How to Get a Job in Marketing (Without a Resume): 3 Digital Marketers Share Their Stories

What's up guys? It's
Sam Oh here, and today we're joined by about half
of the Ahrefs Marketing crew. First time that Josh and I
have met, as well as Tim. So we've never met each other. But we're here in Singapore,
and we're just talking about kind of how we joined Ahrefs and just kind
of our journey along the way, and I guess how we all got to meet today and for that reason.

So today we're just here
to discuss kind of our own stories, share our marketing
journeys and hopefully to help you guys out with, I
guess, finding your dream job or no, that's not right, I guess. [laughing] So yeah… So, basically… You mean it's not your dream job? [laughing] It's not my dream job. Basically just helping you guys
to progress in your careers and, yeah, just if you guys can take
anything actionable away from our stories and the things that we share today, awesome. If not, enjoy the show! [upbeat music] Yeah, so why don't we get started with Tim? How did you start with Ahrefs? Okay so, this is the question
I get asked quite often, basically, when I meet any new people, eventually everything will
come to that question like how did you end up with
Ahrefs, like what's your story? Especially since I am from Ukraine, and now I'm working for a
company that like does global stuff, so how did it all go? I actually, I've been to
SEO and digital marketing for I think nine years right now, and it all started from some junior SEO role.

When I was trying to learn SEO myself, reading different blogs, watching videos, and trying out like my small new websites, for like Amazon Affiliates,
for just banner advertising back when you could make
money with banner advertising and all that stuff, and
fast forward a few years, when I had enough experience,
and enough like money in my account to create something on my own, I started my personal blog, and I started some projects
on my own, and I even launched a tool that was supposed to
be kind of BuzzSumo competitor, but at that time I didn't
know even that BuzzSumo exists, because it was like I think
four or five years ago, so I've never heard of BuzzSumo,
but I wanted to create a tool where you would plug someone's
blog, and it would show you the most popular articles on that blog.

Because like back then no one was
doing it but everyone wanted to know like what gets popular on social media, what gets more tweets, likes, it was shortly after Facebook
and Twitter introduced their Tweet and Like buttons that
all the websites implemented. So it was like a thing. And as I was releasing
these kinds of projects and working on my personal
blog, I was doing outreach. So classic outreach to get links, classic outreach to get guest articles, to get mentions, and all that stuff. And in the process of
outreach I reached out to Ahrefs blog.

Back then
it was handled by Helen, she works in support. She was
doing these roundups of links, like, "Here's what like weekly stuff
that was happening in the SEO and the marketing space." And she was listing some
interesting articles. So I reached out to her
and I knew that Ahrefs is company that comes from Ukraine, that the founder is Ukrainian, because I've read a few
of his interviews online. So I basically wrote kind
of cheesy email saying that like I'm a fellow Ukrainian and
we should help each other, like some bonding and all that stuff.

I don't remember what exactly I wanted, if I showed them my article
or if I showed them my tool, or whatever it was, but I think I got featured
in this kind of roundup and shortly after this I got an email from Ahrefs founder and CEO Dmitry, who said that he
researched me a little bit, he likes my work and he invited me to kind of write a few articles for Ahrefs and see if we can work together. So, this is how it all started,
like so it's not me who suggested to work for Ahrefs, it's
Dmitry who actually researched my work. He actually saw
that I had published articles on Moz blog and that
article had won some awards, so I think this impressed
him and he kind of wanted to try working with me,
and actually quite fast, I think within two weeks,
maybe three weeks max, as I started digging into Ahrefs tools, I saw a lot of things that I
didn't think were quite right.

So I wanted to improve them and I messaged Dmitry all the time, like I don't think like your homepage copy is great. I don't think that what you're publishing on your blog is great. I don't think that you're like
explaining the metrics in the interface well, and all that stuff. Or like suggesting some kind of features, like it would be fun to have
this kind of filter here, it would be fun to have
this kind of report. And so basically within
like two or three weeks, like I started working more
and more with Ahrefs and not only kind of writing some
articles for them but also contributing to the
actual product development and creating the website, website copy, working on pricing
page and all that little stuff. And Dmitry, shortly after,
offered me to come to Singapore and to be in charge of marketing. "Be in charge of marketing",
I would say, quote unquote because I was the only marketing person when I came to Singapore. Shortly before I came to
Singapore, the woman that was working in Ahrefs marketing,
she left for another company, so basically there was no
one for me to work with and I was the only person.

