marketing. And then I was the guy that did Web designs on the side that I’m sure a lot of people know, know somebody or do that themselves. And then the point where I went all in was my day job was contributing about half my income, but it was taken up 80 percent of my time. And my side hustle has taken taken up 20 percent of my time, but providing 40, 50 percent of my income. And so when I got to the point where I could. Cut off the dayjob, which would suck, losing half your income, but still pay my bills and free up that time, that seemed like a pretty good calculated risk. And so that’s when I made the jump and freeing up that time made that income back in two or three months. And the rest is history again. Here we are 14 years later, got a team of 20 and worked with some of those fans that I touched on earlier.
Nice, nice, nice. So i mean, back to the whole SEO beast master thing. And the reason why I deemed in this is it’s.. we Kind of of found each other through Facebook, kind of became like Facebook friends. So, you know, by default trough the Facebook, you know, trough the algorithm, things kind of pop up based upon what you like to see. So every time I would log into Facebook, like you’re still sort of popping up. And I was like, cool. And then I kept on, you know, you like this, would you like that? And then more information started popping up. And then I think your comedic side started kicking in right. And I started doing like the double headers, the triple play with the cartoon stuff. I mean, kind of like dive into that a little bit. I mean, most people think that when you’re talking about SEO is just keywords, but they don’t realize is a lot of creativity that goes into those keywords and finding the trends. So mind you touch it in a little bit.
Yes. So we can talk about some of the fun stuff and then some of the boring stuff, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. So there’s SEO, obviously there’s a lot of moving parts, but if you really condense it down, it’s kind of what you touched on. It’s basically two categories. First category is what you do on your website. Second category is what you do externally to your website. So the stuff you do on your website, the first category is good content, good user experience. Does the website load quickly is it mobile friendly? Now, if you want to go like even deeper on that, you talk about keywords. Yeah, usually the stereotype of people that comes to mind when people talk about keywords is like stuffing keywords and also stuffing keywords into a little snippet that used to be called meta keywords. And what’s interesting is, is if you ever have an SEO guy say we need updated keywords, just run, because Google is on record as far back as 2009, over a decade ago, saying we don’t even look at those anymore. So it’s it’s not what you think anymore. It’s largely about building credibility. And so basically the short version of how you do that is you tackle category number one, which is make sure the website loads quickly, has good user experience, has good design. But then most of the gains actually comes from the ongoing process, which is the external credibility to other websites. Talk about you in the link to you and that comes through good content, good user experience, because as long as you solve problems and answer questions and provide a good product, then people are going to share your link and talk about your website. And maybe the last thing to talk about on this topic is you mentioned keywords. And so you have to really put in a lot of effort to figure out what you’re going to write about. So even before you write, you have to go do competitive analysis and keyword research and you have to really align what you offer with your buyer’s intent instead of just “i am gonna talk about this thing, because this thing is in my industry”, like, who cares? So you really have to these tools and depending on where this conversation goes, I can give the listener some free tools. But you have to really figure out what is your audience, what the hell do they want to know? Like, they don’t want that. They may want to buy your thing, but they don’t want to be sold. They want to come to the conclusion on their own that that will solve my problems. So how do you present creative, entertaining, problem solving content to get them in the door? Then they see your thing, then they buy because they trust you. So that’s that’s the boring thing, the fun that you talk about humor. Yeah. So sounds sounds really techie and to an extent it is. And you know, I wrote a book earlier this year and it was like the same thing. I was like, how do I write a book without boring the shit out of people on SEO? And so I started the book with stories about fun things that have happened throughout my career of SEO. But throughout it they underscore and emphasize the power in it. And so that’s what I try to do on social media is not come in there with a one, two, three steps and the boring things like you need to audit your website and you know, so I try to come in and be like, hey, here’s this cool thing that we accomplished and here’s how and share it in, like you said, a storied way. Or I try to show some personality because, you know, another thing, depending on how the conversation goes, is I get a lot of success and attraction through social proof and just giving away free answers and being personable and building trust with an audience. So that’s what I try to do, is just be like, hey, here’s the school thing and here’s a funny double headed picture. Me, half man, half woman, or whatever it is.
Or hugging to yourself. right?
Or hugging two Demons yeah.
Alight. I mean, good segue, you brought up your book. Got it in hand. Right. So I think one of the solid chapters I think is Chapter six, the content, how much and how often. And just looking through that concept, I mean, you pretty much have it an entire year’s worth of guidance on step by step, not necessarily a hand holder, but here is a topic and here’s a reason why to discuss it. So just dive into it a little bit like how did you come up with these 12 months worth of content?
