“Always focus on life over your career. Life trumps your career and over time, it will work out.” – Corey Barnett
Earlier this week in our post on Idan Egozy we learned how he was able to use his skills and passions to carve out a career in the video game industry. Today we’re excited to follow the story and career path of Corey Barnett, small business owner and SEO marketing expert.
Corey grew up in Lebanon, Ohio a small town located halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio. For college he remained in Ohio, attending Ashland University where he earned a degree in Business Administration, Marketing and Management. He also met his future wife there which would later play a huge role in his career.
Upon graduation, Corey took a job with Crown Partners, a technology consulting company located in Dayton. Quickly exposed to new marketing concepts and disciplines he was a quick study, thanks to his liberal arts education, and says he learned more in his first 6 months on the job than he had in four years in university.
Three years into his job at Crown, things were going great for Corey. He worked directly for the Chief Strategy Officer and handled almost all of the company’s marketing needs including launching websites, developing the brand, event marketing and much more.
Meanwhile, he and his girlfriend (now fiancée) were managing a two-year, long distance relationship as she finished school 2.5 hours away. When she finally graduated, she decided to pursue a masters at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and Corey decided to follow her. The choice wasn’t easy, Corey thought he would be committing “career suicide” by moving to Lubbock with no potential jobs in marketing in sight. So he asked his company to let him work remotely. To his surprise, they said yes.
Working from home, Corey discovered he had much more free time on his hands and decided to start pursing his interest in learning more about SEO (search engine optimization). And though the next big city, Dallas, was more than 5.5 hours away, he started building connections with agencies there and prepared to branch out on his own. A few months later he quit his marketing job and started Cleverly Engaged Marketing, a consulting agency to help businesses with SEO.
While he’s technically a freelancer, Corey says he avoids some of the pitfalls of freelancing by working with both agencies and small businesses. According to him, agencies are always selling but they don’t always have the people they need to complete all their work. So they employ skilled independent contractors like Corey who maintains part-time work with a Dallas-based agency. He recommends this model to any freelancer because, “It will give you all the benefits of working at an agency (networking, job security, access to tools, insight on processes) with the flexibility to pursue more lucrative deals.”
Agencies aren’t the only way Corey finds his clients, however, he’s even used his about.me page. While he created the page some time ago while in a college class, he has since maintained an active page and made several connections on the site. The most notable connection he’s made so far is with one of his clients. While researching business owners on about.me, he stumbled on a great potential client. He reached out and they still work together today.
But as you could guess from Corey’s opening quote, there’s more to him than just his career, so despite all of the work involved with owning a company, Corey tries to keep up with his many hobbies. One of them is craft beer. He’s kept track of almost every type of beer he’s ever tried and says it’s close to 500 different kinds. After developing his palate for what good beer is, he decided to start making it at home and recently entered a group competition at a local brewery. His group won and the brewery will begin distributing their beer shortly.
He also took up bagpipes a year ago, just for fun, and is an active triathalete who has completed three marathons. In addition to what he does to stay in shape for his races on the weekends he enjoys exploring the great outdoors in Texas through rock climbing, spelunking and hiking. About a year into his move, Corey is together with his fiancée, able to keep up with his hobbies and has his own thriving business. It’s no wonder he says that moving to Lubbock was the best decision he’s ever made.
Eliana Arredondo is the Community Manager for about.me. She is a graduate of Stanford University.