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Matt Hepburn My Background Story - The EMJ Podcast
Episode 12nd January 2023 • The EMJ Podcast With Matt Hepburn • Matt Hepburn
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In this episode, I provide my background and journey from being a college dropout to a successful enterprise-level marketer.

Your Host:

Matt Hepburn


I have always had the willingness to learn and grow.  Change is going to happen to us no matter if we like it or not. Rather than be upset about the change, I embrace it and stay agile for its opportunities.

Here are some of the main topics I go into in this episode:

  • You are in the right place
  • The goal of the EMJ podcast
  • Episode Publishing frequency and day
  • College drop-out to blue-collar work
  • My transition from blue-collar work to the mortgage industry
  • My background in marketing:
  • Direct Mail for the mortgage industry
  • Recession and transition to SEO
  • Consulting with clients and working in an agency
  • Transition to enterprise SEO in a corporate environment
  • My heart attack story where my heart was blocked 99.99%
  • Providing better online marketing information from our guest's experiences.

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This is a call to all current and aspiring entrepreneurs. How you market your business can be the difference between whether or not you succeed online. But don't worry, we're here to help with current strategies, tips, and tricks that you can apply to your online business or business idea. This is The EMJ podcast with your host, Matt Hepburn.

Matt Hepburn:

This is episode one of The EMJ Podcast, I'm your host, Matt Hepburn.

Today on the EMJ Podcast I explain what you can expect from this podcast, how often we publish episodes and lastly, I go into my background and how it has helped me to have perspective on online marketing.

If you are frustrated with how your business is performing online, or you might only have an idea for a business, but you are not sure how you would market it online, then you are in the right place.

So it is easy to find tons of articles online about on how to market your business. The Entrepreneurs Marketing Journey Podcast, better known as The EMJ Podcast, helps you by interviewing experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders.

We get to hear their story about their businesses and along the way hear about their struggles and challenges as they have marketed their businesses online.

We get insight into their aha moments and their major breakthroughs.

The goal of this podcast is to provide you that crucial information so that you can apply these strategies if you need to.

They're giving you the keys to online marketing strategies so that you don't have to go through the pain they have endured.

In addition we will be creating content on our blog, that goes into detail on marketing tactics with the goal of connecting strategies that you can use to market your business online.

In case you are interested in our publishing frequency, we are publishing a new episode every Wednesday.

Now I am going to tell you about my background in marketing, some of the struggles that I faced, and the events that motivated me to move forward in my career and finally create this podcast.

Before I started work, I went to college at Western State Collage of Colorado, which is far from where I grew up in Northern New Jersey.

I didn't realize when I started classes how much of a party school it was.

I heard later after I left that it was within the top ten party schools of the US. I don't know if that's accurate or if that was just a rumor, but let's just say that I ended up partying more than studying.

By the end of the first semester, I came to a realization that it was a waste of both my time and my parents’ money.

I left after the first semester to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

I was not sure whether I would go back to college later and if I did, maybe it would be more of a local college.

Not only was I not sure.

I didn't have any plan, but I knew that I was wasting time and money.

So, I went home, and I started working right away.

I started working as a subcontractor for a painter and did that for several years.

I went to a wallpapering institute to learn how to hang wallpaper. I thought this might be what I would be doing. I ended up painting for most of my twenties and doing some other jobs.

During the first Gulf War I worked for an insurance company for about two, to three years because nobody was getting their houses painting during the war. So, I did that, and got introduced to the corporate environment as a file clerk.

I was not making a lot of money I believe 19,000 at the time.

When I got introduced to my future wife I was still painting, but it was getting cold outside. And I was doing some work outside on ladders and it was very cold. I said to myself, you know, I just don't want to do this outside anymore. I don't want this life. I want a better life.

One of our friend’s family owned a mortgage company.

ortgage industry. This was in:

As part of my job, I had to go solicit realtors across Central New Jersey for mortgage deals.

After two and half years, I realized that I didn't want to be beholden to Realtors for their business because that had long-term relationships with other lenders.

They would only really talk to me when they had a deal that fell outside of what that lender could do. Which meant that my business was not consistent.

I started looking for methods where I could consistently bring in mortgage deals and revenue.

I purchased a direct, bulk mail course that was mailed to me in a big binder.

I started to implement direct mail strategies.

I purchased title data, that was public information on who had a mortgage at what rate, along with the mortgage amount and their address.

At first, I was mailing 500 people per week.

I moved up to mailing 10,000 pieces of mail per month and mailed it out bi-weekly.

Mortgage deals coming in consistently and closing.

I built up a pipeline of deals, so that there were always new deals coming in and deals closing.

I finally had consistent income, as a 100% commission employee.

I split these deals 50% with the mortgage company I worked for.

Life looked good.

-prime mortgage bubble hit in:

Over night people lost large amounts of value in their homes, as 350+ national mortgage lenders and banks went out of business.

To deal with this crisis, President Obama changed many laws around mortgage lending.

n the mortgage industry until:

I didn’t have the time to run my business and at the same time, learn all these new laws.

