POMEROY — One Meigs County teenager doesn’t let all the talk of high unemployment around the country bother him.
John M. Stuart, 16, son of Doug and Brenda Stuart of Pomeroy, started his own home-based business when he was 14, offering web site building services to the public, and has since branched out to include graphic design and computer tech support services to his growing clientele.
“I noticed so many small businesses around here that didn’t have any web site at all, and I read that 56 percent of consumers don’t trust a business without a web site,” observed Stuart. “It’s sort of like not having a phone for your business— every business should have one. I like working on web sites, so I just started asking around.”
His first client in 2011 was a custom tee shirt and screen printing firm in downtown Pomeroy, T-Shirts Etc., which has since grown larger and moved the shop to another location. Stuart approached the owner in person to offer his help, and they quickly struck a deal. Stuart then purchased a domain name for the site, photographed the products, and designed the layout with special web authoring software. Once it was green-lighted, he launched the site to a global audience.
“That was exciting,” noted Stuart. “It felt good to know that I helped someone in the local community get a bigger presence out there in the world.”
While volunteering design work on a new touring poster for a national Christian rock band, Stuart next designed multiple sites commissioned by one of the band members, Todd Waites, a professional musician and motivational speaker from Columbus who tours nationally (see www.toddwaites.com). Waites liked Stuart’s work so well he decided to keep him on a retainer, paying him a regular fee to this day to host and maintain his sites.
Stuart later went on to design web sites and custom Facebook pages for his local Boy Scout Troop 299, his Bethel Worship Center “Revolution” church youth group under the direction of youth pastor Kris Butcher, and an Ohio full service marketing and media research firm, Triune Research & Marketing, among others. Stuart even designed a custom site just last week for his granddad, an Exxon retired consulting geologist — “but that one was a Christmas gift,” he said.
Doing business as his own sole proprietorship, JMS Designs (a.k.a. Stuart Digital), Stuart says he offers cutting edge web site design at very reasonable prices, which includes a mobile version for display on smartphones, a feature he claims is a necessity, with so many people accessing the internet through their cell phones. He cited a supporting statistic that “60 percent of consumers are frustrated by sites that don’t work well on phones and tablets” (weebly.com, 2013). He notes that he can do simple, inexpensive, one-page “billboard” designs if clients just want an internet presence with their contact info, or more complex designs with multiple pages and features. Stuart said he also does ongoing web site maintenance for clients wanting to keep content fresh, as well as domain name acquisition, site hosting, and technical support. He revealed that his business was also recently hired under contract to provide part-time support and design services for a local computer and networking services firm. Stuart mentioned that he has a new startup in the works, StuartDigital.net, where he has combined his services and is developing new ones.
In addition to his business work, Stuart regularly participates in church youth group activities, and volunteers his time doing media and sound work for churches and bands, and providing labor for the Boy Scouts of America through his membership in Order of the Arrow, a national Boy Scouts of America honor fraternity. As a paid employee of Huntington, WV-based BSA Tri-State Council, Stuart has taught fellow scouts Computers and other merit badge courses at summer camps the past two years. He’s also now a Life Scout working toward the final Eagle rank, which he plans to complete in 2014.
Attending Ohio Connections Academy, an online public high school with several thousand students enrolled across the state, allows Stuart to stay at home for school with live lessons over the internet. While largely self-taught on computers, at school he’s taken a number of computer-related courses like digital art and photography, web design and Microsoft Office, and hopes to attend college after graduation. For more information on John Stuart and his work visit www.JohnStuart.org or www.StuartDigital.net.