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Hi, I'm Nat. I'm the founder of Growth Machine, an SEO-focused content marketing agency that's grown from 0 to over $100k MRR in under a year. 

For the last four years, I've worked with companies like Sumo, Yummly, Patreon, Kettle & Fire, Four Sigmatic, and many more to help grow their organic search traffic and turn those visitors into new customers. 

Outside of "work," I also blog on a wide range of topics, co-host a podcast on thought-provoking books, sell tea, and spend more time on Twitter than I probably should. I love helping other people get content marketing working for them, so let me know what questions I can answer! 

  • MP

    Maximilian Peters

    3 months ago #

    What's upppp Nat! Being following you for years now.

    I got to ask you a lot of questions already by replying to your e-mail broadcasts, but here a few more:

    How do you package you services?

    How do you filter out unqualified leads?

    If you could write about only one thing, what would that subject be and why?

    Cheers,
    Max

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Max! Gonna reply to this individually:

      How do you package you services?

      Really just one package: full SEO content management starting at $9,000 per month. We have add-ons from there, but narrowing our offering down to one thing has made the business much easier to manage.

      3 Share
    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      If you could write about only one thing, what would that subject be and why?

      Probably ethics & morality, it wouldn’t ever be exhausted.

      2 Share
    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      How do you filter out unqualified leads?

      Budget is the big one. If they push back on pricing at all that’s a bad sign, and we don’t negotiate our prices at all. Good clients get it, bad potential clients will push back on pricing. We’ve also started asking for their current marketing budgets in our intake form which makes the weeding out much easier.

      1 Share
  • YA

    Yusuf Abukar

    3 months ago #

    How do you price your services?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      We start at $9,000 / month base for 3 pieces of content per week (plus all the optimizing, publishing, promoting, tracking, reporting, etc.), and then prices go up from there if people want more content, special promotion (e.g. managed Pinterest) and so on.

      We started at $6,000 / month but have raised it slowly over the last year to provide a better service and to meet the level of demand we’re getting. I suspect we’ll keep raising them in the future if we keep having this many leads we don’t have time to take on.

  • AD

    Antonio Dijak

    3 months ago #

    Hey Nat,
    If you could give a piece of advice to a complete beginner, what would you say, where to focus most of my time considering content marketing? What would you do, with the knowledge and experience that you have now?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Write 50 articles about anything you want without worrying about SEO, promotion, traffic, etc. If you still like it at the end of 50, then you can start to think about marketing, but if you don’t like the writing you’ll never get good at the marketing part.

      6 Share
  • JT

    Jason Thibault

    2 months ago #

    Hi Nat,

    Thanks for doing this!

    How many content assets are you typically creating a month for a client (at $6-7k/mth range)?

    What does content promotion look like for you in Month 1, 2-6. Are you mixing paid and organic?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Jason, definitely!

      We don’t charge that little anymore, but when we were we were making 2-3 / week.

      We don’t do any paid promotion. Mostly we focus on Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Reddit, and Pinterest when appropriate.

      But the most important promotion strategy with organic traffic is patience.

  • QH

    Quinton Hamp

    2 months ago #

    What are some of the most effective ways to build a B2B business?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      More customers, higher prices, lower costs.

      Can you make the question more specific?

    • JL

      Jessica Lang

      about 2 months ago #

      Pete Campbell, founder of content marketing agency Kaizen, is live now for his AMA - would recommend asking him?

  • QH

    Quinton Hamp

    2 months ago #

    Do you feel excessive content length (2x what the competition has) is a positive ranking factor in Google? Also, how do you create systems that determine "content quality"?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Quinton! Gonna reply to the two questions separately:

      Do you feel excessive content length (2x what the competition has) is a positive ranking factor in Google?

      Only if the length is justified. If your content is 2x longer and explains the topic 2x better, then great. But if you’re fluffing it to get to some arbitrary “ideal” length you read about on a content marketing blog, then you’re just hurting yourself.

      2 Share
    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      And honestly the #1 system for content quality is having a trained eye. I’ve published a few hundred posts of my own, and through Growth Machine we’ve published hundreds more. Nora and Heather, who run most of the content production, have both published and edited hundreds of pieces on their own too. We’ve seen a ton of content, and the more you see, the more you get a sense of good vs. bad.

