Damn, I need a product. Guess I’m an SEO.

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 07/31/2012

Today I was neck-deep in PowerPoint. I hate that. But like any exercise, I was able to get some value out of it. Having to put your thoughts into ANY structured format also helps you clarify your thoughts. My thoughts lately, as much as I want them to be about the future of SEO, keeps going to cheap hardware and the cloud. 

My current passions happen to by the Raspberry Pi $35 computer and the Python programming language. I have not unified these interests yet, per the demands of my day job and my home passions of family and 20-month old daughter. But it’s coming. And I have to wrap it into my personal brand and some product to sell. 

At nearly 42 years old, I’m faced with precisely the same problem as when I was 29. I am good at technical puzzles, and realized I could do search engine optimization well, but didn’t have a product. So I went to work for a company that did for a percentage of gross revenue, but they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain with people to close the sale, so I moved onto NYC (from the Philly ‘burbs) to be a VP. In other words, I made myself the product, and that sucked. 

I briefly experimented with making an online subscription product called HitTail, but I did that as the VP on a payroll, so it wasn’t mine. The latest product I developed is 360iTiger. 360i is my employer, so you see, I’m doomed to repeat cycles. But this one is a little different. I made a study of what to do with my career and know-how when last I was screwed by Microsoft, and now I have a plan to become obsolessence-proof, and (unfortunately) a micro-celebrity who can cash it in. 

In addition to taking stock of the external things most worth mastering (Tiny Core Linux, Python, vim and Mercurial), I’m also looking at my own best strengths to see how they can meld in a way that makes the sum greater than its parts, leading to the ability to cash it in beyond just a 9 to 6 job. I seem to be able to make good videos—or have been lucky in choosing subject-matter in which people are interested. 

Down that route lies being a publisher and making my money on advertising. I hate that prospect. I’d rather just have some product to sell related to my passions—but which is not me myself (personal services) because I do not scale. HitTail was soooo close to being it. And 360iTiger got me re-platformed onto passion-worthy technology. I feel the perfect storm coming, but I have not quite divined how I’m going to maneuver for maximum advantage. 

I think first, I carry through on 360iTiger, doing much of my writing and video-making for those channels. I will try to always do one video for myself as well, but I need two parallel paths—one to yield maximum thought-leadership goodness for my company, and one to cast aside the 9-to-6 ball-and-chain so I can have a life of travel and educating my daughter. 

I don’t have all the answers, but one thing keeps reaffirming itself in my mind. The very sort of personal celebrity that I hate and have shied away from over the years as a “what you know” person is the key to cashing it in. Be genuine. Be the real deal. Being known for not needing to be known. Walking the walk of SEO and successfully negotiating its transformation into another field.