So this is how it all started for me. I started working myself
on pretty much everything, like on homepage copy, on YouTube
channel, on blog, on hints, reports, feature requests, design, like I was doing everything like myself. And then, with time, I got to like hiring people who would help me, who are better than myself at something, and this is how these
two guys ended up here. So I think between you two,
Josh was the next hire. Yes.
Yeah. So, Josh, do you want to
tell the story from your end, because I've seen how
it happened from my end. Yeah, so I think it was like
a couple of years ago now, I was working on like a big
link building strategies that's kind of post, that hopefully some of you might have seen at some point, and, yeah, I spent like five months creating that and then published it on my own blog.

Five months. Yeah, like on and off for five months. It was like 60,000 words. Yeah it was huge. Too much really, but then I think
you reached out to me, Tim, in like 2016, like mid-2016, like September or something, yeah 2016, and you said, you know, do I wanna write a post for the Ahrefs blog and I kind of did and it just all kind of
went on from there. So I was like freelancing
until earlier this year, freelancing, just doing writing for the blog and then kind of officially
got hired earlier this year. So now… I'm now head of content
which basically just means that I'm doing more of the same thing. But yeah. Yeah, so. I think the interesting bit
that you're overlooking is that I actually asked you, like what's your motivation to
publish such a huge article? How do you say, how long it was? 60k words? Yeah, 60,000 words. Yeah, so it was a huge article
there was a lot of content, there was like a ton of work
invested there, and it was published at basically a
blog that was just launched.

Yeah. There was nothing
there but this article and I wrote an email to Josh and like said, like what's your motivation in
doing this kind of work? Do you think that you can get like
better ROI if you write for us? Do you want like to build kind of your
credibility in the niche? Do you want to kind of end up creating
some kind of paid courses? Or like do you want to scale your agency? Like whatever you do, I see that
you are like willing to invest a lot of work, so I'm sure
that we can figure out between you and Ahrefs a way where like each of us will benefit. Yeah. And so I think this
was persuasive enough for Josh to join. Yeah. Yeah, so basically I just
like to do good work, that's all that really drives
me to do anything really, I just want to make something that's good and then that, you know, people actually
want to read and benefit from and you kind of just give
me the ability to do that, you just give me the freedom to do that and like the resources to do that.

So there's nothing that
could be better really, from my point of view,
because that's why I enjoy just creating something and just putting something out there for people to read and learn from. Yeah, and actually I think
one other interesting thing that I want to share
right now is that usually when you read some kind of hiring advice, the most common advice
that they give you is that you should hire
people better than you. But it's like super hard, like if you're quite
knowledgeable in what you do, it's super hard to find people
who are better than you. But in case of Josh, it
was like the actual case when I realized that this guy can produce content like way better than I am. And one other thing is that
Josh has like some experience with stuff that I don't
know anything about, like scrapping, Google Sheets,
working with different tools. So I don't have a lot
of experience with that, I'm more like a generalist,
so I know kind of the basics of here and there and I can connect the dots but if you dig a little bit deeper, my knowledge is not so good.

So this is why I was like super happy to find Josh, and I really, before Josh, I
was struggling to find someone for Ahrefs blog, who would
have like more experience than me in SEO and except for
that would be able to kind of write it in an article, in a good article. Because a lot of people have
better experience than me in SEO, like it's not that hard to
be better than myself at SEO, especially technical SEO, but like combine that with
ability to explain yourself and to write like great article, that's rare. So, like I kind of took the proactive approach, I didn't just post a few
ads on different sites, that we're looking for like Head of Content, we're looking for Blog Editor, who would take our blog to
next level, blah blah blah.

