A Touch of
In 2009 my dream of making a fortune in real estate crashed along with the housing market, and I had to fight off bankruptcy. On a leap of faith, I moved my family from Las Vegas to Atlanta to take a Chief of Staff position at Stompernet.
“Hey, Jason, I’ve been asked to teach a group of 50 lawyers about SEO. Would you mind doing the talk for me? You know a lot more about it than I do.”
I was like, “Sure, Brad.”
Brad knew that in the past five years, in addition to buying real estate, I’d built up and sold a dot-com business that started with VegasWeddingMall.com and then duplicated it in Phoenix, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The key to our success was that I’d been a vigorous student of SEO. I got my sites ranked nationally for very competitive words like “wedding” and “wedding favors.”
So I shared with Brad’s audience exactly how I did it: the tools, the techniques — everything I knew. The second I stepped off stage, the lawyers began asking if I took on SEO clients. “I’m paying my SEO guy, like, $7,000 a month,” one of them said “and I’m not getting any of these results.”
I’d never thought of doing SEO as a business. But I ended up leaving there with 12 business cards.
And then life took an
Two guys who worked at Stompernet, Chris and Dave, invited me to join them at an agency they were about to start. “Brad’s filing for a divorce and winding this business down — join us.” We started with my 12 SEO prospects and named our agency EverSpark Interactive.
We went to lease an office, but everything we looked at sucked. The carpets smelled. One was behind the Waffle House, another down some street in an industrial center. So I said, “Guys, stop the car and let’s figure this out.” Our budget was $2,000-$3,000 a month.
We pulled over. I looked up, and I saw these two well-known skyscrapers in Atlanta called the King and Queen Buildings. I said, “That’s where we need to be!”
We walked in, me in shorts and flip-flops. There was only one office available. It was on the 28th floor, but we were warned it had an obstructed view.
We went see it. It was upscale, huge, and the view was incredible. The problem: It was $9,000 a month, triple our budget.
I was looking around at the empty space, envisioning the layout. Whiteboard there. Reception desk here. Cubicles over there. And then I saw a bare white wall near the door and declared, “This is where we’re going to have all of our press hung — The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post!” This was a visualization; we had no press yet.
I knew the $9,000 lease was a big risk, but I wasn’t worried about it. My mother was a house cleaner. She had me when she was 17. I cleaned a lot of houses with her, and we were happy. So I don’t carry a fear of going back to zero.
So I said to my partners, “Let’s do it. You put a fish in a bowl and it’s only going to grow as big as the bowl — and this is a huge bowl!”
I convinced my partners, and everything I visualized came to be. At our peak, we had 50 employees, and the wall near the door was covered with our press.
In 2015 I sold the business to my partner and moved my family to Los Angeles so my 11-year-old son could pursue an acting career. I kept only one client. Then that one client became another client and became another client.
Today, five years later, my digital marketing agency comprises 100+ employees and is on track to do $10 million in annual revenue.
That’s the story of how I got into the SEO business starting way back in 2001, almost since the inception of Search Engine Optimization. I love SEO. It’s a field that, for twenty years, has required me to remain a vigorous student. Google makes it harder every year, and I love the game.
But I see a touch of irony in my story.
I set out in my career with dreams of making a fortune in real estate, and that didn’t work out. But it led me to discover SEO as a business. That’s at least a bit ironic, right? Because the most valuable real estate online is keywords. So maybe real estate worked out for me after all.
It’s Time for a Timeline...
Jason Hennessey discovers SEO for the first time, and a legacy begins.
Out of the Air Force and attending college in Las Vegas, Jason starts a DJ business to help pay for school. After hiring a web developer to create a website, a dearth of web traffic introduces Jason to a then obscure concept called “search engine optimization”.
The website starts ranking for top wedding keywords, the Bellagio comes calling, Jason moves the site into a full-service wedding vendor hub, and vegasweddingmall.com takes off.
Jason hires someone to run his DJ business. With his newfound SEO knowledge, Jason devotes 100% of his energy to vegasweddingmall.com and expands to new markets. Now with an inside sales staff, the business continues to expand and goes through some growing pains.
Not wanting to raise a family in Las Vegas—and now with an opportunity to join an SEO training company as their Chief of Staff—Jason sells the wedding vendor and DJ businesses and relocates his family to Atlanta to work for StomperNet.
Due to a scheduling conflict, Jason speaks in StomperNet’s CEO’s stead at a lawyers mastermind group. After his talk, several attorneys approach Jason telling him they’re unhappy with their SEO results. StomperNet is soon dissolved, and with multiple clients signed up from the talk Jason gave at that one event, Everspark Interactive is born. Jason grows the company while his son, Zach, pursues an acting career in Atlanta.
As Zach’s résumé grows, his acting coaches urge the family to consider relocating to Los Angeles for more opportunities. Jason sells his shares in Everspark Interactive and moves the family out West. Life in Southern California is good. Zach’s acting career blossoms, and Jason begins working with a content partner for new SEO clients. He continues building as Hennessey Consulting, which becomes Hennessey Digital.
Key players join the Hennessey Digital team. With Scott Shrum as President and COO and Michele Patrick as CFO, the company grows from 15 to over 80 employees and is named a Fastest Growing Company in America on the Inc. 500 list and is ranked #290 on the Inc. 5000.
The accolades keep coming as Financial Times ranks Hennessey Digital #66 in America’s Fastest Growing Companies and Hennessey Digital makes the Inc. 5000 list for the second year in a row. The company breaks ground on Hennessey Studios, a multimedia production studio in North Hollywood, and launches Hennessey Ventures to support related businesses and non-profit causes like ihatecancer.org.
Jason Hennessey’s debut book Law Firm SEO is an Amazon Best-Seller, and The Jason Hennessey Podcast reaches 30 episodes. Hennessey Digital continues ranking in the awards, making the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America for the fourth consecutive year and Quartz’s list of Best Remote Companies to Work For for the second year in a row. Hennessey Digital and Hennessey Studios are thriving, with big things on the horizon for Jason and his team.
Hennessey Digital grows as it recruits the best talent in each area of the business and gets amazing results for clients. SEO is the vehicle for relationships and opportunity for Jason, whose stellar reputation in a fast-changing industry continues to bring him success.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Jason keeps building new ventures and educating audiences, speaking at conferences and webinars, and, of course, at Wedding MBA: a nod to the industry where it all started!
Jason Hennessey is an entrepreneur, internationally-recognized SEO expert, author, speaker, podcast host, and business coach. Since 2001, Jason has been reverse-engineering the Google algorithm as a self-taught student and practitioner of SEO and search marketing.
His expertise led him to grow and sell multiple businesses, starting with a dot-com in the wedding industry. After presenting his SEO knowledge and success to a group of lawyers in 2009, Jason founded and later sold Everspark Interactive, cementing his reputation as one of the foremost authorities in SEO for the legal industry.
As CEO of Hennessey Digital since 2015, Jason leads a team of 100+ digital marketing experts, growing a small consultancy to a $10MM+ business that made the Inc. 5000 list for the second year in a row in 2020. A keynote speaker, webinar host, and frequent podcast guest, Jason loves teaching what he knows and created iloveseo.com to help people DIY their SEO strategy.
Jason is a United States Air Force veteran and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A New York native, Jason launched his SEO career in Las Vegas and grew his reputation in the legal industry in Atlanta. He now lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Bridget, and their three children.