Let’s get digital

Meet Claire Greville, a Digital Mums graduate who has since set up her own social media consultancy Greville Social in Bristol. Claire studied Accounting and Finance at university and had a successful career working in higher education, before making the difficult decision to take redundancy after they were unable to accommodate her flexible working request (sound familiar?). So with no idea of what she was going to do, but with a bit of time to reflect on what kind of job would suit her and her family, Claire stumbled across a Digital Mums Facebook advert, and the rest (as they say) is history.

Why did you choose Digital Mums and what was it like doing the course?

Funnily enough, I found Digital Mums through Facebook (I understand now that it was a cleverly targeted advert!). I was scrolling through my feed one afternoon in October 2015, when I spotted the details. It seemed almost too good to be true as it was exactly what I had been looking for – flexible, rewarding work which I could do from home. I immediately checked out their website and the course sounded really interesting, so I emailed for more information. I did lots of research about Digital Mums in the meantime, but I was getting more and more excited as I thought about it. I loved social media, and the prospect of being able to work for a business as part of the training was very appealing. I decided to apply, and a few weeks later, I was offered a video interview for a place on the course. I was quite nervous but I really needn’t have been. Nikki (one of the co-founders, pictured on the left below) was lovely, and before I knew it, I’d been offered a place on the Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme starting in January 2016.

Digital Mums co-founders: Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler.

The course itself was a fantastic but very intense experience. It was 20 weeks long, but run over six months, in order to accommodate some of the school holidays. The ‘live learning’ aspect was brilliant. I was paired with a business from the very first week of the course, and I was able to apply everything I learned each week straightaway, which meant that I retained all of the information I was taking in (and there was a lot!). It was also a great way to learn about managing clients and their expectations.

Every student is put into a peer group with five other mums, and my group ‘The Katherine Ryans’, was such a fantastic support. We spoke every week of the course, through Google Hangouts and WhatsApp, and I’m still in touch with them now. The course finished at the end of June and there was a scary final report to hand in, but I passed with flying colours. I took a few weeks off over the summer before starting work for a small digital agency based in London. I did that for a couple of months, but quickly realised that I would prefer to work for my own clients, so I set up my own social media consultancy, Greville Social.

I currently have three clients, all of whom I work for remotely. I still provide social media consultancy to the lovely business that I trained with: Cambridge Academic Performance. I’m just about to start running a new Facebook campaign for Green Ginger Design, a fantastic web designer based in East London. And I’m currently managing Facebook and Instagram for Eye Heroes, a small charity who are campaigning to prevent avoidable blindness in the UK. I’ve also recently been selected as a mentor for Digital Mums, working 1:1 to support another mum through the course and beyond.

My work/life balance is now exactly what I could only dream of two years ago. Gone are the ridiculously early morning starts, and the stressful commute. I now have time to walk my sons to school every day, before I settle down to work in my home office. I do most of my work during school hours, and all of my clients are happy for me to work remotely, keeping in touch with them via phone, video calls, and email. As my work is so flexible, I even have time to do a little bit of volunteering in the local area, helping out at my sons’ school, and also running a local community group’s Facebook page.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing a Digital Mums course?

Make sure you’re absolutely committed to doing the course. It will take over your life for six months and you need to be prepared to put the hours in every single week. It’s not something that you can do half-heartedly as you need to keep up with each week’s tasks and assignments. There isn’t time to fall behind, and the deadlines are strict.

I was fortunate that both my children were at school when I started the course so I studied during the day, but there were plenty of mums on the course with younger children. Just think about how you’ll manage to find the time to study as well as look after the kids. And don’t worry if you haven’t studied anything new for a long time – all the other mums will be equally as nervous as you are. But the support you will receive from your peers and Digital Mums both during the course and afterwards will increase your confidence ten-fold.

The support from the #DMCollective (Digital Mums graduates) continues to astound me every day, and I feel genuinely honoured to be part of such a talented and inspirational group of women. If you’re a mum looking to change your work/life balance, then I highly recommend the Digital Mums course. 

What are your top social media tips for small businesses?

  • Be selective: you don’t have to be on every platform. It’s far better to do two platforms well, than five poorly. Work out where your target audience is hanging out, and focus your time and efforts there.
  • Be consistent: establish a tone of voice and stick to it. Turn up every day – post at the same frequency, preferably at the same times, so that your followers know what to expect from you.
  • Be social: it is called social media after all! Don’t just promote yourself. Take an interest in others, join in conversations, and you’ll start to build relationships, which will pay off in the long run.

