About Ray Cassidy & SEO
From Drifter, Through Teaching to SEO
I am, in most people’s eyes, a bit old to be shifting from teaching into the nerds world of SEO, social media and the mayhem of online marketing. But life moves in mysterious ways and the “whole” story of how I got into SEO helpfor small and medium businesses is a tale of trial tribulation and blind alleys. Many of the blind paths could have been avoided (with hindsight), but I’ve tried just about everything the online world can do and finally weaned myself off the shiney object syndrome that blighted my early steps.
My first love is my two young people and trying to look after them and running a close second is that outdoor world of fun we’ve got in the Lakes and Scotland. Running a close Third is this whole weird world of trying to help businesses that are reluctant or unsuccessful online, to get noticed and generate more sales.
Where does this tale start? I did secondary school at Chelmsford Technical High school down in Essex. I left “The Tech” in 1977, without the faintest idea what I would do with my life. Ironically, the one thing I said I would never do, was become a teacher… and just look at what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years!
I worked for a year as a building labourer with the same firm as my old fellah. A pal introduced me to fellwalking in the last year of school and I discovered climbing soon after. That was thanks to “Bob” Maeslyn Jones who sadly passed away before I was ever able to catch up with him and thank him for getting me out of the Dunmow version of “the straight and narrow”. The year of building work was an exceptionally tedious year of digging trenches and tamping concrete bases. The depressing repetition of that job was probably responsible for my growing love of the outdoor “nearly adventurous” lifestyle; though my adventures were in a fairly minor key.
A chance view of an advert at the back of a climbing magazine resulted in me attending college in Durham for a Teacher’s Certificate in Outdoor Education. I studied at Bede College purely to get my climbing subsidised and learn the other outdoor stuff. It’s sad but true! In due course college finished and I was shocked to discover that I was a qualified teacher.
Now, teaching in the classroom wasn’t really my thing; so I messed about on building sites again for nearly a year and then found some outdoor instructor jobs. The first of these was at a small centre near Barmouth in mid Wales, right on the edge Snowdonia National Park. This gave all of us instructors greater access to the mountains, the surf but best of all- the rock climbs of this great area. As that summer placement came to an end, I moved back north to Durham to find work near my girlfriend of the time. Luckily a job came up at Wooler in Northumberland and I spent a fairly happy year in that stark but beautiful county.
I was beginning to feel the need to earn some real cash, so I went back to College ; this time at Ripon and York St John, to retrain as a secondary Science teacher in ’79. The foillowing September I had my first “Proper Job” in Carlisle. 6 years of “proper” teaching, avoidance of responsibility and lots of climbing, kayaking, caving and skiing followed, with little time for real relationships.
I was lucky to arrive in Carlisle at a time when Carlisle Mountaineering Club included some of the leading lights of UK rockclimbing. Hanging around with people like Jeff Lamb, Pete Whillance, Dave Armstrong and Pete Botterill resulted in this rather wimpy and nervous climber raising his standard enormously. Alongside all the rockclimbing fun, I was able to take part in a trip to Peru where we made the first British ascent of the Ferrari route on Alpamayo. This was an eye opener for me!
That trip was followed by a mini expedition to Mount Kenya the next year where we were lucky enough to climb both the Ice Window Route and the Diamond Couloir via the headwall. There was some damn good rockclimbing there as well, though we did get repelled from the start of our bifg rock objective by unexpected stonefall in the mist!!
The chance to work in Outdoor Education for a proper salary presented itself in 1986 and so I was seconded to our county’s outdoor education service. 4 years of near bliss were marred by niggling minor injuries which stopped me climbing hard, but gave me the time to take notice of other activities and people such as my family and the ladies!!! I was unable to spin out this placement any longer than the four years that I had enjoyed and I decide to change track into teaching juniors.
I then spent 17 years teaching in primary schools and disastrously accepted promotion to assistant headship. It was a job I took on after being flattered, but unfortunately it was not “ME”. Things were okay for a while, but the strain of an unsuitable person in an unwanted job with too much pride to understand the warning signs and concerns of friends led to a fully paid up mid life crisis. Almost inevitably, illness, relationship and family breakdown arrived like three mini Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The crisis scenario was complete when, with no proper income I decided I had to jump ship for my sanity! I left with nothing but a few months pay in the bank and the vague notion that I would become an Internet marketer. This was a risky strategy, because up to that point in my life, I had reacted with almost rabid negativity when anyone tried to market anything to me.
The Internet Marketing Road to an SEO Revelation…?
However this was the only way that I could see to put my IT skills to gainful employment. I quickly discovered that on-line earning has less to do with IT than mindset. With my mind, set in porridge, progress was non existent and money evaporated at a frightening rate. I thought that I had some grasp of how much of a challenge it would be, but as always the real difficulties with far greater than even my slightly cynical view anticipated. At first, my reaction was very negative about the failures and mistakes but each project presented me with another learning curve which slowly gave me the tools that I would need for progress. As I slowly climbed out of my self perpetuating fug, I began to see a pattern in the way successful online entrepreneurs were generating income.
As I worked my way through the local Chamber of Commerce’s business start-up courses, I realised that the advice I was giving to other business start-up candidates was valued and more importantly was something I was comfortable giving out. This was the combination that my skills, teacher tendencies and temperament had been looking for. Selling stuff online just doesn’t ring my bells, but helping people with good services and products that they want to sell, online and off-line, was the way for me to go. After being grabbed by one firm when I was still just doing some very simple market research, I was clear that I had something to offer all local businesses. It doesn’t matter whether they have a local reach more if they are larger companies with a far wider client base. I’m now looking forward to providing consulting services to companies and sole traders in Cumbria and the Borders as well as further afield. I’ll be advising on and carrying out SEO work, Google places listings, link building and social media services.
And… if I can fund a little bit more climbing or skiing with my kids then life will be sweet indeed.