When you see someone successful it’s easy to think that its all come effortlessly to them. Why is this so? When that’s rarely the case, especially with professional women. In this series I hope to explore the professional realms of different working women, how they’ve got to where they are today, and what nuggets of wisdom we can be empowered by moving forward with our own careers.
This is a monthly catalogue of question and answer interviews, called the Working Woman Series. I hope you enjoy reading these pieces, as much as I enjoyed interviewing these inspiring women.
This month’s installment of the Working Woman Series comes from local blogger, bridal MUA, and business-boss Emma Campbell, more widely known by her alias ‘What Emma Did’. A bit of a busy lady to say the least; Emma’s main job is running WhatEmmaDid.com, which hosts content from beauty, to fashion, to reviews of Manchester’s food & drinks scene. The blog is supported by Emma’s social media status. Boasting a following of over 23k, and that’s only on Instagram. Emma has been blogging in Manchester now for just over 8 years, firmly cementing her steak in the Manchester’s social scene.
Recently leaving her job in beauty PR to pursue writing full time, Emma is now acting Lifestyle Editor at Lovin’ Manchester where she gets to use her social influencer status to bring her audience the latest happenings and hotspots in Manchester. For those of you who didn’t know (including me before I wrote this piece!) Lovin’ Manchester has over 450K likes on Facebook, and their following grows everyday.
2018 is set to be one hell of a year for Emma Campbell, and I got to sit down with her to discuss all things in the pipeline for her, her businesses and what gems of wisdom she’d love to share that she wish she new when she was starting out.
1. Having a career, and running two businesses must be manic; what strategies (if any) do you put in place to manage your workloads?
I wish I had the right answer to this and I could probably do with improving how I manage them all a little better, but one thing I find I do have to do is I have to just stick to a list and put everything down to a paper diary. Even though a lot of my career is digital, running the blog and working at Lovin’, I do have to have everything in an old fashioned paper diary. So everyday I will do a to-list and I’ll prioritise everything I need to do that day, but I’ll list things in order of priority, so the most important stuff goes to the top, and then as I’m getting through the tasks I’ll cross them off throughout the day. A big tip for me would be don’t add to your list, always set goals to finish your list and then start a new to-do list for the next day, to avoid feeling guilt about never finishing lists. Honestly the only way I get by at the moment is sticking to those lists!
I wish I could say I implement a cut off time to stop working but at the moment I don’t really, I work right through, which I know is really bad. Now I’m freelance again I’m hoping I’ll be able to schedule time slots for everything I do whether it be Lovin’ or the blog and then evenings will be for make-up bookings and then hopefully by 10pm I can just relax, and stop checking my emails from bed at night.
2. What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
So it’s probably not career advice but I remember about 8 years ago I went to a Harvey Nichols show, I hadn’t been blogging long and it was one of my very first events. An artist who had collaborated with Harvey Nichols was there and I asked her this same question and she said to me always “feel the fear, but do it anyway”. I think when I’m in situation when I’m really scared to take on a certain job for the blog or when I was taking make-up bookings for the first time, especially large parties, I think back to that piece of advice and I think “Okay well I’m really scared, but I’m just going to do it!” I also always like to try and imagine the worst case scenario for a situation, whether that be work or even in life, and half the time they’re not really as scary as you’d of imagined and there’s always a way to overcome an obstacle. If you can handle the worst case scenario, what’s stopping you? I always like to go for it anyway, despite my reservations.
3. What keeps you driven, when things feel stagnant or flat?
Again, this is something I need to improve on too, I need to try and find that thing that encourages me and picks me up when I’m feeling flat. But I find that if I’m having a really quiet week, or not a lot of new commissions have come in, or I might be feeling like something I’ve done isn’t quite good enough. The way I always try and pick myself up is by speaking to other creatives in a similar field to me, that have encouraging words that help keep me going and help me feel inspired. I’m terrible at beating myself up and feeling like I’ve failed at something, especially if I receive any criticism or negative feedback I always end up in that spiral of “what am I doing with my life?” and a bad day can end up a bad week. But once I’ve spoken to another blogger or even a friend who then revitalises that positivity in myself I’m straight back on it. Try to embrace those feelings of negativity and failure, communicate with your peers and don’t be afraid of opening up to share.
4. How do you respond to and get over negative criticism?
It’s a tough one, because I think I am one of these people who takes such pride in their work, like any creative, and if I do get anything negative fed back to me I do often take it to heart. I only ever give myself 24 hours to dwell on an issue or something that’s troubled me, because it’s good to feel how you’re feeling, don’t deny it. If you shut off those feelings and deprive yourself of that emotion it’s only going to come back 2 weeks or 2 months later and hit you harder and stronger then it did before. Accepting negativity is just part of being freelance, and its such a small part too, but it’s so easy to remember the negatives and forget the positives. I just have to in my mind try and focus on the positives, and that’s what keeps me going. It’s life and it happens to everyone, but we’ve got to remember to speak about it and accept how we’re feeling because it’s totally okay.