Yeah. So essays talking about is there’s, you know, writing sucks, like for 90 percent of us out there, writing sucks, but at the same time we know we need to do it. And so years ago, I would say out of the 14 years running the company, I’d say maybe like, you know, 10 years ago we were the budget provider. And because what we would do is we’d say, OK, we bring a certain value per certain price point. But I’ve always been very morally driven. So obviously, yeah, that’d be awesome to make more money. By the time I didn’t feel like I brought enough value to justify having higher prices. And so in that time frame, what we would do is since we didn’t at the time, we didn’t have in-house copy writers and so we would talk to the customer and say, hey, you know, content’s really important. And here’s kind of like a game plan. You’re the expert in whatever you sell, like, go write the content and it would just never happen, which which is understandable because business owners are running businesses. And so then we said, all right, well, we’ll write it, but you tell us what to write about. Same problem. It just never happened. So then when I the first instance of that content that you’re talking about was born eight, 10 years ago, and it frickin sucked man to come up with that, because what we had to do is we had to say, OK, we can’t predict. We can’t proactively come up with content for every client right now because every client is going to be a different issue with different audiences. But can we come up with, like a general outline to help us get a head start? And so what we did is we mapped out like a 52 week content calendar, like this 12 month kind of thing that had recurring events. And the keyword is reoccurring because I didn’t want to have to have the team map out all these ideas and then throw it away at the end of the year. And so what the plan and what the outline in the book that you’re talking about is a general outline. It’s not going to be for everybody. There’s not going to be topic for everybody. There’s going to be topic for every month. But it should be able to give you like it should give you that light bulb where you go, OK, I get it. So here’s a good, you know, process a mental approach to to coming up with content that not only will attract the right audience, but solve their problems. But I can come up with content in a creative way. So so that chapter has two things. One is a very literal outline that can kind of give you a head start. But then more importantly is the thought process, like how do you come up with a better, more relevant outline on your own?
Gotcha. Gotcha. So, I mean, since we are on the topic of the book, I mean, obviously, to your point, writing a book, if anybody doesn’t know it sucks unless you love writing. alright. So how did you come up with the title like you did a two part thing? The title is Outrank and then obviously also some key words, driven inside. So How did you come up with the title of the book??
The the title took about… I sat on it for a while, I had a couple of ideas and I see which one would resonate. You know it’s tricky to find a balance between what do you think you should put versus.. For stereotypical reasons what would perform better whatever, whatever, whatever, whatever versus like passionately what you want to put. So I just kind of sat on it for a while and then the subtitle I wanted to kind of clearly communicate what they could get out of the book. And you know. The book covers really simplistic. It’s clean white space and it’s not like one of those puky kind of things. So I just.. In all things, I’m more leaning towards simplicity as as we grow and as I grow personally. And so I just kind of sat on it till I could find the right balance of what was me and what the book offered in a simplistic way.
Nice, Nice. So now that you have the book right, you have an agency and that agency looks like you have to hold your consultant and you’re doing some design work, what’s like the biggest hurdle you had to overcome to get to where you are?
Documenting processes is always the one that stands out because of how long it took. I’ve always been aware of the importance of documenting processes, but here’s the problem that I had. So when I was in..you know.. My company, I started from the ground up, never taken on funding. It was slowly add another person, like I would stretch myself on the team to to as far as we could before we had to grow out of necessity. And so it was a slow progression. But, you know. It worked awesome for me because I think throughout those years you learn certain things that you like and don’t like and how to approach business, and I was able to fine tune the business and have it grow in a way that I wanted it to grow.So, you know, the part about scaling and documenting processes was when we were going through some of those those growing pain eras, it was probably about year four in the agency. I had processes on some on a spreadsheet and some in my head and some wherever else. And I had a couple of things happen, like all within a short time frame that really underscored the importance of documenting processes. So what those things were was one was I had a venture capital company come to me and say, hey, we’re buying your friend’s company. So my friend kind of made the intro and sort of buying your friend’s company, their marketing agency, but they don’t do SEO. It’d be really attractive if we could kind of lump you guys together. And then now we got what he does and then and then as well. So I ended up declining. I went to a meeting but declined the negotiations because it just didn’t feel right. But when we were in there, I learned that if you ever exit your company, the buyer wants to know where the where the fire is so they can pour more fuel on it. How do they just throw more money at sales and then they want to take the keys and run. So that was the first thing you have to have turnkey processes. But while that happened within a couple of weeks, I was also listening to two audiobooks. One was four hour work week and one was emay through visited. So a lot of people will be familiar with four hour work week. Now, I didn’t take away like a ton of my head didn’t explode or in the book because a lot of stuff I started with. But the main thing I took away was why don’t I have I don’t I don’t i scale. I don’t have more people. And so at the time, I had maybe two VAs and then within, I don’t know, two or three months I had like five or six team members and so double, triple and just started adding more and more and more people. They couldn’t do that until what is presented in the other book emay through visited. So emay though visited is about make a company dependent on processes and not people. And so then the combination of the venture capital thing and Emay through visited, I had to tackle that to get to the scaling with with four hour work week. And so at that point, I started documenting processes. And when I documented it took it was like an hour or two every other day for about a year. It was a long freakin time. And the reason why it took so long is because I other than having to make adjustments as time went on, I never wanted to do it again. I wanted to just knock it out of the park, make sure as long as I had an employee that could read and follow directions, like they couldn’t screw it up. And so I went through and recreated and manually, personally did every single conceivable task that I could think of that our company could ever do. And so I documented how to audit a website to document it, how to launch a new design like I documented customer touch points on day one. Welcome them and send them an email that says this and on week two have another team member sent them an email. It says this. Absolutely. Everything is just perfectly streamlined now. And so now it’s awesome because I can just go in and push a button and kick out two hundred tasks to twenty different team members in 50 seconds and guaranteed quality control, good user engagement. And so it was it it sucked in that moment, but I knew it would be worth it.
