Giles Metcalfe Digital

"We all experience down times and setbacks, and, as the saying goes, no man nor woman is an island." Giles Metcalfe Inclusion & belonging

Giles Metcalfe Digital

Life’s twists and turns saw me burnt out and parting company with my last full-time employer by mutual consent.


Tell me about your journey

Giles Metcalfe Digital started in 2014.

I struck out on my own as a self-employed digital marketing freelancer, launching Giles Metcalfe Digital, after gaining 20 years’ marketing and website-related experience.

I’d been working a 60-hour week: 8-to-6 in the office, no lunch break, with a commute there and back, as well as additional time in the evenings too. This was unsustainable. So, we went our separate ways.

I actually tried for another full-time role subsequently, with an agency in Huddersfield. After going for an interview, they offered me the chance to work with them on a freelance self-employed basis. They gave me enough work to keep me in business for the first year and beyond, as well as referring my services to their contacts.

I’m massively thankful to them for giving me that start in business. It saw me through the difficult first year. As with relationships, if you can get through your first year that’s half the battle.

Now 9 years into being freelance self-employed, I’ve got the big 10th anniversary next Autumn!


Why do you want to make a difference?

From an ethical business standpoint, I want to walk the talk and prove that “ethical” and “digital marketing” can be used in the same sentence! Marketing as a discipline, and digital marketing included, has a bad reputation. Deservedly so. I wanted to add my voice and my actions to the collective of ethical and responsible freelancers and agencies out there who are trying to change that.

From a sustainability standpoint, I’m not trying to save the world singlehandedly but I am trying to do my bit and spread awareness around carbon reduction. Doing something is better than doing nothing, even if it’s creating a low-carbon website and adopting digital sobriety. You could even attend a People, Planet, Pint (or People, Planet, Pizza) event and find out more about the topic.

This approach is reflected in and encouraged by the membership and accreditation organisations I’m part of and the people I meet through their events, including the Good Business Charter.


What challenges have you overcome?

Some people have told me that I should keep quiet about my Aspergers and neurodiversity in case I “put potential clients off”, and others have told me to celebrate it. I thought hard about whether or not I should mention my Aspergers here, but yeah – having Aspergers and being an Introvert has definitely been challenging in the past and continues to be so, especially in terms of having to promote myself and my business through networking. That said, there are dedicated networking sessions for the neurodiverse, and people doing great work in that area on our behalf to make us feel more included and more comfortable.

Some days I’m more Aspergian than others, and I appreciate that being in a breakout room with me on those days can be challenging for other people too!


Where do you find inspiration?

The people I talk to on any given day.


What are you most proud of?

9 years in business for myself, with 10 years as the next milestone.


What support have you had?

Having a business network and a support network around you is absolutely crucial.

Your business network refers you and your services. New work finds you, meaning you don’t have to go looking for it.

My support network was there for me when I was struggling or needed help and advice. We all experience down times and setbacks, and, as the saying goes, no man – nor woman – is an island.

I’ve got great people around me. Notably, people who pass on referrals, associates, business mentors and a great accountant.

A great accountant and a great mentor are probably the two most key assets the self-employed can have in business, outside of the support of your nearest and dearest.

Not forgetting the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the resources available there. Plus, the Good Business Charter (GBC) community and the people raising awareness of ethical and sustainable business and tech practices, as well as the Association of Sustainability Practitioners (ASP) and others who have supported me (for which I am very grateful).


What lessons have you learned along the way?

Many lessons, learnt the hard way!

I started out with the idea that I was a ‘Freelancer’. But had to acknowledge and accept that I was actually self-employed and running a small business, with all that entails.

Learning that early doors and getting on top of your admin saves you a lot of heartache later on. If you can’t face the admin tasks yourself then get a VA.

Get yourself a great accountant and a great mentor too, and the same applies. They will help you immensely.

Unless you really love spreadsheets, accounting software is a real help, both for you and your accountant.


Giles is a white man, he has dark hair and a grey beard. To find out more about Giles, visit his website or connect on LinkedIn



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