As a person of color or someone from a developing country, when did you start to dream? What did that look like for you?
Aleyda Solis’s journey is definitely inspirational to immigrants hoping to build successful careers. She is an SEO professional with +15 years of experience, was awarded European Search Personality of the Year in 2018, and is a frequent contributor to the SEO industry.
In this interview, Aleyda talks about;
Name: Aleyda Solis
What She Does: International SEO Consultant & Founder
Noteworthy: She has Spoken at +100 events across +20 countries in English and Spanish, helping the SEO community to stay updated with the #SEOFOMO newsletter, and curating the free Learning SEO Roadmap, and LearningSEO.io, among other initiatives.
Connect with Aleyda;
💡Overcoming limitations as a woman in a traditional society
Aleyda Solis shares her journey of growing up in Nicaragua during a challenging socio-political period. She reflects on the limitations she faced as a woman in a society that did not encourage women to dream or aspire to unconventional goals.
Aleyda discusses the impact of societal stereotypes and restrictions on her ability to envision a future beyond traditional roles. Despite these challenges, she discusses the importance of self-motivation, education, and exposure to diverse perspectives as key factors that eventually led her to break free from societal constraints.
💡Navigating career transitions and self-learning
Aleyda Solis narrates her diverse professional journey, from being a web designer to taking on roles in technical support, sales support for Cisco, and ultimately becoming a front-end web developer. She highlights the significance of self-driven learning, drawing on her experiences of researching online forums, exploring new technologies, and adapting to different roles.
💡 Navigating the Challenges of Migration
Aleyda Solis shares her experience of migrating from Nicaragua to Spain, shedding light on the challenges that many individuals face when moving from developing to developed countries. She discusses the aspects of missing home, adjusting to a new culture, and dealing with the loneliness that often accompanies migration.
Aleyda talks about the importance of choosing a location wisely and highlights her choice of Salamanca, a smaller town that allowed her to connect with people from various backgrounds, fostering a supportive community.
💡 Building a Consulting Business and Finding Clients
When starting Orianti, Aleyda Solis faced the challenge of finding clients. She highlighted that her reputation and visibility in the industry played a crucial role. By focusing on international SEO and sharing valuable content, she attracted organic leads.
A key strategy she employed was charging less initially to attract clients and gradually increasing rates as her reputation and client base grew. Aleyda also shared her preference for a consulting model over an agency format, showing the importance of focusing on building value, strategically testing different areas, and growing through larger and more complex projects.
Aligning passion with career choices
Aleyda Solis shares insights into her decision-making process when transitioning from graphic design to development and later to online marketing. She discusses the importance of aligning one’s passion with career choices, citing her shift away from back-end development due to a lack of interest.
Aleyda’s journey underscores the value of pursuing a career that brings personal fulfillment, even if it means overcoming societal expectations or opting for a less conventional path. She encourages individuals to find the overlay between market demands and personal interests, ultimately creating a pathway to professional success and happiness.
The Struggle for Recognition and Opportunities
Aleyda sheds light on the additional hurdles immigrants encounter in gaining recognition and opportunities in their professional lives. She discusses the limitations imposed by visa statuses, narrating instances where she had to go through bureaucratic challenges, such as renewing her ID permit, to attend work-related events.
Aleyda highlights the lack of understanding from others who may not comprehend the complexities immigrants face, emphasizing the need for awareness and empathy. Despite facing limitations in applying for international roles due to her Nicaraguan passport, Aleyda showcases resilience by eventually creating her dream job as an independent consultant after obtaining Spanish citizenship.
Chima Mmeje 0:04
I’m going to sound partial, but I’m really excited. I know I say this every time but I actually mean it this time around, I am really, really excited because we have Aleyda Solis here with us. And this is a big deal because everybody in the FCDC community knows who Aleyda is everybody follows her. So this is a real treat that we are doing this Aleyda. Thank you so much for saying yes to doing this thank you so much, really means a lot to me. All right.
I just want you to add, usually I ask people by saying what’s the first job you ever did Well, I want to go even way before that which you? You were born in Nicaragua, you started telling me stuff about that, before we jumped on this call. I want you to bring that onto the camera. What what does that look like for you? When you’re trying to dream? We’re trying to be more than what you are in an environment like that.
Aleyda Solis 0:53
Yeah. I think this is interesting and important, right? Because now that I am able to interact with people from all over the world, I see that a lot, especially in people who are born in the US, right, they are incentivized to dream since they are little right. So when I talk with these people, it’s like, Oh, when I was a little kid, I dream to be an engineer, I dream to be whatever. And if you ask me right now, it’s like, it’s crazy to think that I wasn’t necessarily dreaming to becoming an X or Y when I was in Nicaragua, because nobody was incentivizing me to dream, or to think big, or to think of crazy stuff. Right?
Literally, I was born in Nicaragua in the 80s, which probably was one of the worst moments to were born in Nicaragua, because we had a blockage. From the US. It was like the cold war like type of consequence moment, with the USSR still. So literally, we couldn’t we didn’t have a McDonald’s, we couldn’t buy a lot of stuff that is normal, given whatever society right. And so it was a weird moment place to be born, I was lucky in the sense that I was middle class where I was able to get the location, good education, etc, etc.
But at the same time, is a very much his habitual misogynistic type of society, right? Like, I was a woman. And I guess I was always had this, like this feeling this sense that males around me, were given this permission to do stuff that I wasn’t allowed to. So I was always restrictive, or restricted in that sense, that feeling of freedom, capacity, or opportunity to dream. Independently, I have to say I was lucky enough to be able to study. Eventually, I started to study engineering system engineering. And literally, in my first year of university, I was given the opportunity to learn HTML, which at some point is what allowed me to be a web designer. And eventually that was allowed me to interact with the web developing website understanding, oh, I need to optimise websites in order to grow their traffic. So it all connected in a very lucky serendipitous way, right.
