post

Supporting new British film ‘Meet Pursuit Delange’

Back when I was employed at Motorcycle News, I happened to have a conversation with a nice chap who had produced some kind of amazing mix of live action and graphic novel. The fact that it also had bikes in it basically combined three of the biggest loves of my life – comics, movies and motorcycles. It’s no wonder I was interested in finding out more.

The man behind the project, Howard Webster, is one of those people who seems to go from one fascinating project to the next, so I’m glad we kept in touch.

And his latest work is a new British film starring the likes of Jason Flemyng, Stephanie Leonidas, Colin Salmon and Right Said Fred.

If that doesn’t sound intriguing enough, there’s more…

After putting a call out for anyone interested in being an extra, and assuming that I didn’t end up on the editing room floor, it may be possible to catch a glimpse of me in the film. It’s a non-speaking, and indeed, non-acting role, as Howard wisely decline the chance to cast me as a leading man, and instead offered me the role of a media company executive. Fortunately it’s not featured in the trailer and therefore my ineptitude can’t affect the pre-release promotion.

What I can say is:

  1. The fact that I’ve kept in touch with people, and the fact that social media has made it easier, continues to lead to amazing opportunities years after we first connected.
  2. Making films is incredibly difficult and extremely hard work. So to get something made to a high standard, and with such a quality cast, is ruddy impressive. Especially when even the lowliest extra (me) was made to feel welcome and given as much help as was required on set.
  3. There really are an amazing amount of people on a film set. And despite having been filmed for various projects in the past, it’s incredibly hard not to stare at the expensive movie camera on rails a few feet away.
  4. I don’t know how much of the scene I was in made it to the final film. But I do know the script I heard was bloody funny. And the professional thespian required for the shoot, Ben Starr, was extremely talented, funny and very understanding about working with a group of people with varied and somewhat limited experience in many cases.
  5. Thanks to Howard, I’ve managed to tick something off my bucket list. Although I still need to finish writing my own scripts soon.
  6. I’ve never had as many admiring glances (I assume they were admiring) from ladies when walking through London as I did with the required makeup for filming.

 

If you can make it, the premiere of the film is on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at the VUE Picadilly with a Q&A afterwards, and a second screening takes place on Friday, October 2nd in the afternoon. Both are part of the Raindance Film Festival and are very reasonably priced…

 

post

Why I envy designers and developers

It’s relatively common to find people who will happily admit they’re not technical, or can’t code.

It’s reasonably common to find people who will admit they can’t draw or design, even if they still have a habit of making ‘helpful’ suggestions.

It’s not very common to find people who are aware that they can’t string a decent sentence together. It’s somewhat understandable when all our days are increasingly filled with texts, emails, and social media updates. And that’s even if you don’t have a job which requires written work.

Workbench by alicjacolon.com/

Workbench by alicjacolon.com/ (CC Licence)

All of the work I do for my business is around content and communication. Whether it’s client explanations and updates, consumer-facing writing and media, or improving the meta data and information structure for SEO and increasing conversions.

I’ve been employed full-time as a writer, formally studied literature and journalism, and taught writing, journalism and marketing (including on behalf of organisations including the Press Association). Out of the top handful of magazine publishers in the country, I’ve worked for, freelanced or trained at almost all of them.

And I then spend my spare time attempting to bootstrap a digital publishing company, which started literally with nothing. For a long time, I was the sole writer, editor, sales and admin person for any website I worked on.

So hopefully by now, I can string a reasonable sentence together. Although I still get nervous every time I start to write, and a compliment for work I’ve produced can put me on a high for days.

Which begs the question why it can be so difficult to explain the situation to someone who needs great writing and content to promote themselves, or their business. And why they often find it hard to accept that they might not be doing the best possible job – especially when they want to dump it all on the cheapest intern or member of staff they can find.

Those are the times when I really wish I was a proficient coder. Or welder. Possibly an electrician like my father.

post

Some inspiration for the mid-30s and late bloomers

I’ve been clearing out old bookmarks from my browser as part of an attempt to improve my IT habits (More on that tomorrow), and stumbled across an article I saved back in 2012.

