Hi, I’m Ian, a small business owner based in Nottingham, England.
I’m a Jack-of-all-trades that makes things on the web. Some of the things I do:
- Building, buying (and selling) humble internet businesses
- SEO, marketing and traffic generation
- WordPress optimisation
- Subscriptions and online payment optimisation
- Fraud prevention
The slightly longer story
My internet career started when I discovered the HTML, XHTML & CSS book by Liz Castro. I was instantly hooked and started building terrible, terrible websites while working in retail sales.
As I read more about the web, and websites in particular, I learned about the mysterious sorcery that is… SEO.
I quit my job in retail sales and dove headfirst into a local SEO agency. In retrospect, they were an awful company who knew as much about SEO as, well, most people doing SEO today!
The job sucked, so I quit and built a website on the side. It was a “men’s lifestyle” blog and no, I won’t share the URL with you. I ended up selling that website 3 months after I built it for $10,000 – a lifechanging amount for somebody who had quit their day job and was living with their girlfriend and her mother!
Soon after this, I got a job working as an in-house SEO at a local financial services company and trust me, it was every bit as boring as that sounds.
That said, I met some very good friends there, people I keep in touch with to this day.
During my time at that job, I took $8,000 and purchased my first site, OpenDesigns.org. It was an open-source HTML and CSS template gallery, which I was able to quickly grow to $1-2k a month in Adsense earnings.
The site was custom coded in WordPress, and for the first time, I needed to learn PHP and basic WordPress dev skills in order to update WordPress to the latest version. Little did I know how important those skills would later turn out to be.
Another benefit to Open Designs was the introduction to open source software, which ultimately led me to quit the financial services game to begin working at my dream job at Automattic and WordPress.com.
Before joining a8c (Automattic) I sold Open Designs for $40,000 and, due to their conflict of interest policies, I didn’t run a side project or internet business for the next 5 years.
During that time I gained an incredible amount of knowledge working in customer support, working with product and development teams, before switching focus to payment and subscription optimisation, fraud prevention, and terms of service policies.
Despite a8c being my dream job, and working with people who I felt were exactly aligned with me and my personality, I found myself being less engaged with the job. As the company grew, the business focus and leadership just didn’t resonate with me – and I started to get the itch.
About a year before I eventually quit, my dad had a traumatic and life-changing accident one Saturday evening, and this above all else prompted me to consider the question: “what do you want to do with your life?”.
The answer was obvious. I wanted to create. To buy and build profitable and simple internet businesses. To fully control my own destiny and work on the things I enjoy.
In April of 2019, I finally quit a8c and went into business with my long-time friend, Ryan Gibson. We’ve known each other for many, many years, back when we were churning out b2b educational websites for fun, spending our hard-earned profit on SEO “link packs” to grow our £10 a day earnings!
We now own and operate a network of about 40-50 educational websites (I honestly lose track of the actual number) with our time being focused on a core of six subscription-based web businesses aimed at teachers, homeschoolers, and students.
So there you have it. The very brief story of me, and how I came to be at this point in my life.
If you need to reach out to me, you can drop me an email at me@ this domain, or on Twitter.