Yes. I mean you bring up a really solid point because I mean, even in my agency, my business, that I’m going through that phase right now to where I am. Hiring people, right, we have PAs, we have VAs, we have somebody, we have a million people, do million different things, but I’m spending more time in developing our project management side of my strategy. And so to your point. When you’re documenting these tasks, right, you’re like taking small bites of bigger pieces or you’re just literally going linear, step one log in step to do this, step three, step for step five and then you get to twenty five steps..
Yep as granular as possible because what happens is if you like you as a business owner or something may come to you intuitively or it may seem like common sense. So in your mind, it steps one through five and that’s it. But in between there, there’s these gray areas where the other person doesn’t have the experience that you do. They don’t make the assumptions that you do. And so then instead of five steps, really, there’s 20 potential steps and they’re going to. So you’ve got a difference of 15 action items and they’re probably going to make the right assumptions on five of them. But those other 10, they’re either not even going to see him or they’re ready for lunch time. And so they’re going to they’re going to miss those super tiny things. So I went as granular as possible. And then that also improved the quality control because I don’t want to babysit my team. I want absolutely nothing to do with micromanaging. And so when I fire off a task like. Hit the ground running, guys, but if you need me, I am one hundred percent here, but as long as you can read directions, read and follow directions, you shouldn’t need me. And so I went as granular as possible to to maintain productivity and forward momentum and quality control and, you know, just. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think I think we went off task, but I think this is really a good segment for anybody to own a business, because a lot of times business owners, they’re always chasing the to dos, what to do next. Is it complete? Is this employee doing what they need to do? But to your point, I mean, the reason why you are where you are is that you have turnkey systems in place that at any drop of a dime, you can kind of take it that you’re documented in the past where it’s online. You can send someone to a portal somewhere. They can review it and then they can kind of hit the checkboxes and continue from there. Is that.
Yeah, exactly. We use a platform called insightly. There’s a bunch of other ones. There’s there’s one new one that’s like taking a lot of market share called click up. They all have pros and cons. But yeah, I mean, for the most part you can document there’s a bazillion a lot of people use base camp. A lot of people use Trello. Yeah. So just find out what works for you. But, you know, it’s interesting. So two things come to mind on that topic is, you know, I have one client that he has.. It’s just in his personality to want to see everything that comes in and out the door of the company, and so I was talking to his assistant and his assistant was saying that. Because I was calling out the client, I was like, look, you’re you’re not getting back promptly, which is slowing down what we can do, which is slowing down your return on your investment. And so, you know, we’ve been working together a long time and so I could comfortably bring that to him in a polite way. And when I was talking to his assistant about it, she’s like, oh, yeah, he’s getting behind because he has our emails hooked to his email to and so on emails. He sees everybody’s emails. And, you know, I didn’t I didn’t dive into that conversation with her on that. But when she said that, I’m thinking what a massive waste of time and what a massive added layer of stress. So, you know, if that’s you, you know, the reality is you have other and I mean, it’s very, very literally and with all due respect, you got something else going on that’s causing your interest to maintain that control. You need to address that and get rid of that control issue. There’s something else I don’t remember what it is . I’ll come back when i remember it.
You know, I think I think I mean, this is all solid points. And this is I mean, this is what the development of this podcast is really about. It’s like really diving into, like, global issues of business owners and solutions in place. I mean, obviously, we’re talking about a SEO which you dove into a space that I couldn’t just let go this past. Right. So what we always hear about the 20 years, it takes someone to become a success that always seems to be like overnight success. Like you just popped up yesterday. How long did it take to get to where you are right now with your systems in place, which are name recognition and you’re on Forbes as well. So how did you how long it took to get there?
It went in phases. So I actually really like talking about this topic because there’s one thing that I find really powerful to talk about, and that is to be uncomfortable with the unknown. And what I mean by that is I don’t don’t get ahead of yourself and pick a path because you feel like you need to pick a path and we can talk about social media wins and stuff like that, like you talked about where things are glorified. But I’ll come back to that in a minute.
But you I think it’s way more damaging to stress out and pick a path because you see other people winning. They might be like one step ahead of you or two steps ahead of you or 20 steps ahead of you. And so you’re like, crap, I’m 30 and 40, I’m 50, I’m 18 and whatever. And my friends, my colleagues, they’re the same age, give or take here and there. And I feel like they’re so far ahead of me.
Who gives a shit? Because here’s here’s what happens. Like, I get that it’s it’s a natural thing, but you need to take a step back and realize it’s a natural thing and then just acknowledge and go, oh, that’s a natural thing. OK, now I see that now I can chill out because what happens is if you pick a path that you are not committed to, you’re going to hate your life in 10 years and you’re going to throw it away and you’re going to feel like you wasted all this time, you’re going to be even more miserable. And so I would way rather take delayed gratification, figure it out as I go, and then be one hundred percent solid on where you’re at, even if it took longer to get there. So like one one metaphor that I give is date your jobs or date your career.
