Have you noticed the Google search results pages today?
They have changed the way they are displaying Adsense advertisements in their organic search results.
Instead of blending them into the search results with a barely noticeable different background colour, they are now placing a very prominent “Ad” notice to the left of each paid entry.
This is great news for SEO’d sites, because many users don’t like clicking on ads at all and tend to see top organic listings as a kind of endorsement.
It’s now more obvious which is paid and which is organic, which is good news for all I think, even advertisers, because for them it means that a user actually wanted to click on an ad and knew what they were doing when they did so, though I am a bit surprised they are using a yellow background, because many people see yellow as being a warning. Green might have been a better psychological choice, as any marketer will tell you.
Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to delete everything you’ve ever done online?
This morning, I logged in to this blog with one intention, to delete it.
The reason was simply that there’s little to comment on these days and those who might have needed some guidance in certain issues in the past, don’t really need it today. There are better sources.
So, in order to keep moving forward I thought, perhaps it’s time to wave goodbye to something that is little more than a reminder of how I started out on my Internet journey.
But perhaps that reminder is important, because a journey is not one that’s filled only with successes, at least mine isn’t.
In fact, it’s littered with disappointments, frustrations, hopes, ambitions and ultimately perhaps, a resignation that what will be will be. David Carter is not in the big league, trust me on that.
And that’s why I kept it – a reminder, a prompter and ultimately, an incentive to myself as much as to anyone else, that in order to get any kind of success, online or offline, you have to keep on carrying on.
This week, my partners and I are formally launching a new product range at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
Although we only came together as a group a couple of months ago, it is the culmination of a few years of work that we have each contributed to, and all of that individual work has led to one conclusion – a new business.
We have already recruited a number of contractors to sell our products in the roofing industry and we have interest from all over the UK.
In the past two weeks I have conducted training courses in the UK and Ireland on our product range, with more dates already in the diary. I’ve been asked to provide a number of Continuing Professional Development courses on the subject to professional architects and surveyors throughout the country. They start later in the year.
It’s hard to believe that all of this started with a web site all those years ago.
The new venture is part of the reason I was about to delete everything here.
But you know what? It’s my record and for now at least, it’s staying where it is.
Video will feature highly in all of my sites during 2013.
In my last post, I mentioned PresenterMedia.com as being perhaps the best service I have ever come across online.
What this does for Powerpoint presentations is amazing for the money and it’s great value if you happen to do a lot of presentations, which as a rule, I don’t.
However, I did have one presentation to make and deliver in December, but I was looking at what I thought was a much bigger picture – and that’s video.
Video is already quite big on the net, but it’s going to get much bigger in 2013 and many Internet Marketers are already touting their wares in this area, with offerings designed to take Powerpoint presentations and turn them into videos.
I’ve looked at many such offerings and NONE are worth the money – even the ones that cost only $10 or so in “dime sales” on the various sites like Warrior Forum or JV Zoo.
However, there is a way of creating some stunning videos with a modest initial investment – in fact, it’s so effective, that it would be an easy sale to local (or not so local) businesses if you were so inclined.
As I have so many sites, I like to do as much as possible myself, so in addition to the excellent PresenterMedia add-on for Powerpoint 2010, I’ve now bought the latest version of Camtasia Studio and added in their Powerpoint plugin too.
Camtasia, for those of you who don’t know, is screen recording software that allows you to create videos straight from your PC or Mac – which makes it ideal for making tutorials, especially ones that involve IT.
With the Powerpoint add-in, you can now create professional looking video from the slides you create and even include full narration and soundtracks if you wish.
I’ll be using mine to create short on-page videos for my services web sites, along with brief tutorials or hard-hitting calls to action where appropriate. The possibilities are endless.
Take a quick look at the one below – it was my first attempt at showing my son how easy it can be for his building plans site – it’s not as smooth as it could be, but his site still knocks the socks off any of his competitors and the video just adds to the effect.
