This week we are going to look at how to build your web career from scratch despite considerable barriers. Who better to do that with than somebody just starting out. Introducing Katie Gillingham.
Paul: Hello and welcome to Boagworld the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag and I am really confused.
Marcus: I know this is odd isn’t it?
Paul: It’s been a long time since we’ve actually been in the same room recording a pod cast.
Marcus: I can’t remember how to do it. It took me about half an hour to settle the stuff up.
Paul: It’s so weird. I can see you, it’s disturbing me making eye contact with other human beings.
Marcus: It’s not how you work is it Paul?
Paul: No. I don’t like it. And it’s not even just Marcus. We also joined by Katie, hello Katie.
Paul: You look really relaxed and happy to be on the show. So basically we have Katie joining us today because we are talking about building your web career from scratch and Katie, you are at that annoying beginning bit aren’t you?
Katie: Yes. Finished Uni and have done little bits and bobs but…
Paul: … Not really found your place yet? So we thought we’d have Katie on the show to talk and I’ve known Katie for a long, long time. She used to be in the youth group that I ran for years and years and years and now is still 16 in my head, but you are old aren’t you?
Katie: Yes, nearly 23.
Paul: Old, that is.
Katie: That makes Paul really, really old.
Paul: That makes me nearly close to death. I think. Truth be told…
Marcus: I am staying out of this.
Paul: Yes I would if I were you Marcus.
Marcus: My youngest son was 21 yesterday.
Paul: No. Was he really?
Marcus: Well my only son was 21 yesterday, my youngest child.
Paul: Well happy birthday to him. Did you do anything suitably 21-ish?
Marcus: Not really, no. He and his girlfriend went to a spa. That’s not really 21-ish is it?
Paul: No, no. That’s more like 40-ish.
Marcus: We went out for a nice meal on Saturday. They’re both moving back into our place as he doesn’t drive and it’s costing him too much to get to his Intern year that he is doing at University. The wrench was killing them and so they are moving home. Yay!
Paul: I bet you are over the moon?
Marcus: How fantastic is that? There you go.
Paul: Katie hasn’t moved out yet.
Marcus: Well we had it to ourselves for a little while.
Paul: Freedom for a little while and then it was snatched away from you.
Marcus: That’s okay though.
Paul: So how are things going then Marcus? I don’t feel as though had a proper conversation with you recently. Are you busy? Are you jet setting around the world soon?
Marcus: I’m going to America in two weeks. I’m not going to America on holiday though, I hasten to add. I always make sure we have a Sunday to chill though, and this time we’re going to do a Segway tour.
Paul: That is awesome. I’ve seen them going around Washington DC before and it looks quite fun.
Marcus: So that’s what we going to do on the Sunday and then we going to work very hard.
Paul: Well I am going to Shrewsbury. Is that as exciting?
Marcus: Well it’s a very nice part of the world. My sister used to live there.
Paul: Is it really? It does look rather pretty. But I am staying in a Holiday Inn in Shrewsbury. That’s the kind of rock ‘n’ roll life I lead.
Marcus: Surely a man of your vast wealth could have stayed in a manor house or something?
Paul: Well, what can I say? My wife spends it faster than I earn it.
Marcus: I did notice the enormous vehicle on the drive Paul and thus I couldn’t park on the drive.
Paul: Ah yes, the motorhome. You haven’t seen the new motorhome have you? It’s a monstrosity.
Marcus: Yes! But I’m sure it’s lovely inside.
Paul: It’s not a lot bigger than the old one in terms of length, is about half a metre longer.
Marcus: But it’s plusher?
Paul: Definitely. So yes, I am knackered at the moment. Too many trips going away. I was away all last week and a whole chunk of next week.
Marcus: Where you working?
Paul: Yes proper working. Four whole days of solid workshops. Very tiring.
Marcus: Well I was sick last week. Proper sick boy. And now I have backache.
Paul: You cancelled the podcast! So we’ve had to put it back.
Marcus: You wouldn’t have wanted me last week, not in person anyway. It wasn’t nice. I don’t know who to blame either, it just appeared and I have no one I can blame.
Paul: Well a big thanks to Meg who is rushing through the transcription so that we can still get it out this week.
Marcus: Thanks Meg.
Paul: So anyway, before we move on from the pointless ramble that is the beginning of our show I do just want to mention season 15 that’s coming up. I think season 15 is going to be a lot better than this shit season.
Marcus: And all those crappy guests we had, excepting Katie obviously.
