You’re the CEO of Web Rocket Media, right?
And it was founded in 2016?
Yeah, today is literally our 6 year anniversary.
And so your job title is CEO.
Can you share what you do day to day?
I focus on client acquisitions and I help manage the overall business and check in with my team. And certain clients essentially want to only meet with me and they become part of my client roster and then I have project managers that kind of manage the other accounts.
So speaking on that, the ones who want to work with you, have you built that clientele, those long term people who are like, “Melissa’s my go-to”?
Yeah. It makes it tough too because there's only so many hours in a day and in a week. It's hard because if everybody wants to meet with me directly, it makes it pretty impossible. So I transition some of those accounts to my project managers to manage and then once the project manager creates that rapport and relationship with the client, then usually it's fine. And then I could just kind of show up, maybe once a month, and check in with that client. They just want to know I'm still there behind the scenes overseeing all their stuff. But usually the project managers can help kind of handle that.
So would you say that like the networking and stuff like that is a really important facet of your career?
It is. It really is. It’s funny because yesterday or the day before, I sent a few messages to a couple of old clients that stopped working with us and I just reached out to see how they were doing. Now two of them are coming back. So I was like, hey you know, you never know if you just send an email, “hey, how’s everything going?” you never know timing of things. All of a sudden they’re like, “hey I’ve been meaning to reach out to you I need marketing help again”. And then poof, you have a client back that maybe was with you for short or long-term and had to stop for whatever reason but now they're ready to come back. And a lot of it is anything from covid issues that happened over the past couple years, or it's because they might have had things going on in their lives on a personal matter, or sometimes it's budgetary issues and then they have money and they can start again. So it's important to keep reaching out to people in your network because you really never know what's going to happen.
Is there anything that being the CEO in SEO, is there anything that would surprise people about the work you do daily?
Well, part of it is understanding Google and their algorithmic changes that they keep doing. It's doing the work and getting the results for the clients but it's understanding what keeps changing in the landscape, and the digital landscape specifically. And being ahead of that curve and staying on top of that is so important because every time something changes, it could impact the work that we're doing currently for a client and that could impact the results when it comes to SEO. So that's really important, to pay attention to that. It’s also good to diversify when it comes to SEO because SEO is more than just one thing.
It's the onpage, it's the technical SEO, it’s the content creation, it's the strategy, it's having the right keywords, it's doing the auditing of your account constantly, it's optimizing your Google business profile and posting to that weekly. So there’s all these different things you need to be doing and paying attention to, not just doing one part of SEO. So I explain there’s a lot more to it than just doing one aspect of SEO, SEO is many aspects of digital marketing.
How did you get from high school to your current role?
So high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know what my career was supposed to be. I had no idea, honestly. And I remember asking some close friends, we were all getting ready to go to college and I said, “Hey what are you going to school for?” and one of my close friends said, “Hey, I’m going to be a Social Studies teacher because I'm good at Social Studies.” And I was like oh that’s awesome and I’m thinking wow my friends have their whole lives mapped out for them already and I had no clue what I wanted to do. But I knew I was creative, I knew I was good at English, so I said you know what, maybe I'll just go to school to be an English teacher and I'll start there and see how it goes. But what I did was when I got my Master's Degree, I decided to tie in business to the secondary education part of what I was learning and I majored in English and minored in secondary education.
Originally I started my career as a teacher and I realized teaching– although very rewarding and I love kids and all of that, it wasn't right for me. So I switched to corporate, I started working for different corporate entities. I ended up eventually becoming a Global Marketing Director of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical corporation, I worked for different agencies, I worked for some large startups where I was managing million-dollar a month marketing budgets. I was managing PPC campaigns, pay-per-click campaigns for a million dollars a month. And all the while, while I was working these fulltime positions, I always had my own business going on the side.
From 2006 to 2011-- I owned a real estate property management firm, I also have my business, so I was always working round-the-clock, pretty much everyday and always trying to grow my business. But I was doing the whole full-time thing too at the same time and then fast forward to 2016, I was working for a home security corporation, I was their VP of marketing and the company sold. So at that point, I'm at the point where I don't want to interview anymore and I don't want to go on another job interview and I don't want to try to get another job with someone. And I don't want to deal with that and I certainly don't want to work for someone and put in my blood, sweat, and tears into something–only to get told 3 years later that I'm losing my options and they're selling the company, sorry.
So when that happened to me, I made the decision to go into business for myself. I started Web Rocket Media September 1st of 2016 and I grew that company from nothing. I had nothing, I had no money in the bank, I had basically $200 to my name, I was just in a bad place and everything was just all right, either do it and make it, or not survive. Basically that was it. And then I started to grow the business and revenue started increasing. And it was very surreal to me for a long time, as far as when I started to really earn a lot more money than I was making in the beginning. And Upwork has been fantastic and wonderful, I owe a lot of my success to Upwork.
Do you feel like that was your a-ha moment? You said when the company closed?
