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Finding Your Niche
Posted 08 August 2003 - 11:52 AM
Wow, I feel as though I am in the presence of greatness.
Since we are talking about "finding one's niche", I wanted to ask what could be considered a prerequisite question: What advice would you give to someone who has only recently entered the SEO field? There seems to be so much information available on SEO / Internet marketing / Web Site Optimization / etc., how does can a guy / gal quickly bootstrap themselves into this field?
I want to further qualify this by saying that, from what I have heard & read about you, we share a similar background. Before beginning my current job, I had spent over 5 years doing technical support / software QA / web development. If you were tasked with training someone how would you get them up & running quickly?
Posted 08 August 2003 - 12:09 PM
I am giving a talk at the local ASP.NET users group.
I have provided some input to the local Macromedia Users group which is heavily "Flash-guru-ed".
Last but not least, I am extending my SEO services to existing customers. I am opening the door through free web analytics report from ClickTracks and WebTrends to show them what part of their traffic comes via search engines. I add usability improvements and SEO and the offering becomes integrated.
My only challenge :-) is having the time to redesign my own site and put all the knowledge in it. Oh well, in Bulgaria we have a saying that the shoemaker's children walk barefeet. I think this is universal :-)
Posted 08 August 2003 - 12:41 PM
Hi Googlewhacked, another good approach is to start by helping out with non-profit web sites. This will allow you to gain some real world experience while doing some good, and build a few references before going after commercial accounts.
There seems to be so much information available on SEO / Internet marketing / Web Site Optimization / etc., how does can a guy / gal quickly bootstrap themselves into this field?
Posted 08 August 2003 - 01:28 PM
You might be interested in my old RankWrite article, The Ten Commandments of Learning SEO from the Ground Up. (Scroll down the page to the second half.)
Hope this helps!
Posted 08 August 2003 - 02:15 PM
“Hopefully, we'll be the beneficiaries of a better educated audience over time.”
Better educated is always a nice way to go, but as in all things technical being educated in one discipline or a few still leaves a large area that is “best left up to the experts”. My concern with the better educated is that some feel that they know all things though their specialty maybe a very focused aspect of the technical disciplines that comprise the Internet. They feel that if I know this I can certainly know that also how hard can that be (insert any field you don’t’ know here). Cannot be any harder than what I know of this field (insert any field you are good at here).
“but it seems that being known in your market community as tops is what to shoot for”
Being the best at what you do without fanfare is fine so long as the checks from client companies don’t bounce or there is enough work. Some of us like to be in the background and just perform the tasks that they enjoy and not worry about being well known except by a small group of individuals that you have done projects for and have a rapport and respect. To me being an expert is getting the job done, getting it done right, and putting out a quality product that you can be proud of without concern if the world knows it or not who did it. You will know it and the pride of good workpersonship can and is its own reward.
“So my question is, would it be beneficial to become the Canadian equivalent of Jill if you are only known as an expert by people who know what SEO is? My clients have never heard of SEO - all they knew is that they wanted more traffic at their website and usually someone such as their designer or ecommunications expert referred me..”
Referred by other experts and by your peers is always good. I enjoy getting overflow business from other people within my niche. Which is a web designer that works at creating search engine friendly environments and I have moved to doing more SEO since I have been doing steady projects with a SEO firm out here in Southern California. They gave me a chance to expand outside the web design world, focus on being a good optimizer, and keep my hands in the design aspect. I do many retro fits while keeping the integrity of the past site allowing for the site to become more SE friendly.
“For example, there are many web developers who would produce robust web application, whether it is based on ASP or ColdFusion or PHP, but very few of them think about the usability of the site and how "findable" it is via search engine. Extending SEO services to these developers can be a great combination.”
Yes, and then they do not understand that their site as robust as it is and it still can not get a search engine to look at their site. Though they submit to the engines daily and scratch their head wondering why. This niche is where I see many of the one-person shops like myself heading to do consulting work to the designers to help them get great sites out into the search engine world and seen.
“Thus, it seems one has to cast a wide net with a position such as web design in an area to pull the customer in and then once the attention is attained push the specific expertise.”
