I had the pleasure to meet Almog this past summer at an entrepreneur meetup in Medellin. At the time, he was doing really well with his own SEO-based business.
Early this year, I caught up with him on Skype and he told me that he was out of the game. No SEO projects running or in the works. In fact, he didn't have any immediate business/career plans...
This made me curious. So I sent am a few questions to answer:
1. What made you decide to leave the SEO world in the short-term and quite possibly the long-term as well?
Almog: Well, I was getting less and less success in my most successful niche in comparison to before. The competition became fiercer and to beat them I'd have to start playing (very) dirty... Basically, what made SEO very profitable for the work has changed dramatically with the stiffening of the competition. At the same time, my new websites (my old ones got penalised and weren't ranking anymore) weren't ranking nearly as well as I'd like them too and were moving waaay too slow up the SERPs.
At the same time, in a broad world view, I was thinking about SEO, or at least black hat SEO. It seems like that is a skill that is just based on taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the Google algorithm and is constantly changing. As in, almost ALL I will learn about this topic right now will not be valid in 10 years. It's not an evergreen skill at all.
In a longer time axis I wouldn't want to keep chasing the next biggest thing. SEO was always supposed to provide me a passive income or at the very least a great return on investment. When those possibilities seemed like they weren't around, my interest in SEO vanished. I'm also blessed in that I have made enough from my good times in SEO to allow me not to work for a while and focus on other projects in my life. So, in that regard I'm very grateful to what SEO did for me. Finally, I'll add that if I see the winds are changing and big opportunities for relatively little effort/money/time are yet again available in SEO, I will go back for a while to make another few bucks ;)
2. Today, in 2013, most of us have a connection to Facebook at varying degrees. You left it cold turkey. How does it feel to be off Facebook for .. how long?
Almog: I'm not really sure exactly WHEN I left Facebook but I believe it's been about 2 months now. It's been weird. After a few weeks some people started worrying that I died. I actually know at least 1 person who died who still has a Facebook account by the way. My Mum wasn't happy about not seeing updates from my life regularly (i.e. my statuses), and even more about not seeing photos of my life. But overall, I found not being on Facebook very refreshing in terms of mental focus. The first thing I realized when I got off of Facebook was "whoa, I'm living in a foreign city and I really haven't made enough friends around here". It was easy to feel a fleeting, vacant, half connected feeling while being on Facebook which blinded me to reality in that sense. So I focused on actually meeting new people, dating new girls and going "out there" into the real world. In that regard, the last few months have been rad ;)
I barely ever go onto Facebook again but when I want to, my account is creepily completely there... All photos still in place, all statuses and messages and friends. And sometimes I need to contact someone whose details I have only on Facebook (i.e. I don't have their e-mail). And then I see again how silly it is. I wish I'd remember some of the nonsense statuses I saw yesterday.... Silly dramatic stories that happened to people during the day, a few whinges, some cat videos and other longer versions of cat videos. Very little of it made me go all warm and gooey inside like "awwww, I missed this person" or "that's such a nice picture". It feels like I made the right decision.
One last thing I'll comment on Facebook is that despite making you feel like you're more connected to your friends, a lot of the time it's not the case. You end up becoming a lot more involved in the lives of people who share a lot on Facebook. There have actually been people who I've met once or twice but ended up thinking of daily because they constantly "liked" my statuses (of which I posted a LOT of) and their own updates. One relatively distant 2 friends were about to get married to each other and were constantly telling the world about their wedding preparation and I got sucked into all of that... Even though I was on the other side of the world and haven't chatted with either of them personally for MONTHS - and didn't really want to either.
The point I'm trying to make is that Facebook makes you spend more time on people who you aren't necessarily that interested about or close to - just because they post a lot of stuff. Lame.
3. What type of personal projects are you working on right now and what projects do you have planned for the near future?
Almog: I'm mostly focused on learning German (while living in Colombia. Yeah, I rock.), learning Salsa and my dating life. It's pretty relaxed to be honest.
I'm planning to start adding more stuff to my blog www.unstagnate.com but have been pretty relaxed in that arena too. Not too happy about that, but I am really loving my relaxed life right now, work or no work.
4. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who are not quite established?
Almog: Take action (and expect to make a lot of mistakes) and do a lot of reading about the stuff you're getting into. Definitely more action taking than reading though.