About The Online Presence Guy
Updated: Apr 7
A continuation from my About page for those interested enough to know more about the geezer behind the brand.
If you're looking for more than just a creative web designer, or an SEO consultant, or a business mentor, or an IT trainer, or a Copywriter, or a professional photographer then keep reading to fully comprehend the benefits of working with me in your new business venture.
You've probably heard the term, 'One stop shop"? I'm basically the human incarnation of this phrase. All the experience, knowledge and professionalism you need to support you through the startup and growth of your creative business.
Jump to a section of interest.
South Africa - The first half of my life
I was born in Durban, South Africa in 1972. Yep, I'm THAT old!
For the majority of my pre-school years, I travelled around South Africa with my grandparents who were both retired. It was during this time that a few things were ingrained into my character:
Passion for travel
Old school romantic personality
Love for meeting people and experiencing their cultures.
Love of the outdoors
Like most in my peer group at the time, the majority of my days were spent outdoors. Riding BMX's was my thing from around 9/10 years of age and I was fortunate enough to have a little track just across the road which a few of us neighbourhood kids put together and maintained. It was also the site of some of my most painful experiences. Some of my wipe-outs were proper spectacular though.
The second house I lived in with my family, backed on to a large forest area which was full of the local wildlife, including various tribes of baboons, the multitude of birdlife and of course, snakes. I spent a lot of time with my buddies exploring this jungle.
My teens were the usual mix of ups and downs, rebellion, partying, my first girlfriend, my first motorbike, car and proper job.
I spent 27 great years in South Africa and will always consider it a big part of the man I am today. Africa will forever beat within me.
I played a lot of sport during my school years. In South Africa, at the time you had to do 2 Summer and 2 Winter after school sports activities. You could opt to do more, but a minimum of 2. For me it was cricket and tennis, and rugby and basketball. Oh, and I was also the undefeated chess captain for the last 4 years of my school years.
At around age 12 or 13, I accompanied my mother to her badminton practice night and promptly fell in love with the game and played competitively up until age 42 when my knees decided enough was enough.
I arrived in England in January of 1999. What a stupid idea that was! Leaving Durban in the middle of Summer and landing in England in the middle of Winter.
I can tell you from experience, the body does not appreciate an overnight drop in temperature of over 40 degrees celsius. I immediately questioned my sanity and continue to do so each year I put up with British weather.
I had qualified as a Microsoft Certified Engineer in 1998 and immediately began doing contract jobs in London after finding a house to rent in Thornton Heath, Croydon.
My first contract was a 6-month contract upgrading 1000 office PCs to Windows 98. Unfortunately, I did the work in just under 3 months and did myself in! My recruitment agency promptly gave me a good talking to explain that if I have 6-months, I should take 6-months! A concept totally foreign to me because the work ethic and expectation are slightly higher than that in South Africa.
I got married in August 1999 and soon after this, we decided to try for a family. And with that, the decision was made to start a 'proper career' and give up the contract work.
I don't want to bore you with the details, but if you are genuinely interested in the experience I have gained through my career, keep scrolling or click here.
All, but 1 job that I have had in the UK since my arrival has been in the IT industry for predominantly SME sized businesses. I did work with a large (100,000+ employees) but very quickly realised it really wasn't for me. I prefer to work in smaller companies where you genuinely feel like you're part of the success or failure of the business. Where the words, "it's not my job" are never uttered.
I also spent just under 2 years working in a meat factory packing meat into moulds to make the ham you have on your sandwiches.
I, like millions of others, was a victim of the 2008 recession. And as a responsible adult, I didn't have the luxury of not working. There were NO jobs going in IT at the time so a friend who worked at the factory got me an interview there and I started within the week.
And here's the thing. The people I met working in this factory are people I am still in contact with now, 12 years after leaving the factory. Yet, I am in contact with very few of the hundreds of people I worked with during my IT career. There was no pretence in the factory. There were no people trying to do you in so they could climb the career ladder over you. There were no fake smiles and back stabbery. Just genuinely nice people, in the majority.
I am the proud father of two teenage boys who reside with their mother and are the decision that what was initially intended to be a 2-year working holiday visit to the UK has resulted in us being here 22 years later and all British Citizens.
It's during my stay in England that I have become more and more interested in mental health, having suffered myself a few times in my life, including when my ex-wife and I split and I lost daily access to my children. To get myself through this I started doing a lot of reading. A mixture of self-help books, spiritual books and books on mental health and psychology. An important part of being self-employed is being in a position to help out charities that resonate with me personally rather than one my employer decided we would support.
In January 2020, I launched the #roadtrip4charity project aimed at providing free photography services and images to small charities in the mental health and homelessness sectors. You can read more about the project here over on my photography website.
A few facts
I went grey around 36. It was pretty much an overnight thing.
I hold a degree in sarcasm.