Paul: It’s down to Katie to save the entire season.
Katie: Oh my days.
Paul: So this should be interesting Katie. Anyway, season 15, I just wanted to mention that before we get onto other stuff. Next season we are going to be looking at stuff like dealing with people, politics and culture and all the kind of soft skills related to web stuff.
Marcus: So all your brainwashing stuff? Making people do stuff that they don’t want to do?
Paul: I merely have the ability to encourage people to realise the truth.
Marcus: Did you make that up yourself?
Paul: Out of my own head.
Marcus: Wow, that’s quite impressive.
Paul: So what we need to make that season work is your problem is basically, not like, I’ve got this growth – not that kind of problem.
Marcus: We could save them up for one at the end maybe and we could provide advice.
Paul: That’s brilliant, perhaps combined with, I think my girlfriend is having an affair?
Marcus: Oh definitely. We’d be great at giving advice.
Paul: We could do a whole season! A whole Jerry Springer season! That would be amazing.
Marcus: Maybe not a whole season, but whole show yes.
Paul: A whole show.
Marcus: Just quick-fire. Boom and there you go.
Paul: Paul says, dump her arse. Walk away. In fact, that could probably be the answer to the real questions as well.
Marcus: Generally that is good advice.
Paul: So yes, we want questions about managing projects, dealing with people and my basic logic is that if you have a coding problem, you go to Stack overflow and you type in your coding problem and somebody answers it for you. If you have a design problem, then you share it on Dribble and people give you feedback. But there is nowhere to go for those kind of softer problems. Why do they call them soft skills? I think they are hard skills. They are hard to learn anyway.
Marcus: They are much more difficult. Coding, anybody can do it.
Paul: Anyone could design.
Marcus: It’s just lining things up.
Paul: Absolutely. You pick a font, pick a colour and line it up.
Marcus: I’ve been designing stuff for years.
Paul: So have I, but it’s just not very good. And I at least did train as a designer.
Marcus: Some of your earlier stuff years ago was quite good. Damning with faint praise there, did you see that?
Paul: Let’s talk about the sponsors.
Marcus: Okay, I’m giving them mic back to Katie.
Paul: Actually it’s a good idea that the two of you have to share a mic, but it should only be pointing at Katie because you are a nasty man.
Let’s talk about sponsors. One of the things within to talk about with you Katie is that you are debating about do I get a job or do I go freelance and you are doing a bit of freelance at the moment aren’t you?
Paul: I’ve talked to you about Freeagent before haven’t I?
Katie: Yes you have actually.
Paul: Have you actually got it?
Katie: No not yet.
Paul: I give you this advice, do you listen to it?
Katie: Paul gives really great advice everybody, listen to it and everyone should follow Paul’s advice.
Paul: Except you.
Katie: Except me. This is why I am on a podcast is a vaguely unsuccessful graduate.
Paul: Because you don’t listen to my advice!
Paul: Anyway, Freeagent is a really great piece of software if you are trying to manage your own business, if you are a freelancer or to be honest if you have a company up to a certain size. I’ve been looking at a lot of different things throughout series that Freeagent offers and one of the things that I like the most about it which I haven’t touched on yet is there mobile apps. They have mobile apps for android and iOS and it’s just really, really useful because it lets you very quickly do a whole load of things, the kind of things you want to keep your eye on, on a daily basis. You can see which client so you what which is a useful thing to note any point in time. You also know what you are owed to suppliers and can glance at that. You can see what expenses are owed, what the expenses balances are and of course most importantly when it comes to expenses, you can actually claim your expenses through the app and even attach receipts to your expenses. You can create and send invoices on the go which has been quite useful for me on a number of occasions when I am out and about travelling and working hard. It lets you stay on top of your bank accounts as your bank statements are linked. It’s also worth saying that the entire app itself, if you don’t want to download a native app, their web app also works on mobile devices in a browser unlike certain things I could mention.
I have another application I use on a regular basis called Goodbits and I like Goodbits for sending out my newsletter as its really good. But if you look at Goodbits in a web browser on a mobile device it says you can’t use it so go away, which really annoys me. But with Freeagent you can use it in a browser. See can either download a native app or you can use it in the browser and of its leafy use it in a browser you get every piece of functionality that the app offers. If you download the native app, they have a subset and they are working actively on the native apps all the time which is really good.
You can try Freeagent for 30 days by going to Boagworld.com/freeagent. So there we go.
Discussion with Katie
Paul: So, Katie.
Paul: Did you really need to say it like that with so much sass?
