Long time no see, friend! I’ve been mostly MIA on Cubicle Chic this month. It’s because we had moved towards the end of June but mostly, it’s because I started a new job. It’s been an extremely busy first month filled with learning the ropes, getting to know the company and the team, and all that good stuff. If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know I haven’t stopped griping about how this job has taken over my life. Cubicle Chic, as my side hustle, has taken the back seat. Ironically, this side hustle was the very reason I was able to land this new job in the first place. With 2 years of blogging under my belt, I’ve officially ventured into the social media space in a professional capacity!! How did I do it, you ask?
Career Foundation of Marketing in Biotech
I built the foundation of my marketing career in the first 6 years of my professional life. Coming out of school, it made sense that I landed a job in marketing in the biotech industry as I had a degree in biology and another one in psychology. In those years, I learned the foundation of marketing principles and learned the operational logistics of marketing campaigns. I worked under and with professionals from all aspects of marketing like communications, analytics, product marketing, digital marketing, event management, and eCommerce. Somewhere along the 6 years, I became a confident marketer and an expert at navigating the biotech business landscape. I knew I was doing something right as I was highly sought after as a job candidate having gotten 8 job offers in those 6 years.
The Birth of Cubicle Chic
Two years ago in July I decided to publish my first ever post on Cubicle Chic. When people ask me why I started a blog, I try to recall what I was thinking when I was figuring out how to build a blog. “I knew something was missing in my career”…..well, that’s what all entrepreneurs say, right? For me, I didn’t necessarily think anything was missing. I was simply bored. I had mastered most aspects of my job and things got to a bit of a lull. What I knew was that I love to write and tell stories, and I always wanted a resource for corporate work fashion and career advice all in one place. Additionally, in my work experience, I had learned to craft emails subject lines that get clicked, write web content with SEO in mind, how Google PPC works and the list goes on. I desperately wanted to test out this knowledge outside of work. So finally rounded up all the resources (blogging platform, photographer, outfits, and well, time to write which I had plenty at the time) and started Cubicle Chic in July 2015.
How I Went From Marketing to Social Media
Fast forward to 2 years later, I was again at a crossroad. I could continue on the same path of biotech marketing, which was probably going to be the easier and more obvious direction. Alternatively, I could go down a different path, leveraging the 2 years I spent blogging, creating regular content, growing my social media presence, and cultivating the Cubicle Chic brand. In my heart, I wanted to explore a new career path in social media and put all the new skills I learned to test. So when an opportunity presented itself, and I embraced it with arms wide open. Looking back, here are 5 principles I stuck to that helped evolve a side hustle into a change in career path:
1. Treat your side hustle with the same respect and professionalism as with your job
They say dress for the job you want, not the one you have. The message here is that if you elevate your thinking, reality conforms. Similarly, treat the side hustle as if it’s your full-time job and your livelihood depended on it. I’ve always approached my blog as a business, even though I have only recently started to earn some income from it (definitely not profitable yet). A business needs a clear and concise mission statement, a business goal, and a way to scale. So, I made sure Cubicle Chic has all of that. A business’s value is determined by measurable results and impact…and along the way, I made sure I am keeping track of Cubicle Chic’s growth and development so I can present Cubicle Chic with facts in its impact when I need to.
2. Learn the art of positioning
This is one of the most basic principles of marketing. Know the strengths of a service/product the exact unmet needs/pain points it’s meant to address, and find the audience that has these pain points and needs, and deliver the marketing message relentlessly. The key words here are strengths, pain points, and relentlessly. As I grew Cubicle Chic, I was very conscious of what strengths or skills I was developing; writing, content analytics, a little bit of graphic design, just to name a few. I was also conscious of what kind of market value these skills instilled in me. I positioned these strengths and skill relentlessly when the time was right, and got a potential employer interested enough to give me an offer.
3. Scale your operation by setting goals
As a blogger, my eyes are always on the prize that’s coming next. If I hit the 3,000 unique visitor mark, I ask myself “how many more months until I hit 5,000?” If I got a dream collaboration request, I ask myself “how do I turn it into a long-term relationship?” So by setting new goals every time I hit a milestone, I created a growth-oriented operation for Cubicle Chic. Along the same lines, I also allow myself to dream big. It doesn’t mean I start daydreaming about becoming a celebrity blogger while I binge on Game of Thrones and eat chips (That’s reserved for only Friday nights.) But I allow myself to see the possibility of explosive success and have this possibility baked into my vision. When I elevate my outlook on Cubicle Chic like this, inspiration and motivation ensue. And hopefully, one day, reality conforms.
4. Understand whether your hobby has a place in your professional network
One of my biggest dilemma for the first 18 months of the 2 years of Cubicle Chic’s existence, was whether or not to share this hobby with my professional network i.e. LinkedIn. Some close friends and co-workers knew about it, but it wasn’t part of my professional identity. I was Jessica the marketing gal, not Jessica the blogger. Not yet at least. I had a lot of encouragement to “take it public” but never felt completely at ease about the idea.
The first time I contemplated fusing Cubicle Chic into my professional brand was when The Financial Diet published my article on finding motivation during a long job search. That was the kind of validation I needed in order to go “public” with my blog. In hindsight, I am glad I waited despite encouragement from friends and professional contacts. You only have one shot at your first impression when meeting someone, and it’s the same thing with your blog. I’d much rather people find out about Cubicle Chic as a mature and well-established blog than a half baked experiment that was in its infancy. Don’t mix up your side hustle with your professional network before they are ready for each other.
5. Always. Be. Learning.
This is more of a life motto than a principle to stick with. It’s just a fact, so accept it. No growth comes from being stagnant or a dull and unstimulated mind. As a blogger, I learned how to improve my writing, how to better my photography and modeling. I spent countless hours studying how SEO works, how to write a better title for a blog post, how to get my Facebook posts to rank higher. Yes, I also sweated about my Instagram follower base like most other influencers. But because I know my educated mind as a blogger will carry me through the muddied and troubled water, issues like this don’t keep me up at night. My point is that knowledge gives you an edge over others, and combined with a proven track record, is a recipe for how you’re going to win in the end. By the way, if you’re a blogger, you need to listen to these two podcasts: Marketing School by Neil Patel and Eric Siu, and The Influencer Podcast by Julie Solomon.
So… I woke up super early on this Friday morning to finish and polish up this post. I’m going hit publish now and go get ready for work. The hustle continues and Happy Friday!!
All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse