How I Used 1 Blog Post to Find and Hire an Excellent Employee for Long Tail Pro

By Spencer Haws |

Long Tail Pro is a great business that I started almost 4 years ago.

I’ve put in a great deal of time and effort growing the revenue to where it is today (not an insignificant amount).  However, as I always have multiple projects going on (niche sites, authority site project, and more) I’ve hit a wall for how much more time I can personally put into growing the business.

I needed help.

After considering the pros and cons of bringing in a full-time employee to help me grow the business, I finally pulled the trigger and hired someone.

Today, I want to share how I used a simple blog post to attract and eventually hire my first full-time employee for my software company.  And of course, I want to introduce you to that new hire as well!

How I Started My Hunt

I had several different routes I could have gone to find a new employee.  LinkedIn, recruiter, online job boards, hiring agencies, or other avenues could have been used.

However, I really wanted to find someone that understood the culture of Long Tail Pro,, and me.  I wanted someone that was already familiar with the software and had used it on a regular basis.

In addition, I knew that my own email list and blog readers would be the best fit for that criteria.  So, I made the decision to post the job opening with a simple blog post and email my list.

You can read the original post about the job opening here.

I wasn’t sure how many applicants I would get or what the quality of them would be.  However, I had some precedent for this as I found Perrin (my full-time employee for Niche Pursuits projects), through an application process through my blog as well.

So, how did it go?

Within 48 hours I was overwhelmed with nearly 100 applicants!

How to Pick the Qualified Applicants

With so many applicants, I needed a process for narrowing down who I would actually interview.  I decided to make the application a 3 step process:

  1. Answer first set of questions (original application) via email
  2. Answer some additional questions via email
  3. Interview via Skype

The first step in the applications process was to answer these 2 questions:

Getting past the first step was fairly straight forward, if the applicant followed the directions and the English was readable and there was at least some small inkling that I thought you could handle the job, I sent the second set of questions.

About 30 to 40 people out of the 100 applicants made it to step 2.  These are the questions I sent in step 2 of the application process:

  1. A big part of the job will be producing original posts for the blog and other posts as a guest.  Can you please come up with 3 original blog post titles that would be a good fit on the blog?  We are just looking for the titles only…so please make it relevant, intriguing, and overall something that would be shareable and desirable to be read by the target audience.
  2. Can you share specific online examples of networking you’ve done or links you’ve acquired through outreach?
  3. Can you share a link to one or two articles that you’ve written that you are most proud of and displays your writing skills?
  4. Please submit your resume or link to your LinkedIn profile if it’s mostly complete.

Based on those 4 questions, I decided to interview 8 people.

I just want to say how difficult some of these decisions were!  I was blown away by how many excellent candidates applied and were interested in working with me.

As we conducted the interviews (Perrin was on the interview calls with me), it seemed like each interviewee was better than the previous one.

In fact, some of the applicants were people that had been following my blog for a couple years and I had interacted with them through blog comments and emails previously.  I felt like I already knew several of the final applicants and knew that a few of them would be a great fit.

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At the end of the day, I had to make a decision based on the overall qualifications, body of work submitted by each applicant, and overall fit with Perrin and I.

The decision was not easy, but I am SO happy with the person I hired as the new Brand Manager for Long Tail Pro!

Say Hello to Jake!


I would like to introduce you to Jake Cain, Brand Manager and Director of Marketing for Long Tail Pro!

Jake’s first day on the job officially was November 4th.  He has already brought a lot of fresh ideas and I’m excited about the future of my business with Jake on board.

Today, I wanted to give you a chance to meet Jake and get to know him a bit.  After all, he’s now an integral part of my business.

So, with that I am going to let introduce himself in his own words.  Here’s Jake:

Hey everybody! I’m excited to have this opportunity to work with Spencer and Perrin to help grow the Long Tail Pro brand!

I’ve lived in Cincinnati my entire life, except for the 4 years I spent at the prestigious Lee University in Cleveland, TN. My wife and I have 3 boys that are ages 3 and under. {Insert your joke about how crazy we are here}.

When I didn’t have kids, I thought that building successful websites was challenging. After all, you had to design, create, and research around a full-time job and a social life. As a parent, I’ve learned that doing keyword research is even more challenging with a small human hanging from your neck.

Keyword Research in My House

I started my first website in 2008 after taking a baseball road trip with my dad. The site was focused on helping people save money when they go to Major League games.

I learned a lot from that experience and some time later began reading Spencer’s blog and purchased Long Tail Pro. Since then, I’ve had a few other sites that have been successful and have found that I really enjoy the entire process of starting a website and watching it grow.

