Our ‘Ten Minutes With’ series of interviews gives businesses the opportunity to tell us how they’ve adapted in response to the Covid-19 crisis, what their experiences have been and as we head towards the end of the year what their plans are for business in 2021.
This week we’re talking to keen car boot bargain hunter and digital marketeer Giles Metcalfe, owner of now Lancashire-based but previously Leek-based Giles Metcalfe Digital.
What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Not really for me to say, as I would prefer to let other people describe me, but:
I guess. Maybe I should have included “diffident”.
Tell us about yourself
Before the first lockdown I was splitting my time between Leek and Lancashire, but I moved up to Lancashire in the summer to live with my girlfriend. I’ve moved around a lot over the years, which can make it difficult for people to work out my accent!
I grew up in Yorkshire and then a suburb of Norwich in Norfolk, before moving to Nottingham to study for a BA degree in Communications and Media Studies. After graduation, changes in my work and relationship situations saw me move around the country again, with time spent in Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire and Staffordshire, until I left Leek earlier this year.
My whole career has involved working in or around digital marketing, design, social media, and web development, for more employers than I would have liked, to be honest, having been made redundant four times!
In my spare time, I love getting out on my bike, going to the gym (which has obviously been difficult this year), and visiting car boot sales with my girlfriend to see if we can spot any collectibles or antiques – no Faberge egg yet though! We both hope to be on Antiques Roadshow one day. We both enjoy long dog walks with Pip the Patterdale Terrier cross, ideally on the beach and combined with a bit of beachcombing.
How would you describe your business?
Everything I do focuses on digital marketing, including Google Ads Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns, social media management, search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google MyBusiness, as well as consultancy.
I work with my clients to help them raise their digital profile and generate leads and sales. A lot of my work is with SMEs, micro-businesses and startups who can’t afford big agency fees.
The beauty of my job is that I can work with anyone from anywhere and it’s fantastic to see the return that digital marketing campaigns can bring. If my clients’ businesses are successful then I’m successful too.
What did you do before launching your business?
I’ve worked for a large FE College, building intranet sites and in web design and development, as well as working full-time for a number of digital marketing agencies and corporate businesses in various roles.
In 2014, in my last full-time job role, I was working 60 hours a week and was close to burnout. I decided to leave my job and got offered freelance work with another agency – that essentially paved the way for me launching my own company and I have to say I’ve never looked back since.
What do you love most about your job?
Seeing the businesses I work with get new leads, sales and clients from the campaigns I’ve done with them is great – it’s really satisfying and shows that I am doing my job well.
I absolutely love working for myself and being my own boss. I don’t miss the rat race at all. The freedom of being able to work the hours I want when I want is great. There are pros and cons to being freelance self-employed, but I wouldn’t ever want to go back to working for someone else again.
How have you coped in both lockdowns?
I had a slight wobble at the start of the first lockdown as some clients decided to stop their digital marketing activities, which was worrying at the time. Now though, business is back to the same levels as Q1 2020. I’m even working with new clients now and getting busier and busier, which is great. I work from home anyway so from that perspective it wasn’t really any different for me. Obviously moving house and relocating was a big undertaking, with the associated stresses and strains that that brings.
Lockdown has meant being able to do both more and less of what I love, depending on the activity or pastime. In the summer I got out on the bike a lot as the roads were much quieter, which was good. It’s been tougher this time around though because of the weather and the dark nights and more traffic being on the roads.
Not being able to go to Southport, Liverpool and Manchester to shop, go to gigs and eat out has been tough.
The hardest thing by far though has been not being able to see my Mum, Dad, brother and his family for such a long time. I’m really hoping that I can see them over Xmas or as soon as the restrictions allow.
What’s been the biggest change for you this year?
I’m quite an introvert by nature so I’ve had to become comfortable with all the Zoom calls, like everyone really.
The biggest change though has been geographical and leaving Leek, as I moved up to Lancashire to be with my girlfriend as previously mentioned.
What are your plans for the future?
I feel a bit guilty for saying it as obviously there are people out there who are really struggling and currently can’t access funding and support, but, for me, business-wise, 2020 has been a good year all things considered.
I’ve joined the FSB and Freelance Heroes so I’ll be networking more and will be doing all I can to grow the business in 2021.
And finally, what was your dream job when you were at school?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pilot or an astronaut, the same as most kids, but my poor eyesight meant that that was never going to be feasible.
When I was older and with more realistic aspirations, I wanted to be a music journalist and work for the NME or an equivalent music paper or periodical. Getting into gigs for free and being paid to write about them and interview bands would have been great. I wrote (badly) for the NTU paper and had my own fanzine for a while, but perhaps I didn’t want it badly enough to make my dream job happen when I was in my early 20s. The prevailing Slacker culture of the time has a lot to answer for.
I’ve written lots of articles over the years and had plenty published in print or online, but I wasn’t able to make it pay. I’m not bitter about it or anything – things happen for a reason and life takes its own path.
If you’d like to be one of our ‘Ten Minutes With’ interviewees find out more by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org