Rand Fishkin, founder of www.seomoz.org gets JobShadowed. You can find Rand on his website and on his Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I run a growing software startup in Seattle, WA called SEOmoz. We make software for marketers, particularly those focused on inbound channels like SEO, social media, content marketing, community, etc.
How would you describe what you do?
Every day is different, fun, challenging and stressful (but in a good way). As a CEO, you have a lot of responsibility, but seeing the results of your actions often takes a long time (months or even years), so it’s essential to think long-term.
What does your work entail?
A lot of meetings, a lot of writing, a good amount of travel.
What’s a typical work week like?
It varies massively depending on the projects we’re working on, what our goals are, where I am in the world and all sorts of other inputs. Definitely a very tiring but consistently interesting schedule. I’ve attached a snapshot of a few weeks ago that might help give this some color:
How did you get started?
I started on the web in the mid-late ’90’s, designing and building websites using software like Frontpage and Macromedia Flash. In the early 2000’s, I started experimenting with SEO and driving traffic. We had a long, rough time trying to build a successful consulting business, and as soon as we did (around 2006), we pivoted to software (in 2007), took on some venture funding and have been focused on that path ever since.
What do you like about what you do?
Great variety and a great ability to have an impact on the professional lives of thousands of marketers for the better. Honestly, though, my favorite part of my work is the people. I love the team we’ve got, the people in the marketing and tech startup industries. It’s been an amazing ride and I can scarcely imagine a more rewarding profession.
What do you dislike?
I don’t have a life outside of work, really, and years ago, that would frustrate me and cause complications and conflict. Nowadays, I’ve come to terms with it and simply recognize that weekends are for plowing through email and if I want friends and social time, I need to combine it with work or be prepared to make it up for it with very late nights.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I have a nice salary these days and I also own ~25% of SEOmoz’s stock (which is private and non-liquid, but hopefully someday will be worth a bit) 🙂
How much money do you make?
I’m on the low end of six figures, right around the median for CEOs of startups our size.
How much do you make as an SEO?
I actually did a post all about salary levels in the SEO field: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seo-salaries-how-much-should-you-make
How much money did/do you make starting out?
When I was a practicing SEO consultant, my pay was ~$22K/year, sometimes lower. We weren’t particularly good with finances or figuring out how to make a successful business for a lot of those early years. There were times when I had to skip paychecks so we could make the rent.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
It’s primarily a self-taught field, but a great understanding of marketing, statistics, basic maths, psychology and business savvy is very helpful. I dropped out of college prior to graduating, and many SEOs I know come from a wide range of backgrounds.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Managing and inspiring people to do their best work and to work wonderfully with each other. Management is unbelievably hard and the pitfalls are so great and so many that it’s a constant learning process.
What is most rewarding?
Helping people who wouldn’t otherwise have a great career or professional success to achieve that. I get to do that on both sides – with folks in the industry who need help/coaching/advice/tools and inside Moz itself.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
My friend Richard Baxter did a great piece on precisely this topic that I’d recommend: https://seogadget.co.uk/how-to-get-a-job-in-seo/
How much time off do you get/take?
What is “time off?”
Seriously, though, I take ~2 weeks a year in vacation, though even when away from work, I’m spending 4-6 hours a day responding to emails or taking important calls.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Some folks think I’m just a blogger/writer because I do a lot of that, but in fact, it’s probably only 10% of my day. I’ve gotten pretty fast and efficient with writing, so I can afford to spend less time on it.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
That’s a big question!
I hope to someday be able to help a lot more people in highly scalable ways. That probably means philanthropy of some kind. Long before that, though, I’ll need to have much more success growing SEOmoz to a big, hopefully public company. I also have some hobbies/interests I’d like to indulge. I love theatre, for example, and I’d like to learn more about astronomy, physics and some of the other hard sciences, and possibly invest in those fields, too.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
If I ever start to complain about how hard my job is, please someone slap me and remind me how incredibly lucky I am. I’m convinced that the minute I forget that is when it will all start to go downhill.