Thoughts about the value of criticism.

Thoughts about the value of criticism.

I’m sitting on a flight to Barcelona. It’s been a good couple of months since my last trip, but it has been much longer time since I’ve been on a holiday. Technically, this trip is not a holiday, as I do have to do ‘few’ work related things during this trip.

What makes this trip special is the fact that it is the first time when I’m able to work remotely. Working while traveling has been something that I’ve been working towards for the last three years. Working remotely is not the end goal, I consider it as a milestone and I do feel good about it.

Last month something happened that we did not anticipate – we went literally from zero to hero almost in a single night. I still cannot believe the results we generated last month, it simply feels surreal. This is not one of those “Mom, I made it” –moments, but we have come a long way in very short time.

It is really important to emphasize word “we”, as I firmly believe that I was able to find the right people to work with. They are really smart and hardworking, who are not afraid to express their opinions. These are all very good qualities from my business partners, but there is one thing that I truly value more than anything else in them – the lack of ego.

It is very easy to fall in love with your own idea. You figure out something new and mind blowing. You think it is the best idea ever, maybe it is even a “game changer”. Your excitement level is getting through the roof. You spent time on planning the execution, estimate the potential ROI and other positive effects this new idea of yours might do.

You blast out the new idea to your business partners, words are coming out of your mouth like bullets from a machine gun. Once you finished your epic rant to your partners, you simply cannot wait to see their reaction

And then,

They shoot down your idea like a duck flying too slow during the hunting season. They see something that you didn’t see, they have something that you completely missed out. Argument after argument your idea gets beaten down to the floor. These are the moments when you see the true nature of the people how you work with.

  • Do you have the courage to listen and acknowledge the potential holes in your idea?
  • Is there something that can be done to fill out these gaps in your ideas.
  • Can you admit that the idea maybe wasn’t the best idea in the world and move on?
  • Are you partners and or colleagues able to play with the idea, to see if there’s something that can be used?

This is not to say that I’m perfect at this, but it is something that I want to be better. Sometimes it really stings when my “master plan” gets beaten down to get ground, but do you know what’s the beauty of it? This is how we make smart business decisions, it’s not always the most fun way, but I firmly believe that looking things critically will yield good results in a long run.

Sometimes we do make poor decisions and we have to pay a price for those decisions. The reality is that when you are running a business, sooner or later you are going to make mistakes. You just have to deal with it and not to dwell on it. The key is to move forward as fast as possible and deal with the issues as they arise and not get stuck in a never-ending planning phase. That will get you absolutely nowhere.

So much has happened in the past 5 months

So much has happened in the past 5 months

. It has been exactly close to 5 months since I left my day job and somehow I’m still here and doing quite alright.
So much has happened in the past months, that I’m going to have to break it down to different parts:

  • Career
  • BJJ
  • Side-projects

Let’s get to it.

Career

Lot of irons in the fire.

Freelancing

I am truly happy the way things have turned out. When I left my day job, I estimated that I can survive with any kind of income for good 4-5 months. It was literally my fourth day working for myself when I landed my first long-term freelancing in SEO. I got contacted a company called Croud. Croud is a digital agency, which has offices in UK, US and in Australia. Possibly even in few other cities, hard to keep up as they are growing very rapidly.

I’m mainly doing reporting and auditing for their client’s websites. I’ve been very happy to work with them. They have clear system and processes set up. The biggest perk working for them is, that I actually have few recurring tasks, so that is providing somewhat steady income.

I also did a consulting gig for one of the affiliate marketing companies here in Malta. They had a Finnish Casino affiliate site, which hasn’t been worked with for a while. I audited their website, did keyword research and designed an SEO strategy for them. The site is sailing into right direction now.

Arete BJJ Malta

My baby turned 1 year old! I can’t believe that it has already been a year since I started this team of ours. The gym is doing very well. We’re getting new members in all the time.

We actually started 3 new classes:

  • 2 weekly sessions for people who don’t have any experience of BJJ
  • 1 weekly session for kids

The sessions for beginners have been a major success. Jiu Jitsu might be bit intimidating, especially when you’re coming in for the first time. The beginner’s classes are an excellent way to get to know jiu-jitsu in an easy manner.

Kids classes are pickin’ up well. At first, I thought I would be losing my mind with the kids, but these guys have turned out quite nice bunch rascals. 🙂
During the kid’s classes, I always work out with them and the kids just absolutely love it. Kids almost seem to push themselves a little bit harder, when I’m sweating alongside with them.

I started to collect data from the sessions. How many persons are in each session. The average participants per session (based on the numbers of the month of May) is 11 people per session. That is a pretty dang good number.

We’re getting more and more visitors each week, which is a massive resource for us, as we are learning techniques from people who visit us. I also set up a goal, to get at least 4 black belts to come and train with us this year. We’re half way through the year and we’ve already had 4 black belts. Hopefully, we’ll get 4 more 😉

Arete Online

This is something that I’m truly proud of. Building an online presence for our team has been a fun thing to do. It is safe to assume, that our online presence plays a big part when it comes customer acquisition and branding.