But I still remember at the time when I was in the university, right? I tried different types of jobs. And I remember that I was already starting in the web development, web designing area. And there was a guy from El Salvador, another Central American country coming to, to work with us. And he actually asked me, the question that nobody had asked me pretty much in my life, like, Oh, what do you want to be? What do you want to become how they want to grow? And it struck me, I haven’t had this type of inspirations or dreams, right? And I thought, oh, you know what, I would love to work as a web designer, because I was still a web designer at that point of a big company. That was my dream, like what I could think of already when I was 21. Right?
Have a big company known company, maybe in a bigger Latin American country, like, I don’t know, Mexico, for example. And he was like, wow, that’s really difficult, isn’t it? And that was his, his, his reaction woman, indeed. So my point is, unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed or incentivized to dream because I was a woman, I was living in a poor country. There were all of these stereotypes around my situation and my context, unfortunately, and oh, my God, if I will have given this, let’s say, incentive back in the day, potentially, I will have achieved so much more much earlier. Right. I’m very thankful for my journey.
But that’s I still look back and this something that I just told you a bit ago, if you go and back in time, and you you ask people who knew me 15 years ago, when I was still living in Nicaragua back in 2005. If a leader is going to become this, and this and she’s going to be speaking all around the world, she’s going to believe in, in her own house in Spain, and have this type of clients and work with this type of people and have all this money or this success or whatever. It’s not that I wouldn’t have believed you. But I’m sure that nobody around me will have believed that I was capable to do all that. And that is sad, right? Because yeah, that limits us, I believe.
Chima Mmeje 5:27
Yes. That brings me to my next question, I think is a very, very difficult one. And it’s a very, I don’t want to say it’s a very fundamental question, but it is, how do you dream when you are not incentivized to dream? Because now I’m looking at this from the angle of people, many of our community members are growing up in like, extreme poverty in Nigeria and Cameroon, in Kenya?
How do you even start to dream because you need to see something that lets you know that this is a dream that is possible to have, I always said for me, I started dreaming when I read this book by Ben Carson called think big, and then I was on my side to open Well, for most people who don’t even have those opportunities to even read books to even be exposed to those kinds of people. How do you start to dream? Because it all begins with a dream before you start to want things, you dream about it? Then you have the whole day you start working towards it? How do you start?
Aleyda Solis 6:15
I think I think it’s looking for people who are a little bit more like you, in my case, I have always been geeky. Right. So if I will have, I don’t know, try to conform more to the norms. In Nicaragua, for women, for example, like I have always liked to do geeky things, tech stuff. That is why I started engineering. Most by the by the way, most of the people who started with the engineering world, guys were men like literally because of that. But that allowed me to see also things from the optics, they were not as restricted as I wasn’t a woman at the end of the day, and they were allowed to do stuff and to do to have this vision of stuff that I lacked still.
So that allowed me to inspire myself, and to potentially eliminate this limitation that I had self imposed. before. I think that also the internet is amazing, right? Like having access and be able to see what people are doing around your besides and all over the world, not people not with your own limitations, that can generate two things frustrate us, because we are not there yet. Or inspire us because it shows us the possibility that is achievable. And we can do that. Right. So I love that that can serve us as an inspiration. Right?
I remember looking at movies, back in the days, when I was still studying, I was like, Oh my God, I wish to be working as a, as an engineer, as a developer at this company, like is shown at movies. So that inspired me and allow me to think that certain things were possible, right. And now I think that there’s much more of this inspiration more naturally accessible through social media through this channel. So and I understand that there, this channels can also have a role of demotivate us, frustrate us, etc.
Especially if we are in a poor country and poor conditions, whatever. I think that we should turn that into motivation and drive, and to look for opportunities because it is possible, it is possible to do it if you have the drive, if you have the discipline. The thing is, and a lot of people ask me, How do you do all what you need to do? It’s not easy. I mean, it’s discipline is to it’s drive. I’m pretty sure if you tell someone to move to a new country with 1000 euros in your pocket and no connections and no way nobody like 99% of the people will say no, but the 1% that give it a go can and are will be able to do much more. Yeah, it is it is
Chima Mmeje 8:38
alright. So now we’re going back now to the first question we always ask our guests what was ever the first ever job you did that put money in your pockets in life?
Aleyda Solis 8:49
I was a web designer. I did I did HTML when I was
Chima Mmeje 8:55
that was your very first job in life? Like you didn’t have any job as a 15 year old 14 years
Aleyda Solis 8:59
unfortunately, no because that is the product in that country like Nicaragua, they don’t incentivize you to to work like yeah, like I think that this is a lot of the entrepreneurial type of mindset and cultural aspect of things like in the US they put little kids to sell lemonade and that is amazing because they it shows the drive and it shows that you need to start stuff whatever that is not well seen in a country Nicaragua because unfortunately the the people who work like this on the streets are poor people. Right? So there’s this misconception crazy right?
Because I mean, I wish that someone who had told me Look do this and whenever I saw this movies, US movies right from the 80s whatever selling lemonade or whatever, and I wouldn’t have even there my grandmother to ask about and just like, are you crazy? What do you want? They will, I don’t know they will laugh at you in the street or robbed from you in the street. If they rather than give you money, right? Stuff like this. Right. So I understand this because there is this context that is different and worse carry. But it’s crazy that they don’t incentivize people to be more entrepreneurial, because that definitely affects me. So yes, unfortunately, my first job was coding HTML, as are 19 years old. Wow.
Chima Mmeje 10:16
Okay, that’s very, very interesting idea, right? Because when we, when I look at all the other guests we’ve interviewed, that came from the UK that had the, I think, the training programme, something like that, that they have here, when you just get out of school, and they start working from there, 14 1516, and they start getting all this work experience. But if you look at countries like Nicaragua, you don’t have that. So it’s very interesting to see that disparity.
Aleyda Solis 10:41
In fact, I have to say, I have to tell something, I took that job, when I was 19, when I was still studying in my first year of university, after taking HTML curse. And I want to, you know, there was this competition of the best website, web design by the people taking this course. And I won. And so an ISP, a company that was developing websites very few at a time, and you get our saw me and say, We want to hire you part time to start doing the science, whatever.
