Our Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme is a natural fit if you’re a journalist considering your next move professionally. Just ask these six awesome journalists, all graduates of our Associate Programme, and all of whom have recently upskilled with us and are currently pursuing successful portfolio careers.
'I’m turning down work'
Helen Bridal, 37, from Berkhamsted is mum to Elise, 4, and Imogen, 16 months
"After my first daughter Elise was born I went back to work as a magazine senior sub editor. I commuted into London every day and while we managed, life felt like a treadmill with no quality time.
When Imogen came along I knew I couldn’t go back - commuting and crazy childcare costs just didn’t add up. So I decided to retrain with Digital Mums while on maternity leave - you can read more about my experience of the training in this blog.
The overlap with blogging, journalism/editing and social media skills, all sit really well together as a skillset for a potential client. I feel now being able to offer a range of compatible skills makes me much more employable.
Since graduating I’ve been working part time and split my time 50:50 between social media and editing. In terms of social media, I run the social media for the Professional Copywriters’ Network, which I love. I’m also working with a local mum who’s launching an exciting new food product. She heard about my journo/social media background via our kids’ nursery. I feel really confident I can guide her from a journalistic angle and give her loads of advice about how to push the brand on social.
I’m also hoping to launch my own regular blog so am trying to keep some time free to concentrate on that. I've actually turned down a couple of social media clients as a result!
At a time when the print industry is declining, Digital Mums was exactly what I needed to upskill and gave me the confidence to take the leap into freelancing. Of course I have my years of journalism experience to rely on but I now also have something tangible to offer new clients via the training and that is worth a great deal.”
'Being a journalist in social media gives me an edge'
Alexandra Borthwick, 43, from Chiswick is mum to Archie, 9, Isobel, 8, Oscar, 5
"Up until last year I’d been a stay-at-home mum for eight years, but still keeping my hand in with freelance commissions. Before kids I was features editor at Good Housekeeping but suddenly I felt completely unemployable. Journalism had moved on and social media and blogging had become key elements.
It’s not that I particularly wanted to make a career out of social media management; I just felt like I’d been left out of the party. I needed to catch up and felt I couldn't do it on my own.
Step forward Digital Mums - the course was just perfect for a journalist. Content is such a huge part of social media - SMEs need it but don’t have the time or necessarily the skills to do it. As a journalist you can offer yourself up as a content creator AND make it work on a company’s social media channels, getting it out there, creating engagement and so on.
Since graduating I’ve been working as a social media manager for Rightsize, a personal organisation business. I’m also writing regular blog content and storytelling for them.
I’ve also, via an introduction from Digital Mums, been working at The Midult which is an exciting new website for women like us. I’m writing features for them and love combining this with social media work. They really do work brilliantly side by side.
I feel that being a journalist in social media management gives me an edge. The process of working out how to create editorial, which will help a company's branding and storytelling, is so rewarding. Plus you have so much more control than you do when working on an editorial team where everything's being mucked around by endless editors, advertising, marketing demands and so on.
The Digital Mums course taught me that journalism, the foundation of my career, isn’t dead, it’s just that there’s a different way of using it.”
‘I now have an awesome portfolio career’
Louisa Pritchard, 41, from Surrey is mum to Huxley, 4, and Chester, 2
“I graduated from the Associate Programme a year ago and currently spend about 30 percent of my time doing social media management and the rest working as a freelance journalist. Social media wise I’m the social media manager for The Womanity Foundation, a top 200 NGO empowering women and girls.
I am the former features director at Grazia and am now still working as a freelance journalist. I’m currently writing for titles including The Pool, Stella magazine, Grazia and Netmums.
I love the variety of my different freelance work and that I have other income streams and am not just reliant on journalism any more.
I currently work about 24 hours a week but as my daughters grow up I plan to take on more clients and continue to develop my portfolio career. Right now I love that I can work from home in the hours that suit both me and my family.”