There is another way to approach this by circulating within your community and as was mentioned in this thread “network” from that network long term business relationships can be derived and nurtured. Is that a good way, for some that are just beginning to spread from one project team where you are living from project to project being fed from one company to getting various projects from the overflow of companies that have a good marketing team in place is probably the best way to build your business. I would rather get referrals and business from people I have had the pleasure of communicating and discussing things with such as in this forum than have to talk to someone I have no idea what they are about or if they are ethical or a good fit for my style of working. Some one in this thread mentioned their lack of keeping on schedule; I could work with that type of person since I do believe in keeping to schedules. So long as my work is in on time and is not the cause behind their being off schedule, I can exist sub-contracting with that type of person. Many times, it works out much better to have a person like that to work for, since you are always putting your work out ahead of time and with all the information present makes them look better to their customers. Hence, you get more work from them since you are in the background. With my schedule in place I still have time to walk the dog, enjoy a sunrise or sunset, enjoy getting together with friends and family, while still working from the comfort of my home office in bunny slippers for all anyone cares. Plus the commute traffic is only hectic around the coffee pot in the kitchen before slipping into the “office to begin the day”.
As always YMMV,
Posted 10 August 2003 - 09:39 AM
Being an expert is easy. Becomming an expert is difficult. Not because you need to know practically everything about your field, but because it takes time. You can't be 25 just out of school and be called an expert.
You need 10 - 20 or more years (depends on the field you ar in) to become an expert. The next step is guru, but that generally means you are about to retire.
SEO is a too young field to have guru's already.
What makes people say you are an expert is how you present your knowledge. Not the knowledge it self.
One way is, as Jill suggested, to focus on a small part and put that in writing. I'd like to add to this, Understandable Writing.
Einstein never was called an expert, even though he revolutionized his field. Stephen Hawkings is called an expert, just because he knows how to present his data.
Posted 10 August 2003 - 10:41 AM
I'd say that the main thing that has gotten me where I am today is being able to explain SEO in words that anyone can understand. I've had more people tell me that they have read tons of SEO stuff and were always confused until they read my stuff. Heck...I can barely understand some of the other people who write about SEO myself!
Posted 11 August 2003 - 04:49 PM
I consider people experts that I go to for advice, because they know more than I do.
My grandmother was an expert on tatting, and when I wanted to learn, I asked her.
My mother was an expert on how to avoid getting into trouble. I ignored her advice, until I was older and wiser.
My current mentor is in the city's "advertising hall of fame". When I have marketing/ad questions, I go to her, because she gives sensible advice and has a proven track record.
I look at the fruits that people produce. Good results and high ethics-okay, I'll ask you questions, and you're an expert to me. If you just place hype about yourself in an article or web site, well, I'll go to others.
Everyone really does know who the experts are. They're the ones we flock to for help. The ones we ask questions to.
Someday, hopefully, if we listen well enough (a lost art nowadays), others will be asking us questions as well, and we too will have something to contribute to others.
We will be experts.
Posted 11 August 2003 - 05:51 PM
You definitely are an expert in knowing where to get the right information. That is the first step to becomming an expert in something. Knowing where to get your information is very important if you want to accomplish anything. And I am sure you also know that your own insights are also very important,..
Posted 13 August 2003 - 01:07 PM
Posted 15 August 2003 - 08:05 PM
What helps me is writing and speaking. To write about something - I have to understand it completely. Writing is an incredible learning process.
To speak about something, I have to understand it as well.
I started doing free local 1-hour seminars once I felt I was ready. And I have lined up some talks at various networking groups. If I don't know an answer I never ever BS on the fly - I admit what I don't know and tell them what I know.
Finally, if its part of my niche...I leave no stone unturned to make sure I understand it. If I get vague answers on the newsgroups I keep searching, analyzing and experimenting. I never ever except assertions without evidence to back it up.
Posted 16 August 2003 - 10:53 PM
As for this topic~ In reply to DragonLady, The best advice I can give, is do what you LOVE doing. Being an expert at something you don't truly enjoy will not make you happy I am an RN (in case you are interested, there is a serious nursing shortage!) and a Web Designer and SEO. I had been studying seo for years and practicing it on the websites I designed just to see if I could make it work. When I found myself optimizing my daughters Elmo's website (she was 12 then, now 16) for fun, when I should have been finishing a website design for a client, I knew that SEO was for me.....because I loved it! My husband is a programmer and developer and even he got bit by the SEO bug! His clients often get seo benefits without even realizing it! It is really neat when you LOVE what you do and can call it work....study.....play.
It does't matter what you do, it matters that you enjoy what you do. That is when you will willingly devote enough time, effort and heart to be looked upon as an expert in the field of your choice.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 09:30 PM
I recently took a position writing SEO friendly sales copy for a company that's revamping their website and online catolog. I do a few other things, but that's the majority of it. It's going really well and the copy is coming out great, but it's hard to believe how much I didn't know. I wind up going over the copy at least 3-4 times to make sure I have the keyword phrases in where I want them and ALSO keep the copy consumer friendly. Not saying SEO copywriting is a new niche for me, but it's definitely something I'm glad I'm learning.
Posted 21 September 2003 - 04:11 AM