In this first proper post on Recovering Commuter I’m going to discuss my embarrassingly humble entry into the world of SEO (search engine optimisation) and how I managed to crawl with gritted teeth to the top tier of the industry.

Desperate Times

It was 2011 I had graduated from The University of Aberdeen with a 2:1 undergraduate degree in Management Consultancy. Having decided I was too introverted and not interested enough to enter the highly competitive field of management consultancy, I was back in my old bedroom with £200 to my name and no idea what to do.

So I did what any desperate twenty something would do, I Googled ‘How to make money from home’.

After avoiding several paid survey scams and competing with Indian and Pakistani freelancers for data entry jobs I finally stumbled upon freelance writing. It seemed a pretty good opportunity compared to my alternatives:

  1. There wasn’t a scammer asking me to pay money to earn money.
  2. My native English skills gave me a huge advantage in gaining work.
  3. Although the initial pay was abysmal there was potential progression to earning a decent hourly wage.

So working between and … sigh I was on my way – grinding out a beautiful $5 an hour writing posts for spammers and cheap-ass affiliate marketers.

From my research I found that there were plenty of freelance writers earning between $50 to $500 per hour. It goes without saying I wanted to be one of them, I just needed to work my way out of the cesspool and prove myself… Or so I thought.

Crawling Out of the Hole

Needless to say my plan to start out at the bottom and work my way up to a serious hourly rate didn’t work. Why? Because when you work for cheapskates they NEVER want to pay more.

Even if you use your work for the cheapskates as a portfolio to approach high paying clients, you don’t know where to find these dream clients. And if you do find them, they usually view you as low quality because you’re currently working for a pittance.

Business Lesson

Always start out at the price point you want to charge, otherwise you’ll likely be stuck at the bottom forever.

Now at the time I had zero idea that the content I was writing had anything to do with SEO – or what SEO was really. I just thought I was populating websites with beautifully hand crafted content. Little did I know a human eye would probably never glance over my carefully written words.

Then one day I received a piece of public feedback on my work saying something along the lines of ‘Man this content rocks! It’s really boosting my organic traffic’.

So I messaged him and asked how my content was helping him grow and he generously took me under his wing and introduced me to affiliate SEO.

This guy was awesome, he taught me so much without asking for a penny off of me – an example of the kindness that’s so common in the SEO community. It’s something I actively try and pass on to newbies when I have time these days.

I’m an SEO Now?

After the essential SEO baptism of 1) trying – failing, 2) trying – failing and then 3) trying and making some pocket change I was officially a professional SEO dude.

By chance I stumbled across a crummy job advert on Gumtree (The UK equivalent of Craig’s List) for a ‘Digital Marketing Assistant’ at £17k per year.

I read the job description and it was mainly an SEO assistant they were looking for, so I decided to apply and was called up for interview. I pretty much just kept saying buzzwords like ‘keywords’, ‘canonical’, ‘pagerank’, ‘sitemap’ etc to obviously brand myself as an expert 😛

By some miracle I was better than the other candidates and landed the job, this was the start of my career as an SEO professional and it was a bumpy ride. From this point it was a VERY interesting journey which I’m keen to share with you.

Coming Up…

In part 2 of this post I will cover my journey from my first “SEO job” in an unheated portable cabin to eventually working in the penthouse suite of a city skyscraper and then starting my own successful agency. Subscribe now and I’ll let you know as soon as it’s out!

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Until next time! Thanks for reading...