Interview with Jo Blackwell, founder of The Midlife Movement

Find how experiencing a difficult passage through her own midlife inspired Jo Blackwell to create The Midlife Movement.

What’s your career background? 

I was ostensibly a full time, stay at home mother, although I did some freelance writing – both fiction and non fiction – and helped to set up the family business as well as studying with the Open University. 

How did your career change after having children?

I had my first child at 22 and hadn’t started a career by that point.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

My portrait photography business came about quite by accident. I was writing a blog about turning 50 and wanted to interview people in their 50s who were having a fabulous time. Deciding I needed photographs, I took myself off on a course and was hooked!

Over the years, many of my portrait clients have been women in midlife. I hear the same stories about loss of confidence and how they feel invisible and irrelevant and was told frequently that their portrait session with me was transformative.

Having had a difficult passage through my own midlife, I decided to create a membership site for women to help them navigate this often difficult time, which is how The Midlife Movement was born. 

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I researched membership sites, resources available for women 40 plus, coaches, mentors etc. Then I simply dived straight in, creating content with the help of a variety of coaches, creating the site and learning as much as I could about marketing, video making, podcasting etc

What’s your USP?

Where The Midlife Movement differs from other resources is that the aim is to help women move from feeling fearful about ageing to a place where they have rediscovered their confidence and no longer need us as they go out in the world and make a difference.

A huge part of our appeal is the vibrant and supportive community we are growing. 

Who’s your target audience?

Women 40 plus who are feeling a little lost and have started to wonder – what next?

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Via a Facebook page and group, Facebook ads, Instagram, blogging, podcasting and guesting on others’ blogs and podcasts. I also speak to business groups, women’s groups – basically anyone who will have me!

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

Speaking and networking.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Getting out of my own way and realising that it’s not about me, it’s about the message I am spreading and the women who need to hear it. Once I really got that, I stopped worrying so much about what other people think of me. 

And your proudest moment so far?

I feel proud every time I speak and I see women in the audience connect with my story and realise they are not alone. 

Why is work so important to you?

I need a sense of purpose to be happy. 

Who inspires you?

So many people over the years. But I have to say that my adult children inspire me every day. All of them are principled, passionate and hard working and all four have overcome various difficulties with such grace and strength 

How do you balance your work with your family?

Obviously, I have more time now that my children have grown and flown, but I am still there for them and my husband whenever I am needed. Now that grandchildren are arriving thick and fast, I find myself juggling work with grandmothering my heart out, with varying degrees of success!

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Do your research and value what you have to offer properly
  2. Be persistent and consistent – it takes time to build an audience. 
  3. Be prepared to fail, tweak and try again – as often as it takes.

You can find out more about The Midlife Movement here.