‘I have the perfect combination of kids and career’
Ruth Lumley, 37, from Brighton is mum to Arlo, 4, Elvi, 2, and Asa, 4 months
“I’ve over ten years experience as a journalist and was working at the Press Association when Arlo came along. I returned to work when he was nine months and was often up and out before he woke and not home until he was asleep. I just couldn’t see how I could make this work with another baby; thankfully when Elvi was born I discovered Digital Mums.
By upskilling in social media I could see I could offer future employers or clients an attractive package; my writing and video skills for content creation, social media strategy and then actually managing social media channels.
I started the course during my maternity leave with Elvi and never returned to my old job. Since graduating last June, as well as writing, I’ve been managing social media for a care agency called Like Minders and a local journalism school, where I’m also a shorthand teacher.
Asa was born in February and this time my husband has taken six months shared parental leave so I am able to work. I finally have the flexibility to work from home so that I can both look after my children and pursue a career I love.”
‘I’m future-proofing my career’
Susie Wong, from Guildford is mum to Charlie, 3
"Having been a stay-at-home mum for three years I was worried about changes in the workplace and being left behind. Training in social media marketing felt like an extension and natural progression of my career in magazine publishing.
My last job before Charlie was born was deputy chief sub-editor at Elle magazine. As a spelling and grammar fiend, passionate about words, super-organised and a great multi-tasker, I believed I had lots of relevant, transferable skills to become a social media marketer too. I knew upskilling would enhance my CV and help me provide an attractive set of skills to businesses. I also wanted the flexibility to both look after and provide for my family. Now, post-training, I'm empowered and equipped to create work that works and fits in better with family life.
I’ve only just graduated (read about my experience of the training on my blog), so I'm doing the Digital Mums follow-on Do The Hustle course. My aim in doing the training was to combine my existing skills with social media to offer a complete package that encompasses social media, editing and writing. I’m planning to approach fashion brands to work with, which is a natural fit for me as I used to be a fashion blogger too. I'm confident I have a wide and highly valued range of skills to offer - I just need to get my hustle on now!"
'Social media marketing and journalism are the perfect combination'
Alexa Baracaia, 42, from Stoke Newington is mum to Sidney, 6, and Sadie, 4.
Before I had kids I was a newspaper journalist, specialising in the arts; I was media and show business correspondent for the Evening Standard then arts and entertainment editor for thelondonpaper
But thelondonpaper closed just as I fell pregnant with Sidney. Then at five months he was diagnosed with potentially life-threatening food allergies - I knew going back to full-time newspapers wasn't going to work.
So for the last seven years I have been a successful freelance journalist writing about everything from celebrity to health, parenting and lifestyle. I’ve also developed an unexpected sideline as an ‘allergy mum’ as a campaigner and blogger.
But the reality is freelance writing no longer pays what it once did, and it increasingly made sense to add another string to my bow.
I felt I needed to upskill and formally add digital skills to my CV. I liked the idea of the flexibility social media marketing could offer me. I read about the journalist Rachel Mostyn, who had trained with Digital Mums. She was now working for Digital Mums and had even managed to combine her writing and social media work with a family sabbatical to Ecuador.
The training is live learning, which means working in real time for a business, so you come out with a level of expertise and confidence you just couldn't get via purely theoretical study.
I now have a far deeper understanding of social media - everything from measuring KPIs (key performance indicators) to knowing how to achieve specific goals.
I’ve particularly loved the creativity. Running platforms for a brand is similar to being a section editor on a newspaper. You think about how to capture, entertain and engage your readership, what content to share, how to present your pages - or feeds! - visually so they stand out and look good.
I’ve only just graduated so it's all in the early stages, but I've been asked to create a social media strategy for an interior design firm and also hopefully to run the platforms for an art gallery, as well as writing up interviews for their website. The plan is to combine the journalism and social media and see where it takes me. It does really feels like new doors have opened up.”