Skin in the Game: Creating Your Own SEO Business

How to Start Your Own SEO BusinessSo you think you want to have Your Own SEO Business.  Well, so do a lot of other people, too!  Even worse, every one of your friends will know exactly how you should run the business.  After all, they know the Internet!

Everybody’s an NFL Monday morning coach, right? Ask a Miami taxi driver what the Dolphins need to do to get to the play-offs. The resulting verbiage can be weighed at an Interstate weigh station. Taxi talk, however, is cheap. It’s what Adam Gase (The Dolphins’ coach) says that matters because he’s got skin in the game just like you will if you decide to start your own SEO business.

What the hell, let’s digress


‘Skin in the game’ means you have a stake, a financial stake, invested in the outcome of a venture. You’re not merely an observer (as the Miami taxi driver is). The expression is used a lot by Wall Street traders and other masters of the universe, and I think it’s best deployed by Nicholas Nasim Taleb (whose eponymous book is in the works). Popularly attributed to Warren Buffet, the expression it’s actually much older than that. William Safire in the New York Times cites a century-old usage in the Oakland Tribune ( We can safely say it represents just the type of juicy, visceral idiom US English is so good at, ‘Skin in the game.’


Back to your future


So you want to get some. Some of the seemingly unlimited supply of cash dollars invested in SEO each year. And yes, there are some big players out there. Boostability, which operates out of Lehi, Utah, pulls in upwards of $10m each year and has almost 500 full-time employees. At the other end of the scale, there’s my gran, who dabbles every now and then when she’s not watching As the World Turns reruns on Amazon Prime.


OK, I’m kidding, but I had you for a second there…. The point is there are lots of small fries as well as lots of whales in the SEO sea, and if you want to get into the game, your outputs will likely match your inputs.




Let’s unpack these. What do you need to put into your own SEO business to get anything out? Turns out to be quite a lot, as it goes. The ideal skill set you’d need to acquire includes:


  • Being good with figures: there’s a fair bit of numerical analysis to be done (see my post on SEO metrics here);
  • Knowing your way around the Web architecture (HTML, for example) as well as popular website building software such as WordPress: you’ll most likely feel impelled to construct your own site, and it’s a superb, if steep, learning curve;
  • Decent working familiarity with presentation software (such as SmartDraw or Piktochart)
  • Literacy: a lot of SEO revolves around language (keywords and site content), so you need to do more than just keep an eye on your spell checker;
  • Being good at SEO: ironic, isn’t it? Like the proverbial snake eating its own tail, you need to have your own site optimized to get a decent level of traffic;
  • Sales nous: you need the ability to explain the value of what you do to the uncommitted

Resources to Create Your Own SEO Business


Again, ironically, the market is absolutely stuffed to the gunwales with online training resources on running your own SEO business. A Google search for “learn SEO’ comes up with 65,500,000 results. So you also need a good eye for quality when you’re setting out on your SEO journey. This piece in Search Engine Journal is a good place to start, but you’ll want to go further and wider, too. Or, you could start by exploring this very site, which has lots of useful information and regular posts and updates. We’re not an online SEO tutoring service, but if you want to get a feel for your potential market, there’s no better place to start than right here.

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