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In this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Alizée Baudez, freelance SEO consultant, to discuss how she's built an international client base as a freelancer.
Jack: Welcome to episode 82 of season two of the Search With Candour podcast. I'm your host, Jack Chambers-Ward, and this week I am joined by the fantastic international SEO consultant, Alizée Baudez. Alizée and I are going to be talking all about how to be an international SEO consultant. What does that mean? How does that differ from being a local SEO consultant, or based in your home country? How to work with different clients around the world in different languages, in different time zones, and all that kind of stuff. It's a very interesting conversation. But before I get to my chat with Alizée, I'd like to say a huge thank you to this week's sponsor, the one and only SISTRIX. SISTRIX is the SEO's toolbox, and you can go to sistrix.com/swc and get access to some free tools and a free trial of their fantastic service. That's sistrix.com/swc, that stands for Search With Candour, and you get access to some fantastic free tools and a free trial as well. The latest update from SISTRIX this week is in fact a SERP update at the touch of a button.
And when you're in the keyword overview part of the keywords tool in SISTRIX, you can click a little update button right at the top of the page, and it will essentially refresh the SERPs for you. We know that Google are updating things more and more quickly, the cycles are getting faster and faster as we go through 2023, and this is when you need that really up-to-date information. You've just made a big change in your site, or you know there's a change that's happened for this keyword and you're not quite sure that the data you're looking at matches up with what you think, you can click the update button and get to the minute perfect updated results for the SERPs for that keyword group you're looking at. You can also do this in the domain side of things, so rather than the keywords tool, you go over to the domains tool, and look at the keyword section in the domains tool. So this is where you're tracking all of your rankings, you're having a look at where this domain is for all of these keywords.
You can then highlight all of those keywords in the little table and click, "Update the selected SERPs." This allows you selectively to update those SERPs as you go through, so you don't have to update everything and wait a long time. If you're tracking a lot of keywords, you can be pretty selective with it and actually update the things that you need information on as soon as possible. There's also a brilliant little filter that says, "Older than seven days." So if that SERP data has not been updated for more than seven days, and you just want to get the latest data for absolutely everything, then you can click the, "Older than seven days," button and that will tick all of the ones there, and update all the ones you are tracking for that site, and update them to the freshest data for you. New functionality is also available in the SISTRIX lists side of things, so again, if you've created a separate keyword list, this is outside of the keywords and domains tool, this is now in the lists tool, you can again selectively choose how you want to update the SERPs there. You can do the older than seven days, or you can pick them individually, and there is now an, "Update SERPs," button right at the top there. And yeah, very, very straightforward, nice and easily, and you get instant access to the latest SERP data, and those keywords are refreshed right before your eyes. To get access to this, like I said, go to sistrix.com/swc. There, you can get a free trial of their full service, including the domains, the keywords, and the lists, and you can check out the SERP update today.
And my guest for this week is an international SEO freelancing consultant, Alizée Baudez. Welcome to the show, and in a way, welcome back to the show, because you've been on the show before.
Alizée: Yes, thanks for having me again. I've been on the show for a very special Halloween episode, if I recall correctly.
Jack: Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
Alizée: Very horrific episode.
Jack: I think, if I remember correctly, you were the very last person I spoke to before jumping on my train back to Norwich from Brighton, and we literally, as the keynote was about to start in the other room, you and I sat in the corner, and recorded five minutes of chat.
Alizée: It was amazing, I had a great time.
Jack: Me too, me too. It was really nice to finally meet you. I've been following you for a long time, and been aware of your work for a while. And I believe that story was about... There was a PPC thing, wasn't there? And there was access to an account, and somebody had sent the files in a USB stick, or something like that. Was that it?
Alizée: Yeah. Basically, agencies with whom I had worked with, that would give me access to a Gmail account to access GA4 data and things like that, and they would just give me access to the entirety of their client's data, which I could do whatever I wanted with. It was like, yeah, pure mayhem.
Jack: Amazing. So I know the listeners had a little bit of an intro to you previously, but as I said, you're an international freelancing SEO consultant, and that is the topic we're going to be talking about, and how to be an international freelance SEO consultant. What that means, how is it different to working locally, how is it different to working agency side and being international as well, and all the different facets, and all that kind of stuff. But first of all, how did you become a freelance SEO consultant? How did you work so internationally, Alizée? What was the journey there for you? Did you start in-house? Agency side? What's the path you've taken in your career so far?
