10 years ago around the end of November, I got asked to take the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken in my life (apart from a bungy jump in Queenstown, New Zealand).
The offer was simple: help build the best SEO agency in Australia.
At this point, my interest in SEO was at an all time high and although I loved managing web design clients with a bit of SEO here and there, I knew I wanted more.
I wanted more time to spend marketing websites.
And less time designing them.
This was a huge decision and not something that came easy.
I was in a stable, steady job that didn’t place huge demands on me.
I worked a mere 5 minutes from home.
But I was comfortably uncomfortable.
I knew I could get better money elsewhere, but I also hated change. Things weren’t amazing but they were really not bad at all.
Why rock the boat, right?
At this point in my career, I was designing a lot of blue coloured websites (don’t ask) and we did a bit of SEO. I mean, if you can even call it SEO.
It was like $30-90 for a handful of keywords, some links from our company’s extensive link network and that was it.
I knew I wanted more though. I knew this sorta stuff wasn’t the future of online marketing. And I knew I had to get used to a longer commute and different work if I wanted to make better money and get ahead in life.
And that’s when my friend & Dejan Petrovic came into the picture.
He was my manager back at a company Diggy and helped me develop an undying love for SEO. He managed the rest of us while we managed a handful of web design and internet marketing branches.
We had a great time as a team with loads of memories that I will cherish forever.
But in mid 2009, everything changed when Dejan left.
He left to do his own thing. And boy was he happy.
By November 2009, he had just come back from Europe to setup shop with people he could trust to be our link building powerhouse.
I knew how Dejan worked. He’s like no-one else, really. And he wanted me to join him there and then. To get away from the basic SEO of the past and into a new era where things were done differently, uniquely and on our terms.
He showed me all the fancy new tools he was using to manage his team in Europe and to manage all his SEO affairs. I had seen Raven SEO Tools for the first time and was amazed.
So I still wonder why I hesitated when he came to me and said: I need someone I trust to help me build this SEO agency. I open shop in 2 weeks, are you with me?
Around this time, I was also about to get married and wasn’t sure if I should take the risk – I mean, this was also new for Dejan, what if it didn’t work?!
But turns out, Diggy had different plans for the company in 2010 and beyond and that didn’t sit right with me at all. I figured, this is probably the sign I need. I mean, I’d be working with my dear friend Dejan and if things went south, at least we’d be in the trenches together.
So I packed my stuff and went straight to Dejan to pledge my allegiance.
I was ready to sign on the spot. But I had one condition: I get to choose my title.
Dejan had no issue calling me Supreme SEO Commander. And in fact, I went on to get the Skype ID ‘dejanseo001’ and there’s been a lot of people who came after me wondering ‘who is Jaaved?!’
I remember sitting in a shoebox with Dejan and 2 other fellas who also wanted to get in on the ground floor. It was hot and cramped but we got by.
I remember seeing the company blossom to have branches in Sydney, Melbourne and 2 huge powerhouses in the Balkans. It was awesome seeing our logo on the company door, getting business cards and just having a laugh when people tried to say ‘Dejan SEO’.
I remember the wall of toys and conference freebies I used to bring to the office every so often. And I also remember the ‘bad joke wall’ where my name has a tally that to this day, remains unbeaten.
I still can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I joined DejanSEO. I got to work for clients like Fuji Xerox Australia (we got them to #1 for the word ‘copiers’) but also small businesses who did things like cake decorating classes. It was incredibly vast.
I got given full freedom to do whatever was necessary to get results. From making quick videos on Animoto and hosting on our own video site to briefing writers on Textbroker for website content and everything in between. Monthly reporting sucked hard and we learnt to be very diplomatic with our analysis… but we were learning and growing at the same time (I may have gotten a few death threats in my time).
It was exciting and new and fun. And I never hated going to work, because I was doing what I love with people that I didn’t hate – SCORE!
That’s what it really comes down to.
Doing what you absolutely love and can’t get enough of. It’s such a cliche. But it’s so damn true.
I don’t really have an SEO tip here.
All I can really say is that when I first met Dejan in March 2007, I thought I was getting hired as a junior web designer. But I was essentially paving the pathway for the rest of my life.
Dejan hired me at Diggy. Then got me on board to setup DejanSEO. Which then led me to Dubai to work on incredible SEO projects.
I think people call this fate? Or destiny? or signs from the universe?
Whatever it is.
It’s been a wild ride with too many stories to share in one email.
But I raise my cup of karak chai to Dejan Petrovic, my team at Diggy and everyone of our dear linkbuilders in the Balkans – zivili!
May your links come easy and fast.
May the algo updates forever be in your favour.
May you be surrounded by friends who back you up 100%.
May you always do what you love, for people you don’t hate.
And may 2020 be your best year yet.