The video is hosted at YouTube which, being Google’s little brother, provides a great opportunity for some external promotion – as I’m sure you’ll have noticed, videos now feature strongly in search engine results – so strongly in fact, that you’d be silly not to engage fully with the medium.
All you need to create great videos can be found at: Techsmith.com and PresenterMedia.com.
In recent years (and not so distant) I have downloaded tons of software and have subscribed to tons of sites offering the latest, greatest thing – most of which have disappointed.
Today though, I found something that is so useful that I have to share it – and no, it’s not an affiliate link.
It’s a service from http://www.presentermedia.com – I was looking for something to assist me in the creation of a PowerPoint presentation, something I’ve never bothered with in all of my years behind a computer screen.
A year long subscription cost me $59 and for that, I can download as many graphics as I can get my hands on – and considering I’ve been using iStockPhoto and BigStock for a few years, I couldn’t believe what I was getting for the money.
Today, I’ve created a great PowerPoint presentation and it looks better than anything I could ever have envisaged before seeing PresenterMedia.
So, if you ever need to use PowerPoint, or need graphics in a hurry, take a look.
Consider it a gift
Automated content scrapers are now commonly used by people desperate to increase their own search engine rankings.
The users of this type of black-hat software simply type in their chosen key phrase and the software crawls the top ten or so sites for the phrase and copies the content which is then spun and presented on an automatically generated page of gibberish to fool the search engines.
Other people simply copy content and email to their friends or colleagues, presumably because they think it contains valuable information, whilst others again, just post it directly to Facebook.
Now I’ve always been a bit protective of my content and until now have used all kinds of scripts to prevent right mouse clicks, text selections etc.
But now, I’ve seen the light and changed my opinion a little.
Try copying anything from this site and see what happens when you paste it elsewhere. Not foolproof, but I’ve employed a fun little tool that in the case of people emailing my content on, or posting on their own sites, could actually be quite handy.
It’s already employed on many of my original content sites.
It happens to us all sooner or later, a malicious attack on our web server that creates a bit of havoc, if not for the webmaster, then potentially for users.
Now I have written in the past about security, especially with WordPress, since there are a number of excellent plugins that will prevent unauthorised attacks.
Well this morning, during one of my regular WordPress site audits, I found that one was unprotected which was due to an oversight on my part.
Always one to try new plugins, I installed one called Wordfence and what a great plugin it’s turned out to be!
Not only does it keep real-time watch on your site for unexpected changes, access attempts etc, it also performs on-demand scans of all of the WordPress and plugin files.
In doing so on the site in question, I discovered a whole host of problems – files that had no right being in the directories and altered WordPress and plugin files.
Wordfence found lots of them and provided me with an easy way of removing all of the vulnerabilities with very clear instructions.
And that was the free version. Because I don’t generally do “blogs” I don’t really need the premium features, but these look pretty useful too – the free version is certainly not a cut-down version, so I’m installing it as standard on all new sites from now on.
Check it out if you’re a WordPress user, especially if you have no firewall installed on your web sites!
After posting about trust and credibility yesterday, I received a call The UK’s Environment Agency asking my advice about contaminated, mixed asbestos waste disposal.
This was interesting for two reasons.
1) The Environment Agency sets the rules on these kinds of thing
2) They saw my site as the authority on the subject
So I did what any self-respecting marketer would do and explained that the scenario they highlighted was indeed very unusual and that I’d have to call a few of my contacts for more information, which I did.
Sure enough, I got the answers I was looking for from a few helpful people and I relayed this back to the person at the Environment Agency who was very grateful for the information.
Not one to miss an opportunity, I asked, “Can I say that I’m an advisor to the Environment Agency on my web site now?”
The answer was positive as long as I don’t use their logo, so I compiled this little snippet and had it online less than 10 minutes later;
The Environment Agency contacted us in August 2012 requesting advice on the disposal of asbestos contaminated moss following roof cleaning.