Paul: Okay then, fine. What we going to do today is explore a little bit about your situation and what you are doing because I think where you are at is fairly typical of many graduates. Then we’re going to see if we can give you some advice to sort you out girl.
Katie: I look forward to that bit.
Paul: You looking forward to being sorted out?
Katie: Yes. Told off probably.
Marcus: Use Freeagent.
Paul: That is one piece of advice that I would give but there are other things we also need to do. So we can see if we can give you a bit of advice to get you on the right track to get you going and hopefully that will help other people along the way.
You have to remember that that the entire audience at this point is now on your side because it just sounds like I am lecturing you, so you can relax and chill out because everybody likes you and hates me.
Marcus is nodding enthusiastically.
So Katie, tell us a little bit about yourself. First of all, what did you study?
Katie: I studied English at Bournemouth University.
Paul: A proper degree. Have you got any idea eventually, long term, what it is you would like to be doing with your life?
Katie: One day I would like to be a comedy writer and write for TV.
Paul: Okay. Are you actually funny? I never noticed this about you.
Katie: No. Not at all.
Paul: But you can fake it when you write it?
Katie: Yes I can fake it when I’m writing after several drafts.
Paul: You are a slow burn comedy writer.
Katie: Absolutely. Especially after someone who is funny has checked it and edited it.
Paul: Okay. It’s a bit like me really. I only sound talented when other people edit and fix what I have done. That’s why I’m struggling since I have left Headscape as I don’t have Marcus and Chris to check my work anymore. So it’s got a lot harder all of a sudden.
Okay so that’s what you want to do long-term. Now, comedy writing. You are quite pragmatic about this. You said long-term…
Katie: Yes, very long-term.
Paul: How do people get into that stuff? Do you know?
Katie: A lot of the people that I already know who are in it have had huge amounts of luck and been in the right place at the right time as well as being funny which does help when you want to write comedy. But it is such a long game a lot of these people are middle-aged before they’ve had a break and there are people my age who have done internships off the back of doing scriptwriting courses, which I didn’t do. So there’s all different ways and means into it but probably for someone like me is a bit of a longer term build-up of portfolio and go from there and go to conferences and stuff.
Paul: So in the short term, what you looking for ideally?
Katie: Ideally, marketing, social media and writing things.
Paul: Okay, so it’s taking those skills that you have built up at university and in other ways that we will touch on later and applying goes to a digital marketing environment. So that’s why we felt you would be quite good to talk with because you are talking about building a career within the web world. But over a longer period of time you might want to move beyond that.
Marcus: I reckon there are a lot more opportunities in digital marketing than there are in comedy writing. But I thought when I was trying to be a popstar those many decades ago, that we just couldn’t do it. We released single of the single after single and none of them worked and it was impossible and bad and it was completely down to luck and we didn’t stand a chance. And then it happened. So sure, get yourself a job doing marketing as I think there are loads of opportunities around like that but don’t give up on the dream.
Paul: Also I am not convinced either that the two unnecessarily mutually exclusive, especially with social media marketing. I look at some of the most successful channels and actually they are comedy. If you look at @WstonesOxfordSt which is a very famous social media channel, it’s funny. And then if you look at something like Great British Problems – okay so it’s not a marketing channel but it’s been a hugely successful social media channel and that is comedy writing isn’t it? So actually to some degree when you talk about comedy writing I am imagining for TV but there is almost a new generation of comedy writing that is social media orientated of video pod cast orientated, which you could certainly explore in the right company.
Katie: Yes. That sounds good, where can I sign?
Paul: So that’s what you are after, we now have a goal and I think that is the first point to draw out of this. One of the things that I’ve always liked about you Katie, and I think that you get right, is that you have a clear goal of way you want to be. I think that is more than many graduates have.
Katie: Yes, absolutely.
Paul: And Marcus is going, he’s got no clue what he wants to do with his life, totally lacking in direction.
Marcus: I’ve never known what I’ve wanted to do, apart from when I was in the band.
Paul: Yes and look at how disastrous your life has been.
Marcus: It’s all right. It’s turned out okay.
Paul: Okay, you are just a jammy bugger who has lived off of luck. You’re not going to make anything worse by having a plan are you?
Marcus: No I am saying is a good thing. I wish I did have a plan. I have admiration for that because if I try and plan, I just make it up. I think that was always the problem with Headscape. We’ve talked about this on other episodes but we used to say we must have a five-year plan and we must have a 10 year plan we would just make things up. But actually we were just happy chugging along which is what we are now back to and I am very happy with.