It’s by Dave McClure, who founded the 500 Startups seed accelerator and investment fund and has become a pretty well known and respected VC.

Reading it again, it’s not surprising I saved it. I experienced a similar trajectory, where I seemed to be fairly smart and destined to do well until a lack of motivation and hard work combined with distractions meant that I ended up with qualifications below what I could have achieved.

I was lucky to achieve a dream job with Bauer Media (then Emap) working on the world’s biggest motorcycle website, and followed that up with roles introducing social media across the business, and a move to follow another passion of mine, music, at Absolute Radio.

Forest Pic by Dustin Scarpitti, used under Creative Commons license.

Forest Pic by Dustin Scarpitti, used under Creative Commons license.

But as I get closer to 40, I can identify with the idea that you can still feel like an unfocused underachiever, especially when the media is full of the teen and 20-something bright young things creating multi-million startups, apps and Youtube channels.

It’s a strange feeling considering I’ve managed to build a business by bootstrapping it from nothing to survive 4 years, including some tough economic times, and work with some great, and sometimes massive companies. And at the same time, the websites I’ve started reach hundreds of thousands of people each year.

I suspect I’m not the only person who’ll identify with ‘late bloomer, not a lose.(I hope)‘.

It’s something to remember, along with the belief that you don’t have to end every day with a massive success – just do a bit better every day and suck a little less and things will happen. At the same time, I also saved this post by James Altucher on simple things to do every day to be luckier. Exercise, Prioritise, Mental exercise, Meditation. Time to make sure I improve on each one every day…

 

post

State of Digital’s Future of Search Google Hangout

I was honored to be part of State of Digital’s Google Hangout earlier today, which was based around the question ‘What is the Future of Search’.

It was a really interesting discussion, and was expertly hosted by Bas van den Beld. In addition to myself, the other invitees were Dixon Jones, Gianluca Fiorelli, Krystian Szastok, Russel McAthy and my old friend Tim Stewart. It eventually ran to 90 minutes which you can watch below.

Beyond the fact my happiness at being involved managed to overwhelm my self-conscious desire to avoid appearing in photos and on video, it also reminded me of a few video and webcam lessons and techniques which I completely forgot to do – so for those who want to look a bit more professional in any Google Hangouts, webcam videos or live chats, I’ll run through my mistakes over on TheWayoftheWeb blog.

But it’s definitely reinforced my aim to be involved in more video and speaking opportunities this year. Just need to get a haircut first…

post

Appearing on Econsultancy – thanks Google…

Just a quick one to share how proud I am to have been asked to comment on Google’s recent keyword and search algorithm changes not once, but twice, for the Econsultancy site.

Both are great articles as they bring a number of very insightful people together from the search and marketing worlds.

 

post

Nice interview with Joss Whedon on getting things done…

I’m a big fan of pretty much everything Joss Whedon has done, so it’s interesting to hear him talk about how he manages to do it all. And particularly as he admits to not finishing David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’. I’ve had a similar experience with 7 Habits of Effective People…

The full text is at Fast Company.

post

Raising a glass to old projects….

Ideas are wonderful things, particularly when you do something with them. You can end up loving them as much as friends or family as you try and turn what’s in your head into something wonderful that others can share in. But like some relationships, there’s also a time when you have to admit it’s better to let some of them go…

Which is a melodramatic way of expressing how I feel at the moment. We’ve been putting in a lot of work into the new TheWayoftheWeb.net, which is slowly taking shape in between client work. Having set ourselves an unrealistic deadline we considered keeping it hidden until it was perfected to the same level as the work we prepare for clients – but then said screw it and decided to reveal all publicly as a way to keep ourselves evolving it, and not leaving it to gather dust due to our ever-increasing client work…

That’s involved doing a bit of an audit of current and past projects, deciding which of our own projects should continue or be revived, and which ones just don’t make sense to keep pursuing in the future…

It means a final teary goodbye to 140char.com, which I started back in 2008 (All the content is currently archived on TheWayoftheWeb, so I can see the original post on June 4, 2008).