Actually I did post this kind of things. Yeah, I think I saw a posting like that. Yeah, I did post these kinds of ads, but like it wasn't working, I saw
that everyone who applied wasn't really what I was
looking for, so when I saw Josh published this like huge, monstrous
article I kind of knew that I should like hire this guy
immediately and I was lucky that he only published one article on his blog. He didn't invest like enough
time, and money, and resources into his blog to be willing
to abandon it afterwards.

So I think some luck
was also involved there. Yeah, I think that's some
pretty good advice that you mentioned: "Someone
who's better than you." And so Josh didn't come up to you and say, like I'm better than you at
SEO so, you know, you should hire me. Yeah. But he just kind of
proved himself through it. And I think for startups,
for small mid-size companies that's often what they're looking for, is someone who's
self-sufficient and you know, can direct it with minimal
supervision I guess, minimal training, and I
think that's really good, is that you were able to go out and create a 60,000-word post. Yeah. I can't even call it a post,
like that probably took like, your page speed was probably like 25 seconds just to load that text but you know, is to be able to go
out there, be proactive, just to do it, to show that, you know, you're more than knowledgeable enough, what's
the word that I'm looking for…

Self-sufficient? I don't know if it's the right
word but I think you guys… No problem, English
is your first language, it's OK for you to
not to know all this. It's okay, I'm trying,
I'm just trying. [laughing] Yeah, but anyway. So for me… For you. Very, very different story, so… Ok, tell them that I don't know it,
because you told us. Tim doesn't know it. Three times, that I don't know how I don't think I know the full story.

Yeah, so like I told Tim, I kept
telling Tim, you don't know it, and so I kind of wanted him to say, you wanna give me a heads up before, so this is the first time
that Tim's hearing this. Okay, so basically I
come from a background, originally I started online
marketing end of 2008, and so I started to build my own company, sold it off, the typical
story that you hear from the younger generation
now of internet marketers.

And so I experimented quite a bit, And I was trying to figure out,
what is it that I enjoy doing. It is SEO, CRO, lead gen,
because when I started my first business I
knew absolutely nothing, I kind of had to learn
everything on my own. And so I eventually
settled on lead generation, particularly in CRO and so, I started doing my own
little projects and stuff, eventually got a lucky break
with a company that would send me leads and so I would
just do agency type work. And then from there, I
just started doing lead gen. I started my own personal blog, and then I was like, I
have a really cool idea, and so like I tend to come
up with like ideas, that I think are pretty creative, I don't
know if these guys think so but I think that they're pretty creative, and so I was like, you know what, if I wanted to get a new
client for agency work, what if I look at the intention.

So the intention is, if
you look at a job post, you already know that they're
trying to hire someone. So, if I do that and the
intent is already there, then it must be easier to close. Does that make sense? Okay. And so, I was looking
through like some of my blogs, and the blogs that I like, and the websites, and I was already an Ahrefs
customer for a few years and I saw a position for a Funnel Hacker. And so I was like, interesting, funnels, I can do funnels, that's easy, I'm probably, you know, better
than the average person, you know, who does like one drip sequence and that's considered a
funnel, which it's not. But then I was like,
cool, so I emailed Tim and I basically just said hey, I answered all his questions,
hey here's my funnel, sent him a video, I don't know if other
people sent you videos, or if you even had other applications. No, I don't think I had
too many applications, just a few and I don't even
remember if they sent me any videos at all.

Yeah, so I sent him a video,
kind of just walking him through it, and we were just
sending emails back and forth and so like, my whole
intention this time was, Ahrefs would be a great
client to have, right? And Tim's, I'm guessing your intent was, we're looking for someone
to hire like an employee. Yeah. And so we had different things and so I was like you
know what, it doesn't matter, it's more or less the same thing. It's just a matter of the
way that you look at it. And so we ended up talking and we talked for about four months. I think maybe more, it
was a lot of back and forth. It was four months and then you said, we don't want that right now and I was like, no problem, that's cool. And so, you're like but we
may open that position up a few months later, so
I was like, sounds good.


