A Brief History of Riaan Wessels
The 90s is my favorite decade. I graduated from high school at the end of 1992. Tertiary education wasn’t an option for me so, like many in that position, I entered the restaurant trade. Serving tables presents a peculiar learning curve and arms one with deep psychological insights. The internet was new and many fell in love with it’s potential. We had The Browser Wars, Y2K and the Dot-com bubble. However, it became obvious during this decade that we wouldn’t get any flying cars and hovering skateboards by the year 2000. In fact, it was only during the following decade that society and commerce really changed. Sure, the 90s offered new innovations but they had yet to impact our daily lives or our decision making processes. With respect to technology, I remember being very proud of my yellow Ericsson T10 and being somewhat nervous that computer calendars would result in it all unravelling when the clock struck midnight at the end of 1999. Of course, that did not happen. I also remember regularly popping in after hours by a good friend who worked at the MWeb head office near Tygervalley, Bellville, Western Cape. Mweb was the heart of the internet in South Africa in the 90s. At MWeb I surfed the pop-up advert riddled interwebs for hours and met people online in text heavy chatrooms. The good old days…
This decade catapulted social media to new heights…and it created unprecedented data. Never before had so many humans shared so much of themselves publicly. Perhaps only decades from now will we fully comprehend the impact the internet had on humans during the 2000s. At the start of this decade, I still had no idea which career path to follow, so I channeled my lack of direction into travel. Working on cruise ships afforded me the opportunity to rub shoulders with cultures from all over the world and it was serious fun to visit over 150 destinations. Needless to say, my horizons broadened. The electronic era quickly pushed the analog world into extinction. Eventually, humans who lived in the analog era will die out. I am one of them. It was during the 2000s that my curiosity of the WWW grew some roots. I started reading about the World Wide Web, it’s past, present and future. I even bought the book Web Design For Dummies (2001). It seemed like gobbledygook back then. How life has changed since. By the end of 2010 I was ready to carve a life path. I chose to become an entrepreneur. I didn’t have this goal when in high school. Not everybody who ends up an entrepreneur had that desire from birth.
In the 2010s I was hooked on the idea of a startup. I wanted a cool little business (I had so many ideas), so I settled on a community newspaper for my hometown. I paid R6500 to a web design company to create a website for Resident-X, which is the name I chose for my hometown community newspaper. Problem was, it was shit (the website). The only solution was to learn how to build websites myself. And. That’s what I did. It’s not much to look at now but I had to start somewhere: (www.resident-x.co.za). The path of figuring out what a domain is/means, how hosting works, the multiple web design platforms etc morphed into an idea: I could offer this service to other entrepreneurs. I deeply understand how intimidating it can be getting your business online. So I have tried to simplify that process for my clients. Trust plays the biggest role though. If you feel technologically challenged…well, you might never grasp exactly what’s going on. You’re probably very busy trying to build a profitable business and therefore pretty much have to trust who you choose to build your website. I designed over 200 websites during this decade. After all the exhausting hours, days and weeks of mastering my skill set, I was ready to go niche, to become a specialist.
Very few of us could have predicted how much life would change March of 2020. Anybody alive during that time will never forget it. There seemed to be a global theme of pruning the unnecessary and focusing on what’s important. That happened to me too. I moved to a farm, adopted two dogs (Chocolate Labradors) and… I continued to focus on developing websites and added a new dimension to my skill set: SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Studying and applying SEO as a one-man-band is a daunting task. The launch of AI on the 30th of November 2022, was a game changer, giving many the ability to upskill radically. By 2023 it became apparent that a gap in the SEO market, namely marketing for Service-Area Businesses, could afford me the opportunity to specialize. Coining the term “Service-Area SEO“, I avidly study and apply Schema Markup, Google Business Profile, Backlinks, Citations and more. I firmly believe the secret to success is to be useful to people, to be of service to others. The Japanese call it Ikigai.