Founder Stories by TeamWave, are a series of interviews of founders of small businesses and other thought leaders who share their practical insights from their journey of entrepreneurship. Here they talk about how they scaled up their company, what challenges they faced during their initial years, marketing strategies that worked to scale up their small business and much more.
These success stories are dedicated to all the entrepreneurs, small business owners and startups, to show them a glimpse of what it takes to survive in this competitive business ecosystem.
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In this episode of FOUNDER SERIES by TeamWave, our guest is Nick Jordan who is the CEO of ContentDistribution.com
ContentDistribution.com helps high growth technology companies build massive audiences through organic search. They have a combined 65,000+ first page keywords across their projects all without building backlinks or implementing complicated technical SEO.
Transcription of the Interview
Reshmi: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the founder stories by TeamWave. And today’s guest is Nick Jordan, who is the CEO of ContentDistribution.com. ContentDistribution.com is a company that has helped its clients grow organic sessions and organic traffic. So basically they help their brands to reach out, to a larger online target audience. Is that correct? Nick
Nick: Yeah. Build massive online audiences through organic search. And you know, if you stay along for the next 15 or 20 minutes, you’re going to find out why we’re not like any other SEO vendor you’ve ever heard of.
Reshmi: Yeah, sure. And my first question would be, we would love to hear from the founder himself, what is this ContentDistribution.com?
Nick: Yeah. So ContentDistribution.com is, you know, I hate this word, but it’s an SEO agency. I typically like to refer to it as organic search. And we’ve been able to take four projects from zero to a hundred thousand organics per month. The biggest is now doing over 500,000 organics per month. And it’s a startup in San Francisco and it’s by Andreessen Horowitz in the process of taking this project from zero to 500,000 organics a month. Our team grew from one person to 25 people last year in 2020 during the pandemic remotely.
Reshmi: Oh, great. And how did you come up with this idea first?
Nick: You know, as an entrepreneur, I’m a fan of the least resistance, you know, the path of least resistance. What’s a good idea for you might not be a good idea for me. And, you know, at the time that I started ContentDistribution, you know providing SEO services was the easiest way for me, to make money after just leaving an SEO agency. But before that spending eight career years in early-stage SaaS companies.
Reshmi: Okay. How did you find your first customer? Because when we talk about digital marketing agencies, I see there are so many agencies out there. So how did content distribution.com stand out? How did you pitch to your first customer?
Nick: I think that the one thing that I do, you won’t see very often as I create my own internal case studies. So I had spent eight years in the early stage. SaaS is like a sales guy and I wanted to, to reskill my career and transition to marketing. And so I joined a marketing agency to lead sales, and I knew that in order to sell well that I would have to actually learn how to do the service that I was selling. I did.
And I grew the agency that I worked at. I grew their blog from zero to a hundred thousand. And when I left the agency, I knew that I, you know, one, I just had a one single data point and that I knew I didn’t have the trust and credibility that my brand needed to work on the kinds of projects I thought I was capable of working on.
Because when you started as a consultant, most of the time, you’re starting with small and local businesses solopreneurs. And if you spend too much time there, you’re never going to make any progress. You’re not going to hit your financial goals and needed to level up to bigger and bigger, bigger projects as soon as you can. And so I built a company or a project called doggypedia.org. It was about pets and I grew it from zero to a hundred thousand organics a month and plan A was to get rich and plan B was to create a great case study to make money on consulting. Didn’t make plan A, but that case study directly led to that, you know, all of my future deals.
Reshmi: Okay. You used to show that as a proof to the audience, the new customers
Nick: That’s exactly right. And it allows me to level up very quickly. I didn’t have to spend much time working with solopreneurs because that case study showed I could work with bigger businesses.
Reshmi: You have a team of 25, right. So do you have an office or do you hire them remotely?
Nick: So this is going to sound crazy, but I was living in Seattle and I hired my first team member in Belgrade Serbia, and I flew to Belgrade to train her. And after a week she’s like, Hey, I got an extra bedroom in my apartment. You know, why don’t you want to just stay here? And so I ended up living with my, my first team member for about six months before I got stuck up inside of Europe when they locked the borders.
Reshmi: Okay, great. Talking about Covid, how did that affect ContentDistribution.com? Did you have to pivot from any strategies that you usually do?
Nick: Yeah. And you know, up until that point we’d been working together, like in the same living room. And what I had to laugh, you’re up to go on a business trip. I told my, my team member on my point, number one, don’t, don’t burn down the company. I thought I was going to be gone for a month and I’m now going on month 13 or 14. And it, it worked, it worked really well.
Reshmi: Oh, great. So did it affect the business, like during the pandemic? What about clients? Like, what was their reaction? Were they continuing with this content creation works?