So Tim didn't follow up, and so of course, being in lead gen, I was like, I set
a reminder for myself. And so as soon as that time came up, I'm not gonna email him on
the exact day, but it's like, I saw a notification that
Tim had opened my email. There's notifications like
that and when that happens, it triggers, it sends me
an email so I was like, oh yeah, I'm supposed to email him. So I was like, hey Tim, I was
just thinking about whatever and then, you know, wondering if
there's been any progress on that and then he's like, I don't
think we're gonna do that now but we need somebody to
create video content. And I was like, alright,
I've done a few videos, and we were talking and I think in total it was eight or nine
months before we were like, alright let's do this.

Yeah, it was like the
slowest hiring process ever. And so, it's just and then from there,
like for the first few months we didn't really know what we were doing. So we experimented with
a few things and then, now the videos that you
guys get every week, is the product of a year's worth of work. (laughing) And so, yeah, that's kind of the
making of how I joined Ahrefs and yeah, it's been kind of interesting. Yeah, I think from my end,
there is a takeaway that, like when I opened position for Funnel Hacker, to be honest it wasn't like
some deep thinking behind it, so I just knew, like I said,
I'm not an expert like in any particular thing, I know a
little bit of here and there, but when I want to start
working on something, I want to actually dig
a little bit into it to understand like what we're doing and to have the
responsibility for doing it.

So, when I posted the
ad for Funnel Hacker, kind of my intention was to
speak to people and to see if anyone will be able to persuade
me that he will help us. So, when Sam reached out
and we started talking and we started discussing funnels, actually in the process of
talking to Sam I was able to understand that I don't
believe in funnels for Ahrefs, at least at the time of like what was happening to the company at that moment.

To be honest, I still don't believe in funnels for Ahrefs at this time I'm working on it. Yeah, Sam is working on it, but yeah, like our conversations as we
were going back and forth, Sam was pretty open like with
devoting a little bit of his time to come up with ideas, to
record me some screencasts, to walk me through what
kind of ideas he has, because like I know that a lot
of people are super afraid to share their ideas up front. Like, if I am going to share
my ideas with this company, they will just steal my
ideas and don't hire me. Like it almost never happens
because when you want to get hired to some company,
they want to hire you because they don't have the
bandwidth to do it themselves. It's not always that
they're lacking ideas, they are lacking good people to like act, to perform on these ideas. So Sam was pretty open,
discussing like anything he could do for us, so I asked him like, what do you think like, how the funnel would look like? So he would break down the funnel for me, I would ask him like some other questions like, do you think this part of
the funnel makes sense? What if these people will
appear in the funnel? How would you automate it? Do you understand the
resources that we have? Do you understand like if we
will need designer for that? If we will need to record videos for that? If we will need to support
it somehow with blog content? So we were discussing all
these bits and in the process of discussion I was realizing
that like funnels it's not something we want to like invest our
marketing resources into but what I did realize is
that Sam was pretty familiar with Ahrefs, that Sam was
pretty good presenter, that Sam like, I think another advice that
I've heard from like hiring articles or hiring books is that
you should hire a person who can write great emails.

So if you send the person
an email with some questions and you get a reply and
reply is structured, and they're addressing like every
single question that you had for them, and they're
not leaving out anything, and they're not adding
any irrelevant stuff that will just waste your time, just by communication with
that person you can see like how good they are.

If they're like, if
they will execute well, if they will listen to
you, if they will, kind of, comply and agree with you on everything, or if they have their own opinions. So a lot can be understood
just by communicating with the person via email. So what I understood is
that Sam is like very organized, that he is a good presenter, he recorded quite a few
samples of videos for me. So when I realized that we
don't really need funnels in the definition of like what
funnels mean in marketing but we still need educational materials, we still need to educate people not just with text content but
with video content as well. And then Sam popped out again and suggested to continue
the conversation about how he could contribute and how
he could give value to Ahrefs. We kind of, the second time
we agreed like much more easily than when we were talking
about funnels specifically. So because the second time
Sam was willing to simply explore like how his expertise,
how his abilities would be helpful to Ahrefs. And
we found the position quite easily compared to like
Funnel Hacker position.