When Spencer posted a job opening for Long Tail Pro, it was a no-brainer for me. I had a great job, but the opportunity to do something you love and work with someone you really respect is something that doesn’t come along often.

I’m a big believer in the power of long tail keywords because I’ve seen it work first-hand. However, I know that the average small business owner has no idea what a long tail keyword is and how it can help grow their business. So I’m not working for LTP as a tech wiz on the cutting edge of the SEO industry. Instead, I’m here to communicate the message of internet marketing, and more specifically long tail keywords, in a simple, practical way.

We want new entrepreneurs and small business owners to “get it” and then show how Long Tail Pro can help them take the next step.

With that goal in mind, check out my latest post “What is a Keyword? What it Means for Your Business.” If you are reading this and are still figuring everything out, I encourage you to follow along with us at the Long Tail Pro blog and follow us on Twitter.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I’m thrilled to have Jake as part of my team now.  Not only has he already gotten a couple of great blog posts up on the Long Tail Pro blog, but he also managed to gain control of the @longtailpro twitter account that someone else had been squatting on for a long time. Woot!

Perrin, Jake, and I do our strategy calls together and it sure doesn’t feel like work to me at least.

I don’t know if using your own email list or blog will work as well to hire your first employee, but its worked exceptionally well for me.

Thanks again for following along in my journey as I grow my software business.  If you have any thoughts or questions that you’d like to discuss, let me know.  Otherwise, I hope you’ll at least welcome Jake as the newest member of my team.  Thanks!

Niche Business Ideas | 43 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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Congrats Jake!
Good luck 😀

Jake Cain

Thanks, Loukay!


Hey Spencer,

I like your approach to talk about Jake as a team member and not only an employee.

For myself I only hired freelancers so far, but I plan to take my recently launched blog to higher Levels next year. Right now I focus on content marketing only ( I produce the content myself)

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Phil! Jake and Perrin are definitely team members, I need all the help I can get.


Hey Congrats Spencer for your New Team Member…
Welcome Jake…
lets c what you got for LTP…


Welcome to the team, man! You’ve been killing it this month!


Guess your not interested in your current customers then! Thanks for removing my comment appreciate the “help”

Spencer Haws

AP, I was just about to shoot you an email. We are more than happy to help, but didn’t feel like the negative comment was useful to everyone. Look for my email in a minute.

Spencer Haws

Actually, looks like you didn’t use a real email adddress here, go ahead contact me here: or respond to your existing support ticket.


Sorry spencer, I thought maybe you had bloked my email from the first comment so just stuck in anything on the last comment. (Real email on this comment)

My apologies I shouldn’t really be commenting about technical issues on this positive post. Was just fed up of trying to get the program to work today when I need some keywords.

I’m a huge fan of your work and sites so I don’t want any negativity between us.

Congratulations on the getting the job Jake 🙂

Sorry for the ranting on your achievement 🙂


Congrats Jake! Look forward to what you bring to the table. I’ve been noticing more emails from Long Tail Pro lately. 🙂


Welcome Jake! I am a Lee alumnus as well!

Jake Cain

Always a pleasure to hear from a fellow Flame. Email me at [email protected] if you want to talk Lee U!

Toki Tover

Welcome Jake! I feel you on having a baby on you while doing keyword research 🙂 except I have a 7 month old and another on the way… I get the crazy jokes already..

Jake Cain

Hey Toki – sounds like us! Our first 2 are 10.5 months apart and our youngest is 7 months right now! Fun times.


LOL I bet your house is a super busy place.


Interesting! I am sailing the same boat. Our son is 8 months and a brother is a few months behind.
Otherwise, congrats Jake. I know you will be a big success here


Congratulations Jake.!! I am sure you have a great opportunity with this group.

I think a good move to have Perrin with you in interview and great to hire from a pool of people with who you have familiarity. It will be easier to communicate ideas and results will probably be a lot faster and a lot better.

Spencer Haws

Definitely, having someone that already knows my business has been following along my journey has basically eliminated training time.


Congrats Jake and Spencer!

You 3 make an awesome team and I’m looking forward to see how you guys take the business to the next level.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Tung!

Michael Steinberg

I would say that it appears you have used a very logical, and efficient system for hiring a new team member. Well done Spence. If you keep expanding, at this rate, who knows, you might start doing your hair in a comb over! 🙂


Spencer Haws

Haha, was that a Trump joke? Either way, I hope to never have to deal with a comb over 🙂

Joseph Ho

Congrats on your new hire! Hello Jake!


