Have you been wondering why things have been very quiet on my blog recently? Well, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve been super busy learning lots of social media theory, getting to grips with analytics and scheduling and enhancing my blogging skills by training with Digital Mums. Fingers crossed, I’m just days away from being a qualified social media manager – assuming my final report is up to scratch that is!
For these past 6 months I’ve been living in an alternative universe of tweeting, posting, testing, analysing and refining; beavering away hunched over my computer at toddler nap times; poring over engagement rates into the evening; retweeting whilst on the school run; constantly saying, “oooh, this would be good for my Instagram, hang on!”. It’s been full on, there have been tears, ALL the mum-guilt (the toddler’s favourite phrase is “phone down mama”), sleepless nights and more processed food served up to the kids than ever before (plus more wine consumed by me!), but I’ve loved it, every blummin carefully thought out hashtag of it.
The labour of my love, my campaign called SheffGives, is all about giving back to your community through volunteering, donating, fundraising and random acts of kindness. I am based in Sheffield and share lots of local inspirational stories but promote ideas which apply the World over.
I’ve always loved to write and been interested in social media, so when my youngest son (I have 3 of them, 10, 5 and 2) was 18 months old, I was trying to think through what work I could do around the kids – I’d recently returned from living abroad on secondment with my partner’s work, so had no job to return to in the UK. I had seen posts about Digital Mums and their #WorkThatWorks campaign all over Facebook and Instagram, so looked into the course, thought it sounded great and had a few conversations with people about it before signing up.
The course was a huge commitment for me financially, and I knew that I had to make it worthwhile, so threw myself into it from day one. I set up my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels, then started arranging meetings with local charities so I could write about their work, getting my name out there and starting to build those all important relationships in the city. I’m naturally shy, but knew I had to confront my fears and put myself out there in order to succeed.
I started posting on my channels in December (earlier than I was supposed to based on the coursework I needed to do, sorry Digital Mums!), as knew there was a lot of content I wanted to share that was relevant to my campaign in the run up to Christmas. One Facebook post where I shared a blog I’d written about a local bar that was opening on Christmas Day for homeless and vulnerable people gave me a Facebook reach one week of over 30,000, which was just a little bit crazy. The post was seen by Radio 5 Live and I was interviewed live on the radio by Adrian Chiles!
As my follower numbers grew on Twitter (I almost got to 500 followers by the end of the course), my campaign became seen as an influencer by others in the city, being mentioned in various posts in order for me to share campaigns that charities were running. I built up a relationship with national influencers too, such as the Big Issue, who mentioned me a few times with questions about Sheffield. One of the highlights of my campaign was being asked to take part in the Big Sell by the Big Issue North, where I sold the magazine for an hour and blogged about my experience, an article they shared on their social media. Local city councillors and MPs followed me too, including the ex-leader of the Green Party, who is now a Sheffield MP, Natalie Bennett.
All of this turned the course campaign into something much more – it became a real life campaign, something tangible, relevant and useful in the city which has a voice in the conversations about homelessness, poverty and other social issues. I’m very proud of the relationships I’ve built in the city – several charities have contacted me to ask me to write about their work and to be featured on my blog. The blog is going really well and has led to me securing paid freelance blogging and social media work with charities and the city council, where I’ve been commissioned to write a series of blogs and case studies which will form the majority of their communications for the rest of this year! I’m also running the Twitter account for the foodbank where I volunteer and starting work on the website and social media for a new social enterprise in the city.
In many ways I’m busier now than I’ve ever been. Weekdays are all about school and nursery runs, then cramming meetings, blogging, scheduling, volunteering and loads of other stuff into the 13 hours of child free time I get each week when my toddler is at nursery. I still work when the kids are around and have become even more skilled at multi-tasking than I was previously. Laptop open on the kitchen side, phone in one hand, wooden spoon in the other stirring dinner on the hob, that’s how I roll, and I love it.
For now, this is me work wise. This is my version of #WorkThatWorks – full time Mum of 3, part time blogger and social media manager, just about on top of things, ably supported by potato waffles and wine.