Meet your marketer: Chris Gilchrist

WHHHAAAAAAAATTTT??

A new episode of “Meet your marketer”? Hell yeah, my dear reader. First of all, thank you SO MUCH for having click that link on twitter, facebook, linkedin or Google+, and thanks SO MUCH for spending some time here in my blog.

So today I have the pleasure to chat a bit with Chris Gilchrist, MD & Founder of Hit Reach. Chris is also SEO, WordPress expert and really passionate about tattoos.  Chris is totally a nice guy, always ready to help you out and to chat about SEO and other interests on twitter.

Chris Gilchrist

I’m so loving this interview for one reason: because I’m asking things that really matter to me, and it’s not so much SEO related. I mean, we all know that usually people I interviewed are amazing SEOs, right? So, let’s get to know these professionals a bit more, as human beings and not only for their technical skills.

So, ready to know Chris a bit more? Let’s go!

What’s your biggest passion?

Business. I’m from a sales background initially, love Web Design and SEO, manage a team of 10ish, and run the business but I don’t consider myself a specialist in any of those areas, so I just think of myself as a businessman. I know the term sounds cheesy or stuffy but I’d feel like a fraud calling myself an ‘SEO’ or ‘Web Designer’ when some people who actually specialise in those skillsets are so amazing.

My team literally amaze me every week with what they are capable of and there’s people in each of those industries who are so clever I wouldn’t feel comfortable comparing myself to them by title.

I feel really sorry for people who dread Monday mornings or who clock watch all day because they hate their job. What kind of existence is that? Everyone has a passion and loves doing something. If you just can’t figure out how to monetise your passion just get a business partner who can do that for you! Go go go!

I also love self-defence which I’ve done for about 3 years now. Me and a mate got quite badly beaten up when I was younger, he had a broken shoulder I had a broken face and head lol, and I’ve never really felt completely safe since then so I started going to classes after Jonah was born so I could protect myself and much more importantly my family. Extremely luckily we have a local instructor who’s fully into reality based self-defence (as opposed to traditional martial arts although he has about 15 black belts and is a 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do) and I REALLY enjoy it. If I miss a week’s training I get twitchy. We do real life situational and train with, and against, all types of real and makeshift weapons from knives to rolled up magazines. Great fun.

Self Defence FTW!

You wrote about the road to influence. What’s the most important characteristic that an “influencer” should have?

In case people have already read the article I’ll not waffle too much about it here but essentially I think being Trusted and being Liked are the 2 most crucial requirements. If I don’t Like you or Trust you then I’ll never help you or buy from you.

visibility&trust

If I Like you, but I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about (Trust), I won’t feel confident enough to recommend you or buy from you.

If I Trust you, and know you are knowledgeable but I don’t Like you, I’ll be reluctant to help you or buy from you and would only do so grudgingly.

If I Like you AND Trust you then I’m all yours. Get to this position and you’re laughing but don’t cheat or try to manipulate your way there. Be genuine.

In the SEO world, I’m reading a lot of posts talking about the same stuff and taking the same conclusions. If I say “redundancy”, what do you think?

I’m going to write a post about this soon but there’s literally thing’s that Aaron Wall mentioned in the passing 6 years ago (they didn’t need an article length explanation then either) that people are now making entire posts out of. People who should and often do know better. *Tumbleweed*

If someone’s new to SEO, that’s ok, they’ve maybe just never read about it previously and we can help inform them and educate them.

Clapping Gorilla

But the people who churn out crap or just regurgitate what we’ve heard over and over again and just rely on their networks to promote it need to stop. There’s far too much seal clapping going on. (Pro tip: replace seal with your favourite animal for fun).

There’s people like Bill Slawski, Jason Acidre, Wil Reynolds, and others writing great stuff that’s head and shoulders above the rest. It takes time and effort. It’s hard. But when people take short cuts (and we all know it) it’s time to stop rewarding them with attention before we all lose the will to live or start sticking sharp objects in our eyes rather than have to read what’s been seal clapped to the top of inbound.

