Taking on Commission Based SEO Projects: Good or Bad? Search Engine Optimization | November 4, 2010 | By Aaron Schoenberger

I don’t know if I’m a horrible person, or just hard-headed, but I always feel bad turning down commission based SEO projects that come through the door. I enjoy helping companies whenever possible, and often have people call from around the world to simply chat about marketing and run ideas by me, but diving into a massive amount of work with hopes of future profits (commissioned SEO work) becomes problematic for a variety of reasons.

For one, I feel commissioned SEO is more entrepreneurial in nature than standard SEO and requires an SEO professional that’s willing to work for free initially, and hopefully build a relationship that’s beneficial in the future. It’s almost like a semi-transparent (fine, translucent) business agreement and it’s difficult to gauge the amount of work for X amount of dollars. And, as an owner of multiple businesses, I would never want to give away a portion of my sales — no way Jose. On the other hand, I will pay X amount for Y services. Clear and simple.

Secondly, transparency in a commissioned SEO project is very difficult to maintain. What if a customer finds a company online, through SEO, but decides to call and place an order? What if a wonderful wife is nice enough to buy her husband a supercharger for his car and hears about a website through a friend who originally found the site via SEO efforts? This can create major issues and result in more time spent tracking orders than actually performing SEO work (backlinks, articles, etc.). Inefficient I tell you.

Thirdly, working on a commission based SEO project is very “iffy” because your work is dependent on not only what you do, but on the company you’re working with. What if you perform SEO services 60 hours a week for 2-3 months straight, then the business owner decides to close down shop? You’re in a bad situation and there’s nothing you can do about it. A knee-slapper if I’ve ever seen one.

Lastly, keep in mind these are my personal thoughts and I don’t want to discourage anyone from working on a commission basis. If you have the inspiration and want to partner with a company, which is in essence what you’re doing, may the force be with you. I, personally, cannot justify working on SEO for 10+ years to offer services free of charge and hope to be paid down the line…. But I assure you that doesn’t make me a bad person and I still love everyone who has approached me with such projects. :)

What are your thoughts on SEO work being paid on commission? I’d love to hear.

Aaron Schoenberger
(310) 876-0874 x1
The Brainchild Group

Aaron Schoenberger is Founder of The Brainchild Group — a digital advertising agency that specializes in innovative Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media marketing strategies. He’s known for his work with celebrity clients, top restaurants, professional athletes and Fortune 500 companies.

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