When journalist and mum of one, Nicole Andrew (33) was made redundant from her role as Deputy TV Editor at the Mail on Sunday she embarked on a freelance career. With competition for roles tight, pay at a 30-year stalemate and confidence lagging, Nicole realised she needed a new string to her bow in order to feel relevant again. Having never sent as much as a Facebook post pre-Digital Mums, Nicole graduated from our Social Media Management Course in September and now has her first paying client, with more in the pipeline. Here’s her story:
BC (Before the Course)
I’ve been a journalist for 10 years and had a fantastic job at the Mail on Sunday as Deputy TV Editor until my whole department was made redundant two years after my daughter (now 3) was born. Not only was it gutting from a panic-ridden ‘what will I do next’ point of view, but my (male) boss was amazing and let me work flexibly around childcare - an incredibly rare find in the press world.
Although devastated to have lost my dream #WorkThatWorks job, the great thing about journalism is that freelance work is as much a part of the culture as late nights and tight deadlines, so I took the plunge and started working for myself. I was lucky enough to find some fantastic editors to work for (as well as some not-so-great ones, but I won’t dwell) who understood the need to leave on time for nursery pick-ups.
Unfortunately, deadlines aren’t the only thing that’s tight about the media world. Freelance rates haven’t gone up in the last 30 years and the industry has struggled with the rise of digital. With so many magazines and newspapers slimming down on staff, there’s an abundance of freelancers fighting for less roles and less money. That’s not to mention an army of new recruits all equipped with the latest digital knowledge.
Rather than lament my industry’s past, I decided I needed to future-proof my career instead and find an additional skill to add to my Swiss Army knife of freelancer skills.
AD (After Digital Mums)
I can’t actually remember how I first heard about Digital Mums, but let’s just say it came to me in a dream because, without wanting to sound too clichéd, that’s exactly how it felt for me. I was one of the first to enrol on the pilot for what is now the Social Media Management Course. Although with my press background I was eligible to apply for the Social Media Marketing Associate Programme, the Course appealed because it taught the same skills as the Associate Programme but, without a live business to factor in, the cost was considerably less.
Having always stubbornly refused to enter the world of smoasting about my personal life on Facebook, mine was a steep learning curve from setting up channels for my live campaign ‘Surprising Sutton’ (which focused on giving some love to this often-overlooked London borough) to engaging with influencers and searching for the perfect gif to represent my (many!) emotions. I definitely felt those 15 hours a week! But I made it through and graduated with a high-flying gif in September.
A lot of this was thanks to my peer group of mums who all started at the same time and who you’re matched with as part of the Course to learn from each other’s campaigns. On graduating, this group then multiplies by the hundreds into the AWESOME #DMCollective, which is 100% worth the Course costs alone. Freelancing and motherhood can be a lonely place at times, but the community of mums and career women that I’m now part of thanks to Digital Mums has increased my confidence tenfold. It offers more than just social media knowledge and support; someone posted about Aldi champagne being the best around the other day - it’s essential advice!
On finishing the Course, I took Digital Mums’ advice to ‘Do the Hustle’ and tapped up existing contacts for work. Having previously felt like I didn’t have anything relevant to offer in interviews, my confidence is at an all-time high and I’m now managing the Twitter and YouTube channels for BrightVibes - a news channel dedicated to showing the good in the world through contagiously inspiring stories.
Thanks to Digital Mums I now feel like I’ve got control back over my career and my life. I work three days a week and know I’ve got a skill that will always allow me to find rewarding work around childcare. To steal a strapline, that’s priceless.