Many think that Unsponsored is a company, a shop or group of people, this is not the case. Unsponsored is one person – me. I started kayaking at around 11 years old (over 30 years ago) with my Dad and I have realised over the years that the introduction to what seemed such a simple past time has shaped me into what I have become. It has truly dictated what I have chosen to do with my life.
Since 1996 I have been a Maths teacher working in 11-16 schools in the North East of England. Unsponsored was created as a medium to practice HTML coding skills. I was required to learn some coding back in 1997/8 so I could teach it to some of my classes. Rather than simply create a series of web pages with no particular focus I chose to give my homework/lesson planning a little bit of a kayaking feel.
Why Unsponsored? I initially chose the name as it was something different. If I was doing it all again I would probably choose something else. Yet in some ways it has become a statement of sorts. The site is not about making money or becoming a “face” within the kayaking world. That’s not how I work, if you follow the site you will see that I attend most if not all UK based kayak events. I feel that to some extent I go to these things “under cover”, I don’t like to make a show of being Phil from Unsponsored. In some respects this has probably held the site back, but I prefer it that way. Up until recently you wouldn’t have actually seen many kit reviews with photographs of me in them. Many of the older reviews have just been updated to include images taken at the time but never used.
Over the years the site has changed a great deal. The site has dropped off and been built back up a number of times depending on what I have been doing – work, family, boating, biking etc…The site is paid for from my own funds and to be totally honest was going to be pulled from the net sometime during 2010. This was mainly due to my own personal interest in the site being lost. Maintaining the site, coding, fixing bugs and shelling out hundreds of pounds out for hosting every year was starting to become a chore. I was also committed to a number of other projects including a MEd in Educational Leadership.
The emergence of content management systems (like WordPress) rekindled my interest in the site, simply because it is easier to push out multimedia without all of the fuss. As I transferred the old content from previous versions of the site the number of hits increased exponentially. Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites has brought Unsponsored to the attention of a whole new generation of paddlers and the interest has continued to grow. I started to get out more in my boat, bought new kit and folk started to ask me what I thought about it.
Unsponsored is now bigger than it has ever been, it is costing me more money than it ever has before but I am enjoying the distraction.
Thanks for reading!
Check out my own Q&A here.