Cessally Collison, 42, from Buxted, East Sussex is currently doing the Digital Mums Social Media Management Course. She has three children Ronnie, eight, Ruby, six and Abbie, two. She talks to us about how she has already found paid work and her journey from virgin tweeter to social media ninja in five rollercoaster months.
I can't believe I have my first client!
I am on Week 17 of the 20 week Social Media Management Course and amazingly I already have my first client. It’s a shop called Armadillo Furniture and they want to up their presence on Facebook and Twitter. I’m currently doing an audit of their channels and then I will start to plan the best way to manage them. The Course specifically helps you to increase your social media presence in your local area, so therefore finding clients off the back of that is a very natural next step. And it’s not even just one client. I am also in conversation with at least two other local businesses. The Digital Mums process that you learn on the course is so quality and step-by-step that I have absolute confidence in my ability to deliver. I have learned so much so quickly!
This is my chance of a third way; an opportunity to approach work differently
After I had Abbie, I went back to my 9-5 job in Brighton, three days a week. I loved the work as a script editor but it was hard combining working, commuting and childcare. We’d all be up at 5am just so I could get everyone out of the door and to childcare to give me enough time to get to work for 9am. At the same time my role at work was really growing but I simply didn’t want to go full time. In the end, after 10 years, we went our separate ways last July. It was all very amicable. I’d had three maternity leaves with them so it was a real shock to suddenly be back on the job market and wondering what to do next. All I could think was who would want to employ a 40 something who just wanted to work part-time around family life. I was genuinely worried I wouldn’t work again. Then I saw Digital Mums on Facebook, read about other mums doing it and suddenly I could see there was a third way. This was my opportunity to start a different kind of work life.
The Social Media Management Course was exactly the right fit for me
When I spoke to Richard at Digital Mums it became apparent that I didn’t have quite the right background for the Associate Programme. I had virtually no experience at all on social media and the thought of having a live client terrified me. I had never sent a tweet in my life! Instead they told me about The Course where I would complete my own project on social media channels that I had set up specifically. The choices including something around championing local businesses or arts and culture for example. It was exactly the same learning as the Associate Programme but the ‘client’ was effectively myself. It meant it was the perfect way to build up my personal profile in the local area so that when I graduated I would be able to approach businesses for social media work. I am passionate about Arts and Culture so I started @ETArtandCulture. If you would have told me six months ago that I would be hosting a tweetchat alongside our local independent cinema Picture House Uckfield (which happens to be the no.1 independent cinema in Europe) I would have just laughed!
The learning was beyond what I could ever have imagined
In the first couple of weeks of the course I naturally felt slightly daunted by studying again. I needn’t have worried however, the social media all made sense straight away. Most importantly the course is delivered in a really friendly way; if it had been dull I would have lost interest very quickly. The conversational tone of the lessons and the humour thrown in on some of the course videos makes it an incredibly enjoyable way to learn. Each week I have grown in confidence as I have learned more about how social media works. Digital Mums effectively gives you a tried and tested process that you use to set up, engage and manage the channels. I have tried all of this out with the channels I set up and I will now be able to replicate this exact process with my own clients in the future.
The Course has made it very natural to find work
One of the things people worry about doing any course is how easy it will be to find work at the end. It’s a real investment going on a course so you want to know you will get your money back. The very nature of the Course course means you have to do your campaign in your local area. That means the whole time you’re doing the course you’re getting ‘known’ locally as someone who knows about social media. So you’re effectively already on the map when it comes to looking for work. As my campaign is arts and culture I have made great connections locally in that space. I’m now starting to follow up conversations I’ve had on twitter with actual meetings and real world chats. My community, Buxted, is very small but I know that if there is not enough work here I can branch out to look in Lewes or even Brighton. Digital Mums has given me so much confidence, taught me the hustle and shown me that I can have the work life that I have always wanted.
I have a new kind of work day
After I was made redundant last July I was considering taking a job in my local supermarket as a way to earn money and be around for the children. But I knew I could do better and here I am less than a year later setting up my own business and doing really interesting work that I’m passionate about. Everything has very naturally fallen into place since I have started the course. I still get up about 5.30 a.m. most mornings as this is when I work best. Now instead of commuting and rushing around, I spend time scheduling tweets and catching up on content. I then check in on my phone every few hours during the day to engage. Tuesday is my one full day when Abbie is at nursery so I do meatier tasks like analytics, coursework and now meetings with potential clients! My ultimate plan is to have at least three clients, which could of course grow once Abbie is at school. Digital Mums has been a huge learning curve for me and a brilliant experience."
If you're interested in learning more about our Social Media Management Course, go here to read more about what it entails and what you'll be learning.