Digital Marketing Entrepreneur at Socially Famous Digital Marketing 2011-2016 (LinkedIn Extension)

This is a continuation of the LinkedIn summary that you can find here

When people review my CV they usually want to learn more about my time at Socially Famous Digital Marketing because on one hand, it was not a “real” job and it was not an officially registered business. So what exactly did I do during all this time?

In the next several paragraphs I am going to elaborate in more detail on which digital projects I was working on exactly at Socially Famous Digital Marketing as this is very interesting to people trying to understand how I changed directions in my professional path, from a financial market professional to a digital marketer.

As I mentioned on the LinkedIn profile, a significant part of my daily activity in the time period 2011-2014 was dedicated to a regular job in the commercial real estate sector. I will be also elaborating more on that here soon. However, since this had little relevance in my digital marketing career I prefer to deemphasize that particular job and focus on what had the most profound influence on me in the recent years.

Main project: Product Search Engine, Price Comparison, Directory or Social Bookmarking Platform?

[Name currently confidential]

The main driver for the success of Socially Famous Digital Marketing was a product search engine that initially started out as a very simple website directory. That directory evolved from an attempt at building a social bookmarking website based on the Pligg content management system that was imitating websites similar to Digg with the possibility to submit content for others to upvote or downvote it. Basically, this was the best way to discover new content back then, and it was the big trend in 2010. As the social bookmarking platform never took off but it was the foundation for learning about SEO and monetization options with contextual advertising which was also a hot topic in 2010.

As one thing leads to another the social bookmarking site turned into a content curation/directory website that started to attract a significant amount of SEO traffic. After a steep learning curve in On and Offpage SEO, content management systems, MySQL databases, text content development and contextual advertising, the project began to pivot towards an online shop directory in the attempt to develop a project of more substance, focusing on a use case and with the idea to work towards independence from SEO as a single source of web traffic.

The monetization through affiliate programs and contextual advertising made it possible to continuously develop the platform with Freelance developers. Eventually, the last major pivot was to not only list online shops but to actually index all of the XML and CSV product data feeds into a database in order to make product search possible. This would not only be a better service but it would also make monetization much more lucrative.

Eventually, the virtual server and the MySQL database had to be replaced with an AWS server instance with an Elastic Search database in order to make the platform scalable. The initial main challenges were to increase search query speed, search result accuracy, and a clever filter logic. The product database now included millions of products and new shops were added almost daily.

However, the project eventually could not advance much further as the data quality from thousands of shops had to be manually edited and normalized which eventually was more labor intensive that the revenues from the project. Quick drop-offs in SEO traffic with the major search engine algorithms in 2015 made it eventually pointless to continue.

Main technical learnings:

  • Freelance team management
  • CMS development
  • SEO on-page and off-page
  • Database management
  • Product feed manipulation and management
  • Search technology
  • Outsourcing of content
  • Contextual advertising
  • Affiliate marketing and API development
  • UX and conversion optimization
  • Usage of all main digital marketing tools: Analytics, Tracking, FTP, CRO tools, SEO tools etc.

 

Lead Generation Project

With the idea to diversify the project portfolio I developed a lead generation web project that aimed at aggregating all event-related services on one platform. This included event car rentals, music related service providers, event locations and catering services. The platform also had a blog component as well as an event idea related component.

The project eventually included over 3000 service providers in Switzerland and generated email based leads.

The revenue model was based on an ad based system.

The challenge with this project was to get the service providers to actively participate and to attract sufficient amount of traffic at the same time. Eventually, the project had to be put on ice as I was not able to stem the amount of work with the help of part-time freelancers for content, development, and administration.

With other project performing at a higher level, I decided to prioritize.

 

Main technical learnings:

  • Web development with freelance developers
  • CDN image hosting
  • Backend development
  • Content development at scale
  • Freelance team management
  • Google Maps integration, CDN image hosting, CMS customizations

 

E-Commerce Project

Towards the end of my activity with Socially Famous Digital Marketing in 2015, I co-founded the project Bling Amman that was a pilot project for an e-commerce operation in the fashion jewelry market in Jordan. The goal was to understand what it would take to launch an online shop in Jordan and where the resistance would set in. This project was active for 6 months and was moderately successful based on local income standards.

The business model was very simple as we decided to retail high-quality China-sourced fashion jewelry products in Amman.

We initially used the Shopify platform but then pivoted towards WooCommerce which is a WordPress based online shop platform. While the e-commerce was close to non-existent in Jordan at that point in time online sales were picking up on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. The main customer communication was done via WhatsApp. We were heavily advertising on Social Media and closed sales primarily via WhatsApp. The actual website generated only a few sales, however, it served as a catalog for the vast selection of products such as necklaces, rings, and bracelets. Payments were collected on delivery.

While we initially had to organize delivery ourselves we eventually partnered with a third party service in order to start selling nationwide and cover remote cities. Our main competitors were mostly home-based side hustlers with low-quality products and no marketing besides a Facebook page.

While we managed to cover all our costs and we could generate a local average income, in order to grow into a real business we would have had to heavily invest in inventory. As the local online market was in its infancy and the per capita income was rather low, it did not make sense to continue considering the opportunity cost.

Main technical learnings:

  • Product sourcing in China
  • Custom packaging development
  • Logo and brand development
  • Paid social media marketing
  • E-Commerce software
  • Product photography and product data management
  • Inventory management
  • Payment systems 

 

Other Affiliate Projects and Domain Trading:

There was a large variety of other micro projects in the affiliate marketing vertical where I was involved in photo products, web hosting, online dating, online poker, stock photography and forex trading etc.

One particular area of interest that I developed during this time was domain name trading. There is a whole industry around domain names where domain name investors register a large number of domain names in order to resell those to end-users at a later point time. It is a very interesting and lucrative business if you managed to get in early enough. Today most worthy names are registered and with the arrival of the new domain name extensions, this industry is somewhat in decline. Being involved in this business I learn a lot about domain name auctions, domain name drops, domain transfers and web hosting in general. I am still holding several dozen names today.

  • Video content creating
  • Rapid website development based on WordPress
  • Affiliate program integration
  • SEO
  • Usage of stock photography
  • Content outsourcing
  • Product reviews and testing

This is a continuation of the LinkedIn summary that you can find here

 

 

©2019 Feraz Zeid

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