And so when I was going through my jobs, I’ll give you some examples, like my first job as I was a janitor at Junior High when I was 16 years old. And what I learned from that job was that it was technically a government job because it was at a school. And so I would work Monday through Friday. I had all weekends off at all holidays off. And so that taught me like this. This is cool to have a right balance right at the time when I was 16. So I had that job now 16, 17. So I would get off at school at two thirty. I’d go do the janitor thing from like three thirty seven thirty. So I still had nights off, more or less had all weekends off and all holidays off. And so I was like, this is cool to be able to do everything. I can still do everything I can. I’m not working a graveyard and being super tired at school the next day. And on a funny note, like to this day when I go and put a garbage bag in my kitchen, I do this little flip tie, poke a hole in the back thing that I learned from doing the job as a janitor, you know, so I took that, moved on to the next job. The second job was I worked at Michaels Arts and Crafts. I was just an everyday dude that worked on the floor and I just gave it my all. You know, it’s not like you’re doing brain surgery or anything dramatic, but I just really committed to just doing a decent job of the little stuff. And what happened was at 17 years old, I was asked to be an assistant manager. And so the lady her name’s Christy. Christy and I are still friends 20 years later and what happened was Christy hired me. She was she was offered she was an assistant manager. She was offered a manager manager job and then said, hey, we’re gonna open up this new store. It’s like two hours north. You want to come with me? And I’m like, hell, yeah, but wait a second. I’m seventeen and I live at home so so I couldn’t take this job. But as luck would have it a couple of weeks later, my family was moving north. And so I ended up being about half an hour away from this place. So I said, hey, I think I can actually do this. Is a job still on the table? And she said, yeah. And so she gave me an opportunity to go be an assistant manager at 17. And I remember closing the till on Christmas Eve and I remember how much money it was now, but I’m thinking this is not some seventeen. And I got I mean it was like fifty, eighty, one hundred grand in cash and sales in that day. And just the amount of responsibility that I had was really empowering. And so I took that one out of the next thing I went on, next thing I went on, the next thing. So I got all these stories about just really mediocre average jobs that I took something away from and applied it to the next thing, which as we talked about my car enthusiast website, I took what I learned from that, applied it to the next thing, next thing. I think until I had, like, this perfect opportunity in SEO land where I could, quote unquote, marry that career after dating so many others. So, I mean, that’s one answer. One answer that I’ll take a pause and run wherever you want from that.
No, no. I think I think it’s definitely solid. I mean, in that you found your niche, right? You always hear people that are diversified and but they started with a particular niche. So you have a design background, you have some coding in there, and you kind of hopped around a couple of different jobs. So then you dove into this SEO niche, which is restrike. I mean, but you’re still using everything else that you have in their arsenal as well. You just disguising it under SEO. But you have an opportunity once you get in that front door that you can present all your other services.
Yeah, yeah. I think there’s some added value to that. I definitely stay in my lane. I never wanted to be an agency owner says they do it all and then it’s kind of mediocre at all of it. And that’s really paid off well for us because usually by the time I don’t have to go do outbound sales, I’ve never had a sales team. I’ve never you know, we’re a marketing company. We’ve never paid for marketing. And so by the time that people come to us, they’re either referred from a client that’s had good success or referred from somebody that just sees the social proof and trusts what we put out there. And so usually by the time somebody comes to us, they’re just like, hey, let’s go on one time date, right? You’re the right guy. Take my money. So there’s a lot of value in social proof. And to kind of come full circle to what when you brought this topic up, we talked about how social media kind of glorifies wins and things take ten or twenty years. That’s a huge problem with social media. I think that entrepreneurs should celebrate their wins. And I don’t fault I don’t fault the ones that are just only show the winners in the highlight reel. It’s like I get it. But like, if you go follow what I posted last week, I posted about losing two clients. And so I think there’s a lot of value in being transparent and. Honestly, the ones the times when I say are the sucky thing happened is probably when I get more engagement because people are like, oh, that person’s real, or I can relate and you become much more relatable if you don’t just get out there and humble, brag about every freakin thing. So. With those super long answers, the short answer to how long it took me to get here, I would say year four was a good spot, year four or five down there, because when I first started company, I was early twenties. And, you know, I a while ago, I said it was just cool to, like, go through that process and evolve, even though it may have been slower than other other methods. But it was cool just being self-employed for a year or two and being in my twenties and drinking a beer at 10:00 a.m. because I was in it. and I was in my mid 20s, you know, and so it was cool to go through those phases and look back on those and remember and and see how far I’ve come. So year four, four-ish stands out. And then your ten-ish is probably where, you know, most people would look at my life and say, you’ve accomplished respectable things, but I don’t I don’t ever compare anybody to what I like. I’m in this for myself, like I my own motivation, I my own competition. So you talked about writing for Forbes and this and that. Like it’s just another day. Like, I don’t even notice those things until, like, every day I don’t wake up and go, I’ve done these cool things just like what more can I do today? Because it’s just what I motivates myself.
