So here it is. My first blog post since becoming a mum boss and creating my new family-friendly career.
What a journey it’s been...
I’m writing this in a rare quiet moment while my two young boys (19 months and 5 weeks old) have their afternoon naps and I can’t help reflecting on how much my life has changed in the last couple of years. My journey to finding work that works for my family has been a fairly fast-paced one, and the circumstances that led to me choosing a freelance career are sadly all too common amongst mums returning to work. However it was the catalyst I needed to finally make the jump and do what I’ve always wanted to do; work for myself.
Two years ago I was working full time, heading up the Marketing Communications team for Land Rover UK. I loved my job - I had a great team, the work was challenging and fun, but the days were long and so was the commute. I had our first little boy in January 2015 and I fully intended to go back to my job after 12 months ‘off’ (don’t you love it when people describe maternity leave as a holiday. Pah!). But as the months passed by the reality of juggling a young child with a demanding career just wasn’t going to work. With a daily commute of 2.5 hours and needing to rely on full-time childcare for the wee man, I calculated that I would spend approximately zero hours with him each day. That certainly wasn’t #WorkThatWorks for me - it wasn’t a work/life balance that I felt comfortable with. Where was the ‘life’ part?
There needed to be another way….
I stumbled across Digital Mums when reading a blog on Selfish Mother by a #digitalmumtobe and was instantly intrigued. This inspiring social enterprise was set up with the sole purpose of upskilling professional mums to enable them to work as freelance Social Media Managers from home - who better to manage business’ social media channels than an army of uber-efficient, multi-tasking mums?
The mission of Digital Mums spoke to me so strongly that I found myself completely hooked; clicking on endless links, searching campaign hashtags, following (stalking!) Digital Mums graduates (suitably named the ‘#DMCollective’) and being completely inspired by their stories. It was hard to not want to be part of the movement. I had worked for over 12 years in Marketing and PR managing multi-million pound campaigns for big brands; this would be a fantastic opportunity to take that big brand knowledge and experience and apply it on a smaller scale - and all from home to boot.
This was the answer!
So with that, I enrolled on the Digital Mums six-month Strategic Social Media Management course in January 2016….whilst two months pregnant. In fact, my due date was calculated as one week after the course would finish! This was going to be a full-on six months, but I was determined to make it work…
The online training was intense, and working for a client delivering a real-life social media campaign as part of their innovative ‘live learning’ approach was daunting at first, but I relished getting my brain whirring again and thinking about something other than nappies and nursery rhymes.
It didn’t take long to realise that specialising in digital marketing and social media was what I wanted to do as the next step in my career. But this would take some serious hustling to get my name out there and to set myself up as a freelancer, whilst still studying, delivering a real-life campaign, looking after a toddler full-time at home AND with a baby on the way.
Good job I love a deadline!...
In March 2016 I came across the fabulous Bianca Chappell and was inspired by the Mumpreneurs:MK networking group that she had established to support women in business. When the opportunity to be a Founder Member of her Members Club (The MMC, or ‘Top Guns’ as she calls us!) came up, I jumped at the chance.
The MMC is a vibrant community of businesswomen who are serious about the development of their businesses and is a fantastic group to be part of to connect, support and promote each other. Not only do I learn something new each time we meet, but being in their company I feel inspired and motivated to build the best business I can. It’s amazing what a bunch of women can do when you put them in a room together!
In April I set up my own social media management business, Hatch Social, to help businesses navigate the complex and fast-moving world of social media by offering a completely bespoke service. Whether businesses want full social media support, training for their team so they can manage their social media channels themselves, or an extra pair of hands to deliver a social campaign, we can help!
By May I took on my first paying client (it really is all about the hustle!) and by the end of July 2016 I was a fully fledged, official #DigitalMum and part of the Collective. Two weeks after ‘graduating’, our second little boy entered the world.
I had met my target...just in the nick of time!
Being a freelance Social Media Manager fulfils everything that I have strived to balance - to work in a profession that interests, challenges and inspires me, plays to my strengths and gets my creative juices flowing again, whilst not neglecting my most important job of being a mummy.
So what has this year taught me? I’ve learned that even though #WorkthatWorks can feel like a faraway dream, it absolutely can be a reality. And although I might have found an answer by myself, my journey was fast-forwarded by being part of two inspiring communities. Great things happen when you get a group of motivated, like-minded women together. I’ve been completely inspired by the women I’ve met in the last nine months in both the MK Mumpreneurs network and the Digital Mums community. I truly believe that I couldn’t have got where I am right now without the support, encouragement and knowledge-sharing that these groups have provided. I feel really proud to be a part of both of them.
My advice to other women who want to step out of their comfort zone and find #WorkThatWorks? Seek out like-minded people who will support you on your journey and believe in yourself. And most importantly of all, just get out there and ‘do the hustle’. You’ll never look back.
To read more about Digital Mums’ #WorkThatWorks report - click here.