Paul: I don’t think there is anything wrong with chugging along with business as usual if what you have now you are happy with. Your plan is then to maintain what you have got but with something like Katie’s position, what are you actually doing now today Katie, work -wise?
Katie: Work -wise I’ve done a website for a local playgroup and I’m doing social media marketing for a local weight loss clinic.
Paul: Do you have a part-time job or anything like that?
Paul: Right. You know you were not way you want to be. And that’s the difference I think.
Katie: And I have talked about this with my parents, the part-time job thing. Some people that might be a really good option but for me and where we live in Blandford, there is not an awful lot going on in the job front. If I did get a job in the supermarket, if I then got an interview with someone else that was my dream job and the supermarket would not let me have a day off so I would pull a sickie and did it anyway and then didn’t get my dream job, got found out and fired from the supermarket, that kind of situation has happened a lot. Although yes, I would be getting some money coming in short term, it would hamper the other opportunities I have had along the way.
Paul: There are a couple of things I want to pick up on their which I think are worth emphasising. One, you don’t live in a big city. It’s important to say where we are right now, we are in the middle of a small market town in the middle of England and there are very few good career prospects here.
Katie: That is definitely fair to say.
Paul: So that’s one challenge that you face and I think a lot of people listening to this will not live in London on a major city.
Marcus: Going back onto the part-time job thing, surely there has to be something a couple of days a week that you could be doing that isn’t too bullying like may be a local supermarket would be? Is there some kind of local newspaper or job that doesn’t pay?
Paul: What about charity? There must be charities that are looking for social media help?
Paul: Have you not looked at that?
Katie: No, not at local charities.
Paul: That’s really good want to do actually, look at local charities. I really think charities are great because as they aren’t paying you, they are flexible with what you do and when. It also makes you look philanthropic which is great and represents well and you also get some experience under your belt.
But I think is a very important thing to say that at the moment we’re painting you say you haven’t done very much and that’s because we haven’t got to what you have done. So tell us as there are quite a few things that you have had on the boil. It’s not like you haven’t been doing a lot of networking to tell us a little bit about that.
Katie: So from Uni I worked as a freelance features writer for the TV Times and I still do that on an ad hoc basis if somebody’s on holiday or just doesn’t want to write something. That’s really cool but I think the company that owns all the magazines was taken over by a bigger company and they laid a lot of people off. So where there might have been a job opportunity there once, that has now been shut down. But from that I have met PR people and people who do other cool jobs that you can’t even necessarily name because their jobs don’t necessarily have a proper name. But their jobs are doing cool marketing stuff the TV programmes. Danger Mouse in particular was my favourite recent one, the relaunch of danger mouse.
Paul: You can’t get much cooler than the relaunch of Danger Mouse in my opinion.
Katie: No you can’t. That was a career highlight. Nothing can beat that. So as well as that I work for NewsBiscuit which is a free submissions comedy website run by [John O’Farrell[(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_O%27Farrell_(author)).
Paul: Whose John O’Farrell for all those who don’t know?
Katie: He’s done all sorts of bits – he co-wrote Chicken Run and he’s been on Have I Got News For You quite a few times and has written a very good book called There’s Only Two David Beckham’s recently. And I also think is was in a funny musical on Broadway but I can’t remember what it’s called _transcriber edit: Something Rotten!.
Paul: I always think, I don’t use NewsBiscuit but it feels like an open source British version of The Onion.
Katie: Yes. That was it. I think we were there first though.
Paul: Damn them. How dare they get more successful.
Katie: But yes, I’ve been doing that for a few years and I’ve been doing admin staff, I am a nice admin lady on the side.
Paul: A lot of people don’t know that though, that’s on the side.
Katie: I’m also an editor on the site now which is separate to the nice admin lady because it’s done on an editing rotor. There are a team of six or seven editors and each week we choose the submissions that are the best to go on the front page, essentially a bit like an online newspaper. So that’s cool and a bit more creative, editing things.
Paul: So you’ve got some good experience behind you and built up a good network of people. You’re doing all the right things so why don’t you think it’s worked for you yet?
Katie: Basically I don’t know whether I want to be a freelance writer person or a writer person working for somebody and that clash between the two has let me doing both but not very well. Not, not very well because I’ve had some good clients is very good job interviews but I haven’t thrown myself into hunting for a job and likewise I haven’t thrown myself into looking for clients or putting myself out there.