Nick: Yeah. You know, I only work with, with high-tech companies and none of them really weren’t impacted by the pandemic. Maybe they thought they were going to be impacted and they weren’t, or they just raised $12 million and they literally have to spend it as soon as possible. And it doesn’t really matter the economic conditions, they just have to deploy the capital. So, you know, the pandemic was the first year in my life that I feel like I’ve hit my entrepreneurial goal.
Reshmi: Oh, great. Great. How does the pricing of this ContentDistribution.com work? Is it like per content basis or is there a monthly plan?
Nick: Yeah, you know, we start off working on like, you know, three or $5,000 a month projects, you know, but right now we’re working on projects of of over a hundred thousand dollars a month.
Reshmi: When I was looking at your website, I saw the cool tool Cluster.ai. I would love to hear from you more about it.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely. You know, this is a tool I’ve been using internally for the last two years. And you, before I moved into SEO, I was an early stage SaaS company, my entire career. And, you know, people know me as an SEO guy, hopefully they don’t know me as an SEO group. But, but, you know, I identify as a founder, a marketer and SEO is a tool in my tool belt. You know, I identify as a sales guy more than identify as an SEO guy. I’m not sure that answered the question.
Reshmi: Yeah. But I want to know, like the Cluster.ai, how has that helped you in the content creation and the content distribution part?
Nick: Well, I’ve been using it, I built this tool. I’ve been using it internally for the last year and it’s powered at my SEO case studies. And I decided to make it publicly available. I’m very excited for that, because again, I have a SaaS background and, you know, I like talking about funnels and product. And so, you know, what this does is it removes the SEO skills required to get good SEO outcomes. So if you look at my organization, there’s only two people in the organization of 25 that knew SEO before they joined the team, me and our director of SEO, everybody else, no SEO experience. But despite that, we are probably the top 1% of agencies, and we had the best SEO, a study of 2020 and Cluster.ai automates the keyword research and, you know, makes it easy for anyone to cross Google.
Reshmi: Okay, fantastic. And my next question would be about your entrepreneurial journey. You have to start your own company, like you were working at some other place. Right. So how was that experience? Like, how did you know that you have to make that switch?
Nick: Yeah. so I had I had a really rough upbringing, not because like I have anything, my parents are dead. I was just a bad kid. I was a really bad kid. But fortunately I was born in Seattle, Washington, you know, home of Microsoft and Amazon. And that means, regardless of what happened, I’ll probably end up working in tech and that’s what happened. I feel like if I was born and, you know, Arkansas or Alabama, you know, I’d probably be working at a gas station or like shoveling dirt.
And so I’m very fortunate to be born in Seattle. I dropped out of like three different colleges because I just can’t learn anything. I’m not interested in learning. And I just can’t learn from a lecture style. I ended up moving abroad to Brazil to teach English as a way to like, just like take some time off and figure out what I was going to do.
While I was there, I realized I get back, you know, I’m going to have to work in a restaurant or manual labor. No, one’s going to hire me to do the things that I think I’m capable of doing. And I, when I got back, I started working on my own startups. I knew that, you know, whether I was successful or not, I was gonna learn the skills and meet the people to do something even a higher impact next.
And I spent the first, you know, I would say 21 to 26, you know, not making a lot of money. You know, I launched two products. One of them made some money, one of them didn’t, but neither of them was successful enough to continue, but I had failed enough and racked up enough accomplishments that a CEO, I met a hacker news meet-up in Seattle, hired me as an employee number eight.
And they hired me for a role, an industry I didn’t know, existed for technology. I didn’t understand. And I was just so like inexperienced and unqualified for the role, but I got it. We grew to 200 people in four years without raising any money by making a ton of cash and, you know, outside of the CEO and the CTO, I probably had the most cross-collaboration across the entire company because of my ability to get an early and my ability to learn anything that the role required me to learn. And so, you know, one week I’m helping GoDaddy deploy our APIs and their customer facing control panel. The next week, I’m negotiating with Sprint’s legal team. The week after that, I’m helping AT&T train a hundred sales agents on our products, so they can sell to their customers.
The week after that I’m flying to Barcelona to, you know, to run a conference with all the telecommunication companies in the world. And I think that’s where I learned how to do good work. And I attribute a lot of the success I’ve had as an entrepreneur to working for someone else. I, and when I look at my friends who went straight from college, either dropping out or graduating to being entrepreneurs, I see them lacking a lot of just general best practices that you only pick up if you’re working closely with people that are 10 or 20 or 30 years at the peak of their career every day for multiple years.
