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Moving, Productivity and Coffee Shops

October 6, 2009

I am going to start using my other blog www.StephWoodsSEO.com . Finally.

I am hoping I will be more active there than I have been here. My intentions were good. My performance has been less than stellar.

I'd like to thank the Associated Press, my wonderful Twitter friends ...

I'd like to thank the Associated Press, my wonderful Twitter friends ...

It’s time for my writing slackness to come to an end.

I am starting a bi-weekly SEO 101 series on SEO Scoop. As far as I know my first post will go live tomorrow (October 7, 2009), but I have not received final confirmation on that yet. I will be sure to post a link here when it is up on the site.

Good Habits = More Writing

I am keeping my fingers crossed that once I get in the habit of writing posts, I won’t be able to stop.

I have realized I can not work from home anymore. I found that I was: (a) not getting anything done to get my business going, and (b) ridonkerously frustrated that I wasn’t getting anything done. Gee. Only took me 8 months to figure that one out. Way to go Einstein.

In any case, there will be no more working from home (as great as it sounds). Eight months later with minimal progress has taught me a lesson the hard way. There are waaaay too many things at home to be distracted by: roommates, cats, friends popping by, dirty surfaces, sunny days etc …

It’s different when I have client work to do, because it needs to get done. But when it comes to doing my own stuff … which includes finding new clients … I am a bit slack. I shouldn’t probably admit this. But I am. Important Note: I must reiterate that I have nooooo problems whatsoever getting client work done on time!

Without the pressure of a deadline I fail.

Or maybe not. I am hoping to change all of that by working from the library or a coffee shop. Heck, I am working from my boyfriend’s right now and that seems to be working because I have nothing here to get distracted by!

When sitting at a coffee shop I feel like I am there for a purpose and it changes something in my brain. A little switch goes off that says “let’s get serious bitches”. Then my fingers start to mambo with the keyboard. Funny how that works.

If you decide to work from home, try working in a variety of places to see which works best for you!

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

April 15, 2009

The other day I asked my Twitter friends if they had any blog post suggestions and @LisaKinnard suggested I write a post on the irony of companies that offer SEO yet do not have SEO on their own site.

Now I am not sure if @LisaKinnard was taking the piss or not (my guess is ‘yes’ because I know I would, but either way she gave me a great idea for an entirely separate post) as this is something I have often wondered if visitors have notice. If you are not familiar with SEO I will be open and transparent here: My blog is not optimized for search engines (i.e. SEO).

Why would I promote SEO but not optimize my site you might ask. The answer is quite simple. I used the wordpress.com site to set my blog up and not the wordpress.org site. The difference? WordPress.org allows you to use plugins and customize your site. WordPress.com is very user friendly but there is not a whole lot you can do with it in terms of customization and from an SEO point-of-view.

Why didn’t I use a wordpress.org in the first place? I honestly did not know there was a .com and a .org. I set up this blog on a whim after reading Danny Dover’s post from SEOmoz on The Beginner’s Guide to Getting your Foot in the Door. At the time I was happily working for somebody so I was really just creating a blog because I enjoy writing, love SEO and thereby felt it only made perfect sense to have a blog.

Since my recent turn of events (i.e. getting laid off) putting more work into my blog has become an imperative part of my plans for global domination (kidding). But seriously, having a blog will get my name ranked in search engine result pages (SERPs), provide some credibility and provide the opportunity to practice all of the SEO tactics and techniques I have come to adore.

So what next?

I finally have my own domain and web space courtesy of Marty Martin aka @mosquitohawk. Next I need to put my mythical web dev hat on and figure out how to set up my more technically-involved wordpress.org site. ASAP. Wish me luck!

SEO Freelance: Noob Observations

March 31, 2009

Now let me start off by saying, I am in the process of looking for a job, but thought it would be interesting to imagine myself as a freelancer (we can dream can’t we?) My last blog post’s title may have been a bit misleading as I have not posted a blog until now. This has been my first big realization of attempting to work for yourself: it’s challenging to not be distracted by life when you are working from home. Without feeling the pressure of hourly-based tasks breathing down my neck and being accountable for every minute whilst at work, it’s kind of easy to let yourself be distracted by, well uh, everything.