And I was like, Oh, my God, this is great. I will make money and something that I’m learning. And so I was so motivated. And I went back home, and I told my dad, I might you know what the reaction of our normal usual father in a developed society, indeed, with that mindset will say, amazing, this is great.
The first step on a journey that is professionally related to what one, my dad, literally because of this mindset, told me, that’s a mistake, you will never finish university if you start working at the same time. That was, look, I finished university in the five years that I should finish university. I mean, I prove him wrong, right. But of course, this stuff doesn’t motivate people like me, unfortunately, back in my country, to do their own stuff to be entrepreneurial, and to have already a career when they finish university. Indeed.
Chima Mmeje 11:56
So now, you’ve gotten this job as a graphic designer? What are the key things that you learn? Like, how do you even start improving your skills as a graphic designer? How do you like take a course? What do you do to be really good at graphic design? I,
Aleyda Solis 12:11
what I started to do was after this HTML course that they give us for free at the university, by the way, it was completely free. I started researching a lot online, in forums, Macromedia at the time, there was like something that was during Weaver, all of these things that are not available anymore, I’m feel very old, by the way, that so there were a lot of manuals forums at the time. That was the way that I started to learn. And also, just the work that I there were other people were more experienced than, than I did.
So I started to learn from there. So literally researching new technologies. I also I remember when comm flash came, I started to play around flash, and I did my animation. So I have always been lucky to be very self drive, I’m motivated to self learn a lot of stuff. And that helps has helped me a lot. And that is how I continue to grow. And also almost try to new things. Also, by the way, this is funny. At some point, when I saw that I wasn’t able to learn much more or to make much more, let’s say also, as a web designer, I was like, Okay, what else I can do, I ended up applying to a job that was a support, person technical support. I literally back in the day, I install windows in 50 machines and 50 laptops in a company in Nicaragua because I was the support person.
So you call and it was me going there, you can imagine I was 22, 23 that a lot of people will see me going there mean 23 I look very young. I really look very, very me. And it’s like, I do that from the accounting department. 60 year old, you’re almost at the end of his stories like, see Miss like, is this the girl who’s going to upgrade me to Windows 2000s Things like that, that live migration that we needed to do, because of the y2k and things like that, right. So yeah, I mean, I have tried a few things whenever I I also was a salesperson pre sales support person for Cisco, routers and network machines and devices and, and IBM servers. Back in the day.
I was I was I was working as a salesperson for the IBM representative in in Central America. And literally I have to say, that is what allowed me to buy my first completely new car buy back in the day because I was able to sell and win like a big parade. So I was like, all of a sudden I’m making like laughable money. And then indeed, so all of a sudden I was able to sell this big package of machines it was like 10% 15% off
Do I have to sell whatever, like, now I can buy a car. So this type of stuff, allow me to show me that I was able to build on my own and create on my own and earn on my own much more opportunity I didn’t enjoy selling. And so at some point, when I saw the opportunity to become, again, a web front end web developer at that point, at a bigger company, I was a newspaper in Nicaragua, I took the job because but of course, I was already at this point, much more secure of myself much more aware of my capacity to negotiate a much better salary, stuff like that. Right. So and that was the last job that I had before going to Spain. Yeah.
Chima Mmeje 15:41
So now you’ve done graphic design. You’ve done support where you go and install Windows software. You’ve done sales support for Cisco, Cisco software. And you have worked as a developer for a newspaper in Nicaragua, all of this before the age of words. How old were you before you moved to spain?
Aleyda Solis 16:02
before I moved to Spain? 24.
Chima Mmeje 16:06
Oh, my God.That is insane, that is incredible. You’ve had like, for
Aleyda Solis 16:12
I had like different lives before this. You know, what the craziest thing now that I’m thinking about that time? Yeah. I took the first flight on my life. Do you see how much I travel right now? I took the first flight of my life because of work when I was 23 years old, because they send me to El Salvador, from Nicaragua, to instal some machines. Yeah. What? Yeah, tool that the company that I was working for was selling. So they trained me to instal this machine, they didn’t have anybody in the store. They sent me there for a few days to sell the machines.
They liked my work, and they wanted me to stay longer. So I still remember like, it was yesterday calling my grandma because I was living with my grandma, of course, typical Nicaraguan things to do living with your family until you get married and stuff like that. Even as 23 years old, calling my grandma Hey, Grandma, sorry, I, I won’t be coming back tomorrow, as planned, but the next week, because they want me to keep me to sell more machine. My grandma. We’re missing her for her. I mean, that’s her love her rest in peace. I mean, honestly, but yeah, I think was I still under you’re making me remember all of this crazy experiences?
Chima Mmeje 17:22
That’s a question because I’m always interested in people that sell and that interface with customers. You are very young, you’re a female, and you are working with tech. How do you get them to trust you when you are working in sales? You know,
Aleyda Solis 17:37
this is literally the question that the one of the bosses that I had the one of the sales, she asked me, and it was, it was a woman too. So I love that too. He’s like, yes, you’re going to the IT department of this company, how do you do for them to trust you to buy all of this machine? So it’s like, what do you do? Like, okay, at the beginning, they won’t trust me, because they see me will have this, but when they see me speaking, they will be so impressed that they will trust me right away.
Chima Mmeje 18:11
What do you see? What are you telling them to get them to? To be impressed,
Aleyda Solis 18:15
I will actually be able to explain them the technical stuff, because back in the day, I was literally my fourth year of university or something studying that. networks and how to instal our standby server, with Linux machines with Windows machine like all of that stuff, I sadly already forgotten because we’re still too long. I’m too old already.
But at that time, I had all this stuff very fresh in my head, because I was in the day to day. So I was not just a salesperson, trying to sell them stuff without knowing the actual configuration and what capabilities functionalities I was studying systems engineering, and university that I knew that so yeah,
Chima Mmeje 18:53
that’s amazing, because I think that sales, selling Technical Services is very difficult. And we’re selling technical service, you have to be able to speak the language of your audience. But if you have that preconceived barriers, like being a woman, being a woman of colour, being a young woman of colour, selling to people who are much older than you, yes, that was why I was asking that question. Alright. Now, let’s move forward.
