“I’ve been incredibly lucky. I work in an industry I love, with people and subjects I care about. Not everyone can say that.”
The Short Bio.
I know, you’re busy. So here’s what my American friends call “The Skinny”
I’m a professional writer, digital media consultant and producer helping clients make sense of digital marketing strategies and tactics. If you’re worried about the way that digital is affecting your business, we need to talk.
A former career in specialist car sales taught me that people like to buy things from people. Despite what you may have heard, nothing has changed, it’s simply the platform of communication has evolved.
I’m a sucker for an interesting project, I love the new technologies that are removing the gatekeepers from the traditional points of entry into many marketplaces.
I hate reality TV with a passion you can only begin to imagine.
I feel the same way about those syrupy American comedy series. What, you actually laugh at this shit?
I have a habit of swearing. It’s not tourretes, it’s just me. Sorry. I promise I behave in public.
I have a life long love of driving and the internal combustion engine (yes, I learned early…) It’s tempered with a realisation that the future doesn’t include it. I find these new technologies fascinating.
I love hearing about new client problems and truly enjoy working on projects that change perceptions while informing and entertaining.
If you think I’m a good for you and your projects, or you simply want me to write you a straight forward editorial feature, we should talk.
You have time on your hands and want the longer version? OK.
I’m a professional writer, digital media consultant and producer. I’ve developed a set of skills over the years that has come together today in a way that I could never have foreseen. This means that I can help a wide variety of clients.
I work on one off projects that need fast solutions and also work continually over a period to create a variety of different content that helps you to build a brand in today’s crowded digital space.
How on earth did I reach this point? You asked for it.
I loved two subjects at school. English Language and Technical Drawing. I hated sports, loathed football (still do, I make no apology for that) and while I wasn’t a loaner, I was rubbish at chatting up girls and I guess I was never going to be Head Boy or captain of the football team.
Two years at college gave me A Levels in such things as Technical Drawing, Physics and English Language. I ditched the Literature part, mainly due to the teacher, which was a shame, as I’m still catching up on some of the best words ever written.
I couldn’t get a ‘real’ job after my education, so I took a part time job driving rental cars while I waited to see if I should study another five years to become a draughtsman. There I discovered the car showroom, with salesmen who were making good money right now, not in five years time. Interesting.
My mother was horrified, but happy that I had a job after almost a year out of work. I’ve written here about how I was truly lucky to be taught and mentored by people who valued customer service, cared about building long term relationships with buyers who would keep coming back because they trusted you.
Those values formed the basis of everything I work on today, whether it’s writing automotive features, working with you while building your social media authority or creating content that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the automated, badly written rubbish that’s out there.
That philosophy of building long term relationships, towards a quality sales process and people skills led me to be selling specialist cars, including brands such as Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari and Lexus. Good times and I loved it for many years. The buzz of making a sale in the high altitude, specialist car arena is something I admit to missing, even today.
I met some great people who are still friends.
Then I began to get a slow realisation that I was bored. And that if I didn’t get out, I would be doing this forever. Back then, every showroom had one guy who was a shadow of his former self, apart from his fat belly that is. He hated being a salesman, hated customers, had given up.
He wore a grey suit, with grey shoes and a frayed grey tie. It matched his grey hair and the shirt that stretched over his belly used to be white but was now…. Grey.
He may as well have had “shoot me’ on his forehead. I knew that while I loved selling, I was done. I always said to everyone I knew that if I ever looked like that, shoot me.
The hardest thing I ever did was hand in my notice that day.
A strange spell working for independent dealers, then a short lived motorsport management career before the team was stillborn (that’s motorsport) means that two years later I was out of work with bills to pay.
Back into the showroom, or find another way?
I have my friend Andy at Ice Driver to thank for the next part.
I’d always loved photography, had some half decent kit. “A car mag wants to feature my Lotus Cortina race car build. They want a photographer, I told them you were it.”
I found that I could actually shoot for money. That I was good enough to get paid. Better make a business plan and buy more kit. I was also a decent web designer, so happy days.
Professional photography was fun for years. I started writing, as the magazines very often couldn’t find a decent journalist and I found I was really good at finding self-assigned words and pictures features, then selling them to magazines, ready to go.
I enjoyed writing just as much as photography. If not more.
Like all business models, even the one you’re involved in yourself as you’re reading this, they change. The flood of free images, added to new young photographers who didn’t understand fees, was killing it. Then someone invented the iPad.
I realised that the future was fully digital and began planning for that.
The transition from print to digital has been a rough crossing for many. Some just didn’t make it through the storm and drowned in an ocean swell full of poor quality, badly written, unimaginative, plastic content.
They couldn’t figure out how to make money from an internet where everything appeared to be for free.
I’m happy to say that I made it through and that on the other side, I found a remarkable place.
A place for my skill set and life experiences that has made me in demand. Having the empathy to work out what people may be thinking. Then writing content that makes them pull a trigger and engage.
A place where my driver coaching skills (see below) came together with my ability to drive and write. I loved writing even more than photography and I have Lee Sibley to thank at Total 911 magazine for teaming me up with great photographers that are cool to work with and freed my mind to concentrate on creating the drive story that I hope goes some way to approaching the stellar work of Mel Nichol.
And additionally, somewhere that my sales management skills gave me a producer mindset which enables me to pull of complex logistics of film production in safety and on budget.
And somewhere where I suddenly realised that Empathy is probably the most important skill of all.
Being able to imagine what is going on in someone’s mind and think about what is needed to make them take the course of action I need. Whether that’s clicking the ‘Buy’ button, the ‘Like’ heart, or turning the page and continuing reading.
Or simply hitting the brakes hard enough when I say Brake! when we’re approaching the end of the 130 mph straight.
So as you’ve probably gathered, I’ve had to re-invent myself a few times. I have learned so much and I’m truly lucky to have made it to where I am today.
If you’ve read it this far, well done. Thanks for staying with me.
The chances are, your own business is changing too, even as you’re reading this.
If you’re struggling to work it all out, if you’re worried about the way that your business is being affected by digital, we should talk. I can probably help.
And finally, did I mention driver coaching?
No I didn’t did I? As photography got harder to make a living at, that McKenna guy came to me one day and said, “Dude, you want some work as a track instructor?”
What could possibly go wrong? Andy talked me through the basics and we sat and he taught me how to stay alive as a newly minted motorsport instructor. For more than 14 years, I combined photography and driver coaching. Many hours sitting in the passenger seat of a huge variety of performance cars taught me even more people skills and empathy.
Today, I still do it, though only for certain clients. That’s another story you can read about here.
So that’s me.
A bit of a multi tool person (no tool jokes please) who has adaptable skills that can be transferred to that project you’re struggling with that needs a fresh perspective.
If you think I can help you, drop me a line using the contact form, or use the good old telephone to call me on +44 (0)8712 766760 It’s UK time generally, so try and get me at a remotely civilised time.