Rankings 

The website is in top 3 with all the local BJJ related search terms. 45 percent of the traffic is coming from Organic search, which is very good considering, that the search volumes for BJJ related keywords in Malta are fairly low.
My number one goal with the website was to get it in the top spots with relevant search queries. That process has been an extremely valuable learning experience, as I did it only with onPage SEO. Looking back it, the site could be much better, but it actually was the first site I build from the ground.

The site is also producing little revenue from affiliate sales.

Social Media

My time is getting limited when it comes to marketing the gym. Luckily, I’ve found a way to keep the marketing alive.

INSTAGRAM!

Why Instagram? It is very much of a love cost & huge reach social media. I started the account in February. The account has almost 2000 followers the average. That is pretty good since I haven’t put a dime into it. How I did it? That’s a whole another different topic.

I’m estimating, that with current growth rate, we’ll be able to reach 5000 followers by the end of the year.

Co-Founder & SEO @ Cashcow Ltd

This is something that I’ve been dreaming for years, to have my own digital agency and now it is true. We literally got the company registered a week ago and we are operating in Portomaso. We have a tiny little office there, where I and my business partners operate from.

What do we do?

All of us involved in this company has a unique set of skill-set, that compliments each other.

Instead of each and one of us running after smaller projects, we decided to collaborate and start hunting for bigger projects.

So far things have been going well, it is only the beginning…stay tuned 😉

Check our website
www.cashcow.media

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

First of all,
I got promoted to purple belt. It took good 3.5 years from blue belt to purple belt. Getting purple belt in my own academy felt something special. The make the whole thing sweeter, I got promoted by Antti Mannila, who is a Black Belt at Hard Knocks Training Center. Antti came for a holiday and was kind enough to come train with us.

Here’s the video from the promotion

Italian BJJ Open 2017

The promotion came 2 weeks before the Italian BJJ Open -Tournament. I was so happy and excited to get to compete as a purple belt.

Italian BJJ Open went down in Florence. This time I didn’t have to go to the tournament by myself. I was accompanied by four other guys from the gym.

I didn’t get placed this time. In fact, I didn’t win a single match. I didn’t get completely mauled, I was able to keep up with the pace. I simply lost, because the other guys were better on that day. I absolutely loved competing in the purple belt -category. The guys were much more technical and there wasn’t too much spazzing going on. I’m really excited to get back out there again.

The guys who joined me did very well. For most of them, this was a first tournament they’ve ever done. Two of them got medals. I was so proud of these guys. Winning and the losing is irrelevant, what matter is that the guys were willing to go out there and do their best. And they sure did.

arete-bjj-malta-italian-bjj-open

I think I managed to insert a “competition-virus” on these guys, as we are already planning for the next tournament.

Here are my matches from the tournament

NoGi

Gi

 

Side Project

I’ve been living in Malta for good year and a half. There are quite a few people asking questions related to Malta

  • What sights should be seen
  • Good beaches
  • Good places for dinner
  • Nightlife

and so on.

Answering to these questions is fine, once or twice. But after a while, I started to feel like god damn parrot. I was repeating the same thing over and over again.

So this is what I did.

Map Based guide to Malta

I created a guide to Malta in Google Maps. The guide has everything from bars and restaurants to beaches and sightseeing spots.

I’ve also registered a domain for this project – Maltaholic.com.
The site is till not live, but you can still check out the map below.

By clicking the icon in the right corner, you’ll be able to see the full version of the map. 

This map is still work in progress and I’m not looking to gain any financial benefits from it. It is just fun thing to do.

Final words

All though the days are sometimes really long and as a result, I look like a zombie, I still love it. I’m going through very exciting period in my life. I’m doing the things I really enjoy with the very good people.

Being unorthodox in the job market

Being unorthodox in the job market

Today I resigned from Catena Media. We still have a good relationship, but I just want to move forward now. They handled the situation very maturely, and I have only good things to say about them. Catena was a wonderful place for growth and development.

Now, I have two months to figure out what to do. I’m not worried, as I’m putting my own back against the wall, I will make something happen.

Interestingly,

I happened to come across an interesting job opening. I immediately got excited about the job, it looked exactly the kind of challenge I was looking for. Outreach SEO.

Holy smokes! Based on the description job seemed very interesting!

So, I clicked the apply- button. And guess what happens…

Page not found.

via GIPHY

Guess what I did?

I navigated myself to the “contact us” -page and left them a message.

This is what the message said.

“Hey. I just discovered that you have a job opening for position x. Unfortunately, the link from LinkedIn doesn’t work. I wanted to let you know about the problem.

For the past year I’ve worked for Catena Media as an SEO team leader, but now I’m looking for new challenges.

Outside of work, I run a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy and I also experiment a bit with affiliate marketing.

You check out my full CV from this link. You can even download my CV from there in case you want to save into your system.

Looking forward hearing from you.

Best regards,

Antti Alatalo”

I felt so happy about what I did. I want to differentiate myself from other candidates by being the “unorthodox candidate”.   I’m so happy that I restructured my own website, as it seems to be a valuable tool.

However,

In case you have tips on SEO positions in Malta (btw I’m Finnish), let me know! I’m open to all the opportunities.