Kate Webster talks side stepping the salary in pursuit of better balance.
Leaving the 9-5 to follow your passion. It’s everyone’s dream, right? Here, mum of two, Kate Webster, shares her story about stepping away from the salary to find a better balance for her and her family.
‘You’ve probably all heard of the books The Squiggly Career, The Multi-Hyphen Method and The Side Hustle. They really do resonate with me and how I’ve ended up here in my new career. The Squiggly part especially!
I never really knew what industry I wanted to work in until I was 21. I’d dreamed of a career as a fashion buyer. I moved to London and ended up progressing in fashion retail management to a senior level where I worked happily but frantically for 15 years, mostly with Topshop.
After a move back up North with my husband and children, I carried on working with Arcadia but diversified into Training. Both of these jobs, although amazing experience, weren’t really sustainable for someone with a young family. Retail management involved unpredictable late nights and weekends. Training, although much more flexible, involved lots of travel & overnight stays.
So, after a lot of soul searching I knew it was time for a career change, but I was unsure which direction to take.
I came across Digital Mums ironically via the power of Facebook advertising and really had a light bulb moment. I knew that this was a career I could blend both my experience and my passion. (I’ve always been a social media addict!) .Taking my career in this direction would also allow me to work flexibly. I loved that the Digital Marketing industry was fast-paced and I loved that it had so many different aspects to it.
It was a now or never moment as I took the plunge and began a six-month course to retrain in strategic social media management. The course itself was really hard work. It involved lots of study, late nights, zoom calls and a live social media campaign. Juggling that with work and family life was a challenge, but I was empowered with my new skills and confident that this was a career I was going to love!
After the initial six months, I graduated from Digital Mum’s and topped up my qualification to become a certified trainer and consultant in social media. Training is something I’m really passionate about and wanted to carry on with. I could also see a real opportunity to train brands and businesses on marketing themselves via Social Media with impact.
At this point, I was still employed but feeling the strain of juggling too many balls. I had been fortunate that I had been able to take on a few local social media clients so knew that there was work out there, I just had to take the plunge, leave my job and give my new career 110%.
So, Loop Social was born.
I’m not going to lie, the first month or so was tough. I was in limbo; I felt isolated and a little uninspired. I am a real extrovert who feeds off other people! I was used to working with a team and I felt a bit lost, almost like I had lost my identity. I missed working in an office and I missed the big smoke more than ever!
So, I pulled my socks up and set myself a goal. I needed to give Loop 110%. If things didn’t work out then I had to be able to confidently say I had given it my all.
I got out there and networked. Both IRL and virtually. Networking isn’t like it used to be. There are some amazing groups for creatives and other businesses out there. I used my contacts, I set up my own social platforms and made sure I had lots of people around me to bounce ideas off and get inspiration from.
The nicest thing about Digital Mums is the network it provided. I am still really close to a few of my cohort and the local Digital Mum grads. I also have an amazing virtual peer group with other social media managers up and down the country. Without this, I would have been lost.
After the first month or so I felt my motivation and inspiration returning and knew I had done the right thing.
It’s now been nearly 6 months of my freelance Social Media journey and 6 months of Loop, I can honestly say I’m the happiest I have been for a long time in work. I’m managing social media for several clients, I have 121 consultancy clients, and have even started freelancing with a fashion social media agency. I’m running social media workshops in the North West with London dates in the pipeline. I’ve just finished a course on social media advertising, so I’m constantly updating my skills along with meeting lots of new people, so definitely never bored.
Has it been worthwhile? Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely moments where I have learnt the hard way. Running your own business has its moments! I have to be super disciplined with my time so that I don’t work crazy hours. I have to leave my phone and laptop alone when the kids are about, otherwise, I get lost down the rabbit hole that is Instagram and never really switch off!
But most importantly, I now have the flexibility to work around family life. I don’t have to book time off for school plays. I drop the little people off at school most mornings and I’m here when they need me. If my work takes me away, which is totally workable, it’s on my terms, and for our family that just feels priceless. I’m excited for where my career and business will take me, but I’m enjoying the better balance in the meantime!’
Kate Webster @loop_social