Like lots of people, I ended up working in social media by accident.
I used to be a journalist. I decided I was going to be a journalist when I was seven. I started writing diaries, and then the guy at the local fish and chip shop started giving me blank newspapers, and I’d fill them with my own breaking news. Or I’d use my little Philips cassette recorder (Google it, kids) and make radio programmes.
I loved journalism, but I’ll be honest – it was a spectacularly crappy way to try and earn a living.
After five years of traipsing around the world after stories, I found myself in the middle of two economic downturns. Freelance rates fell through the floor, and it was soul-destroying to see publication after publication shut their doors. Then I had a baby, and became a single parent.
Social media was the logical next step. It made use of my writing skills, and my basic knowledge of how PR worked. And it was flexible to boot.
I’ve been doing social media for eight years now. Eight years! I’ve never held down a job for eight years before. Two years was a good run…
When you get to the grand old age of 32 *cough* you know what works for you.
I need a job where I get to work on new things, puzzle things out and keep learning new stuff. I like setting up new projects, but running processes that are established is less interesting to me. I’m lucky my current job ticks most of the boxes – not every day, but definitely most days.
Even so, I still wonder – is this what I’ll be doing when I’m 50? 60? Is blogging and social media a long-term career? Or a stepping stone to something else?
I asked some of my blogging chums what they think about their social media career and got some interesting insights and tips – let me know what you think in the comments!
Becky from Baby Budgeting (and about 10 other sites) is one of the UK’s most successful and respected pro bloggers. She loves blogging but admits she misses working with people, and vocationally. “I’m retraining at the moment to become a life coach. Blogging has been the perfect interlude while I raised my kids, but I think I’d like to be a local councillor at some point, and a coach/therapist when my kids have grown,” she says.
Kate from Family Fever is also retraining – as a midwife. “I’ve always been interested, but knew I wanted to have a family first,” she says. “Blogging allowed me to have children and be at home with them when they were really small. Now it’s time for me and what I want to do.”
Karen from Mini Travellers doesn’t know what her next move might be – but she thinks there will be one. Karen moved into social media after working as a lawyer. She says, “It’s the best thing I ever did and works for me now, but I reckon when the kids are older, there will be another change of path.”
Fellow journalist Alison Perry sees this sort of career shift as a positive: “Portfolio working is definitely the way forward. There are so many options open to us these days and I feel quite excited that I have no idea what my job will involve in ten years’ time.”
Rachael Lucas has what many people might consider a dream job – a full-time writer – but even that gets stale, sometimes. Rachael made the choice to switch from adult to YA fiction last year after she realised she “couldn’t face” writing another adult fiction book. “I have a fairly short attention span and writing is the longest job I’ve had apart from being a parent,” she says. “In ten years’ time I suspect I’ll still be writing, but what form it will take I don’t know.”
I think that maybe this is the key. Blogging might evolve, or become a stepping stone to another sort of writing, or marketing, or communications, for lots of us. Emma from Fashion Mommy makes what I think is a great point: “A job you know can be a comfort zone, but if you push yourself and take jobs you know nothing about, so you research and read up on new things, that keeps it fresh.”
It’s about continuing to evolve, not least because it keeps life interesting, and lets us pay the bills.
I know that I love working in media – but perhaps the form of that media will continue to change. Whether it’s magazines or newspapers or blogs or YouTube, I’d like to think I’ll always be involved in making stories and sharing them with people. I think I’m here for the long haul.
What do you think? Do you have an ‘exit strategy’ for blogging? Or are you in it for the long haul?