“Who is going to give me a job at 56 years of age?”
When your father asks you this, you feel nothing but helpless.
For the past decade, he had a string of professional failures.
He had attempted to start his own business 7 years back.
Piled up massive losses and debt.
I quit my consulting job the previous year to become a startup founder.
So I decided to help him with the little I knew.
Search Engine Optimization!
I asked Papa if he was ready to do work that looked like physical labour, with no intellectual effort required.
I don’t think he felt he had a choice.
“Let’s try”, he said.
So I set up a website – Top Jobs in India.
The job market was one of the biggest advertising segments for newspapers.
It was a matter of time for online to follow.
I told Papa my plan:
We would start a job site.
As a blog.
Make the blog rank high on Google search results.
And if it did, the ads displayed on the blog would fetch us clicks.
And hopefully money.
“Where will these jobs come from?” he asked.
“We will copy?”
“Yes – we will copy the exact job posting in a newspaper onto a blog.”
“Nandu, you have lost your mind. How can this possibly work?”
“Only one way to find out, Papa.”
I gave him a target.
10 job posts a day.
For a 56-year old typing with one finger, it took him 3-4 hours.
But to his credit, he did that.
Without asking me once if it was working.
The blog was optimised well, and started to rank for long-tail keywords.
After a month, I started the ad spots using Google Adsense.
Every week, Papa and I would sit down and I would show him the Google Analytics dashboard.
I think he believed every number, except the revenue.
Because all he could see was some USD number – nothing had translated into actual money.
Until April 2011.
We received a letter from Google (there were no bank transfers back then).
A cheque of USD 101.27.
After 5 months of copy pasting 10+ jobs everyday, he had earned Rs. 5,000!
The amount did not matter.
The fact that he could do this mattered!
He was hopeful again.
Over the course of the next 1.5 years, we went on to start 2 more websites:
– Top Study Options
– Best Job Options
The monthly payout kept rising, peaking to $1,200 in Jan 2012.
The party ended in April 2012 when Google released the Penguin update to its algorithm, bringing down all 3 sites to 10% of their traffic.
In the 2 years that Papa worked on these sites, he made $17,000+ = Rs. 9L+
More than he had ever earned!
More importantly, what he gained was his confidence.
“I want to work for some more time before I retire,” he said.
Coming full circle, he applied to a job that he had copied and posted on the blog.
He got the job!
At the age of 58, he changed industries – from Pharma sales to Office administration.
Worked for 4 years, before formally retiring in 2016.
Every time you find a door closing, remind yourself that the door will open again.