Alizée: So it started... The very, very start, I wasn't SEO at all. To be totally transparent with you, my very, very first contract was actually redesigning a resume for a couple who wanted to change careers, so very, very different. What happened is that when I finished uni, I had a few months of traveling, roaming around, figuring out what I wanted to do, and literally the same week, I signed for my first job in Paris, in-house, and I had my first client. So I started both careers at the same time, working as a freelancer on weekends and some evenings, and working full-time at my job in Paris, where I was an international web marketer. So it was pretty broad, but I think 85% of the website's traffic was coming from SEO at the time, so it was mainly SEO work. And I worked both jobs for two years, and after two years, my partner and I decided Paris was not made for us at all, and we decided to become digital nomads for a few years. Yeah, one or two, and I launched... Yeah, I went full-time on the business in 2018, so technically, my business just celebrated its seventh birthday. Say like that?
Alizée: Thank you very much.
Jack: That's very impressive. With the amount of churn, and things like that, we see in the industry, that is seriously impressive. Genuinely.
Alizée: I'm very, very proud. Honestly, it's one of my... I was very proud to achieve this milestone, and I've been working on it full-time since 2018. And well, since my daytime job at the time was pretty much internationally focused, I had this international background way of seeing things, pretty global way of seeing things, with my clients, even when I lived in Paris. And then we started traveling around Europe, so it was even more international in the... There was a correlation between the life I was living daily and my job, things tied in together. And little by little, clients from abroad came to me and we were successful, so it snowballed from there.
Jack: You make it sound so easy. I think that's a... Like I said, so many people have tried and failed, and either gone back to working agency or tried a different career path, and you're just like, "Yeah, I just got a bunch of clients, and everything was fine, and here I am seven years later." You make it sound-
Alizée: It's not that easy.
Jack: ... So comfortable, Alizée. So I guess we'll start there. The fact that you made it sound very easy, but as I'm sure anybody listening knows, it is not easy to do that. To make that push to go freelance, and really put your income and your career in your own hands in the most direct way, and things like that. I'm guessing a big reason for that... Again, with you being a digital nomad, and being able to travel around a lot and have that flexibility, and stuff, does that also come with its own challenges as well from that side of things? Always being in different places, and having to deal with different clients in different time zones, and things like that?
Alizée: It's an adjustment. I'm very lucky to have a partner who's in a similar position, where most of his colleagues are overseas, so we are very understanding of each other's schedules. But most of the time, I manage to... Yeah, it just works out pretty easily for me. If I have to wake up a little bit earlier to go on a meeting, as long as it's not like that every single day, then it's fine. And if I have to stay later, I'm fine with that too. It's just managing my schedule, first of all in the way I need it, because I need to have my freedom, that's why I'm a freelancer. I like having my own organization, and being able to decide when and how I'm going to do things. And usually, clients are very understanding of that, and they understand how it works. But we did the digital nomad for a year and a half, or two years, and we've settled down in Strasbourg in France at the end of 2019, so just before COVID, which eased a lot of things COVID wise, as you can imagine. And so nowadays, I'm more settled. I'm in my own home office, it's more of a home to work from, but I can easily go work from anywhere else in the world, and that's the freedom I like about it.
Jack: Now, just before we were talking about recording, and recording podcasts, and things like that, you mentioned doing recordings from hotel rooms, and stuff like that. I've done a bit of work traveling around, and working in hotel rooms around conferences and stuff, but I can't imagine. I see so many people taking client calls while they're at a conference and stuff, and that is just... I'm in such a different mindset when I'm at a conference, I'm in networking mode, I try not to even think about client stuff, but have you found balancing networking, and events and stuff, and also making sure you're still having those regular check-ins with clients, and all that kind of stuff? Is that often difficult to balance?
Alizée: So the way I do it is I'm very transparent with my clients about what's going on in my professional and personal life. They don't know everything, of course, but most of the big events. So if I'm on holiday, they know about it, they get an out-of-office email, and they know they are not meant to expect any answer very quickly. If I'm at a conference, I tell them way in advance, that we're going to be in conference mode, so I'm not going to be easily reachable, or I'm not going to be able to dive in very deeply into any issues they might have. But again, we do SEO. SEO is rarely an urgent topic. If it is, then something went wrong along the way.
Jack: And probably developers need to step in.
