Sunday, April 30, 2017

How Bargainista Fashionista became a Digital Mum


Hello! Just dipping a tentative toe back into the world of blogging and giving you an update on what’s happened to Bargainista Fashionista. 

Disclaimer: before you read any further, be warned this isn’t a blog post about a fashion bargain you simply must buy (although if that’s what you’re after, just scoot to the end). This is a ‘life’ post. 

Well, Bargainista Baby arrived in 2013, vying with Prince George to be the first to greet the world (Bargainista Baby won). I subsequently chose not to return to work, so a lack of fashion funds has meant my blog has been neglected for the past few years. 

But fast-forward to six months ago and I started to focus on me again (instead of the little human that’s taken over my world!), with the aim of earning some cash for the odd fashion splurge and hopefully more (like the bills!). 

I decided to upskill in social media with training company, Digital Mums. I thought I might even pick up some useful know-how for my blog along the way. And boy, did I (and then some).

So let me set the scene...

Life before Digital Mums 
Pre-baby, I worked at ELLE as deputy chief sub-editor. It was an office-based job, a long commute and even longer hours. Something I couldn’t feasible do post-baby without substantial childcare. Hence the heart-wrenching decision not to go back to work and to give up a career I loved and had worked hard to achieve. But put simply, I didn’t want to hand Bargainista Baby over to full-time childcare.


Then, last year, as I thought about what I would do once my son starts school, the career niggles started. I was frustrated at having years of editorial and publishing experience and my skill set just lying untapped because I’d become a stay-at-home mama. 

However, three years into motherhood, the thought of finding work was daunting. I’d been immersed in this baby bubble, speaking infrequently to adults and even less so about non-baby related topics. Hell, the old me would haven’t recognised the new me (especially my new sartorial style of Breton stripes and skinny jeans on repeat). And if that was the case, how on earth was I going to get back into the job market? 

I needed to boost my career mojo. Which is when I discovered Digital Mums. Its premise is to train mums in social media to equip them to find #workthatworks and create flexible careers that fit around family life. And its online social media marketing: associate programme was exactly what I was looking for to future-proof my skills. 

I sold everything I owned on eBay to pay for the course (true story). The clothes, shoes and bags of my former life were gathering dust, so it made sense to convert them into an investment for my future career. 

There’s a motivational quote that I saw when I started the course which reads: ‘She believed she could so she did’. That pretty much summed up my mindset and how I approached the application, the interview and the course itself. Each one nerve-wracking, but deep down I knew I had plenty to offer - first to the training and now to future employers. 

Life during Digital Mums training 
Students are partnered with a real-life business that they do their ‘live’ training with, which was one of the main attractions of the course for me. I felt on-the-job experience would be invaluable, especially as my programme partner was a bridal boutique. But one of my biggest hurdles turned out to be my client pulling out halfway through the course. 

It was a bombshell, but luckily, thankfully, a replacement was found -  a luxury holiday let - and I then had to put my skates on and catch up. Still, as Bargainista, at least I can say I got a 2-4-1 deal! I ended up working with not one, but two very different businesses. All great experience to get under my belt. 

So, up and running with client number two, I planned and launched a brand awareness campaign on Twitter and Facebook. It was fun! 

It was invigorating to come up with creative ideas for a campaign plan, hashtag and content strategy. And it was so rewarding to see the effects of my social media activity as I took control of my client’s channels. I immersed myself in a world of campaign planning and scheduling, social media advertising, analytics and KPIs, and as many hashtags and social media tools as Kim Kardashian has shoes and handbags. 

I won’t lie, the course is fast-paced. There’s lots to get to grips with in a very short space of time. Many weeks spilled over the 15 hours we were expected to commit to the course, especially the latter part when you’re knee-deep in running your client’s social media channels and have a lesson- and assignment-heavy week. 

There have been too many late nights to mention. I’ve barely watched TV, cleaned the house (eek!) or had a social life for the past six months. It’s been all-consuming. And that is where the mum-guilt has hit hardest. The number of times I’ve been focused on one Apple device or another instead of my child would equal some of my campaign metrics! 

But for all the hard work, it’s been hugely satisfying. Getting a Twitter follow from actress Sienna Guillory for my client was a top campaign moment. And smashing all my KPIs was pretty damn good, too. 

Another plus point about the Digital Mums training is your fellow students. You’re assigned a ‘cohort’, which is akin to Taylor Swift’s squad. This peer group of talented and experienced women from marketing, PR, communications and journalism backgrounds ensures you're not studying in isolation. There’s always someone on WhatsApp or Google Hangouts offering reassurance that you’re encountering the same issues or juggling the same plates. You learn from each other and provide encouragement and support throughout the course - and beyond as you navigate the freelance social media world.

And this cohort only swells in numbers once you graduate and join the rest of the Digital Mums alumni in the ‘DM Collective’. Trust me, this outnumbers Taylor’s squad dramatically.

Life after Digital Mums
After a pretty intensive six months, experience of working with two clients and a successful social media campaign, it’s time to ‘do the hustle’ as Digital Mums calls it and find work. With a CV that now covers print and digital publishing through to social media marketing, I can now call myself an editor/writer/blogger/social media manager. Wish me luck in this next step of my career!

The fashion bit
Meanwhile, if you’ve missed my Bargainista Fashionista tips, here’s the It coat that went viral last autumn and is now back in stock. Yay!

You may already know about this coveted blue and white coat from Zara. It spawned its own Instagram account and hashtag - #thatcoat - thanks to blogger Alice Frances, who posted sightings of the sell-out piece. People started contributing their photos, too, and there’s now over 8,000 followers and 400 posts about a £69.99 coat! Search #thatcoat on Instagram and there’s more than 4,000 posts, making it one of Zara’s most popular items on social media.

No wonder it’s been reissued. But it’s not just the power of social media and the column inches that make #thatcoat a hit. With a hint of Chanel about its design and the affordable price tag, it’s a great piece of fashion. And Zara has been clever enough to give the latest reincarnation a little twist from its predecessor, including a new colourway. Perfect for the school run, no?

Oh how I’ve missed talking about fashion. It’s nice to be back.



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