Top Intersection: Most of these people are not available for traditional client consulting projects because they simply lack the time needed to do them and run many successful projects of their own.
Right Intersection: The person who is available and under-priced quickly gets overworked. I have experienced this with multiple contractors in other fields where they would offer killer services and be surprisingly affordable and fast…and then on the next project they would disappear.
The guy who made the logo for SEO Book back in early 2004 was probably the most talented and most unreliable logo designer I have ever worked with. Sometimes he would be fast, sometimes he would be slow, and sometimes I would pay him and get no response. I wanted the guy to become more successful and reliable so much so that I offered him tons of free marketing so long as he would be available for the boatload of work I was going to send him. He said sure. Before beginning that marketing campaign I asked him if he was ready and got no response. 😉
And last year there was a designer/developer that had amazing skills. We hired him full time and it took him 2 months to make a website design. There are a lot of people in the world who are talented at what they do, but just are not skilled at business and/or do not approach their business like a business.
Left Intersection: There are lots of people who are good at sales who have no substance. If an SEO firm contacts you out of the blue (via tele-spamming or email spam) that is a good hint that they have more salesmen on staff than they have practitioners. If SEO is bolted on as a package for cheap then it is usually a scam.
It is nearly impossible to have enough time to study a fast changing craft, brand yourself as an expert in the space, and yet still find time available for doing consulting. It is not hard to do any 2 of the 3…but all 3 is brutally tough. In consulting so long as you have popularity you do not need much knowledge, as some well known SEOs have proved. But knowledge without popularity can be hard to monetize effectively.
Even if you are pretty decent at sales and have a strong brand it is hard to make an SEO services business model scale without watering it down. And watering down is rarely a solution because it leads to churn.
- WebSourced at one point was the largest SEO firm, but closed abruptly, largely because their clients were not getting any value.
- The guy who speaks at 40 SEO conferences a year does little SEO work…his job is to generate leads for the firm where an intern can work on the project. And the projects that the interns work on are rarely top shelf because you often pay expert rates while getting automated and systemized mystery meat services from someone new to the market.
- Some of the smallest clients tend to be the most demanding, even while paying crumbs. And Google/the search market, which is becoming more corporate, is making it harder and more expensive to service such clients profitably.
- Corporate client projects which at first may seem like mega-paydays still perform poorly when compared against putting the equivalent effort into growing your publishing projects.
- Rather than watering down we have decided that scarcity and value are a better strategy. But that is still a work in progress. This site is about 90% of my work time, had a 5 year head start on most of our other publishing efforts, and yet the SEO industry is so hard to monetize (unless you use loads of hype) that this site earns a minority of our income. As we get better at sales we can try to increase earnings…but lately we have just been pushing more on what is working and maintaining this site’s quality for existing members (and closing it off to growth) while putting a bit more effort into the higher yielding projects.