I have been training/mentoring someone recently and I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer an SEO. That saddens me in a way. I liked being an SEO. But after going through the process of teaching someone the ins and outs of what I do, I realized that I just cannot call myself that anymore.
The problem is, I don't know what to call myself. I create sites, so I might be a coder or a programmer or a web developer. I design those sites, so I might be a web designer, but since I'm not terribly good at that part of it, I don't think I should wear that label. I optimize those sites and market them, so I might be an SEO/SEM. I occasionally remember to throw in some usability (usually whenever I hear Kim ranting), so I might be a usability .... what word would one use after the word "usability" to describe the job position? "Usability person"? "Usability guru"? Anyway, I digress.
I guess, in reality, I never was "just" an SEO. However, since my focus and interest was so intertwined with that aspect of what I do over the last few years, I suppose it was inevitable that I would call myself that. I suppose the best title for me would be Web Entrepreneur. That should be all-encompassing I think.
I'm considering changing that as well. I'm thinking of becoming a Web Entrepreneur Mentor. I'm discovering that I enjoy helping people do what I do. Let me tell you a little story about my latest mentoring project.
Several years ago, an online "friend" whom I'd never actually met, died. This friend was a fellow SEO (or was she?). Actually, as it turned out "she" was really a "he", but I didn't know that until his family contacted me. They'd seen his email and IM conversations with me, and hoped that I could help them continue on with the business he had created. After getting over the shock of both my friend's death and his gender-bending online persona, I knew I had to help them. He had been my friend in whatever guise.
This family was clueless. Actually, in most ways, they still are. They really know next to nothing about running an online business. His wife, years later, still can't bring herself to even turn on a computer. (She writes me letters...you know...with a pen...on paper...and snail mails them to me). His daughter, the one who is attempting to keep this going, is perhaps only slightly beyond that in experience level. She admits to being experienced enough to shop online, but that's about it.
My job, within a scant 2 months, is to teach this woman everything she needs to know to keep their online business going, all on her own. Obviously, she'll need to call in the reserves now and then, just as we all do, but essentially, she needs to have enough understanding to do 90% of this by herself.
I've discovered that there are a million little things I take for granted that have to be explained to a newbie. I've posted a short excerpt of one of the many tutorials I've created for her today, explaining the basic concepts of Social Networking sites. I'm sure I left out lots of things, but part of the difficulty in mentoring a newbie is knowing what to put in and what to leave out. They can only grasp so much at one time.
In case you're confused about the timeline, I helped this family out several years ago when my friend died, but due to this woman's soon-to-be-ex-husband, that relationship was severed way back then. Now, years later, the woman came looking for help again.
So...because I am always busy, I told her that I could only give her one month of my time (which I later agreed to stretch into two months). This meant that instead of just doing some SEO work on her sites, I needed to teach her what to do. And in the process of doing this, I realized that I could not just teach her SEO. She needed an education in every aspect. Honestly, I know I can't teach her EVERYTHING in two months, but I think I've gotten her almost to the point of knowing enough. (We are at the 6 weeks point right now).
It is both frustrating to help her get past her confusion and doubts, and rewarding to see her take each step forward. It is extremely rewarding to see her become a person that someone else has always taken care of, to a person who will be capable of taking care of herself (and her mother). For these reasons, I'm considering offering this same service to others. I'll need to think about the best way to handle this idea, but I think it might be the next step in my progression from SEO to Web Entepreneur to Web Entepreneur Mentor.
(I'll always be an SEO in my heart, however). 🙂
If any of you have any thoughts on moving into the Mentoring business, do let me know.