Jonathan Colman wrote a nice piece about us doing better as an industry and he says it more politely than I would so probably best to just read his version :D

If I say “anxiety”, what comes to your mind?

Strange question?! I wish you hadn’t asked it but seeing as you did I’ll answer honestly. When I was 18 my Dad had a nervous breakdown over a work situation. I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time but he was pretty distant and screwed up, like never opening the curtains in case the press were trying to photograph him (bizarre stuff). He was a very intelligent, kind and respected solicitor as well as a great Dad so it came as quite a shock to us all (got a younger brother and sister).

anxiety

After a few weeks of no improvement I decided we should send him on holiday to stay with friends to see if it helped. He didn’t come back alive. I’ve never forgiven myself for that decision and I doubt I ever will but I eventually managed to find a way to live with myself.

After the dust settled I had quite severe PTSD. I’ve got memory gaps from the years surrounding the event, I had panic attacks in public places whilst doing normal things like shopping and it got so bad I had even had attacks when anyone visited the house. Imagine how much fun it was trying to run a business and do sales meetings. I was pretty messed up for a while but , 15 years on, I’m much better and feel really good about life mostly due to my wife and kids.

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself over things that happen in your life but everyone has crap to deal with, they just don’t shout about it all the time. At least I got to know him, some people don’t have that privilege. Some people have truly fucking awful people for parents and wish they’d never known them. Some people suffer horribly in life and my problems pale in comparison and I try to never forget that. It still hurts like shit but that’s a driver more than a hindrance to me nowadays.

We are not seeing a lot of innovations (at least, not as much as we should) because people are blocked by fear. How do you relate the fear of doing something groundbreaking with your every day life?

I think fear is one of those funny things that isn’t really in itself the cause of a problem and it’s more about how you use it or work with it. It’s normal to be scared of failure or getting hurt and so on which holds some people back from trying but for others, like me, it’s a great driver. I’m terrified of being a ‘failure’ (if I don’t become a millionaire I’ll be pissed) and that’s a great thing to get you out of bed in the morning and motivate you to maximise your time and energy. I know a lot of people like this it’s not uncommon.

Fear’s also a great thing to have. Without fear you’d be gung ho and not evaluate things properly so it’s not a case of learn to become fearless, just a case of working with it and using it to your advantage.

Fear

You can read inspirational quotes and self-help books all day but I think the best thing to do if you’re feeling scared about an opportunity is sit for 5 minutes and think to yourself; you’re here for a very short time, you’ve no idea how much precious time you have left in life, when your lying on your deathbed will you be proud or satisfied when you think about not taking the chance just in case you fail or get laughed at?

If not then grit your teeth and work like a bear towards achieving what you want and don’t let anything stand in your way. Even if you do fail, it’s likely you’ll learn a lot or meet great friends, maybe your future partner, or have great fun trying. Who knows. And if you make a fool of yourself? Laugh at yourself and enjoy the experience for what it is and ignore the tossers.

But, while we’re on the subject! If you take one thing away from this post though please make it this. This book by Gavin de Becker is incredible. He demonstrates how our instincts protect us from violence and dangerous situations all the time even though we might not consciously be aware of why we feel a certain way. EG you don’t know why someone gives you the creeps but they just do. But in fact, without consciously realising it, there’s warning signs you’ve picked up on triggering you to the danger you’re in.

The Gift of Fear

He also shows instances where people ignored their fears or shrug them off as being silly and ended up in life threatening situations. He helps them retrace what happened to figure out what they’d picked up on subconsciously. It’s a very easy read (despite the subject matter) and it might genuinely save your life one day. Please read it.

Which advices you would like to give to people who are entering the SEO world nowadays?

The difference nowadays than when I started years ago is the breadth and depth of the topic. There’s just so much to learn initially.

I think how you approach it should just depends on whether you prefer a corporate environment being shown and led or working for yourself and just learning by doing.

