My Digital Mums journey.
From one social career to another…
With a career history generally in the travel industry, travelling full time, I was always going to have to find a new career after having children. I had travelled much of the world, Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East, Africa, South America, USA, Far East & Asia. Settling down and getting married meant moving on, in a different way. Falling pregnant with my son was my first discovery that work was going to be an issue in the future. I was not able work at all in my job whilst pregnant. I worked on board a cruise ship at the time and with ‘safety first’ pregnancy and rolling ships are not really an ideal match!
After the birth of my son, I had no job to go back to, inevitably. I lived a couple of hundred miles from Head Office so a nice Head Office job was never an option. I didn’t have a desperate need financially to go back to work so I enjoyed being a full-time mum for a few years. I started to look into possibilities of local jobs but found either full-time office jobs (I don’t like admin very much), jobs involving evening work or jobs in nice little independent shops on my local high street which required weekend working. Neither of these were an option for me. I wanted to be there for my son at the school gates when he starts school, not sitting in an office while a childminder picks him up. Many people had suggested the working from home options that are available in Travel Agency…I had worked in travel but I had no desire to be a Travel Agent!
Chatting to a friend one day, she told me about a course that she was considering to take...Digital Mums. This was the day that my career direction changed! I knew that I had to look into this Digital Mums and once I did I knew that this was the opportunity and challenge that I had been looking for. After researching and getting in touch I had made my decision. I had one hurdle, my husband. He isn’t much of a risk taker, he isn’t one for new schemes and trying this and trying that….he began his career path at 16, studied, qualified and made his way up the ranks to the very top…the complete opposite to my life. Years after my languages degree I have dabbled with ideas, gained great adaptable skills, found myself adaptably employable in various industries. So, would he agree that it is a good idea to spend money on a course with questionable career possibilities. How should I sell it to him…..well, I didn’t. I just booked it with my final bit of personal savings and then only told him a few weeks later. Probably not the best way to go about things in a marriage but that is what I did…and we are still married…
I wasn’t able to get onto the SMP course because I didn’t have the relevant marketing experience or much social media presence at the time. My disappointment was immense. A week later, after racking my brains for other new exciting possibilities (of course, no luck) I was offered the CMP, Community Manager Programme as an alternative. A poor relative? Definitely not…
What happened next…
Two months later my Digital Mums course started. I was raring to go. What a shock to the system. I went to the opticians in my first week as I was certain that I needed glasses but no, it was just concentration headaches and tired eyes from reading. Fortunately this all disappeared after the first ten days. The course was intense in the first few weeks and remained intense throughout but the intensity changed direction. The lessons reduce as the social media takes over. We had to learn all the basics of the different platforms before we could start our live campaigns. Differently to the SMP course we didn’t work with a start up company, we had to create and run our own campaigns in our local area chosen from a list of subjects. I chose a food campaign.
The food campaign had to follow certain subjects along with anything else topical or of interest. My campaign was called The Foodie Yocal and ran across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Subjects included shopping locally, eating seasonally, reducing food waste, reducing sugar and food education for children. The campaigns ran for around 12 weeks and we worked hard to get known and popular within our local areas and nationally. This was a great way to learn about how social media works, to get to know our local businesses and to run a successful campaign from scratch. An amazing journey.
It was a challenge!
The most challenging part of the course for me was time management…managing an intensive course and a family. The course is probably more time consuming than working in social media (I hope!) because the course and campaign take over your life (in a good way)…it’s our baby! Although it should only take 10–15 hours to manage, it does eat into other areas of life, because we are still learning and we are eager to succeed. My son is only in nursery for his allocated 15 hours and in that time I still needed to do the cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. Most of my course work and campaign was worked on in the evenings, with a lot of tweeting going on whilst cooking dinner...often a delayed dinner! My husband needed a little TLC afterwards though as he was pretty much neglected for 6 months. This had been an unexpected part of the course, which others may have managed better. Perhaps great training for the real world and how to get that work/life balance.
Self doubt crept in occasionally. Although our skills developed nicely (as per the training)on the social media side of things and we had great support, for much of the campaign I was never quite sure whether I was on the right track with my content being interesting and informative or just talking a load of rubbish to an audience with high expectations but then I received a message from The Lunchbox Doctor, a nutritionist who is big on social media. She wanted to meet for a coffee while she was in my area visiting family. We had a nice chat about The Foodie Yocal and her own work and family. She loved my campaign and the name and put me in touch with some online contacts. The chat was casual but informative and most of all it was just encouraging and motivating to have been noticed by an expert in the field, who wasn’t just following me because I had followed her!
The course was tough, there is no denying that. It takes more than reading and absorbing the lessons and a bit of tweeting. We were well supported and I feel that our peer group have become friends not just virtual video conference call buddies. Our calls were a weekly sanity check. It is intense and part way through I wished that I had waited until my son had started school so that I had 5 clear days to work but now that it is all over I am so pleased that I have completed the course already. Now I can get my business up and running, take on a small bit of work and enjoy the last few months of freedom with my boy before the wheel of school starts. At that point I will begin to gradually take on more contracts. The course is great and it is evident that the demand for social media managers is there. Some of my cohort have started some work and work experience already and the course officially finishes today. I have one small contract lined up which will be great to develop my skills and gain some more live experience.
Life at home has settled down now that the course is drawing to a close and we are looking forward to a new beginning with the start of my freelance social media career, working from home, picking up my son from school, being there for the school plays and the sick days, contributing to the family pot and most of all creating a new life for myself that isn’t just being mum and wifey. If you are considering it, think about whether it is the right time for you…and then just do it!