How to Keep Link Builders Creative


be creative

Link building… Sucks! It’s tedious, mind numbing, and typically not very fulfilling. This makes it extremely difficult for link builders to stay motivated, which makes it especially difficult for them to care about the content they’re pushing out. You’ll end up seeing the same ideas recycled over and over, or just a lack of “umph” in their progress.

Here’s a few ways to keep their spark going.

Assign Them to Clients They Actually Like

Don’t roll your eyes yet! I know there are quotas to be met. I know it’s not practical to let them pick their client. Keep in mind though, if you give someone a client they actually want to work with, they’re going to be twice as productive.

Would you rather have a motivated link builder that can handle two clients, or two complacent link builders that can only handle one?

When link builders are working with clients related to their personal interests, they get attached to those clients. You can see tremendous benefit from this especially if they’re socially savvy. They’ll start to network with people related to that industry and drive traffic through more than just organic avenues.

Let Them “Work” Out of The Office

I’m not talking about working at a coffee shop a few blocks away. I mean let them elaborate on a project during company time.

working out of the office

For example, if they’re doing a post on street art, let them walk around and take photos. If they’re writing a post for a cooking blog, let them go home early to bake a recipe for their post. And yes, pay them for it!

You have to remember that by doing this, you’re letting them get more involved in their posts. This has the great side effect of making them feel obligated to put forth more effort.

Let Them Act on Their Ideas

If they have an idea that goes outside the range of link building, let them act on it. Don’t just say “that’s a good idea!” and forget about it. Give them a chance to take control and experiment. The more of a personal connection they have to a project, the more they’re going to give a shit.

This also lets them feel more attached to your company as a whole, making them realize their ideas are being heard. It gives them a reason to brainstorm.

Break Up the Monotony

Give them an alternative to their day to day routine and let them get involved with other projects. Everyone has more than one skill set. If they have interest in design or development, make them a part of it.

This allows them to do something different and keeps them from getting burnt out. It also helps them learn new skills and how to collaborate with others, giving them a sense of ascension.

What About Boring Niches?

I’m going to get this out of the way, because it’s always asked and always answered with a bullshit response, like “No clients are boring, you just need to find the right way to approach it.” Boring clients just lead to distraction and inefficiency.

boring work

If you have a client that no one wants to work for… Do you really want them as a client? If that client is so uninteresting that all your employees avoid it like the plague, is it really worth having?

They might have a great budget, but the downside to having clients like this, heavily outweighs the benefit. What’s more money when you have unhappy employees?

It’s more beneficial to have niches your employees actually want to work for. The time and energy you’ll save from this is much better spent finding. More. Clients.

Connect With Your Employees

Don’t be the man behind the curtain hiding in your office down the hall. Pop into the office every now and then and just chit chat with your employees.

If you randomly walk up to your employees one day and tell them to stop what they’re doing – you’re buying them lunch, you will instantly restore their morale tenfold.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with them and figure out their interests. They will be much more open in a new environment than in the office they walk into every day.

Change the Atmosphere

Getting your employees out of the office doesn’t always mean you’re wasting time and money. Find meetups or events going on near your area and offer them incentives to attend (with you!). You’ll get a better response doing this than offering random cash bonuses they never realized they were getting.

Not only does this give them a chance to learn more about the industry, it gives them the chance to mingle with their coworkers.

It’s important for your employees to get to know each other, especially for collaborative efforts.

Most Importantly, Show Some Culture

This is more important than everything I’ve mentioned above. Before your employees can care about your clients, they need to care about you. Your employees have to want your company to grow. They have to be proud of their company.

Put some real effort into having good office culture:

  • Hold company exclusive events at least quarterly
  • Put up some art on the wall, not funny motivational posters
  • Play music so people don’t hear the click clacking of keyboards all day
  • Randomly surprise them with beer on Friday
  • Let them go home early if it’s an especially slow day
  • Don’t be anal about their hours
  • Put an arcade machine in the office
  • Keep snacks, drinks, etc. in the office

This is a tiny… TINY list compared to the full spectrum of ground you can cover to keep your employees happy. This should always be your main focus.

About The Author

Peter Attia+ is the founder of Cucumber Nebula, an internet marketing blog. You can find him on twitter: @PeterAttia


  1. Assign them to clients they actually like…you’re such a little dreamer!!! Seriously though, that is great advice as most people do perform better when they’re dealing with something they can relate to or don’t hate.

