Kate Peers, 39, from Shoreham-By-Sea is married to Dan, 39, a carpenter. They have three boys Jack, six, Cody, four and Sam, one. She signed up to our Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme last year and graduated in November 2015.
“If you would have told me a year ago that I would be running my own business in social media management, so busy I can’t currently take on any more clients, I would have said you were out of mind. But here I am just five months after finishing the Digital Mums course in exactly that position. This is my journey...
In the beginning...Before kids, I had an eclectic career. First there was five years as an account manager at advertising agency DDB in London with clients including Marks and Spencer and Barclaycard. I loved travelling too and along the way I started importing beautiful ceramic teapots from Bali. This led to me doing Christmas markets and trade shows. I eventually left advertising all together and concentrated on selling. I had a stall at Portobello Market and the teapot designs were featured in the Telegraph at one point. I also went on to become an interiors stylist for Next Home.
The kids come along…Dan and I met at school but got together in our early twenties in London. When Jack was born we moved to Brighton. Not long after Cody arrived and finally Sam. I stayed at home although I did try selling things like baby grows on Etsy (I learned to screen print!) as a sideline. I also started writing my blog, but it was more of a hobby. I wanted to go back to work but I knew I couldn’t handle weekends or evenings working at markets. The thought of commuting and going back into advertising in London filled me with dread too. All around me friends were going back to work, or setting up their own thing, but nothing seemed to fit.
Rocky times…I had my wonderful family and while I was happy, my self esteem was rock bottom as I just didn’t know what to do with myself. Then in 2014 my Dad died after a long illness. Mum had died ten years earlier so it hit me very hard. I felt very isolated and was spending way too much time at home, feeling very down. Then one day I heard about Digital Mums online - I knew despite how low I was, I needed something for myself. By the time Dan got home from work, I was determined it was what I wanted to do. He was 100 percent supportive. It felt like such a good mix of my skills from advertising and all of the marketing I had done on my own business. Some friends were a little more cautious; was this really the best time for me to do something so out of my comfort zone?
The revelation…I went for it and by June 2015 I was on the course and so busy that I barely had time to let my mind wander. Of course these things don’t solve your problems but it felt good to have a focus. I’m actually an incredibly shy person so one of the things I was most nervous about was the social aspect of the course. Email was one thing but talking to real people?! Elvira was my amazing tutor and on my very first call with my client, Helen from My Wonder, she put me at ease. Before I knew it I was chatting away, amazing myself with the marketing knowledge I had nicely tucked away waiting for this new role. I’m not going to pretend the course was easy though, I worked every evening for months but I LOVED it. There were some funny moments; like the time my son threw up down my cleavage on one of our peer group hangouts!
My first client….I hadn’t even finished the course and I landed my first client. Tuck N’Snug, who make stay-on bedding to stop children kicking the covers off at night. The founder Annabel approached me via my blog and we started talking social media. The rest is history. Within the first month of being on her channels I had engaged with Deborah Meaden on Twitter and won Tuck N’Snug an award via Nick Brown, business expert. She was interviewed by Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 as a result!
Life now...As the course drew to a close I started really hustling on Twitter and connecting with like-minded people. One woman recommended me to her colleague who ran Pedroza Communications, a PR company specialising in education. As a result of that I ran a four week social media campaign for BCS , the professional Institute for IT on E-safety. I have since worked on a campaign for First News launching their #FirstNewsihub. I live-tweeted an event with Chris Riddell, the children’s laureate, recently. I also approached a company in Brighton called The Outdoors Project who run forest schools and outdoor clubs for kids. They have taken me on to do their social media to get things started for them. Overall I now work two days a week. There are late nights and early mornings too but it's worth it for the flexibility I get around family life. I can hardly believe it all sometimes.
What I’ve learned...Digital Mums taught me how to hustle again. It gave me confidence and direction at a really difficult time in my life. My self esteem has gone through the roof compared to what it was. I’m not afraid to say to my clients “I don’t know” and then I follow up with “but I will find out.” They say they appreciate my honesty. We can’t all be pro at everything and social media moves so fast. In a few years time I would like to be running workshops and doing more one-on-one consulting with mums who run their own businesses but can’t afford to outsource their social media. There is so much potential out there to work with businesses, it's just finding the time!
Kate’s #DoTheHustle Tips
Be helpful - I often send a little tip to a small business that I love about how to word their posts differently or to include more images in their tweets. They may not be able to afford me now but perhaps one day they will or they could recommend me to someone else.
Engage, engage, engage - if you want to start potentially working with a brand on social media then begin by engaging with their posts. They'll get to know you and then it could lead to something.
Pick businesses you love - audit their channels and if you can see room for improvement then get in touch. It may not lead to something immediately but six months later and you could be employed by them.
Don’t be shy about being shy - When I go to networking events (gulp!) I put it out there as soon as I meet people, "I don't know anyone and always go a little red when I meet people, do you know anyone?" It’s an ice breaker and then you don't have to pretend to be all confident and Beyoncé.
If you're interested in joining our Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.