#WTSFest Philadelphia is back September 19th, 2024 - Get your tickets.

Back to Podcast

Esther Akinsola

Host: Isaline Muelhauser

Guest: Esther Akinsola

In this week's episode, Esther Akinsola, a content marketer for travel Saas startups and small businesses, shares how she pivoted into an SEO role. It does not look like a one size fits all or a linear process. It is an intentional path involving personal development, research and learning. Esther shares how she finds enthusiasm and curiosity and stays aligned with her vision and her goals. She genuinely discusses how she answered her why and her what and how she just goes out to achieve it. We find out what inspires Esther and what empowers her to be the brilliant woman she is today.

You can connect with Esther through her LinkedIn, X and her Website.

Episode Transcript

Isaline: Welcome to the WTSPodcast. We are on a mission to amplify women in the SEO industry. 

Today, I'm really happy to welcome a very special guest. We welcome Esther Akinsola. Esther is going to discuss a very important topic for anyone who wants to start as an SEO. She is going to discuss when she understood the dynamic of her role and what it is like to be in SEO. Hello? Hello, Esther. 

Esther: Hello, Isaline. Thank you for having me. 

Isaline: My pleasure. Thank you for pitching to be a guest on the podcast. 

Esther: Right. 

Isaline: So, Esther, you are a content marketer for travel Saas startups and small businesses who want to build their authority and convert their prospect with helpful content. Your thing is to study the customer's journey and integrate customer communication across different channels, and you have already written for internationally recognized organisations like GoNomad, Thisday, and Disruptiv. Preparing for this interview, you mentioned that transitioning into an SEO role is not a linear process or it's not a one-size-fits-all process and that the thing you really thought was important is to stay open-minded and choose growth. 

Can you go back to tell me about your experience and tell me about what you mentioned offline about the clients, the story with the clients, the keywords, and how you approach SEO in this experience? 

Esther: Right. The funny thing is, at the time I was working with this client, he would send me keywords. I didn't even know they were called keywords. But, before that time, I had written autobiographies and a couple of other kind of writing. Everyone attended a writing class, but no one mentioned what SEO is and its ruling content. So, this client hired me and he would say, "Oh, put these keywords in the content." The only thing I thought was, "Okay, maybe you wanted those words in the content," right? I've always loved research, so I would go online, write my first draft. After writing my first draft, I would begin to input these words that he said he wanted in the content. And then, other times, another thing I noticed was when I'm doing my research, I see that other writers have used those particular words, too. So, I'm like, "Okay, maybe this is important." But, for me, at that stage, the only thing I wanted to do was just to satisfy the client so I could keep them. I didn't know they were called keywords then. But, yes, that was the beginning for me. 

Isaline: When did you find out that these were actual keywords and that you were actually doing the first steps of an SEO process? 

Esther: Funny story. When I found out, I was so embarrassed. Because I found out from someone who already knew that it was a thing. That person was my boss. And then, I reached out to say, "Oh, I'm doing content writing." And he's like, "Okay, so are you like an SEO content writer?" I'm like, "What's SEO?" And he was like, "Do you know anything about keywords?" I'm like, "No, I don't know those things." And so, I went online and I realised that I've been working with keywords all along but I didn't even know what it meant. 

Isaline: So, it was sort of per chance because you were doing a different job and you had the training of a content writer. That's sort of transitioning doing SEO content marketing type of tasks. 

Esther: Yes. 

Isaline: Did you like it? This time, what did you do? 

Esther: I love doing SEO content writing. So, the thing about SEO is that SEO is foreign. 

Isaline: What did you do at this time? 

Esther: When I realised that it was time to move on, the first thing I did was I invested in personal development. Before I started writing professionally, I've always been a stickler for reading books; financial books, educational books. And then, I realised that value is what sells. Value is what makes one useful to people. I already know that if I could invest in myself, I'll be able to command more payment. And then, I would also get recognition for my skills. So, the first thing I did was, what I've already earned, I began to train myself. 

The next thing I did was to train my mindset. You see, I'd be lying to you if I tell you that I still don't feel anxious or I still don't suffer from imposter syndrome. The difference is that I'm in a better place now, which is to face life head-on. So, as with that time, and as I still do now, I get a journal. I assess how I'm feeling. For then, what I did was that I answered what my fears were, the possible challenge I could face, the cost, and the outcome. And so, after answering these questions, it became easy for me to pledge my commitment to the outcome that I wanted to see.

Isaline: When you're saying that you were thinking about the commitments, are you thinking about the commitments to transition to SEO content marketing or the commitment to write an article and getting results for clients? 

Esther: I'm talking about the commitment to transition into SEO content marketing. Because I know I have to do a lot of learning and I have to pay for classes, too. So, for me, that was the commitment that I had to make and to stick with it

Isaline: At this time, what happened when you realised that you wanted to work more as an SEO? What happened with the clients? Are you still working for the clients now that you have grown in this role? 