I play the guitar to a just above beginner level
I cannot sing, but do anyway
I own a motorbike
I have a Staffordshire terrier
I voted remain
I have been vaccinated
I'm a Buddhist
I'm a realist
I'm a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
I'm a Vegan (99% of the time)
A brief experience overview for your reading pleasure:
Photography - over 40 years behind the lens.
My love for photography began at age 5 in South Africa whilst travelling around the country with my grandparents.
IT - 40+ years
My 2nd love affair (after photography) began around age 9 when I received my first commodore64. I taught myself to do some basic programming back in those days. I cannot now recall if that took place on the Commodore or ZX Spectrum. With the advent of the PC and the ability to build your own and then network your PC with your mates on weekends to play Command and Conquer I was in deep!
Web design - 23 years.
My first website build was in 1998. I have during my career built over 150 websites. Full disclosure not many exist in their original form now due to the sheer nature of websites and the need to refresh them at least every couple of years to keep up with new trends and SEO requirement changes. As I was employed and had no intention of going self-employed at the time, I never thought to take screenshots of the sites I built. I WILL be doing this going fowards.
Sites that do retain my original design are:
https://www.emcphotography.biz (my photography website based on Wix)
https://www.onlinepresence.biz (this website based on Wix)
https://www.thecheekypineapple.com (recent Squarespace build)
https://ecilliers.wixsite.com/boudoirbyelton (due to COVID restrictions this business is currently suspended)
https://ecilliers.wixsite.com/linkedin-training an abandoned site dedicated to LinkedIn training
Social Media - 20+ years
Dating back to the mid-90s with mIRC and ICQ. For those that don't know, very different from what you call social media these days. They were essentially the WhatsApp of the day where people could 'hang out' in groups and chat about random and bizarre shit. Having a career and passion for all things online, I was always an early adopter of any new platform. Some I stuck with, others I dropped because they simply weren't for me. I currently focus my own marketing efforts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I'm too old for TikTok, too busy for Clubhouse and don't have the self-discipline to not lose my shit on Twitter, far too much negativity and trolls for my patience threshold I'm afraid.
Sales - 20+ years
Every aptitude test I've taken since my school days, all job interviews that required a test have all had the same result. I should be in sales. However, my passion lay in technology. So I did what any logical person would do and put one foot in each team and became a Sales Engineer or what was previously a Pre Sales Consultant and previously Technical Consultant. My first real job in South Africa was in real estate and I did rather well at it. Enough to get me deeper into the technology hole by being able to afford pc components. Kids of today will not appreciate just how expensive it was to build what now sits in museums just 20 odd years ago! I then worked for the equivalent of PC World in the UK (a store that sells primarily tech-related hardware, software and games). I started walking the floors as a salesperson. I quickly progressed to the manager of the sales floor team and this is when I realised that I was more attracted to the tech side and requested transfer to the workshop where I could build and repair pcs and servers to customer spec. The consultancy roles gave me the perfect place in IT where I could do what I enjoyed and keep abreast of technology, but also use my aptitude to sell the hell out of the products we produced.
Massive pat on the back moment. I have won several sales-related awards during my career including deal of the year, sale of the year, consultant of the year etc.
Marketing - 10+ years
Part of my Pre-sales/Sales Engineer role was to work closely with the marketing and sales teams to put together marketing material for the products and/or services we sold. This included writing copy/text for the benefits clients would realise from using the products/services and assisting with sales responses. My 'So what?' approach to sales was very aligned to Marketing principles of selling the value, not the product/service.
SEO - 10 years+
I've no official qualifications in SEO however having been involved in web design for many decades it's one of the things I have simply had to self learn as the Internet changed. I know enough to have gotten my website ranking 1st on Google for my online persona, The Online Presence Guy (go on, go search for it) and am making my way up Google ranking for my other main keywords. My website launched on 1st November 2020 so give a bloke a break! SEO is NOT an overnight process and takes continuous effort to increase your ranking. Anyone proclaiming they can get you to number 1 on Google for under £10,000 is likely, not worth serious consideration.
Project Management 15+ years
With over 200 IT-related projects delivered ranging from £30k - £50m. Projects delivered for some of the biggest UK names including BBC, Virgin Money, Barclays, Mothercare, United Utilities, Big Lottery Fund and many more.
Business Analyst - 15+ years
Working with some of the biggest UK brands in retail, finance, public sector and professional services. Role included interviewing staff at various levels of the business. Identify pain points and produce a proposal on how we could work together to streamline the process or reach their desired outcome, whether that be increased sales, improved customer service score or increase their brand awareness.
I'm not a guru or an expert or a fricken ninja!