A member of the public had contacted them after a local asbestos waste facility refused to accept the waste washed from the roof, explaining that they were unable to take a mixture of green waste and contaminated waste.
We consulted with several asbestos disposal sites and confirmed that contaminated waste is contaminated waste, regardless of what material has been contaminated.
In the highlighted case, it seems that an over-zealous individual misunderstood the meaning of contaminated waste.
When asbestos is disposed of, it goes to landfill. It is buried deeply in the ground and then filled with soil. Vegetation in the waste will not therefore, cause additional disposal issues.
Our advice to the Environment Agency was therefore to contact alternative disposal sites, or to educate the original disposal site.
We were happy to assist and advise the Environment Agency in this case.
And THAT is just one example of how to create credibility online.
People often speak about creating trust & credibility online and this week, I contacted a USA based company with a view to buying a web service that I had seen and absolutely wanted for my own sites.
It was a graphic service that really captured attention, not just mine, but everyone I showed it to. I knew then that by including something similar on my own sites, I would benefit from longer visitor times on my web sites, something that Google is now taking rather seriously in their ranking algorithms.
I contacted the company concerned via their form on their web site and after a day or so, they called me and gave me the hard sell. I mean the really hard sell, the kind that only Americans can do and yet don’t seem to find offensive, unlike us Brits who are oh, so polite in our dealings.
They explained to me how having this great new thing created trust & credibity online. I couldn’t argue. It was wonderful. It looked fantastic and was very impressive (to me at least).
Anyway, hard sell aside, I was genuinely interested in buying and agreed to an initial consultation fee of $95 to be allowed against a final purchase price of $1000 in the event that I continued to order.
The company representative (I’d spoken to three of them) asked for my card details and being the cautious type, I asked her to send me a secure payment link as I don’t provide my information over the telephone to somebody a few thousand miles away.
The lady agreed and sure enough, an email arrived a short time afterwards – from a Gmail account.
A form was attached, which I was supposed to complete and send back by email – hardly secure!
The form contained a company name, but no address, no telephone number. The payment, it said, would show up on my statement as something completely different from the name of the company.
The whole experience made the alarm bells ring.
Well it would do wouldn’t it?
How can anyone deal with a company that hides their identity? What kind of fool would I have been to complete my bank details and send them off to who knows where?
At the bottom of the form was a declaration to be signed by me, assuring them that the transaction (only for the amount stated) was non-reversible.
So, here’s somebody selling on the basis of trust and credibility who failed on every single level to instill those same virtues.
I write this only to demonstrate the importance of such things and to show you how, even in today’s digitally aware society, that people are still getting the basics wrong. I won’t embarrass them by naming them, but I’ll explain how my own business site fares in comparison.
One of my sites, in the past month, has generated at least an enquiry a day in a very tight niche. The value of the enquiries it generates is well over £50,000 on average. The typical visitor is a professional and several enquiries have come from world-leading companies seeking my input or advice.
Because my site not only sells, it has credibility and it creates trust. The content is totally relevant and focused on solving a particular problem and several methods of contact are provided, including land line telephone numbers and a legitimate business address.
Internet visitors don’t ask for much, but believe me, they are looking for reasons to trust you. They WANT to spend their money but they don’t want to feel insecure.
The thing I was buying would have added some bells and whistles, but it certainly wouldn’t have gone very far on it’s own in creating trust & credibilty. I decided I didn’t need it afterall. What I do works already – and I reminded myself that I don’t need to create trust & credibility – I already have it in spades.
If you remember that when you’re developing your web sites, you’ll go a lot farther than some of your competitors. It’s something I’ve been shouting about since 1999.
I received an email from a company I’ve previously bought stuff from in the past yesterday and though I swore I’d never succumb to another Internet Marketing offer, this one interested me enough to sign up for the “risk free offer” for a month.
Why not? In my experience, most of these companies do refund if asked to do so.
