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Sacrifices for What We Love – A Personal Post

John Doherty —  July 22, 2011
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I’ve only been in full-time SEO for about a year. This comes as a shock to a lot of people who read this blog, and I am always humbled when people are shocked by it.

I have to be honest though, becoming an SEO, which was quite honestly a fortunate accident, has rocked my life. I’m not going to say that becoming an SEO has been easy, and I have had to make some tough life choices because of it.

I initially became an SEO when the job I had taken as a content writer at a marketing firm in Philadelphia turned into the SEO role. I had just returned from a year of living in Switzerland, where I had run Destinee Media. I moved to Philadelphia with my then-girlfriend to get more experience in the business world.

In the span of the past year I have moved from a 150 person dairy village on the side of the Swiss Alps to New York City, my relationship ended, and I’ve been working more than I ever have before. And I love what I do.

Why do I stay in SEO, and why do I love it so much? All of us have different reasons, but let me explain why I love what I do.

1. I get to solve cool problems for a living.

I get to test why page titles get changed in the SERPs (link) and how getting tweets will bump up websites in Google. I get to see the effects of my hard work on websites turning into increased traffic and growing businesses for others. In short, I find SEO to be consistently exciting.

2. I get to work with and in community with some of the smartest people I know.

The SEO community is so tightly woven and connected that it feels redemptive to me. We are breaking down the old-school notions of competitive business and striving to help each other learn. That is awesome! In short, I find the SEO community to be passionate and encouraging.

3. I can see a future in SEO.

I have worked other jobs where I just could not see a future. I did not see a future in software. I definitely did not see one in industrial painting, stocking a warehouse in Alaska, being a lifeguard at an oceanfront waterpark in Myrtle Beach, or loading people onto ski lifts at my local ski resort. SEO offers the opportunity to grow and learn constantly, and to move into the future as a learner, because the SEO landscape changes constantly. In short, SEO is promising for the future.

Basically what I have come to realize is that when you love something, you are willing to go to many lengths to see it through. For me, this has meant big life changes. Yet it doesn’t mean permanent change. I do want to have a family someday, I do want to settle down someday. I was raised to value family and time with family, and you’d better believe that once I have a family and kids, I will spend plenty of time with them. And I’ll keep killing it at work.

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

5 responses to Sacrifices for What We Love – A Personal Post

  1. I’m with you on that one John. I was in the middle of an email on Friday, giving a recommendation about sitemap 404s, and realized holy cow, a year ago I had no idea what a sitemap or 404 was or anything about SEO. August 16th will be my first year anniversary and I’m working with some of the best people in the industry. It’s surreal to think about. Anyways, keep up the awesome work bud and hope to see you soon!

    - Ethan

    • Thanks for the comment Ethan. I think you say it well. A year ago I knew not much about SEO, and now working with some of the brightest minds in the industry. It’s quite awe-inspiring, actually. I’m glad you have the same experience/sense of awe as I do!

      You’ll see me around!

  2. Great post, John. I stumbled on this after reading an article that Wil posted. Some inspiring stuff here. I wrote a post on my personal blog about something similar. It’s always interesting to see how people stumble on SEO almost by accident. The community is awesome and always willing to help and share. I’ve never been in an industry like that before and it is MAD encouraging. Keep working hard!

    • Thanks Napoleon. I read your article and had great respect for it and for your story. All week here at Mozcon we’ve been talking about how cool it is that everyone has different stories and we all end up in SEO somehow.

      Keep on rocking!

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