My first job ever at age 14 was serving buckets of golf balls and ice cream to the patrons of a recreation and entertainment facility that has since been leveled and made into a neighborhood. I let my friends ride the go-karts for extra time and I let the occasional batting cage token slip out of my hand and into a good buddy’s pocket.
My boss told me that one day I would be a successful business owner. Seemed like just a hunch at the time, but it always stuck with me.
The journey into online marketing and advertising is long and interesting but I figured I would tell you a little bit about it so you can get to know me, Ryan Rodden, founder of WitBlade.
I’m horrible at math. I don’t think my brain came with the pieces required to compute algebra and beyond.
When I left for college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I always liked reading and writing, so I majored in English and figured that would be as good a bet as any.
“So you’re going to be a teacher,” people would always say…
Maybe, but not in the traditional sense.
I floated around from class to class without a single idea of what I wanted to do or what I wanted to become.
Eventually I took an interest in film and became passionate about writing screenplay or directing my own movies. Problem was, it was second semester of senior year and I had literally spent three and a half years not taking classes on film.
I knew I had a knack for it though and it provided an exciting challenge to work toward.
After graduation I remember completing my first full-length screenplay, a pile of paper for all to read.
From there I really didn’t know what the next step was so I floated for awhile…until…
I worked on the set of the blockbuster film Shooter featuring Mark Wahlberg without having a shred of credibility or experience.
I was unemployed and seeking a way into the movie industry. I didn’t have a single friend, mentor, family member, or connection that could steer me in the right direction or introduce me to the right people.
I saw an ad online that was seeking “Parking Assistants” for an upcoming film production to be shot in Philadelphia.
It read “…a great way to break into the industry…”
I applied and got the job. Not surprising, as it was nothing more than guarding a parking space for twelve hours at a time. Not exactly what I was expecting.
I was so close to the set but so far away, the lowest of the low on the chain of command so I figured I had to make a move.
Wearing my official “parking assistant” credential, I simply waltzed onto the set with a huge smile and a boatload of confidence.
The assistant director seemed visibly shaken, tired, annoyed, and more importantly in need of help. After a brief exchange, I convinced him that I could help out on set.
I was promoted, given an ear piece and walkie talkie, and now was contributing to the filming of the movie.
This led me to believe that sometimes you just need to make it happen if you are going to be successful. You can help people that don’t know you exist by revealing yourself when they need it most. Or, if they are looking for it, make sure they can find you easily (SEO!).
Here is the official IMDB page for Shooter, as well as my page with the official credit:
Unfortunately for me, once filming wrapped in Philly they packed up and left for Canada, and they couldn’t take us tag-a-longs.
Next up – another job hunt.
After about two weeks feeling on top of the world, I was knocked back down to reality and knew I had to get a more stable job.
I took a job at a local radio show here in Philly and hated it. It was not for me, so I left after only three months. Again the search continues!
Some time later I stumbled upon an ad for a screenplay pitch competition that was going down in Center City Philadelphia. Open to all comers, no experience required.
I dragged myself out of bed and trudged through the early morning work commute to make it in time for the competition.
It was packed and there was a long waiting list of people ready to enter and pitch their idea to a panel of judges as well as about fifty other people in the room.
Randomly, I sat down next to this guy who I consider to be a great friend and early influence on my marketing career. His name was Dan and interestingly enough we were two of maybe fifty that were pitching comedies.
We immediately hit it off, and more importantly were both selected to the final round. This time Hollywood executives flew out to hear our pitch to determine if we had what it takes.
My nerves were haywire but it was an amazing learning experience. I was forced to “sell” myself and my ideas to influential people without ever having prior experience.
I didn’t win but I really didn’t care. I felt like I had achieved a lot by simply taking a risk with a willingness to fail, something that you must really learn to understand if you want to become an online marketing professional or consultant.
After the final event, Dan approached me and asked what I did for a living.
“Nothing,” I replied. “I don’t have a job.”
Within two weeks I was working at a top advertising agency in Philadelphia, as a project manager, where Dan worked.
Journey into SEO
I spent about eight years in the project management and website development world, learning the ins and outs of the web design cycle, QA process, client-facing world, and more importantly internet advertising.
It became apparent to me that the internet was a tremendous tool that allows you to create a large web presence in order to inform people of your products or services. It seemed like anyone who was successful in business also seemed to understand the technological advantage that the internet can offer.
Think about it.
Whenever people need to know the answer to a question, or simply need to do some research, what do they do?
They go to their computer or pull out their smart phone and Google it.
This means that websites were getting traffic and in many cases could earn money by converting these visitors into paying customers.
I began to wonder how Google ranks one person’s web site versus another. It’s a complex algorithm of course, but as with everything it just takes some willpower and drive to study and understand how it all works.
I soon became obsessive about SEO and therefore started my own marketing company.
There are so many businesses out there that just need a bit of direction and help in order to take it to the next level.
I knew that if I could be the consultant or business that people look to when they need to expand their web presence, it would lead to a successful career.
WitBlade was born in 2014 and since then I have not looked back.
People often ask me about the name. “How did you come up with it,” they ask.
It was literally the first thing that hit me when thinking of a name for a marketing business.
What does it mean?
Whatever pops into your head…
If you would like to have a brief phone call to discuss your web presence, please fill out the form on this page. I have no problem offering some friendly advice during a discussion about your business and how you should consider the world wide web for the future of advertising.