Hey there, this where we meet and I tell you everything there is to know about me. Well…maybe not everything, I was lucky enough to enjoy my youth before Facebook & YouTube, digital cameras and smart phones, so luckily a lot my embarrassing moments are locked up in a memory bank somewhere!
Funnily enough, now my life is digital marketing, and I love it!
First and foremost I am a family man. Everything I do, I do for them. My partner is my strength, my confidence and my voice of reason. The very reason you are reading this is because of her. We have struggled, succeeded and struggled some more. I failed many times (as you will see if you keep reading). One day I hope to give her the wedding she deserves. My son is the reason I wake up every morning; literally, he wakes me up EVERY morning. My goal is to provide a better future for them both, and hopefully help a lot people along the way.
A Not So Brief History Of Me
I was born in Cape Town and moved to a small town called Pietermaritzburg, the Sleepy Hollow as it was known (same name as many small towns I think but this one was particularly sleepy). I went to an average school and academically did enough to get into university. My main passion at the time was basketball. I loved it, lived it and breathed it. I started out in the third team, made the second team, then the first team and would finally go on to play for South African Schools (All Star) and be awarded my full honours (most of you will be thinking ‘Who the fudge cares? And more importantly where the fudge is Pietermaritzburg?’. I tell you this not brag but to impart with you the wisdom I felt at that young age. That with hard work, sweat and tears anything was possible, life was limitless and everything was going to be AWESOME!
Well, it wasn’t! I went to university and I studied a degree that I was not really that interested in – majoring in Economics and Marketing & Advertising Management. Again my only goal was to play basketball (I was playing professional ball at the time). In order to prolong my basketball career and social life, I signed up for another degree, this time in Accounting (yawn). Well as all good things must come to an end, I eventually had to get out into the real world and find a job. I chose the one career I thought at the time would make me the most amount of money, Finance. I was going to be RICH!
Well, I wasn’t. After four years working in Pietermaritzburg, and watching all my friends leave for London. I thought there must be more to life than this. I was right!
London opened my eyes to whole new world. I managed to get a job earning very good money (still accounting), which allowed me to travel and see the world. I made many friends and travelled to many cities. I would say I was really happy! BUT, there is always a BUT. Accounting was just a job; I wasn’t excited about waking up and going to work. Work was boring, work was mundane. Most days I felt like a battery chicken in a mass production line, grey suits all tapping away at a computer. There must be more to life. My entrepreneurial spirit was born.
The Part About How I Failed!
Only to be CRUSHED several times! My first venture into the world of business, was to convince a few of my good friends that owning your own business was the only true way to be happy (even if you don’t know what you are doing). So in 2005 we banded together and set up our first company. This company was a property company back in South Africa. The Pound was strong; the Rand was weak. Buying brand new off the plan properties was all the rage (I can see you all shaking your heads). So without doing too much homework and basking in our newfound entrepreneurialism, we started buying houses. It was great, we were on top of the world. In two years we had bought three awesome properties and even though we were paying in every month, life as an International Director was great (on paper, we will come back to this later).
In 2007, the world was my oyster. We all used to drink in a wonderful little local pub in Wandsworth called ‘The Old Sergeant’. It had been my local since 2004, and I loved everything about it. One day I got a call from the manager. She was in a very panicked state …”Jon they are going to sell The Old Sergeant!!! Everything is going to change! What are we going to do?” I put the phone down and did what any self-respecting entrepreneur with no experience would do… I turned to my friend and said; “Do you want to buy a pub?” He said “Sure, why not”. We have all seen Cheers (well those of us from a certain era). Its every man’s dream RIGHT? So we each got another friend involved, (four accountants) and put together a proposal on a hope and whim. BOOM! We got the pub, over all the other experienced Publicans (Pub Owners with many years experience). We did not know the first thing about running a bar & restaurant! BUT we wanted it and we got it!
At the time, I was working as an accounting contractor for Fidelity International through a limited company. I was 28yrs old, the director of three companies and on paper that sounded pretty cool.
In reality, everything was about to fall apart. The 2008 GFC came and came hard. Contractors were the first to go, interest rates in South Africa skyrocketed, and people stopped spending money down at the pub! The loans for the pub, the mortgages, being unemployed for months on months, put me on the brink of bankruptcy. Within two to three years my life had gone from AWESOME to what I can honestly say were the darkest days I have ever known. I was responsible for rent, credit card bills, loan re-payments, mortgages and every month I had to send money to SA to support my mom & dad.