Alizée: Yes, most of the time, I'm just transferring and delegating the issue to the most competent person, so it's doable. But for me, the most important thing is to be upfront with clients, and letting them know that, well, I'm not in an agency, any kind of training, any kind of learning I have to do, I'm doing it on my own, from my own initiative, and I do the work to keep updated with any updates from Google, or wherever. And for me to be able to bring my top game to them, I need to take time off to learn, and to go to conferences, and to network and to meet other people, and that kind of thing. So they usually understand it pretty well.
Jack: That's a really important thing. I think that applies to agencies as well, that transparency. There's something we hold as one of our core values here at Candour, is just being transparent and honest with your clients. If something goes wrong, communicate it in a clear and honest way. If something goes really well, communicate it in a clear and honest way, and you can't really go too wrong. I think when so many agencies, and I'm sure freelancers do as well, I just know a bit more about the agency side of the world, is where you get these... They only talk about the good side of things, they never actually talk about the bad. So even to the clients, they're not reporting anything that's going wrong. They try and shuffle everything under a carpet, and hide it and omit the details, and all that kind of thing. Do you think that's a key part of being a one-person company, essentially. Because as you said, you are wearing the training hat, you are wearing the customer service hat, you are managing these accounts, managing projects, doing all this stuff together. That transparency and honesty, I think, would help you in the long run to then build that relationship up with the clients, right?
Alizée: Yes, definitely. Because yeah, as you said, it is a one-woman operation in my case. I don't have external help, or very rarely. I don't need it. So far, I've been able to manage most things on my own, but that does mean that they get super tailored service. They get someone 100% dedicated to their own project, but the downside of that is that I am only me, and I need to sleep, I need to eat, I need to see my friends. I need weekends, just as they do, and oftentimes, the clients I work with do have some independent experience at some point or another, so they usually get it very well, but you do need to be really transparent.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. Do you find there's a particular kind of client that gravitates towards you as a freelancer, rather than them going towards a bigger agency, and so... I guess that might depend on the company size, or their previous experience, or their flexibility as well.
Alizée: It depends on a lot of factors. I did the math for 2022, and 95% of my income came from word-to-mouth clients, so-
Alizée: Yeah, it's mainly word-to-mouth. So for me, they come to me because I'm a freelancer, they stay with me for the personality and the expertise, but we do have to get along really well to make it work long-term. And yeah, I think most of them do have some form of independent experience whether... For example, I've worked with the developer once who took me in for a project and yeah, he worked in-house but he had some freelance experience on the side, so they understand the complexities of being a freelancer, and they know the kind of level of expertise they can get. But they also know the fact that, yeah, we're not available all the time. I don't have someone answering the phone for me, that's not how it goes.
Jack: There's no receptionist or anything like that.
Jack: You mentioned training and stuff, and keeping up to date with what's going on in the world, even outside of just directly Google, as we talk about so often with all the algorithm updates. Just a quick aside, at time of recording, there seems to be something going on with the SERPs, I don't know if you've kept up with it, Alizée.
Alizée: Yeah, a little bit.
Jack: A lot of the tools are reporting volatility at the moment, but no official word from Google at time of recording. But do you find that that is a thing you have to go out of your way to learn about the different clients, and their cultures, and their countries, and things like that? If you're tackling with... And this is something I touched on when I had Sarah Presch on the show a few months ago. She was talking about how much culture and cultural understanding, let alone language, can affect how you understand each other, and literally how keywords, and all that kind of stuff, works. How much of that is part of your training and understanding is also keeping up to date with all the SEO stuff that we have to do, and also all the international cultural language-y kind of stuff as well on top of that?
Alizée: So I think the first thing is curiosity. If you look at my YouTube history, which I don't recommend you do, but if you ever stumble on it, weirdly-
Jack: I'll put a link in the show notes, don't worry. Yeah, yeah.