The second biggest lesson is that if I were to do this all over again, I would have been more financially prepared. I have now been waiting for an employment insurance cheque for almost four weeks. Doesn’t sound like that long if you have money saved up. Unfortunately finances are my absolute weak spot and I was not ready to have no income whatsoever for four weeks. Rent is due in a couple of days and panic is starting to kick in. Perhaps this level of stress is what I needed in order to write this blog post and kick this freelance gig into high gear.

Reality has delivered a swift blow to the head and I am faced with the realization that what seemed like a laid back approach to work and life is in fact a full time job no matter which way you look at it. (For now at least.)

Strength is Essential

It’s been an emotional roller coaster. There have been moments of elation and intense feelings of freedom counterbalanced by moments of doubt and anxiety. Fortunately the tough moments have been brief because I believe it is imperative to keep a level head and not get sucked into a cycle of negativity. This is an opportunity to work for myself that I embrace and it will be work out in the end. (Yes this is something I need to periodically tell myself hence the self affirmation-like sound to it.)

Starting out as an unprepared freelancer takes a strong mind and some tough skin I tell ya.

Other Random Observations

The following is a random list of observations about starting to network as my own brand:

  • Ask former higher ups for an endorsement on LinkedIn immediately if you are laid off. The first couple of days I received five amazing recommendations from co-workers. A couple of days after that the President of the company sent me an email saying they can not endorse me (or anybody else) because now I am technically competition. The five original LinkedIn endorsements remain.
  • Start networking now on Twitter. I tracked the initial progress of my layoff on Twitter and received three offers for proposals within the first few days. The SEO community is supportive this way once you make yourself a familiar presence.
  • Use your existing Facebook account to let family and friends know you are available for work. I did this and three people immediately asked for more information. This needs some grace and tactic as you do not want to spam your friend’s newsfeeds with too many updates.
  • Freelance can be one long ass waiting game. Waiting for contracts to be signed and waiting to get paid top the list (from what I can tell at least). This reinforces the fact that being financially prepared prior to embarking on a freelance career is ideal.
  • Writing blog posts is something I really need to work on. I really thought it was going to be easier. One day I’m sure I’ll look back at these first few blog posts and laugh at the amateurish-ness of it all.

Laid Off & Ready to Blog

March 2, 2009
tags:

I am now officially the newest member of the laid off cool kids crew. My intention is to chronicle the experience and try to provide tips on how to deal with a layoff and start getting your life back together when you are completely unprepared. I am interested in finding SEO work, so this will be my newest daily stomping grounds to provide SEO tips. I will also be providing insight into what it’s like to suddenly be faced with the reality that now is the time to figure out what you’ll be doing five days a week for years to come. I honestly have no idea how I am going to do this, so I’ll keep anyone that is interested up-to-speed on the daily challenges associated with doing so.

The first things I need to do are:

  • Convert my bedroom into an office because I live with roommates and my current living room work area is conducive to distractions (which under normal circumstances are quite welcome).
  • Apply for employment insurance. It’s not that much money, but still better than nothing!
  • Look into re-financing my new car. The monthly payments alone will consume the larger part of employment insurance (hindsight is always 20-20).
  • Look into employment insurance paying for me to take an HTML course. I’ve always had developers work on the back end stuff for me and I want to be able to do it all by my self. I’m stoked at the thought of that actually!
  • Also think about taking the small business owners course through employment insurance. They teach you how to start your own business from the ground up. It will be very practical and motivating at the same time. Who knows, maybe I can start my own business one day!
  • Make a resume so I can find my dream job.
  • Start writing some useful SEO posts so I can show potential employers that I know my stuff.
  • Learn how to optimize WordPress, I haven’t had the chance to play around with it yet, so I’m actually excited about learning how to this. I mean I know how to optimize a regular site, so I am assuming it’s the same deal.
  • Continue to go to the gym every day because being fit equals feeling good.
  • Cut back on everything EXCEPT for healthy food. Healthy body = healthy mind.
  • Take advantage of the fresh powder the universe has been dumping on us. We’ve all been waiting for this all season! I already have a season’s pass, so it fits right into my new budget.

