Reviving my blog and making a commitment towards building new content means that I have to contend with an all too familiar problem:
I never know what to write about next.
As tends to be the case with blogs lacking new content for years at a time, my regular audience has waned a bit. When these times hit, I tap social networks and look for suggestions from friends and colleagues who I know will (hopefully) take the time to read what I have to offer.
Earlier tonight night I posed a simple question to my Facebook friends: What would you want for me to write about next?
Despite some interesting responses from Chris Hooley (a fellow veteran SEO) and Tom Carr (aka: Tommy AK, from the Las Vegas punk band The Quitters), a third friend chimed in with something I knew I could write about.
The question was asked by Dan Murray, Account Director at Corporate [IT] Solutions as follows:
Hindsight is 20/20 knowing what you know now would you go back in time and tell the young an impressionable Eric to follow the same path in SEO or choose another?
I’ve known Dan for about 25 years now and while we’re both professionally absorbed in technology, our personal paths have been quite different… Which is probably one of the many reasons he might have asked this.
The short answer? Yes.
The long answer? Well, here goes…
As I wrapped up my senior year in high school I had a series of incredible opportunities laid out in front of me to pursue my passion for computer art and animation. I could have attended the Georgia Tech, University of Indianapolis, Marist College or Emerson College. I know a couple of those schools still have a little bit of my money, but I never attended a single class at any of them.
In hindsight… that sucks.
Instead of heading off to college I worked full time as the production manager for a graphic design and print shop. I did all of that while earning an Associate of Science Degree from New England Institute for Technology. In other words, I became addicted to caffeine while dropping about $30k on a piece of paper and the chance to “graduate” from 13th grade.
Suffice it to say, I lacked the “traditional” college experience by leaving for work before 7AM while being “lucky” to be home from classes by about 11PM.
By age 20, though, I had accumulated a degree (that meant nothing) and debt that I was personally responsible for… And that is pretty damned motivating.
So I did the same thing any aspiring artist did in 2000 with some computer experience… I took a job as a web designer.
Just to make sure I had a solid challenge to motivate me, the job I had required that I design web sites for artisans and gallery owners attempting to sell $20,000 works of art from a 300 pixel wide images on said websites.
It all failed miserably… That is, until we spun our little Providence-based startup into an SEO shop riding the coattails of a Johnson & Wales intern, Andrew Gerhart, who helped Brett Tabke maintain the Search Engine Promotion forum on WebmasterWorld.
Over a period of about five years we turned entrepreneur clients into millionaires, jobs into careers and colleagues into lifelong friends.
In hindsight? That kicked serious ass.
Like all good things, that era came to an end. I’ve since gone on to help run SEO within Fortune 500 organizations. I’ve left all that and jumped back into agency life (twice) where the challenges come fast and furiously. In the midst of it all, I spent a few years and hit “the circuit”, speaking at conferences, authored about 800 articles for the SEO industry and bought into the delusion that I could grow a personal brand and cash in on it all simply because I was well connected.
In other words, I’ve learned many, many lessons along the way.
And those lessons are ones I don’t just throw out there all the time. Some are rhetorical. Others are closely guarded. But all of them have helped me to define who I am, how I approach each day, and why it is I wouldn’t have changed a single thing along the way.
Today, I don’t see myself as an SEO. Defined purely by my title at d50 Media, I’m an Associate Director of Digital Content. The reality of being responsible for content strategy is that I’m maintaining SEO, public relations and social media in a developing acquisition marketing agency. That’s a really
exciting, frustrating, stressful, energizing, engrossing position.
None of that would have been possible though if I hadn’t taken a few punches throughout my career.
So, yes, Dan. If I had to do it all over again… I’d let it play out precisely as it has. It’s been an organic path, and at times the path hasn’t been all that visible. But for where I am today, with where I’m headed and looking to get to – it’s the only place I’d ever want to call home.