Alizée: Of course, yes please. But if you do, you'd see there are a lot of content from the US, a lot of content from the UK, a lot of content from French people living in Japan, because I have fascinated by the Japan culture, a lot of content from Scandinavia, a little bit from Midwestern YouTubers in the US. They are very rural also. I'm just curious about a lot of things, and I think that helps understanding other cultures, other points of views. Being very open, also, to whatever data you might find along the way or anything, absorb anything you can find. But also, during projects, one of my favorite examples was working with a medical company in Canada, in Quebec, where you would find out that they were selling things that help old people walk, and those people were searching for little adapters you could put on the feet of the walker that would slide onto the snow. This is super specific, but of course, old people in Montreal need to have to actually glide. Sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. They actually need to glide on the snow in the winter, it's not practical for them to have heavy things to lift, and then put in the snow, and then do a couple of steps, and start again. So those things are very quirky examples that show if you keep open to the information that's coming to you while you do your research, or while you just hang out too late on YouTube on a Saturday night, little by little, you get an understanding of what's the actual issues people are encountering over the world, and how you can help them.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. That's the key part there I think, is like you said, having that curiosity. Is there a way of getting an idea of what the agencies and the other freelancers in that local area are doing? Is that element... Almost like competitor research, I guess. But from your perspective, if you are going to work with a Canadian company, or a Japanese company, to understand the culture of SEO, for want of a better phrase, in that country and how they handle it, are they more likely to work with you on this kind of project or this kind of thing? How much of that factors into your research and your understanding there as well?
Alizée: A little bit. What I like to do is sneakily have a look on Google Maps what top agencies or freelancers come over, and have a little read around their most recent case studies. And understand what issues they encountered recently, and how they went about them. A huge part of this is also just simply having a long chat with the client, and letting the conversation open to letting them talk to you about what they're encountering there.
Jack: Yeah, that was something I talked about with Katie McDonald a couple of weeks ago, where we had the whole conversation about getting the client to explain their business to you as if you were a two-year-old. And it's this really interesting way of, like you said, getting the understanding of how the client understands their business in that country and in that part of the world, and how they also see, like you said, the more common issues around, "Oh, a lot of these sites are built on a particular CMS in this country, so there are these common issues," or whatever it is, that kind of thing. That's a really interesting way of going about it, and I think that's a universal piece of advice as well. Like you said, get to know your clients. As part of that onboarding call, or the initial call, or whatever it is, have an open conversation with them. Hopefully, they'll be ready to be open to you, but be open to them as well, and say, "Oh yeah. Maybe I specialize in this, and I can do this, but I won't be doing this. But I know another freelancer who I could work with who can do this," and all that kind of stuff.
Jack: Do you think that specializing and generalizing, how much of that is a part of freelancing as a whole, but also international freelancing as well? From my experience... And this again, I keep referring to old episodes, I don't know why, I'm just in that headspace at the moment... Almost like building internal links on a podcast basically. Conversation I had with Tom Marriott a few months ago was about being a generalist in SEO, and I find myself being very much a bit of a generalist. I do a little bit of technical stuff, but I'm not particularly technical. I do a bit of content stuff, I've done a little bit of link building, but not much link building. I'm a little bit all over the place. Do you think that is better for a freelancer, and an international freelancer specifically, or do you find yourself tending to specialize in one particular direction or the other?
Alizée: So in terms of SEO skills, I'm pretty generalist as well, although I have a preference for content related stuff and technical stuff, rather than link building, because I haven't done much, and it's not as fun for me, to be totally honest. So in terms of skills, you can specialize a little bit, and it really depends on the kind of client that comes to you. That's the way I see it. If someone I really enjoy working with comes to me with a local project after I was just done with an international SEO project, which was the case a few months ago. I mean, this client I absolutely adore, and we just can't wait to get on calls together, because we have such a good time. So I mean, it's just perfect, even if the topics are different. What I would recommend is to not niche down, but at least select a few industries you are really at ease with. For example, when I about talk about-
Jack: You beat me to my next question.
Alizée: Sorry. So yeah, for example, when I talk about medical stuff, in the case of walkers for elderly people, at the time I did this project, we were exactly looking for that type of project for my grandmother, so I was aware of what was going on and what the issues would be. If you ask me about maybe something in the metal industry or car industry, I'm not going to be that much of a help at the time, I'm going to need to do a lot of research to get a hang of it. So I think it's more about topics you're interested in, and industries you have some form of attachment to or experience with, even from a personal standpoint, rather than absolutely niching down to international SEO, doing only local SEO for your local area, or doing only link building, or et cetera, et cetera.