Well … I’m off to go set up my new office. Come back soon for more updates!

Little Boxes

November 27, 2008

I can’t get the theme song (by the original artist) of the television series Weeds out of my head. I love the lyrics. 

It’s by an artist named Malvina Reynolds. She seems like she was quite the lady. Adorable Malvina was a an amazing, intelligent and independent women who was a songwriter, singer and activist.

 

Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of tickytacky
Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers, and business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.


Check out this video and see how adorable Malvina is (I did not find a Little Boxes video).  And the frock? Seriously cute. 

Magic Wine Fairies, a Broken Foot & Snowboarding

November 27, 2008

I’ve been wondering if I can fit my cast right in to my snowboard bindings and be good to go. Problem with that is, it’s the bottom of my foot that’s broken. And while the cast does prevent me from moving it around too much, it doesn’t take away the fact that it really, really hurts to put any weight on my foot. I do have some strong pain killers left, so I am thinking that if I took a few of those with a beer chaser I will not care so much about the pain.

Okay not really. I’d be far to tired to get up if I fell!  I’d lie my head down into a tree well and take a bit of a kip (aka nap for those of you not familiar with that popular UK term).

Supposedly drinking alcohol prevents the bones from healing quickly, so it’s best to avoid it. Soooo, I’ve been avoiding it. I’d thought I’d feel all great and shit … but abstaining from alcohol isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s pretty fun times to have a few drinks sometimes. Now I’m not talking about falling down drunk here. I’m talking about a nice glow and incessantly chatting away with friends … what’s wrong with that? Nothing I say. Damn abstainers and their high morals.

Damn I’d like a glass of wine. Too bad the store is closed. AND I can’t drive my car anyways. AND it’s late so who the hell would I ask? 

For those of you who are freely walking around on two feet, give thanks because it rules! Just think about that for a second …

The Life of an SEO Newb

November 23, 2008

So this is it. My first blog post. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time and here I am. 

I used to love love love writing and then something happened. I’m not quite sure what. Once upon a time I possessed the ability to entertain and provoke thoughts with my writing. Now … I’m not so sure that rings true anymore. Work, school … professionalism at its best has killed a bit of my creativity. Or maybe it’s just me   getting older. That’s what life can do to you. Or perhaps I’m looking at this with my glass half empty. I’m sure if I listen close enough I’ll hear Rob Schneider making a cameo appearance in the background shouting “you can do it!” …

I read a great blog post written recently by someone named Lisa Barone. Something she said made me realize that if I ever intended to write interesting blog posts I should just start doing it. There’s no way I’ll ever get any better by just thinking about it. This is like the first step of many I am hoping.

The thing that most worries me is lack of anything interesting to write about. Or anything that is of value or interest to anyone else on this planet except for me. 

I also realize that I just lied. I have written blog posts on MySpace a lifetime ago. I managed to have a few faithful suscribers who’d read my random and sporadic blog posts. I found that the most well received were posts where I was angry with someone or something and I was ranting. I suppose that fire inside is where I’m most witty and amusing. Kind of a shame when you think about it … I need to be pissed off in order to say anything that anyone else would like to read. At the same time, if anyone ever asks me what my problem is I can tell them to not take offense to it as it’s all for the best of my non-existent audience. Hurrah hurrah.

So at some point I intend to share what I know about the world of SEO with others. Primarily for the sheer practice of running a WordPress blog and practicing my writing skills outside the world of business documents that I live in seven days a week. Business docs that aim to strip my writing of any personal touches. 

So far I’m enjoying my career as an online marketing specialist. I find myself engrossed in the world of SEO and SEM on a daily basis. There are many people out there that know what they are talking about … or at least are great for writing about it. Now comes my time to see if there is a small dent I can make in this world. My friend Seth and I are going to start freelancing soon. He’s the writer and I’m the SEO gal. This blog may become something that we both utilize and promote soon.

I’m going to try and keep a little notebook with me at all times so when a moment of blog inspiration hits I can jot down that thought and write a little post about it later.

I’m loving how WordPress is autosaving by the way. That’s a sweet little feature. I’m off to explore what’s up with this site a little further now. 

Until next time …