Claire is following… 

Mother Pukka: such an awesome inspiring lady who champions the Digital Mums #workthatworks movement. I love watching her Instagram stories.

Jools Oliver: is effortlessly stylish, and the sneak peeks into her life with Jamie and her five gorgeous children are fascinating.

Talented Ladies Club: I love their mixture of motivational quotes and practical advice, as well as inspirational stories about working mothers.


Claire’s work

grevillesocial.co.uk
facebook.com/grevillesocial
instagram.com/clairegreville
twitter.com/clairegreville

Mother Pukka talks flex

There’s been plenty of chat and a fair bit of flash dancing action. (See our Lycra-swathed Flex Appeal flash mob in Trafalgar Square for more of that.)

But in the push/shove for flexible working, how can you get stuck in?

We need you

If you don’t read any further than this please ask your/ your husband’s/ your best mate’s/ aunties HR departments to sign up to the government’s Working Forward pledge. The whole drive is based on this one stat: 86% of companies believe they offer flexible working, while 77% of women in the workforce have faced discrimination or lost their job on maternity leave. A bit of light maths and you can work out there’s summat up there, sparky. This is the core focus of our Flex Appeal – to get companies to sign up. We’ve already seen John Lewis, BT, BP, Virgin Money signed up (plus 70 more since launching this appeal), so who’s next?

Fight for your right

Previously I’ve written about hard, cold cash and the hair loss associated with going it alone, but it was not meant to scare off budding entrepreneurs. It was more to stress that having sat on both sides of the fence, there’s no easy way out. If you like (love is a strong word) your job then fight for it – show ‘em what you’ve got and pave the way for others below you to work flexibly. How to do this? Talk numbers and offer solutions: see ‘The business case for flexible working’, below, for the former and the latter is up to you. ‘I’d like flexible working and this is how it can happen’ is much stronger than, ‘can I have some flexible working please?’. For more on your rights, head here.

mother pukka flexible working flash mob manchester
Flex Appeal flash mob in Manchester

This isn’t a revolution, it’s about evolution.

Working life has pulled a massive U-turn with The Internet and other pixelated goods that mean we can sit in the tinned goods aisle of Tesco if we choose and still make shit happen.

We’re pushing for someone being judged on their ability to produce good work not sit on a chair past 6pm. That’s a win-win for employee and employer: in most cases, flexible working means happier staff, lower costs and greater productivity.

Suggest a trial period of flexible working and measure the results. Hard facts can’t be argued with. If you’re delivering the same, or more, then it’s working. If it doesn’t work out and you can’t hack it any longer, take a look at flexible and part-time jobsite Timewise or the flexible courses offered by Digital Mums.

It’s a people issue, not a ‘mummy wanting to see more of her little one’ sitch

The words ‘flexible working’ have been tacked to parents. Life is messy and whether you’re a (single) mum, dad, carer or someone who just needs Friday mornings off to slap some paint on a canvas, flexible working is about getting the best from each individual – ‘individual’ here is key. The one rule for everyone has to go – salaries and skills aren’t the same across the board, and how you work shouldn’t be either.

The business case for flexible working

Save rent
For most businesses, the two main costs are people and property. Flexible working lets employers lower the latter. Lambeth Council claims it will save £4.5 million per year in property running costs by making sure that no more than 60% of its staff are in at one time.

Attract talent
Some 30% of the UK’s working population (8.7 million people) wants flexible working but doesn’t have it, yet only 6% of advertised jobs with a salary above £20,000 actually offer it.

Retain talent
It costs more than £5,000 to hire a new employee in the UK. When you add costs associated with getting the newbie up to speed that cost exceeds£30,000, arbitration service Acas recently reported, and more than £35,000, according to analysts CEBR. In it’s 2012 study, HR institute the CIPD found that 76% of employers saw staff retention improve when they offered flexible working.

Improve productivity
This argument has become as undeniable as the case for climate change: 81% of senior managers believe flexible working improves productivity. Three in five people who work flexibly put in more hours as a result of being allowed to do so. Another report found that 72% of businesses reported increased productivity as a direct result of flexible working.

This is not a movement, we’re simply about moving. It’s about keeping the conversation going. If you have experience in HR you could bring to the table or are a business struggling to make flexible working actually work, then please get in touch. We want to hear from both sides of the PAYE coin.

