Many of our Blogger Story Tellers have shown that life does not always follow a straight line. For Tim Jackson, aka Masiguy, a love of words was at the start of his life adventure. However, before he combined writing, via blogs, with his other passion cycling, he would take many side trips from designing custom hats to working on a shrimp boat in Alabama a la Forrest Gump.
Blogger Story Teller: Tim Jackson, Masiguy; Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid!
I've been a writer for almost as long as I've been a rider. The only thing that has held my imagination as strongly as cycling has been writing. Not that I get to do much creative writing now, but I used to be a very prolific writer, almost exclusively poetry. It is fairly accurate to say that over the years I've had a number of very different jobs and could be called something of a Jack of all trades.
I worked in potato, corn, watermelon and sweet potato fields, pecan orchards, horse stables, fishing boats, oyster beds and shrimp boats (one of my favorites) while growing up in Alabama. I also worked for my uncle in his auto repair shop- fetching parts, sweeping floors, cleaning the lot and other non-mechanical jobs.
I worked on a few construction sites, since almost everybody on my father's side of the family is a carpenter. I mowed lawns, raked leaves, washed cars and worked for a reupholsterer... all by the time I was 16.
By the time I was 12, I fell in love with cycling and got my first bike shop job in our small town bike shop.
When I moved to San Diego, I began the traditional migration from one bike shop to another, along with numerous other digressions. I worked for a small import company that imported goods from Guatemala- leather, fabrics, woven goods and various jewelry. I worked for this company off and on for several years and ultimately ended up as the Assistant General Manager of the company by the time I was 23, handling multi-million dollar accounts in the fashion industry and designing new jewelry.
Also during this time, right after high school, I worked for a hat shop (another life-long love of mine) and learned the art of millinery and crafted many custom hat designs for many "private customers", along with hundreds or thousands of custom hat pins.
Then I got into the coffee business and worked for an independent coffee house/ art gallery (which is when I really began to write seriously). In the end, I helped to create and open two other coffee shops and even did some time working for Starbucks years later.
My first "break" in the cycling industry came when I took a job with a company that made expensive, technical lighting systems used on bicycles - NiteRider Technical Lighting Systems. This is where I really got the chance to sharpen my customer service skills as well as learned a lot about business.
The president of the company, a man named Ed Andrew (who has returned to the company as the president again), took me under his wing and taught me a lot and gave me a wonderful opportunity to develop as a thinker and problem solver. Those skills have been invaluable.
After NiteRider, I went to work for an architectural/ interior design manufactured stone company -Stone Yard. They made the most beautiful cement and/or fiberglass planters, tables, urns, fireplace surrounds, pedestals and other high-end products. This was another great experience, as it gave me a chance to work with a new high-end customer and helped me to sharpen my business communication skills.
Ultimately, after taking a year off from work to stay home with my then-infant daughter, I took another bike industry job with a clothing company - Canari Cyclewear. This was another dream job and I am still very close to the company. With Canari, I was the Inside Sales Manager and began to take on their PR/ Marketing needs before I received the offer to take my current job, where all of the unrelated job experiences I have had over the years finally came together.
I am currently the Brand Manager of Masi Bicycles. This is, hands down, my dream job. Masi is the first brand of bicycle I began to lust after when I got into racing bicycles when I was 12. To now be the guy responsible for running the brand is more than just a little gratifying.
My blog, Masiguy, is an extension of that passion for the brand. The story has been told several times already, including on Diva Marketing, but I'd been hearing a lot about blogs and blogging for a few years and I was faced with the task of marketing a brand and growing brand awareness without any kind of budget. I'd read an article about blogs and blogging and just decided, "screw it, I'll try it!" I went to Google, searched the word blog and ended up at Blogger. I started a blog right there, wrote the first post and haven't really stopped since.
After a few days of posting, I wrote a press release about the blog and sent it to our industry trade publication, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News/ BRaIN and they ran it the next day. Once that got published, I figured I should tell my bosses what I'd done. Once they read the blog and read the positive feedback and heard from a few people who read about the blog on the BRaIN website, they were pretty much behind it.
The blog has proven to be hugely successful, by my terms at least. I hear numerous stories about shops reading the blog regularly. I have several people come to see me during our industry tradeshow, just to talk about the blog and many of these people do not buy product from me, but they still like and read the blog. I have had shops tell me that they leave their shop computer/s on the blog so that their customers can read the blog, or that they will find something out about the brand from a customer who read something on the blog and then told them.
The blog has gotten the brand a lot of recognition, admittedly a lot of that is aimed at me and not the bikes, but it has definitely benefited the brand- we had double digit growth last fiscal year and are on target to match that this year.
In April, I traveled to Australia to help our distributor launch the brand in that market. I met several retailers there who were very familiar with the blog and read of my trip to visit them in advance of my arrival. It turns out, I have plenty of "fans" in Australia and the distributor has already, since April, sold out of all their first order of bikes!
Similarly, right after the trip to Australia, I was in Texas to ride a benefit ride for the MS Society and to support the efforts of our largest retailer. While there, I met many people on the 100 mile ride who were regular readers of the blog and many of them were riding Masi bicycles. I recognize that is purely anecdotal evidence that the blog is working, but I feel very confident in its success. The readership fluctuates, based on the frequency of my posting, but averages 200-300 a day, though spikes as high as 600-700 are not uncommon if the posting is interesting and/ or somewhat titillating.
My new found love for blogging has lead to many great new relationships and friendships. It has also spawned another blog project that I started in November called Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid, which is dedicated to marketing in the cycling industry or other industries that use cycling to sell a product or service. This project is done as a team and we have 7 contributors, with one more surprise contributor on the way.
Admittedly, I do the majority of the posting, but the other members, who are also involved with cycling in one way or another, throw some great commentary into the mix when they get the chance. I am exceptionally proud of this little project because it combines my longtime love of cycling with my somewhat new love for marketing. We've gotten a lot of what I consider to be good professional praise for the efforts on the blog and I feel really good about that. The fact that it was created as a team blog is part of what makes it so great to me. It was really a selfish excuse to get to work with the contributors either again or for the first time.
I am so busy with the job of being the Brand Manager now that I don't get to post as often as I would like anymore, but I have no intention of getting out of blogging any time soon. They'll have to drag me kicking and screaming out of the blogosphere...
Oh yeah, and in my "spare" time, I spend time with my wife, two children, dog (Cairn Terrier puppy), train and race bicycles at an Elite level and run my own small business on the side, writing copy for a few clients.
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