Okay, do you want to add any extra like takeaways? Any extra takeaways to that. Persistence I guess is one thing. Beats resistance. Yeah, yeah absolutely. But I think that, it's not
that I was desperate to get a job or anything like
that. It was just like, oh I remember this, I like Ahrefs, I really loved the tool before, you know, I had ever spoken with you. Actually, do you remember the very
first email that I sent you? Not really. Okay, so the very first
email that I sent to Tim, and I think that this is a
good lesson for outreach, is that people often approach outreach with a motivation to
receive something, right? Yeah. So, like give me a link, give me
a share, whatever it may be. And so I went through this
process where it's like, nobody knows me in the
internet marketing space, all my stuff is with small/medium size businesses, and so if I want to start
to connect with people, I have to start speaking
to them like a human being.

And so I sent Tim an
email and I just said, hey I really respect the
work that you do at Ahrefs, like I love the tool, love the blog, love the content that
you're producing, that's it. And when I did that, he wrote back to me, what he doesn't remember,
but he said something like, hey, like thanks so much, you made my day. Maybe he says that to everyone but… [laughing] No I actually, I cannot say
that I get a lot of praise like every day I open my
email box and I'm like, oh not again, they're
praising me for my work. It doesn't happen too often
so, when I reply to someone and say, thank you, you've made my day, it's pretty genuine.

Yeah, and that's the thing
though, it's like, when he responds back I don't reply, by the way
you have a broken link, do you want to replace it with mine? So it's not like a, there's no motivation to get something
back, it's just an introduction. And so whether he
recognized my name or not, when the Funnel Hacker position went in, maybe he did subconsciously,
maybe he doesn't remember now because it was
well over a year ago. I need to pull conversation history. Yeah. And so, I feel like small
things like that help with just in general just networking
and meeting people. And people often see "email scripts" and I hate those two words together. It's just an email right? And I find that people
often forget about that. And I know this is kind of
going off on a tangent, but I think that it is related in the sense that we were just
communicating through email. And often, an introduction
email to someone can help recognize a name or face,
or whatever it may be. I thought that it actually
helped when I approached you, originally, maybe not.

[laughing] Okay, so I think we can wrap
it up, probably with some general lessons
out of our conversation. And actually like, while we were
talking and discussing this, and since you shared your
approach that you were basically trying to get leads for your agency, I thought that actually
the same stuff pretty much applies for getting leads to your agency. It doesn't always depend on you because some companies, they are open
to outsourcing their work to agencies, other companies prefer to have it in-house no matter what. And it also, I think, it
also partially depends on the type of service
that you're offering. Because in terms of educational materials, we definitely wanted to have it in house. However, there's a guy called
Bryan Harris, from Videofruit, and his story is that he
basically started offering explanatory videos to Kissmetrics, I believe.

Yeah. So he was able to persuade
this kind of company to do videos for them while
being, call it an agency, or outsourced, or contractor, or whatever you like to call it. So let's wrap it up with some lessons. Whether you want to get companies
as leads, as your clients or whether you want to establish
like long-form relationship, be it like an in-house or
you guys are actually outsourced, you work from
the comfort of your homes. I work from the comfort of our office, I think it's quite comfortable. So like you see we have different situations, and depending like on your goals,
I think you might learn some lessons from our conversation and from three of our stories. But maybe Sam can wrap up some lessons. Yeah, so I think in
terms of lead generation for SEO agencies, it doesn't
really matter what you do. A lot of it is in, I want
to use the word persuasion, but it's not in a sleazy kind of way. It's kind of like the
way that you persuaded Josh, you asked him a question
to make him think, like what is my motivation, and
maybe, I don't know what your thoughts were but maybe you're
like, maybe writing for Ahrefs I have a platform that
has an existing audience where I don't have to, you know, hustle as hard.