So, I joined something called SEO Monster. You’ll have to Google it, as I’m not into affiliate links at all these days and a link from here would imply a recommendation, which a day after launch would be irresponsible.
The system works by essentially the user (that’s me in this case) writing articles and then adding in some alternative words and phrases that allow the system to “spin” each one into different unique content.
I had a few goes last night and wrote five unique 500 word articles based on aspects of my business that I wanted to promote.
Once an article is written, it is loaded into the “system” for others to pick up and use on their blogs. It’s a bit like something I bought many years ago and never used, but from memory, that was a lot more cumbersome and required work.
SEO Link Monster doesn’t really require work, as the system is pretty much automated.
A whole load of blogs are already loaded into the system, which then link back to up to 3 URL’s of your choice when your article is syndicated.
The sales blurb on the site says:
- The fastest and easiest way to rank #1 in Google, period!
- Which kind of links are critical to seeing a major boost in Google ranking in 2012!
- How fast you MUST build links to avoid being majorly penalized by Google!
- The best AND the worst ways to build these “right kind” of links to your website!
- How to actually benefit from the Google Panda update in 2012!
Looks impressive doesn’t it? But I’m not so sure, even at this very early stage.
You see, I know SEO and I know all about back-links. I also know from my own personal experience, that you don’t necessarily need tons of backlinks in order to get to number one in the search engines, but I had to give it a try. It’s new!
The part that interested me most was “The right kind of links” mentioned in the advertising.
I took a look this morning at the sites that published my articles. There were about a dozen of them. Every single one was a non-page-ranked site full of rubbish with no immediately determinable base subject.
My understanding has always been that good quality links must come from relevant sites. None of these were relevant to anything in my subject range.
Now, one of the things that the system recommends doing, is linking back to the blog page that the article is published on. Now I can see how that will work for the blog carrying the article. In fact, the system appears to use trackbacks and comments features in WordPress.
But the thing is, why would I want to link to a junk site? That will only damage me in the long term.
The system was only launched yesterday. I’ll give it more time, but my early impressions aren’t as I hoped they’d be. Perhaps I’ve been wrong for 14 years!
Everything works in the system and it’s very simple to use, but I really do question this whole issue of back-links. Personally, I think it’s a bit like “The Emporer’s New Clothes” because in all of my time online, I have never had the need to go out looking for back-links to my various sites in order to get them ranked highly in Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine.
Before you decide that you must have tons of “quality back-links to see a major boost in your search engine rankings” and go looking for the link monster, bear in mind that if you sign up for the initial $47 followed by infinite monthly fees of $147, that’s just the start.
These guy want into your bank account and they’re good at it. The sales process for this system makes no less than 4 other upsell offers, each more expensive than the last and if tempted, you’ll be spending many hundreds of dollars in monthly fees. (I think it was about $700 total). To say I was pissed off by the time I managed to get what I wanted is an understatement.
Each time I clicked on the “no thanks” link, yet another window with an amazing video offer would appear. One dropped the price offered on the previous page by $100 – what does that tell you?
You buy into a system and then you’re told that if you really want all of the benefits promised on the sales page, you really need to upgrade to the “secret sauce” versions that costs a hell of a lot more than the system you just bought into.
Of course, there will be those who rave about this new product, simply they are affiliates looking for a share of the action. I expect there will be a lot of them and that’s all part of the hype in any product launch.
I did like this review from Dave Baker though – he’s had the system for a month and has looked more deeply into things than I have and seems to have come to a different conclusion having examined the quality of the backlinks: http://dbpmarketing.com/seo-link-monster-review/.I’ve included it here because it really is a nice piece of research and not yet another affiliate promotion.
I’ve always been of the opinion that it is important to host your own web site or sites, ever since I first started studying how search engines behave.
At the moment there are lots of free and paid web site building services, aimed predominantly at the small business and personal user sectors.
They have a place in the market, as many smaller companies and hobbyist individuals don’t have the resources to go out and build themselves a site and many more don’t have the budget to employ a company or Internet hotshot to build one for them.
