Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Chagala.
Hi Michael, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I followed the rules most of my career. I got the corporate jobs at the stable companies with the benefits and health insurance. In exchange for a steady paycheck, you learn to get excited about 2% raises, free birthday cake, and occasionally getting a cubicle near a window. After a few decades, retire on a neglected 401k.
After doing this for years, I found that no matter how hard I worked, I wasn’t getting any closer to my dreams. I woke up one morning to the realization the corporate world was no longer for me. Life was quickly passing me by, and I had to make a change. But with 2 kids and a mortgage, a career change meant risking everything. I did it anyway.
My life in the corporate world wasn’t a total waste. I started as a software engineer and after several iterations, found myself in digital marketing. I had the valuable skill of being a marketer who could also write code, a rarity in departments filled with creative types.
I also learned how corporate culture works and how leadership makes decisions. Corporations are bureaucratic and slow to move. And most important, the people within these organizations tend to make decisions based on what’s best for them, not the company. Working my way up from an unpaid intern, years in a cubicle, then management – I know how to navigate all levels of corporate structure. This knowledge later turned out to be just as valuable as my technical skills when it came to selling SEO services.
Deciding to quit your career, and actually doing it are two different things. I had nothing to replace my income. I started Rank Harvest in 2018 as a one-man side hustle. There were no investors, loans, or injection of cash – it was me and a laptop. For over a year I woke up at 4 am to work 4 hours before my day job then came home and worked 4 more and 12 hours each on the weekends. The long hours were the easy part; the hard part was continuing to go to my day job knowing I was actively working to get out of it.
At the point Rank Harvest was generating half the income I needed to survive, I took the leap of faith and quit my job. With half an income and 3 months’ savings in the bank, I had roughly 6 months to turn this into a success. Fast-forward to today and Rank Harvest is one of San Diego’s top digital marketing agencies with over 2,500 clients and an amazing team located around the world.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The biggest challenge I faced was the fear of quitting my day job. I almost didn’t do it. I could easily still be sitting in my cubicle right now, wishing I was anywhere else. I grew up in an environment where all the grownups went to work as an employee each day. Teachers, engineers, government jobs… typical middle-class stuff. I can’t think of anyone in our social circle who owned a business.
It’s not that I wasn’t aware that people owned businesses. There’s shops, restaurants, and all kinds of businesses everywhere owned by someone. You see the owners inside and they look so natural as if there was never any doubt this is what they were meant to do. They didn’t have to waste away for years in a cubicle then face an existential decision to quit their day job. It’s simply a different paradigm for them; they probably never considered a corporate job any more than I had considered owning a business.
I felt things were a bit different for me, however, in that I was jumping into business ownership mid-stream, with zero experience, and income requirements far beyond what should be expected from a new business. I couldn’t afford to start small and grow over time. I also couldn’t afford to get it wrong and start over again. My business had to be an outstanding success from the start.
Never underestimate your ability to rise to the occasion.
We’ve been impressed with Rank Harvest SEO, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Rank Harvest is split into two main divisions. One side is the ‘gig’ model where we offer preconfigured SEO packages at set prices; we do the work, deliver it to the customer, and move on to the next order. These can be purchased directly from our website with a credit card. This works well for customers on small budgets or businesses who manage their own SEO and only need a specific service. Then there’s the agency side. This is more of the standard agency engagement where customers are assigned a dedicated account manager and we work with them on a monthly basis to achieve long-term goals. What sets us apart is we don’t do cookie-cutter, templated SEO; we look at each customer’s SEO presence from a new perspective each month and pivot the strategy accordingly. We also don’t try to trick Google and exploit loopholes in the algorithm – we drive traffic to websites mostly through excellent content and other white-hat methods. At this point, we’ve worked with nearly every imaginable type of business from global conglomerates like Huawei, to a guy who could reshape your ears if you didn’t like them.
What’s coming in the future for Rank Harvest? We’re about 2 weeks out from offering free and paid AI services on the website. Visitors will be able to ask AI to do something, and it will execute that command to the best of its ability – images, text, answer questions… it will be incredibly easy to use. We’re also making a major drive into web3. Web3 is a general term for new web technologies that use blockchain, decentralization, and token-based economics. If this doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s in its infancy and we got in at the ground level. The web will look different in a few years, and we’ll be ahead of the curve.
What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I grew up in San Diego. I don’t think I have the perspective to truly appreciate how wonderful it is here. My parents are both from the Midwest and tell me I have no idea how lucky I am. We’re big RVers which is perfect as our kids are old enough to be out of diapers, but young enough to still want to hang out with us. We don’t go far, usually out to the local deserts. I’m a big runner and love the variety of scenery and terrain San Diego has to offer. I love the beach but the water’s too cold. Why can’t we have ~80-degree water like Florida and Hawaii?
- Monthly Managed SEO starts at $1500
- Standard SEO packages start at $495
- Local SEO packages start at $495
- SEO Consulting starts at $200
- SEO content writing starts at $200
- Website: https://rankharvest.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rankharvest
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rank-harvest
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/rankharvest
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@RankHarvest
- Other: https://councils.forbes.com/profile/Michael-Chagala-CEO-Founder–Rank-Harvest-SEO/1c8153a8-a44e-4395-bdfe-00f3e052731c