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Meet John Locke of Lockedown Design in Sacramento

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

John, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Nine years ago, I was working in a Wonder Bread factory. I had been part of the baker’s union for the previous sixteen years at various jobs. I wanted to make paradigm shift in the way I was living, so I started learning web design and web development in between shifts in 2009.

By the end of 2010, I could build some basic sites, and I would build websites for friends and family to get some practice in, like putting in reps at the gym. In 2011, I built my first site for a local business. Since 2012, I’ve been running my own business full time. In that time, I’ve built about 75 unique web projects, some for small businesses, but also some for large international businesses. In 2017, I decided to pivot Lockedown Design to be a SEO company, primarily for manufacturers and other blue-collar companies. So far, that’s been pretty successful.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I first started doing web development, I thought it would be fairly easy to build up a client base. At that time, the industry was still booming, and many small businesses were still without a decent web presence. What I learned is that even in a booming market, it still takes a lot of work to do business development, and to build a recognizable brand. I was very fortunate to have a lot of people who gave me overflow and subcontract work along the way, which allowed me to build up the business. I would tell anyone starting a business to invest a lot of time shaking hands and taking meetings. Just circulating a lot in your local community will help people know who you are, which will help you be top of mind when they do need someone to fill a need. Patience is definitely something you need as a business owner.

Lockedown Design – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The biggest thing that sets my company apart from my competitors is that I’ve lived a whole life already as a blue-collar worker. Not only that, but I was in management for a large portion of that time. This means that I have a better grasp on what it takes to run a business (that’s not a web agency) than the majority of my rivals. Most agency principals that I know went to design school and went straight into agency life. For me, I feel like that’s something I’m still learning several years into this journey. Because I know what it’s like to put in an honest day’s labor, I can relate to many of the manufacturers and fabricators that I work with now. I’ve been very blessed to have different perspectives during my life, and I bring that into my digital work as well.

Right now, I’m most proud of the SEO work I’m doing for some of my blue-collar clients with newer businesses here locally. I have a friend Brandon with a classic auto shop, he’s doing really well getting the business in the door. I also have a sandblast cabinet manufacturer I’m working with, that we’re making a big difference in helping him grow his business. Both of these are businesses that started maybe two years ago. It really means a lot to me that we are able to help them move the needle and grow their business to where they can keep expanding. That’s a great legacy, to be a part of that effort.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
When I was a nine-to-fiver, I used to equate success with getting promoted, or getting a bigger paycheck, or having more responsibility. I look at things a lot differently now. As long as I’m doing what I choose to do, and my family is well taken care of, that’s success to me. All the rest is gravy.


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