Jack: Yeah, I've seen that from agency side, where I feel like agencies are a bit more shady about this, where you will see this incredibly specific industry, and they claim to exclusively work in that industry. There was one, we had a client who we didn't get as a client, and I'm trying to remember the industry they worked in. It was something like rubber pipe connection systems, and there was another agency who won that bid that claimed to be like, "Yeah, we're the rubber pipe connecting SEO agency." I'm like, "No, you're not. That's not a thing. You've just straight up lied to them, and claimed to be this industry specialist of this industry that is super, super niche." No offense if you do work, listeners, in rubber pipe sealants and things like that. But I think you're totally right, finding something that... Again, coming back around to the more personal side of it, you mentioned your curiosity being a big fact there. I think that interest in a particular industry can make a huge difference. I know that does for me, personally, when working on particular clients throughout the years of like, "Oh yeah, I know I'm doing good work on this client, but I don't particularly care about that industry." I understand it's an e-commerce site, it'll do this, and then you get a client who's doing the thing you're really into, it's like, "Okay, now I am the target audience for this thing. I understand how this works." Using the example of your grandmother, perfect example there. You may have a friend or a family member who requires this product, or even works in that industry themselves, and you suddenly have this extra understanding of that. So I guess my next question is, how much time goes into that research? We've touched on so many different elements of you doing research from the cultural side of things, to the industry side of things, to the SEO side of things. It sounds like there's a lot of work that goes into just an initial call, that's a lot of initial work, and initial hours, and blood, sweat, and tears going into that already.
Alizée: Strangely enough, I think I never actually calculated, so I might need to start doing that. Thanks for letting me know about this thing.
Jack: I don't know if you'll be sorry or you'll be welcome.
Alizée: I think I'll need to up my prices. Maybe, we'll see.
Jack: Sorry to your clients, maybe. I just doubled your prices in one conversation.
Alizée: We'll see, we'll see. But I think there is a lot of research coming in, but I don't necessarily count it that much, it comes naturally. As many independents, and as many people on the internet, I am a very good procrastinator, so I think procrastinating is my form of research and curiosity. Maybe? That's the way I'm going to justify it right now. I'll let you know in a couple of months once I've done the math, if it's really that big of a deal or not. But I think it's a lot of... Yeah, it just comes pretty organically to me. Yeah, I like rabbit holes. I think that's one thing also, you start researching something and you're like, "Oh, and that's how they think about this, and this is the way they phrase that kind of query," and you, yeah little by little, go on any keyword research tool and find yourself doing connections you never thought existed before.
Jack: I'm right there with you. I'm a fellow rabbit hole diver, for sure. You know that moment where you get into a topic, and then you look at the clock, and it's been an hour, and you're like, "Oh, no. Oh, God. Oh no, I've got a client call. I've got this thing happening right now." And you realize you've been in this one topic for-
Alizée: Exactly. Preferably after 11:00 PM, for some reason.
Jack: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Something we haven't touched on... We touched on cultures, and industries, and stuff, but I think language is a huge part of this as well. And I know you are multilingual yourself. You're a French and English speaker, do you speak any other language as well, on top of French?
Alizée: I speak German as well. I understand very well, German. I read it but can't hold a complete great conversation right now, but living in Strasbourg, I hear lots of German, so.
Jack: Right, yeah. Do you think that's an important factor in being an international SEO in 2023? Or do you think there's enough... For want of a better phrase, enough people are understanding, and there's enough translations and things like that, going around at the moment? Or do you think that is a key part of the ability of you being able to work with German-speaking clients, French-speaking clients and English-speaking clients opens up the options to you?
Alizée: I think it opens up a lot of options. The thing is, with languages, you can only do so much with Google Translate. Once you get the hang of the grammar... For example, if you take German. In German, most of the verbs are at the end of the sentence, so naturally Germans, when you have a conversation with them, they'll let you go to the end of your sentence before cutting you in and going on with the conversation. In French, the verb is more often somewhere closer to the beginning of the sentence, so it's easy to cut in conversations. It's a small difference, but even culturally, the way you chat with people, the way you express yourself. In German, you will have more of a tendency to let the person go to the end of their idea before tuning in, where rather than in French, it fires from every side very easily. So culture shapes the language and languages shape the culture. So knowing different languages, and how they work, and how they function, what are the main grammatical elements of the language, definitely help with understanding the area you're working in.
Jack: Do you find yourself working with multiple language clients at the same time? Again, not to poke into your files, and your client data, and stuff, but do you work with French clients, German clients, and English clients all at the same time?
Alizée: It has happened. Latest example was doing international SEO for Lipton in the US, so that was a huge, huge rich project, and I'm super proud of it. And at the same time, I was doing local SEO for a car repair shop in Basel, in Switzerland. And so the same day I would be in the corporate tea world, and understanding what kind of careers you could do in the tea industry all over Europe and the US, and the minute after, I would be like, "So how do you say, "Impact on the car," in German? And how can we use all the variations of this word in a German keyword research?" Well, that's the way I work. That's the way I work, but that's what I like about doing it that way, is to be able to switch from a topic to a language, different ones every day, and I find it very stimulating.
