Today I interviewed Mat Carpenter, a 22 year old businessman and entrepreneur. He’s currently working on TheAussieSEO, a Sydney based SEO company and has quite an interesting background starting at the young age of just 16. You can also follow him on Twitter here @MatCarpenter.
1. You had quite an eventful and exciting time with your first business, could you just explain what happened?
So I started my first business at 16 after doing some research into online arbitrage. I liked the idea of buying low and selling high so I decided to purchase a crate of consumer electronics from a Chinese manufacturer via Alibaba and resold here in Australia on eBay as well as offline through local affiliates (classmates wanting to make some dollars). I ended up expanding into other products and had a good thing going when the business received national media coverage which is where one of the largest companies in the world saw one of our products which slightly resembled there’s and sent a cease and desist. The business was on track to do 6 figures during its first year and netted me a decent amount of savings but nevertheless, I stopped after receiving the C&D. You can read the full story here.
2. What were 3 lessons you learned from the experience?
i) You don’t need thousands of dollars to get started. My first business I started with $100 of product and a free eBay account. That, in time, turned into a business that was on track to do 6 figures. ii) Do your research to make sure the products you sell aren’t going to get you in trouble legally. iii) Don’t expand too quickly. Focus on being the best at one thing opposed to mediocre at many.
3. Would you have done anything differently?
It would be silly to say I wouldn’t change anything as I had a business that was on its way to success which is every entrepreneurs dream. I think instead of trying to become a full consumer electronics store I would focus all my energy on 1 specific product & owning that niche.
4. You’re now running a successful online SEO business, why SEO?
So I run TheAussieSEO which is one of Australia’s fastest growing SEO company. I’ve always had a love for manipulating search results to favor my sites, whether it was back in the blackhat days or now when we’re all whitehat. I think it stems from my competitive nature, you see where you want to be in the rankings and it’s a sort of contest to see who can use their knowledge & expertise to dominate a certain keyword.
5. How do you approach the regular Google algorithm updates and what do you do to ensure you donít get affected?
So the most important thing is to play by the rules. No longer can someone set up a thin affiliate site, throw thousands of shitty links to it and expect to be there for the long haul. Now it’s all about engagement and generating quality backlinks from interesting content. For example, on a clients humor website who wanted to improve their link profile we decided to build a web based Flappy Birds clone called Flappy Boats – A political satire take on the current issues in Australia surrounding asylum seekers. We launched the game, it was a hit and it ended up with links from websites such as Gizmodo, Kotaku amongst many other smaller niche blogs. Quality content that people can’t help but to link to.
6. Is Google the only search engine you worry about or do you also focus on Bing and Yahoo?
For me personally, yes. 9 times out of 10 it’s the same deal with clients, I can’t remember the last time a client told me “I want to rank high on Bing”.
7. For anyone just getting started, do you have any final tips?
You don’t need thousands of dollars to get things going. If you’re thinking of starting a web based business and your first thought is “how do I raise seed capital” you’re doing it wrong. Look into how you can create an MVP (minimum viable product), send some traffic to it to see if there’s interest. If you have any questions for Mat, then don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments area below and I’ll make sure he sees them. And finally, thanks to Mat for putting time aside to answer these questions.