Becoming PotPieGirl — The Story

It all started many, many years ago. February 18, 2007 to be exact.

My husband came home to find me staring at a totally white screen on my computer monitor.

“Whatcha doin’?” he asked

“I’m making a website”, I replied as casually as if I said, “I’m washing dishes”.

He was quiet a moment (because that big white screen sure didn’t look anything like a website), but then he asked me:

“Do you know HOW to make a website?”

“Nope! No clue!” was my honest answer.

Again, he was quiet (honestly, I think I scare the poor man just a little bit) — but then he asked:

WHY do you want to make a website??”

My answer?

“Because I’m going to learn how to make money online!”

And so it began.

The journey of clueless Jennifer staring at a blank white screen to now, over 10 years later, being “PotPieGirl”.

Who would have ever guessed that a short time later, I would uncover a super-secret Google document that set the SEO world on tilt?

I have to admit: When I first started all this, I had LESS than NO clue what I was doing.

Why in the WORLD I ever thought that the internet, making web sites, learning SEO, etc was the key to changing my life is still beyond me.

I don’t have a background in computer science or programming or marketing… Heck, I could barely send an email…lol!

I can remember in my early days of this “make money online” thing, I asked someone for help regarding a project I was working on.

I was told that I needed to “download it and then upload it to your server”.

Ok. I can do that.

But wait….

“download”???

My server???

I had absolutely no idea what either of those things meant.

Yep, clueless. Bless my little Southern heart.

I can’t say that my technical skills have gotten much better over the past decade, but somewhere along the line, I figured out something that I not only LOVED doing online — but I was also really good at:

Figuring Things Out.

I’m unbelievably curious and love to learn — I’m also ALLLLL kinds of relentless (or, as my dear husband calls me: strong-willed and driven)

and yes, at times he uses other ‘not so nice’ words...haha!

My first 2 years online are best described as “sleep-deprived bliss”.

I LOVED every minute of everything I was discovering online — even when I was barely making enough to put gas in my car.

You see, my husband and I had just married a year before I started online.

Before he and I met, I was a struggling single mom of 2 (amazing) kids.

I was also in the golf business back then. I was the Golf Director at a local Golf Course here in Georgia.

Nope, I didn’t play at a “Pro” level, but I had pretty good game back then. I’ve been known to win a few rounds and take some money off the hands of the guys I played with =)

Another fun fact: Golf and Internet Marketing have amazing similarities — but that’s a story for another day.

To get back on topic: I was broke.

Newly remarried, 2 kids, jobless…broke — And I was also a bit broken.

Let’s just say it had been a really tough road getting to that day I decided I WAS going to make money online.

I had also just turned 40… FORTY… right before that fateful night when I was learning to make a website.

Something had just ‘snapped’ in me and I knew that if I wanted BIG changes in my life, I was going to have to DO big, scary, uncomfortable things to achieve that changed life.

One of my favorite sayings is:

“We remain the same until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change.”

Translation: No one does a damn thing differently, no matter how uncomfortable their situation is, until they are READY to CHANGE… AND accept the pain and discomfort changing will bring.

I was ready. I was BEYOND ready — and I jumped right in the deep end of making big changes and doing something totally different.

Sure, many (MANY) around me thought I had lost my mind.

“Make money ONLINE? What?!?! That’s all a scam!”

or… this:

“Oh Jennifer, this is NOT a good economy to become self-employed! You’re making a HUGE mistake!”

But for the first time in my life: I didn’t base my actions or my decisions on what OTHER people thought.

And it felt GOOD.

Within a year, PotPieGirl.com was online and active — and money was coming in.

Whodathunk my livelihood would be supported by my love and ability to Figure Things Out?

All around me online, others trying to learn this make money online thing had questions.

I decided to figure out the answers and then share the answers on my blog.

Such a simple concept and solid strategy that I didn’t even realize I was doing.

I was just doing what I enjoyed — learning and sharing.

I also became FASCINATED with Google. Ranking a web page, doing SEO tests, instigating Google — that is all a lot of fun for me.