With no more money left and debts becoming insurmountable, I moved out of my very comfortable house and into the accommodation above my bar. All I had to my name was the mattress on the floor and the clothes in my closet. So I decided to get to work in our bar. We were not making much money at the time, so all I paid myself was enough to pay my debts and keep the vultures at bay. It felt really strange, the owner who used to walk in and buy everyone drinks, was now the guy working for minimum wage and tips behind the bar.
Trying To Succeed
It was a very humbling experience and a great time to reflect. While I did not earn a lot of money, I had a lot of time. Time I used to start learning new skills. I started learning more and more about online marketing. I started learning more about WordPress and how the CMS works, I started learning about Ad Words and how paid advertising works, I started learning about affiliate marketing. I started to go to seminars, where they told me the road to internet riches was selling $5 eBooks on “how to walk your dog” (You know the ones). I eventually signed up for an affiliate program “How To Make Millions Selling Affiliate Programs” it made sense at the time as I was the first one to buy in… Ha! Lured by the riches of the internet, marketers all selling their snake oils.
After setting up the site, running ads to the landing page, I stated to get a few leads. All the questions were the same. Does this stuff really work? Will this work for me? I started to feel really uncomfortable. How could I even try to sell this stuff when I have never made a cent online. Low and behold my conscience got the better of me. I stopped running the ads, switched off the autoresponder and threw in the towel. Little did I know until many years later when I logged into my Clickbank account, I had made my first $100 online. A check that had been sent to the wrong address and eventually cancelled. Needless to say I was excited and disappointed. Excited because it works, disappointed because I did it the wrong way. So I thought I would try again, this time with a physical product, something tangible. I did not have a website at the time only an affiliate link to another website. In all my excitement to get the ad up and running I raced to my Google Ad Words account, set up my ad, put in my affiliate link and waited for authorisation. What happened next would put me on course for a totally new career and a life changing journey to where I find myself writing this now.
Finding My Passion
It was early morning 2011. We had sold the pub and cut our losses but I woke up feeling excited. I fully expected to see dollars in my Clickbank account. I logged into Google to check my ad and BAM! Your account has been shut down. Not paused, SHUT down. For using an affiliate link instead of a real website. I panicked, I wrote emails saying how new I was and did not mean to do it, I grovelled and grovelled and grovelled, to no avail. At first I was really upset, how can you start a business if you can’t advertise on Google? Heart broken and dejected, I started to pick myself up and do some research. Every thread I poured over suggested life without Google was no life at all.
Suddenly this three-letter word kept popping up everywhere, SEO! What is this SEO people keep talking about? How does it work? Can I do it? I don’t need Google, I don’t need Ad Words. If I can get websites to rank well, they don’t need to spend a cent on Ad Words. If I can help businesses rank well, I can help people grow their businesses. Now that’s powerful.
If you have not fallen asleep yet, I commend you, thanks for still being here. I wish I was 20 again; this would have been a very short paragraph;-)
For the next six months I read every book on SEO I could find. I made a list of every expert out there and read their blogs, signed up to their new letters, followed them on Twitter, joined forums and signed up for courses. I immersed myself with everything SEO for over 6 months. When I was finally ready, my partner had a friend who owned an SEO agency. I said I would help out for free, just to get some practical experience. I worked for three months for no pay. After the three months they so impressed that they offered me a role as their SEO consultant, 6 months later I was Head Of Account Services. Since then I have immersed myself in all thing digital, SEO, Content Marketing, Analytics, PPC, Face Book Advertising, Email Marketing, you name it I have done it.
In 2014 after the birth of my son, we decided that we wanted a better lifestyle, London was great, but sunshine, space and the outdoors was more appealing to us. So we packed up and headed for Sydney. Since being in Sydney, I have worked as a Search Manager for a highly reputable Web Design company, and have been instrumental in growing their Online Marketing business. I love it, I love going to work because I love the work I do.
Where To Next
The next part of my journey is learning how to help more people. I believe that in life if you give as much as you can and don’t expect anything in return, if you over deliver and constantly added value to the lives of others, you have truly lived a successful life.
My core values are love, family, friendship, trust, honesty and adventure. Each day I strive to learn something new, I am always looking forward and doing my best to learn from my mistakes, and there are many! I want to thank you for reading this far. I hope you find my website helpful.
If I can help you overcome any obstacles online or in business please feel free to get in touch.
Dream big and never give up!