Don't Mind Me, I Was Just Bored (Guestpost)

Mon 29 June 2009 10:30, Editors

Don't Mind Me, I Was Just Bored (Guestpost)

SEO Chicks are all around the web and most certainly all around Searchcowboys. Where our own columnist Lisa Ditlefsen (Myers) is writing regularly in this guestpost series we have Judith Lewis and now Jane Copland writing for us. The honour is all ours!

Jane Copland is an SEO consultant from Ayima Search in London, England. She is from Wellington, New Zealand, but worked with SEOmoz in Seattle prior to joining Ayima in January, 2009. Amongst better achievements, she was once New South Wales state champion over 50m backstroke, which was "one of the biggest flukes ever to happen in a swimming pool".

Don't Mind Me, I Was Just Bored
For someone who spent her entire education studying English, I have a relatively low opinion of the art of blogging. But really, it was only last week that I really figured out why. It isn’t that there is something inherently wrong with blogging or wrong with my ability to do it. I had just spent too long writing for the Web, and I had spent too long reading blogs. I had grown tired of the way people talk to each other online. I began to find them rude and condescending when they weren’t simply boring. I stopped reading blogs and never checked my RSS feeds. I probably no longer have any. Via Twitter, I kept up with anything really worth reading. What a bunch of tedium, I thought.

Two weeks ago, a massive dose of perspective taught me otherwise. I still don’t read blogs and I still find writing about SEO to be an unpleasant idea (notice I’ve not actually done that in a really long time), but I figured out some stuff about burn out.

Before I worked in SEO, I was a swimmer. I quit at the age of 22, fed up with the sport and on the verge of more permanent injuries from years of competitive breaststroke. I didn’t swim for three months, and the first time I managed to get back into a body of water, it was Priest Lake. The idea of a pool, twenty-five or fifty metres long and roped up into lanes, turned my stomach. However, last week, I swam two races during the Mare Nostrum series in France and Monaco. I didn’t exactly excel (I used to make finals in those meets), but I had a better time doing it than I had since the age of about seventeen. The reason I enjoy it so much now (and why my two oldest teammates do as well) is because now, post-university, we were and are doing this because we want to, not because we have to.

Suffice to say, burning out and becoming tired of something is not a guarantee that you’ll never want to do it again. It is true that I am no longer prepared to put in the work to be as good as I once was, but I freed myself from the distaste I had for swimming. It’s fun again. I have no plans that extend past swimming the Fort Lauderdale International Invitational next weekend and that is what’s good about it.

The problem with SEO is that is can be as all-consuming as a sport. A lot of people can't leave their jobs at the office: they're talking SEO online well into the night, bickering with people around the world about something that amounts to little more than electronic marketing. By venturing back to my old life for a little while, it became even more obvious to me than it was before that it's not healthy to throw oneself into anything they way people in our industry do. Now more than ever, I value my friends who have nothing to do with SEO, just like I value friends who have nothing to with swimming and who won't know the difference between me swimming a 29 or a 26 second 50m freestyle. We all know that balance is important, but because few of us really ever achieve it, we rarely truly understand how healthy it is.

Most people who’ve spent time working in the same industry have come across this feeling to some extent. I can only be thankful that the industries in which I’ve worked are actually relatively interesting: there is far less room to get bored or burned out in SEO or swimming than in the myriad of dull occupations available. And I suppose that becoming disenchanted with something really does say far more about the individual than the activity.

During my foray back into competitive sport (which is quite honestly just a source of amusement and nothing more), I did, however, discover some surprising similarities between my two industries. These similarities aroused the suspicion that these similarities exist everywhere, especially in fields that are quite young (SEO) or involve young people (swimming). The most noticeable similarities are as follows:

Don’t forget your goddamn pass
Or else there is no way you’re getting into the venue.

Michael Gray’s Pubcon pass thanks to on Flickr.

The after parties are amazing.
If you remember getting home, you may as well not have been there. Extra points if you still have both your shoes.

Some teams / companies think they’re all that. Some teams / companies are all that.
The U.S. team really is all that. Seriously, Australia. They are.

Facebook is still swimming’s Twitter. It’s SEO in 2006.
Although swimming's getting there.

Both industries have several notorious hacks.

These two aren’t the extent of it.

Gossip reigns supreme.
I ain’t saying anything else.

Everyone wants schwag.
The more foreign the location in which you got the schwag, the better.

New technology fights with industry norms and rules.
Rules emerge to regulate the technology. Intelligent debate takes place.  The hacks blether on regardless. Can someone please finally admit that the emporer has no clothes and ask Craig Lord to STFU about damn swim suits?

Both industries have their toxic personalities who cause havoc wherever they go.
Maybe every industry has these sorts of people, but they really do appear to be rather prevalent here. Something about both of these activities attracts people who court heartache and create nonsense.

All the coolest coaches / bosses drink with their athletes / employees.
Case in point: my coach and my bosses.

Both have easily provable results. How well do you rank?

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Comments (15)


  • Great post Jane :) Balance is super important but within SEO and running you own business even more so.

    My trick is to have 4 kids who literally drag you out of any after hours work. Wouldnt reccomend to the faint of heart though :)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:09

  • What's with all the blogging? And I know that you're talking about me... "people who court heartache and create nonsense" ;)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:28

  • @evilgreenmonkey next time you'll join in Rob? ;)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:31

  • By the way, this story is also up on Sphinn, be sure to vote it hot!

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:34

  • Maybe one day, although I like to let my blog posts age for a few years ;)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:35

  • so start writing and let it age ;)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:40

  • So very true, if you can't break away from work, it does become a bit too much after awhile and the normal reaction is general to have a negative outlook on it, or the burn out, (EEEEEEEP)

    Always a good idea to take a break from our rushed lives once in awhile to get a person head back on track.

    So you'll be blogging for fun now right? :)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 11:43

  • It's not about how fast you get to the end of the pool, but how few strokes you can do it in.

    I always felt the secret is keeping the elbows high on entry, breathe 1/2 inch below water level in the trough, fingers entered with no splash, and a good body rotation instead of lifting the head. Also, I still don't think kicking propels one at all, it is all in the pull. Except of course in butterfly, but that is a whole nother story. :)

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 12:19

    • Dudibob

    So keep work at work and have a play from time to time? bargain, I'm off to the pub!

    Ma 29 jun 2009, 13:21

    • Zack S

    Great post! It had a bit of a close-to-home feeling for me since I used to live/work at Priest Lake at Hill's Resort. I'm happy you've had the opportunity to be there; I love that place!

    Di 30 jun 2009, 18:22

  • SEO is a journey, not a destination...I think you get this and many more folks probably will at some point.

    Di 30 jun 2009, 18:24

  • Maybe one day, although I like to let my blog posts age for a few years ;)

    Do 31 dec 2009, 20:28

  • Great post! It had a bit of a close-to-home feeling for me since I used to live/work at Priest Lake at Hill's Resort. I'm happy you've had the opportunity to be there; I love that place!

    Zo 3 jan 2010, 01:35

  • came across this post and it struck a chord with me. I am an x-swimmer too who works a lot with SEO. And even though i know this post is old, i just got back in the water for the first time and kicked a 500 over the weekend, a bit of freestyle and breaststroke. Its been over 10 years since i did any kinds of yardage, but in the warm sun it felt great.

    Do 28 okt 2010, 17:16

  • I really don't understand why you let other people post on your own blog! You should have some rules

    Vr 29 jul 2011, 00:02


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