Then one fateful day I published a post on my blog titled:

How Google Makes Algorithm Changes

In that post, I talked about Google Quality Raters (people that work for Google and are constantly evaluating the Google search results — I did a whole post called Google Raters — Who Are They? if you’d like more info).

Back then, the Google Quality Raters Handbook was NOT public — in fact, it was a very coveted 120+ page document that anyone trying to rank in Google wanted to read in order to glean some insight into what Google really wants — especially then, right after Panda made its way into the Google algo.

(The Google Raters Handbook is the official instruction guide from Google on how the Quality Raters should judge a web page)

Well, I found a copy of a recent Google Quality Raters Handbook that included the Panda guidelines… and I linked to it in my post.

I only thought my little handful of readers would click and read it. I didn’t announce that I found the document — I just quietly linked to it from inside that post.

All of a sudden, the SEO world went BOOM!

this simple mention turned my world upside down

SearchEngineLand.com was talking about me and that I had the document — and then talking about me again here when a top Google employee, Matt Cutts was commenting on my blog and tweeting me(!)

And they were talking about me on SearchEngineWatch.com and on SERoundTable.com and on WebProNews.com and on SearchEngineLand.com and on SearchEngineJournal.com

It was CRAZY… EVERYONE was blogging about it and running to my site to get a copy of that Quality Rater Handbook.

Just take a peek through these Google results and you’ll see how crazy things got just because I found that Handbook.

At first it was kinda cool… and the backlinks were SWEET! lol!

But then….

The “Powers That Be” at Google emailed me a nice little “STOP IT” email and “requested” that I stop linking to the Raters Handbook.

Guess what I did? I stopped linking to it — immediately.

I don’t know about YOU, but I don’t have the mental, nor the financial, cahoonas to take on Google. Nooooo thank you.

That was pretty much the moment that I went from “PotPieGirl who?” and “What the heck is a ‘PotPieGirl’??” to “Insatiably curious blogger PotPieGirl”

I was also invited to write for MarketingLand.com — and I really enjoyed that while I did it (here’s my author page there).

But in all honesty — as cool as all that was — I really didn’t like all that attention. I suddenly felt under a microscope. Odd, right?

I really enjoy working in my own little corner of the internet — and I really enjoy instigating Google without much attention on me haha!

I still spend hours and hours pouring over Google results out of fascination and curiosity… and still do plenty of “what will Google do if I do THIS?” types of tests — I just don’t talk about any of that publicly anymore.

Since Google released Panda — the SEO industry has changed. And once Penguin came out… it changed even more.

I got a little (ok, a LOT) tired of hearing, “Just write great content and Google will reward you” — UGH! I hope we all know that’s a bunch of crap — BUT that is also another post for another day.

With Google, you have to read between the lines — and, as Jonah Hill said in the movie War Dogs, “the money is made between the lines”.

And there’s very little GOOD conversation about the “between the lines” anymore — so I keep it to myself.

I still keep with my other favorite online topics — affiliate marketing and free traffic sources.

For the most part, I am self-taught in this business — and that is a REALLY tough way to do it.

But I didn’t have a choice (remember that whole “being broke” thing?)

I also fell in love with free-to-use websites and free traffic sources.

To me, the whole Web 2.0 thing changed the whole landscape of the internet — suddenly ANYONE could have a blog, have a web page — whatever — and be found online.

Which is all even MORE so today with Facebook and Instagram and SnapChat, etc — everyone wants to be famous ;)

The internet is a very, very busy place that is FULL of endless life-changing opportunity for EVERYONE.

To me, that is SO exciting — virtually everyone has access to something that could change their life in a monumental way — right from the comfort of their own living room.

I feel unbelievably humbled and blessed by all the internet has offered me and so very thankful that I can make my living doing this.

As I’ve said over and over:

“If you’re willing to do for a year what others won’t, you can spend a lifetime doing what others can’t”

You can keep up with what I’m doing at PotPieGirl.com.

Oh and just a follow up Fun Fact:

After all those years of Google keeping their Google Quality Raters Handbook a secret… they now share it publicly.

Gee, I wonder why they started doing that? ;)

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