Congratulations to Garrett French on Starting New Link Building Agency, Citation Labs!
This is one of those blog posts that you sit down to write and you're not quite sure where to start. So, I'll jump right in.
Starting today, Garrett French is wrapping up his time at Ontolo and working full time on Citation Labs, a link building and marketing strategy consultancy to serve agencies, teams and larger brands that he's just started.
And now, those details that everyone always wants to know with these things. ;)
- The decision has been discussed between he and I for a bit and is amicable. There are no hard feelings or any of that stuff.
- In fact, we're both going to continue helping each other out and are working on some strategies to continue promoting each other for a long time to come.
- You and I both know that Garrett is one of the best link builders in the industry and is in high demand. I just spoke with him and his time is already filling up fast with a couple of new projects that have already started and several new proposals he sent out yesterday. If you are interested in working with him, I suggest emailing him now at Garrett@CitationLabs.com before his time is completely maxed. And since he's amazing at building long-term relationships, once he's full, I might expect it to be that way for a long while.
So then the question is, “why?" Well, it's really been a matter of different strengths and talents, but each wanting to apply them to separate areas.
From the beginning, the long term vision of Ontolo has been to move solely to a SaaS model, but to begin with consulting work to get off the ground. Lots of companies have done this, including companies like SEOmoz. As the Ontolo Link Building Toolset has grown, we've been taking on less and less projects and we've put more energy and resources into the Toolset.
The challenge, though, is that Garrett is both phenomenal at, and absolutely loves, building amazing relationships through working on customized and complex marketing strategies. I can't tell you how often I've seen his face light up and heard him get excited about this strategy and opportunity and that...or how often I tell him to scale more rather than over-extend himself into his relationships. ;) With the SaaS model, you can do that, but not nearly in the same way as you can when you're designing, leading and facilitating a long-term campaign for another business, day in and day out.
With a successful launch of the Toolset in October and some great press through the end of 2010, we've had some great consulting opportunities come through that, when you're focusing on a SaaS model, just don't make sense to pursue. After discussing the pros and cos of “Should we work together and have an arm of Ontolo that focuses on consulting?" vs. “Does it makes sense to separately focus and direct what we're best at?" for a number of reasons, we agreed at the end the second option would be best.
All of that said, I've talked with Garrett quite a bit about the opportunities that he sees to serve agencies, teams and other brands. If you're not quite sure of the best content marketing strategy to implement for link building, if you're looking to train your SEO team to kick ass at the link building side, or if you don't know how to get unsolicited links from huge sites like Time.com (which Garrett's done before for a client), without any hesitation, he's the first person I'm going to recommend to you. Check out his new company, Citation Labs, as he builds out the site in the next couple of weeks to see what he'll be offering. Better yet, email him at Garrett@CitationLabs.com to see if he can help you with your marketing. Chances are, he can.
So what does this mean for Ontolo and the Link Building Toolset? Well, on one hand, it might not be as easy to call Garrett up at any moment and bounce ideas back and forth, which has been tremendously valuable. On the other hand, as much as Garrett loves working on client strategies, I love product development. It's the one thing that, whenever I'm exhausted, I can always get lost in and, three hours later, remember that I was tired. It's the thing that keeps me up past 4am most nights of the week. I can also say that our systems engineer and developer that we brought on last year, Andy Davidoff, is the only developer and systems engineer I want to work with. (In July of last year, he rewrote and majorly upgraded two years of my code in eight days. Performance, scale, and security went up at least 10-fold across the board. It was the first major turning point for our technology.) Luckily, he's been working with us full time for several months now.
Right now, we're in the middle of the next major release of the Link Building Toolset. We're in that crazy rapid development mode where anything and everything is possible. We've got a features list over 100 items long that we've been tearing through and we expect to get almost all of it into the next major version to be released this summer, with some other notable upgrades along the way. Needless to say, we're very excited to bring you a more streamlined interface, exponentially improved usability, dozens of new features and functions you won't find anywhere else, and some new plans and pricing.
And, again, Garrett and I are wishing each other the best of luck and look forward to continue promoting each other as we move on to serve different needs in the market.