Let’s talk about flex, baby.

Written by: 

Anna Whitehouse Mother Pukka

motherpukka.com
instagram.com/mother_pukka
twitter.com/mother_pukka
facebook.com/motherpukka

 

 


 Originally published on 01.12.16

Top tips if you are thinking about going freelance

Practical Advice for Working Mums

Have a plan

Even if you’re not looking for investment, you need a plan. Having a well-considered business strategy will define what it is you’re trying to achieve and prevent you from swerving any tricky decisions.

In addition, it will help you benchmark your success every couple of months and identify what needs tweaking. It will also give you a clear picture of where your time is being best spent and flag up any vanity projects that are holding you back.

If the thought of a full-blown business plan is too much, start by writing down some ideas to help clarify your goals and how you will achieve them. Think about who your target audience is and define what makes you stand out from the competition. If that’s still too daunting, do a simple SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Once you’ve written it, USE IT!  Don’t stick in in a virtual drawer and forget all about it.

Freelance work laptop mobile phone notepad

Get support

Take full advantage of any local schemes or awards on offer for small business owners. Decide which trade bodies, unions or more informal groups you could get in touch with to grow your network.

If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at the National Enterprise Network website for details of organisations in your area. If you want to cast your net wider, think about joining a national body like Enterprise Nation.

This is a brilliant organisation offering practical support for start-ups and more established businesses looking for opportunities to promote their services. Members benefit from practical online advice across a wide range of subjects plus PR and marketing support and the opportunity to participate in international trade missions. If you’re not quite ready to go global, there are plenty of regional events, master classes and webinars offering practical support and useful tips.

Find out whether you’re eligible for grants such as the Government Growth Voucher Scheme. It’s easy to apply online and designed to help small business owners develop skills across any one of five key areas where they might be lacking in expertise. The scheme will match fund your contribution up to a certain amount and put you in touch with a local business adviser who will help you pull together a plan and determine which area would benefit your business the most. These include raising finance, marketing and making the most of digital technology.

If your business is already established, you can apply to be an approved service provider and get yourself in front of a whole raft of potential clients. Don’t be put off by the amount of form filling – it’s all very self-explanatory once you get started and there’s a helpline to call if you need more information

There are lots more organisations offering practical advice for freelancers. We’ve listed some below to get you started.

www.nationalenterprisenetwork.org/business-directory

www.enterprisenation.com

www.gov.uk/government/collections/growth-vouchers-programme

www.weliketowork.com

www.freelanceuk.com

www.freelancerclub.net

www.ipse.co.uk

www.smallbusiness.co.uk

Do the hustle

Now you have a clear plan, it’s time to share your vision. Make sure your website or LinkedIn profile is up to date so any prospective clients can see you mean business. If you’re new to web design there are plenty of free website builders like Wix, SquareSpace and WordPress that have templates for every type of business. Keep it simple and make sure your branding and tone of voice is consistent across all your social media feeds or print materials so people can find you easily.

Use social media to grow your business for free. Engage with potential clients and influencers on Twitter, start a conversation on Facebook. Research local tweet hours to share ideas and pick up tips. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at what your competitors are up to and plunder their follower lists.

Leave no stone unturned when it comes to networking. If you have the budget, it’s worth considering joining your local Chamber of Commerce to see what opportunities they offer to get amongst the local business community. It can be tricky to decide which networking groups are most relevant to you so ask to attend an event for free before signing up to an expensive membership plan. That way you can get a feel for which ones are the best fit and avoid any that are over-subscribed.

Your elevator pitch may have morphed into a playground pitch but don’t underestimate the power of a quick chat at the school gate, you never know what may come of it. Remember to be a generous networker – always listen to see if there are ways you can add value rather than trying to do a hard sell.

Time management

Freelance work notepad to-do list

Now you’re ready to go, make sure you get yourself into a good routine. This doesn’t have to mean regular 9-to-5 hours but it’s important to set aside pockets of time that work for you.

Working mums tend to be naturals at time management because they’re used to getting the maximum out of every kid-free minute. If you do find yourself getting side-tracked, be disciplined and write a daily ‘to-do’ list so you can check your progress and give some structure to your week.

For example, if you need to make lots of new business calls, do them at the start of the week when you’re feeling energised and motivated. Save the end of the week to update your website, send out invoices and tidy up your inbox.