      2 Share
  • CZ

    Chintan Zalani

    2 months ago #

    Been following you for a while, Nat. Love your wiki strategy and your overall approach to content marketing. What's your number one tip for generating leads for a service business?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Thanks Chintan!

      Results is probably the best one. I think a decent chunk of our leads come from me taking screenshots of our results and putting them on Twitter, in articles, etc. Results is also how you get referrals.

      4 Share
  • CH

    Cara Hogan

    2 months ago #

    How do you scale up a content agency so quickly? How did you ensure the quality of content didn't go down as you grew and worked with more writers?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Cara!

      Honestly we didn’t try to grow it, we just got good results and got more referrals and got more clients. It happened really organically.

      Scaling the quality was hard, but what made the biggest difference was working with great writers who we could trust. I’d rather pay more for a great writer we don’t need to police than try to milk the margins as much as possible with cheaper writers we need to heavily edit.

      3 Share
  • KG

    Konstantine Gegeshidze

    about 2 months ago #

    How to SEE/TRACK organic keyword conversions in Google Analytics OR in anything else?

    Found this solution https://keyword-hero.com/ but never actually have tried. Any thoughts?

    P.S. Became big fun of you and your blog after discovering you via Podcast

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Thanks Konstantine!

      As in how a given keyword is converting? No great way to do that, but you can see how an article is converting of course and then from that infer what keywords are leading to the conversions. That’s probably the closest you’ll get.

      • KG

        Konstantine Gegeshidze

        about 1 month ago #

        Yeap,exactly. Tried Keyword-hero didnt work for the purpose I intended.

        Solution I found was by getting granular data/idea by pulling out data from Google analytics >>> Search Console >>> Landing pages >> Filters and sort via Goals.

        And then mapping those pages alongside the best performing organic traffic driven keywords (data from GSC and ahref/Semrush))

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 2 months ago #

    Thanks for doing this AMA with us Nat. I have a couple of questions...

    1) I've noticed a trend in agencies referring to their recurring retainer contracts as MRR. When you write that you've reached $100K MRR is that for recurring services contracts or something else?
    2) As a content marketing agency, I assume that your team writes the content for your clients. How does your team generate enough expertise in a subject matter to write quality content?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Sean!

      1: Yup that’s our recurring services contracts.

      2: We don’t actually, we hire subject matter expert writers for each client to make sure the content is as high quality as possible. We’ll source 5-6 writers for a client’s niche, send the client some writing samples from them to make sure they meet expectations, then onboard the writer to our system and work with them to produce the content for the client.

  • JQ

    Jason Quey

    about 2 months ago #

    Thanks for being here and answering our questions Nat, and congrats on your agency!

    Couple questions:

    1. I've heard you segment what content promotion you do based on how well an article does. What key metrics do you look for? How do you decide if a piece of content should be promoted on all social channels or one? And do you create content to do better on certain platforms?

    2. Do you map out user-intent when looking at keywords? If so, what is your process for doing so?

    3. What is your focus when optimizing your home page for Growth Machine (e.g. what conversion metric did you focus on, how high were you looking for that metric to get, etc)?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      3: None! Haven’t optimized it at all to be honest. We get more inbound than we can handle right now and aren’t trying to grow, so I’ve sort left it half done…. Honestly if we didn’t have some good names on there we’d look like kind of a mess. Goes to show how easy it is to overoptimize things that don’t matter, though.

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Jason!

      1: Not exactly, we pick the channels based on the subject and where we think it’ll do well. The big question here is whether we try to promote it on reddit: it needs to be a perfect fit to be worth promoting there.

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      2: Not really, we go for traffic in the beginning and then once we have a good amount we can see what’s converting and what isn’t and adjust from there.

  • MW

    Martin Weiss

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi,
    what's usually your ratio of writing posts yourself vs. outsourcing it (i.e. not guest posts, but hiring someone)?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Every single post is outsourced to contract writers who are experts in the client’s niche.

  • JP

    Johannes Pautzke

    3 months ago #

    Given everything you have learned and experienced over the years, if you could pass one piece of advice, what would it be?

    • JL

      Jessica Lang

      about 2 months ago #

      would recommend asking Pete Campbell too - his AMA starts in 2 hours!

