If you get paid as an SEO consultant by the hour or project, your earning potential will always be limited by the number of hours you work.

And once you stop working, the money stops flowing, too.

Even if you manage to work more efficiently or raise your rates, there will always be a maximum limit to your income. How do you get over that wall?

Roland Fraiser suggests you start getting paid for the value you bring to your clients to overcome this limitation and unlock higher earnings.

“Don’t let your genius be someone else’s retirement.” – Roland Fraiser

In a recent episode of the SEJ Show, we had the privilege of hosting Roland, an award-winning podcast host, Stanford University Advisor, and principal of six of Inc.’s fastest-growing companies.

Roland shared some fascinating insights into alternative payment models and how consultants and agencies can start the transition to generating wealth and income.

Why Consulting For Equity Is The Smart Way To Get Paid

Roland emphasized the importance of not relying solely on traditional compensation models such as flat fees, hourly payments, or revenue shares.

These models are not sustainable from a quality-of-life perspective because they require continuous work to generate income.

Instead, Roland suggests that consultants and agencies avoid the “dollars for hours” trap and find ways to transform their efforts and the value they provide into equity.

The concept is to leverage your knowledge, skills, and connections to negotiate compensation that reflects your long-term contributions and the growth in business value.

If your contributions continue to benefit the business, you deserve to be rewarded with a share of profits or equity.

How To Find Consulting For Equity Opportunities

Getting paid in equity requires some effort. Negotiating these payment models takes time, and if you’re not careful, it can result in no immediate income.

Roland learned this lesson firsthand:

“When I started out in this field a long time ago, I made several mistakes and ended up with equity in twenty businesses but no money. Most of the time, the businesses either didn’t generate profits or reinvested them for growth, leaving little to distribute…So, I was putting in a lot of work without any income. It taught me the importance of having both income and wealth.”

To avoid this pitfall, Roland recommends the following steps:

  1. Focus on businesses with existing cash flow and profitability rather than startups.
  2. Identify areas where you can significantly impact and add value to the company.
  3. Quantify the value you can bring, such as cost savings or revenue generation.
  4. Calculate the percentage of value you can contribute to the overall worth of the business.
  5. Approach the business owner with a clear proposal, emphasizing the ongoing value you can provide.
  6. Negotiate the terms, considering factors like milestone-based or KPI-based compensation if necessary.
  7. Present your contribution as an ongoing investment that increases the business’s overall value.
  8. Determine the specific valuation and agree on the terms reflecting your added value.

One of Roland’s most critical tips is to maintain open communication with the client and ensure that you deliver on your promises to establish trust in the relationship.

Positioning Yourself To Consult for Equity

Unlike hourly or project revenue models, equity payment models require preparation, including branding, strategic positioning, and demonstrating the value of offering comprehensive services.

1. Transition From SEO To Growth Strategist

To avoid being limited to a specific role or expertise, it’s crucial to establish a clear brand and define your desired positioning.

You need to move beyond being solely identified as an SEO specialist.

Instead, aim to be seen as a strategic partner, offering a broader range of expertise for greater value and opportunities.

2. Build Strategic Alliances

Align yourself with professionals who offer complementary services to enhance your value proposition.

Collaborating with experts in different areas allows you to take a holistic approach to problem-solving and demonstrate a broader range of capabilities to potential clients or employers.

3. Craft A Unique Brand Identity

Throughout the episode, Roland emphasized the significance of branding in shaping a potential client’s perception.

Defining a differentiating factor that unifies your various areas of expertise is crucial, he says. Choose a specific focus or specialization within the broader growth landscape, such as AI for demand generation.

This niche selection allows you to stand out in a crowded market by presenting yourself as a problem solver with unique insights and approaches, bringing exceptional value to the table.

4. Content Strategy for Brand Expansion

After establishing a focused brand identity, consultants can gradually expand their content strategy to cover broader topics within their expertise.

For example, Roland Fraiser transitioned from being recognized as the “acquisitions guy” to exploring related fields like exits and fundraising.

This progressive expansion demonstrates his continuous growth and adaptability while retaining his initial brand positioning.

4. Communicate Your Value And Goals

Consulting for equity relies on your ability to communicate your value and long-term goals to clients.

From the beginning, share your intention to deliver exceptional results and create lasting partnerships.

And don’t hesitate to express your desire to obtain equity in a company. Roland says doing so does four things:

  1. The client realizes that having you as a partner is an option.
  2. Clients demonstrate that they believe in you.
  3. Shows the client is willing to invest in themselves.
  4. The client understands your goals.

It also demonstrates your long-term commitment, brings the value you provide to the front of their minds, and can be the foundation for a solid long-term relationship.


For the right SEO, marketing professional, or agency, alternative compensation models such as equity or fractional c-suite positions may be the ideal way to take your career (and your income) to the next level.

Looking for more tips and insights from Roland on how to start consulting for equity? Be sure to check out Episode 308 of the SEJ Show.

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By Rose Milev

I always want to learn something new. SEO is my passion.

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