1. You and your brother spent a long time learning-by-doing before starting your own company. What ultimately was the tipping point that led you into going into business for yourselves?
The tipping point was when I had a corporate job as an online marketing manager of a billion dollar travel agency, and I realized the companies we were outsourcing to, i.e. the SEO agency and PPC agency, were not doing a whole lot to earn the amazing amounts of money the travel agency was paying them. I loved the corporate job at first because I wanted to really help with my knowledge and passion, but the red tape and middle man mentality really left me wanting more. Around the same time, my brother Dan Anton was injured from a combat IED in Iraq; he is a retired Army Ranger Major having completed two tours in Iraq, receiving two bronze stars for valor in combat. He didn't want to be a desk general, and so he started to get more serious about our online marketing efforts. From 2006-2011 we were both part-time online marketers, though we made some money with it. In 2011, the corporate rat race was over, and Dan and I were ready to take the plunge and provide services to other marketers.
2. How would you summarize the scope of your business and how you help people?
Our mission is to help businesses achieve more success, and the vehicles were currently use to get there are focused around SEO, search engine optimization, and social media marketing. Dan and myself played video games constantly growing up, so we always love to figure ways around systems, test them, break them, and thrive at them. SEO and online marketing is just a game, and we love it, and there is no better feeling in the world than helping others, so it's a true win-win.
3. Why is it important to hire a professional SEO consultant rather than only taking a DIY approach to online marketing?
I believe if you hire someone you should always have a basic understanding so you don't get taken advantage of; however, the economy runs smoothly because everyone has a specialty. You wouldn't expect your local butcher to change your oil and fix your broken arm. If you have a real business, you need to have a real SEO consultant/service behind it; otherwise you will be dividing your efforts.
4. What are some things that people can do for free to help build reputable backlinks to their websites?
A great user experience. It sounds cliche that a quality website and content means a lot, but it truly does. In my younger years, I assumed all it took was the right mass media machine and all would work out. While it's probably easier to promote a decent product with mass marketing, few of us have this type of budget, so the easier solution is to create a great product (website/content) and have effective marketing behind it. Reaching out to others and begging sounds good in theory, but it's a waste of time. Would you want to link out to someone begging you for a link? Relationships are good, but they are founded on trust, and that starts with your reputation, which is directly linked to your internet presence and content.
5. For people who have always wanted to be entrepreneurs but have never quite managed to take the leap, what's your advice?
Keep your day job. I lived in my parents' basement more or less for years while I worked odd jobs saving up the funds to start. The thing about services is you don't have to invest much money at all to help someone else; most services can be time consuming, not capital consuming, so do it before or after your regular full/part-time job. It will make you appreciate it more, and not having a job while you work on your journey will make you desperate and take unnecessary risks and decisions. You'll know when you are ready when your workload begins to exceed hours available, and then you go down the outsourcing/delegation rabbit hole.