I took the time and trouble to learn all I needed to know very early on, so these days, playing catch-up with newer technologies isn’t that big a deal and after more than 10 years of being online, I can still achieve top ten Google ranking for my own sites and convert those rankings into money.
But now, with so many instant site builders on the market, it’s easy to see why people will be tempted to use them in preference to employing somebody or having to learn everything from scratch.
The prospect of being able to simply log in to a web site, add some text and pictures and have a web site published instantly is tempting to say the least.
However, Yoast.com has today published a very strong argument against usingsuch site builders and highlights the case of GoDaddy, which charges its customers for using the site builder, but then adds a number of links by way of anchor text to the bottom of every web site it produces – all pointing back to them of course.
It is possible to turn them off, if you know how, but of course, we are dealing with Internet newbies here and it’s highly probable that they don’t know how to turn such links off.
It’s not illegal (as Yoast declares), but is questionable practice to say the least and of course GoDaddy aren’t the first to use other people’s sites and web properties in this way.
Google say that footer text isn’t an important factor in search engine ranking terms, but Yoast’s research along with the help of Search Metrics suggests otherwise.
Read the article here and while you’re there, download his excellent SEO plugin – it’s the only one I use these days.
As we approach the end of 2011 and get ready for the works Christmas party (tomorrow as it happens), I thought I’d take a quick look back at 2011 and see whether things got better or worse and define what worked.
Two of the best pieces of software I have used this year have been Yoast’s SEO WordPress plugin and Gravity Forms. Both of these plugins have made my online life a lot easier and have definitely added positively to my bottom line. Those links are clean and are not affiliate links. If you’re not using WordPress, wat’s wrong with you?
Dropping the idea of starting my own domain development service in February helped me gain some focus after seeing some of the crap I was being asked to get involved with. No offense people, but honestly, 99% of the names that were put forward as being “premium”, I would not have paid registration fee for.
I realised at that point, that my development skills were best kept for my own sites, promoting my own business.
Finally getting my UK commercial property portal up and running properly in April helped a lot. It’s only now starting to have a real affect on the business and is getting noticed by some very useful people. I have resisted ALL temptation to accept any kind of paid advertising or links on the site and will continue to do so through 2012.
Buying a van was a unusual thing for me to do in June, but again, that relatively small investment helped me focus on the business more than anything else. It’s a van for business and I feel now like we have a proper one. For years, I’ve been saying that I don’t work because I enjoy what I do so much. Having a van adds a strange sense of working class somehow in a way that turning up to client sites in a Mercedes doesn’t. I think it’s because it makes my partner and I look less like sales people and more like doers – must be the ladders we have on the roof rack.
Honestly, it’s horrible to drive, but gives us an edge that others in the same profession as us don’t have and can’t convey.
Profession. There’s a word. I belong to a profession now. Not an “industry”, though for the life of me, I can’t understand what industry there is in my previous life of domaining, nor recruitment which I wasted more than 15 years doing.
Yes, dropping my “domainer” tag in july turns out to have been the most important thing I did back in July 2011. I still have my domain holdings and will continue to hold them, it’s just they are a lot more focused now. I am an end user of domains, the bloke that domainers (including myself) have been searching for all these years.
Dropping the domainer tag has enabled me to focus exclusively on my surveying business and the results in the last half of the year have reflected that. Seriously, if you want success, concentrate on a niche you’re comfortable with to the exclusion of everything else, business-wise of course. Try it for 6 months and see what happens.
My “saying no” experiment that I began in August, whereby I switch off all computers and mobile telephones at 5:30 and weekends has worked. I never needed those distractions. Emails can wait and they do. Did you know that if you don’t read an email the moment it comes in, that it’s still there the next day? It’s taken me more than 12 years to figure that one out.
So those are things that worked and continue to work. They are what I shall be taking into 2012 without too much further meddling on my part.