You’re working as a front end developer. I want to dig into that just a little bit. How what Where did you go to learn how to be good at being a developer? Because graphic design developer, yes, I can see the relationship, many graphic designers are developers for just many skills that don’t cross over. So how do you get good at being a developer? What were the specific steps you took?
Aleyda Solis 19:46
Back in the day at the university again, I use, I learned Pascal, C , C++. I always sucked, I also it bores me to be like doing the code. So I don’t have the patient, unfortunately. So I’m all designing the system as an analyst, workflows, etc flowcharts. That’s me, but not coding them. So at some point, I also had to decide what do I do if I want to make more money or develop myself professionally? Do I really want to focus myself as a developer or complete developer because now it’s much more specialised, you can do very well being only a front end web developer. Back in the day, at least for me, especially in Nicaragua, it’s much more difficult, right?
So I was like, No, I need to see other ways to grow. So that is why I started to research more into online marketing, e commerce ways to make the websites that I created to grow in traffic. And that is how I eventually started to learn about paid search PPC, back in the day, the Google AdWords of very initial, who AdWords back in the day, didn’t hurt yet at the time about SEO. But it started to identify a little bit online marketing as a as an opportunity. And that is why I started to research about masters degrees around the world that allowed me to study first online, because I’m afraid that at that time, I didn’t have the resources to travel anywhere to study.
And I was lucky enough to find the masters that I ended up studying in Spain, because they offered the first year online. And if you wanted you can, you could go the next year to Spain to continue the master. And that is how I actually enter in marketing, online marketing. I was still working as a front end web developer at the newspaper in Nicaragua, when I took the first year of the master on on the side. And then I realised I love this, this is awesome. And also, in the interactions in the forum that we had on the master. I already got in touch with people who were in Salamanca doing the in person version of the master.
And they were telling me how great the students town right how cool the town was, how cheap it was in comparison to Madrid or Barcelona. So you didn’t have needed to spend that much money on especially accommodations, stuff like that. I was like, Okay, I’m going to save. And I already started saving. Eventually, I sold my car, the cars that I had bought, like, yeah, so it paid back in that time. And I ended up leaving to take the second year. The of the master in Spain, I have never moved back to Nicaragua after that.
Chima Mmeje 20:40
Your Master’s was in marketing right?
Aleyda Solis 22:43
It was in marketing. It was an E commerce master, actually. But it’s just it’s funny, because there were some areas that were marketing, but not SEO yet, marketing in general. And then there was another area that was development, Java development, whatever. I didn’t show that much. But yeah, it’s a weird, it’s a weird mix.
Chima Mmeje 23:09
I think I think something that we struggle with a lot is doing what you love, and getting paid for it and having the courage to to drop opportunities that you don’t love, but you find yourself in like how a leader says she didn’t enjoy backend development. But she enjoyed front end developing and then she had to make a choice. I know that that choice is always very difficult.
There are so many people right now that are trying to get into coding developing even if they did not enjoy just because the one war for tech companies because they think that that is where the money is, will always be an advocate for finding a way to align what you love doing, and figuring out how to make money from it. Because happiness is very important. It sounds vague, was very,
Aleyda Solis 23:50
there’s always an overlay. And I understand for example, I am happy. In fact, I have to say that I mentioned how I didn’t enjoy sales. Actually, my my boss at the time is like, I love how you sell because yeah, the people actually trust you and buy from you because of that. And you can make so much money again, especially for that context.
But if you don’t enjoy it, and I love that I was able to have a boss who was honest with me like that, too, like you need to enjoy it. Because otherwise Yeah, you will be unhappy. And there’s an overlay of what the market demands, and what you love. And it won’t be always 100% aligned, but there will always be an overlay that you should be able to find, right? Yes.
Chima Mmeje 24:29
All right now you’ve come to Spain. Let’s dig into Spain, you’ve moved to Spain. This is something I want to dig into because there are many people that migrate from our developing countries to developed countries like Spain, the UK, Canada, US and nobody prepares you for it. They tell you about the good sides. But nobody prepares you for one missing home two adjusted to a brand new culture. And number three, the I want to say the loneliness that comes with migrating. What was that like for you those three things.
Aleyda Solis 24:57
I have to say something that I was lucky enough To go rather than Madrid or Salamanca, or sorry, Madrid, Barcelona, that can be like very big cities and you will get a lot of loneliness, like that I went to distance down Salamanca, that is true that didn’t allow me to have all the professional opportunities that big cities will give me, but at least is that students, towns that have people from all over. So one of my first initial friends were our Brazilian girl like me, and then also from the west. Manuela Kay, who’s also from Angola, actually was one of my two best friends who were just like me.
So I connected with a lot with them. And, you know, it was the, one of the words this moment adverbs, like when we went one weekend to party, and going back home at 4am, everything dark and not being afraid, because it was a student’s down super safe. So you were not scared to be like robbed or raped or something crazy, like in Nicaragua that I will never have dreamed to do that. So of course, there were moments like that we’re highlighting, oh, my God, I’m living in a different parallel reality. And all this and I have the support to people who have been there are there to support each other, etc. But of course, there’s loneliness.
I mean, especially as a Nicaraguan like done there, were not that many Nicaraguan especially in Spain at the time, so food zero, I mean, and that stuff, and and then you get this thing, right. You need to focus on what you want. And don’t allow that noise and understand that that is temporary, that you will get use that you will only get better, that is all only get better. And that you need to start applying for the opportunities that you know that you deserve, not the ones that the market tells you that because you are an immigrant, you will tend to choose. So for example, I know that a lot of people will turn and say,
Okay, I mean Embree grant I at that point, I had a student visa, I didn’t have a full work visa. So I started to do what other initially I was naive enough to do what I saw other students do, oh, they apply a part time job to a cyber coffee, cyber coffee, right cybercafe to like, and I was like, why I’m doing this, I know that I might have much more experience to do this, whatever. So then I started applying to online marketing agencies, or Spanish schools that had online marketing departments that you’re hiring. And eventually, the first one that I applied, actually, I got an interview. And literally during the interview, I thought, Oh, my God, this is their dream job. They appreciate my web development slash web design skills. They also are willing to teach me more about online marketing and do much more.
