Mike Munter grew up in the Baltimore suburb of Reisterstown, Maryland. He graduated high school in 1983 and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.
After a couple years of college, he fell into his first full-time job as a personal computer technician, even know he didn’t know the first thing about computers. But he learned and after a few years in the field, he was installing networking systems for small and mid-sized companies that wanted to share files and communicate via inter-office mail. He liked the money, but didn’t care for the work. In 1992, he was thankfully laid off.
He set off on a cross country road trip to ‘find himself’ and figure out what to do next. He knew he wanted to do work he enjoyed, but didn’t know what it was.
Considering the only thing he really loved was baseball, he landed a part-time job selling tickets by phone for the Orioles Double-A minor league team, the Bowie Baysox. He worked his way up and became the club’s general manager in 2003.
Two years later, he transferred to Portland, Oregon to work at the Rose Garden Arena, home of the NBA’s Trail Blazers. At first the work was enjoyable, but he soon lost interest and when billionaire owner Paul Allen re-purchased the arena, he and most of his staff were laid off.
So, Mike did what he did 15 years earlier: He drove across country hoping for enlightenment on what his next career would be. Only this time it took 3 1/2 years for the answer to arrive.
He began MikeMunter.com in 2011 because he wanted to help his friends get their websites ranked higher in Google. He learned SEO basics by posting an ad on Craigslist which he used to screen several applicant ‘teachers’. By March he had his first paying client and the company has grown from there.
Now, Mike gets to combine his 20+ years of real world business experience with the vast power of internet marketing to produce great results for his clients.
What are you working on right now?
I want to get really good at scaleable link building. A diverse backlink portfolio is the key to successful search engine optimization work, so I’m working on putting systems in place to help my clients get the biggest bang for their buck in terms of ethical, manual link building. It’s a fun process because I love systems and investigative work.
Where did the idea for your SEO company come from?
I wondered how Google ranked websites. I wanted to help my friends who had small businesses make more money by getting their website found.
So, I put an ad on Craigslist to find somebody to teach me. I learned the basics and it’s been a lot of trial and error since then.
But the thing that really drove me was that I didn’t want to go back to work in corporate America. So, I had to find something new that I could do from home to make money. Internet marketing is perfect for that. The whole world is at your fingertips.
How do you make money?
I provide SEO, online marketing, and web design services to clients. The design work is quoted based on the job and the SEO work is usually a monthly recurring fee based on the client budget.
What does your typical day look like?
I usually spend a few hours from 9am to noon working for my clients – whether it be on-site SEO work, managing my team in India, or spying on their competitors looking for link building ideas. Online marketing is a huge and diverse world with lots of opportunity.
That said, I also break up my day with trips to the dog park, games of online chess, exercise, and gardening. The nice thing about working online is you can do it when you want. I tend to work in spurts when the energy is high.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As an INTJ, I’m blessed with lots of ideas. Getting them out of my brain and into practice is often the challenging part 🙂 An associate and I are always bouncing ideas back and forth, but at the end of the day, you just gotta try it and see what happens.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I believe things are always getting better. I believe Google’s intentions are good and that they will one day get their algorithm to the point where the best sites with the best links are the ones that rank the highest. That’s not really a trend, but I am excited about where the internet is heading.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked part-time at Macy’s one year. My job was helping to build the in-store displays. I wasn’t any good at it. My displays always sucked. The storage warehouse was a cluttered mess: I could never find the props I needed. There didn’t seem to be much order or direction to it. It was all kind of artsy-fartsy. I learned that I like to have a framework.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything different. I am where I am because of my experiences in life and my distaste for corporate America. I couldn’t have started my own business at 20 because I needed some experience first. This work arrived at just the right time for me personally.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get experience by working for free if you have to. Find mentors who’ve been there, so you can skip a few steps. Build relationships with others who are willing to share what they know. And then pay it all back when you have the chance. Do work you enjoy.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When Google updated their algorithm in 2012, my linking methods were cooked. My site tumbled in SERPs and never recovered. So, after a long struggle between “automated link building” and “manual link building”, I chose to do things the right way, the way Google tells us to.
This has turned me on to a whole new level of clientele who appreciate quality and who are willing to pay for it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start a website using an exact match domain. Assuming you want to make money off your blog one day, you’ll get a leg up on all your competition if your domain name matches or includes the keywords you want to rank for.
For example, if you’re interested in ‘photography’ and you live in Portland, call your online business portlandphotography.com or photography-portland.com or something similar. Then build a kick butt site that’s unique. You can find out what domain names are available at whois.com.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I’d eliminate fear. And I’m not talking about fear of heights or fear of jumping out of an airplane. I’m talking about the kind of deep seated fear that creates racism, hatred, and animosity between countries and people.
How would I go about it? I already am. I’m on a lifelong journey to get to know myself better and accept who I am. When I get angry, I want to know why and when something upsets me, I want to know where that’s coming from. I think that’s the starting point. As we know ourselves better, those walls start to come down.
Of course, first, you have to have awareness. And I’m not sure how to teach that to others.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I think I just did 🙂
Aside from that, I have a 26 year old daughter who I chose not to meet until last year. I also have a 2 year old granddaughter, so I feel like I got another chance in that department.
I’m adopted and when I went looking for my birth mother, she didn’t want to see me.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer kicks ass for seeing inbound links to websites. It’s helping me to scale my link building, get new ideas and find sites like the one we’re on right now 🙂
Google, of course. I use it for research and for finding a good place to get wings.
I also like MySEOTool. I pay for their service to check rankings for my clients main keywords. Great software that helps keep me organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Well, I don’t read entrepreneur books and I read all the sales books 25 years ago. The “4 Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss was exciting at first, but it’s a whole lot of fluff.
I’d say just relax and read Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. It might make you see things a bit differently. You could also check out “The Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida, if you want to better understand where some of us are headed.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
For SEO, Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, and Avinash Kaushik.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
The other night watching Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 – the Seinfeld reunion stuff is hysterical. Watching George coach Larry on playing George (a character based on Larry) is hilarious!
Who is your hero?
How important is a good website to SEO?
A lot of clients think they can just hire somebody to help them build links but what they don’t realize is a great website attracts links naturally. Your website is the foundation, it’s your store. You wouldn’t promote your pizza shop if it was a mess, so don’t start SEO work until your website is dialed in.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I grow a lot of food. I especially enjoy canning and finding ways to preserve the food I grow. I don’t like going to the store for my food.
I play softball, tennis, racquetball and sometimes I run. I’ve got 2 dogs and a girlfriend and I like to climb things and build things.
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Mike Munter on Twitter: @mike_munter
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.