If you have been following me for a while you will have noticed that I recently completed #the100dayproject with my project #100daysmarketingcreatives. I have been recommending March Meet The Maker project to clients for a number of years but this year @joannehawker encouraged me to take part too.
I felt a bit of a fraud initially as I don't make anything physical like most people doing the project but the more I thought about it the more I realised that I have been a creative all of my working life. Every day I create and a I love to create but what I create is electronic not physical.
Today I help creatives to create an online presence. I either do it for them or provide the tools for them to do it or often somewhere in between. The journey here has been a long one. It started in 1984 when I left college and started worked as a mainframe computer programmer for a large insurance company in Manchester. I found I was good with IT and it seemed like an obvious direction but to be honest the work was very restrictive and quite tedious especially in those early days of IT. After a couple of years I went to work for the Electricity Board in Manchester. Here the work got a bit more interesting especially as PCs started to appear and I got involved in rolling them out across the organisation. After 5 years in 1991 I saw opportunities to set up my own business developing my own computer software and have been running that business ever since.
The initial years were difficult finding the right direction and developing my own software was time consuming. For a few years I switched between developing software for large corporates with specific projects on short term contracts and developing my own software. This work took me around the country and on one occasion as far as Thailand! I got to work in many different businesses in many sectors across many departments helping me understand how so much in business works. There was lots of travel, however, and my ultimate goal was to work from home more developing my software and starting a family.
My software took off after a few years and served me well for 20 years or more attracting many clients large and small. It was a membership and event booking system attracting membership organisation across many sectors. Again it took me to many different organisations from business clubs to prestigious yacht clubs, sports organisers through holiday clubs, specialist interest groups through industry associations and representatives. It was quite ahead of it's time at the beginning but as technology improved others started to catch up and my software started to date and I started to lose the enthusiasm for it knowing it would take thousands of hours to redevelop the software in modern tools.
I had many loyal clients for most of that 20 or so years but nearly 6 years ago when I met my partner Lucy Gell I saw the opportunity to move in a different direction. Lucy had been printmaking from home for several years while raising her family but was only selling in small volumes and didn't have the time or the knowledge to promote her business well over the internet. I started by looking at Lucy's website, then helped her with her mailing list, Etsy shop and all aspects of her on-line promotion. Whilst accompanying Lucy to exhibitions over the next few years I learnt more about the industry and met other artists and makers and decided that this might be an interesting new direction to take my business so that is exactly what I have done.
I have spent the last few months documenting some of the knowledge I have gained in recent years and have lots more I will be writing about in the coming months that will help people help themselves as well as demonstrate my knowledge to clients that don't have the time or inclination to do these things themselves and want me to help them. I have developed a number of websites for artists, photographers, crafters and other makers as well as helped them with their SEO, mailing lists and social media strategies. I would hope that in the not too distant future once I have more material ready I will be able to make some workshops available and who knows perhaps online courses or memberships so that more people from further afield can benefit from what I do.