From zero to digital mum in 6 months…

With a feeling of dread at my impending return to work following my second maternity leave in the HR dept of a large Bank, I knew what was about to come…constant rushing around, running late whilst trying to get kids out the door (often with no shoes on!), nursery drop offs/pick ups, grumpy tired children, delayed trains, and the worst…doing hoovering at 9pm *big sigh*

With the baby napping, feet up, cup of tea and magazine in hand, I was determined to make the most of the last few weeks of my maternity leave. That’s when I came across an article with Kathryn and Nikki and my Digital Mums journey began. To think that there was #workthatworks out there which allowed mums to work flexibly around their children and to also be part of a rapidly growing and changing industry, and doing something that I had a personal passion for, really excited me.

I was accepted onto the Community Manager Programme, a 6 month intensive training course in social media management similar to the Strategic Social Media Manager programme, but without the live client. It’s aimed at mums with no formal marketing background so was perfect for me. I was told that I would need to spend 10–15 hours minimum a week (yep, and no less!) to complete the course, and what with already working 3 full days a week, I knew it would be tough but was determined to make it work.

Before I knew it week 1 was upon me and I was put into a peer group with some other lovely mums. After our first google hangout, I instantly felt at ease that we were all in the same boat. The first few weeks as I settled in was very daunting, but I quickly became used to the training system and there was always someone on the training forum to answer your queries no matter how silly they were…and quite often, there was another mum with the exact same query probably feeling the exact same way!

As part of the training, we were to start up and run our own campaign. I chose to run a Mind campaign, life + mind (@LifeMindUK), aiming to encourage others, generally mums aged 25–55, to take a step back from their busy lives and learn to relax and have some me-time. To tie it all in, I would share information on yoga, nutrition, wellbeing as well as mindfulness, all of which I am personally interested in, meaning it was fun and didn’t feel like work at all. Also with my very own limited ‘me-time’, it couldn’t have been more perfect to help me practice what I preached (however, daily meditation and yoga sessions were unfortunately not an option!)

I initially thought I was pretty clued up about social media (hah!), but it didn’t take long for it to become apparent I was a complete novice! Before the course I never realised the importance social media had in brand awareness and loyalty or how you should engage to keep your fans and followers interested. This is where Live Learning is so important; as you are running a campaign alongside the training, you can put all your theory into practice. Before the course, other than uploading the occasional photo of my children to Facebook, I had zero confidence with posting anything, let alone engaging with others on social media. But as the weeks went by, I started to get an increasing amount of likes, retweets and followers and my confidence grew, even to the point that starting conversations with an influencer was just the norm.

I won’t deny, it was hard work and at times I struggled to fit my coursework/campaign around work and being a mum (ill child, anyone?). I might of had a ‘little’ wobble in week 15 due to overwhelming pressures and feeling like I wasn’t cutting the mustard. After some much needed encouragement from my husband and speaking to a few of my cohort, I realised I wasn’t alone and it made me even more determined to make this work for myself, my family and for our future.

But more importantly, I was enjoying what I was doing, and the thought that I would eventually be doing a job which I loved, kept me going. One of the main things I loved was that the course allowed me to get creative; thinking up hashtags, coming up with my own content using online tools and even just writing posts and taking photos to put out onto my platforms. Getting a retweet or mention from an influencer is always a high five moment and a good reminder that your hard work has paid off…I think I may actually have let out a small whoop when I had a mention from @deliciouslyella!

So now the course is almost over, I need to start focusing on what happens next. For the time being I will continue my campaign, work on my personal channels and just see what comes up. But one thing I know…I’m going to miss training with Digital Mums!

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