How to Build a Dedicated Community with Rand Fishkin


When you first sit down to write a tweet or a blog post- anything, there is this blinking cursor. Sometimes the cursor just keeps blinking. We can begin to ask ourselves, where should I start? What should I start writing about?

Content creation is daunting, but content creation doesn’t build an audience, people do. So behind content creation, if there is no understanding of who this piece of content is for, then there will be no impact when you click publish.

Rand Fishkin has created the 6th sense around creating content and understanding what should be talked about for his audience. He has taken this 6th sense and gone on to build numerous audiences online and offline.

Rand dropped out of the University of Washington in 2000 to work full-time at his mother’s small business marketing firm as a web designer. In 2004, he created the SEOmoz blog, which, over the next decade, became the world’s most popular community and content resource for search marketers. In 2007, Rand became CEO of SEOmoz, Inc (now called Moz), the software company he co-founded with his mom based on the blog’s success. That same year, he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Geraldine DeRuiter, with a TV commercial that received widespread publicity (and, later, an awkward appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show). The two married in 2008 in a move Rand consistently refers to as the best, luckiest one of his life.

Over 7 years as CEO, Rand grew Moz from 7 employees to 134, revenues from $800K to $29.3mm, and traffic from 1 to 30mm annual visitors. He raised two rounds of funding, led three acquisitions, and a rebrand. Rand stepped down as CEO in February of 2014 during a rough bout with depression and left the company 4 years later. He remains chairman of Moz’s board. Rand is also the co-founder of, a site dedicated to sharing articles about marketing from across the web, alongside Dharmesh Shah. The site was sold (for no profit) to Hubspot in 2014.

Rand may be best known for his popular blogs and regular Whiteboard Friday series, watched by tens of thousands of marketers each week. Rand is also a frequent keynote speaker at marketing conferences around the world, averaging ~100 days on the road each year and 30-40 speaking appearances. He has, much to his own surprise, amassed a large following on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pocket, Facebook, and Instagram.

In 2018, Rand founded SparkToro and published, with Penguin/Random House, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. Rand previously co-contributed to two books: Art of SEO, and Inbound Marketing & SEO. He’s been profiled in the Seattle Times, featured in Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, named to BusinessWeek’s 30 Under 30, written about in NewsweekThe Next Web, the Inc 500 (to which Moz was named 5 years in a row), and hundreds of other publications. He is, however, most proud of his prominent appearances in Geraldine's first book, All Over the Place. Geraldine and Rand are also small investors in TinySeed AcceleratorTechstars Seattle, and Backstage Capital.

In this episode, we discuss:

  1. How Rand got into SEO

  2. How Rand built his blog

  3. How to find topics to create content about

  4. The similarities of building an audience for a service-based company vs. a software company

  5. How Rand has built a dedicated community around Moz

Show Notes

Follow Rand on Twitter

Follow Rand on LinkedIn

Learn more about SparkToro

Read Rand’s article: Why You Should Hire Agencies & Consultants (for everything you can)

Read Rand’s book: Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

Listen to more episodes


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