Interview with Marc Swann - Search Director at Glass Digital
Marc Swann is the Search Director at Glass Digital - a leading digital marketing agency located in Newcastle, UK. As a specialist, Marc is a proven SEO expert with 13+ years of experience.
In this interview, we invite to discover Marc both from personal and professional points of view.
Hi Marc, please tell us a little about yourself. Your background and how did you come to this point?
From a very early age, I had a fascination with the Internet. I was intrigued with how it worked, so I took a hands-on approach and tried to build websites with the now discontinued Microsoft Frontpage, all via our terrible Freeserve 56kb connection!
When it came to choosing subjects at school, anything relating to technology seemed like the obvious choice. However, I found it quite difficult to build my skills and maintain interest in a school setting — I was much better suited to just messing around with it as a hobby.
My first job outside of college was in a public library, which I started at the age of 16. After a few years, I felt the need for a change in direction. I'd been dabbling in SEO for a while, so I felt confident enough to apply for the role of SEO executive at a local agency. I was fortunate enough to land the role, and within five years I became Head of SEO. This was a fantastic job, that gave me experience in a number of important areas, including SEO, digital marketing, and business development.
I was then offered the position of Director at Glass Digital. I couldn't refuse a role that would allow me to use my skills to shape and choose the direction of a company, so I jumped at the chance. And now six years later, we have over 30 members of staff, a wide range of fantastic clients, and plenty of experience.
When and how did you start your business? Is there an interesting story here?
The first business I considered starting was a lot different to the one I work for today! I've always been quite entrepreneurial, so from a young age I was thinking about the different types of businesses I could set up. When I was 17, I was convinced that I could create a successful Internet gaming café if I had the financial backing. However, when I pitched this idea to a local business start up and incubation company, they gracefully declined. A few years later I went back with another pitch, this time for a prototype photo sharing website I'd built called "Artbox", which would allow people to upload their photographs and charge for print versions — again this was a no-go!
I’ve always had the urge to have a business that was my own with a technology slant to it. So, when the opportunity came up to be part of Glass Digital, it was the perfect match.
What do you think you’d be doing right now if your business didn’t exist?
Good question! As I've always wanted something of my own, I think I'd still be trying to work out a business idea relating to technology. But on a practical level, I would potentially be working in-house, doing what I’ve been doing for the last 13–15 years. I've always been curious about the difference between working in-house over agency. We're so used to working with multiple clients at once, so the idea of putting all your time and effort into a single client almost sounds similar to having your own business.
What’s your technique for staying productive throughout the day?
I've always found myself to be more motivated when working under pressure. However, this can be a double-edged sword: while it's great for motivating me to work to a high standard, it can also have negative side effects, like stress and anxiety. I always try to keep some perspective when working under pressure. This gives me the boost I need to work hard, whilst allowing me to give myself a break when it becomes too much. Being grateful for the position I am in and realising that I’m lucky in that regard is a good tonic to the pressure.
How do you define "being successful"?
One thing I've learnt is that there's no one size fits all approach to success, as it means different things to different people. However, for me, true success is ultimately about getting a sense of happiness and satisfaction from what you do. Whether this is seeing clients pleased with the results we've achieved for them, watching team members grow their skillsets over time, or picking up awards for campaigns we’ve put our all into — these are the things that make me feel successful, and proud of both my team and myself.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
My guitar is my pride and joy, and playing is one of my favourite ways to spend my spare time. I've been playing for around 20 years now, and I still enjoy learning more and developing my skills. It's also done a great job of staving off the dreaded lockdown boredom over the last 18 months! Aside from this, I also love travelling to anywhere with sun, and being in the great outdoors.
What are your recommendations for a business or developer novice?
While I’d certainly still consider myself at the novice end of the spectrum, there are a few bits of advice that have helped me with my career over the years. Firstly, start your business in something you truly enjoy. Your passion will help you succeed, and it's far easier to persevere through the tough bits when you're working on something that you love.
That being said, your passion will be the least of your worries when trying to get your business off the ground. Spend time learning more about all the areas you need an understanding of, like business, finance, sales, and operations. Being strong in these areas can help remove roadblocks and allow you to get ahead.
You should also spend plenty of time finding and developing your niche within your chosen sector.
It can be difficult to stand out in a crowded market, so try and find something that your competitors are missing, see if there's appetite for it, and then go for it. And finally, try to think rationally and remove reactive emotion from your business. This can be hard, especially when running your own business as the highs and lows feel so personal. But letting emotions get on top of you in both the good times and the bad times can create setbacks, so being able to stay rational will pay dividends.
Thanks for the interview and for your advice Marc, I am sure this insightful interview will serve as an inspiration for all novice developers and business owners. Wish you and Glass Digital team good luck, and many positions up on TechBhemoths!
If you like this interview and think that Marc and his team can help your business improve the online visibility and image, don't hesitate to contact Glass.Digital via TechBehemoths profile