Sarah Bennett, 44, from Ealing, West London, is currently working as a freelancer social media manager and has four clients on the go. This lady knows how to hustle! We met up with her recently to hear about life since graduating the Digital Mum's Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme
My path to Digital Mums is a well-trodden one. I adored my career heading up a marketing department in a publishing company in the City. And that didn’t change after the birth of our daughter Natasha, now eight. But as with so many mums before me I wanted more flexibility and to work part time. My company was keen to make it work. But it wasn’t to be; we tried for a couple of years but back then in 2007 managing others and being part time wasn’t really an option. With a heavy heart, I reluctantly left.
Shortly after I moved on, our daughter Sofia, now five, came along. Life was overtaken by the chaos of bringing up two small children. I kept my hand in work wise by doing the marketing for my husband Andrew’s accountancy company. It was a far cry from the huge direct mail campaigns I was used to but I loved local marketing and became a regular at business networking events.
All the while I was working with Andrew I was acutely aware that marketing was seriously changing. I could see digital and social media was where it was happening, but it was all a new language to me. As the children grew, I wasn’t sure what my next move would be career wise but I knew that social media training needed to be part of my story.
And so in April 2015 I joined the Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme at Digital Mums. As many mums have described, it was quite a six months. I loved the learning and by October 2015 I was out the other side, in a brave new world, as a qualified social media manager. It all made sense, this was the career for me; flexible and interesting work from home that would fit into family life. But as my cohort and I constantly discussed, would we find enough work?
It’s hard to believe that was just six months ago. I’m now working four different clients and about to sign my fifth and do an average of 30 hours work a week. I’m also regularly approached about other work that I just don’t have time for at the moment. I’ve even been able to specialise in areas that I’m most passionate about; B2B clients and sports (I’m an avid Watford supporter and fitness fanatic!)
So who exactly are my clients and how did I find them?
Myself: "I approach my own social media with the mentality of working for a client. You can’t offer yourself out as a social media expert if you’re not active on social media yourself. I see my Twitter and LinkedIn as my shop windows. I share content on B2B marketing, sports, social media trends and my local community. I had about 200 followers when I started the course and I’m at about 1100 now. I use my social media platforms to #DoTheHustle, it’s as simple as that. I check my analytics just as I would a client. I’ve been approached by more than one client on Twitter but more on that later…
Sisters N Sport Netball - They run netball skills schools for girls in South West London and elite netball training summer camps in Switzerland. I started in November 2015 and manage Twitter, Instagram and Facebook both in the UK and Switzerland. It’s such fun work and we’ve become serious influencers in our industry. The England netball team are always such fun to engage with!
How I got the gig: I wrote a blog as part of my Digital Mums training and posted it to my Facebook page. An old work colleague saw it and said she needed help with her business. We met and talked her through the Digital Mums Process and she agreed to take me on.
Square Mile Accounting - A far cry from ‘traditional’ accountants, Square Mile specialises in cloud-based accounting specifically for tech and microbrewing clients plus other start-ups and contractors. I’ve been running their Twitter and LinkedIn since January and I love the variety of the content we share. From the latest London microbrewery opening to news on an innovative tech start-up, there’s never a dull moment.
How I got the gig: Digital Mums. Due to my experience with accounting clients, Annika, the Talent Manager recommended me to Square Mile. I believe it really helped that I was so on top of my own social media as it was a good showcase to the client of what I was capable of.
Bennett & Company Accountants - I’m keeping it in the family with this one! This is Andrew’s business that I started the marketing for way back when Sofia was tiny. They were my client during training and I still run the Twitter account, I am passionate about working with local businesses and the work I do with Andrew is very much a part of that.
How I got the gig: Not too tricky bagging this client!
KitKando Ltd - This organisation runs runs consulting services for leadership management, individual and team performance coaching at corporates. I love working with B2B clients who get that lightbulb moment of the power of social media when you’re not broadcasting. Existing and potential clients have commented about Kitkando’s posts and tweets, with discussions continuing offline, helping build business credibility. I’ve been doing their Twitter and advising on LinkedIn for four months now.
How I got the gig: - I knew I wanted to work for a local B2B business and so I did some research and then sent Kitkando a free social media audit and some suggestions of how I thought they might be able to get more from their social media. The rest is history!
And the best of the rest: I’ve had at least three other approaches from local businesses via social media. Of these I’m due to sign with a new marketing consultancy soon to manage their channels. Others I have passed on to Digital Mums from the #DMCollective. One is currently working with one of these on her Instagram.
So that’s my story so far and while it may seem that I have everything utterly sorted, I have my moments! Like the Easter holidays with both girls off school (thank goodness for Hootsuite!) Of course it's hard work but I just love helping people get their message out. It's so positive to use my creativity to showcase the skills, knowledge and talents of my clients. Every day I feel excited about what I do.
Doing the course was utterly life changing for me. I wasn’t even sure before I signed up if I wanted to be an 'official' freelancer social media manager but I’ve found a whole new career. Next stop is what to call my business.
Digital Mums gave me my focus and confidence back. I would say to anyone thinking of doing the course, feel the fear and do it anyway. If you’re 100 percent committed to what you do then you will get so much in return. But be prepared for some long nights!