“Anish Sah is a Digital Marketing SEO Consultant from Nepal, a Speaker, SEO Trainer, a professional blogger and an established digital marketer. I have an experience of 5+ years in SEO & Digital Marketing field.”
I’m Anish Sah, CEO & Founder at Elance Digital Media and Earn With Anish, and today I’m going to share my story of how I set up Elance Digital Media. It took me about five years, and there’s still a long way to go!
It has been a roller-coaster ride. When I first started out, I couldn’t have imagined my vision for Elance Digital Media ever becoming a reality. Today, I am at a point in my journey where thousands of people not only know the company I set up but also trust our services.
It all started in June 2013. I had just graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from a university in India. Like every other graduate, I, too, started looking for a job. My search, however, did not materialize into anything.
So, I started surfing the internet looking for ways to make a little money without really knowing what I was doing. I truly had no idea that in a few years’ time I would end up helping thousands of people make extra income.
Tired and frustrated with my job hunt, I decided to accept a position that would pay me $100 a month. I had to start somewhere, I thought. My mom, as soon as she found out, told me she would sooner set up a grocery store for me than watch me do a low-paying, dull job.
I turned the job down and started looking for other avenues. The answer was perhaps getting a master’s in the USA; my elder brother, a first officer pilot at Fly Dubai, certainly thought so. I didn’t want to go looking for greener pastures elsewhere—it had been my dream to do something in Nepal—but I had run out of ideas. I purchased the biggest GRE book I could find and started studying.
I joined Collins, one of the most renowned GRE test preparation institutes in Kathmandu, Nepal. Numbers were never my strong suit, but I still worked hard for a month trying to familiarise myself with all the intricacies.
During all this, I never stopped looking for ways to make money off the internet. I learned of Ergonomic Solutions, an institute that provided training on precisely that. It was a seven-day training, for $26, and I decided to enrol.
The training was so effective that I did, in fact, start earning money, albeit not an exceptional amount. But it paid me back my $26, and then some.
“Overestimating what you can do in a single day, and underestimating what you can achieve in a 5-year time often leads to failure and dissatisfaction”
The work, however, was tedious. Yeah, that kind of online job was trending back then, and people did make good money from it. But I found myself dissatisfied because it involved a lot of waiting. I had waited long enough already, so I started looking for other options.
Then it hit me. On the last day of training, they had mentioned ‘SEOClerks.com,’ a freelancing website where you could write articles for money. I am far from a good writer, but writing has long been a passion of mine, so I decided to explore yet another avenue.
There were hundreds of competitors in the market providing comparable service at competitive prices. I decided to offer my work at lower prices than my competitors.
Getting any work, in the beginning, was difficult. After pitching my work numerous times, I finally managed to get one client. That client gave me regular work and paid me $3 per 500-word article. Gradually, I got more clients, and my first month on SEOClerks I made a hundred dollars!
I used my bank account in India to verify my PayPal account and withdrew the amount with ease at one of the ATMs in Nepal. When I held that money in my hand, I got emotional; it was my first ever income, after all. (I donated $40 to an orphanage and gave $40 to my mom. The rest I kept for myself.)
My first encounter with SEO
I can’t do the same thing all my life
I did content writing for another four or five months until I didn’t want to anymore. I was making $500 a month at that point, and I kept thinking there was some way I could at least double my income.
So I went back into research mode. I started browsing SEOClerks.com to see if there were other services I could sell. And indeed there were ‘link building services,’ ‘Google Ranking Services’ that were popular. These were services that at the time I had no familiarity with. It didn’t seem easy providing these services, and there was no way I could have learned these in a month or two.
I had an epiphany. How about I build relations with those who were providing these services and resell these services to buyers in need of them? It was worth a shot.
Guess what? It worked!
In fact, the very next month, I made $2000 just by reselling link building and social media services on SEOClerks.com. That was the most money I had ever made in a month; I was over the moon!
You might be wondering what happened with my GRE prep. While that was still going strong, in August 2014, I got a scholarship for my master’s degree at a university in India. It was a great opportunity, and I didn’t have to think twice about taking it. I thought engineering should still be my priority regardless of the passion I had developed for internet marketing. I was naive.
Life in Bangalore was awesome!
I am a fun-loving guy. I love spending money on traveling, going to the movies, throwing lavish parties at upscale lounges for my friends. On occasions, I also like to indulge in some drinking and dancing. I did all this and more, made possible only because of the ‘little money I was making on the side.’ Little did I know that that side gig was soon going to be a full-time business!
I would have a lot of free time during my master’s to pursue whatever I wanted. My classmates used their time interning for companies or getting full-time jobs.
What did I do?
You guessed it right! I used my time to teach myself everything about SEO and digital marketing.
I spent the first few weeks reading articles and watching videos—over a hundred of them. I had already realized that if I did it right, there were no bounds to how much money I could make online. And it was more than just a moneymaking tool; it was a great marketing strategy too.
Well, the best way to market your product or service today is to ensure your website visibility on search engines like Google. That’s only possible by implementing SEO methods on your site.
You can SEO your website for free.
Now, if you compare the cost for this marketing strategy with traditional marketing strategies, where people spend thousands of dollars just to get their content published on a newspaper for a day, you will be shocked with the results.
Anyway, it was finally time to put to use on a live website everything that I had learned.
It wasn’t easy, nothing good is!
The first hurdle, I had no website to try it on. And I had no idea how to set up a website. Just think about it. I couldn’t have built a website with my degree in Thermal Engineering.
I love challenges, though.
It was time to learn website design. WordPress, I learned, was an excellent platform for beginners to do so. I spent a lot of time on WordPress tutorials and finally got a domain to try it all out.
I built my first ever website from scratch: ‘articleondemand.com.’ It took me about a month and a half.
If you search for the website today, you’ll find that it doesn’t exist anymore. I had created the website to provide content writing services, but I couldn’t put it to use. I had failed. But if it weren’t for that failure, I wouldn’t be as well equipped to deal with challenges as I am today. Everything I learned in the process helped me get more than ten clients for SEO within the next few months.
In 2016, I completed my degree with a fairly good grade. By then, I was already making some $4000 a month.
It was clear what path I needed to take. But something was holding me back; it felt weird quitting engineering to switch to online marketing full time.
I went to my parents for advice, and they said they would support me no matter what I decided. With their support and help from a friend in the US who encouraged me, I finally made the leap from my profession to my passion.
I officially set up Elance Digital Media Pvt Ltd together with two of my dearest friends, Bijay Ghimire, co-founder and SEO manager, and Rajan Shilpakar, co-founder and project manager. We, now, have five qualified people and three great interns in our team, and we provide quality service to over 50 national and international clients.
We offer a wide range of digital marketing and online branding services including Social Media Optimization/Management/Marketing, Email Marketing, SEO friendly website designing and graphic designing, among others
We also provide in-house SEO training in Nepal for people who want to take their business to the next level. This training is also for those who want to make some income from jobs online in addition to their day jobs. Thus far, we’ve helped hundreds of students polish their skills and start their own business.
To explore newer avenues in digital marketing, we have also been organizing SEO awareness seminars and daylong workshops at different colleges in Nepal.
It has been one hell of a ride, and I know there’s going to be more challenges ahead. But my journey has prepared me to overcome any obstacle that comes my way, and together with my awesome team, there’s no way to go but onward and upward.