Most people who wanting a mortgage were underwater with their home’s value because the market had totally tanked.

So even if you found somebody who wanted a mortgage, you couldn't necessarily give that to them because there was no value in their house.

This also made my bulk mail have a decreasing return on value to the point where I had to stop as it no longer made financial sense.

Here I am in my early forties at this point and saying, what am I going to do when I grow up in my forties and figure out what I'm going to do for work?

But I loved the marketing that I had been doing with direct mail. I loved the direct response that I got from clients to my letters. I always had people that said “I get these types of letters all the time. But there was something about your letter, so I held on to it. And I'm calling you now, even though I received it weeks ago”.

So, I said, well, how do I do this online? What does that mean?

How do I transition to an online experience?

You know the old sales adage, which is the more people you put your message in front of, the higher conversion rate you will get.

I started looking into search engine optimization, or SEO, as it's known, in a shorter form. And I started studying everything that I could read online.

At this time,:

I started working on my own site, on client sites. I started working finding individual clients.

I worked for a lot of lawyers, or small companies, insurance companies, and worked for them either as a contractor or as a direct employee for a while.

So, I did that for a few years.

And I started finding success.

For the first two years, right, the first two years, I was really trying to get around Google.

I finally got tired of trying to get around Google and spending a lot of money on software to do that.

I said to myself, “what does Google want”?

That's all I cared about.

I didn't care about getting around Google. Really what I wanted was to find what does Google want and what does that mean.

It all revolved around relevant, topical content.

So fast forward several years, I worked for a larger agencies that handled 500 or 600 different clients and was one of 15 different SEO analysts.

This agency had a lot of different subject matter content writers.

I realized at that time that I was starting to get burnt out.

The first thing is, you have no idea what the agency has promised these clients.

However, you can only work on a client for a few hours on a monthly basis. Then you're on to the next one, because you're given such a large amount of clients that you have to manage.

At one point I was managing 67 On Page SEO clients and 50 Local SEO Clients with a Google Places product I helped create.

So, I got tired of managing multiple clients and not having huge amount of success for these clients.

It was inevitable.

I ended up transitioning into the enterprise SEO sector. And I've been doing that now for about seven years or more.

Enterprise level SEO websites can have thousands to millions of pages. They usually have multiple websites to handle their business needs and in international markets.

This exposure in large corporations has changed my career’s trajectory as well as income.

Along the way I have come to know a lot of different marketing co-workers in different disciplines.

things that happened to me in:

I was driving back from work in Holmdel, NJ. The commute to my home was about 40 minutes.

I called my wife and I said, “I'm having horrendous chest pain, please stay on the phone with me and I'm going to focus on your voice and get home”.

She told me, “Why don't you pull over?

I'm a stubborn person sometimes.

I said, “what am I going to do? Stop at a mile marker and call an ambulance to come pick me up at a mile marker? I said, no, I'm just coming home”.

So, I did that.

Later, once I got home, the pain had subsided for a little bit, and my wife went out to the market because it was my daughter's birthday.

I think they were having hot dogs and we were out of hot dog buns.

By the time that she came back, I was having much stronger chest pain than I had before.

So, I just told her to “call 911”.

She said, “do you want me to drive you”?

And I said, “no, just call 911”.

The first responders who showed up, they gave me oxygen.

I got a ride in the ambulance to the hospital. Where they kept me overnight for observation.

In the morning, they brought me down to the Cath lab, to do some imaging.

They did what they needed to do, and they told me, “Mr. Hepburn, your heart is blocked 99.9%”.

It's a scary thing when your doctor is telling you that.

They said, “we can perform emergency surgery right now, or you can wait and get transferred over another hospital”.

I said, “do whatever you need to do right now”.

So here I am and very scare on the operating table as I am awake as they are performing surgery.

I start praying to God.

Pretty much what I prayed was that if it was my time, it was Ok, and I was ready to go. But if I could stay, that would great as well.

Now this episode is not about religion, I just wanted to let you know what happened.

After praying I had a feeling of peace envelope me, and I knew everything was going to be OK no matter what happened.

Later, the surgery was a success.

I now have four stents in my heart after three different heart surgeries.

After getting out of the hospital and doing 24-26 weeks of cardiac rehab,

I live each day for the day.

I live in the day.

I promised myself that I wanted to leave my mark on providing better information for online marketing.

I was not sure how I was going to do that.

Early on as I was transitioning into SEO I saw there was a lack of courses teaching SEO. Now I see that there is a major on how to learn holistic marketing strategies that pull multiple tactics together.

There is a large amount of information online that is out of date, which uses tactics that can get your website penalized by search engines or that makes your communications with potential users seen as spam.

In the end, we should want to give the user a robust experience, that provides them the right information that they are seeking.

I hope that aha moments and breakthroughs from our episode’s guests, provide you with insights into tactics.

With that, have a great day!


Are you ready to break through to accelerate online business growth? Then join our email list at so we can keep you up to date with the latest strategies, tips and tricks that you'll want to know. Also, please don't forget to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode. This is The EMJ podcast with Matt Hepburn, and we'll see you next time.