Do you remember that feeling when you had that lovely squishy newborn baby in your hands and you were about to leave hospital or home for the first time? That unique mixture of emotion: exhaustion, relief, excitement and nervousness at the prospect of venturing out of the security of the hospital, away from the attentive care of midwives and taking on the responsibility of that little bundle all on your own? That. That is exactly how I’m feeling today but instead of a new baby, my emotions are bubbling all over the place because I’m venturing out on my own into the world of freelance.
I’ve loved social media and was lucky to bring social media into my work as a well-paid Communications Manager in the NHS. It evolved from only a small amount of my time to about 75% of what I did. And over that time I evolved too. I had a little boy and took 10 months off for maternity leave. I returned to work with some flexible working arrangements in place (thanks NHS) but soon enough took a full year of maternity leave for my little girl & after that returned to reduced hours.
But, even with these flexible arrangements, it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t #WorkThatWorks for me. Sure I was well paid, I had a great childminder, I had flexible working arrangements, I had a great boss – I had stability. But I felt stuck in a job where I wasn’t in control of my workload, my own progression and after 8 years of negotiating NHS bureaucracy I’d had enough.
I’ve never been someone keen to jump at the chance of change, in fact for many years the prospect of any change would bring me out in a cold sweat (I remember one instance when my brand of bread was out of stock and had a mini-breakdown in the shop – a tad over the top I know, I know). I dreamed of the world of freelance but it seemed way out of my grasp. When I had my little girl I spent a lot of time on Instagram during night feeds and that’s when I came across the marvellous Mother Pukka. I owe her a massive squashy hug (or the less creepy option of a large glass of wine) because it was one of her posts that introduced me to Digital Mums. This idea of an online course that hones your social media skills, essentially turns you into a Digital Supermum and gives you the knowhow of how to hustle freelance struck a cord with me. This. Was. It!
So I ditched the job, the childminder, the stability and started the course. I didn’t really think too much about what the course would involve and immediately thought I’d made a mistake in the first week when they mentioned a ‘peer group’. But true to form Digital Mums were right – this peer group, collection of 5 random mums stuck together and forced to talk to each other every week for 6 months was the best support & motivation to help me get through the course. They were funny, honest, inspiring and so generous with their time. Our WhatsApp group was flat out often from 6am until after midnight. These women are brilliant and will take the freelance world by storm. I don’t see them as competition now, they are friends, people I want to do well & will help in any way that I can.
There were frequent moments of sheer panic during the course, looking at all the lessons and assignments to complete each week. Juggling parenthood with two kids felt hard enough without this added pressure and there were moments when I doubted whether this was going to give me the flexibility I wanted. The course was rammed packed with so much social media expertise and was perfectly paired with practical real-life application. My Programme Partner Mamazou and the wonderful Jenny have been an absolute dream to work with. I was nervous to take over her channels, especially because they were already established but I can honestly say I haven’t had any difficulties with her or her wonderful community. It’s amazing how attached I’ve become to Mamazou in such a short space of time. I’ve loved working on the parenting campaign, biggin’ up the #PerfectlyImperfectCrew. Maybe her honesty and passion for supportive positive parenting has rubbed off on me…?
There have been a few memorable moments of the campaign: I’ve had a surge of utter pride when I’ve checked my phone to see a few big influencers share content. I’ve had a blissful time on the beach with kids happily playing while I caught up with emails and scheduling. Instead of being resentful for working on a Saturday, I thought, this is what it’s all about. And at the end, I’ve had a little running-man dance celebration in the kitchen with my kids when I realised I’d stormed my KPIs and I could officially say my campaign was a huge success.
So what next… I’m certainly going to miss the Digital Mums safety net, the open-all-hours G+ community. But I’m looking forward to continue working with Mamazou. I’m looking forward to meeting my peer group face-to-face later this year (it’s gotta happen). I’m looking forward to checking out the DM collective. Social media doesn’t sit still, it’s constantly changing, so I’m embracing change (get me!) and ready to take on the world freelance social media services.