Laura Sri Lanka 2016

How I changed my career and became a digital nomad

Recently, many of my friends and family have said to me “Oh? So you don’t work at the optician anymore?” and my response of  “Only on a freelance basis and not in the building” has been very confusing for some people!

University of Chichester GraduationSo today, I am sharing my story on why I have made a leap of faith and become a freelance web and digital marketing consultant. I will also be discussing how I have used Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree programme to change my life and become a digital nomad.

I grew up in Upperton in West Sussex (don’t worry, no one else has heard of it either!) and in 2011 I moved to Chichester to go to university. I graduated with a degree in History. Honestly, it did absolutely nothing for my career. I had worked in a boutique optician since my pre-graduation days and everyone locally knew me as “The reception girl at Claudine’s” but this comfortable, customer facing persona was hiding my true potential and I couldn’t grow. For 5 years I balanced admin, reception and website and digital marketing duties. I learnt so much during my time, I loved the medical side of optics, the fashion side of eyewear and the opportunity to manage marketing for a local small business.

A sudden growth of customers left me with too many front facing duties to balance alone and a marketing strategy too large to abandon. This left me with a big, scary, career decision.

Speccy Media Career Decision Sign

I decided that too much hard work had gone into the marketing strategy to let it go, but to make it my full time gig, I would have to study as everything I knew was self taught. My natural skills were in reading, writing and researching and I already knew how to navigate the marketing webspace but making it more professional would need formal tuition.

I browsed various qualifications and applied for a marketing course at my local college. This course required me; to attend college, pay per module, sign up for membership and pay for exams. To qualify would take approximately 18 months depending how quickly I completed the course. The course also didn’t start until September. It was only April.

I was then recommended Udacity, an online university based in the US. The course focused on the digital marketing webspace that I already knew and skipped the print design elements that didn’t interest me. It was also super affordable. After a live webinar with the tutors, I enrolled and began studying the following week. Udacity teach via videos, quizzes, real time projects, offer mentoring and support forums. I can choose when I want to study, for how long and fit it around a busy life. I have almost finished my course now and it really has been great.

Speccy Media Digital Nomad MacBookUdacity has allowed me to change my career and I am now freelancing as a web and digital marketing consultant. Mostly, I manage social media accounts, improve (or build) clients websites, write content and create ads, basically doing all the techy stuff that business owners either don’t understand or don’t want to do!

My previous employer became my first client and their channels are flourishing more than ever with the skills I have learned from the DMND programme. More importantly I can focus solely on developing marketing channels without being caught up with “In House” duties. I work from home but go out regularly to meet clients old and new. It totally beats the busy shop environment! Now, I can work anywhere, anytime, providing there is wifi of course, sadly camping in the Sahara might not cut it! For anyone stuck and not fulfilling their true potential, step away from that desk! Take the leap of faith. It is terrifying but there are a whole community of friendly digital nomads out there who are happy to help.

I am always accepting any new clients. Whilst I have specialised in the optical field, my skills are 100% transferable to any business. As always, word of mouth remains the best form of networking. Any referrals will be rewarded with coffee and cake!

Thank you for reading my first blog, I hope to share many more of my adventures with you.