2017 – the year of the Phoenix for me – the year I stopped looking back and started looking forward, and built on successful businesses, as well as developing new ones.

Get Pro Copy became a Ltd Company with my wife asking for (and being refused) a shareholder role. That business has served me well for over two years now and deserved a Nick Clegg type honour – I think?

I went into partnership with a fellow northerner, Paul Charnock, as northerners are generally sound.

We had a couple of heated disagreements at the beginning as we’re both strong characters, but 321 Websites has been an unmitigated success. That business launched in June 2017, now has 14 website builds under its belt – we’re not the cheapest nor the most expensive, but we deliver quality design and content at a hare’s pace, not a snail’s meander.

Together, we launched Property Blogs just recently, a joint venture again, with me providing content marketing material for the wider property industry and not just estate and letting agencies which Get Pro Copy continues to serve. We want to kick down the doors of property investors, property developers, housebuilders (in the nicest possible way) and grow that new business organically.

In September, I adopted a rescue Border Collie, Cassie Walton, who rounds up prospects for content and web designs on our daily walks.

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In October, I became editor of Man Stress, along with Paul and Richard, a new mental health news site for men.

Cathartic and rewarding.

We are now in the process of putting the final touches to Life After Education, with over 200 subscribers to the venture.

Old cynical teachers like me are institutionalised and if someone had said to me at the start of 2014: “Mr Walton, in 4 years’ time, you’ll be earning as much money as when you were teaching, with less stress, working from home, on something you love” I’d have ROFLed (do people still use ROFL?).

Teaching makes many people ill, it made me anxious, stressed and depressed and we want other people to see the light and realise the grass is always greener outside those schools and multi-academy trusts.

We’re launching a sister site: Find My Tutors next, a directory of teachers which allow educators to share their skills and availability for tutoring.

2017 though was remarkable for one thing mainly – I saved myself, my marriage and mental health by stopping being a heavy habitual drinker and adopting healthier habits such as dog-walking, gym and teetotalism.

2018 has dawned with me feeling content (forgive the copywriting pun) and determined to make this year another great one – working with the people, partners, family, friends and dog, who made 2017 shine.