They asked me to develop a little website to show my schoolwork. So it was all right until the end of the interviewing, which I mentioned that I was a student, I had a student visa, so they needed to be able to sponsor my part time work visa or that they give you soon. Now sorry, we cannot do that too much paperwork, and gone. But I started continue applying right didn’t allow that, to stop me for applying to other roles. And he showed me that my skills were good enough for them to almost hire me.
So I will find eventually someone willing to go through that. By seeing my skills and potential I did like I am super. I was super lucky that literally the second application process of that time that I that I had was at this online marketing agency that doesn’t exist anymore for Tinder. But internet advantage was called my boss actually he his he was a Dutch or he is a Dutch man. And, and he was used to hire people from all over. And he saw the potential In me and said okay. And literally, it was at a time that a lot of stuff was not processed online.
I have to go with him like at least a couple of times, very early in the morning to queue to the police station in Salamanca, to do paperwork in person with him. And then of course, all of the other times that I had to go myself right, but they literally made the person sponsoring you to go to it’s like crazy stuff. But we did it. I mean, it was it was amazing. I’m so thankful with him, because there’s people always willing to give these opportunities. Yeah,
Chima Mmeje 29:16
yes, I think this is something very important to talk about, because I came here on a student visa, switch to a graduate visa, something that so many of us do. When we come to the UK, and I’m not sitting on this job. I’m not saying that there are bad jobs, we tend to take jobs that are not related to what we are studying. For example, now me in my class when I was when I came here, many of my classmates were doing care work. And I’m not again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. But you have to be careful to protect your mindsets when you do these kind of jobs because you can fall into the trap of thinking that this is all the opportunities that you ever have.
But if you challenge yourself, or you start looking for jobs that are aligned to what you want to be doing when you graduates and you start applying to those jobs now it starts to prepare you Okay, this is expectations this is this is that like what Aleyda did even after the first sets where they didn’t hire you, you knew that it wasn’t because of your skills you need just because of the fact that they didn’t want a sponsor visa, and they almost hired you, then there’s someone out there as well instead of chance.
So this advice is specific to those who are planning to come to the UK, or go to Canada and go anywhere outside of our developing countries to study as a way of getting out, have that plan in mind to protect your mindset, and to start to apply for jobs that will challenge you in jobs that are aligned with what you want to be doing in the future. Now you’ve done this job with this company, how long do you stay with them for? Until you graduate?
Aleyda Solis 30:38
Four years no longer because, of course, I needed to still have some, let’s say education, type of programme to be able to stay long enough to switch my visa to a working one. So I ended up like studying like two more masters yes years of connected areas, just to be able to keep up with the with the students slash work permission until I was four years after I was able to apply to the full, permanent work. Visa. And thankfully, I that is how I did it. For a while I had to keep up studying while I was working to be able to to make it work, right?
Chima Mmeje 31:17
But look at how much effort how much money you spent. Just look at, look at all of that all the effort, all the money spent just to get out of your country go to a better place and then stay in a better place. It’s insane. Yep, you can see,
Aleyda Solis 31:31
Yep. here’s the thing, you realise that we don’t start here, as most people already living here, we start here,
Chima Mmeje 31:40
we don’t even take credit, because you don’t even have credit assets, you don’t have credit history, you’re coming from scratch. So when most people have built to their credits that have come here, and that gives them an advantage go here, here, here, you are all the way here trying to get your credit that someone has had that experience of 10, 20 years building.
The disadvantage is insane. We don’t talk about that enough. And I am so glad that we can talk about those kinds of things here with somebody else who has had that experience. All right. In this role, what was your day to day in this role at the online marketing agency?
Aleyda Solis 32:13
Oh, it was amazing. Because at the beginning, they I was pretty much like the manager of a network of websites that they used to have. So I was in charge of creating the website, designing the websites, making sure to monetize the website. So I was able to try for the first time affiliate SEO, they taught me SEO, paid search everything. So I was able to test all of the different marketing channels that were available at the time. And then these were I understood, oh my god, SEO, I love it.
Because it makes us all what I love Front End Web Development, you need to understand HTML, but not necessarily be stuck developing the code the whole time. But also you need to have this understanding of marketing, and how to grow the audience and to make the sales happen. So it it pretty much overlay do what I love of the different areas that I had worked on, without having the back points or the backlash that I really disliked from each one of those. Right. So the perfect mix.
And this is where I understood, I really want to continue doing SEO. And when an SEO I left the company, I when I reached out the owner, who had hired me say, Hey, would it be possible to be switch because I would love to have that type of only SEO type of role to grow more into into that. And they have been Yes. And they have been totally switched me to focus on on that role. And this is how I started to grow as an SEO from literally from scratch like this. Wow.
Chima Mmeje 33:45
Wow. So you did that for four years? How old? Were you? When you left the company?
Aleyda Solis 33:53
It was I was 30 years old. Wow. Pretty much. Yeah. 29, 30
Chima Mmeje 33:59
So where did you go next?
Aleyda Solis 34:02
29, 30. I went to madrid because I actually since I was able to be hired now by any company much more easily because I have the full work visa, I was able to to apply and just by the way before doing mentioning that I have to say I remember back in the day when I was still in Salamanca working for the other agency, and people already seen my skills. And I started at that time I started to speak actually smaller events, conferences in Spain and Spanish.
And it’s like people like Seo was very booming at the time in Spain started to hire much more SEOs and people who have less experienced than me at the Elysee were leaving to Madrid or Barcelona to work at bigger companies much more paid whatever. And there were people coming to me say like Aleyda What’s wrong, you know, going wrong with you what’s going on with you? Why do you lack motivation? Do you like intrapreneurship? Why aren’t you not applying to all of these jobs in my dreams like, no is that I cannot be because it will be so hard for these companies to hire me easily because I am still with this part time type of visa, whatever, I need to wait for an extra year to be able to do that much more easily.
