6 years Later & Why I Owe Most of My Success to Wealthy Affiliate
Dev here. I wanted to take a moment and discuss why I truly feel I owe where I am in lfie right now to Wealthy Affiliate- from making money online to establishing a full time career. However before I can do that I need to provide a little bit of context.
I started college in 2010. After scouring through colleges trying to find "the right one" I finally had.
When I applied my junior year in high school I received a "temporary rejection" in that if I continued to apply as a Graphic Design major, I wouldn't get in as my portfolio didn't stack up.
However, if I applied undeclared as a senior in high school, I would get in. So I went in undeclared and transferred to a tech school with a design program for my senior year in order to build my portfolio.
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...
If only I knew how big of a mistake this was.
From my freshman to junior year I had worked my tail off and had a 3.7 GPA. My grades weren't perfect, I was no valedictorian - but they were good. Probably good enough for scholarships.
When you transfer high schools you are starting from scratch. You lose your GPA. So i could say goodbye to any possible academic scholarships.
In my mind, if my grades weren't good enough to get into the Design program on their own it didn't really matter if I started over.
Oh young, naive self... Damn you.
After a semester as an "Undeclared" at my college, I transferred to their design program.
I should mention that one of the main reasons I was pushing hard for scholarships (and yes I applied to ALL the 3rd party scholarship programs too) was because the school I was attending cost roughly $43,000 a year.
Money, money, money...
Well after lots of hard work and begging the college president in person I did it. I got a scholarship. For a grand total of $2,000/yr.
Now, on the hook for about $41,000 per year, I had a choice to make. Do I transfer out of this school and try my hand somewhere more affordable, or do I stay at this dream school and keep grinding my way through?
I think you all can guess what young, stupid me decided.
I had met my girlfriend, I was in love, I lived in a gorgeous area. I had to find a way to make it work.
My college savings was burned after the first year and a half or so. That left me with about 2 1/2 years at 41K per year to figure out.
So do you know what I did?
Oh, the student loans...
Somehow, my school neglected to teach us what student loan repayment looks like. Which would be pretty nice for a school that puts their students into so much debt.
Are You Ready For the Fun Part? Cuz Here Comes the Fun Part
By my junior year... I knew I didn't want to get a job in design once I graduated.
The design program at my school prepared you for life as a Junior Designer, which is generally just layout design for brochures, pamphlets and the like.
Going into school I was great at surreal art and photoshopping cool designs. Unfortunately this isn't a super relevant part of design so, as far as real graphic design went - I sucked.
Additionally, the school I went to also didn't have your typical General Education classes. They had a proprietary set of classes that taught similar things to GenEd but they were just different enough where if you were to transfer to a new school - they wouldn't count as credits for those normal GenEd classes.
So here I am, a Junior in college already knowing I don't want to work in my major's field upon graduation and sitting on a pile of student loan debt. If i transferred schools I would likely be a sophomore due to credit transfer issues and that just meant even more debt.
What Did I Do?
I began getting creative. I knew there had to be a better way to make money than just working a part time job. Really, I was trying to lessen the blow of my student loans and generate a better income while in college.
I jumped from idea to idea. Mowing lawns, tutoring, online freelancing, you name it. I scoured all those "101 ways to make money" lists you see everywhere. Nothing seemed to be working.
I tried flipping PLR ebooks on Fiverr. This made me some alright money but it was a ton of work and not a great payout.
I tried a bunch of "programs" with promises of online riches. Most of which don't exist anymore (figures).
Then, one day, I was introduced to Wealthy Affiliate by none other than our very own PotPieGirl.
I hit the ground running in the Certification Courses, building up my first website Eliteguitarreviews.com. I stayed up late almost every night working on this site. I did so much custom work to it to get it just the way I wanted it.
Month after month I kept grinding away at this site, adding new posts almost every day. It was incredible watching the traffic slowly grow and to have this website I could say that I built. I made it into what it is.
There are few feelings of pride more gratifying than looking at something you've built and watching it succeed.
Isn't that the "American Dream" in a nutshell, anyway?
Anyway, about 11-12 months in I was working on my site, making some updates and starting to build a new site.
When I went to install wordpress onto my new domain for my new site..... I overwrote EliteGuitarReviews and everything was gone. All that work was gone. I had no backups, my web host had no backups. It was just simply gone,
That one mistake led to me being too afraid to sinatll Wordpress myself on new sites. I had my hosts do it for years. And they did it in the messiest way every time. They turned my website's backend file structure into a damn nightmare.
However, if there is one thing I learned from those 11 months of grinding, it's that you don't just throw in the towel over one setback. No matter how catastrophic is may be.
A New Site Was Born
I decided I wanted to make my niche slightly less narrow, and this was back when keyword rich domains meant something, so I started a new site: thebestguitarlessons.com.
It took notably less time this time around for the site to gain traction and start generating traffic, which was nice.
In just a few months it was earning me good money, getting 1st positions for medium competition keywords and everything was looking good.
I continued to update this site all the way throughout my Senior year in college.
When I graduated it was bringing me in a few hundred extra bucks every month. I wasn't raking in cash, but I was getting a comfortable amount of extra income every month.
Entering the Workforce
As mentioned earlier, I wanted nothing to do with design when I graduated. I figured this website I've built has to be good for something.
Turns out I was right. Right out of college I got a job as an SEM Specialist building out websites and PPC campaigns for a company promoting stock market investments and building email lists.
In a matter of 2 months I was Google AdWords Certified, a Google Partner and I had my own office. It was incredible.
Then I got laid off..
Turns out the company was a bit ambitious and grew too fast. They ended up laying off a bunch of us.
I was down, but not out.
I quickly jumped back online searching for jobs and managed to get an interview at one of the most sought-after companies to work for in my areafor an SEO Analyst position.
In my interview, I walked them through the website I had built through Wealthy Affiliate's training, answered a few quick questions and was out of there. All in all the interview maybe lasted 45 minutes. maybe.
Within an hour or two of that interview I got the call. I start in 2 weeks.
This was in 2014.
My training and work from Wealthy Affiliate earned me money in college and had gotten me 2 jobs.
Know what else? I'm still at that same company. I worked in the SEO department for 3 years before moving up to a new department that focuses on building our client's websites.
And guess what... I used Thebestguitarlessins.com in that interview too!
What Does This All Mean For You?
At the end of the day, you are learning real skills here at Wealthy Affiliate. You're not here to just learn how to "make money online", even if you think you are.
You are being taught a legitimate, employable skillset in a field called internet marketing. As the world we live in continues to go digital everything, there are only going to be more opportunities working in this field.
My Advice to You...
Never get discouraged.
Stick with the training here.
Post multiple times a week onyour website or here.
Never stop learning.
And once you finish your training here, take your blinders off. By then you will have enough experience to know what you should be doing.
There are so many great resources out there for improving your internet marketing strategies. However concerning yourself with these sites too soon can lead you astray and distract you.