Well, I think it was more that just
I knew that they had kind of the resource available to kind of
just allow me to do great work. Yeah. And that's just what I want
to do, like I said before, that's why I spent so
many months just writing a crazy-long article because I just wanted to put something great out there. I suppose when I was doing
that I was just thinking like, you know, I just want to do something
that people notice, people care about, so…

I'd say, okay, let me try to recap. First, is to reach out, so the
more people to reach out to, the more companies you reach out to, the higher the chance that someone will reply. Because it's not always, it
doesn't always depend on you, it also depends on the company. They might be, they might not be in the stage where they're
willing to hire someone. Like you might be emailing
them at the wrong time. So first, just send more outreach emails. Second, don't be afraid to share you ideas, because like sharing your ideas like, don't worry no one will steal them because it's execution that matters, it's not your ideas that matter, so feel free to like write them your best ideas on what you can do like with their company, what kind
of value you can contribute.

Because unless you do, how would they know like if you'll be helpful to them or not? Third, actually spend some
of your time to do some work for them, not just offer your ideas, but do some work for them. In case of Sam, like we just
discussed, we talked for like almost a year back and forth, so he
wasted a lot of time just talking to me. And actually
it was mutually beneficial because I was learning something from Sam, Sam was learning something from me. So it's not like a zero-sum game that you're just offering your
expertise, your advice, and you're getting nothing in return. Of course, you will get
something in return, in any case, or at least
you can just agree on some small paid gig, like without
a super high commitment. One, two, three. Do some work and like that's it from me, three. What's your biggest takeaway from your experience with Dmitry, I guess? Hmm… Cut this part, make it seem that like I answered almost instantly. [laughing] Don't move, go back to that position.

No, we should actually leave it. Well, I don't even know if
there's any main takeaway I just enjoyed like building
something from scratch. I enjoyed coming to the
company relatively early and I enjoyed kind of the freedom
that I had with Dmitry, to do stuff that I want,
to hire people that I like, so, yeah, probably, I guess a lot of
people are dreaming of like their own business and like they hate nine to five job, I have a nine to five job, I don't hate it at all. I get to do like what I like doing,
I get like much more benefits compared to if I was
launching my own products. I think like Ahrefs was kind of like
a trampoline for me, because if I tried to do these
kinds of things on my own, it would take me like much, much more time. So don't shy away from "jobs,"
they can be awesome, actually. And they can kick start
like whatever you want to do next, because like it's not that everyone
will stay at their job for like their whole life,
which is not bad as well, if you feel that you're
progressing at your work and like something interesting is happening and it fulfills you,
so it's not a problem.

So yeah, I think the main
takeaway for me is that nine to five job can be awesome,
you can have flexibility, you can have a lot of
perks, you can have freedom, like, so that's my takeaway. Josh? I guess my takeaway would
just be to actually do something just without someone
telling me to do something. Just create something or do
something that you want to do, that's likely to lead to the
kind of job or result or offer that you want to actually
get in your life. Just put something out there, put in the work without
being told to basically.

Yeah. For me, I would say that it's persistence without being annoying, right? It's… There are people who… Have
you, guys, been in those email sequences… not email
sequences, but like… I guess, they are sequences from one person doing outreach, but they don't stop sending
you follow-up emails. Yeah, 12 follow up emails, oh no. It's like, oh man, and
even though it goes to spam, sometimes it comes back,
I don't know, anyway, the idea is basically like, so
number one for SEO agencies, like one thing would
be to understand intent and I guess that happens with SEO anyways that you're always
looking at search intent, but to understand intent
on the lead level. I think. It actually helps in
whatever it comes out to be. In this case, for me like, this
is employment for me, and it's the first time I've been employed I think in my entire life. The same for me. Yeah. And so it's a strange
feeling, but yeah that would be probably my main takeaway, is persistence without being annoying. I know it sounds like a
weird takeaway but yeah, I feel like there is value in that.

OK, and I think that can
wrap up this conversation. Maybe we should all say
that it was like super random, so if we shared a lot
of unnecessary details, that bored someone, sorry. Unless we'll cut them out like in the process. But, yeah, if you liked what
you just heard, tell us, probably we'll find a chance
to record more of this stuff, or maybe answer any other
questions that you may have. So yeah, give us some feedback if we should continue
this kind of content. That's all, let's wave bye-bye. [laughing].

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