They couldn’t understand. So you will end up running and they assume that you are lazy, they assume that you don’t have the entrepreneurial skills, whatever. No, no, you know, you, you understand, you understand the context, right? So but eventually it came. And when he came, I was able to, yes, go to Madrid, started working for much more money at this much bigger company, it allows me also to connect the network much more at local events that were already happening and get to know much more people, I eventually also moved to an in house role at another company, bigger company, that allows me to meet people from all over different backgrounds and allow me to Yeah, I think that develop myself professionally, I deserve, I felt I deserved right and how anybody who will be born in or in that society will be doing already maybe I was like five years behind because of all of this extra challenges. But I was already on track of what I wanted,
Chima Mmeje 36:10
I get that because I want when people invite me when I move to the UK I started getting more opportunities to speak and I couldn’t take them because most of them were outside the UK and somebody really wanted to come to the US and speak. And they’ll be telling me two months before the event. And I’m like, You need to tell me six months before the event so that I can start to work on my visa.
And because the Americans and they can come to the UK easily. They don’t understand they don’t their brain cannot comprehend that you need to be given six months notice to be able to get a visa that allows you to travel this is the stuff that people who are immigrants deal with, that nobody else in the West can understand.
Aleyda Solis 36:44
And oh my god are you know, you have no idea what you’re mentioning to me, it really resonates because I literally had a situation very similar I had when I was still working at this. At this agency, they started to send me to not to speak but to attend conferences, where there were potential clients or really clients going across Europe. And because I had the the ID students ID permission to like, the foreigners, Id in Spain, I didn’t have the other nationality. I could go but I had to go with my Nicarauga passport. And I had to show the ID all the time showing, hey, I don’t need a visa because I live I have residence in Spain or whatever. But I had to renew it every year, which was a pain. And there’s always this status, or this.
Two months around two months in which you requested that they process it, the bureaucracy and supposedly you cannot travel that so. So the company they wanted to send me to Germany to Berlin to this event. And I was like, Look, I’m not sure if I was going to be able to if I am going to be able to have my my ID badge, the permission that everybody recognises in Euro because if I don’t I won’t be able I have so much stress. I ended up going to just the commissary and police station to ask to the people from the office. The foreigner’s office, like what do I do? And they say, Oh, you can travel like this. And we can give you this this letter that your new card is has been approved because he had been approved already.
But it’s in progress to be received. And with this letter, you should be able to travel to Europe. And naively I was like Okay, great. But it was a letter in Spanish right? So I remember landing in Berlin. And surprise, surprise, the police were men at the border in the German saw me that I was not of course European. And she was like Can you please show me your passport? And I was like my Nicaraguan passport like oh yeah, but and your ID to do you live in European. I was like, Yes, but my resident permit is being updated right now. So but I have these cards from the place and space explaining this and saying that it’s all good.
Sorry, but I don’t read Spanish so you will need to come to with me and I literally had to spend two hours at the airport in Berlin for them to make sure that I was not lying that I was saying the truth they call to Spain to verify I don’t know if they even as Canada seen but send it by email just verify and validate like crazy stuff though. Literally this word that worst two hours of my life because I all the stress that I had also, if it was just a tourism type of trip, it will have been even different but this was for work.
So I couldn’t imagine all the span of the company. Buy me the ticket to the event all of this stuff like thankfully it ended well they came back Oh, yeah, you’re correct. You’re right. Go back go autos like but never again. So yes, we need to go through all of this hassle to be able to travel when we have passports that are not European or Americans that need to go to all of these visa validation if
Chima Mmeje 39:54
you don’t have strong passports, quotes in quotes. Yeah. Okay, now you’ve moved to Madrid. Let’s get into Madrid, how did you enjoy living in Madrid? What was the like,
Aleyda Solis 40:03
Oh, madrid was amazing because there’s, like people from all over to I met a lot of people. Some of my best friends were from Latin American countries, other Latin American countries, other European countries. So it was amazing. I was able also to work at other comprehensive companies. But then I also understood that if I wanted to make more and to learn more, I needed to also work for international companies. But I couldn’t yet do that.
Because although I had a work permission to work in Spain, I couldn’t easily be hired from other European countries. So there were tonnes of jobs at that time in the UK, for example, that was part of the EU, but any Spanish person will have been able to apply but I couldn’t are in Germany, even for in Berlin for international people. If you speak English is great, but not even you didn’t even need to speak German, right?
And a lot of opportunities like that, but I couldn’t apply because I didn’t yet had a European passport. I still had my Nicaraguan passport with a permission to only work in Spain. So I was restricted at that. So it was a little bit frustrating at the time to spare to wait for that time, you know, what is the funny thing that once that I got the Spanish passport, literally, five years after I got the work permission. It’s funny because I didn’t need to work for anybody else. Because it was when I had decided already, and it was already one year in as an independent consultant. So it’s funny because I ended up creating my own dream job I saw, like sort of, because to avoid relying on third party because of all of this challenges, in that
Chima Mmeje 41:37
I’m thinking about these things that you’ve overcome to get where you are now, and it’s just incredible. hearing your story, I knew she was going to be amazing. But the challenges you’ve overcome is just mind blowing mind,
Aleyda Solis 41:47
you need to find this is the thing, things are not going to happen. Like ideally, you have established them, but you will find workarounds, like at the end of the day is us for the greater good. Because looking back, literally, if I hadn’t said on my own, I wasn’t I wouldn’t have been able to start working remotely. So so early.
And working remotely had allowed me also to travel all over and meet amazing people and get clients from all over two amazing companies. Some of the top companies are my clients and fully I’m so lucky to have them. So literally, and I ended up creating my, my dream job without having to work for big brands in other across Europe, right? Because I couldn’t another time yet.
Chima Mmeje 42:28
So that’s some you worked in Madrid, how many jobs did you did you do? Did you work for only one company and then started orianti.
Aleyda Solis 42:35
No, I worked. I worked for a couple of companies, Spanish companies. And then and then I was hired by a Russian company at the time who were looking to create a remote team across Europe and my my boss actually was in Germany was German, I had another colleague who was in Estonia, another was an Italian living in Madrid, but was he shall we will all spread. And when when they reach out to me saying hey, we are looking for SEO talent is in Spain, etc.