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      For content marketing? Just try to make the best article online on the subject.

      Second to that is to not write expert roundups.

  • JC

    Jack Carter

    2 months ago #

    Given everything you have learned and experienced over the years, if you could pass one piece of advice, what would it be? And Tell us that How do you price your services ?

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    2 months ago #

    Bonjour Nat- Thanks for doing this AMA.

    What has been your favorite piece of content so far and why?

    Merci!

  • GB

    Gene Briones

    2 months ago #

    What is the future of content marketing? How do you see this field working in the future?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      I think we’ll see Google continue to reward quality over hacks, and the things that get you quick wins now will work less and less.

      I suspect we’ll also see some penalties to clickbait, though that’s hard for the different platforms to enforce since they don’t have an economic incentive to do so.

      2 Share
  • AF

    Alexandre Ferrari

    2 months ago #

    Hey Nat! Thanks to being here for AMA!

    We know that traffic does not always mean +sales/-CAC.
    So, to check if we are able to be more cost-effective, do you implement some kind of tracking? What kind more specifically?

    Thank you so much!
    Ale

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Ale, definitely!

      This varies by the client. Some just want the traffic so they can pixel the readers and retarget them, some want to track email signups, some want to track direct conversion to sales.

      To me, I’d like to get a blog to 100k+ organic readers per month then think more about conversion. Otherwise it’s easy to overoptimize in the beginning when you don’t have as much data.

  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Nat,
    How to manage an agency in crowded market as yours without influencers and connections?
    Thanks in advance

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Honestly, it’ll be really hard to do well if you don’t have some connections and results. I’d work on getting those first either through freelancing or being in-house before trying to start an agency.

  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Nat,
    How to get the first 100 clients in b2b?
    Thanks in advance

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      I’ll let you know when I get there! Honestly 100 clients sounds like a nightmare. I like having ~12.

      2 Share
  • MV

    Maarten Van den Bossche

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Nat,

    How did changes in the SEO business change your work in the last 3 years and how will it change your work in the next 3 years?

    Curious about your thoughts.

    Kind regards,

    Maarten

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Maarten!

      It really hasn’t, we focus on quality content above all else, so Google punishing tricks and hacks doesn’t affect us. The latest EAT stuff had an impact and we had to put together some design recommendations for a few of our clients, but the process of creation and promotion is largely unchanged.

  • RG

    Rowan Greedy

    about 2 months ago #

    Thanks for doing this AMA with us Nat. I have a couple of questions...

    1) I've noticed a trend in agencies referring to their recurring retainer contracts as MRR. When you write that you've reached $100K MRR is that for recurring services contracts or something else?
    2) As a content marketing agency, I assume that your team writes the content for your clients. How does your team generate enough expertise in a subject matter to write quality content?

  • TD

    t dog

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Nat,

    been following your stuff for a while and love what you do!

    Got two questions:

    What's your reddit strategy, respectively that of the person you outsource it to? Would you be willing to give out their contacts?

    How's cup and leaf doing financially?

    Cheers

  • BC

    batman010293 c

    about 1 month ago #

    1. How did you pick the tea niche? Any chance you'll be sharing MRR for that one (here or in a blog post?)

    2. Is there a reason, especially profit-wise, you aren't starting more companies and niche sites doing your own SEO for them?

    • NE

      Nat Eliason

      about 1 month ago #

      1: We saw a big opportunity for content there, since there wasn't a great tea blog out there yet. Yeah definitely will at some point :)

      2: Just trying to take it slowly and not put too many projects out at once and spread ourselves too thin. We do plan on doing more of this over the next year though.

  • DL

    Davenport Laroche

    11 days ago #

    Hi Nat! I am a content marketer at a PR firm in NYC. The content marketing division is just that, me. There is no real sense on how to sell content marketing and writing to our clients and I was wondering if you have any best practices from your experience that would help me to get the sales ball rolling and lift the content writing part of the digital team off the page and into the content marketing game.

    Your attention to this would be amazingly appreciated. I have a 1,001 questions as I am also hoping to promote my own brand and start utilizing the affiliate marketing world to my advantage through a new blog that I am about to launch, but that can come later.

    Thank you!!! I hope that Tuesday is treating you well!

    Tim

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