Nice,Nice definitely. So. I mean, so collectively. So where are you now? Are you at the 10, 15, 20 year mark?
Yeah, I started the company in February 2007, so I’m 14 ish.
Nice, nice, nice. So what’s one thing that you would be able to do differently if you could do it all over again to get you to where you are a lot faster?
I would have done the documented processes quicker and scaled quicker. I wouldn’t have changed. I wouldn’t change a single thing or how I approach things. I would have just maybe done that thing a little bit sooner had I realized better. I understood the value and I was aware of the value, but I didn’t understand it. And so I would have done the same things just slightly quicker.
So I mean, with that, I mean, this is talk about like we’re turning to investment. We don’t have to disclose numbers. So let’s say 10 years ago before you had your documents in place, you were at X amount per annual. Fast forward 10 years later or seven years later, you have these systems in place. What’s the hold of that return of investment from then until now? It’s a 10 X, is it five, six X?
I can give you a general like general examples and then why I don’t actually give you a specific story, too. So when we finish documenting processes, I had huge international company that was referred to us that they wanted a contract that ended up being about 10 grand a month. And I couldn’t I couldn’t like I said, I’m very morally driven, so I couldn’t have bid on that if I didn’t think we could deliver. And that opportunity to bid came within like a month after we finished all that. And so it’s perfect timing. And let’s say I was one of those shady guys that was just, you know, I just want the money and we’ll figure it out later. Let’s say I did that we would have failed miserably, which would have been a huge impact on our reputation. And that client has since sent half a dozen other referrals and we wouldn’t have had those. So, you know, one very specific example is ten grand a month, one hundred nine thousand dollars a year. But if I go back before that, it was probably like year one or two. Like I said, it was just cool to be self-employed. So, you know, I went from 50 grand to one hundred grand, basically like a one man show. And then years two through four, it was averaging probably one hundred something grand and went up to two to three hundred grand. And then then we were probably at half a million for a few years and just kind of kept on going.
like, what in the hell is going on? And then we went out to this racetrack and I threw him in a race car with a professional drifting driver. And like, he still talks about it to this day. So, like, that’s just my thing. I mean, a couple of years ago, I, I paid off all the student lunch debt for all the Title one schools in the county, which are like low income schools. The money’s awesome. But but the the freedom that it gives you, I don’t I don’t look at my money as like, hey, you know, I’m financially rich or whatever you want to say. But but I do look at it like. I like having that stability and now that I now that I know my bases are covered, what else can I do? And so it’s it’s really fun to be able to kind of gift experiences to other people. and like, my wife is going on a girls trip with some friends in two weeks and she’s like, I want my one friend to go. And her one friend just happened to come over that week. And I said, Hey, do you want to go? She’s like, I can’t afford it. And I was like, do you want to go? You know? And so Damn it S.A, I don’t know why you got me on this, but this is getting me in the feels.
it’s all part of podcasting. you got got to dig deep, right? I mean, I love it because, I mean, obviously, I we can sit here and talk about SEO, we talk about business all day. But I mean, this is the test of who you are, what kind of business person you are, your life behind the scenes. And I think that anybody that has a human factor to them could definitely relate to your messaging and they want to be where your shoes are. I mean, you hear about the stories of people going to supermarkets and the person in front of them are short and they have opportunity to then go ahead and pay for their groceries. So you’re paying it forward not just with your education, not just with your information, but also with your heart. So I think that’s a Win-Win situation across the board and it’s a testament to who you are. Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that. Yeah. When I was younger, you know, I didn’t have a lot of things. It’s not like a sob story or anything, but I never had things, you know. And so that’s that’s why I ended up paying off the school lunch debt because I was a beneficiary of those those free and discounted meals. And that was always something that I could appreciate in the mornings going to school. And so, like, when I give, I try to give in ways that I can see the impact, because that’s what makes me feel good. You know, call me selfish, but like, I want to feel good in what I do. So, um, so it’s always fun to see people go through. I couldn’t I would bet you I’m probably close to a dozen people, but I was they’ve never been on an airplane and never been to the beach. I’ve probably flown a dozen people that have never been on an airplane, never been to the beach, on an airplane, to the beach, because it’s just it’s just freaking awesome seeing people light up.
Yeah, definitely. So it’s I mean, you kind of brought your family into a little bit. So, I mean, how do you juggle your work life with your family life? I mean, I think you have three kids. Is it? or two kids?
