Fifteen years ago, Katie Stokes’ job didn’t exist. Social media has changed the landscape of our lives and has dramatically shifted the world of marketing and public relations.
We sat down with Katie, the owner of Blab Media to discuss the realm of Professional Occupations in Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations and how she makes it work as a young entrepreneur in Windsor.
Katie was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. She studied advertising at St. Clair College before starting a career in marketing and creating her own business with her colleague.
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We met with Katie at her remote office at Cafe March 21st to discuss her work:
What do you do?
All kinds of magical things: social media strategy, workshops, training. I help businesses get social online so I maintain their social platforms. I do blog writing and content creation for the web.
How did you get started?
Quite a few years ago, I got a job working as a marketing assistant in Windsor after I graduated from St. Clair College’s advertising program. I was working for a company that didn’t care that much about social media and did not think that they were suited for it. I worked alongside someone who ended up becoming my business partner with Blab and we convinced them that social media was important and that they should explore it.
After we finished doing that, every so often, we would meet up on our lunch break and chat about how fun that was and how we could probably do this on our own and charge money for it. We would hash out ideas about what we would do for a business, if we were to start it.
When my contract ended, I went out and started working on a business plan while my partner at the time, kept her job. By the time we had it all figured out, she was able to quit her job and were started Blab.
What kind of companies do you represent?
The industries range a lot. It’s anyone from an artist or maker who works out of their own home, all the way up to multi-million dollar businesses that have marketing departments but need support.
We do everything from big to small: green houses, beauty products and businesses, individual event marketing and promotion, dental, real estate, etc.,.
What does an average day look like?
My day consists of scheduling content, curating content or sourcing it online, working on strategy documents for clients, creating training schedules and programs for clients, writing content for blogs (including my own). I also have to make sure I’m not forgetting my own work in the midst of all the client work.
Where do you work everyday?
I work from home. I also work part-time at Imaginative Group, where I do the same thing for their clients. My day to day is fairly structured. Working from home can be difficult because if you don’t stay on task, it’s very easy to accidentally watch the Food Network for 6 hours and not get anything accomplished.
I work from a lot of lists and use a lot of apps to help keep me on track with tasks. I use a lot of software for scheduling and create content so that way I always have actionable steps I need to take.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of your job?
The best part of my job is all the cool businesses I get to interact with and all the people I’ve met over the last seven years. I’ve made a lot of friends and connections. I’ve learned so much about our community by being so involved and working with these businesses.
The most difficult part depends on the stage of your business. I think being able to be confident with what you’re providing to clients and being able to sell that can sometimes be difficult. As social media becomes more popular, it becomes less difficult to do that. It’s hard to break through that old school boys club mentality of marketing and have your voice heard as a young female entrepreneur. It’s important to find the balance and figure out how to sell your product without being pushy or coming off in the wrong way.
Finding a work-life balance is hard too. Social media is ridiculous and it never ends. I get alerts on my phone at all times of the day or night. There are times where I have to make a choice and say to myself, that’s it, I’m not doing any more. Am I going to do more? Where do I draw the line? I always have things coming in and sometimes it’s hard to separate myself.
What did you learn from your college program?
The actual marketing tactics and strategies behind social media is what I pulled from my program. I learned how to compose strategy, evaluate risks and look at opportunities.
I was told when I graduated that I would never find a job here and that I should leave for Toronto. I’m super stubborn and an Aries, so I said no, I’m staying here. I then found a job and created my own opportunities. All that motivated me to know that I could do this and find a way.
What’s your favourite app right now?
I really like Adobe Spark. It’s very similar to Canva but I find the functionalities a little easier to use. I recommend that to a lot of clients looking to create content, especially for Instagram.
What’s your favourite social media platform?
My favourite is Instagram — for personal and business use. I am able to develop a lot of relationships on Instagram with businesses. I am able to have private conversations with them and reach out to businesses, influencers, and people I want to connect with. There are much less limits than there are on Facebook. Instagram is a lot more relaxed, fun, colourful, and bright than Twitter. That suits my personality.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Make sure you are always learning and growing. Every single day there is something new happening. I wake up and see the “new” bubble in the Instagram Story and I think, “oh boy, what now?” It never ends. Or, I’ll open up Facebook Ads Manager and surprise! Everything has changed and there all these new functions. There is so much changing, so if you’re interested in the industry, it’s important that you stay current.
I would seek out a mentor. It’s important to find someone you can talk to, learn more about the industry, and find out what your job is actually going to entail. It’s not just sitting there and talking to people online; it’s understanding how to create content, where to find it, how to schedule it, and why it’s important to engage. There are so many more pieces to the puzzle.
Also drink lots of coffee.