5. What’s your on-the-go snack for when you’re out and about on a busy day?
I’d love to say I’m healthy, but that isn’t always the case! I used to be so healthy and now not as much. It’s not so much a snack but I drink a lot of coffee, not even like an Americano, but the Lattes and Cappuccinos, the unhealthy ones full of milk. But I find if I’m out and about and I’m starving, instead of gorging on chocolate I always opt for a coffee as it’s a drink it lasts and the milk fills me up a bit longer than a snack would. Other than that, I’m not a big fan of junk-food snacking when I’m really busy, so I always try to have something like cashew nuts or cereal bars to hand. I’m quite a carb-focused snacker and I find they really fill me up, whereas fruit and veg just doesn’t do the job for me. I always try and fill up on my 5 day at meal times instead. Cereal bar and a latte are just what I grab when I’m busy.
6. Do you feel there is inequality in your industry in 2018? If so, what can be done to inspire young people to break this?
I have to say I do feel like there is inequality for women in 2018, especially in my industry, but not only that just in life in general. I think it’s more women compare themselves to each other and don’t feel good enough compared to someone else. There’s this need to compare against those who have done really well in life and in their careers. It makes some people feel like they’ll never get there or achieve what others have. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to other successful people in our industries as that’s no way to live your life. If you look at someone who’s really successful, been in their industry for years compared to someone who’s just starting out, you both put the same amount of time and energy into things it just might mean on paper you have got quite the same results yet, but you’re still just as hardworking as that other person.
We all just need to help and celebrate each other more. Women need to stop bringing down other women, and we should all celebrate and empower each other.
7. What are three things in your work arsenal that you just couldn’t live without?
Boring, but my essentials are:
1. My Diary – as I mentioned before, I’ve always got to have my paper diary to hand, and I’m dead fussy as it’s got to be kept really nice and premium looking, so I’ll always look forward to opening it.
2. My Phone – unfortunately, I am glued to it.
3. My Laptop – Mainly because I do everything on it. For my 30th I got an iPad and I thought this was a genius idea as it would stop me carrying my bulky laptop around but it didn’t! I just need my laptop with me wherever I go, there’s nothing like setting up somewhere and being able to type properly. Even right down to my social media scheduling – I do it all on *Hootsuite, from my Laptop.
8. If someone was looking to start their own business or launch a new idea what would be your best piece of advice for them? Based on your own success.
This is probably a boring and sensible one but I do think you do need that sensible voice every now and then. “Always make sure you have a back-up plan or a Plan B” before you properly go into whatever it is you want to do. I only say that as I know how it can feel. I did quit my full time job about 4-5 years ago now to go full time with my blog and at that time I just bought my house, and I had a car on finance, and savings to think about. I just panicked, “what if I have a quiet month?” I thought, and I decided I just can’t do it.
Now I’m just in a very different place than I was those years ago, I’m in a much better financial situation. It’s so easy to big yourself up like “you go girl, you can do this!” and the girl-boss motivation is great, but at the end of the day if you’re not financially secure incase anything does go wrong then it’s not ideal. Don’t let finance stand in your way, just make sure you’ve got that safety net to catch you, if needs be.
9. What is your favourite Instagram account? Why?
There’s an influencer called Kristy Green (@kristyjgreen), and she’s not so much a blogger, she’s just primarily a social influencer. I’m not sure if she was trained in beauty originally but she’s just a major influencer now. She really inspires me because her life is absolute goals. I was in awe of her when I found out her Instagram isn’t affiliated to any website or blog. She’s created this incredible career off the back of her social media and to me that is incredible. Her Instagram is huge, she has a mega following, but her content is amazing and she works incredibly hard, but she inspires me to think that if Christy did it, I can do it too.
Then other then that, of course Victoria (@inthefrow). Quite a standard one that I am sure everyone says, but as she’s grown up here in Manchester to me she’s just a normal girl who’s worked her backside off to be where she is today. She inspires me everyday to reach my goals.
10. Who is your career icon? Who inspires you?
I’d say the women who I meet everyday, or who I meet in the blogging world either on social media, online or at events, they are the women who inspire me the most. Basically anybody who is doing what they love everyday, who doesn’t do it for the money but for the love of it. Those women who are so passionate about what they do, it’s the first thing they think about when they jump out of bed every morning, those are the women who inspire me. Hat’s off to those women who do it everyday, that’s exactly what we should all be striving to do.
All portraits of Emma were taken by yours truly, and are copyright of Georgie Glass 2018.