Jack: That sounds very engaging, and also very tiring at the same time. As a person who speaks English and barely any other language, I think I know one or two words in a bunch of other languages but nothing actually conversational, that blows my mind. I'm always impressed by people like yourself, who do public speaking, and work in an entire industry, and all this kind of stuff, in a second or even a third language. I'm always just so, so impressed by me just barely keeping up with English, and you guys just handling clients from one to the other in multiple languages. That's so cool.
Alizée: Well, come over to France and I'll teach you a little bit of French.
Jack: I'm trying to think. The last time I went to France would be... I was a kid, so it'd be 25 years ago.
Alizée: You're long overdue with a visit.
Jack: Yeah. I'm trying to think where... Yeah, I went to Berlin 10 years ago or so, five or 10 years ago. I've been to Japan a few times over the last five years or so, so I have really, really basic Japanese, but again, nothing conversational. I'm able to parrot pronunciation quite well. I'm able to enunciate stuff, but conversation when I hear it back at me, I have no concept of being able to reply. So I can say a sentence and it sounds okay, but then as soon as somebody replies at full speed in their native language, I'm like, "Uh-oh. No, I'm done. I'm screwed."
Alizée: Did you ever try Duolingo or things like that?
Jack: I have. Yeah, quite a few times. Yeah, yeah. I tried Duolingo, and then some of my friends who are multilingual said like, "Duolingo is terrible, use this thing instead, or use that thing instead." And yeah, I've heard bad things about Duolingo. As a multilingual person, would you agree? You seem to be nodding.
Alizée: I mean, I tried Duolingo to learn Italian when we were traveling, and we were about to go to Italy, and I can tell you I have a butterfly in Italian. I have never used this sentence, [foreign language]. Great. Great, that's going to be very, very useful.
Jack: That does seem to be the thing in Duolingo, they teach you really specific obscure sentences, but not actual foundational grammar or anything that actually helps you to understand the language.
Alizée: I think it's a good stepping stone. It's a good stepping stone into diving deeper in a language.
Jack: We'll say that to keep it neutral just in case Duolingo wants to work with either of us in the future, and they go and listen to this podcast.
Jack: If you get a phone call from Duolingo next week, you're welcome/I'm sorry.
Alizée: All good.
Jack: So in general, would you say that working internationally... You mentioned your years as a digital nomad, but now feeling a bit more settled. You often feel that pressure to... It's a weird things say, pressure to travel? As if travel is a burden. But it can be a tiring thing. A lot of people want to travel more, do you feel like you have that thing too? You don't have the advantage of being able to easily travel and meet clients in person. I know from my experience, some clients do like face-to-face meetings, especially if it comes to a big annual account review, and all that kind of stuff. I've found those often tend to be in person, and they will travel across the UK, or fly across for a few days, or whatever it is, that kind of thing. Have you had that experience before, where you've had a client say, "Oh, come and meet us for a big annual meeting. Or come to our..." I don't know, "Marketing event," or whatever it is?
Alizée: So it happens, but it's very rare, in my case. Most of the time, everything happens remotely, and it's often companies or individuals who are very used to working remotely. So I've never had the case where absolutely had to come. I did go once to Luxembourg, which is not very far away, because it was practical for me at that moment to go over there, but I don't really have much face-to-face meetings. But again, I mean, if I need a pretext to travel around, I'll take it, so... That's why I'm in Brighton twice a year. It's, "Oh, well, I absolutely have to go to this conference. Absolutely have my fish and ships on the beach. Of course."
Jack: That is the rule when you go to Brighton. Yeah, absolutely. So coming back around to the thing you opened with, with the flexibility side of things, whether that's with your timings, and like you said, being able to start earlier and finish earlier, and all that kind of stuff. Stuff that often, if you're working a typical office job, you wouldn't be able to be as flexible with. Do you find that also allows you to branch out further to clients and industries you wouldn't have thought of? Or have other clients industries, like you said with word-of-mouth side of things, having a more wider range of clients coming to you through your reputation built through their clients and their friends as well. Does that allow that kind of flexibility to not, like you said, niche down in a particular industry, but also have the flexibility to then pivot to, "Oh, this industry sounds cool," or "Oh, this company sounds cool."
