Makers Gonna Make

A New Adventure in my Career

Posted on Oct 16, 2017 in Career, Direct Marketing, Marketing |

Since 2008, I’ve been fortunate enough to work in Performance Marketing at a variety of positions, and to work at home for most of those.  I’ve been an affiliate manager and, for a time with FMTC, I was running all the sales, marketing, customer service, and social media.  It’s been an exciting adventure, that’s for sure.  For the last 18 months or so, I have been working on starting my own marketing agency, Blinkstar Media.  The time has come, however, to put that on hold for awhile and start a new adventure working in direct marketing, going back to commuting to an office every day.  

1st Day at BDMWhy the Change?

Unfortunately, we all know how important it is to make a living and pay your bills.  A Time article from April 2016 lists Oakland, CA as the 4th most expensive city in the US to live in.  I’ll be honest – I live just outside of Oakland, and the struggle is real.  I’m lucky enough that I rent this house from my Dad at a discount, that my brother lives with us and pays part of the rent, and that Dominic makes a good salary, but it was still not cutting it.  I fluctuated from 1-3 clients throughout those months and while I definitely enjoyed what I was doing, I did not enjoy the financial struggle.  In August, one of my clients gave me notice due to internal budget reasons, and at the end of August, the other client gave me notice due to taking the program in-house.  I was suddenly faced with making less money in September than I’d been making previously and then having potentially no income going forward, unless I could scrounge up at least 2 new clients ASAP.

Beside the financial struggle, my mental health was suffering as well.  There’s the stress from not making enough money, but that was eclipsed by the stress of not feeling like I could do this.  I felt disheartened when potential clients would seem like a sure thing, but ultimately pass, and not totally confident that I had something different to offer than other OPMs out there.  Because of my depression and self-esteem issues, it was a roller coaster all the time between feeling like I could rock this and feeling like there was no hope.  It started to take a toll on my friendships and marriage, because that “Can I even do ANYTHING right?!” feeling creeps into all aspects of your life.  It’s been said before that Depression Lies, and let me tell you, it definitely kicks you while you’re down.  So while I was trying to make this business work, I was distancing myself from friends and Dominic and I could feel the spiral and decided that, as much as I WANT to work from home, WANT to be my own boss, WANT to work in affiliate marketing, maybe right now isn’t the right time for me.  

So I started looking for a “regular job”.  I knew that I might have to go outside of affiliate marketing and that I would very likely have to go back to commuting to an office, but faced with the mental and financial hardships I’d been experiencing, I was willing to make that change.  I was also still looking for clients, knowing that I had about equal chance of selling myself to an employer as I had selling myself to new merchants to manage their programs.  What happened first, in the end, was being offered a position that I was interested in and I decided that would be the best course of action.

Where are you Working?

Boats at Marina Village in AlamedaI took a new position as the Social Media Associate at Bautista Direct Marketing, Inc.  I am in charge of running direct marketing for our main client on social media channels like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc.  The agency as a whole works with television, radio, podcasts, print, and lots of other forms of direct marketing.  In a lot of ways, the job of working with Social Media influencers is very similar to working with affiliates.  It’s also really different since they’re not paid for performance, but paid more traditionally on a CPM basis.  I’m adjusting both to working in a different marketing channel as well as collaborating more closely with a coworker on the same project, something I haven’t had to do for awhile managing programs independently.

There has been a lot to adapt to physically, too.  The office is in my home town of Alameda, which translates to about a 30 minute commute due to traffic.  The hours are a lot earlier than I was previously used to working.  The office itself is upstairs in a turn-of-the-century building, so I’m getting more movement in having to go up & down stairs every day than I was in my single-level house.  The staff is small – just 4 other people, 2 of which are part-time and my office mate who works from home 2 days per week.  So it’s definitely different having to talk to people every day again, but we’re all fairly independent so it’s not overwhelming at all.  Luckily, a new professional wardrobe is NOT something that I’ve had to get used to as it’s a casual office, so I’m very happy to still be comfortable in my jeans & t-shirt lifestyle!

How is it Going?

It’s going well.  My first week, they flew me to Las Vegas for a day to meet with the client and some other vendors they work with.  The timing of their annual fall meetings at a conference worked out well with the timing of hiring me.  It was great to meet them and get a sense of their personalities.  There were no expectations yet, so being there to just listen and learn was really helpful.  I was able to take the rest of my first week kind of sliding slowly into my role, getting to know how they were managing this campaign already, what they’ve done in the past, and getting used to a new workflow.  By that Friday, I jumped in and started actually contacting people!  I’ve been there two weeks now and I’ve settled into a routine in my day, planned out a solid workflow with my  coworker, and will be thrown a new channel next week to work on.  

Pixel Lap SnoozeOn the home front, Pixel has adjusted far better than I’d expected.  Dominic works from home 1-2 days per week usually, so she’s not in her living room kennel all day, every day.  He also gets off work 2 hours before I do, so she’s not in there more than about 6 hours.  In the last two weeks there has only been 1 day where I put her in the kennel in the morning and then I took her out of the kennel in the evening.  The first week, I was SUPER tired when I got home, because I was just not used to the earlier hours, the drive time, the stairs, the effort to be around people, everything.  But this week has been more normal, settling into coming home, relaxing awhile, making dinner, and relaxing more.  Pixel hasn’t acted out in any obvious way, nor has she had more than 1 accident in her living room kennel being in there longer than she was used to.  Based on how early I woke up both days this weekend, I’d say my body is adjusting better than I’d expected to an earlier schedule, too.

Is it Permanent?

I don’t know.  It’s hard to say whether I’ll fall in love with Direct Marketing and stick with it going forward, or if the pull of affiliate marketing will still be there.  I spent 10 years in affiliate marketing, and I’m so grateful for all the people I met, all the friends and colleagues I’ve met, and all the good times I’ve had with them working and playing.  I’ve already been asked to look at some affiliate marketing crossover projects, so there’s a chance these two adventures will become one, big, marketing adventure.  I just don’t know.  I don’t plan on going to Affiliate Summit West 2018, which will be the first ASW I’ve missed in 10 years.  I’ll be honest, that kinda hurts.  For now, I’m going with the flow and working on improving my situation financially now that I have a steady income again and building from there.  

The only constant in life is change, and as someone who generally doesn’t care for change, I’m still nervous about this one.  But like anyone else, I can only hope for the best.