The idea was simple – ‘microblogging’ had just started, and I wanted to write about all the exciting new startups in that space. Not just Twitter, but Plurk, Jaiku, Pownce, and Identi.ca to name a few. Plus the great new tools and developers – this was when Tweetdeck was first arriving, Seesmic was pivoting, and every week saw someone doing something different and amazing with APIs, hashtags and ingenuity.

I remember writing about the earthquake which shook England – which I reported on before it was confirmed by major news channels due to widespread accounts on social networks, showing that particularly reserved English panic as walls began to shake. I sadly also covered the use of Twitter during tragic events in Mumbai, but had happy experiences interviewing developers, attending conferences like the first Media140, talking about Twestival, and meeting a lot of great people.

It wasn’t a bad idea – close rival and friend Shea Bennett’s Twittercism ended up being acquired by MediaBistro in 2011. But despite amazing links from some very prominent bloggers, and massive traffic from sites such as Gizmodo and Mashable, it never quite got to the stage where I’d nailed a big enough audience to make a living, or figured out the right alternative way to get the revenue to work on it full-time. And with the convergence of so many tools, and closure of so many alternatives, it feels like the growth time for both sites and coverage has really ended… Like any good SEO I’ve had redirects in place to the new content on TheWayoftheWeb, but after almost 2 years of inactivity, the traffic and links have well and truly aged…

I’ve thought about bringing it back in various formats, but I think this is an occasion where I’ll be letting go…

By the same token, Jodanma.com was a great idea – a small agency that would use online collaboration to deliver projects more efficiently, and really focus on core open source technology.

The idea has really morphed into the present strategy for TheWayoftheWeb, but despite having talented people involved, Jodanma stumbled for a number of reasons, particularly when I had to adjust from being an individual freelancer to attempting to co-ordinate a group of people, which was a harder challenge than I anticipated. Particularly as the early stages of any business are so tough when you are finding initial clients and waiting for the first cheques to clear.

It’s why I’ve been a lot more methodical about TheWayoftheWeb, and at the same time, I’ve brought in people who have much more experience in operations and project management.

So it was a massively valuable learning experience, but again, a name and idea which won’t be returning in that format…

I’ve also shut some of the videogame websites that came about from a desire to expand before getting the core of my own projects right.

So that leaves me with a small group of projects. TheWayoftheWeb is the main focus and business that feeds me and several other people. OnlineRaceDriver and FPSPrestige are both in the process of being revamped and overhauled, while I’ve taken a far more backseat role in Rescogs.com and PatchworkKitchen.com.

Which only leaves Digital People in Peterborough languishing a little at the moment – but we’re working on it….

 

post

The Tao of Blogging?

When one is not expressing himself, he is not free.

Thus, he begins to struggle and the struggle breeds methodical routine. Soon, he is doing his methodical routine as response rather than responding to what is.

Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

The same is most definitely true of writing and blogging, even when it’s being done for other people. If you don’t have the passion, desire and wish to know everything about your business, client or subject, then you won’t do a great job.

bruce lee

It’s why I’ve run my own blogs and sites for years. Here I can play around with the format, technology and styles, before using what I’ve learned on more business-critical sites.

Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impressions he is making or about to make

post

Some work I’m proud of…

I’m still getting used to the idea of separating out my personal blogging from the more strictly work-related stuff which will stay on TheWayoftheWeb.

But I still reserve the right to share specific bits of work here if I’m proud of them, like this blog post I published yesterday on behalf of my open source eCommerce client, Jigoshop.

So far the feedback has been positive on what was essentially the announcement of a price increase – but one which came with a fairly decent explanation of the reasons for it, and what it means for the business now and in the future.

It’s why I’m following with interest the Open Business movement, which is helped by my friendship with Dave Cushman, who has been increasingly focused on the topic for a while.