“My gut was telling me that it was time to leave.”

Image of Daisy Cartlidge Brown
From Charity to Social Media

Daisy Cartlidge Brown enjoyed her work. But when her priorities changed, she knew it was time to make a move. Here's how she transitioned to a career that fits flexibly around her family life, and learned that earning well doesn't have to come with a hefty commute.

What work were you doing previously?

I worked at a large UK charity in London in their partnerships team.

I'd worked my way up from Corporate Fundraising Assistant to Partnerships Manager, looking after the charity's biggest multi-million partnership.

What are you doing now?

I'm a freelance social media manager and strategist.

How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change?

I loved my eight years at the charity and was surrounded by a fantastic team who made the job so much fun.

I got involved in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and it was very fulfilling, but by the time I was wrapping up to go on my maternity leave, I felt the need for a change.

Why did you change?

There were numerous reasons to be honest.

We'd moved away from London during my maternity leave to be closer to family; although my husband still works in the city, it was going to be time consuming and expensive for me to also commute. I looked at returning to the job on a three-day-a-week basis with one day working from home, but it just wasn't going to work for either the charity or me. So, I decided that it was the best time to leave and to try something new that would be more flexible around my baby girl.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

A few weeks before I was due to return my job.

My gut was telling me that it was time to leave and I felt so excited at the thought of working for myself. It felt really right.

How did you choose your new career?

During my maternity leave I started helping my mum with her floristry business by running her Facebook page and blog.

I also taught my dad how to use Instagram for his design business and updated the blog and Facebook for our local village pub whilst it was going through renovations.

I've always had a passion for social media – I have my own personal blog and I'm addicted to Instagram – but didn't know whether I could make the move to do it professionally. After doing these pieces of work during my maternity leave I saw the difference that it made and it gave me so much confidence.

I was also keen to do something which used the knowledge I've gained in my career so far. In my previous charity job I worked on large marketing campaigns and so have a lot of understanding in this area, which is so useful for social media management.

Are you happy with the change?

It's early days (I only set up as a sole trader a few months ago), but so far, I'm loving it.

I'm working flexibly around my baby girl; it gives me a great balance of looking after her, and also feeling fulfilled by work. I have a renewed motivation for working, which I think is because I'm working for myself.

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

I feel like I'm in the honeymoon period at the moment – it's all very new and so I'm not missing much about my previous job!

I guess the biggest thing is the social aspect – I used to love catching up with colleagues and working in a team. Then again, my priorities have changed so much that this doesn't feel as important to me anymore.

I think I will miss having set holidays, as I know that I'll find it hard to take proper time off, and being paid for sick days.

I also miss my full-time salary!

I don't miss the commute, or battling with internal politics to get things done. I also don't miss the 9–5 routine. Working flexibly is so much easier for me now I have a baby.

How did you go about making the shift?

It was agreed that I wouldn't return to my current job a few weeks before my maternity leave ended, which gave me time to properly start looking at going freelance and getting myself set up.

My head had mentally moved into that space through doing work for my parents' businesses, so I felt ready to make the move.

At the time I was keeping my options open and also looking at other part-time jobs, but by chance, my husband saw that a local company was looking for someone to run their social media. I went for a meeting with them, we got on well and I sent them a proposal. After a week of waiting they came back to say they were happy to get started.

It all fell into place very quickly.

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I managed my maternity pay so that I was bringing in money every month up until the end of my year off, which helped a lot towards the end.

Luckily my first client was secured quickly, and so it's now just a case of getting used to a part-time salary, which my husband and I were planning for anyway.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Moving out of my comfort zone from a job I knew very well to a whole new career.

Luckily, because I was on maternity leave, I'd created distance between myself and my job, so it didn't feel as scary making the move. If I'd have been working full-time and trying to change my career I think it would have been a very different story.

There's also a lot to learn with working for yourself and running your own business!

What help did you get?

Support from my family has been invaluable, especially as my parents work for themselves too.

I've also had a huge amount of help from Facebook Groups – my favourites are the Social Media Managers Hub, Being Freelance and the Doing it for the Kids community. They're filled with good advice and are a great space to ask questions.

What resources would you recommend to others?

I purchased the Social Media Manager's Tool Kit last week, which was created by Laura Moore and Laura Davis. It's packed full of resources and is so helpful.

I've read some good books too – The Freelance Mum, by Annie Ridout; The Successful Mumpreneur by Debbie Gilbert; and The Working Woman's Handbook, by Phoebe Lovatt.

What have you learnt in the process?

So much about running my own business, and also how many people are freelancing and working flexibly!

In my 9–5 job I got caught up in that world; it's been eye opening to find that I don't have to be tied to that lifestyle. I can still earn good money without doing the daily commute and working five days a week.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

Read books and join Facebook groups – they're so inspiring and really give you the confidence to give it a go.

They also have so much practical advice, which is important when you're setting up on your own.

To find out more about Daisy's services, visit www.daisycartlidgebrown.com.

What lessons could you take from Daisy's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.