Reshmi: Well, that’s very inspiring. And yeah, the last point you said, they lack a lot of skills. When they work at other places, they get to know how the work environment is.
Nick: So basic to just like sending a calendar item and naming it, the person you’re meeting with slash your name dash agenda, and then putting an agenda. No, I get, I get, you know, just basic tiny things on how to communicate and work in teams and collaborate are missing from people who go straight from school to entrepreneurship.
Reshmi: Yeah. Cool. What is one big challenge that you have faced? And how did you overcome it?
Nick: I mean, you know, every day is a challenge. I think that the hardest part is consistency over long periods of time. You know, I think careers are measured in decades when I first started my first startup, you know, I thought I might get rich next year, but you know, I’m 34 now, 13 years later. And finally with this 25 person team that I’ve accomplished something. And now that I’m here, you know, I’m not, I’m not happy. Like I got the thing that I thought I wanted, but it turns out the thing I got when I wanted, I want more, that’s not good enough.
And so I think there’s two things. That’s hard as one. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. If you can’t consistently show up every day for decades, you know, you’re not going to, you’re not going to hit your goals, but you know how it’s a basketball players who don’t show up to practice get caught every, every day. The second thing is, I mean, you know, I think consistency, I think consistency over long periods of time is the hardest thing in the world.
Reshmi: It’s hard to show up daily. And, but the people who keep keep on doing that, they are the ones who are successful,
Nick: Man, it’s, it’s showing up daily, it’s, it’s the learning and not getting stuck in this particular area. And you keep on overcoming new challenges. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s being ethical and, you know, like morally sound because those will catch up to you if you’re not like, you know, it’s a lot
Reshmi: And so now we’re almost to the end of this session. Whis is your favorite book, business book that you would like to recommend to others, business marketing, anything.
Nick: Okay. Favorite business book? It is by this famous hedge fund billionaire called Ray Dalio and I forgot the name. Oh, it’s called Principles of Success. And basically he gives you the principles of how to do good work. And it’s very simple. First, you try, then you fail and you measure iterate, and you’re just constantly looping up into the right. And if you do that, you’ll like hit your goals as long as you’re following the loop.
And I, you know, I think about it a lot and all of my approaches to, you know, oftentimes you don’t have perfect information and waiting will not get you more information. So the best thing you should do is act, that will force new information to appear. And then you can use that to measure iterate and continue to act. And so if you haven’t read dollars principles, you scraped,
Reshmi: Wow, that’s a great concept. Yeah. Rather than just keeping on learning, we should implement it as well.
Nick: Yeah. You know, I think I’m drawn to entrepreneurial-ism because I love learning and you know, there’s just a crack though. I could go, I didn’t, you know, I spent, I created a maternity policy for like 18 women, you know, last month. I never thought I’d do that. And then this month I’m diving into air table and then next month, you know, I’m like creating workshops for our managers and like next month I’m like, you know, launching a product. So with entrepreneurship, you can just go as deep as you want, wherever you want and just find the learning. And you’ll never, you’ll never not have challenges.
Reshmi: You should be always curious to learn new things.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely.
Reshmi: And the second question is one productivity hack that you use.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely. So let me show you this give me one second. I’m an American building a team in Europe, living in Asia, servicing US clients. So I consider myself a global citizen and I move around a lot. And the thing that’s hardest is I moved away from Seattle at a treadmill desk. I could walk while I work. I love having a great work setup, but when you travel a lot, you’re, you’re at mercy of the Airbnb chairs.
And so we’re launching a product for remote workers. And basically what it is is it’s a, it’s a travel stand desk. It’s called the stand desk and that’s in your suitcase. Oh, I can actually, I brought this from Asia or, sorry, I brought this from the US so now I’m in Asia and here’s the chair that I’m not sitting on. It’s like a block of wood. You know, probably cost $2. And you know, if I had to sit in that chair for eight hours a day, I wouldn’t be as productive.
Reshmi: That’s great. Yeah. Any message you want to give to the entrepreneurs?
Nick: You know, it’s all about consistency, you know, just keep on showing up again and again and again and again and again, and, you know, never stop learning. And if you can do those two things it might take a couple of decades, but you’ll eventually, you know, hopefully hit the goals that you’re looking for. Second is if you want to, you know, remote StandDesk yourself, you can get at strongerteams.com.
Reshmi: Yeah, definitely. And anything else that I missed out on that you want to add up to this?
Nick: Oh, man. I don’t think so. Think, I think you know, I think we covered everything. I think we covered like the path of least resistance and just like, do what’s easiest for you personally, you know, we covered consistency, you know, I think you hit everything important.
Reshmi: Yes. Yes. So it was great talking to you Nick.
Nick: You too. Thank you so much.