Welcome to our brand new blog series!
With an aim of inspiring digital marketing jobs seekers, including those of you hoping to go freelance or people staring their own businesses, we’ve tracked down some inspirational professionals from a range of sectors to talk us through their careers. Sharing with us how they got to where they are today and where they plan to go next…
To kick things off, we have Allegra Chapman.
Allegra is a Freelance Social Media & Content Marketer and a Director at Brighton Digital Women (BDW). Helping businesses and people build valuable relationships online is her speciality.
Without further ado, let’s find out what made this marketer…
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A ballerina. I was actually pretty good, but, when the time came to decide whether to audition for ballet school, we discovered that I was going to be too tall when I’d finished growing. The cut off for a prima ballerina is 5ft 5 – I’m just over 5ft 6. That was all my hopes and dreams dashed at the age of 8!
What and where was your very first job?
Telesales for a double glazing company. Genuinely the most soul-destroying experience of my whole life.
When and how did you first discover digital marketing / your specific industry sector?
I worked in fundraising for a few years, and social media was just starting to become popular as a marketing tool (that’s how old I am!). I went to the board of directors of the charity I was working for at the time and suggested we give it a go. They were very sceptical – everyone expected social media to be a passing fad – but they let me try it. Suddenly we had direct access to our supporters, service users and influential people all across the country; we could find out what they were interested in, what they needed from us and hear real-life stories about the work we did.
It was a game changer for me, having that kind of direct access to our audience and being able to build relationships with a community. I thought, “this is what I want to be doing with my life!”
Share a mistake you made or an event you most regret from your career
I’ve taken a few detours on my career path and taken on a couple of roles that turned out not to be right for me, but I don’t regret any of them – I learned something from every single role I’ve had (even the horrible telesales job taught me good negotiating skills) and I’ve ended up with a broad range of experience that helps me be better at the work I’m doing now. Non, je ne regrette rien!
Jumping in a time machine, what pearls of wisdom would you give your 18-year-old self?
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Where you think you want to be in five or ten years will probably change every year, and the kinds of jobs available in five or ten years will be entirely different to the ones you’re looking at now. Concentrate on doing jobs that you love, that you find fulfilling, and on developing yourself and your skills. That will naturally take you where you need to be.
What industry skill do you wish you’d learnt sooner, and why?
Networking. No one believes me, because I’ve got good at faking it, but I’m massively shy. I hate walking into a room full of people I don’t know, so I avoided it for years. But I’ve learned to make myself jump in and just do it, and it’s been incredibly valuable. Helping to run Brighton Digital Women taught me how powerful networks can be – we’ve seen so many professional and personal relationships born from the community.
When I announced I was leaving agency life and starting up on my own, that community was instrumental in finding me clients and helping me build up a business. Now I’m a huge fan of networking events. They still terrify me, but I go anyway, and I usually have a great time once I’m there-there are some incredibly warm and inspiring people working in our city!
If you were to publish your autobiography in 20 years time, what would it be titled?
Running Before You Can Walk – I literally did this – I never crawled and one day, at 9 months old, before I’d ever taken a step unaided, I just ran full pelt across the room. My mum loves to tell this story because she feels it’s a metaphor for my whole life. I do have a tendency to just throw myself into whatever I decide to do next and worry about the consequences later. I can’t bear hesitation if I make a decision I need to act on it, and I would always rather give something a go than not try and wonder forever what would have happened if I had. So I tend to jump in both feet first. But I made it across the room when I was 9 months old and I’ve got a lot out of every situation I’ve hurtled into since!
What is the one thing you want to be remembered for from your career, and why?
Teaching people the reason for the word “social” in social media! The thing that I love most about working in social media is that it brings organisations into direct contact with their audience and allows them to build meaningful relationships. The thing I hate most about working with social media is that so many organisations are scared of investing time and resources in building those relationships, because the ROI is slower and harder to demonstrate (but not impossible!), and they end up just using it as a broadcast tool to shout at their audience about their products on a platform users have come to chat to their friends.
Content marketing, as well, should be about being useful and helpful to your audience to build a meaningful relationship over time. Brands need the patience to invest in those relationships, and the analytics expertise to justify that investment. I aim to work with my clients to ensure they understand the value of a relationship-focused approach.
With Brighton Digital Women, I’d like to be remembered for empowering other women to progress in the digital sector, helping to address the gender imbalance in our industry and shining a light on all the awesome women that are shaping the future of digital.
I definitely think the ‘She-Ra’ outfit sums up Allegra’s work, especially when it comes to how she supports and inspires other strong digital women with the BDW community!
Thank you again, Allegra for such an inspiring brilliant start to this series!