Paul: It is a really difficult one this and we did touch on it briefly when we talked to Jon Hicks about the pros and cons. Jon Hicks is a designer who has ricocheted backwards and forwards between being a freelancer and working for other people and there are pros and cons to both of those approaches. I have to say I think in an ideal world there is a big advantage when you are starting out, to work for someone else.
Marcus: That was what I was going to say unless you feel like you’ve had enough experience already with the work that you’ve done and they’ve just been talking about. I think that’s probably not the case and I think that working anywhere that allows you to write in any way shape or form, whether it’s a magazine, website, whatever and someone pays you, I think that will help you hone your skills that really matter rather than having to worry about getting new clients and Freeagent and the like.
Paul: Yes. I totally agree and I think there is a huge advantage for working for someone even if they are rubbish. Both me and Marcus worked for a company called Town Pages before we set up Headscape and they were terribly managed from beginning to end but we actually learnt a lot about how not to manage a company and they taught us a lot about how to manage a company if that makes any kind of sense. So the only thing I would say is that I wonder whether that is just because we are from that generation, that has decided everybody should get a proper job.
Marcus: I wasn’t meaning it like that, I was meaning that it allows you to focus on just the bits that you need to at the moment.
Paul: The core skills that you are trying to build up?
Marcus: Yes, and you don’t have to worry about all the other stuff unless you have people beating down your door. If you have an endless stream of clients, then you haven’t got a problem. If you went freelance and actually could make a nice living quite easily then some of the aspects that I’ve just said don’t apply. But the other aspect of working with other people in a company is that you will be absorbing and learning from other people whereas if you are on your own set in your own room working on one project and then another, you are not interrelating with others. In an ideal world you’d be able to do both.
Paul: It’s a funny thing because as a part of me that goes, in an abstract sense I totally agree. Go get yourself a job somewhere, work somewhere for someone else. But when I get specific to you Katie, because I know you, I know that you are more than capable of doing the whole shebang. You’re very good network and you’ve built up very good relationships with people naturally and you’re more than capable of doing the finance side of things. So that’s where I am a little bit more unsure because I know that there is a part of you that would quite like to stay around here if you could do but there is also another part of you where if you go get a job somewhere else, the chances of it being in Dorset are pretty slim.
Katie: Yes, they are. There have been a couple of jobs that I have applied for that have been copywriting jobs which I have gone past the interview process with and they’ve really likes me. Both of these jobs said that they wanted a graduate and I now know that both the people who filled the position are definitely not graduates. So they wanted someone with enthusiasm and everything that they thought a graduate would be, but they didn’t actually want a graduate. This is where I fell down, I didn’t have enough experience. So there have been a couple of jobs around here but they come up very rarely and there are lots of people going for them and clearly people with experience will win out unless someone genuinely is looking for a graduate and not just thinks they are. So that’s one of the problems that I have faced in job-hunting. I think getting that knockback as well, losing out to someone else with experience multiple times it then sends you thinking, should I be doing freelance because that might give me the best chance of staying here, but I’m not earning very much money and I’m still living at home and am I a bit of a drain on mum and dad? So it’s that constant pros and cons, to and fro. I need to pick one a go down that side fully really.
Paul: I have to say, I was quite enthusiastic but you go freelance wasn’t I? Now we sit down and talk about it properly I actually think going after a job is a good idea. I think is a good idea for the reasons that Marcus has laid out but I also think is a good idea from the point of view that it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing to get out of the area and to go somewhere else and experience another part of the country or world or wherever. I have to say though, that first job, although yours was a fairly unusual career path, that first job is a bit of a miserable time to be honest to begin with. I remember my first proper job was in Basingstoke which in itself is enough to drive home the facts and living in a bedsit and working in Basingstoke wasn’t the most wonderful of times.
Marcus: You’re dissing Basingstoke. It’s my nearest town!
Paul: Oh I am sure it’s lovely but you don’t live in it.
Marcus: It’s got all shiny since you were there. It has an Apple store Paul with a Genius Bar.
Paul: I could do with one of those at the moment, my son’s phone has broken.
Marcus: As has your son! I feel sorry for him it sounds awful.
Paul: Oh yes, he’s fractured his toe. Actually truth be told that isn’t the entire story. He didn’t fracture his toe but it’s the easiest way of describing it. The truth is he bent his toe. He actually bent the bone. I didn’t even know that was possible but apparently when you are young enough you are still rubbery and you can still bend it. It’s not nice. It was going off this weird angle and I thought Cath was going to pass out.
Okay then we’re going to make some decisions today.
