Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

How Do You Retire When You Work on the Internet?

Some of you may remember the JimWorld forums from the 1990’s. The owner and founder, Jim Wilson, passed away in 2003.

When Jim Wilson passed on, his moderators and staff tried to keep his work alive. Today, the SearchEngineForums live on. Some of the staff from Jim’s forums, and other SEO/web dev forums, are now Admins and Moderators for Cre8asiteforums, which I founded in 1998.

As I face more changes in the next few months for Cre8asiteforums, I do what I do several times a year.

I wonder when and how I can stop.

Coach Club

My avid sports son is guided by two fathers (bio and step) and countless baseball, hockey, football, wrestling and weight lifting coaches. I’ve come to know so many of these men over the years. Several of them treat my son as if he were their son. They give untold hundreds of hours of free instruction. These guys work their day jobs and volunteer to coach sports on weekends, afternoons and evenings. Some of them have great humor and make watching the games fun. I know they often find it hard to quit coaching once they start because they would miss the boys. They’ll tell you they can’t stand the politics and organizational nonsense. Some get quite fed up, but I’ll see them back the next season, fully dedicated to the kids.

I can relate to what motivates them. When you love what you do, it’s hard to stop doing it. Sometimes, however, we might wish to consider why we’re still doing that thing we do, year after year.  Are we burned out? What scares us the most about the idea of quitting?

What would the search engine marketing industry look and feel like without Danny Sullivan, Jill Whalen, Rand Fishkin, Brett Tabke and Aaron Wall? A few names consistently come to my mind for certain niche areas, like Debra Masteler, Julie Joyce and Eric Ward for link building.  I’m not sure who would take the places of any of  these people and plenty more like them who have helped to create the search marketing industry.

Passing Along The Torch

Since two local interviews appeared about my work, I’ve been swamped with inquiries. Most small businesses can’t afford me. If I can’t work out something with them (I always try), I offer advice on how they might help themselves. I refer people very often, but most of my referrals are in the top tier of the profession. They’re expensive and booked in advance. Since I don’t refer people I haven’t worked with already or who are not partners of mine, my list has drastically shrunk.

Who are the people coming up in the usability, user experience design and search engine marketing industries that may be moving up the ranks of professionalism and expertise? I see a few but it takes time to truly understand who will be around for 10 years and who is in this because someone convinced them Internet marketing will make them wealthy.

Fading Into Dusty Memory Chips

What if Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman, Shari Thurow or Jill Whalen wanted to call it quits? What if they wanted to change careers?

To get to the top requires commitment, dedication, passion, expertise, and a gifted ability in one’s niche. None of so called “thought leaders” ever stops studying. I doubt many companies and clients truly understand that when paying the higher fees for top professionals, they’re getting the folks who ingest every piece of information there is on a daily basis, test it, and have the ability to look after the welfare of their client because they have a dozen-plus years of experience.

I also doubt many people understand that to run the big projects, such as forums, conferences, book writing and influential blogs takes a giant chunk of time that is not spent with family and friends. Vacations are mixed with work. Managing people, handling business decisions and staying on the ball with your own skills is not for the faint of heart. There are indeed moments where any one of the people we look up to is wrestling with how to keep up the momentum, and what that costs them personally.  Internet related work is 24-7, global, fast paced and changes with every whim of technology.

In my own case, I have no idea how to walk away from a project like Cre8asiteforums. I don’t know who would want it. Would it be appealing if I was gone and I gave it to someone else, or am I part of the package? Has anyone ever given a forums away? Do we sell them? Could I give Jill or Danny my forums and they can have all the years of data? Is it “my” forums or does it belong to the members and moderators?  You might be surprised how sensitive those questions are and the debates and arguments they start.

There’s no forums owners counseling group that I’m aware of. I often wish I had someone to talk about running a forums. It’s a gigantic job. Nobody ever agrees on anything. People always get hurt. You have to be tough. It’s anyone’s guess how I survived this long.

Do you ever wonder what happened to certain folks in our industries? Some say goodbye and others just fade away, but you can find them in searches if you miss them. With the Internet, we no longer need to say goodbye to anybody.  We don’t die in cyberspace.

As with most things we become attached to, it’s very hard to accept change.

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