Alizée: Yes, definitely. Being able to organize your time the way you want it, it does give you time to think about things differently. Nine-to-five has never been my thing, I'm more of a nine-to-one then five-to-eight kind of person, sort of. So it's much better, I think, for clients to be able to... Just to know that I'm available, I have time. For example, simple things, and this comes with a whole client relationship thing. When I do a meeting with a client that's supposed to be 30 minutes, I'm not going to cut off at 31. I don't have 10 other clients waiting for me on Zoom.
Jack: You’ve not got a little stopwatch then?
Alizée: No, not at all. Until they have no other questions, I usually don't hang up. So this is maybe the kind of luxury agencies can't offer, especially if you have someone in charge of different accounts. They might have all their client calls on a Tuesday or something, they need to do them back to back. I guess the time allotted to each client might be longer, but in my case, it's more about making sure that the experience they get from me is top-notch, and they have their answers to all their questions, and they feel empowered to drive their strategy the way they see it fit. So yeah.
Jack: Yeah, I was hearing a horror story... I call it a horror story. It was just their previous agency experience, where they were managing... I think they had a total of 1,500 clients at this agency, and each account manager, there was half a dozen account managers, had 200-300 accounts each. And essentially, it was a stopwatch style of like, "Hello, everything's fine. Here's your results for the month." Speak to you next month," hang up. "Hello, Client Number Two, here's your results, speak to you in a month." "Hello, Client Number Three," just over, and over, and over, just churn. You're never not on the phone, you're just constantly going through and through, and there's no building up a relationship, having a rapport. Like we were saying earlier, no getting to understand the business, you are just snap, snap, snap, keeping whipping through. And that sounded like literal torture to me personally.
Alizée: Yes, I agree. I agree. There's nothing less than a meeting to just break your day, and break your focus, and... Oh gosh, 300 clients?
Jack: It blew my mind. Yeah, yeah.
Alizée: Oh, God.
Jack: They're a local SEO agency as well. They're not doing good work, would be my guess. That's why I'm not naming them.
Alizée: I would agree.
Jack: I would guess they'd be cutting corners somewhere with those numbers. Let's finish things off with a tough question, but again, not meaning to pry or anything like that. Let's talk about money, shall we? My main kind of question is, how do you keep yourself competitive across multiple currencies in different countries across different borders, and things like that? That's difficult enough, I think, to just competing in your local area. Like here at Candour, we are competing with the UK and US, and other English language agencies, and things like that, most of the time. But how do you find yourself, if you've got a client in Germany, and a client in Luxembourg, and a client in France, and a client in the UK, and a client in the US, how are you able to balance that? Is it a kind of, "This is Alizée's price, and if you don't want it, tough shit," or do you find yourself having to adapt to different... Understanding the currency translation of like, "Okay, this is this in dollars, or euros," or whatever.
Alizée: So most of the time dollars and euros are pretty much similar, and even pounds these days are pretty close to euros, and they're the same ballparks, so-
Jack: They used to not be in the same ballpark. I remember the days. I remember the days when the pound was much better.
Alizée: My restaurant bills in Brighton were cheaper, but nevermind. The way I do it is that I only invoice in euros, but I do offer payment via Stripe. So this deals with all the multicurrency things on its own. So I don't have to think about, "Am I adapting to every single case?" I do have a minimum price that I won't go below, because I do have seven years of experience now, and I do have expertise, and I'm apparently not that bad at my job, so this has to count for something. And the big luck I have is that most of my clients come from word-to-mouth, so price negotiations are very rare. They know what they're getting themselves into from the upfront. And I do share my prices on my websites, starting prices, so they have an idea of where we are at most of my clients are in, let's say northern hemisphere countries. I haven't worked with Latin America, for example. I haven't worked with Africa. I have worked with Dubai, but that's Middle Eastern, so that's about as southern as I've been. Oh, I did work with Australia also once, but still. So the... How do you call it? The living levels?
Jack: Yeah, a living wage.
Alizée: Living wages are more or less similar in those countries globally, so prices haven't been that much of an issue. But if you're starting out, I think you need to make sure you're doing your research properly because if you start out, and have a client in the US, in the middle of the US, and then your next client is in Switzerland or Luxembourg, they probably don't have the same, yeah, living wages. And adapting to that can not only bring you more money in the end, but also give you more credibility because you don't want to work with a Swiss client that thinks they're getting a bargain from you because you're French, or that's not the way you want to show up.