Marcus: I don’t think it’s up to you Paul.
Paul: No, I’m making decisions. So our vote is that she should get a proper job rather than freelance.
Marcus: Yes, full-time work but I think what Paul was saying was that you shouldn’t expect to enjoy it. You might do, who knows?
Paul: Freelancing is a more enjoyable option I think.
Marcus: But you might be lucky and work for a lovely company like Headscape. Who knows.
Paul: I you offering a job? There we go! Sorted!
Marcus: I don’t have a position for you Katie but I am sure there are other lovely companies like Headscape who would but chances are it will be something that isn’t that great but all of that is part of the learning curve.
Paul: Yes, and you don’t need to do it forever as there was this perception that if you took a job at one point you’d have to stay there for a decent length of time because otherwise it would look bad on your CV. I think there’s days are gone really. I think people move around jobs much more often. Even if you got a contract position somewhere that’s quite good, just six months something to get a little bit of experience behind you and spend some time in an organisation. Things like that work very well.
Going back to what we talking about early about working for a charity or for free as an intern, is that something that you’ve explored ever?
Katie: I’ve done a couple of bits for a local Grow-it-Yourself group that I’m part of is we’ve got an allotment – the full countryside stereotype. So I created them a website and do their bits of social media although that is sporadic based on what other work I have on. So I’ve done that and I’ve done other work like the playgroup which was done at a reduced rate. So I have done bits in that sense but I haven’t thought about a charity.
Paul: You might want have a look and do a search around is that’s quite a low level of helping out. What I was thinking about was looking at doing a search for digital agencies marketing intern and seeing whether there were intern opportunities out there. Just search on intern rather than graduate or graduate job. It can turn out some quite interesting opportunities in terms of the type of stuff that’s out there. Or even digital marketing charity intern and look for something that’s a little bit larger. Some of these intern positions will actually pay a small salary which would probably cover your living expenses being away but not give you lot in your pocket. Something like that for a few months might be worth considering and gets you into a larger organisation. So that’s something I would definitely consider looking at if I were in your position.
One of the things that I think you did very well when you were a student was building your network. You spent quite a lot of time, especially because the TV Times and your NewsBiscuit stuff. Are still actively pursuing that or have you slacked off?
Katie: Probably slacked off little bit because I haven’t done much else if that makes sense as I haven’t got anything further to say.
Paul: I think that’s a really important thing to keep doing in some way because that networking and going to meet-ups in London and that kind of stuff really is worth doing, it’s amazing who you meet. I went to a meet up last week when I was up in London and there were some amazing people there. I was gobsmacked really. I just got chatting to people and it was a really enjoyable evening and I actually think those are some of the most valuable things that you can do. In that environment as well you can almost play off of being a student. Everybody has a bit of alcohol in them and so they are all quick to dole out advice and be chatty. Is a really good environment so I would look potentially at seeing if there were any digital marketing meet ups you can go along to and just attend.
The story I always tell is of Anna Debenham who at the age of 16, came to the 100th Boagworld meet up that we did. We had to sneak her into the pub as she was only 16. But she had the guts to do that and actually she has now done incredibly well within the community and is hugely successful and went on and did an internship at ClearLeft which is a digital agency and we had Andy on a few of weeks ago. She built her career off of just through that networking, through meeting people. She never pushed it and was never pushy but she was just enthusiastic and wanted to know what was going on in the industry and wanted to learn and people warmed to her as a result. So any opportunity to do that kind stuff is really worth doing. So add that to your task list.
Katie: Adding. Although I’m not very digital am I, I’m sat here with my notebook and my pen!
Paul: No, no, I don’t criticise that at all. I guess that’s another reason why need to focus down on what you going to be doing with you going to go freelancing or whether you going to look for a job. Because if you going to look for a job, whether either way the networking is important, but if you are doing freelancing you are not going to have time for the networking. And that really is an important way.
You said there was a job that you have gone for and you think you might get? But interestingly, the jobs that have got the most potential to come off for you are jobs where there is a personal connection?
Paul: That really shows the power of networking. To be honest even the fact that you’re sitting here now on this podcast and there are potential employers listening to this is a sign that networking has real benefit to you. To see what I mean?
Katie: Yes that’s really true. Please hire me!
Marcus: And obviously you know web celeb, Paul Boag.
Paul: Oh shut up, you git. I’m just ignoring you.
But from my perspective it really does drive home the fact that networking I think is more important than the skills that you have, I think is more important than anything, for better or for worse.
