29 April 2021

Emma-Jane Stogdon

Emma-Jane is a freelance copywriter, an award-winning filmmaker with Cheesemint Productions and a digital content marketer for award-winning marketing consultancy, Murray Dare Marketing Consultancy. In her spare time - when she has any - she enjoys video games, board games, reading in coffee shops and taking long walks. 

Show, Don’t Tell: Why I Love My Portfolio Career Journey 

The thing about portfolios is that they’re not one-size-fits-all. Even more than that, a portfolio is a perpetual work in progress. A bit like me.  
In fact, it’s only recently (a mere 13 years after graduating from UEA) that I’ve come to realise that I was never cut out for an ordinary career path.
I followed my passions and interests to where I am today.  

Retail, With A Side Of Writing 

I spent a large portion of my early career journey in retail - I didn’t make an active decision to do so, but it was a means to an end.   

A place to make just enough money to pay the rent while I pursued whatever took my fancy. For instance: 

• Freelance copywriting 

• A regular video games column on a pop culture website 

• Independent filmmaking for which I’ve won awards 

• Occasional and accidental acting 

• Website development 

• Podcasting 

• Assisting YouTubers with over a million subscribers to create content  

Hardly a waste of my time, I’m sure you’ll agree.  

Of all the things I’ve done, writing is the one constant. When I graduated, I sought writing opportunities everywhere. I would write about anything; from cloud computing and capybaras to video games and Venetian lace.  

Not to state the obvious, but I love writing. Ever since I first learned the alphabet. Forming those 26 letters into words and then arranging those words into sentences always felt magical to me. I would write stories in my spare time and assign myself extra homework at school. All because I love to write.  

Goodbye Retail, Hello Digital Marketing 

When I eventually left retail due to redundancy, I was tempted to become a full-time freelance writer. I almost did, but I was too anxious. I knew I could do it but the idea of no fixed monthly income was too much for my naturally risk averse self to handle. I also knew that full-time writing jobs were scarce. But I carried on writing alongside figuring out my next steps.  

So, I thought long and hard about the skill-set I’d created and carved out for myself over the years. The philosophy graduate and art school drop-out hybrid that I am, I lie somewhere between creative and analytical.  Then I realised that digital marketing combined a lot of the things I was interested in. It’s simultaneously creative and analytical. Not to mention, marketing is about people. It encompasses human sociology, anthropology, psychology and philosophy.   

As a result, I threw myself into learning all that I could. I enrolled on every single online marketing course I could find and I studied up on Google Analytics.  
I landed my first marketing job in my 30s - but I don’t regret it for a minute. My first marketing role was as a Marketing Executive for an international sportswear company. Now, I’m the Content Manager for Murray Dare Marketing Consultancy, a small award-winning marketing consultancy.   

I’ve enjoy every minute of it, even when I’m stressed and managing multiple projects.Marketing is a challenging sector but for the right people, that challenge can be thrilling.  

Why I Continue To Write When I Don’t Have To 

So, why do I still pursue my freelance writing? Why haven’t I abandoned my freelance writing contracts to focus solely on marketing? Well, for one, both are closely entwined.   

Secondly, it will come as no surprise to you by now, that I adore writing. While I am a Content Manager and I do occasionally write content for clients, the majority of my role focuses on editing, managing, and planning content.   

I continue writing because I want to and because it keeps my skills sharp. I use the additional income solely on charity or personal development; donating to causes I care about, buying new courses, new books and expanding my knowledge.  

The Virtues Of A Non-Linear Career Path

Having a portfolio career like mine, especially one that doesn’t follow any particular pattern, may not suit everyone.  

But if you’re reading this, and you’re unsure whether to pursue multiple endeavours or not, I heartily implore you to give it a go. You’ll show future employers that you have versatility and enthusiasm. Plus, you’ll have the skill-set they’re looking for and then some.  

A non-linear or portfolio career path can lead you in directions you’d previously never considered. It can spark passions and interests, introduce you to new people, new ideas and exciting opportunities.  

So take every opportunity and let every experience lead you. Explore and experiment. And if you don’t end up where you expect, you can always change course. We’re not meant to live for our work, it’s meant to work for us. 


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