Six months ago, an email dropped into my shiny new Gmail account. The sender was Kath from Digital Mums, welcoming me to the course and sending instructions to join a Google Hangout (similar to Skype) that week with the other new course members. I nearly had a panic attack, I got that Sunday feeling, I had self doubt, I couldn’t study now, nearly 18 years after my degree, what was I thinking signing up for a course with three young kids at home?
Those who know me, laugh when I say that I’m shy (I mainly don’t stop talking around them) but I do find group situations with new people really hard work. I tend to rabbit on about utter rubbish and then develop a rash on my neck due to nerves (not a good look). The idea of a video hangout freaked me out. Anyway, Tuesday came, I joined the Hangout with the other mums, I did talk rubbish but maybe got away with it (who knows) and then I began the course.
My degree is in Business Management, I worked for a top advertising agency for 5 years, I have run my own importing business, I’ve been an interiors stylist, travelled the world, but more recently I have been a full time mum to my three boys. Earlier on this year, I began thinking about what work I would do when the boys started school. There was little point in me returning to any sort of work with three children needing full time childcare, the money would never cover the cost of nursery. I wanted to work for myself, from home, around the children’s schooling and lives. I am not alone, and apart from those returning to a big career job after maternity leave, most of the mums that I have met over the last 5 years want to set up their own business and be flexible with their working.
I have already found one such job (I’m a local editor for Mumsnet) and through the network of local editors around the country learnt that several editors were on the Digital Mums course aiming to improve their online skills. I took one look at the website and knew that this was the perfect course for me. I had a lightbulb moment. The course is designed specifically for mums and the clients are told that we often work at funny times of the day and they accept this, in fact with social media it’s normal to work at odd times of the day. There are so many companies who do not have the time (or money) to employ a big agency to run their social media accounts, yet without a presence on social media, people are being left behind (I was one of them).
I only opened my first Twitter account in January, I didn’t really see the point of Twitter before this course. I had used Facebook for personal use but never for business. I have written this blog on and off over the last year but never really known quite where it was going. Instagram, I joined in the Summer and Linked In, well, I had no idea how amazing that platform is. Last week, someone got in touch through Linked In, interested in recruiting me for some freelance social media work. We only went and had a coffee in Brighton (yes, face to face meetings do happen in the social media work) and fingers crossed, I will be working with this lady in the coming months. I had used Pinterest for my wedding decor ideas and occasionally for interiors but again, no business experience.
I won’t lie, it’s been tough. I started the course at the end of June, just before the Summer holidays. I then had three children aged 1, 3 and 5 at home with me. I began to realise that I would have to work at night. This went well at first, but during my client campaign (this ran for two months during October and November) it was relentless. By this point, I had two (short) work days when thing 2 and thing 3 went to playgroup but I worked every single night. Friends must have thought I was exaggerating, my husband had a sense of humour failure about my disappearance into “the office” (desk in the bedroom) each night the second the kids were in bed. However, by November (one month before the course even ended) I had secured my first paying client. The client who I worked for during the course campaign was so pleased with the content that I was curating for her, said “she couldn’t have represented the brand any better had she been doing it herself.” The ultimate compliment in social media.
I love this job. The clients that I have worked for to date are children’s brands. The content that I curate for brands is really interesting to me, it often doesn’t feel like work. My Digital Mums, campaign client was a mum, working from a home office with a very successful toy business that she had built up having designed and made her own toy. My new client is also a mum, she has invented stay on bedding for kids, to keep them warm at night. I love working with other mums, we all get to help each other and there is a mutual understanding when things quite often don’t go to plan. Like, when I had to cancel a meeting last week due to family sickness, and when a client had to cancel a meeting as she was busy with family commitments. I work often at night, this is when many of my target audience are online. I am learning to work smart, I schedule content to go out throughout the day which frees me up to go out with the kids.
The good news about social media is that it is measurable; the analytics are very impressive (when they work) and clients can see that they are getting value for money. The bad news is that there is no hiding, I have to work on time and get the content out daily, there’s no room for a mañana type of attitude with social media, it’s fast moving. This suits me fine, it keeps me on my toes!
I have made some good friendships with the girls on my course, each Wednesday night for the last six months we had a Google Hangout. We have moaned, shared ideas, laughed and helped each other. On our very last hangout, my husband was in London, the 3 and 5 year old were playing up, the 1 year old was ill. I just rolled with it, or so I thought. I joined the video call with the poorly 1 year old on my chest, to be met with smiles from the others. Two minutes in, he was sick straight into my cleavage, (good shot, they said later when I rejoined the call, saves on washing). Could I be the first Digital Mum to have broadcast a sick baby live on air? Probably, but I doubt that I’ll be the last.
My confidence has grown so much over the last six months. I am really proud of myself, I’ve worked very hard to retrain in a new field. I am already bringing money into the house, I rave to people daily about my job and the course that has enabled me to do this. I’m sure that people think I am some kind of recruiter for Digital Mums (in fact one of my best friends is doing the course at the moment), I’m not but I love the fact that two women from London saw a niche and went for it. They created a course that has enabled me (and hundreds of other mums) to retrain from home, work from home and fit this job around my life and my family. I’m writing this with an ill child (what is it about this time of year?) at home, I have just had a conference call with a client, now I’m having a break, a coffee and a cuddle with my boy. I couldn’t wish for a better job.