And we want to hire you or remote them like, oh my god, is this fishy at the time this opportunity? We’re, we’re not existing. So at the end, I eventually validated us this is the correct stuff. I ended up making twice as much as what I was making in my last job in a Spanish company because yes, the salary differences are very big. And this is what allowed me to start working remotely right. So whenever I become independent, I say okay, I want to be able to keep myself remote because I had already enjoyed that remote experience before so I started to work for this company from from Madrid, but remotely set for them like a year and a half or so.
And then I worked for SEER interactive for Willow rhinos agency but from Madrid still remotely, indeed for a year, indeed. And then I worked for another company also for a while in Brussels. I actually went to Brussels for a year or so to help but then after all of these experiences is that I realised look No I am I was already a contractor at the time so I was independent so I like why I am a contractor already companies were coming to me to hire me to try to hire me independently to do SEO is like why don’t establish myself as a consultant and so myself as a consultant because I already have a limited society and this is how I am able to to to invoice them as a contractor anyway so it didn’t make sense to not make the most out of the configuration of the setting right
Chima Mmeje 44:32
so I want to know what what did you name Orianti come from?
Aleyda Solis 44:35
It’s funny because orianti the Basque language means now aura it was like technology and these are name that I when I started at the time I wasn’t married yet but I was dating my husband and now we’re looking for funny domain this this stuff like you see what I was having geeky.
We used to do like buy domains as a fun thing to do anyway, so we bought a few domains and one of them was orianti. So when, when I bought the domain wasn’t even for the company, one of one of those funny ideas that we bought together. So yeah, anyway, ended up being the name of the company eventually. Wow. Okay, so
Chima Mmeje 45:14
I want to talk about the challenges that you experienced when you set up Orianti, Did you face any challenge with like, one? I don’t think you had, do you have any troubles finding clients? I don’t think you did. Because,
Aleyda Solis 45:23
well, because I didn’t rely on the local market. And I had already established thankfully my reputation, my disability at the beginning. And this is our, this is something that I want to target in case that point, you want to become independent and switch from being an employee to being independent, while you already have certain reputation. I remember that right?
After I mentioned, look, this is it. After a bad loss experience, as an employee, I was like, That’s it, I want to be able to choose my clients, I want to be able to work with the companies that actually the service, whatever, and became independent. And I publish over social media, I did a blog post thing on becoming an independent, open, open for consulting, if you want something that is international SEO, technical audits, et cetera, et cetera, calm and get in touch with me, like typical stuff.
And what I got from those emails, were agencies reaching out to me wanting to hire me, again, as an employee. And like Aleyda, why do you want to become independent? I will offer you this money, and you come to work with me. But you need to move to Barcelona. But do you need to move to this? Like? So it was like, Oh, my God, this is like little devil tempting, like, trying to bring me back to my comfort zone. Rather than allow me to, yes, risk a little bit, but not so much necessarily, and allow me to try and validate a new path that I really wanted to go and move forward to? And yes, I have to say no, and it’s and this is difficult, right? Because I was already like a weekend, no clients are just a client.
And then big agency comes and say, we are going to pay you this. And all this benefits and a little bit flexible, is difficult to say no. But if you have, like, the mindset, and you really want to try something, you will be always what? At that point, I asked myself, like, what is the worst that can happen, that I don’t get clients in the next three months, and I run out of money, I will go back and I can start looking for jobs anyway. Because I have that option, thankfully, because we live in a really, and we are in a really good industry that is always looking for opportunities. So I allow myself to take that risk, and I did it.
Chima Mmeje 47:33
So how did you find how did you start finding clients? What was your techniques back then, to start finding clients and steady flow of clients?
Aleyda Solis 47:41
It was it was very natural, I guess. Because, yes, eventually companies started to reach to reach out. For particular projects, I started also charging much less of what I charge right now. And I allowed myself to start doing like, one off type of audits whatever now I, I don’t do one of her, I will work on ongoing processes that give you also a little better safety of ongoing payments, rather than one off things that will end up finishing very quick. So you need to be selling all the time, I don’t want to be wasting my time selling all the time, allow me to self to sell like one per quarter, not not more right for new clients.
So I will start growing this type of collaborations with E commerce companies, I tried to find the niche a lot of the the initial clients that I got were for international SEO work because I was I was speaking a lot about international SEO, I started to share a lot of guides a lot of how tos little tools. So I established my name more in that niche. So I got a lot of what you will say organic leads coming my way saying we want to hire you for this we want to hire you for that, when you think about it is is Oh, it’s so much more straightforward. Because it’s only you, you don’t need to be selling all the time like agencies because you don’t have 10 people trying to be like to pay 10 people in your team whatever.
So it gives you that room that opportunity eventually started to build and it only compound compounded over time. Built like my my client base. And little by little what I decided is like I don’t like the agency format. I respect so much that people who make it work. But it’s not for me because you end up focusing so much on managing people rather own the actual work or a specialisation and I don’t enjoy Natalia managing people I prefer to do SEO and handle the price.
So I have a couple of people helping me who are amazing. Who are contractors helping me part time i but it’s me handling the project and the way that I have been able to grow is to roll in the size of the projects type of clients. charging more is the best way that I have found rather than this the number of pros is the size, the complexity of the products type of clients type of brands that I that I work with?
Chima Mmeje 50:07
I’ve asked this question because I think that this is a struggle that many people have when I start to grow, do I do the natural thing and go into an agency? Or do I still keep it just myself? Or do I bring in contractors, freelancers to help me scale? So you’re you kind of kind of do like a hybrid, you do your own agency. But we also don’t work alone, you just have freelancers working with you to help you execute projects based on the scale of the client’s project. That’s brilliant. All right. I just have one last question for you now. Someone this is for people that are living in developing countries that are trying to get into the industry. What advice would you give them?