Marcus: Can we not call it networking though? Because networking sounds like doing business with businessmen and shaking hands. Actually is just making friends and making contact with people who down the line you might want to hook up with. There might be a work connection and you might want to do some work together later on. It’s just nice into a conference and there’s always someone that you’ve met before at a previous conference so it’s just great to catch up with them. Networking is one of those horrid terms that sounds really sales-y and is not really that, it’s just about putting yourself out there and saying, I’ve got something to say and I’m all right.
Paul: Because you can come across as a real dick if you actively network. I get tens of emails a week just from people saying, I think is really beneficial if we network. Or the number of people who add me on LinkedIn. Actually I do just get people who add me on LinkedIn and who write, I’m just a huge fan of what you do. And that’s fine, but it’s the people who say that if they think there might be some synergy in the way that we work together – blurgh!
Yes, you’re right is basically what I’m saying.
Marcus: I’m agreeing with Paul that it’s really important. Be bothered about it but don’t feel as though there is a massive pressure to make things happen because then you will just come across as a dick.
Paul: Basically it’s about getting involved. Every industry has a community. There is the industry which is the one type of conference and publication which is formal and business orientated and often in an industry there is also a community which is a group of people just hang out because they are sharing similar woes. I’ll give you a great example of this, in higher education which is a big sector that me and Marcus work in, in the webby technical part of higher education there are two conferences. There is one called UCISA or something and that’s for all the technical directors and it’s very formal. There’s a huge expo that goes with it where everybody’s wearing suits and ties and selling to one another and being professional. Then there’s another conference called IWMW which is a really informal, really friendly, everyone drinks a lot and just hang out together.
If I compare those to as to which of them I’ve one of the most work out of there is no comparison. IWMW is so much better because you are there to just make friends really. To meet people who are struggling with similar stuff that you are struggling fighting with and it’s such a nice environment. So seeking out that kind of community feel within whatever sector and I know in digital marketing there are loads of little meet up groups. You don’t want any of the big official conference things, what you are looking for a little meet ups who meet in the pub. Those the kind of events that you are looking for and they are really, really good and a great way of meeting people and it’s worth the train ticket up to London for that.
Marcus: Has Chris told you he’s doing a plenary talk at IWMW? He’s so scared already.
Paul: I know. I really feel for him.
Marcus: I said at helping with it but I’ve nothing to do with this project, nothing at all.
Paul: I have said to him I’d help him.
Marcus: He’s doing it with the client.
Paul: It will be great. I know it will be great, he just worries.
Okay, very final thing I’m going to touch on. One big aspect of this, especially with something like digital marketing which is what you say you want to get into, is your own online brand. It’s how you present yourself online. Every employer now will Google you and will search on you and look at your Twitter feed etc. How on top of that you feel you are in terms of blogging, in terms of social media? If I type in your name let’s see what happens… Go until me what you’re up to while I do this.
Katie: I did have a blog which was Kate Writes Stuff which was everything so that was like stuff about writing as well as stuff about my life. I’ve now separated that and have a separate blog for the stuff about my life and I haven’t started it yet, but I’ve been doing my website so that there will be a professional blog on there. I thought I’d blog about finding a job actually or work vs freelance because of think that is quite a hot topic. Twitter – blurgh. Twitter.
Paul: It’s interesting, googling you, I know you was Katie but you present yourself to the world now as Katie as you are on a grown up now. So on Twitter you are @Katewritesstuff. Now your Twitter account comes up on the first page of Google when you search on Katie or Katie Gillingham. So it’s important from that regards and that’s the big thing about Twitter of course, unlike something like Facebook or other channels, it is visible publicly. So I still think it’s quite an important one personally and something that if I was in your position, I would be spending more time on. It would be something that I would be sharing links of stuff that you found, imagery, stuff that makes you look clever basically.
Katie: That makes me look clever?
Marcus: I’ve been doing that for years.
Paul: I’ve made a career out of that. You’ve got obviously a mix of humour in it which you are really good at and that should be a part of it as well but a definite think it’s something you should be investing in. In terms of your blog, you got to make a decision with your blog and stick with it because the big thing with blogging is that if you keep changing your blog which you have done a few times, every time you are fragmenting any reputation that you started to build up on there both with people but also with Google. So deciding your blog, stick with it and then write something at least once a week would be my advice. Because I think it’s really important for you to start ramping that up now and that’s whether you go down the freelance route all the job route. In either case you are going to need to do that and even once you get your first job keep doing it because one of the things that I’ve discovered when it comes to blocking is that I could almost churn out any crap now on my blog simply because…
(Marcus is biting his lip)
I don’t I hasten to add, but I could… but simply because I have built up a readership and Google knows I am a reliable source. You’re building a lifetime thing with your blog. I think of blogging these days is getting a pension. It’s something that has a long-term benefit to you. Once a week just put something out even if it’s just a short few lines. It’s really worthwhile. I would rate very highly on this I think.
