This is a guest post by Jacqui Paterson, a founding member of boutique social media collective Mothers & Shakers. Jacqui discusses how mums looking for a career change can get the most from social media and blogging.
When I read a report recently about the rise of women aged 40 plus launching new careers and businesses, I wasn’t surprised.
When I put my career as a magazine journalist on hold five years ago to become a mum, I was humbled and inspired by the talented women who surrounded me. In my small antenatal group alone we had a barrister, an advertising whizz, a PR executive and an IT professional.
In 2008 I started blogging, and quickly became enmeshed in the online parenting community.
Many of the women I came to know fell into categories: those who permanently switched to the full-time job of motherhood, and those who happily returned to previous jobs and careers once maternity leave had ended.
Then there was a third group that loved and missed their professional lives, but wanted a better balance between work and family. It was this group of mums that often completely reinvented themselves to set up new careers and businesses that slotted in around the school run.
When I became a founding member of Mothers & Shakers – a boutique social media collective of eight women from a variety of creative and publishing backgrounds – one of the mentoring services we felt most passionate about was helping entrepreneurial mums ‘get their groove back’ after having children.
We realised blogging, social media, and online ventures were a great fit for busy mums and single parents, as they could be juggled around the family schedule.
Whether you’re hoping to set up as a social media professional, or simply want to introduce a social media element to your fledgling business, there are several simple steps to help you on your way.
Once you set up your blog (whether it be personal, or corporate) try to find your ‘voice’ – the style and tone that suits you best. Is it warm? Witty? Formal?
Join blogging groups. There are the big sites such as BritMums, but there are also an increasing amount of Facebook groups springing up, covering all aspects of blogging, including parenting, fashion, interiors and beauty. Find the groups that seem to share your goals and ideas, and start ‘talking’.
With Twitter and Facebook, don’t be afraid to make the first move – social media might seem cliquey at first, but think of it like walking into a party; obviously the people who already know each other are going to be chatting. Stand quietly in the corner and people will overlook you, but go up to groups and introduce yourself, and you’ll quickly join the conversation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, advice, and constructive criticism from other bloggers. On the whole, the online and blogging community is very supportive and welcoming, and willing to share information and advice (it is called social media for a reason!).
They’ll be able to alert you to common pitfalls (making your Contact Me section awkward to find) glaring omissions (not including a Search box on your home page) or small tips that can make a huge difference (increasing the size of your images for added visual appeal).
If your social media is complementing a business, involve people in your venture: ask their opinion on a new promotion, or idea. When people feel personally involved, they’re even more likely to support you with retweets, or by recommending you to friends and followers.
But most of all – trust yourself, and your abilities.
Whether you were once a corporate high-flyer, or have always been a full-time mum, you have skills and experience that can be converted into a rewarding and exciting social media or online career – not to mention a potential network of thousands of women, encouraging and supporting you along the way.