    • Haha! I know it’s not an easy thing to pull off. I try to let them decide between 2-3 clients that really need it. That way no matter what client they end up going with, at least there’s benefit from it.

  2. keith says: - reply

    Great post Pete!

    I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve tried to relate a client to things I’m interested in. It’s not always ideal to fit “Shaquille O’Neal” into every search. Ha ha.

    We use many of these techniques in our office. I’ve created a collaborative Spotify playlist so everyone has an opportunity to add to the queue of what’s currently playing off my computer. Luckily, most everyone has great taste in music. It’s definitely a great alternative to the “click clacking of keyboards.”

    • Thanks Keith!

      Yeah, some niches are harder to make a relation with than others. I had some trouble with that when I had to target “Truckers”.

      I think music is one of the big ones for me. Obviously, you can just slap on headphones, but it keeps people from talking to each other.

      Ya’ll at Link Fish do have some damn good taste in music! :) I’ve had the luxury of contributing to your playlist once or twice!


  3. What??? Surfing reddit all day isn’t productive? Psssh, this post sucks.

    I love this post. These are the things I miss from moving from freelance to in-house. I cannot complain too much, because I do work for an awesome company that does a lot to keep the work atmosphere enjoyable. Still doesn’t beat me being able to work from my own office at home.

    I will admit, I am by far more productive in a relaxing environment than I am at the office. Too many distractions, because… Well… I am the lone web guy. Sad story to ensue, but I will hold that for another day.

    Someone hold me. Please?

    • Hahaha! I know plenty of people that are more productive in a quiet and un-changing environment. Also, people that like the constant distraction so they don’t get burnt out. I think it’s important to find a good balance depending on the general culture of your office.

      Plus, there are plenty of ways to boost up the office culture without disrupting work!

  4. Awesome post Peter!
    Almost awesome as me.

    Motivate people is one of the thing that is becoming every day more important for me. As SEO manager for an inhouse team of 15 people of 5 different countries, I have to say I decided to spend more and more time on motivating people.

    When you work every day, every minute on the same fuckin thing, it’s really hard to remind yourself how awesome your job can be, and how important is for the company.
    For example, you know how I try (still improving) to motivate people: simply LISTEN to them. I am italian , and I work with people doing stuff for another country, let’s say Sweden. You, swedish girl/man, know how to do it, not me. Because I am the “boss” doesn’t mean I don’t listen to you, to your ideas. We can discuss, yell at each other, but listen to them is the most rewarding thing of the whole day. Not to mention it’s really important even to me, to grow as manager and as person.

    thanks for sharing!

    • I completely agree Alessio! Motivation is extremely important and one of the biggest motivators is knowing that your opinion matters.

      Talking and listening to employees goes a long way. They don’t forget it!

  5. Imagine says: - reply

    In my experience you need a carrot and stick approach. Motivated people will naturally want to work for self actualization, esteem and satisfaction. Those less motivated individuals (yes they are around!) tend to respond better to the stick approach.

    If we put an arcade game in our office, we’d have a team of top scoring gamers and unhappy clients!!

  6. Matt Evans says: - reply

    I love this, totally love it.

    Been a lot of discussions within my team about motivation. I totally believe a relaxed or friendly atmosphere with employees makes them feel more valued and as though they’re worth more.

    Especially so with link builders!! Nothing worse than trawling through pages and pages of posts about something totally horrendous (unless you actually work in that industry) to try and take part in the conversation and earn a link and blogging friend.

    Great post! :)

    • I completely agree Matt. Having a relaxed environment leads to increased productivity. Even if people spend less time actually working, they’re not daydreaming or squeaking through. The time they spend working is much more productive and I think that’s extremely important in our industry where a lot of work revolves around creative projects.

  7. Missy says: - reply

    Hi, Peter:

    How about a follow up post? This time on keeping “work at home link builders” creative. That’s way harder, I think.

    I mean by and large we tend to be creative and self sufficient but we do get loopy at times from being home alone all day. Yikes!!! Lol.

    What do you say about a follow up post for us WAHLB’s?

    • Missy,

      That’s a great idea :) I’ll brainstorm on it a bit. I used to work at home fulltime as well and it wasn’t always easy to get motivated!


  8. Laura says: - reply

    Beer on Friday? I may have to leave the corporate side of SEO and join you in NC…