Get into the habit of blocking out time for work, family and yourself and make sure you’re clear about when you’re available. If you’re not comfortable taking business calls outside your working day, lay down the ground rules early and train clients to respect your hours. Likewise, if you have clients who often email you in the evenings, check if it’s urgent and save your response in drafts so it’s ready to send in the morning. This is a great tool for working mums who need to be on message even if they’re in the middle of a school run.

Decide which projects can overlap into your multitasking zone and which require your undivided attention. A lot of working mums have a tendency to confuse multitasking with efficiency so you need to be realistic. You cannot proofread documents or pitch for new business whilst juggling small children. You will just end up doing both jobs really badly which is bad time management and could end up costing you business.

Separate tasks into those that can be handled whilst supervising a play date or waiting for the dentist and those that can’t. This is all dead time that cannot be billed to clients so use it to respond to routine queries, manage your diary and update social media feeds.

If you’re still struggling there are plenty of online tools to help you manage your time more effectively and keep track of your tasks.  Here are some useful links to get you started.

www.trello.com

www.evernote.com

www.rememberthemilk.com

Keep learning

As a freelancer it’s vital to keep learning so you can stay ahead of the competition and exploit any opportunities that come your way. Make sure you’re aware of new technology that could add value to your clients and remember, the fact that you’re a one-man band means you can be nimble and react to changes much more quickly than a larger organisation. There is no lengthy decision making process or hierarchy so if you see an opportunity, weigh up the pros and cons and go for it!

And finally…dress the part!

Freelance work Digital Mums Imogen Bowen Word Works Media

Even if you’re working from home, make sure you dress like you mean business. There is nothing more demoralising than slaving over your laptop wearing baggy leggings and old Ugg boots. You don’t need to give it the full Joan Collins every day but you do need to feel confident and professional so you can project that image to the outside world, especially if you’re hustling for new business.

Not only will it help you to get into work mode, it will also ensure people take you more seriously and stop you feeling overdressed when you do head out for that important client meeting. It will also lift your mood if things aren’t going well, or as somebody once put it: “Never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day”.


Author Imogen Bowen is a 44-year-old freelance Social Media Manager living in Wimbledon, London with her two children Orla (10) and Phoebe (8). She runs social media marketing business Word Works Media.

Freelance work Digital Mums Imogen Bowen Word Works Media

 

 

 

 

Imogen is following…

Freelance work Digital MumsDigital Mums

“I’m all over social media for my job and spend a lot of time searching for engaging content, connecting with influencers and making sure my own channels look good. Having recently graduated from the Digital Mums social media programme, I always check their feed for useful updates.”

dr sue black #techmumsDr Sue Black

“I also like to see what tech whizz and the brains behind saving Bletchley Park Dr Sue Black OBE is tweeting about.”

 

 

savvy mums freelance workSavvy Mums

“I go to the Savvy Mums Facebook page for advice on self-employment”

 

 

15623690_1039454849516914_2758248377111019520_a

Dress Like a Mum

“Outside of work I can’t resist a bit of fashion advice from Zoe de Pass aka Dress Like A Mum which is a brilliant source for freelance mums who are stuck in a fashion rut somewhere between Top Shop and Boden.”

 

Imogen’s work…

With over 15 years experience in marketing and communications, Imogen has worked on a wide range of projects from big budget ad campaigns to product launches and live events. Imogen started out at Nick TV soon after its launch and was lucky enough to have a brilliant female boss who inspired her to work hard and build a career in marketing. After honing her skills she moved to Nick’s sister channel, Comedy Central which meant a shift from meetings about Peppa Pig to late nights watching stand-up gigs at the Edinburgh Festival.

After having children, Imogen went freelance and set up an agency working with broadcasters and creatives who needed reliable translators, foreign voiceovers and subtitle editors to reversion their content. This worked really well around having young children as her studio partners were often in multiple time zones, so sending emails and editing scripts at odd hours of the day and night meant she could juggle family time around running a business.

In 2016, Imogen decided to stop wearing so many hats and get back into full-time marketing.  With things having moved on apace, she spent 6 months brushing up on her social media skills thanks to the Digital Mums Associate Programme which helps mums get back into flexible work.

Since then, she has been running freelance projects for small businesses looking for support with their social media marketing. This includes day-to-day account management, bespoke campaigns, training and marketing audits to help business owners work out which channels are the best fit for their brand.