Yeah. Yeah, I got two boys and a daughter. Yeah. It’s so that’s kind of what we touched on before, like growing up and not really having a lot like I wanted I wanted stability for my family. So I always knew I’d be like family man. And so that’s that’s when I kind of grinded it out in my earlier years because I didn’t want to grind it out so much when I had kids and I certainly still grind it out more than the average person, but it’s very balanced and so, like, you know, I’m changing my my schedule now. So I kind of answer two ways. The way it’s historically been for the last 14 years is is I’d get up like five a.m. and I’m not a morning person, but I like getting a head start on the world. And I also felt like by the time we had kids, you know, the kids go to bed at a wildly different times. And so I felt like if I tried to say, all right, I’m going to get in my two extra hours at nine p.m. or 10:00 p.m., it just would never happen because sometimes the kids don’t go to bed until 11:30. So I felt like waking up earlier was better for me because I would get a head start on the day it set the forward momentum, set the positive mindset for the day and then like my kids are always going to be asleep at that time. So I didn’t feel like I was losing out on a potential time with them, but I haven’t done that for long enough. Now my body is finally saying, all right, you know, you’re a night person. Let’s you’ve you’ve earned this. Let’s switch it up a little bit. And it’s been really interesting. And when I say switching this up, I, I mean, very recently, like with the last two weeks. And so I’ve been I just threw my alarm clock out the window, basically, and I’m going to bed whenever and then just sleeping in until whatever. I usually wake up around seven thirty eight thirty anyways because kids. But you know, before it would be like try to go to bed at nine thirty ten half the time that was really like ten thirty eleven and still get up at five. And then lately like in the last, in the last week you know with Halloween and we did a family Halloween party and then my kids about other things like birthday parties to go to and so I’ve had a couple of late nights and two nights in a row. I went to bed at 3:00 AM and I got up at eight and I was certainly tired for a little bit. I felt way better than the night I tried to go to bed at ten and wake up at five. So I guess that’s kind of the same thing we’re talking about earlier. Just be OK with the unknown and figure it out until you find what’s right for you. So right now I’m switching it up and going more towards nights and you know, the kids in the morning, I can still hang out with them for thirty or forty minutes where they go to school. But but then I can hang out with them still in the evening. I call today at five and so I can still call it a day at five. But now when they go to bed, then I can hang out and get an extra hour or two. In our office phones shut off at five. I don’t work weekends, very rarely, only time I work weekends is as if the kids fall asleep and like, I can’t just sit there and watch TV, so I’ll go do extra work. And kind of on the same note, I’m very protective of my private time, so I don’t give my clients my cell phone number. I don’t have messenger on my phone, I don’t have emails on my phone. And so when I check out, I try to check out.
That’s nice. I mean, I think there are two points. I mean, one is it’s just diving into like I think I seen a post. I think it was like a Saturday night. It was like ten o’clock. I think you were with the kids at, like, skateboard park or something.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yes. To your point, I mean, it’s really cool, but, you know, obviously it was like late at night, it was like ten, eleven o’clock at our time. So I guess you guys are what Central Time or is it..?
Yeah Mount Yeah.
Mount time. You are like couple hours behind us. The other point is like you kind of dove into your morning habits a little bit. So what are your usual morning routines or good morning habits?
It’s a it’s a funny answer because I am so process routine driven, but I can suck on my own. So what happened was I used to have a really good routine, but three years ago I got an autoimmune condition and it just totally threw me out of my my routine. And I haven’t been able to. That’s that’s kind of why I’m experimenting now. So I get back into the routine when I did when I was really good about like a very structured routine. It was it was like a five stretch, do some light workout stuff for twenty minutes and then do a legit workout for thirty or forty minutes, shower by then it’s like six, six thirty work for an hour before the kids wake up, spend an hour with them. If it’s the summertime and it’s decent weather, then I’d walk the kids to school, but now it’s getting colder, then I’ll just drive them and then come back and then I’d work until, until three thirty when the kids would get home, take 20, 30 minutes off, hang out with kids for a minute and then and then just go squeeze in one more hour and then a call the day at five. So I used to really do the workouts in the morning. And you know, for me like I either I have to do my workouts in the morning or it just doesn’t happen. And so that’s always been hard because I don’t want to work out in the morning, but if I don’t, it doesn’t happen. So I’m trying to figure that one out.
Got it. So as usual what you wake up like around you say 5:30 or 7:30 somewhere as your usual…
Well, prior to two weeks ago I was always 5:30. In the last two weeks it’s more like 7:30 yeah.
Cool. So what do you see yourself in your company in twenty years?
I will be long gone. you know, it’s interesting because I’ve had we’ve got to a point where, you know, I really want to spend time. My oldest kid is nine and I really want to spend even more time with them while I can. And so part it’s a hard thing I’m trying to figure out, like part of me. I absolutely love what I do. I still have my team, so I’m really having a hard time deciding, like, OK, do I hire do I keep the business and hire somebody to replace me? And then I check out for five or 10 years and spend that time with my kids and just, you know, loosely manage the company but still have it or do I get out, do I exit and then figure out something in five, 10 years? So I don’t I don’t know. But like I said earlier, I’m OK not knowing, you know, I’ll figure out what’s right when the time is right.
So I think. Lets just goes back to a little bit earlier. You were talking about tools and software. What tools would you recommend or tools that you use on a day to day basis? You would not be able to do what you do without.
I use my team, the way we manage our projects is in a serum calledinsightly, so that’s super valuable.