I like the idea of hiring a person who has some good experience in the keyword world, lets see what Jake will do, but I’m sure he will do a pretty Job. I’m inspired, I should create a product too and making blogging as a personal thing.

Thnks Spencer

Darnell Jackson

Congrats on the continued growth Spencer thanks for all that you do


Congrats to you all! It sounds like a perfect team. If I was more established in the field, I would’ve liked to apply. It really sounds like Jake has the perfect knowledge/background. Glad to be learning here.

Best wishes,


Congrats guys! Looks like the team is getting bigger and more productive.

Spencer, when making hires, how do you judge the compensation type and amount. I don’t need any concrete figures (since that’s private), but some sort or algo or methodology as a guide would be great.

Spencer Haws

I dont have an exact formula. However, these aren’t entry level positions. So, the salary is similar to what someone with a college degree with at least 3 to 5 years of experience would make. I know that’s rough numbers, but its not entry level and its not what someone with 20 years experience would make either.


Off-topic: Skype for web = Vylo?

Spencer Haws

Not exactly. The difference with Vylo is you don’t have to download anything and you don’t have to create usernames.


Congreats Spencer!
Hope the team will do more great works

Tarun @TechnTrack

Thanks Spencer,
I love the Long Tail pro it is one of my best tool, that I use every day for my Internet marketing 😀


hey, Spencer

I’m a newbie for Google seo from China. Occasionally searching from Google I found your, a very great website which is very useful and very helpful for me, especially your “best survival knife” case and “a penny shaving” case giving me a lot of Inspiration. Thank you.

Now I began to dive into an seo campaign for a niche to have a try. After web designing, keywords researching, content outsourcing, on-page optimization, now link building is coming, which made me confuse and have a little impatient.

My link building strategy is according to your “best survival knife” case:

First: building about 100 low quality backlinks (Quality Web Directories, Article Directories, Profile, Social Bookmarks, RSS Feeds, Q&A etc.)

Question : I used like keywords + “submit a site” to find these kinds of websites. But I found most of them are “NoFollow” websites, even if it can be a “DoFollow” link which you have to pay for or give this site a reciprocal link. Even during the process of making profile links, I registered 50 sites which only had 3 “DoFollow” link. It is very confused whether I made some mistakes during building backlinks.

Second: building a lot of related backlinks (blog comments, forum posts, competitors’ backlinks etc.)

Third: web 2.0 and PBN, which now you wouldn’t recommend in your recent post.

But in my opinion, it is very difficulty for me to write high quality content like your case one “best survival knife comparison” writing by yourself, because English isn’t my local language. So at first I must depend on content outsourcing. Now I want to improve my writing skills. And about PBN, from another blog : says it’s also OK only if you don’t leave any seo footprints.

At last I want to talk about my feelings after learning seo:
1. “SEO” by itself is a very good niche for a sophisticated seo
2. Because of it, there are more and more information about seo tutorials which make me at a loss.

Hope for your reply.

Best Wishes.


Spencer Haws

Thanks for following along. I would recommend following my updated case study on building an authority site, as most of the previous link building tactics I used are out of date (the case study is old):

I would hire writers. I don’t recommend PBNs.

Hope that helps.

Jennifer Bland

Congrats Jake on beating out 99 other highly qualified applicants for the position. You are in an enviable position where you are going to learn a lot from the master himself. Congrats again!


Spencer, your 3rd step regarding a Skype call with applicants reminded me of a little hack that we do.

If we are hiring for a position that we are not highly proficient in ourselves, I will find 3 or 4 ‘experts’ on oDesk and pay for an hour of their time to find out what questions I should be asking.

These people are usually out of my reach (budget-wise) for ongoing work, but it’s easy enough to buy an hour of their time to learn what type of questions I should be asking, how I can test the prospective employee’s knowledge, etc.

Then we feel better prepared for interviewing the real and more affordable employee.

Spencer Haws

Excellent tip!


Hi Spencer,

Great tips on finding and screening out great and qualified people like Jake (hi Jake)

Im in the process of creating internal systems which is a pain…but I guess I really have to go through this. I’ll then apply your tips and hopefully, finding the right team members will be a breeze!

Keep up the great work!

Spencer Haws

Best of luck, Dennis!


Okay, Got his first email from LTP affiliate.
at first I thought TLP got hacked or something, I found out later it’s an official email.
So, Hello Jake, hope to learn a few things about business growth from you. 🙂


Congrats to you, Spencer! Also, congrats to Jake. Here’s to a long and fruitful relationship, may LTP reach new levels of awesomeness. 🙂

Arafin Shaon

Congrats Spencer for your New Team Member. Looking forward to see how you guys take the business to the next level. 🙂

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