Our staff (even those in my partner’s other business) all have work wear now – branded with the name “BuildingSurveys.com” and for the first time ever, we are using proper printed stationary and business cards. It all feels real because it is. What started out as another domain name acquisition is now a fully fledged commercial operation and you know what? It has credibility and gets us to the top table in the commercial property world.
Domains are not the be all and end all. Developed correctly and applied in the right manner, they are a wonderful tool, but in all honesty, they are just the start of the journey.
So what didn’t work out as I’d have wished in 2011?
Only two things really. My new iPhone4 – I sold it on eBay after two days and didn’t even look at the 4s. And then there was my iPad. Yes, it works, but what’s the point really? I took it to Kenya thinking it would be useful, only to discover that a notebook is far more relevant. I haven’t used it since. It’s going on eBay I think. What a waste.
Happy Christmas if you celebrate it and if not, then happy 2012. I won’t be around again now until then!
Update Note: It took precisely 32 minutes after posting today’s entries for me to receive TWO offers from people wanting to know if I’d be interested in buying and developing their domains. I didn’t want to be rude about the names in question, but not only can’t these people read, but they also need to do some research about what makes a name suitable for development. (Clue – it’s not the domain, it’s the business behind it).
2012 will be my 10th anniversary of quitting my full time career in the IT recruitment business, when I left to follow my interest in the Internet and domaining and work from home.
Since the day I took that decision an awful lot has happened in my business life and most of it can be attributed to the domain names I invested in over the same period and prior to leaving. (My interest in the subject of domains started way before I left recruitment behind).
In 2004, I took a course and qualified as an asbestos surveyor – to help a friend out. A couple of years later and I was an equal partnber in an asbestos surveying business.
At the same time, I was helping out the same friend in marketing and promoting his chartered building surveying business and received more than adequate compensation for my efforts.
My acquisition of BuildingSurveys.com earlier this year demonstrated my focus in this profession, but of course, in order to become chartered, you need a professional qualification. The route in is not easy, unless you want to go back to college, which at my age, is the last thing I want to do.
But, my methodology in bringing business into the surveying practice has been exactly the same as when I began doing asbestos surveys. Unlike any other online marketer I know of, rather than just bringing in the sales, I actually go out and do the work too, all over the UK and beyond.
This isn’t because I’m some sort of workaholic, it’s simply because after a career that I never really had any pride in, I found a vocation that interested me and challenged me more than anything I’d ever experienced previously. In short, it satisfied me.
I now work about 50/50 on building surveying and asbestos surveying and within both of those roles, I have specialist areas of knowledge that exceeds that of many qualified individuals. I know because I’m getting the jobs in those specialist areas and I’m being called regularly by other surveyors for advice in these specialist areas.
So, it seemed only logical to take things a stage further and today I joined RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), as an Associate member, with a view to gaining full status when my experience dictates. The Associate membership recognises the experience I have gained in the profession to date, but that doesn’t make it an easy route in. It’s early days, but it’s something I feel I have to do because my goals for BuildingSurveys.com are so grand.
What looked on the face of it to be domain development is something far greater.
Those who talk about domain development as though it’s some fantastic new invention haven’t a clue what they are on about.
I’ve worked my vision for almost 10 years. Along the way, there have been so many distractions and blips that I have lost count. Since resolving to focus this year, I have been undeterred from my path, even though it’s cost me a great deal financially.
These days, I rarely visit domain or Internet Marketing forums and I don’t attend domain shows. Instead, I’m building a network of contacts and clients that suit my interests. It’s as liberating as leaving your job in the first place and highly recommended.
If you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s never too late to change.
Hardly a day passes by without somebody suggesting a new business idea to me or my partner – perhaps they think we’re a soft touch or something!
Most times, we bat them away because we are totally focused on our own niche and don’t really want to get distracted by other people’s dreams.
A few months ago, I was contacted by somebody who had typed in one of my domain names and responded to the one-page advertisement I’d placed on there for a joint venture partner.