Are we finished lecturing Katie?
Marcus: I think so but I was remembering this guy, Christopher Murphy who I remember from Smashing conference last year, he is mostly a writer and he said a lot of clever things. Check him out.
Paul: Meg! Put link in the show notes for this – Christopher Murphy done.
Okay. I know we picked on you but it’s much nicer to have a real person that is really going through the stuff rather than just talking in a completely abstract sense and I think it’s very brave of you to come on and put yourself out there and all the problems and mistakes the stuff that you are struggling with. There will be a lot of people listening to this that will be in that similar position and knowing that the not alone and knowing that they’re not the only graduate that’s come out of university who hasn’t got a job yet is massively encouraging to them. I was just say if you are out there and you are in a position potentially to hire Katie, I am going to give her a massive big push because I’ve known her for the longest time and she is absolutely reliable, absolutely dedicated, great fun to work with and she’s damn good at what she does as well. If the TV Times hired her…. I would highly recommend getting in touch with her either by contracting her on Twitter at @Katewritesstuff or alternatively drop me an email and I will pass it on to her. Thanks Katie for being on the show.
Let’s talk sponsors. Proposify is back supporting the show, they’ve supported us a few times over a couple of seasons now and we’re really grateful to have them. Proposify is basically a proposal writing software and it is in my opinion, leaps and bounds better than sending a client PDF document or word document which is what Marcus does. So I’m going to explain to Marcus why he is wrong and I am right. Are you ready for this?
You don’t care do you?
Marcus: La, la, la, la, la.
Paul: He’s got his arms folded. He stuck in his ways, he is not open to new things and has reached a certain point where you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.
But for the rest of you then, this is why Proposify is so much better than using a word document. For a start once you send a word document or a PDF to your client, if you spot a typo you can’t fix it. But you can on Proposify because you can go back in and edit the document at any time you need to which is really, really useful up until the point when it signed off. The second thing is that you can get detailed analytics on when people opened your Proposify document and how long they ducted it for. You don’t get that with a PDF or a word document. You can’t embed a video in a PDF or a word document, which is another thing that you can do with Proposify. Also Proposify integrates with a load of different apps so if you want to pull stuff across from your CRM or wherever else you can do that. People don’t need to have the right software to be able to comment on what you’ve produced. They don’t need to have Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat, they can comment directly on the Proposify document. It’s mobile friendly which means they can view it on the go. It can be signed online as well, you can sign it off there and then and it can be saved as a PDF to if you so wish.
So you can get Proposify for three months for free on any monthly plan after the 14-day free trial anyway. The three months for free on a monthly plan you can get if you use the coupon code Boagworld when you sign up for any monthly plan. So basically you can get a 14-day free trial and then three months for free before you have to start paying. And you can do all of that simply by going to Proposify and enter the code Boagworld.
Marcus: It sounds fantastic, we should all use it. They you go.
Paul: Oh Marcus, stuck in your ways, bless you. Do you have a joke cross Marcus?
Marcus: I do. This is from Jan… yeah right, you try to spell that! who I think might be from Holland and has provided me with my new favourite joke, thank you very much.
What do you call a dog that does magic?
Paul: I don’t know, what you call a dog that does magic?
Marcus: A labra-cadabra-dor.
Katie: HA HA!
Paul: That was the most enthusiastic laugh that any guest has ever made Katie! That’s your kind of humour is it then Katie?
Katie: No it’s not if you are thinking of hiring me.
Paul: This is somebody that wants to be a comedy writer and she thinks that’s funny.
Marcus: That’s my favourite joke.
Paul: There we go. So, thank you Katie for being on the show. Next week we have Mike Kus joining us.
Marcus: Oh I haven’t spoken to Mike in yonks.
Paul: Yes, it’s the last show of the season next week and were going to look at really grabbing opportunities in your career. As Katie said earlier a lot of career breaks her luck more than anything else and Mike had an amazing opportunity when he got featured in the very early days of Instagram and that changed the whole direction of his career. So we’ll explore some of those things with him next week but for now, thank you for listening and goodbye.