I personally use.. I have a Mac and an iPhone, and so I use an app called “THINGS” and Things Will Connect. It’s task manager that connects from your phone to your to your laptop. And so what’s nice about this is like, you know, how you’re like sitting in bed at night and you’re like, oh, I got to remember this thing. I got to understand, like, I just punch it in my phone so I can forget about it, clear my mind. And then when I wake up, it’s like right on my desktop. So “THINGS” is huge for me because throughout the day, like, I’ll just throw things in there all the freakin time and then I can clear up my mental bandwidth. So things is important. I don’t have anything. It’s like rocket science or super amazing. I think it’s just how you use the tools and how to maximize all my team. So a team of twenty, half of them are in the states have more overseas and and we just simply escape. So I think it’s just finding the right processes that you can use. That’s right. For you guys.
I think we obviously share I mean, now that I’ve talked to, is the first time for our viewers and I think you and I have actually had a physical conversation. It’s kind of like just text or chat or the social media that it’s the commonality is i am Candy right, I mean, like, my team is the same thing. We’re about 15, 16 and maybe about 30 percent of US. The other 70 percent is completely overseas. And if you kinda just dive into that a little bit. And I got my own philosophy of why I like having a mixed team between national and international. What’s your your purpose behind having a dual team?
Well, I mean, it’s kind of evolved. When I first got the team, It was obviously economics because overseas is is more cost effective. But when I realized the ability to scale with quality controls or documenting processes is just as a business owner just makes sense. And so what I did is I balanced it for economics and quality control. But after I give you this brief example, we can go into a whole bunch of other stuff about the overseas team. But so what I do now is, is I have everything that we do at scale with the overseas team and then I have the stateside team manage quality control because there’s like little tiny nuances that are different and cultural and social understandings. And so we can we’ve had amazing copywriters overseas, but there’s always just like one little thing that stands out. And so we we all the copywriters now are state side because the it made more sense to pay more to have better streamlined quality control than to have to always look for those one weird little things that came from the otherwise good writing. But then I’ve really I’ve really found out the sweet spot and how to manage a remote team. So what’s interesting, before this year, my longest employee has been with me for 12 years. I’ve never had an employee quit. I’ve certainly had to let some go, but I’ve never had an employee quit and I’ve never met any of them. And so but this year was the first year I met the team overseas and I still haven’t met anybody in the States and I would put the loyalty of my team up against anybody. I mean, to to underscore that I’ve had two of them ask me to be a godfather. I’ve had another one, which is a couple that have.. The husband or wife or both on the team. They asked me to be in their wedding, but at the time my wife was pregnant with our daughter and so I didn’t want to fly halfway across the world and leave her. And so I said, hey, I super appreciate it. I just don’t think I can make it happen. And so we joked about like a life size cardboard cutout and they got a life size cardboard cutout. So, I mean, it sounds hilarious because here here I am, like the six foot tall white dude towering over like five and a half foot Filipinos. And I’m just like this cardboard guy in a real freaking wedding line. But when you look past how hilarious that is, like the the emotional commitment that they made that we made to each other to be able to even consider that. I mean, that says a lot. So I really kind of at now nowadays, I don’t have it’s not about economics necessarily, but certainly a business advantage. But most time when we add new team members, it’s because we’ve grown enough. And then somebody else on the team says, hey, I know I know somebody that can solve this pain point for us. And then they just kind of a reform.
So words of wisdom. Just say I’m a new entrepreneur, I’m stepping onto the scene and I want to step into your market space. What words of wisdom would you give to me to help me grow and scale?
A couple of things come to mind. The first thing is just start. So many people overthink everything. And then what happens is when you start all that goes out the window anyway. So why don’t you just start like you can make the most perfect business plan doesn’t mean anything unless you actually start. So just start. And then equally important is not to stop because you’re going to run into some hurdles. And just like you talked about, it takes 10 years, 20 years or whatever. And I don’t want people I remember one time I made a post on LinkedIn and it was about kind of like you ask, like, how long would it take to get to these certain points? So I kind of talked about my journey and I must have made a comment specifically about 10 years, because that started a couple of months and somebody else that I engage with on LinkedIn said something in her comments, she’s like, I appreciate your support. And man, I remember you made this post saying it took 10 years and I was so discouraged. And so what I told her was. It may take 10 years to hit a grand slam, but it doesn’t take 10 years to hit a home run like you can get to a sweet spot in a way less than 10 years. But if you’re willing to put in 10 years, you can really accomplish just about anything. So just be comfortable figuring it out as you go. And honestly, don’t listen to other people’s advice, including my own.
Just get out there and do it. Yeah, great. Great. So, I mean, how could people I mean, you’re you’re a big Web guy, right? So, I mean, what’s your social profiles, your website, Instagram, Facebook account. .
So I’m mostly active on Facebook and LinkedIn. You signed up by my name D-A-M-O-N B-U-R-T-O-N and I am on Instagram and Twitter, but it’s more like repurpose content, so I just share little bits and stuff. It’s not so much me, me, but if you want to check out some of the blogging stuff I do about entrepreneurism, you can check out Damonburton.Com and then the book that you held up, if you want physical copies on Amazon or have free PDFs at freeseobook.com.