I know what I know and I know what I know because of a genuine passion for many decades. Many certifications, many diplomas and decades of hands-on experience, studying and learning on a day to day basis. I didn't just decide to become a LinkedIn Expert because I managed to get a few 1000 followers while pulling the wool over their eyes that I had literally just started using the platform as some experts will have you believe. If you've used a platform for under a year, you don't know anything about that platform I'm afraid. Algorithms change more often than your grandma farts!
I don't promise you I can get your website to No 1 on Google. But I sure as hell won't charge you for what I cannot genuinely bring value to you with. By the way, as stated, if anyone makes promises about getting you to No 1 on Google for your website for under say, at least £10,000, leg it!
I provide my Shebang guarantee which, provided you follow the tasks and guidance I provide, I will remain working with you until your website ranks on page 1 of Google for the agreed keyword or phrase in your local area. Hit this underlined text to read more about this offer.
My Pledge to you
When I take you on as a client, you will always have my best interests at heart. Whether you're engaging with me for full start-up support, a website, social media management and/or marketing, training, photography or a social media audit. I'm a people pleaser. I like to be in a position of making a person happy. Whether that's through beautiful boudoir photography that brings a woman's confidence to the surface or building not only a stunning website but as importantly, one that Google loves, your business becomes my business and you will always get 100% effort from me (cos let's face it, 110% isn't REALLY a thing is it?)
You literally are making a dream come true.
Providing I can sell my house, I am looking to undertake the life of a 'digital nomad'. Being able to deliver my services purely online will provide me with the freedom I need for the main reason I chose to go self-employed, to travel.
So you're more than just a client. You are helping me to make this long term wanderlust a reality and be able to travel whilst still delivering professional, experience-based value to those I work with. And for that, you have my tremendous gratitude.
I undertake every project I take on with the same two outcomes.
Exceed the client's expectations.
Create a referrer of my client
When I deliver your project, I want the outcome to be so good, that you are willing to shout about it. Whether that is a review on Google or LinkedIn or actually referring me to your friends and family. I still strongly believe that a happy client is worth far more than £1000s spent on digital marketing.
You can read more on my values here if that is important to you because it really is to me.
If you'd be interested in following my journey from a white-collar IT professional to life as a digital nomad you can sign up for my newsletter here which is specific to my photography website which will be publishing content around the road trip and digital nomad life.
I walk my talk
I see SEO 'experts' on social media that tell you how great they are at SEO, yet when you run their own website through a test the results are often very surprising.
Both my active websites are built on Wix and both rank really well in Google search results. The photography website has been active for around 3 years now I believe and therefore has got more 'history' and therefore ranks very well for local SEO for all my main keywords as well as ranking nationally for some keywords.
Don't believe me? Try these searches on Google for yourself and then do the same for the 'experts' you may be encountering on social media (obviously for people in the UK):
The Online Presence Guy - my online persona for my consulting business
EmC Photography - my photography business and website
Virtual photoshoot (6th)
Local SEO results. I performed these searches using a VPN giving my location as central London and making it a local SEO search by adding my town, Haverhill (results may vary based on your location in the UK, if you're outside the UK be sure to add Haverhill, Uk):
headshot photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
commercial photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
newborn photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
personal brand photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
brand photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
product photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
event photographer haverhill, uk (5th and 6th)
boudoir photographer haverhill, uk (1st)
Now, remember, if you were in my town of Haverhill and using your phone, for example, you could exclude the 'Haverhill, uk' bit and the results would be the same. The power of local SEO! All the above results are accurate as of the 2nd April 2021. I have built these results myself through an understanding of both SEO and what is important when it comes to website design and structure.
What is important is to identify your brand and ensure your SEO is strong around that. For example, my brand is 'The Online Presence Guy'. That's my account name on all my social media accounts. My logo is displayed on the majority of my social media content. People are being 'trained' to know me as The Online Presence Guy.
Wow. That was some tangent!
I have started 2 businesses during what couldn't have been the worse time to try launching a service-based business (COVID pandemic). And I've done it on a non-existent budget. So I have had first-hand experience of having to grow your business completely organically without the option of ad campaigns etc. You now benefit from this experience, along with all the other experience mentioned above to ensure your startup happens in the most streamlined way possible.
What to do now?
Got a business idea? Get in touch to book a power hour to have a chat about your idea and get a clear understanding of what you are going to need to make a success of the idea. Or engage with me one of my start-up packages if you would like full support including mentoring, training, a website and accountability.
Experience growth? Need help with social media management or digital marketing? Check here for more information on my service offerings.
Need a new website or a refresh of an existing one with a local SEO guarantee? Head over to my website page.
Check out my blog for posts primarily aimed at providing help and advice to new small business owners and freelancers based on both my career experience and my experience of being self-employed and be sure to sign up to my newsletter for notification of new content release, news and offers.
And go and subscribe to my YouTube channel where you will witness all sorts of oddness.
I look forward to working with you soon!
Elton - The Online Presence Guy <----- see what I did there?