Aleyda Solis 50:48
To be patient to have the drive to be disciplined? I mean, I mean, if if I will have not the discipline, and there’s something that I am actually thankful for the upbringing that I, that I, that I had, that they always made me to be disciplined in my studies and everything that I did, right, like, do it like, you need to actually not, not allow yourself to be influenced by people telling you like, oh, it’s not possible or no, let’s go to party rather than studying or Let’s go, if you want it, if you really want it, you need to really go for it.
And it’s hard work. A lot of people out there, they asked me, oh, how do you do so much stuff, and I don’t know if they want to say, they want me to tell because I’m a robot. And I do this in two hours, right? In that eight hours note, I work a lot. I mean, there’s no magic wand, you can work smarter, get smarter, to identify different frameworks for for you to work with, and collaborate with other people hire for certain things, stuff like that, obviously. But it’s hard work.
But it will pay us if you do it in the right direction and or something that you enjoy, it will also not feel as much as hard work to and different ways to scale. So for example, now with SEO FOMO, I’m marketing for more on like, for example, I share a lot on social media for free. And I have never had made a dime literally by a tweet or something like that. But SEO form of marketing. For more every year, I’m testing something new. I tested chrome Monday started chrome on is by 2018 or so as your former was in the year of the pandemic 2020 then working from after SEO former reached 2000 subscribers or so now it has 28 28k now already, it became really, like easily profitable right away, because a lot of brands wanted to advertise there, etc.
Literally. Now, it’s funny looking back, and is also a little bit infuriating. If I was telling this, the leader of 10 years ago, working in Madrid full time and taking the subway every day, but I am making more with SEO FOMO sending a newsletter once per week, what she get a leader back in 2012 was making working full time every day, right? So but it will I mean, but I wouldn’t have been able to reach this point if I hadn’t gone through that, right. So be patient, it will pay off think strategically, strategically.
Start testing stuff, because this is how I have been able to, to grow with stuff that compounds over time, keep that keep testing different areas, and opportunities of something that during Joy too. And I think that is great, because there was there will be always I believe opportunities of monetization and demand for stuff that build value, right? So focus on building value on what you love, and find that drive to keep working. And everything requires work. Don’t don’t believe otherwise. Like if it is too too good to be true. It’s too good to be true. You need to focus on it.
Chima Mmeje 53:51
Oh, I forgot to ask this question. And I just have to ask this question. You do a lot of public speaking and this is something I’m trying to get more more people of colour to do. One How do you create a good pitch to how do you identify where you are speaking as three? How do you build that confidence to get up on stage and talk in front of people this is for people who have never spoken before but who are listening you and you’re probably wondering how does a leader do this to just give us a straight tips? How do you pick your pitches How do you decide where to pitch to and how do you build the confidence to get up in front of an audience and speak for
Aleyda Solis 54:25
me it all comes from the mindset that speaking is just another format of sharing you share already by writing very likely blog posts by doing webinars things like that. This is only another format so whenever you pitch you think what I will be writing a blog post about very likely about your experience good or bad how something when as you expected something didn’t go as you expected. New tools functionalities that you have discover identify that have been helpful. How are use cases, things like that, right like what you have learned, for good or bad that you believe that all those that are learning with you will find valuable or interesting and you are saving other people’s times. Right? This is the mindset. And then when I, whenever I pitch I say, it’s pretty much like a concept of how to do this with X or Y to achieve zit, right. So something useful, something actionable.
Think about that, like, what would you have loved that someone told you one year ago, before you did it yourself or tested it for yourself or identify it for yourself? Right. So this is how I said whenever do pitch is how to learn x or y how to achieve this or not how not to do this because it doesn’t achieve results. So it’s not only needs to be positive, also negative, that we need more shares out there about how stuff doesn’t work, not only how it works, right? So don’t be afraid to share about your your experience, I believe that a lot of people are scared to speak because they are scared on going on the stage. And that somebody from the audience because unfortunately, humans are like that will say, It doesn’t work like that I didn’t have that type of experience. It’s not true. No, sorry, this is my experience and how that worked for me or didn’t work. For me. That doesn’t mean that is the absolute truth.
It’s great that it didn’t work for you or work for you. In this other scenario, that’s more than great. Looking forward to hear more about your work for you. But that doesn’t invalidate your experience. Right? So that is amazing. Galder keep sharing, don’t get held back by that type of mindset or being scary about getting out there is your experience and you sharing what you have found valuable for others to learn from and undertake your journey. Right.
So I think that that is what is important here and are on stage today. The other day, I was saying that I believe that there are two types of people who speak those that are more entertainers, which is amazing. I mean, I’m huge respect, not me opportunity, I cannot make people laugh on stage. And then there are the that is amazing, by the way, and then the educators, if you can blend the two is amazing or the best. If you cannot, no problem, just keep the engagement. I am not known to be super entertaining.
But I am able to lead to share valuable stuff that will keep people engaged. And that’s it right. So just go on, share, tell, tell your experience, share the story that you want to share, and keep people engaged give value and they will find valuable. And you will go when that audience right and you don’t need to make people laugh, or start dancing, stuff like that. Not necessarily. You don’t need to be a show person, right? Yeah,
Chima Mmeje 57:32
I agree. I feel like for me, the thing is to find that balance, because I’m very big on delivering value, but also being doing something that people can remember beyond the talk. So I like to combine both of them. But I’ve always said that. That is not for everybody.
If you are someone who just wants to engage, go and do that if you are someone who can make people laugh and educates. Do that whatever works for you. I think that this has been incredible. Thank you so much for doing this episode with us. I’m sure this is going to be a hit with everybody who watches this. Thank you so much.
Aleyda Solis 58:03
I hope that it hasn’t inspire a few people to give you permission to dream. If you have any questions, any doubts more than happy to answer any questions and doubts are very reachable through social media, by the way, and thank you for the opportunity to share.
I think that is the first time that someone has asked me about this sort of information and and I love it because it gives me the opportunity to look back to and feel so thankful. I think that I think that we all should be thankful to be living right now, by the way and not 50 years ago or 100 years ago. So yeah, there’s that for sure.
Chima Mmeje 58:35
Thank you. Thank you
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