Jack: And again, there's a cultural element there with money as well. I remember when I worked at International Language School for years before coming agency side, and it would always be... We were trying to work out the prices for our courses, and you would try and... It's the same price, but wording it in slightly different ways matters. So, "Okay, so English people think they're getting a good deal, but Germans are willing to pay more because they see a higher price as higher quality, and this other country will want to make sure they're getting it as cheap as possible because that's where they see value," and things like that. That's such a difficult thing to navigate.
Jack: Like you said, I think the fact that you've done it for so long now, you've proven yourself for seven years that you know what you're doing, and the fact that you get so many of your clients through word-of-mouth is a testament to the hard work that you put in, and the fact that you can have that as a badge of honor. So, "I'm not just starting now. I'm not just leaving my first agency, and starting out now," and all this kind of stuff. Having that knowledge and that flexibility, knowing... This is a whole other conversation, but knowing your value, and your worth as well, is a big factor in that as well, so yeah.
Alizée: This is a conversation I have with myself every morning, so we can elaborate on it in another episode. But yeah, and also, the whole thing with freelancing is that you're able to choose your project. So if someone comes to me... Right now, I have a very small client, they're a startup doing an app on smartphones to help people that take care of their elderly family members get organized. Because oftentimes, you'll have all the children taking care of the grandmother, et cetera, et cetera. For this kind of client, I don't really care how much they bring in. Of course, there's a minimum and I'm not going to go down below my minimum, but I know whatever I'm doing, I'm contributing to some form of greater good. So the value I bring is going to change lives in a way, and given the testimonials they have on app stores, it's working. So being able to choose your projects, and have a few close to your heart projects once in a while, where price is not really the question. I think that's really important to me.
At the end of the day, I do need enough money to live and to put aside, et cetera, et cetera, which I do, but I also like to have, once or twice a year, very small projects where it's just having fun and helping good people do better work, basically.
Jack: Nice. That is a good all around ethos to live with, I think. Help people do better work... That is a perfect note to end on, I think that is a perfect way of wrapping everything up.
Jack: So Alizée, how can people follow you after we finish this conversation? They want to get in contact with you, maybe they want to work with you. There might be a future client listening to the podcast right now. How can people contact you? Where's the best place to get a hold of you across social media, and the rest of the internet?
Alizée: So the best place right now would be my own website, which is alizeebaudez.com. Check the show notes for how it's spelled, because I'm not going to spell it right now.
Jack: Thank you. I think you're the first guest to mention the show notes, so I appreciate that.
Alizée: Cool. Well, always read the show notes. Show notes are always gold mines, so always look in there. And otherwise, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Instagram, but Twitter just changed to x.com, so I don't know where I am.
Jack: What is with this? Oh, God.
Alizée: I'm not sure, but my handle is @AlizeeBaudez. And on Instagram, it's alizeebaudez.seo, so it's pretty easy. And I'm on LinkedIn also, same name. So once you have a hang of the spelling of my name, you can find me basically everywhere.
Jack: You've got a good SEO for your name, you've got good branding.
Alizée: I was born with it, so I had to make the most out of it.
Jack: Some people come up with their brand name, or whatever, and will change their name to make it a bit cooler.
Alizée: I've been thinking about this for the past seven years. I still haven't found a name I'm happy with or... So for the moment, I'm just sticking with the simple one, my name.
Jack: I appreciate that. I think stick with it, it's a good name. Good choice.
Alizée: Good, thanks.
Jack: Well, thank you for joining me, Alizée. It's been a really fun conversation.
Alizée: Thank you very much for having me. I had the best time ever, and keep the podcast going, because it's just the best.
Jack: Thank you. I will see you in Brighton in a few months hopefully.
Alizée: I will. Yeah.
Jack: That about wraps us up for this episode of Search With Candour. Thank you so much for listening, thank you to Alizée Baudez for joining me. I really, really enjoyed our conversation. It was nice to have Alizée back on the show after a quick, but brilliant, appearance in the Brighton SEO special, the Halloween special, from last year. Spoiler alert, I'm working on a new Halloween special for this year, so stay tuned for that. And I'll also be recording some stuff coming up at Brighton SEO in September as well, so stay tuned for all of that stuff. Of course, please do subscribe. Please do share the podcast around with anyone who you think might be interested in learning a little bit more about SEO and digital marketing. Until next week, thank you so much for listening, and have a lovely week.