Last week was a huge one for The Content Factory – one of our clients got bought out by a massive tech company for $1 billion.

Yep, with a B 🦄

This is now the second “unicorn” TCF represents, and it got me reflecting on what it took to get here, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way that you may also find helpful.

The links in this email go to free comprehensive guides (and templates) you can use to replicate our success for your brand – personal and professional.

Get click happy here, because these guides are solid gold!

LESSON 1: make sure you’ve got strong contracts 💪

As much as I’m celebrating the big win, I’m also struggling with having to take a former client to court over $23,000 in unpaid services (yep, this kind of thing happens to established agencies, too). 

It’s going to take a few months for this all to shake out in the court system, but I know I’m going to win…because my contracts are rock solid. 

They also specify that all legal fees will be covered by the client, so I hope she digs my lawyer’s invoice.

If you’re a freelancer or agency type selling your services to clients, you should have clauses in your contract that cover things like pauses in services, indemnification, notice required for termination, publicity (so you can use those case studies!) and other essentials like a “no poaching” clause so your client can’t run off with your top talent.

If you’re a small business owner contracting a freelancer or agency, make sure you understand all aspects of the contract – you’ve got to fulfill your side, too.

LESSON 2: In almost all cases, search engine optimization (SEO) is the way to go 💯

I started The Content Factory a decade ago with some SEO skills and $500 that I put toward a website. Then, I researched keywords and created content designed to rank and convert.

Lo and behold, it worked – and continues to work. 

Get this: those unicorn clients reached out to us directly because they wanted to work with us.

I don’t have a sales team and I’ve never made a cold call. I don’t need to, because the SEO does all the work for us.

SEO sends TCF and our clients new leads and sales every day, with $0 ad spend – and with very few exceptions (I’m looking at you, mattress industry) it provides the highest, most consistent, and longest-lasting ROI for our clients. 

I’m guessing SEO would be a great play for you, too, so check out those links above or click here for a full, in-depth online training from me and my team.

LESSON 3: In order to be great at SEO, you also need to be great at PR 🤩

You know you need high-quality backlinks for SEO, that’s a given. But how do you get them?

You won’t catch them via the spray and pray method of cold emailing website owners and asking for backlinks on their blog (I know, I get dozens of these requests PER DAY).

PR is the best way to go about building high-quality backlinks that will help you usurp your competition in the search engine results pages – and landing major media coverage is easier than you think.

This is an often overlooked aspect of SEO, and a key differentiating factor in why my team is able to generate such amazing results for our clients. 

Remember the client I mentioned above, who still owes $23,000? 

Using free services like HARO, my team was able to generate over $2 million in media coverage for her brand – including 4 features in Forbes – in less than 8 months.

PR is great for raising brand awareness, building social proof and getting your products and services in front of the type of audience that gets excited to buy from you. 

But the process also builds up incredible backlinks that show search crawlers you’re worth linking to. Simply put: there’s no other way to get these links without PR.

LESSON 4: To properly care for your business you also need to care for yourself ✨

I was a charter member of The Hustle Culture Club for way too long. I overworked myself to the point where it negatively impacted my sleep schedule, eating patterns, relationships with friends and family…and it was driving me to the brink of burnout.

A few years ago I discovered BetterHelp online therapy while traveling as part of the Workationing podcast and project (Spotify, Apple Podcasts – give it a listen 🎧). 

That one change cascaded into so much more for me.

As a lady in her mid-to-late 33s, I don’t often have people checking in asking about my diet, sleep, and anxiety levels. My online therapist checks in on all this and more.

She’s the best accountability buddy I’ve ever had, and as a result of that accountability I suddenly find myself prioritizing my own health and wellness. I’m regularly working out 5 days per week, and now that I’m into the routine I actually look forward to it.

Prioritizing self care has made me a more effective manager, too. I’m less stressed, more organized than ever (thanks to strong systems, well-documented standard operating procedures and Asana).

Now, I’m excited about my business instead of exhausted from it.

If you’d like to check online therapy out for yourself, use Workationing’s affiliate link and you’ll get a 7-day trial for free. 

Fun fact: since I’ve clocked out of the whole hustle culture thing, I somehow find I get the same amount of work done. It’s almost like taking care of yourself makes you more effective or something 😉

LESSON 5: Hire slow and fire fast 🏃‍♀️

I didn’t come up with the term “hire slow and fire fast,” but it’s the first thing I thought of the first and only time I learned this lesson the hard way.

LESSON 6: Be excellent to your customers — and be even better to your team 🙏

If you think being a business owner means that you’re running your own show, you’re wrong.

Look around at who makes and packages your widgets, and who does the actual work required to service your contracts. Chances are, you’re relying on a team – and so are your customers.

Create a company culture that focuses on thrilling the customer with competency, and trust your team to help guide you in the right direction.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in business? Share them here, and I’ll compile them into a larger “best of” list to share with our blog readers and email subscribers.

By Kari DePhillips

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