How It Came To Be…
People always tell me that I should write more, as it will help people understand me, both as a person and a businessman. Honestly, the main reason I need to start writing more is so that I don’t have to keep repeating the same stories over and over again… for my sanity. I often find myself fighting with the person who I truly am and the industry I am in. People in marketing and advertising tend to be very arrogant; and I understand that self-promotion is a very important part of the game. People want and need to see both your work and the person behind the work. They also want to know that the person they are about to hire or are working with is very confident in themselves and their ability. That is the battle. For someone like myself, who doesn’t like self-promotion, and now runs his own business, I find myself conflicted every time I try to sell a service or how a brand would benefit from my offering.
How did it begin? I really didn’t have a direction coming out of high school or college. I studied sociology and psychology, only because you were supposed to study something in college. As I tell anyone now, it was a waste of time. I can’t say that I retained any of it. I worked a bunch of odd jobs on and off through my twenties as an auto detailer, construction laborer, bouncer, and personal trainer. The fact was that I hated working for any organization or company in the mundane day to day existence of corporate America.
I moved to Tampa in the late 90’s and got a job as a personal trainer. I began working with computers as a means to organize my clients dietary and exercise regimens. I decided to launch a website that was more informative so that my clients could reference it at any time to help them achieve their goals, so I bought a web design program and decided to give it a go. The first website, NetFtinessOnline.com as you might guess was very rudimentary, but it served its purpose. So I began seeing what else I could develop through web design. The first thing that I learned on the web is how important a domain name is to a website or business. Day in and day out I would peruse through thousands of expired domain names looking for concepts to develop, based on brand and name recognition. Some days I would acquire one domain, some days I would acquire dozens. I not only began developing websites with great domains to sell on various platforms such as Ebay, but I also found that domain acquisition and resale was pretty profitable in itself. I would often get contacted after domain name drops by business owners or investors interested in purchasing a domain name that I just purchased for $15, wishing to purchase the very same domain name for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. I continued to do this for a couple of years, learning basic graphic and logo design to enhance the look of the websites I was selling. I soon had so many websites and domains that I decided to brand my own company: SpiderWebNetworks.
What I began noticing through the domain name expiring lists, is that every day I would see several prominent athletes’ domain names expiring as well such as GeorgeBrett.com, JeromeBettis.com, ReggieBush.com etc. I began acquiring these names as well. I noticed that a lot of the athletes’ domains were being redirected for traffic to sports betting websites and other not so flattering online entities. It was not my intent to do the same, but to rather provide them to the athletes themselves to prevent their domains from being used in such a manner. It wasn’t long before I began getting contacted by athlete’s and agents alike regarding the domain names, and soon thereafter approached to design the websites for the athletes; as it was a service that I already offered. It was a niche market. Thus, I sold SpiderWebNetworks and launched AthleteSites, LLC.
I was developing athletes’, sports agents’, and sports organizations’ websites at an alarming rate. I was working with some of the top athletes in the NFL, MLB and MMA to develop and market their online entities. I began facilitating chats, forums and selling and distributing the athlete’s merchandise through the websites as well. Since this was already moving on all cylinders and successful, it was proposed to me by a couple sports agents to become a full service sports marketing company to also handle endorsement deals, events, and the like. It made perfect sense since it was already being promoted through AthleteSites. I needed to rebrand and grow.
So, I developed and launched Next Level Sports Marketing. This when things really took off! The younger draft picks coming into the NFL, MLB etc. were more web savvy and it is amazing that an offering such as a website could sell a player to sign with an agent rather than the traditional promise of draft positioning or endorsement deals. I was developing mockup websites for agents to show potential draft picks on recruiting trips, branded to whatever team they were projected to be drafted to… it blew my mind. While this was all good and a profitable business, being able to see behind the curtain of professional sports made me dislike the same sports I used to love. What looked like a glamorous job, was really a detriment to the psyche. As a result, I sold Next Level Sports Marketing.
Over the past several years, I have become more versed in overall branding, strategy, design and campaigns in the design and advertising world. I began working for a pseudo-marketing firm as the creative director designing creative, developing ad campaigns and creating brands for the likes of professional sports teams, Olympic athletes, and national brands. However, once again, the corporate-like atmosphere and difference of opinion and ethics has prompted me to step away and start my own business that you see displayed here on this website.
The main things that I have learned from this evolution is that you should always do what makes you happy, surround yourself with both those who respect you and value your skillset, and that creativity cannot be in conveyed in a corporate environment. No matter how much you may need to take on a job, never do so at the peril of losing your identity or self-respect.
I hope this synopsis gives my readers, clients and potential clients insight into the person I am from more of a business-casual viewpoint. While there is much more that influences my design and creativity as a person, the above brief history should provide a microcosm of my business experience. Business definitely has an effect on your lifestyle… however who you are in life should never be dictated by your business.