Yeah, I got my first client, I joined a local chamber. I was networking and I got some clients there. A client on Upwork, and they were paying me at the time $3,000 a month. I had that one client, so I was so happy to get that and I was just really happy to have income coming in when I wasn't making anything after I lost my job.
For me, it was I was up every night until 3 or 4 a.m. grinding it out. I was on Upwork messaging every single prospect that I could, I was buying credits so I could message more people, I was answering people. I would open my eyes the minute my phone would beep and I didn’t care if it was 4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m., if I just got to bed. I would be messaging someone, “Great, when do you want to have a Zoom?” And I would just reach out to everybody and then I kept telling myself, I'm going to get 20 clients and then 30 clients and 40 clients and 50 clients, and I just kept going, I didn't stop. It's hard work. It’s always about getting new clients in the door, always keeping the pipeline full.
That's where the networking comes in, it's so important, if you don't network and if you stop networking, you'll see how quickly your pipeline will dry up. After a while, it's not so much the number of clients anymore, it's the value and revenue that a particular client can bring. It doesn't become so much a game about getting the right amount of clients, but more quality clients that have marketing budgets, that will stick with you and stay with you, and they want a long-term partnership with you.
And that's what it was about, was starting for me to figure out who the red flags were. If a prospect’s not going to be a good fit, you should be able to pick up on over time and experience what those red flags are. I know what they are and they still happen and I still have to say you know, I don't think we're a good fit and that happens sometimes. But I’d rather do that than get a bad review because someone's going to decide to be all crazy and who knows.
Did you have anyone guiding you through this? Like the red flags and stuff, did you have a mentor?
My husband is very smart and he really would be the only person I would say. My husband was the one giving me some really solid advice.
But you really are self-made. You really did it. That’s incredible.
Yeah, I didn't have anyone or anything, I just had to figure it out, you just figure it out as you go. I mean, I had other businesses in the past and you learn but every business is so different. It's always a learning process, it's still a learning process, I'm always trying to improve processes and procedures with my team, I'm always trying to deliver even better for my clients. So it's continuously a learning process. You never know everything, you will make mistakes, it's how you handle those mistakes and accept responsibility for those mistakes. But that's what helps you grow. I think that's a big key– having those long-term relationships and if you make a mistake and you explain to the client, they're usually pretty forgiving and hopefully it's just not something you make a habit of. You know, we’re all human at the end of the day, that's something that I think is really important to also not lose sight of.
So would that be like some advice you would give for someone on a similar path as you, or might want to take a similar path–stick with it and hussle?
Yeah, hustle your butt off, don't be afraid to make mistakes, if you make mistakes or break things along the way, that's okay because you have to go hard and you have to go fast and you have to be consistent with what you're doing. The key is not to get discouraged because there were times where I plateaued and it's like you’re trying to get over that next hump or you’re trying to get the next chunk of clients. And sometimes it's hard or sometimes you have a setback. You could have a bad month, you could have a month where you know, you might’ve lost some clients, you might’ve lost that could’ve equated to a chunk of revenue. And the whole thing is don’t get discouraged. Just know that if you put in the time, you put in the hard work, you put in the hours and you are diligent and you're consistent and you just don't relent, then it will pay off. It’s about having the patience but if you don't put in the time and you're not putting in those late nights, you can't expect these huge rewards. Losing momentum is key–you never want to lose the momentum.
And that's how I'm able to also manage clients that I have on Upwork that are in all parts of the world because I'm dealing with all different time zones, so I need to be able to get online at all these random times to make sure that I'm communicating with my clients. For me, it's putting in– I'm still putting in all these hours, I'm still putting in all the time, and it's been six years, it doesn't mean like things get any less. I mean, the benefit is you can have a flexible schedule to an extent. Where I can say, okay if I need three hours on a certain day of time to block off to do some sort of special thing, you know that you still have to meet with your clients and your team and everything else. But you know that you can actually block off that time and that's your time and that you can still schedule around it, which is great.
What one thing or accomplishment makes you the most proud?
I hit a million dollars on Upwork. That’s pretty big.
Oh my gosh, that’s incredible.
Thanks. That was big to see it change on my profile to say “Over $1M earned”.
Oh my gosh, did you print it out and frame it? I would.
I didn't print it and frame it but I screenshotted it and I sent it, I texted it to my husband, look at that and it's just–I got emotional. I’m getting emotional now because it was so much hard work you know.
But it paid off, you did it! You did that, that’s incredible.
And when people see that they’re more prone to go with me and hire me because they see what I've done. And I have people telling me, “you're my inspiration because I want to have $1,000,000 next to my name, I want to do what you did”. And it can happen for anyone and everyone and I want to keep going and hit $5 million on there, hit $10 million on there. But you know, you just don't stop.
One last thing, do you have a quote that inspires you or any like quote or saying you have hanging up on your wall or like a favorite quote?
I guess there's a couple. One is by Winston Churchill “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” And then let's see, and then I have one other, it’s Audrey Hepburn, she said “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I'm possible.”
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