The Catalyst. The Struggles. The Climb. The Future.

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The Catalyst

As a super focused WordPress web developer, our original plan is to go into SEO a few years later when I have more confidence in offering it as a professional service. However, in the early months of 2016, anger propelled me into the world of professional SEO industry.

The First Spark

The first anger came from one of our web design client in the car battery industry, who got betrayed by their own staff who spinned off a competing business while unethically riding onto their resources. I am angry because I believe strongly in ethics and honesty.

The competing business began to gain market share due to good competitive keyword rankings in the Google Search Engine. Unable to find a trusted digital marketing partner, my client wanted me to help them. At that point of time, my clients know Thinking Notes does not offer digital marketing services as we do not believe in selling services that we are not confident to deliver. Because of anger I personally felt, we took our first step in the professional SEO niche. I told our client, we are not there yet, but we will be.

The Second Spark

Working with Singapore Pain Solutions on their SEO
Working with Singapore Pain Solutions on their SEO

The second anger came from another one of our web design client in the chiropractic industry who has burned her investment cost in digital marketing from an agency that deliver no results. I am angry because I feel that people should be truthful and have the courage to admit faults. If you are not a true expert in certain fields, admit it, understand your current positioning, identify your current lacking and progress from there. Do not let the illusion of knowledge impede your ability to progress.

We send her an analysis report and told her, “We believe we can help you, no promises, but if at anytime you think we are wasting your money, we can terminate the whole arrangement.

After months of execution, today, our 2 clients, Battery Empire and Singapore Pain Solutions are now the market leaders of their own industry niches, ranking extremely highly in Google Search Engine for effective competitive keywords. You can refer to their case studies over here:

The Struggles

Unknown to many, in year 2016, I fell into a period of mild depression after internalizing the fact that my late father, who passed away in 2015 due to cancer, will never come home for dinner again. I will never have the chance to live up to my promises and repay him for helping me along the years. I will never have the chance to show him my accomplishments and see him enjoying his golden years playing with grandchildren.

My First,Last and Only Selfie with my Father
My First,Last and Only Selfie with my Father. After this shot, he told me that he didnt have much time left…
  • I questioned my choice of leaving my full time employment and going into entrepreneurship.
  • I questioned my ability to help people (i cannot even help my own father).
  • I questioned the purpose of life.

Diving into uncharted territory of providing professional SEO services at the same time increases my stress too as now I have an additional responsibility to answer for my clients’ successes or failures. It not about the money. It is about how I can help people.

My life ethos is always about helping people. My first startup is called “FlagAHero”, can tells a lot about what being me is. Business is about systematizing a flow of making money. The experience of helping people is what makes my life meaningful everyday.

When I say our clients’ successes are my successes; it is not a cliche. I seriously meant it from all my heart.

In the year 2016, I also slowed down Thinking Notes’ number of web design projects as I know the company is not in a position to undertake too many projects while we are in the process of learning SEO. We made a loss of $30K+ that year, my partner was a little panicky, I told her not to worry.

Deep inside, I was still in doubt; nevertheless, I did not throw in the towel, I marched on.

Taking photos for children birthday parties keep us going...
Taking photos for children birthday parties keep us going…

Luckily FlagAHero, our kids party photography brand, is extremely strong in SEO and together with repeated referrals from happy clients, we still managed to survive that year.

The Climb

Depression is something one have to overcome himself/herself. During the period of depression, I like to sleep a lot so that I can hide away from reality and live in my own dreams. Later on, I found out that this is called “dissociation”, a symptom of depression.

When I slowly reached a deeper acceptance of what I am experiencing, a deeper understanding on the system of life, I gained the courage to move out of the hole I have dugged to hide in.

At the same time, our learnings for SEO begin to have some breakthroughs. Our clients began to observe positive results in their keywords’ ranking and organic traffic to their websites. After months of hypothesis and structured testing, we began to internalize the mantra of good SEO.

It is quite difficult to explain how I learnt SEO and how to be good in it. The more projects I begin to work on, the more complex and ever changing I realize SEO is. Reading articles on SEO does not automatically make you good. One will need to know how to discern truth from rumors and put hypothesis into verification, in order to learn effectively.

It is like kung fu, you have to move like water. There is no ultimate and there is no forever. All i can say is:

  • Being a technical WordPress theme developer helps;
  • Being an experienced creative photographer helps;
  • Being someone who can learn fast, think deeply yet clearly helps;
  • Being someone who have the patience to follow the long ethical approach helps;
  • Being someone who have the courage to admit mistakes helps;
  • Being a Master Graduate specializing in Human Factor Engineering & User Experience helps;
  • Being someone who can write a 50 pages white-paper based on a single line topic helps;
  • Being someone who can write something that people actually read helps;

The Future

Joining my local bni chapter gave me a new perspective in life...
Joining my local bni chapter gave me a new perspective in life…

My biggest problem now is my time management and scalability Most of my initiatives require the investment of my own time and I only have so much time everyday.

As I progress in the future, I hope to establish a good team, systemize our business and workflow, which will be consistently executed by people with the correct skills and heart. To achieve this, I have recently joined a local BNI Chapter in Singapore and look forward to establish a good and close network of SMEs business owners with the same aptitude in life.

Moving on, I hope to put myself in a better position to help more people that I care for, spend time with people I care for so we can all progress on and face the challenges of life as a community.

Money can't buy time
Money can’t buy time

Find out more about my seo services, please click here.

Ken Toh

SEO Consultant & WordPress Engineer at Thinking Notes
Ken graduated with a Master’s Degree in Information Systems from Nanyang Technological University, specializing in Human Computer Interaction and Usability Engineering. Beside WordPress development, Ken provides professional SEO consulting services to SMEs and has helped his clients improved their businesses significantly through top page ranking results. In his free time, Ken runs a top children birthday party website, which provide specialized children birthday party photography services.