Some might think Aaron Wall has a harsh approach to business. He’s picky about which emails he responds to, and he gives nothing away for free to people who are rude and demand it (or as he calls them, freetards). But this is exactly how the founder of SEOBook, a site dedicated to providing marketing tips, search analysis, and online business tips on search engine optimization, has succeeded so well.
By taking a hard tack, he’s eliminated (well, reduced) the trash-talking freeloaders and pushed more of the questions visitors have to his forums, where they benefit everyone: “If I get emails from non-customers I tell them ‘Please ask it in our member forums.’ In that way, those who value my opinion have access to my time, and those who do not, do not get any of it.”
It Takes Dedication
Before you get the wrong impression of Wall, know that he’s worked long and hard since founding SEOBook in 2003 to get his business running smoothly. His work ethic and reach got him the distinction of being nominated as a Small Business Influencer Champion. And while he’s consulted for Fortune 500 companies and knows he knows a lot about SEO, there’s always room for more knowledge.
“I still learn a lot, and a lot of that learning comes from our community. By design our community is smallish, and full of bright members who have all kinds of business advice that really takes SEO to the next level.”
It’s that knowledge he thirsts for, it seems. When asked about his plans for the next few years, Wall doesn’t talk exit or growth strategy; he simply says he wants to spend more time learning and playing, and less time working. “I am more interested in staying nimble than in trying to scale.”
Sound Advice … All of It
Wall is good at taking advice. Like when his wife told him to focus (on building his websites) and filter (what he responds to). Or when a mentor told him that the best brands have their founders’ personalities injected into them, and that he should never apologize for being himself. Or, to summarize, “This is what we do, this is how we do it, and if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”
As for the advice he’d give, Wall says it’s key to have multiple streams of income:
“That gives you the flexibility to be more selective in what you do and who you work for. It also helps you better understand the value of your time, while lowering your risk profile for if/when any of the streams dries up.”
Aaron Wall was recognized as a Small Business Influencer Champion for 2011. Read more of our Small Business Influencer Champion interviews.