Esther: Oh, no. Now, I'm no longer working for that client. I serve a different niche now, so to say. And then, sometimes, one thing to say about growth is that you outgrow some things that you can't even remember yourself coming back there. What I was getting then was a meagre pay. I think the client was also paying me that because, obviously, I was just starting. What now? It's been three years down the line. I wouldn't even dare to charge the same, nor deliver the same result from way back. I know better now, so I do better. 

Isaline: For someone who's in a similar situation with a background as a content marketer and who wants to transition to a more SEO role, what would you say that the key indicators are that it's time for a change?

Esther: The first thing is that you are going to be doing -- one thing that they might feel is they'll be doing everything right, but it's possible they don't feel fulfilled. So, for me, and I believe as with everybody, when we get into stuff that is new or whatever it is we're doing, we have a goal in mind. And so, when we get to that point where we're feeling like everything is going right, I mean, "This is not working. I'm not happy. I don't feel accomplished." What some people take at that point is a break, and then they resume later. But, that is more of a calling. The thing about fulfilment is that our body may not understand it, but our mind does. So, that's one thing that they'll feel. 

Then another thing could be that they begin to feel that their current level no longer aligns with their vision. I believe that we are all born dreamers. I mean, we dream big really. But, sometimes, we may not naturally think big, but a big vision forces us into being a big thinker. And with SEO, it's constantly evolving. If you're not evolving or developing yourself, it is easy to be easily displaced. So, vision is very important in where you are in life. It has to be like a continuous assessment. So, when you get to that place where you feel, "I'm in a very okay stage. But, no, this is not what I want for myself," then it's time to transition. At that point, one of the things that really helped me was that I had a mentor and I also had communities. Thankful for communities like WTS. 

One thing my mentor would do to me every week was that he would send me his weekly payouts. I'm talking about something that was over $1,000. That was three years ago. Every week, I would get that. That helped me to have a grand vision for myself. So, I think that the first thing is that whenever you get into a career, first of all, you need to have a vision. And so, when you get to that point that your current level no longer aligns with that vision, then it is time to transition into something better. 

Isaline: I understand. It's like you had a job and you were good at this job. But, something inside you told you that you were not aligned and that you needed to reach for something else. Right?

Esther: Right. 

Isaline: It's been three years. What have been the great milestones in this path? 

Esther: That would be the fact that I'm able to see results. In the past, I used to be that person that writes because, "Oh, somebody needs my services." But, me, working in numbers, I'm talking about like four 28% increase in 14 days, over 500 followers in 90 days. That's the major milestone for me, really. Getting people results, getting the client's results. And then, as I grow, I begin to wonder about the person that I've become. When we make it of our time the right way will be amused at the results. It's the result for me. 

Isaline: In your previous position, did you know that it was possible to track the results like in Google Search Console and Analytics, and stuff? Were there tools that you were not using and you're using today? How did the mindset of results change? 

Esther: In my previous role, I wasn't using any tools at all. I was writing content but I didn't have access to the back end. So, I couldn't see how my stuff was doing. But, you see, when I got to a point, I began to develop myself, I opened myself up to knowledge. I wouldn't even lie to you. I spent hours investing in the person that I've become, and money too. I got myself in the best room with the best mentors. So, it costs a lot, obviously. And then, I began to understand that I can actually track results. I can use Google Analytics. I can use Semrush. I can use Ahrefs. I can use market news. Just a whole lot of other tools. And then, I also began to try those tools out. 

Another thing I also knew was that I can also educate my clients. Sometimes, people come to me and say, "Oh, Esther, I need this content. I need this. I need that." I have to tell them, "This is what you need. It's not necessarily that you need this kind of content, okay? These are the kind of keywords that you should track." What that kind of partnership did for me was that you also gave me access to the back end. I can go back to my customers to say, "Hey, hi. I wrote a content for you. How did it go? How is it performing? I looked at it and I can suggest what they can do better." So, yes, understanding my work and my talent as a person has really helped me. 

Isaline: When you realised that you didn't feel aligned with the work that you were doing, did you know which classes you were to take or what you wanted to learn? What's happened between the moments you realise, "Oh, this is not what I want," and you start the process of gaining knowledge, and training yourself, and so on? 

Esther: So, when I discovered what I wanted to do, I wanted to become a content marketer. The only thing I discovered was I wanted to use SEO in my writing, right? As I began to make research, I understood that these things were interlinked. And then, I began to also research classes. Thank God, for classes like Semrush, places like, I list in. And so, I realised that the more I learned, the more curious I became. I didn't stop asking questions, either. 