So we’re going to go to the bonus round. This is a question that I usually asks everybody just because the answers are always so uniquely different and the reasons behind them are always going to be completely unique as well. You could spend twenty four hours in one day with anybody dead or alive. Who would it be and why?
My wife, lover, we’ve been together for 16 years and she’s my best friend.
This is so crazy. I literally just had another podcast like maybe two or three days ago, Asked them the same question and answered with the same. And I was like, you’re definitely not going to be able to sleep on the couch ever again. Like, hands down. It’s never going to happen.
People say, i am OK, say all these these people like, you know, people that are dead and gone. Right. And someone says their wife. That’s just the justice to humanity as well.
I’m super proud of her lately. So we’ve been married for 14 years and together 16. And I’ve never not been in love with her. And, you know, it’s a bonus that she’s super hot, but, you know, she’s just the most innocent person. And and she’s really grown a lot in the last couple of weeks too just trying to figure out who she is as an individual. And and so it’s been really cool to see her grow.
Nice. Perfect. So bonus question wise, if money wasn’t a factor, would you still be doing exactly what you’re doing right now?
Yeah, yes and no. Like, it’s hard to answer because money is not what keeps me in it. But in my younger days, it was certainly an incentive. So I think if I didn’t go through that, then I then I don’t know that I would be here. So there was a quote. I think it was Jim Carrey a while back. And he said something like, I I hope everybody finds success. So they realize that it’s not the answer and you you have to figure that out on your own. You have to go through that on your own. Everybody, all they can say money doesn’t solve everything. Everybody can say, I have a mansion, but it doesn’t make me happy. But I can tell you have all that stuff and feel at yourself like you can’t really change who you are or better understand who you are. So I don’t know. I think I’d probably I would hopefully have found some success in some other capacity and then ended up taking a similar journey where I’m happy with where I’m at, where I can start to give back. So I think I would have the same mental processes, but I don’t know what I’d be doing.
Nice . So this is the part of the of the podcast where I pretty much give the microphone to my interviewee and you know what good questions you may have for me?
Man.. This one, you’re putting me on the spot here. Well, I don’t know. We need to break this into a two part question. So the first the first question is, you need to bring me up to speed. What’s your journey? So I better understand so I can ask you a good question.
So my journey similar to yours in the sense that I started off with graphic design. It was my first degree. And then after that, I got into Web design and multimedia and then I had a fork in the road where I got into financial services, got into it more so wealth management, series six, insurances and everything kind of came full circle at that point. At that point, I kind of felt like I had more of the business intunity behind the scenes and I had the creative. And that’s when I kind of was like 50% analytical, 50% creative. And at that point in time, I came together and became more of a universal consultant at that point.
You know, it’s interesting you say that you’re kind of the half left brain, right brain kind of thing, because I think that’s one of my superpowers, too, is because you have to be able to translate. Right, because your customers are like, I want this thing, but they don’t know that that thing means you have to, like, dissect this completely unrelated thing. And so I think that’s it’s a very rare like I don’t as much as I would be awesome to find more people like you. It just would you agree that it just never happened. So when I hire out my talent, I hire based on individual skill sets. I would love unicorns, but I realize that they’re pretty few and far between.
Exactly. I mean, to your point, it’s it took me a while to realize what i am. I started isolating people based upon what they want to do versus what I want them to do. So when I’m looking for somebody, yeah. Somebody may say, hey, I can do this, I’m OK, you can do this. This is what I’m going to pay you for. But what is it that you really want to do.
You’re the first person. I know other people think that you’re the first person that I’ve heard say that. And I say the same thing when I go another podcast is so what I do is I’ll hire, I’ll find the the job based on skill set that I can find a million web designers, but I can’t find a million web designers that I feel like I can trust, that I can feel like will adopt the company culture. And so I will I will find that the first round of job candidates based on skill set. But I’ll hire based on emotions. Yeah. And I’ll ask him the same thing. I’m like, what? I’ll say, what are you good at and what do you like doing. Those are two different questions. So then I’ll say, OK, well you know, if you like doing B but you just want a job for A, I have enough demand for A and then let’s see how we can migrate you over time over to B though, because and I think that’s a big part of my team loyalties because I don’t just make him do crap that they can do, but they hate doing know. I try and find the balance of how can they contribute to the company, but also feel like they are getting personal growth out of it as well.
Yeah, I mean, give you an example of that. one VA that I was working with, and he was very studious in his work and so I just kind of, you know, I do a lot of research and I just looked them up online, seen his background a little bit. And like, you’re a like php developer. Why the hell are you doing VA work. And so it kind of converted from him doing VA work into more web development, which is what he wants to do in the first place so it was kind of like, I don’t even know why the hell are you promoted VA when you’re a developer and if you’re a developer, you are a developer.
Because he needed a job
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely. So I mean, I definitely appreciate you taking the time and I mean, I think it’s a great episode. To your point, we had a lot of highs and lows. Like this episode was like life itself was like highs and lows, some emotional roller coasters and some technology, a little bit of information, a little bit of who you are. And I just want to say thank you for being a guest on the show.
Yeah, thanks. S.A I appreciate it.