I have had an interesting (and may I say successful?) online marketing career so far. Without laying out my whole CV here, I think these two things are pretty self-explanatory:
- I’ve never had to look for a job. People approached me with their offers and I had the freedom to reject what I didn’t want to perceive.
- I’ve never had to advertise my services: For a long time, I didn’t even have a “services” page on my site. People saw what I was doing online and approached me asking if I could do the same for them as a service.
Now, I am not special. In fact, I’ve had more challenges than many people do when they start a career in marketing: (1) I was abroad (in Ukraine), so I didn’t have the advantage of meeting people I wanted to do business with in-person and (2) I’ve been blogging in a foreign language for 7 years (which means I had a much rougher start than any American would). The secret is, I was extremely lucky… but only because I took chances. Luck comes to those who give it a chance.
1. Lack Talent? Work Harder.
There’s one thing I am pretty sure about myself: I am not really talented. I don’t have a feel for foreign languages, I can’t do math easily in my head, I don’t play any musical instrument, I can’t draw nicely… My only talent is this weird ability to work hard and to work a lot without any particular motivation needed from outside. This is something that helped me a lot when I decided to start a blog.
This may sound funny but I hate looking stupid. Also, I am extremely terrified by failure. These two combined mean that I always have to force myself to take a chance. The first big one was starting an SEO blog in English (I didn’t know either well enough): this whole thing seemed to be doomed to failure. So, the idea of blogging in English was terrifying. I didn’t know SEO (I started a blog to learn it) and I could not write in good English. My first articles took me weeks to research and write (I still feel a bit ashamed of those). Anything I wrote didn’t “sound English-enough” to me. I had to constantly wonder if “English people say that” and I had to search literally every phrase I made up in Google to see if anyone else used it that way. But I didn’t give up. The more people came to my blog to talk to me, the more confident and excited I felt.
I took the chance and for the first time in my life tried the “fake it ’til you make it” strategy to catch up faster. Thankfully I could work more than most people I was interacting with online, so it was easy to believe I am a real expert!
2. Turn Challenges Into Selling Points
My first paid blogging opportunity came after ~4 months of my blogging endeavor. I got an offer from one of the best-known marketing blogs – SearchEngineJournal.com for 4 blog posts a week. Now, not enough time has passed since I started blogging. My confidence in my English (and SEO) skills wasn’t high enough. It still took me days to craft a single article. And now four? Luckily, that was a chance not to miss: I knew the world would find and remember me by being an SEJ contributor. I took the chance and found my way around: I’ll review SEO tools! Not many people were doing that then. None made it a focus. I had a great opportunity to stand out. Reviewing tools had lots of benefits for me:
- No need to write a lot: I got around to writing even less that it made sense to by using lots of great screenshots and feature comparison charts. I compensated for my lack of written text by making my articles visual: That was one of the main reasons so many people remembered me. My style was consistent, but not many people knew it was not a choice!
- People love tools! This is always useful content that spreads like crazy.
Most people still know me as a tool geek and the former SEJ editor-in-chief. I am lucky to have taken that chance.
3. Just Do It Now
I got more paid gigs than I could afford the time to accept. I was working for a US company and I was still an SEJ editor and blogger (both were my steady sources of income). Yet, I didn’t feel I was successful. I wanted to build something on my own. I wanted to bring a site up from the ground and make it work as a well-built mechanism.
I wanted to found a self-funded start-up. At that time I was a new stay-at-home mom juggling 2 online marketing careers (Editor and Director of Media). I knew I didn’t have time for anything else. But there will never be enough time! I took the chance and I just did it. I started MyBlogGuest and soon the platform became so active that we got coverage in just about any huge marketing publication like Moz, Forbes, and About.com.
MyBlogGuest got profitable within one year and I could quit any other thing I was doing to focus on building the community and the team to support it. In a few years, I got so excited with founding startups that I agreed to co-found ViralContentBuzz with Gerald Weber. And this year I founded MyBlogU. MyBlogGuest had a rough year (with Google announcing guest blogging as a low-quality and almost banned tactic) but that’s what you get with startup marketing. The online world is changing fast and you need to adapt! MyBlogGuest has taught me so many lessons and allowed me to fund so many ideas that I’ll always consider the project nothing but success! I am lucky to have taken that chance!
4. Leave Your Comfort Zone Often
This is one of my favorite quotes I heard somewhere and quickly found myself citing it again and again… And that’s what once encouraged me to move forward… Ukraine was my comfort zone. My family and I had everything we needed there: We’ve settled down to raise the kid and invest the money we were earning. Then I got an offer to move to the US to work with Jim Boykin. I had the whole family move to another continent and the whole business to leave in Ukraine. But we decided we’d do that because otherwise, we wouldn’t know what that opportunity was going to mean for us. We are still not sure what awaits us here but we took the opportunity to give the luck one more chance!