I got into communities. Took courses at Blue Array SEO Course. So, that's one thing about SEO. For me, SEO is interesting. Content marketing is amazing. The more you study people, the more you want to know them. This is what my profession is all about. So, when I do a class, I discover that, "Okay, this is interlinked to this. This is a better course than even what I've done previously. Okay, let me get that." So, I think the thing for me was I was going to go all the way, whatever it would cost, to become the person that I want to become. 

Isaline: I love that you raised the idea of curiosity and that you are able to reflect on how your courses are interlinked, one with the other. It seems like you are planning your growth and you took time to think about where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. How did you plan to achieve this vision that you have about where you want to go?

Esther: Yes. I must agree with you on the planning part. I wanted to make something out of what I've chosen. Yeah. 

Isaline: How did you plan? How did you decide, "This is the course that I want to do. This is the course that I don't want to do. And, these are my next steps," and so on?

Esther: Okay. That's one thing I always say. There are two things I like and that has to be food and education. So, I have a long list, of course. How I found those courses through social media or Google. Sometimes, I will go on Google on what are the best content marketing costs, best SEO mentors. With meeting the sales industry now. With meeting the marketing industry now. I began to read about those people. I began to study their track records. Students that have taken their course, what they have moved on to do after these courses that they've taken. And so, that's how I begin to streamline people that I listen to, courses that I take. 

And then, sometimes, a couple of courses I take because they give me an edge. In the sense that, when I decide to say, "I want to apply somewhere," and they say, "Oh, so what's your certificate?" I tell them, "Oh, I went to," so this; "I did a course" or "I'm a graduate at the London School of Journalism," it gives me leverage. Especially someone who is coming from a developing country. 

But then, sometimes, I give myself, it could be three months, six months, or it could even be 12 months. And then, I say, "This year, what do I want to be?" So, for me, one of the things I wanted this year was to become an authority. So, when I wanted to become an authority, I asked myself what are the things I needed to do. So, I asked myself why, how, and then go and achieve it. 

Isaline: What do you have planned at the moment? What is your next step? 

Esther: Next step right now is, number one is the London School of Journalism. After that, I'm going to have another course, so a master's in International Marketing because it's something I'm trying to position for. Most importantly, a long move, and that could be a year or six months. And then, I just want to get better really. Transform more businesses in the travel, hospitality, tourism, and construction industry. 

Isaline: I love how focused and targeted you are. Like, how you are able to reflect and plan. How did you choose that this is the aspect of SEO you wanted to keep working on? So, the marketing and content. How did you choose, "This is what I want to do"? Because you could have started learning many other different aspects. SEO is so wide; like technical aspects and so on. 

Esther: So, let me tell you a little secret. Guess what? I constantly had to reassess my vision because you need to say, "Oh, programmatic SEO is working. Oh, technical SEO is working. How about I tried to get to know that" But, I can't, really. I don't like codes and anything that are way too technical. So, I knew that I wouldn't do programmatic SEO, or technical SEO, or Excel. I don't like it. I'm comfortable working my way up. I became a content marketer. So, I don't mind starting from the back of the seat. I know that with determination, I'm going to get myself to the top of the page. And then, I've always loved writing. So, I knew on previous years, I will make my content better and help my clients achieve their goals. 

Also, I have a list of people I'm following. All of them, in the last few years, were in some way model their results and try to do better. Those who are content writers, content marketers, copywriters. So, most definitely those three categories of people who most likely use On-Page SEO for the work that they do. 

And also, for me to be able to decide on what aspect of SEO to focus on, I had to reach on each aspect of SEO. From international SEO, to technical, to programmatic, so that I can know what I really want to do. 

Isaline: For someone who's a writer and trying to transition to an SEO career, what do you think is the most important?

Esther: Intentionality. I don't know if I'm supposed to say one or more than one. So, intentionality is very important. If you're reading, be intentional about it. If in a webinar, be intentional about it. If you're writing, be intentional about it. If you want to learn, be intentional about it. 

Over the last few years, I've said people start and stop. I don't blame people who can't start and stop. But, before you have anything, you start anything at all, you have to evaluate if it's worth your while. And, if it's worth your while, you have to go all in for it. So, because SEO itself is not a one-time effort. You can't just do SEO tomorrow and expect to get results. So, when people think of transitioning into SEO, they should rather see it from that perspective, that is an ongoing work. The landscape is constantly evolving. And so, you have to become that person. There's so much information in SEO. People feel that they want to listen. 

Isaline: I love that you bring up the idea of intentionality, and being aligned with oneself. But also, it seems you put a lot of effort into learning and reflecting. How do you manage to have this much energy, and to manage your time, and keep your level of enthusiasm?

Esther: I'm barely a copywriter like I used to. But, I see it as one of those sacrifices, really. And then, I'd like to say that I'm very attuned with myself. So, I understand what my aim is. I no longer look at life as, "I have to do this thing," no. It's because if I'm going to do something I deserve to do that person I'm going to become; I deserve to become that person. Whatever recognition I'm getting today, I deserve to get it. That has been my mentality and I just go all in. 

