Hear Eric Carrell’s Origin Story
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Eric runs a link building agency called dofollow.io with a business partner (Sebastian Schaeffer). He keeps a pretty low profile and so I hadn’t come across his name in the usual social circles. It wasn’t until a previous podcast guest, Bibi The Link Builder suggested that I track Eric down, that I came to know of him
“I used to be an affiliate. I still have an affiliate website. But now I have the agency that is my main gig.”
Not wanting to be in the drama of SEO, Eric shys away from the limelight because he prefers to service his clients and doesn’t want to take on additional stress he doesn’t need to. It is how he approaches his business – more on this later.
“I’ve been remote for about six years. I’m kind of introverted anyway and we’ll never have an office.”
Eric is living in Kansas City at the moment, having spent several years living the digital nomad life. Everyone in his link building agency is remote with his business partner in Berlin and with members in Italy, New Zealand, Philippines, Morocco – all over the world.
How He Got Started In This Thing Called SEO
It all started when Eric’s brother landed an internship at Niche Pursuits. Then he (his brother Perin) built a site and it started doing well.
Eric couldn’t help but replicate Perin’s success. He recalls how he started an affiliate website (i.e., a website that is monetized through referring website visitors to purchase products from a third-party and in exchange for the conversion, the site owner is paid a commission per sale).
It was the link-building aspect of ranking pages that caught his attention.
“It felt like the part that was the biggest hangup for people yet had the biggest demand. To me, it was the most fascinating part.”
Eric enjoyed putting content in front of journalists that tells a story and this struck me as most people in link-building rarely think about the person on the other end of the outreach.
“I’ve always been drawn to the human aspect of link-building.” – this is definitely not something you’ll ever hear an SEO say!
He ended up selling the affiliate website and with the lump sum money from flipping the site, Eric didn’t know what to do next.
But building links beckoned and he answered the call.
“I started with guest posting as a service and it was fucking terrible.”
As you can tell, he hated it and for obvious reason. Clients would want links to certain pages (typically commercial in nature) and there was limited scope for creativity. He wanted to be in a position where he could build links the way he wanted to build them (e.g., using linkable assets).
And that’s how he cut his teeth in link building.
How Eric Grew His Agency
Eric has been in link-building since 2013 and started DoFollow.io four years ago. Prior to starting the agency, he had a few inhouse link-building jobs.
People kept reaching out to him and although he didn’t have the bandwidth to take on the work outside of his inhouse job, he kept their contacts.
“It wasn’t even called dofollow back then. It was just a couple of guys building links for people. We didn’t have a website or anything ..”
Eric recalls doing it for beer money and they didn’t have a mission to build a super big company. Both he and Sebastian both had other side hustles and it wasn’t until they landed a few big clients that they decided to push it. As a result, towards the end of 2017, DoFollow.io was born.
“We are a team of ten people now. We have some HARO writers, a couple of guest post writers, we have some data miners and a core team of four link builders, plus myself and my business partner.”
Asked on his choice of naming the business, Eric said it was for marketability reasons and less so on the perception of follow or nofollow links.
“We deliver nofollow links all the time but we don’t bill the client for them. I think there is a lot of value in them depending on the page that they come from but it’s all about what our clients like to see.”
The realm of links, in his opinion, is ever-changing. There’s always a new hot tactic (e.g., scholarships, shotgun skyscraper, HARO, digital PR) and it’s always changing. To him, there is a responsibility to link-building as links are the architecture of the Internet.
How Eric Chose A Business Partner For DoFollow.io (Co-Founder)
But knowing how to do the work does not mean that you can keep a business afloat. I saw this a lot when I was a wedding photographer where talented people would go out of business because they didn’t take care of the business.
And Eric was wise in knowing that he lacked experience and expertise in automation, accounting or business development. It so happened that he had met a fellow called Sebastian in Budapest when they crashed an internal event held for Authority Hack team members.
“I just saw that he was really keen. He had been involved with a number of companies doing product development and he just understood links. I didn’t need another link-building mastermind; I needed someone who understood the other parts of the business. We had a really natural synergy.”
But prior to meeting IRL, they already were building a friendship and when it came time to do something together, their views on work ethic, automatic, systemization, developing processes, outsourcing, and delegation were in sync.
Partnerships can be tricky and Eric reveals that he and Sebastian have had their fair share of disagreements but having a solid foundation has helped them stay objective when differing opinions surface.
To this day, Eric takes care of the strategy and Sebastian handles the bigger picture stuff.
On Self-Care & Rest Ethic
“It’s really about building work around my life, not the other way round.”
Unlike many people, Eric focuses on rest ethic, not work ethic. With this, he believes this approach can foster a more creative and productive team. It allows him to have more empathy towards his team and clients to the point where he still has a little bit of energy remaining to fulfil relationships with the people he cares about.
While he loves the company, he wants his team to stay healthy and have longevity so that they do not burn out. It’s one of his big focuses right now – that’s what he is excited about.
Like me, he believes that grinding and hustling and not sleeping is not sustainable, or at least, not for him.
“Do your thing”, Eric says.
And when he mentioned that he sees a therapist twice a week, my respect for him skyrocketed because here is a man not afraid of seeking the help he needs to be the best version for himself and his team.
People Mentioned In This Episode
Did You Enjoy This Episode?
You will probably enjoy my interview with my chat with Bibi The Link Builder.
PS – Eric runs a Facebook group – Link Building Community.