We’ve Set Sail: Introducing 7 Seas Content
Looking back and connecting the dots, it’s easy to see who has helped you get to where you are today. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s been anything but orthodox, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. This is the story of how 7 Seas Content came to be…
Buzzed on Caffeine and Content
In 2007, on a fresh September morning that shone like liquid gold, I proudly opened the doors of my very own coffee shop. It was a defining moment for me, with all of my friends and family stopping by for my soon-to-be signature cappuccinos and my mother’s grilled sandwiches that oozed and swelled with melted cheese and thick wedges of smoked ham. With myself at the espresso machine and my mother at the grill, grafting away like boilermen on a steam train, we quickly won the hearts of the local community and picked up a number of prestigious awards and accolades.
It was at this point that I started writing posters to go in the windows and chalkboard specials to sell my caffeinated concoctions. And most importantly, I wrote the content for our website. I did it because I realised that tourists visiting from out of town would never see the mentions we had in the local press. We didn’t have the budget to advertise nationally – how would they ever find out about us? I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was doing was developing an SEO and Content Marketing strategy. I wrote about the local attractions, about the city and, of course, our food and coffee, offering an extended welcome to one and all to come and join us when they got to town.
Soon, people from America, China, Germany, France, Greece, Spain and Italy started walking in through the door and telling us that they’d found us online. It blew my mind. But more than that, it sparked an insatiable curiosity in the power of the Internet. It allowed me – David – to battle against Goliath (Starbucks).
My interest in coffee was rapidly surpassed by my interest in Content Marketing – not that I knew it was called that at the time.
Living the Sweet Life
Two or three years later, stricken with the impatience that bestows young men at the age of twenty-five, I declared that I would be moving on to pursue my career in online marketing. And after months of fruitless searching, I found a position with a start up in Barcelona. They were looking for people to help write content for their blog and electrify their social channels. It would be the biggest adventure of my life.
I spent a year devouring blog posts about digital copywriting and web 2.0 under the guidance of the legendary Benny James and Ranny Ward, who gave me and my colleagues total freedom to experiment with new strategies. I wrote everyday and fell deeper and deeper in love with the power of words and the speed at which they worked in the online world. I learnt how to write content that ranked for specific keywords and spread like wildfire across social media. And essentially, I learned how important it is for small companies to have a solid content strategy. We worked tirelessly on that terrace, with breathtaking views over the sun-drenched city of Barcelona, and within eight months we had doubled the website’s traffic. It was a period of immense growth and development for me too, and I knew then that I wanted to help more companies get more out of their web content.
Finding My Verve
With my laptop stuffed into a carry on suitcase in one hand and a guitar in the other, I moved my life back to the UK and began looking for opportunities in London.
I had interviews at a number of large agencies and with some of the UK’s biggest online brands, but it all felt so Goliath and not enough David. I quickly lost my mojo and was just considering a return to my beloved Barcelona when I met the one-and-only Lisa Myers of Verve Search. Full of energy and bursting with passion for creative SEO, I instantly knew that Verve was my kind of place. It was tiny back then, just Lisa and the awesome Ciaran Oliver. Our meetings were quick and incredibly productive, with each of us knowing exactly what we were responsible for – small really is beautiful. As always, I was designated the role of ‘content guy’, writing landing page copy, product descriptions and blog posts for our clients.
And then things happened… big things
Within six months I was managing a team of four juniors, teaching them the basics of SEO and guiding them on all content writing activity. And a few months later we began to build our in-house editorial team. I was promoted to Head of Content and tasked with inspiring and managing our writers. This was paradise for me and I loved working with other wordsmiths, all of whom had equally unhealthy obsessions with language and the written word. Within the space of three years, we’d gone from three people to twenty-three people.
Our clients became increasingly more exciting and I adored working with the likes of Anna Ekeroth and David Tutin at Expedia, and Gus Dupre and Belen Fernandez at HotelClub, all of whom inspired me on countless occasions. Around this time I was also invited to write for the iconic State of Digital blog, and I was fortunate enough to become friends with industry legends such as Bas van den Beld and Barry Adams and Jo Turnbull.
Hoisting the Sail at 7 Seas Content
With my longstanding interest in copywriting and content marketing, it was always in the back of my mind that I’d start my own agency. But it wasn’t until I turned thirty that I realised it was only me that could make it happen. No one else was going to push me to do it – I had to take the leap for myself. It was heartbreaking to leave my family at Verve Search, especially as they have continued to be so formidable without me, but I knew it was time.
With 7 Seas Content I want to focus entirely on doing one thing exceptionally well: writing world-class web content that helps companies grow online. I want to keep things small and manageable, personable and efficient, to work with passion and energy, as master craftsmen. For me the goal is not to grow rich and fat, but to build long-lasting relationships with companies and agencies who live and breathe online. It’s about mixing creative pizzazz with good ol’ fashioned service.
Along the way I’ve met countless copywriters, journalists, poets and content marketers from all walks of life, and it’s these people that make up the 7 Seas Content collective. Between us, we’ve written for some of the world’s biggest brands, mainstream publications, national press and thousands of blogs. In content terms, you could say that we’ve sailed the seven seas.
What’s with the name, 7 Seas Content?
Much as well-written content should do, the seven seas connect the world. It also reflects our love for the travel and tourism industries, which we specialise in.
If you need content written for your website/blog, whether it’s product descriptions, meta titles, landing pages, blog posts or entire site re-writes, send an email to email@example.com and my team and I will get to work post haste.
~ Ben Holbrook
Owner and Lead Copywriter