And so, for me, also my work has become my second life. Something I just escape from. Something I'm excited about. Even on days I'm down. I have my own remedies like, "I'm excited about this. Let's just do it." If I'm tired, I take a break. But, this is what I want to do. I think it's just determination for me every time. I'm determined to make it work. 

And also, with my time, I'm a very structured person. Because I understand my body, and I know when it's best for me to read; I know when it's best for me to work. So, I have my mornings. My mornings, I do the heavy work. Sometimes, I'm up at 6:00. Sometimes, I'm up at 7:00. Trust me, my sleeping part is terrible for now. I need to get better. So, sometimes, I'll only get four to five hours of sleep, really. I wake up the next day happy because this is what I would have, and this is what I'm doing. So, my mornings are dedicated to serious work. My afternoon, not so serious work. And then, in the evenings, I just review a couple of things while preparing for the next day. I think that also helps to keep my energy level up is the fact that I'm getting results. Sometimes, not immediately. But, sometimes, when people reach out to say, "Oh, Esther, I saw your article here, here, here, and this makes the whole sense to do that," that makes me so happy because I know how hard I work. It helps. Just keep doing, keep working. 

Isaline: I love how driven and enthusiastic you are. I feel like when I hear you speaking, you're so aligned with your objectives and what you're doing today, everything is flowing. For someone who is not feeling that yet, what do you recommend? I would love to have the same feeling. 

Esther: For someone that's not in that feeling yet, the first thing is that you need to assess your emotions. Where are you now? That's the first thing. I love journaling a lot. So, I had a time where I used to write about the most important events in my life every day. That works for me. It might also work for someone else. So, assess your feelings. How do I feel now? What is leading to this feeling? Why do I think I am feeling this way? I try to answer that the best way I can. And so, I also answer one last part, which is, how do I want to feel? And then, I begin to do my research. What can I do to get me into that mood? Because the thing with life is no one would do it for you. No one would make you feel how you want to feel. You are just in charge of your emotions. When you realise the things that it can do to make you feel that way, the thing is the moment you begin to see tiny results, people begin to commend your effort. That's if it has to do with career. You begin to see that there are changes happening. Automatically, emotions just start getting in shape. So, when I understand the things that they need to understand what they have to do to get them into that space. And then, gradually, begin to do those things. I'm sure there'll be fantastic changes. 

Isaline: Thank you for sharing, Esther. It's awesome. Thank you for sharing how you structure everything and how to reflect. And, journaling definitely has come up also in other WTS Podcast interviews. So, it seems that this ability to understand oneself is definitely something that's helpful to grow and for a career. Do you have any last advice for our listeners who are in a similar situation and transitioning into SEO? One last thing you want to share today with us? 

Esther: It's going to be like three last things, but I'll try to make it into one. So, if you're looking to transition into SEO, some of us get frustrated before the results come. Because we think it is, as anybody said, like you see it on social media, 360 leads and da-da-dah, like that, like that. Give yourself time. And then, everything you have learned, open to you now, practise them. And then, you see, SEO is when you're learning SEO, you also have to do something alongside. Because whatever skill you've learned and you do not practise it, it just gets still. So, start personal projects. And then, don't look at where you're starting from. Look at where you are going to. Constantly fix your gaze on that. The sky is not even the limit. 

Isaline: Thank you. Thank you for sharing, Esther. I love it. Thank you for being a guest on our WTS Podcast. Time is flying. Can people get in touch with you if they want to keep on the conversation? 

Esther: Sure, yes they can. 

Isaline: Okay, so we make sure we add your social media. Yeah, share them. 

Esther: Okay. I'm on LinkedIn at "Esther Akinsola." I'm on Facebook at "Esther Akinsola." I'm on Twitter, @Spokesladie. And then, you can just write to me at atkinsolesther@gmail.com. So, Esther is E-S-T-H-E R-R. That's how I have it. 

Isaline: Thank you for being our guest today. It was awesome to have you. Thank you, everyone, for listening to our podcast. 

This is the WTS Podcast, and you too can join our community. Everyone is welcome. If you identify as a female, you can be a seasoned SEO, or you can be just starting, you don't have to have lots of experience to join the community. You are welcome to join us just as you are. Check out our websites. We have around 5,000 active members around the world, and we are happy to answer each other's questions on our Slack channel. 

Today, I was your host, Isaline Muelhauser. You can find me on social media. You can find the WTS Podcast, of course, everywhere. Our website, the Women in Tech SEO community. And, Esther Akinsola, thank you so much for being our guest today. 

Esther: Thank you for having me. 

Isaline: Thank you, everyone. See you in the next episode. Bye.