Hey Ken, why don’t we start by having you tell a little bit about yourself?
Of course! I’m 27 years old and live in Providence Rhode Island.
I launched my first website in college, knowing nothing about SEO. It was a college classifieds site where students could sell textbooks. My traffic strategy was to bookmark my website as the homepage on every computer in the library.
Is that greyhat? I’ll let you decide :)
From there I started working at a local agency – a startup – that offered web design and video. I joined as employee #3 and the only marketing guy.
My first task was to create title tags and meta descriptions for a client’s website.
$40,000+ in student loans. That’s how much I had accumulated studying marketing at a private university.
So I should be pretty good at this, right?
Wtf is a title tag? They never taught me this in school!
So I did what anyone else would – I turned to Google.
How did you find out about Nohat?
I really had no idea what SEO was until I started listening to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast.
This led me down the rabbit hole of learning about link building and eventually to Nohat.
Nohat invited a few people to come down to the house for a retreat in Mexico.
This was my chance to escape the office!
And I just missed it.
I remember literally checking the blog every week hoping that they would open it up again (serious FOMO kicking in).
A remote internship opened up and I thought well maybe I can learn some tricks to apply to my clients.
That’s when I did my first internship with NoHat Digital.
What were the key benefits of the internship?
- Expert coaching— Having an expert there to walk me through every step of the way. You and Greg have built a massive amount of sites, and I thought if there was even a small chance I could learn how to do this it would be worth it. Plus, I never would have finished it on my own without the motivation of Greg and other interns helping me along the way.
- Network— I’ve become good friends with past interns and it’s amazing having a group of like-minded people that can relate to what I’m going through.We’ve traded guest posts, strategies, and logins to SEO tools together. I’ve even bought websites from other interns.
- Templates & Formulas— It’s one thing to read a blog post about how to build links, it’s another to have a spreadsheet with automation.That means I can build links cheaper and more efficiently than others.The spreadsheets contained formulas as well.For example, the “THIRST” calculation helped us identify the most profitable keywords and niches.
- The Latest Strategies— Each internship has a test week where you try something that isn’t being talked about anywhere else. For my internship it was Foreign SEO and driving traffic with Pinterest. All of the interns participate in the test and the instructor reports the results. Now I know what works and how to do it.That’s two new strategies to drive traffic in my marketing toolbox!
What happened to the agency?
I took what I learned and started applying it to clients at the agency – doubling their leads and traffic.
We scaled the agency itself up to 20 employees and $1.4M in annual revenue. I had a competitive salary and equity in the agency.
So it sounds like everything was going well?
Nope I was totally miserable.
Something was missing – it was a total grind coming into the office everyday, working on marketing for these corporate clients. I was commuting to work, sitting at a desk all day, and trading hours for dollars. Clients were contacting me at all hours of the day and the projects weren’t meaningful.
But most importantly, I wasn’t learning anymore – even from blogs. I wanted to learn from the best.
How did you get invited to Mexico?
I got an email out of the blue seeking past interns to come down to Mexico to work on a project.
I applied and got the spot. I quit my job and moved to Mexico a week later.
You can read about the project here on Spencer’s blog.
Disclaimer: If you want to try adding that much content to your website keep your topics related, and write some non-affiliate content.
Did your family think you were crazy?
Yeah, a little!
I had never even been to Mexico before. Now I was quitting my job and moving there for 3 months.
And I didn’t speak a word of Spanish!
But this was my chance to work with some really smart people and live in a community of entrepreneurs. I thought if I didn’t take it, I could end up doing the 9-5 grind for the next 40 years of my life and never see the world.
How did it affect your relationship? Were you the only partner with a girlfriend back home?
My girlfriend fully supported it (we are still together). She even came down to visit.
If anything I would say it made our relationship stronger because we learned new ways to communicate with each other. We wrote each other notes and I sent her flowers. There’s the old saying you don’t know what you got until it’s gone, and being away for a little while reminded me of how special she is to me.
There were 5 other partners that came down. One partner brought their wife and daughter with them. His wife later did the internship as well. Some other partners were single and found true love in Mexico ;)
Were you nervous?
Absolutely. I felt like, a star wars geek waiting in line to finally meet Han Solo. And I was on another planet because I literally didn’t speak the language.
Except these were my nerdy SEO heroes. I had been reading about these guys for years, and now I’m actually going to get to meet and train with them.
“Getting access to some of the biggest thought leaders in online marketing has taken my businesses to the next level.”
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen.
How much did you make?
That company got acquired and I ended up partnering with Hayden’s company Wired Investors where I do SEO and CRO on 7 figure niche websites. I am also a contributor to NoHat Digital.
Outside of the salary and Wired equity, my niche sites grew a lot. Applying what I learned from the internship and partnership, I doubled and sold one of my own niche sites for $25,000. Another that I am holding is up 30% this year. I did a full interview with the digital journey podcast about that website:
What were the benefits of the partnership and key takeaways?
- I had no idea the impact that living in a new country would have on me. You see the world from a completely different perspective and begin to question why we do things the way we do. I couldn’t possibly cover it all in this interview – perhaps I will write a separate blog post about it.
- A salary and equity in the project. Having ownership and the ability to generate more by working harder (or smarter) is important.
- Freedom of location. Working with NoHat gave me freedom of location, meaning the ability to work from anywhere in the world. So I could continue experiencing benefit #1 in other countries. This wasn’t possible with my 9-5 before, where I had to be in the office every day. For example, I just got back from a 1 month trip to Thailand.
- Getting access to some of the biggest thought leaders in online marketing has taken my businesses to the next level.
- I made some amazing friends and we shared in a once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Paragliding in the paragliding capital of the world, cooking with a real Mexican family, and playing basketball in a Mexican basketball league on a 6,000 foot mountain to name a few.
Are you a past intern? Comment below, and share this article for a chance to have your story on the blog!