Imogen is interested in helping start ups get the most of the free marketing opportunities presented by social media and the changing landscape means she is always up for learning new skills and sharing ideas with clients on how to make their social media work harder.

like-twitter-1

www.wordworksmedia.com

www.twitter.com/WordWorksMedia

www.facebook.com/wordworksmedia/

www.linkedin.com/in/imogenbowen

Tel: 020 8543 9432

Email: imogen@wordworksmedia.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about flex…with Sophie Adams

Sophie is a 37-year-old social media manager (training with Digital Mums) who lives in south west London with her husband Dan, daughters Milla (5) and Ruby (3) and Dot the six month old schnoodle pup.

Sophie Adams Digital Mums work that works

A burgeoning career as a social media manager beckons for Sophie whose CV has almost come full circle. She started working in advertising after university and no doubt some of those core skills will prove useful in the future. A decade spent as a teacher defined her professional identity, however the familiar story of crippling childcare costs and a vocation which demands a huge amount of time meant she has chosen a different career, one which allows more flexibility around family life. Like so many of us Sophie refers to feeling guilty: “As a working mum you feel like you are always letting someone down; rushing to leave work to get to nursery, rushing the kids out of the house to get to work etc. It’s a vicious circle. That’s why I’m hoping the Digital Mums course will give me the flexibility to pick the kids up from school, but still get the fulfilment of working.”

Although ‘flexible working’ is still in its infancy in the Adams household at least Sophie’s in control of the hours she does, even if it does “involve working all evening and crawling in to bed at about 1am!”. Setting a positive role model for her children is an important aspect of life and one I can relate to. It’s about finding the balance between being around whilst the children are little and fulfilling the desire to have a professional identity.

Sophie’s top tips for finding a work/life balance is to “find a job/career/hobby that you’re passionate about, and can make a bit of money from it without compromising your family life, surely that’s the dream!”. Digital Mums have certainly captured the imagination of thousands of women like Sophie, and although I’m not a ‘Digital Mum’ in the official sense, I’d like to think I’m championing its values and ethos.

Despite the compromises motherhood naturally brings, like precious time to yourself (goodbye spa weekends, retail therapy, lie-ins, I could go on…) one thing is clear we wouldn’t change it for a thing. Although daydreaming for a moment, if Sophie didn’t need to work she might be “a very leisurely artist – painting as and when the mood took me and selling my paintings for big bucks (I can dream…)”.

Taking a leap of faith and deciding to be your own boss is a really challenging prospect and particularly hard for a lot of mums who suffer with that dreaded self-doubt we all feel. Hearing stories, like Sophie’s, gives me huge motivation and confidence to have more self-belief. “The idea of being my own boss is really exciting on paper, but the reality of having to go out there and get the work, do the hustle is a bit terrifying! But I have to challenge myself.” I’m really looking forward to following Sophie’s journey and hearing about her success.


Sophie on social media…

“Hopefully its opening up a whole new career for me. Since having kids and spending those lonely hours in the middle of the night on Twitter and Instagram, I’ve been watching the platforms evolve and the power they now wield is incredible! Its just in its infancy, though, and the future is exciting!”

Sophie’s daily digital routine…

“Email, Instagram, Facebook, the Guardian, the Daily Mail gossip (sorry!), Instagram, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram, Snapchat etc”.

Sophie’s following…

“Via Instagram I’ve found HUNDREDS of mums/bloggers/vloggers – its now such a powerful tool & some of them definitely influence where I shop & what I buy etc. I find them much more interesting than celebs!”

cissy wears mumpreneur

@cissywears: “runs an amazing business whilst having four children”.

 

 

 

don't buy her flowers steph@steph_dontbuyherflowers: “runs a really successful business since having her children”.

 

 

 

too much mothering information blog

@toomuchmotheringinformation: “an ex-teacher like me who became, through circumstance, a stay at home mum; I realised we were starting the Digital Mums course at the same time and she’s running a lovely campaign focussing on SE London @indikidsldn“.

 

 

Sophie’s work…

Sophie is using her love of dogs as part of her training for Digital Mums and has setup an online community SWLondonDogs: a place to find information for dog lovers in South West London.

sophie adams digital mums sw london dogs

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SWLondonDogs/

Twitter: @SWLondonDogs

Instagram: swlondondogs

 

digital mums work that worksDigital Mums
Twitter: @digitalmumshq / Instagram: digitalmums
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DigitalMumsHQ/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/digital-mums/  Snapchat: www.snapchat.com/add/digitalmums

 


Interview with Amy White