My Story

Hi,

Thanks for visiting. My aim with this blog is to share some of the less technical – but still useful – things that I have learned about SEO, marketing and business building in a way that is accessible to anyone involved in business. I hope you enjoy it.

First, here is some background information about me…

I’m Stuart. Originally from England, I lived in Brussels for a time, now based in Malta since early 2011.

I used to work as a financial adviser and back in late 2003 I started work for a new company. On the second day in the office, the owner provided me with a “rider” – an extra part of my work contract. In it there was a list of all the marketing methods that I was not allowed to use. To me it seemed as though every marketing method on earth was on that list and I was left with cold calling from the telephone book.

An enduring love
That prompted me to start reading about marketing because there had to be another way, and while I was average at cold calling, there was clearly a limit to the number of calls I could make – both per hour and psychologically – and telephone numbers that I could find.

I found marketing to be fascinating – it is part psychology, part business, part maths – and a lot of fun. Back in 2003, the idea of doing business online was just beginning to go mainstream and it was a brave new world. I wanted to be a part of it.

In late 2004 I purchased one of the earliest versions of email list software that existed and I started running a monthly newsletter to prospects and clients. There were perhaps 200 people on the list, but by late 2005 I didn’t need to do anything else to generate business. People would literally just reply to my newsletter by email and say something like, “I’m getting married soon and need some life assurance. Can we meet next week please?” It was brilliant. My earnings stayed about the same, but my effort and working hours dropped substantially. Who wouldn’t love that?

One of these clients was a speech writer in the European Parliament. He was going through some tough times financially and needed help. He was a fascinating man and I enjoyed chatting to him so I was pleased to assist. Once we were done, he started making suggestions about how my newsletter could be improved and enhanced. (In marketing speak this is known as reciprocity, but I didn’t know that then).

I didn’t realise it, but he was the Opinion Editor for a newspaper using a nom de plume and in his prime had been one the UK’s leading foreign correspondents. He promptly arranged for me to have my own monthly personal finance column in a newspaper!

Suddenly I was a writer and was getting paid to have my writing critiqued by a newspaper editor once per month. Amazing.

Going online
He also suggested that I put my newsletter articles online somehow. That would prevent them from being yesterday’s fish and chip wrappings and give them a longer lifespan. This lead to my first website in early 2005.

I outsourced the building of the site and I got exactly what I asked for! It just didn’t work. Like most people new online, they ask for what they want without understanding that what works might not be the same thing.

At this point, most people shrug their shoulders and presume the web doesn’t work and move on. But I had been indoctrinating myself with marketing ideas and knew that there was potential. So a few months later the site came down and I tried again. That didn’t work either. Version number three was better.

It was around this time that I started to really throw myself into online marketing. I started a couple of new sites, one of which worked very well and still earns me money every month now (currently seven years later).

I was also consuming lots of marketing materials to learn everything I could. All my spare cash would be spent on another book or course or DVD set by a guru. Some were better than others, but the net result is that over time I have learned a lot (like, really a lot) about marketing and business building techniques. In total, I would guess that I have spent over US$20,000 on marketing courses, but most of these I purchased second hand on eBay, so their retail value would be many times higher than that.

As I spent more time working on my websites I became better and better at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and that has become the main service that I offer.

For some reason, I like the mental challenge that working within the Google algorithm offers. It is a constantly changing and complicated beast and needs real mental force to tame. Over the years I have had some big successes and some more failures, but the game keeps evolving and we need to keep evolving and learning with it.

The blogosphere
I had a vague plan to move into marketing and away from financial services for some time but in late 2007 the Belgian government changed a little known tax law that prompted most international firms to not want Belgian residents as clients. That was it. Just eight weeks later our doors closed.

It took a while to get myself back on my feet, but in mid 2008 I found a job working for one of the leading EU policy media firms. They operated only online and had just launched a blog platform. I was the new Director. Over the next two years I became very good with WordPress, I was one of the central points in the eurosphere and one of the leading bloggers using my own nom de plume.

In an effort to push the European online public space forward, I took it upon myself to do things that nobody else had done. Thus, I became the first blogger in Europe to interview a Vice President and then later a President of an EU institution. I even managed to interview a European Commissioner by accident. I was also the only “live blogger” at the COP15 negotiations in Copenhagen (well, I was the only one I could find in English).

The business side of things came relatively easily, as they should have. In the full year of 2008 the two business units I was in charge of generated a total of about 28,000 euros in revenue. When I left at the end of the calendar year in 2010, that number was a little over 250,000 euros. Not a world changing number I grant you, but revenue x9 in the midst of the financial and banking crisis seems pretty good to me.

Needless to say, management thought I was slow 😉

Becoming a policy wonk
Meanwhile, the firm was entering the online video market, so I had become their de facto video interviewer thanks to my English accent and the ability to work a camcorder. I conducted over 200 policy interviews with politicians, policy experts, business leaders, academics and on and on. I don’t have any qualifications or training in government policy, so I had to keep learning and researching on the fly. It was fascinating. I learned so much. And I became very good at using YouTube!

This unusual access also lead me to freelance work with a few politicians. I have written some speeches, opinion pieces for newspapers and I have been an online strategy and communications consultant for some.

I quit my job and life in Brussels to be with a girl I had met and moved back to the UK. Very quickly it went horribly wrong and not sure what to do with my life or where to do it, I moved to Malta and have been here ever since. I now work for a few clients and on my own websites mainly providing SEO services, but also on select marketing and strategy projects.

If I am brutally honest, this experience has really forced me to be self employed and follow my own path. The reality is that it isn’t easy to bond with an interviewer when they have been stuck in an office for a big company and find out that you have been traveling around Europe, interviewing politicians at fancy receptions and events.

Over the years I have been able to develop a framework that helps almost any business to grow quickly and profitably in short time periods. While few of the ideas are my own, I have read and researched so much that simply by applying the best and most relevant parts of 6-10 different approaches, it is possible to quickly improve results.

Would you like to speed up the results in your business?

All that interviewing means that I have learned to ask really good questions. Spending time with me is about cutting to the heart of an issue and finding the right questions to ask so that the best possible answers can be unearthed.

Sometimes I’ll have the answers and sometimes you will, but the combination will get us there. After all my marketing self-education, I now ask myself one question whenever I face a tricky problem or need a creative solution, “What would Jay Abraham do?” I don’t claim to be even 10% as smart as he is, but the answers I come up with often offer very powerful marketing driven high leverage solutions.

My Offer To You
If you want to improve the profitability of your company by generating more leads, making more sales, creating some publicity, making you or your business look smart or improving your web based marketing, you probably ought to speak to me.

Firstly because I might be able to help you, but secondly because I like to and specialise in making “mafia offers” – in other words when I can I make business proposals that you’d be mad to say no to. Of course, some people do say no…

To be more specific, I make lots of wild and unusual offers that do things like reverse the risk in the transaction for the buyer, guarantee my work, work on a pay per performance basis and more. I trust myself to deliver and mostly I can and do. If this sounds like it might be interesting for you and your business (who wouldn’t want to see results before they pay for something?) then perhaps you should get in touch. I can be reached by email at stuart123567@gmail dot com.

If on the other hand you are just interested in seeing your website rank more highly in Google, then I can help with that too. I have some specific ways of working which are unlike most of the SEO industry, but if you drop me a line we can chat about where you are and where you want to get to and make a plan from there.