Who is Mark Smith..?
I was born in Oxford wayyy back in 1985 and still live in Oxfordshire, not a million miles away from where I grew up.
I’m father to four daughters, three of whom are in the photo opposite (or below if you’re on mobile!). This business was setup to give me the flexibility I wanted to be able to attend every sports day, assembly and nativity play without having to book time off or feel guilty about missing work to do so.
Kids grow up so quickly, I should know I’ve got enough of them! I really wanted to be as present as I can before they all tell me they can’t be arsed to spend time with me because they’re too cool for that! It’s important to me that they can look back and say “you know what Dad, I remember you being at all my school shows & events and always losing the Dad’s race at sports day!”.
I spent almost all of my 17 working years working in Finance, and dealing with payments in particular. I’ve processed pretty much every payment type known to man and in every currency in the world (probably).
I’ve had a pretty decent career I’d say. I started at 17 in an Accountancy practice whilst studying for my AAT Technician qualification. I quickly found that I HATED the environment and needed something a little more relaxed to enjoy my job.
I then had various accounts payable & cashier roles before finding myself at the UK’s biggest charity, Cancer Research UK. This wasn’t before a brief stint in the army, not quite completing my basic training at Pirbright!
At CRUK I found my grove and had several roles, really enjoying the process imprvement work and payment operations. I started as a team manager for the Oxford-based payment operations team, progressed into an operational improvement manager role before landing a senior management position for my final few years there.
So why am I now a Virtual Assistant?!
I know, it makes little sense right!
I didn’t want to be a consultant, which would have probably made more sense if I was going alone. I have experience that could be really valuable to charities in particular. I guess I thought, probably naievely, that it would be less stressful trying to find clients in a VA capacity than it would trying to pick up short contracts in the charity sector. I also wanted a change and saw that not many guys are in the industry.
But are you even qualified to do this?!
I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking… however, what I’ve missed out until now is that I’ve been building websites for several years now, I think I’m at around 60 in total. I’ve also experimented a lot with affiliate marketing, building sites and getting them to a point where they’re earning more than they cost to run ann then selling them on.
That’s where all of my skills come from, my love and fascination with website, SEO and content marketing in general. It amazes me that I can build a website from scratch, write some great content and then see that website rank in Google – obviously it’s a little more complicated than that but that’s the premise.
I once built and ran a dating blog, I wasn’t even dating at the time so just spent time researchign and writing content for that audience. In the space of 6 months I had over 10,000 monthly visitors to my site. It was quite incredible really!
I’ve since gone on to build and rank websites for clients, including this site for a window cleaning company in Oxford. This website is now generating more than 25 lead EVERY week from the website alone. It ranks in the top 3 for it’s 4 main keywords in Google and they’re business has gone from strength to strength.