If it’s the latter I would read everything you can get your hands on by Aaron Wall, Julie Joyce and Debra Mastaler. Not only are they very very clever but also genuinely very nice people. If you just practice what they have documented and conduct yourself like they do you’ll be off to a great start.

If you don’t feel comfortable working for or by yourself then choose the city you want to live in and apply, hound, harass and stalk the company you want to work for. For example, if I wanted to work in London I would literally sleep on the doorstep of Distilled or SEOGadget until they had me arrested or gave me a job. I’d be prepared to work for free in exchange for the amazing skills and knowledge I’d acquire. If you’re good a company will soon create a job for you.

Distilled, please?

Let’s talk about music. Could you please share 3 singers/bands who we should listen to be counted as your friends?

music

When I was really young I used to play in a band and loved stuff like Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins. I still go back to that stuff now and again. We used to go to a pub every Thursday night, Lucifer’s Mill, who had bands like Oasis on before they were famous. Paul who looked older and had a small amount of facial hair was the only one who could go to the bar. We got away with it for about 6 months before being rumbled for being underage.

Later I used to DJ every Friday night with some pals. By this point I was completely consumed by black music like soul, funk, jazz, jungle, hip-hop and house. Good house, Detroit style, not rave bollox. These are the best memories of that time in my life. We were still underage so it was quite exciting to be running the nights and not get caught too. We did that in a pub from 8pm-midnight then hopped over the road to a nightclub within the Art College and played till 3am. Sometimes with the DJ who’s now in Snow Patrol.

I used to not eat lunch at school and just save up my dinner money to buy another record at the weekend. We hung out in some dodgy record shops on Saturday afternoons then found ways to get into the clubs at night to hear DJs like James Lavelle, Gilles Peterson and LTJ Bukem.

I put together a small recording studio in my bedroom and made some tracks around that time and really enjoyed that. I’ve included a few here for fun. I was always rubbish at production for some reason. Also keep in mind these from nearly 20 years ago and the equipment wasn’t great but you’ll get an idea of what I was playing around with.

Click here to download the audio

Click here to download the audio

After my Dad died I stopped messing around with music. I still listen to stuff every day but don’t play any instruments anymore. I think I will again when I’m older though.

When I decided I needed to know how the web worked and how to build websites I sold my entire record collection to pay for private web design classes. In those days there were no online tutorials.

Name two things/projects which are making you proud every day.

My business and my kids. The company’s grown from 3 to 9 within 2 years and we’re moving to bigger city centre premises in April to accommodate us expanding further. I’m really happy with how it’s going.

kids

Kids, well, enough said. You can have the worst day ever and 1 smile from them makes it all ok.

As much as I love getting into work I love getting home too and getting jumped on, covered in paint and made to be a horsie round the house (on a solid wood floor).

What’s not to love??

You are taking out for dinner Rand Fishkin. What are you gonna talk about?

Woah. Business obviously! I really like Rand. He’s a clever guy and very personable and I think he strikes the Trust/Like balance extremely well. He’s busy as crap but I’ve emailed him maybe 3 times now and he’s replied to me every time. He doesn’t even know who I am lol. I really respect him for being down to earth like that.

Rand

I’d get as much business advice as I could, get a photo with him for the blog, attempt to get a link (obviously), invite him over to Scotland again to a conference I’m planning. All that sort of good stuff  :-)

Wait, I’m paying for dinner? WHAT!? Rand might have to put those yellow trainers to good use! /runs

Last question: your favorite drink and why.

Corona normally and I love wheat beers like Hoegaarden & Blue Moon. If you forced me to drink a Glenfiddich 15yr I wouldn’t hate you :-)

Corona Beer

Alessio, thanks a lot again for inviting me to participate I really appreciate the opportunity and hope I didn’t waffle too much :-)

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  • Annalisa Hilliard

    This is a great interview from two really genuine guys. I think you are both trustworthy and likeable! Chris, thanks for your transparency and advice about facing our fears. You are right to say we all have them, but it’s what we do with them that matters. Life is 90% decisions.

