Interview with Joanna Harrison from Willow Social Media

Read how Joanna Harrison from Willow Social Media retrained and created a portfolio career to achieve her ideal work-life balance.

What’s your career background?

I have worked in marketing for over 20 years, particularly in the newspaper industry. Most of the marketing I was involved in was so called ‘traditional’ marketing – creating advertising campaigns in regional press both in print and on newspaper websites and providing media sales support to the sales team.

I took voluntary redundancy in 2015 from my role as a Johnston Press Commercial marketing executive.

Why did you decide to retrain in social media?

I decided to take some time before rushing back into work and wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about social media as this was an area I had little experience in. I knew I would need to understand more about social media to get a more interesting and relevant job in marketing.

How did you pick the right course?

I looked online and found Concise Training and spoke to them about the courses they had available to make sure I picked the one that would suit me best.

The course was a distance learning course which I hadn’t done before and I wanted to know more about how it worked and if it would work for me. Mary from Concise Training was able to give me the confidence that I would be able to cope and that the support would be available if I needed it.

I liked the practical aspect of the course and that it was an accredited qualification which many of the other courses I looked at weren’t.

What was it like learning a new discipline?

I found some areas of the course really challenging but thankfully I was given the support and encouragement I needed from my tutor to get through it and I did!

What have you done since you finished the course?

It has been a busy time! I have had a baby, set up my own social media marketing company and I also work part time in a marketing role for a national museum! It has been great putting into practice what I have learnt, and I’ve also been able to develop a work-life balance.

Because the course covered more than just the social media channels, I have been able to put implement all I have learnt including website design, search engine optimisation and image editing as well as social media.

How easy has it been to find work with your new skills?

I think the course I chose gave me fantastic hands on experience that I desperately needed and that has been very valuable to me. I now know what to do across the digital marketing channels and more importantly can do it myself.

Where would you like to be in three years’ time?

That is a good question. Right now, I have a great work life balance and I hope to keep it like this! I want to keep learning though, as things are changing all the time and I think it is important to keep yourself up to date with new trends and ways to engage on social media.

What would you say to someone else thinking retraining?

Go for it! Research the right course for you and think about the way you like to learn. For me distance learning with actual hands on application of what I was learning together with the availability of personal support was perfect.

What are your top three social media tips for small businesses?

I could give so many, but these are the three that I tell my clients:

  • Keep it interesting – don’t post just for the sake of it!
  • Keep it relevant.
  • Keep it professional!

Find out more about Willow Social Media.