It’s in a niche that we are already getting a lot of enquiries for, but can do little with at present. The market is ripe and to my knowledge, only three companies offer the service in the UK – though none carry it out properly. It’s also a niche that I’ve wanted to break into for some time, but couldn’t because I needed someone else to do the work!
At first, I was less than enthusiastic about the call, but soon warmed to the guy and we had a lengthy conversation about equipment needed, the potential market and certain regulatory requirements.
My feeling was that he’d go away because the barriers to entry in the market are high.
However, he called again this week and explained that far from putting him off, I’d actually fed his enthusiasm to the point that he didn’t wait to research the market further, (I’d already done that) and in fact, he’d invested in equipment and for the things that aren’t commercially available at present, had them made!
How could I ignore that?
We met at my office today and had an open, cards-on-table dicussion about each of our expectations and will be lauching a new business to not only compete in this specialist niche, but to dominate it.
Most JV partners bring little to the table. This one will work because having already recognised the opportunity, our new partner has done all of the ground-work and has made his investment in the equipment required. He recognises what we contribute and has the exact same approach to business – it has to be fun.
I’m particularly delighted because it proves yet again, that the right domain name can bring extraordinary results – in this case, it’s a new partner. In a few weeks time, it will be generating business enquiries as well as franchisees!
Given the amount of time I have spent online over the years and the vast collection of software and tools I have collected and used during this period, I can hardly be considered a Luddite. In fact, there is virtually no aspect of my business life that I haven’t tried to automate in some way or another.
Last week though, I completely turned my back on technology and took my wife Jan and my youngest son, Ben, away to a Greek island for a week in the sun.
In what didn’t seem too big a deal at the time, I changed my voicemail on my iPhone to say I was away and wouldn’t be picking up messages.
I placed an auto-responder message on my emails and changed the diversion on my IP phone numbers to the office rather than to my mobile. (IP phone numbers are a must have to the online entrepreneur. I use www.voipfone.co.uk).
These small actions had a big impact in the week I was away.
For the first time in perhaps 15 years, I was totally uncontactable by anyone except my two grown-up sons we left at home. My backup plan was that Jan took her phone – and nobody I know has her number. My two eldest sons work with me, so in an emergency, they could have got in touch.
The start of my mini epiphany came during the two weeks prior to my break when my business partner had two weeks holiday and constantly rang in to the office. He took calls from clients at all times and it made start wondering what would happen if instead of doing the same thing (as I usually do), I just turned everything off.
I left my partner a note telling him that I wasn’t taking a phone away and would not be taking a laptop or checking in from Internet cafe’s.
Driving to the airport on the day we left, I constantly felt my pockets to check if my phone was there. I panicked a bit in case I’d done the wrong thing.
A day into the holiday, I no longer cared.
Everywhere I looked, people were glued to their phones and to iPads and laptops – even those who spent their days sat around the swimming pool. To see middle aged men and women showing each other stuff on YouTube or Facebook suddenly looked quite sad. Just like their kids.
It was a real wake-up call and became more than just an experiment.
Jan, Ben and I had no contact with home apart from an occasional call to the kids. We went sight seeing and spent loads of time together just being us.
Ben had uninterrupted access to me for the first time in his life when I think about it. No phone ringing, no emails to answer, no sudden online disaster to fix.
We went snorkelling a few times. A simple activity that cuts out the rest of the world, because you can’t really hear when your head is under water. So watching his excitement at seeing a different coloured fish and seeing how his non-verbal communication works was a wonder and a delight in itself.
Turning off the technology was the best thing I’ve done in years and I suppose all of the simplification I’ve been conducting over the past few months is leading almost inevitably, to a point where I shall remove all such distractions from my non-working life soon.
I used to think that being online freed me from many of the restrictions of life.
It didn’t. It did the opposite.
For me, I am returning to the 9-5 world. Outside of those hours, my technology is being switched off and it will not be coming away with me on holiday again.