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      Thanks Annalisa!

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      Thanks for phrasing it all much nicer than I did :)

  • http://www.willcritchlow.com Will Critchlow

    Wow. This got deep into real stuff didn’t it?

    Thanks for the kind words about Distilled, Chris. Much appreciated.

    Stay in touch.

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      Cheers Will. Enjoyed the hangout yesterday too nicely done.

  • http://www.discoverafricagroup.com/ Andre Van Kets

    Hey Chris – I don’t know you, but I like you already :) … Smashing Pumpkins, family-work balanced, music-lover and music-maker. Open about your anxieties, fears and scary-as-shit panic episodes (been there, got the t-shirt). Loss of a parent, but able to let the good times trump the pain (also got that t-shirt).

    I offer one of my favourite quotes as a little thank-you gift: “Count your blessings, not your disappointments”.

    Great job Alessio! Love your interview style.

    AVK

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      Thanks Andre for the comment!

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      Thanks AVK glad you enjoyed :) Nice quote.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesagate James Agate

    Love this Alessio, I’ve been getting to know Chris a lot better (over Twitter and email) recently and although he makes link builders dance for dollars and hounds me about my cartoon avatar, he’s a good laugh and it was cool to learn more about him in this :-)

    I can second that point about Rand, such a down to earth guy, it must be exhausting being him being so nice and personable all the time. At MozCon he was so much more approachable than some other people who were there…

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      thanks for stopping by James!

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      You know i’m just having fun with your avatar someone has to wind you up about it :)

  • http://www.northsideseo.com/ Anthony D. Nelson

    Great job Alessio and Chris. You managed to cover important topics such as fear and anxiety but also get in the ever important information about music and alcohol.

    As others have mentioned, it’s pretty easy to get a good idea on the work Chris does from his own blog posts or tweets. This was a fantastic avenue to get to know him beyond the SEO/marketer angle.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      Thanks Anthony!
      It was a pleasure to know a bit more about Chris indeed!

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      Thanks for reading Anthony glad you enjoyed hopefully meet up at some point :)

  • juliejoyce

    Best co-citation ever for me too…Aaron, Debra, AND DINOSAUR FREAKING JR.

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      Thanks Julie for stopping by!
      I mean, Chris: we have a fuckin producer hereeeeeeeeeeee!!!

      have you heard the music ? awesome people out there!

  • kmcgaffin

    What a brilliant, honest interview with much to think about – thanks for the link Iain – and well done Chris and Alessio.

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      Thanks Ken!

      glad you enjoyed; I enjoyed it a lot too.

      rock on!

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      Thanks Ken hopefully see you again soon!

  • http://www.perfectlyplausible.com/ Iain Bartholomew

    I can say without fear or favour that this is the best MYM I have read so far. I am hoping it is the first of many to feature some of the industry’s heavy-hitters in Scotland. Good work both.

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      thanks Iain!
      it was awesome to have Chris doing it!

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      The man did all the hard work coming up with the questions!

      • http://www.perfectlyplausible.com/ Iain Bartholomew

        Parky-esque.

  • http://twitter.com/content_muse Anthony Pensabene

    Alessio, WHAAAAT!? Nice – I like the layout and the questions. I feel like I got to know Chris a lot more beyond his SEO persona.

    Chris, the tunes sound pretty funky. I dig. I took some jiu-jitsu, also jammed to the S. Pumpkins, and willing to sleep out for great jobs and extraordinary women.

    Cheers – great job on both accounts

    • http://www.alessiomadeyski.com/ Alessio Madeyski

      Thanks Anthony! to me it’s the same. I’m considering one of the best interview done by me because of that, so we really get to know someone not only for their technical skills.

      thanks for reading it :)

    • http://twitter.com/hitreach Chris Gilchrist

      “willing to sleep out for great jobs and extraordinary women.” lmao – ace