Online promotional products company turned e-commerce web agency
In 2011 I graduated university with a BA in Marketing and desperately started looking for a job to pay rent on the apartment I had just leased. One of the first positions I found was a part-time assistant position at a company called CoolBlueLogo. I interviewed and was hired shortly after. Within the first week of working at CBL I was bumped up to full-time with way more responsibilities than the position advertised.
What I found at CoolBlueLogo was more than "logo" design (as the name might suggest) it was a branding/SEO company that had spawned out of an online promotional products company. The e-commerce promo sites were still up and running, generating revenue that supported the business's growth into new industries.
I learned the ins and outs of running multiple e-commerce stores (simultaneously) from initial customer engagement to white label shipping with our manufacturers. Though we ran product specific stores (pencils, magnets, calendars, and pins), we had the ability to put a client's logo on any promotional product and often did. That is, if the client had a logo. Our art department (me) would design logos at the client's request and provide proofs for approval before sending the purchase order off to the manufacturers.
I handled every roll in those promo businesses including: Sales, Marketing, Purchasing, Customer Service, Designer, Administrative, Accounting, etc. growing them to the point of supporting more employees to manage operations.
While gaining first-hand merchant experience running the sites, they were excellent ground for understanding the world of SEO/SEM which we provided as a service to even more clientele.
Learning from my superiors, I dove deep into search engine analytics, advanced data reporting, and keyword research. I became Google AdWords certified and ran multiple successful AdWords campaigns. We tracked conversions and built landing pages for AB testing. We researched competitors and performed audits for optimizing searchability.
It was around that time that CoolBlueLogo started making a shift into web development and re-branded to coolblueweb.
While I was progressing the promo business beyond capacity, maxing out my commission potential as a salesman, and servicing my SEO/PPC campaigns, coolblueweb was pushing their services into a new market; Web Development.
Having some experience with html/css I naturally started to gravitate toward that side of the business. I had a strong desire to grow into higher positions in the company. I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new and quickly started to pick up little odds and ends on the web development side of the business.
By 2013 we had added multiple software engineers and moved our office to Ballard (neighborhood of Seattle). I was still managing the promo sites while getting my feet wet in the engineering world. I'd had previous experience in civil engineering, but this was entirely more appealing. I got to the point where I was working alongside developers performing the same tasks but being paid a fraction of the amount.
I took the initiative to request a position shift and a raise in pay only to be denied and told that I had reached my max potential at the company with no more room for growth. This was my signal that I needed to branch off on my own, but this wouldn't be the end my coolblueweb journey.
Venturing out on my own, I formed an LLC "The Antler Corporation" and took on all sorts of web clients. I even hired an intern for some time to help with the load. This gave me the experience of owning my own business and pushed me to learn more programming languages (PHP, JS, etc.).
Over a year later, coolblueweb reached out to The Antler Corporation to contract out some development work. I was happy to oblige and ended up contracting for them for a few months before officially re-joining the team as a web developer.
The next 4 years were spent working with business owners, entrepreneurs, technicians, and TPMs to refine business goals through innovative software. As I gradually took on more responsibility I started to develop management techniques that helped me ensure client satisfaction. By far the most important gain from my time at cbw has to be the incredible relationships I built with my co-workers. True friends and comrades. Toward the end of my employment with the company I had worked my way into a leadership position responsible for a platform specific department handling a subset of the company's client load. I truly enjoyed my team, the work I was doing, and the general atmosphere of cbw, but change was overdue. So I decided to reboot my career away from the Seattle hustle, back to my roots. I decided to take up residence in the Big Sky state and freelance my online marketing services here.