Talking social media and self-employment with Corrie Jones

I recently caught up with Corrie Jones, who founded and runs her own social media consultancy business. Corrie and I met at university, where we both volunteered with charity societies. I’ve loved seeing Corrie’s career develop since then, so I thought she would be a great addition to this interview series. Enjoy!

Molly: What led you to work in social media marketing?

Corrie: I started working with social media as the Publicity and Recruitment Officer for Southampton’s RAG society. I didn’t see it as social media marketing at the time, but I gained a lot of experience in my final year of university. During my first job interview, I was asked about my social media marketing experience. I realised I had plenty to talk about! Soon after I got the job, the person running the university’s social media left and I took it on.

Molly: Volunteering can be a great way to initially develop those skills. Which social media platform is your favourite? Why?

Corrie: This changes depending on my mood. Overall I would say that Instagram is my favourite. I’m a visual person, so I enjoy seeing and creating images, especially pretty travel photos! Instagram does have a fake side, but if you don’t assume that people’s lives are exactly as they are presented, it can be positive. From a client perspective, Instagram has a good engagement rate. You can do a lot with Stories.

Molly: Yes, it can be a positive space. I think we need to be mindful of how we’re using social media and engaging digitally. How do you switch off when your work requires you to be so connected?

Corrie: I 100% agree. I like to find activities that provide relaxing time away from screens. Rather than watching TV after a day spent working on social media, try painting, yoga, getting your nails done, or whatever helps you to step away for a while. I try to be mindful of how I’m using my phone. If you’re at dinner and one person gets their phone out, most people join in. It happens when we feel lonely or need something to look at. Think about how you feel after using it – do you feel more connected to friends, or does it make you feel rubbish, like everyone’s lives are better than yours? If you feel worse, you might need to adjust your habits. Another rule I follow is ‘Don’t look at social media whilst you’re in pyjamas’. It means I don’t spend the first 30 minutes of the day looking at other people’s lives or the last 30 minutes delaying sleep.

Molly: That’s great advice. I might not be able to follow the pyjama rule in the winter…

Corrie: That’s when phone settings are useful! I limit my notifications and use ‘Do not disturb’ mode between 11pm and 8am. It means I check in with social media when I want to.

Molly: Yes, I switched off all social media notifications a few months ago and now I use those platforms more intentionally. What has (or hasn’t) surprised you about running your own business?

Corrie: What has surprised me most is how much I have to do and think about. I knew I wanted to do social media marketing work with clients, so I focused on that. I didn’t think much about the other tasks. Running your own business means wearing all the hats. You have to switch between managing finances, contacts, marketing and onboarding new clients. This requires a wide skillset or the patience to upskill in those areas. It’s helpful to be level-minded and avoid feeling stressed about all the responsibilities. Another surprise has been how fun I find it. It can be stressful, but it’s great to work with loads of different clients. I’m glad I’m finding it enjoyable early on.

Molly: That sounds challenging but satisfying. Are there any projects you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of? If so, why are they significant?

Corrie: I’m proud to be working with the Institute of Imagination, a charity based in London. They identified that today’s children aren’t using their imaginations as much as in previous generations. The Institute is trying to make playtime physical and engaging – not just clicking on the next YouTube video. They run a space called the Imagination Lab and events, so I’m supporting them with social media and wider marketing. It’s great to work in the charity sector, with passionate people focused on a cause. It feels very relevant at the moment, as digital is expanding and we don’t really know what skills children will need in the future. Imagination and creativity are proving more useful than traditional rote learning.

Molly: That’s an exciting project. I hope it goes well! I’m sure your schedule varies, but what might a typical working day look like for you?

Corrie: My days do vary. At the moment, I spend 3 days a week working in clients’ offices, including coworking spaces, and 2 days a week at home. It’s nice to have both. Days at home can mean engaging less with people, so I enjoy collaborating with teams in an office environment. I catch up with my business tasks during evenings.

Molly: How are you finding working in the evenings alongside busy days? Are you managing to have time for yourself?

Corrie: It’s definitely difficult. I find that when I make plans, I’m still thinking about work. I need to be mindful of doing things that relax me, but I’m aware that I’m in year one of my business and I need to focus on that. I’m enjoying it, so I don’t mind much.

Molly: What advice would you give to other people considering a freelance career?

Corrie: Think carefully about what you want to do – which area of freelancing you want to work in – and really have passion in that area. If you want to learn related skills and you already have experience, it’s so much easier to find clients. I also suggest developing a supportive community early on. Attend networking events for freelancers and join Facebook groups. Freelancing is very different from a 9-5 job, so it’s good to share ideas and problems with people who understand.

Molly: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since beginning your career?

Corrie: Don’t let other people derail you from what you want to do. I’ve experienced this in two forms. The first strand of people say, ‘You’re only 22 and you’re doing so well at what you’ve put your mind to’. This can create a false sense of security and assumptions about what you need to do at a certain age. Other people say, ‘You’re 24 and you haven’t done this yet’. It’s best not to compare, especially when it comes to age. Avoid distractions and focus on doing what you love.

Molly: I’m sure people will appreciate your encouragement. Do you have any role models or people whose approaches to work and life you admire? If so, why do you admire them?

Corrie: I admire Gary Vaynerchuk, the marketing expert. I saw him speak at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last year. It was more like a concert than a conference, with people applauding and taking selfies. I really liked what he said about not complaining – we are so lucky to have been born as humans in this time. It’s great to see someone so busy and successful taking a positive approach.

Molly: What’s inspiring you at the moment?

Corrie: I moved at the weekend, so sorting through stuff and having space for my work things is inspiring me. I’m enjoying colour coding my notebooks and business books on shelves. There’s still a massive pile of rubbish in my room though! A lot of people say to me, ‘How do you work from home and not watch TV all the time?’ I tell them that I wouldn’t be able to eat if I did that! Having tidy surroundings helps. Your workspace can make a huge difference to your productivity and wellbeing.

Molly: I agree! What are you looking forward to?

Corrie: Continuing projects I’m passionate about and working with clients. The next few months seem exciting but uncertain, because I could take on new projects. I’m looking forward to the unknown and adjusting to the fact that I can’t plan as far in advance as I would like to.

Molly: I understand that feeling. Life could look very different in two months or two years, so it’s usually not helpful to worry about the details.

Corrie: I do believe that things fall into place when the time is right. It can be easy to stress about not having achieved everything you wanted to on a particular day, but you’ll probably look back in a year and see how far you’ve come.

End of interview.

To learn more about Corrie and her work, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Corrie Jones' headshot.

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