Knowledge sharing is caring…
During this blog series, we’ve tracked down some accomplished digital marketing professionals from a variety of backgrounds to talk us through their career journeys with the aim of inspiring digital marketing jobs seekers, aspiring freelancers and the trailblazing entrepreneurs amongst you!
This time, we’re talking to Stacey MacNaught.
Stacey is a Freelance SEO Consultant and Content Marketing expert. She runs MacNaught Digital, a compact consultancy just outside of Manchester with her husband and has been writing copy for businesses across the UK and Europe since 2006.
You might recognise her from a conference stage such as brightonSEO, MozCon or Learn Inbound as she is a regular speaker and a well-known name in our industry!
But where did it all begin for this digital marketer?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly? A Nun! I kid you not. When I was in (a Catholic) primary school I really wanted to be a Nun. The only Nuns I ever met just seemed to come to school and eat biscuits and I thought, “that looks like a good job.” But as I grew up, my ambitions changed somewhat. I wanted to be a film screenwriter.
What was your very first job?
I had a paper round at 13 and from 16 onwards, I spent the school holidays working as a picker and packer in a factory that was managed by my Auntie. From there I did bar work and worked in a bookies while studying. My first “proper” job (as in, not on the side but something I was doing full time) was freelance copywriting.
When & how did you first discover digital marketing / your specific industry sector?
When I was copywriting, I was increasingly being asked about SEO. I started to self-teach but realised there was a LOT to it. So, I went out in pursuit of a trainee role. In all honesty, I think I probably expected to do that for a year or two and then go back to copywriting. But I landed a trainee role at Tecmark, fell in love with SEO and stayed at that agency for 9 years progressing through various roles and ultimately ending up on the board.
Share a mistake you made or an event you most regret from your career?
I shouldn’t have pursued management. I was offered a lot of opportunity to progress when I was with Tecmark and I had an amazing support network. As is the case in most organisations, career progression ultimately meant doing more people management and less of the hands-on stuff I really loved. I’m not a natural people manager. I like mentoring, love supporting and guiding. But the “admin” side of people management and performance management, in particular, will never be something I enjoy. It worked out well as those promotions and enhanced exposure to other areas of running a business served me well since. And that career progression probably wouldn’t have been possible without taking that on. But I wish I’d realised earlier that this simply wasn’t for me and could have sat down and discussed that there to see what options existed. It may have just meant I’d have enjoyed that last year or two in that company a lot more.
Jumping in a time machine, what pearls of wisdom would you give your 18-year-old self?
Be kinder to yourself. I’ve always been my own harshest critic and struggle with imposter syndrome at times. Particularly when I was younger, this would cripple me and just stop me doing things I feared I wouldn’t do well.
What industry skill do you wish you’d learned sooner, and why?
It took me a while to get to grips with writing proposals. Fortunately, I had years of excellent training in my first SEO role with a Director whose background was in sales. I learnt some excellent theory and was able to put it into practice. It took a long time to feel confident with that, but it has been absolutely invaluable for me since setting up my own consultancy.
If you were to publish your autobiography in 20 years’ time, what would it be titled?
Still Winging It 🤣
What is the one thing you want to be remembered for from your career, and why?
I hope to be remembered for sharing. I got so much out of the community when I first started in SEO and learnt so much from other people that I do make a conscious effort to share things I learn with others too.
Thank you, Stacey, for sharing your career story with us. You can catch Stacey speaking at upcoming conferences including brightonSEO in September and SearchLove London in October of this year!
Keep an eye out for more in our ‘Making Of A Marketer’ series as we’ll be continuing to publish new editions on a regular basis from equally inspiring digital marketing experts.
Could your career story encourage others to further their digital marketing careers? Or do you know someone whose story needs to be told? Get in touch with me, Emma on email@example.com. And if you’re looking to explore a career in digital marketing, visit our contact page.