Instead of searching for a boring office job, why not work from home? What may be a daydream for some is reality for many. Advances in technology allow working from home to become more popular than ever with more people trading in suits for basketball shorts. College Magazine sat down with Dino Gomez, SEO and online marketing expert from San Diego as he discussed his experience about working from home and shared advice for college students thinking about ditching the cubicle life.
College Magazine: Your business Dynamik Internet Marketing specializes in Search Engine Optimization. Could you briefly explain what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is for those who are unfamiliar with the term? And how does your business help others with SEO?
Dino Gomez : To put it simply, we help businesses show up on the first page of Google so that they can generate more traffic, exposure and leads… What we do is we help our clients get their websites to the first page so they can capitalize on more traffic and leads and online trails. First and foremost is if it’s a local business they need to register their business with Google. They need to list their business in different local directories. It’s a combination; if you’re a dentist in San Diego, you’re going to want to use certain keyword phrases such as “San Diego dentist” on your website.
Google looks at keywords on your website and also takes into account how many links you have to your website. If the Yellow Pages links to your website and if you have a Facebook page that links to your website, if you get some good press, a newspaper or a magazine like Forbes links to your website.
CM: What concerns did you have when you started your own business from home? And how have you alleviated those concerns?
Gomez: The biggest key is to start slowly. I recommend that you start with this online marketing as a side job. So if you’re in college, take an internship where you could do some online marketing. Post-college I went and grabbed a “real job,” a cubicle life job where I was doing a nine to five. I did that for eight months and that was nice because I was able to put some savings away and I was able to kind of learn the ropes and kind of learn on somebody else’s money, so to speak. From there, while I was at my nine to five job, I slowly built a side business where I had my own clients.
CM: Did those clients you started out with and that side income become what your business is today?
Gomez: It did, it did. I waited until I had either two or three clients on the side of my main job. So I waited until I had two or three thousand dollars a month in side income and it’s not a ton but it was enough to cover my bills so I decided “Okay, now I’m going to quit my real job and start doing this full-time.
CM: How many clients do you have today?
Gomez: Today I have 15 clients. I always try not to take on any more than 15 clients at a time.
CM: Does the work then begin to be too much?
Gomez: There are several things you can really do [to alleviate the work]. You can hire another employee if you really want to grow your own business and you can take on more clients if you have employees.
CM: What have you found to be the most advantageous aspect of working at home?
Gomez: The two biggest ones for me are setting my own sleep schedule and then also having the ability in the middle of the day to take a couple hours off. I can give myself a break sometimes and then work into the evening so that I can run errands in the middle of the day or go to the gym in the middle of the day. Go hiking and so forth when the sun’s actually out. It’s just nice to not be cooped up inside all day and not miss a fun life in the middle of the days.
Besides that, working from home, working remotely, means you can take off and visit friends and family in different cities for a week or two weeks at a time and you just bring your laptop and you still get some work done in the middle of the day and you can still travel. If you have a nine to five job, you really only get two weeks off per year, which isn’t much at all. You kind of lose your sanity real quickly.
CM: What downsides do you come across while working from home?
Gomez: If you don’t take your work seriously it’s easy to get distracted. You have to make sure you’re doing at least 40 hours a week and another rule I gave myself from the very start is I’d either be doing 40 hours for someone else wearing clothes that were uncomfortable and doing things their way or I could be working for myself, wearing a tank top and basketballs shorts and have all this freedom.
CM: Do you find staying focused at home to be difficult?
Gomez: I haven’t found it hard to focus at home because I absolutely love this online marketing. It’s just a ton of fun, so I’ve never had that issue, but I’ve heard from entrepreneurs that that has been the biggest issue for them, just kind of staying focused.
CM: You’ve mentioned how you didn’t like wearing restrictive clothing at the office, but is there anything you do miss from the office?
Gomez: The only thing you might miss from the office is the camaraderie because you will spend more time by yourself now working from home, but the advantages of working remotely far outweigh the disadvantages. You can go to coffee shops as soon as you want to get out of your place and change the scenery. There’s not much downside to working for yourself. You just have to realize you’re still going to have to put in at least 40 hours per week.
CM: If you could have been given one piece of advice you started your own business from home, what would that advice have been?
Gomez: You have to find a mentor in your industry…If you have somebody in your family or a family friend who has built up their own business and is now in their 50s or 60s, they can give you some great general wisdom and direction, but the problem is that was a different era and day and age and if we’re talking about online marketing and so forth, you need to have a mentor that is in your industry who’s currently working and living the lifestyle that you desire to live. They can show you the most.
It took me two years before I found a mentor and after I did it was when business really started to grow much more quickly.
CM: When you didn’t have a mentor, was a mentor something you were searching for or did you just happen to come across your mentor?
Gomez: I wasn’t actively searching for a mentor—and that was probably the biggest mistake I had—because I thought I knew everything, and anything I didn’t know I wanted to learn on my own. Make my own mistakes and so forth, which is good, no matter if you have a mentor or not, but I could have grown much faster if I would’ve found a mentor from the get go and had them lay out a road map for what I should do.
Gomez isn’t the only one with the freedom of working from home. Ample employment opportunities exist for students from any major. When you find yourself a college grad and looking for a job, remember that whatever job you find will springboard launch you into your eventual long-term career, and that career might find you in your living room or at Starbucks sipping on a Frappuccino while getting work done.