Taking Marketing to the Next Level With SEO
Hi there! Who are you and what’s your background?
Hey, I’m Kevin Indig, VP of SEO and Content at G2 and creator of the Tech Bound vlogcast/newsletter. My 9 to 5 is spent bringing buyers to our B2B software marketplace (G2). My 5 to 9 is exploring the space beyond SEO that helps marketers get better at SEO: the meta-skills and related areas of marketing that are so important for SEO.
I was born and raised in Germany as the son of an American father and a German mother. I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area about 6 years ago and have been deeply involved in the startup ecosystem ever since and worked at companies like Atlassian.
What’s Tech Bound about?
In Tech Bound, I go beyond SEO. I provide tools, strategies, and principles to take your SEO game to the next level.
See, when people start out, they learn the theoretical basics of SEO. Then, they apply them and see the first results and get hooked. What happens afterward is that they apply the basics they learned multiple times but have a hard time taking it to the next level. And that’s because the complexity of SEO scales exponentially. When SEOs (and other marketers) hit that plateau, they come to Tech Bound and understand how to progress from there.
It’s really a never-ending story. SEO is constantly evolving because Google is, too.
The fun thing is that this is actually relevant for all marketers because the things that help SEOs get over the plateau are not more SEO topics. There are other topics like marketing strategy, copywriting, growth, economic principles, and the change of tech platforms.
So, my core audience is SEOs. My wider audience is marketers.
When did you get started writing your newsletter? What motivated you to get started?
I published the first episode in August 2017 because, at this point, I thought I wanted to write a book in a couple of years and it would be a good time to build an audience. I started curating links and sending them out every once in a while. That caught traction and then it became a weekly thing.
In June 2020, I started offering a paid tier to my weekly newsletter with two additional weekly emails.
The funny part is that the newsletter actually became the book. I might still write a book one day but for now, the newsletter is the book. I write about the things I would have put in the book, just that each chapter is an email in the contemporary context. It’s actually much better than a book because the knowledge doesn’t get outdated as quickly and I can relate it to what’s actually happening right now.
I only got into writing when I understood that writing is thinking. I actually think it’s the best way to learn and evolve as a person. When you publish your writing, you accelerate that process because now you can get feedback from others who might be more advanced in a topic or have expertise to contribute to your points. So, I started for purely selfish reasons and still write mostly for the pleasure of learning, not for money.
What does the process of writing your newsletter look like for you?
I am a chronic note taker on everything I learn, consume, and see. That allows me to write the newsletter way before I actually write it, if you know what I mean. The actual writing might take me 1-2h but all the note-taking, curation, and thinking behind is an ongoing process. If I had to quantify it, I’d say ~3 hours go into every episode.
I used Evernote for a long time and now switched to Notion for note-taking and curation. For emails, I use ConvertKit (used Mailchimp for a long time) and manage my membership through Memberful. My podcast lives on Soundcloud and my site on WordPress.
What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered in running your newsletter?
Sending good-looking posts through RSS is still a pain and I haven’t found a good solution, yet, that integrates with a membership solution like Memberful. I also strongly hold the opinion that there are no good tools for content monetization out there, yet. In China, content creators monetize their content completely different with tipping, micro-content, and other formats. I really hope we soon get there in the Western hemisphere.
In terms of strategic problems, you hit these subscriber plateaus at 100 subscribers, 3000 subscribers, and 10,000. There are different ways and strategies to overcome them. The biggest one: grit and persistence.
I never struggled with motivation because I’m blessed with doing what I’m truly curious about and enjoy.
What have you learned through writing your newsletter?
SO much! I made tons of connections, refined my thoughts and opinion, developed concepts like Platform Confluence and Google’s Transformation, … There is SO much to be gained from an email list — not even speaking about clearer writing.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
- When you work at a company, some colleagues might sign up, which means it’s a great way to demonstrate expertise, evangelize your projects, and build credibility.
- If you ever want to start your own company or write a book, building an audience through email gives you a major head start.
- The feedback you get on your ideas, style, and presentation is invaluable.
What do you do outside of writing your newsletter?
Well, I have a full-time job that takes up most of my time, ha! But I’m also an avid powerlifter and compete in small, local meets. It keeps me healthy (well, for the most part), gets me moving, and is a perfect balance to sitting at a desk all day.
What’s your favorite part about writing your newsletter?
It’s a blessing and a curse but being on a deadline to write means you’re on a deadline to think and come up with something interesting. It’s a fascinating conundrum because you keep thinking that it’s impossible to come up with new fresh stuff all the time but when you burn the ships, it’s very much possible. So, I really like that it pushes me to develop and progress.
Now, I’d lie if I wouldn’t say that I love seeing my list and engagement grow over time and having to figure out new ways to reach a wider audience.
Do you have a monetization strategy for your newsletter?
I charge $5 for the paid tier (or $55/year) and was told many times that this is way too low. So, I’ll probably raise prices in the next couple of months. Apart from that, I recently closed a 5-figure deal for a sponsorship (of the free tier).
The newsletter provides a comfortable side income but not enough to live off of. And I’m totally fine with that. The money really is a cherry on top and I wouldn’t sacrifice the experience or content for money. I think that’s a big competitive disadvantage.
How do you grow your audience?
The newsletter has about 3,200 subscribers and grew mostly through Word of Mouth, SEO, podcast appearances, Twitter, and referral traffic.
The biggest driver of sign-ups for me is SEO. I mean, as an actual SEO, it would be embarrassing if it wasn’t ;-). Articles ranking in Google Search = more subscribers.
Owning my content and using it for SEO is part of the reason I made the conscious decision to move my newsletter to my own site. See, Substack and other email hosters are great but they don’t allow you to expose your content to search engines as a personal blog.
What are some of your favorite newsletters, books, and podcasts?
My gold standard is Ben Thompson’s Stratechery and I know that I’m one of a hundred here ;-). Apart from that, I enjoy Ben Evan’s newsletter and the things that publications like the NYT, Quartz, Axios, and The Verge are doing. I think they’re really good at audience building.
My favorite podcasts at the moment:
In terms of books, there are so many. I love books. Some of my favorite authors are Ray Dalio, Nassim Taleb, and Malcolm Gladwell.
What goals do you have for the future?
I think I can build my newsletter out to 10,000 subscribers and maybe more over the next 3 years. I convert about 3% of free tier subscribers to paid subscribers and think that will be closer to 15-20% at the 10K mark and at that point, it actually becomes a really nice income.
But even more important is the movement I want to build. To help marketers with their professional development on a principle-level, not just tactics. Tactics come and go, principles stay.
I want to be a part of taking G2 public and keep creating, exploring, and building on the side.