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Hidden Gems: Meet John Locke of Lockedown Design & SEO

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Locke.

Hi John, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
In 2009, I was 38 and working in a bread factory, and wanted to make a career change. My body was going through repetitive motion injuries, and I also wanted to do more creative work. When I was young, I was really involved in music, art, and creative writing. Also, my thoughts were on having a sustainable career that I could do for the next few decades. So, later that year, I started learning web design and development after working 11 hour shifts at the bakery. I read books on design and typography and took online classes for the next year and a half to make the transition.

In the meantime, I was starting to build websites for friends or just for practice, trying to get better at understanding HTML, CSS, and jQuery. My partner at the time was very supportive, and she believed in what I was doing. The bakery ended up going through a labor strike and then bankruptcy, and I took a lot of odd jobs doing web development to make money. I would hit the job boards every day, and I would land these little jobs helping people with their web development projects. I was fortunate to find some agencies that were outsourcing work, and through that I was able to get a lot of practice, hone my skills, and build a lot of websites, most of which are still around today. Ironically, I couldn’t get work from any local agencies in California, all the work I got was from the East Coast – New York, North Carolina, and then New Jersey.

After a few years of that, I realized that I had really outgrown what I was doing and had gotten way off track from what I originally wanted to do, which was build my own business. I cut all my subcontracts, except for one partnership I still do with a friend from Nevada, and focused more on building up my own clientele. Around 2017, I also came to the realization that most businesses really need traffic, so I slowly started focusing more on SEO. This way, I could help people end to end, designing and building websites, helping them with the site content, and helping coach them in other marketing avenues that would help them improve their position in Google.

The result has really been realized the last couple of years, and I’ve been able to achieve all of the goals I originally had for the business, Lockedown Design & SEO. Today, I mostly work with industrial and home services companies, helping them increase their revenue through strategic design, content, and online marketing.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Originally, I thought web design and development would be a quick path to success, but I realized shortly that it still takes time to build up your skills, experience, and customer base. In many ways, it was a lot like the apprenticeship that I did learning to be a baker, which I did for a total of 21 years. Fortunately, I had some good people to learn from that fed my work, and I learned not only from how they designed sites but also from how they conducted business. The web development part I mostly learned on my own, as most of the companies I did work for early on were designers, not strong in web development.

Early on, I did a lot of networking at Chamber of Commerce meetings, web development Meetups, and other professional outlets. These were a mixed bag of leads. I did get some work from these, but eventually, I found that I got better returns from producing content for my own website.

One thing that really surprised me is which people will help spread the word about your business and which people will be jealous of your success. The early years were not as lucrative as I originally thought they might be, but it was laying a foundation for all the prosperity I am enjoying today. It was not an easy path, but it was worth it in the end.

If I could do it all over, I would tell myself from twelve years ago to save as much money as possible before going full-time. A confession I’ll make here: the first year, I tried to get a job at a few local agencies, but no one wanted to hire a forty years old junior web developer. Although I’m glad, I never ended up working for anyone else. Ultimately, it was worth the early struggles to be where I’m at today. I have no regrets.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Today Lockedown Design & SEO is known as one of a handful of search engine optimization companies that works with growing industrial and manufacturing companies. Some of our clients have had massive growth; nearly every single client we’ve worked with has had significant improvement with their lead generation through organic search (Google and Bing).

Manufacturing and industrial companies are often underserved in search marketing, as many marketing efforts are either focused on social media (fledgling companies) or trade shows (larger companies). Both of those channels help with SEO, but often there are other things holding companies back from doing better in search. Usually, they have the wrong content or outdated design on their site, or both.

We’ve been able to analyze many industrial sites and determine what is missing and work with marketing directors or the leadership team to fix all the deficiencies. There are only a few other companies doing this really well.

As far as the Lockedown SEO brand, I am most proud of earning the respect of my peers and the gratitude of my clients. I am ecstatic about the owners that have been able to grow their businesses to a point where their lives are changed for the better. I am happy when companies are able to hire more people and create more jobs. That is a humbling feeling.

If you are reading this now, and you have a business that relies on local leads, and you’re not getting any traffic from Google right now, we can help you solve that mystery. There are many things that Google’s algorithm looks at to judge the quality of your site, and we can help you close that gap.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Finding mentors happens naturally when you keep doing good work. Some of my mentors and colleagues are in the web marketing space, and some run physical brick and mortar businesses. My advice is find people who are a few steps ahead of you but not leaps and bounds ahead. The business owners who are up-and-coming alongside you will be your closest allies. Looking for mentorship from people who are far advanced from where you are currently at can be hit-and-miss. Many people in that position may brush you off. Find people in a similar space who are ambitious, friendly, and intelligent. Bounce ideas off of each other, and you will learn from each other. You should also share your thoughts, struggles, and victories in business from time to time. Blogging and publishing videos to YouTube did more to build my network than anything else in the early years. There will always be someone who your words resonate with, and that is how your network can start.


  • SEO Retainers: $1300 to $2k monthly
  • One-time SEO Audits: Starting at $1500
  • Website Design and Development: Starts at $7500

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