Interviews Jon Wade, Creator of the popular Essex Portal, and Medimise sites.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your background?

successI grew up in rural Essex, England, during the 1980. Not much happened for the first 18 years of my life. In 1992 I headed off to university, eventually to read Geography at Coventry University. It was at university that I started to learn how to write properly as research and writing was the main focus of the 3 years of study.

When I left university in 1997 I had no idea what I wanted to do. I needed money so found some work in a local bank. The job was reasonably interesting but poorly paid, so after a year I headed to London where the money was better. I ended up spending 12 years working in investment banking.

In 2006 I started learning web design as a hobby but it was not until around 2008 that I realised that a combination of web design and content writing could form a business. In 2009 my bank restructured and I was made redundant. I set myself 1 year to make my business work, otherwise it would be back to banking. Fortunately I met my goals for the year and I am now my own boss.

What did it feel like to leave the corporate world to pursue writing, martial arts, and web design?

bankingI actually started martial arts long before I joined the corporate world. When I went to university in 1992 I joined a kung-fu club and I got hooked. My first year at university was actually at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. I read (but did not understand) Astrophysics. I quit the universe to study the earth!

As for what it felt like to leave the corporate world – it felt fantastic. For the first time since leaving University in 1997 I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I had the means to accomplish my goals. Every day is a pleasure, in fact, it often feels like I am not working at all.

You’ve spent a good deal of time training martial arts, why did you focus on Kung Fu?

yin-yangI was never an active child, always struggled in athletics at school and was never into team sports. In the summer of 1992, just before I headed to university, Jonathan Ross introduced a series of Jackie Chan films on Channel 4. A good friend and I both got hooked on Jackie Chan and we decided to each join a kung-fu club at university. I started the Hung Kuen Shaolin Kung-fu .

After leaving Preston I searched for a similar club but never found one so warm, enjoyable, acrobatic and exciting. The club in Preston was great. Because of this I then spent the next 7 or 8 years dabbling in different styles. I tried tai chi several times, various Japanese arts and some freestyle clubs.  I eventually discovered Sifu Tony Willis in Essex after I returned to Chelmsford in 2002. Once again I found an excellent teacher who was passionate about traditional Chinese martial arts. I stayed there for around 6 years.

However, in 2008 I decided to quit. The stress of working full time in banking, supporting my family (my first son was born in 2007) and trying to develop my business in the evenings meant that I simply did not have the time to dedicate to martial arts any longer. It has been over 4 years since I stopped, and I still miss it.

Essex Portal is a really well designed magazine, what inspired it, and what topics do you cover?

essexThe inspiration simply came from learning web design and being an Essex lad. I wanted to give something back to the community while also building a profitable site. So I offer free news and event listings for charities in Essex and try to help people as much as I can when they ask.

Topics are mostly centred on tourism and leisure, business and a little news. Running a local site is very interesting in that I am constantly trying to balance stories which are of interest now with articles that will remain interesting for months, or even years, to come. Running a site like Essex Portal is actually much harder in many ways that running a site that contains entirely “evergreen” content. Information is forever being reviewed and edited, you cannot write something and forget about it.

What is the focus of Medimise?

medimiseMedimise actually spun-off (that is a corporate actions term I still use in everyday business) from Originally I was blogging any health topic that interested me – fitness and strength training, weight loss, diet, heart health, cancer, medical news etc. Then in 2008 I read The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries and quickly realised that if I wanted MotleyHealth to become successful I needed to make it more focussed, so that readers would associate the site with a specific topic. The fitness and weight loss pages were most popular, so I created a new home for all the medical articles –

Medimise is still in its early days, I have great plans for it, but need to reach out to the wider medical community to really get it moving. In the meantime I continue to write on a combination of topics which seem to be in most demand and topics which interest me.

Can you tell us about your writing?

nohotlinksI have self-published an eBook already. It is only a small book though. When I was studying Health Sciences with the Open University the topic of the Glycemic Index came up and we discussed how this was an extremely useful tool for helping people to manage diabetes and also to lose weight. So I decided to write a guide, and as it got bigger I felt it needed to be presented in book format. You can order a copy (pdf) from MotleyHealth. Maybe one day I will be published on paper, who knows?

I was invited once to write a book on weight loss, however, at the time I could not fit it in with my schedule. The publisher wanted something to be completed within 3 months and I had a lot of other projects on the go that I could not drop. I still think that I have a full healthy living and weight loss book inside me, waiting to come out.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Well, the best places are the websites really, but I do also hang out on Google Plus where I share stories and chat about any issues that interest me – although more often than not I just joke around, so do not expect a constant stream of insightful comments and breaking news. You are welcome to “follow” me!

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