It’s the time of year when awards are handed out for jobs well done. The search engine marketing industry likes to recognize people and web sites in this way. It’s easy to suggest nominees when the category their work or web site falls into fits neatly into a niche.
Not so easy when the person straddles several industries, or the work they do is exceptional for perhaps their own company or local community, rather than being globally recognized. For the Search Engine Journal’s Search Blogs Awards of 2007, the same sites you see every year are there, with a few new breakout ones. I was pleased to see these few new folks were noted.
The forums I founded, Cre8asiteforums, was nominated in the forums category. I’m happy someone nominated it because the forums Community and the moderating staff deserve acknowledgment for their dedication in time and knowledge share. It’s a group project that many people enjoy being part of.
The web site I covered search marketing conferences for as a volunteer, Search Engine Roundtable, was nominated for a few spots, including “Best Search Conference Coverage of 2007″. Owned by Barry Schwartz, he was the first person to do what is now called “live blogging” at search engine marketing conferences. Several years into it, others have joined in to do the same thing, but none can claim to have the dedicated reporting team that he does. I spent over $5000 of my own money as a volunteer to cover conferences for Barry last year. He’s managed to attract some big name people to report for his site. Several of them are speakers at conferences or persons whose companies were already sending them to the conferences and one of his employees, Tamar, covers sessions.
No Awards for Support or Inspiration
I was disappointed to see no categories for volunteers, support persons and inspiration.
There were plenty of people who did amazing things this year like starting educational programs, forming local organizations, organizing dinners to recognize peers and launching new tools.
I’ve never taken a salary from Cre8asiteforums. Rather, I gave away $1600 in ad revenue to educational programs, search engine optimization internships, contests and student certification sponsorships. Not a lot, but it felt right to help the SEM industry by putting money into improving skills.
I was a volunteer judge and prize sponsor for Marketing Pilgrim’s writing contest. I write for free for a print magazine on usability for the SEM industry and write for several blogs as a volunteer. I’m the volunteer webmaster for two local web sites to help my town.
In a marketing oriented industry, volunteering and donating back to the industry aren’t recognized as honorable deeds. With a few exceptions, what gets attention are those who become overnight millionaires, have figured out how to manipulate processes to earn a ton of money for themselves or those who work for and represent big-name companies.
Inspiration is important. It keeps us feeling positive about our work and who we are. How many awards sites acknowledge inspiration or creativity?
The popular series that Li Evans ran all year about women in the SEO/M industry was started because I questioned why these women weren’t acknowledged for their contributions.
Some other bloggers had a nice run of posts and recognition when I stood up against Digg. I even let one of them have access to my server logs to be written about and used in a presentation.
Usability and user centered, persuasive design are making inroads into the SEM industry and I believe I’ve had something to do with that. When I griped that Danny Sullivan’s new Sphinn social site didn’t have a place for usability for the marketers, he added the category. Our verbal exchange made for some great news fodder for a few weeks this year.
I was featured on video twice at search engine marketing conferences and in one podcast for the SEM industry, as a usability spokesperson. However, there are two people who speak on usability and seo at conferences, who can afford to travel around the world, so they get the recognition that comes with that.
In the marketing industry, it may not be what you do that matters. You have to be seen constantly talking about it to be remembered.
When I reviewed the list of nominees at SEJ, I noticed some missing names of people. A few of them had amazing adventures this year, like when Jennifer Laycock went up against the pork industry. She handled that with such grace and professionalism. Fantomaster came back to help rescue Threadwatch. Bob Massa threw himself into his new advice web site to reach a new generation of folks.
Some old friends are fading away too. I know they’re around, but they’re no longer fighting to be out there in the public eye. Rather, they’re working in the background, taking their time on projects that fill them with personal rewards.
I’ve had weeks of mixed feelings about 2008. It’s the year I turn 50. I was 37 when I built my first web site and started down the SEO path. In 2008 I guide Cre8asiteforums into new territory for its 10th year (it was once a club in Yahoo!, launched in 1998.) My days of paying my own way to “live blog” are done. It’s clear my family needs me here and they need me to be earning money for us, not giving it away to support two industries I love.
So I’d like to end this year by sending a big “Thank you” to Sphinn’s programmers, the many folks who organize, agonize and setup conferences, (Brett, Joe, Danny, Chris and the Kevin’s), the bloggers who write from their hearts (Donna, Tamar, emoms Wendy) and those who churn out constant humor (Lisa, Susan), the brilliant support for small businesses (Matt M., Jen, Robert), the launch of Catalyze, Li and Bill, Jill, Christine and all the Cre8asiteforums Staff for their unwavering friendship and support, Rand, a remarkable friend, and my husband Eric for his extreme feats of understanding and moral support.
Agree/Disagree? Cre8asiteforums has begun a discussion – 2007 Awards For Support, Volunteers And Inspiration.