It’s a bit strange, I’ll admit it.
I’m not selling any services, touting any products, or looking to gain writing acclaim. I’m not expecting any job opportunities, awards, or other external benefits. So, why build?
I was working as a digital strategist at a large agency right out of college. Surrounded by young, energetic people, I was exposed to exciting projects that pushed me to learn the digital landscape.
I’d earned my degree in Marketing but didn’t have much online experience prior to that opportunity. Even so, I mingled with bright minds and learned how to help enterprise clients realize their digital goals.
One day, after a couple years of hard work and a promotion, I received a text from my best friend:
“hey man, think you can help my uncle with seo and stuff?“
SEO and stuff? Sure, how hard could it be?
I’d been able to influence the strategy for top brands at a young age, so a small landscaping company should be a cake walk. Create a few business listings, update some title tags on the website, upload a high-res photo of a manicured lawn, and BAM – Google success!
I crafted a small proposal, got a signature, and within a couple months had completed my own small business Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program.
And honestly, it helped a lot. For the first time, this landscaping company could be found on the web. The content updates on his website increased rankings, the local listings allowed new visibility across search engines like Google, and better calls-to-action increased click-through. With Google Analytics now installed, I could also tangibly show him how much better it was. Mmmm…the sweet smell of cut grass in the summer.
I collected my nominal fee and moved on, feeling satisfied with my work and my new experience in small business SEO.
Then one year later, another text – this time from the owner:
“Matt, the work you did last year was great! We had more clients report they found us on the web than ever before. My question to you is, do we need to further enhance last year’s work?”
…I smiled. Then pondered. Then winced.
Enhance last year’s work? What do you mean? I don’t even know what that means. Something hit me; I was climbing the corporate ladder, working with huge brands to deliver recommendations that impacted thousands of people…but I wasn’t equipped to help the mom-and-pop down the street. I didn’t have the experience to take him further, to enhance last year’s work – I had no choice but to reply “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
Truth is, I didn’t understand what it meant to be a digital marketer. I didn’t know that there was more to life than just SEO. Web design, online reviews, analytics, on and on, you name it. It was terrifying, exciting, uncharted territory.
So, I set out to learn more. I dug into Google Analytics, got an AdWords certification, and took a job four states away to jump head first into the wide, deep waters of digital.
I’ll always be absorbing, but I’ve learned a lot since helping that landscaper. Most people still don’t understand this space. It’s tough to scale effective digital strategies. Nothing is more valuable than strong analytics.
My safe climb would have never uncovered those learnings.
So, why did I create this website?
This is my sandbox; a blank canvas, an opportunity to build something from scratch. It’s a platform to share my favorite learnings and personal thoughts, a forum for young digital marketers to relate to my triumphs and mistakes.
It’s a training tool to explore how to help the mom-and-pop down the road. They need to have a digital presence. They need guidance. They need a website. When a small business owner needs help with the complexity of online marketing, I want to have the skills and confidence to help. I want to take them wherever they need to go, gain their trust, help them prosper. I don’t want to use the phrase “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” ever again.
So, “do we need to further enhance last year’s work?”
Yes, absolutely. Now let me show you how…
7 thoughts on “You started a website about yourself?”
Are you sure you aren’t a professional writer as well? Completely agree, a sandbox is just what someone needs to connect fortune 500 brand strategies to actionable tactics for any business.
Makes me think about this post by Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/02/say-something.html
Very interesting, David. Short and sweet, and it makes sense. Sounds like this Godin character and I would get along quite well 🙂
Does this mean your finally moving back to Cleveland? I will clean your old desk off….
You still haven’t cleaned my desk off?
Matt this is great! And I agree with the professional writer comment above. I saw that you mentioned Google AdWords and would love to offer any insights or help I can as I work with AdWords, Bing Ads and DoubleClick on a daily basis. I can also benefit from expanding my digital knowledge so I’ll be checking in to see what else you post!
Awesome, Andy, and thanks for reading!