Jen Leyden (Media Communications 2002) is the brain behind Socially Jen, a social media, personal assistance, and virtual assistance agency that helps non-profit organizations and small businesses with their marketing and administrative needs, sans the big-agency price.
“In this economy when companies are cutting costs, plenty of businesses are outsourcing their work,” she tells us. “In this digital age, I can do basically everything via phone, fax, email, and Skype.” Jen can create and manage social media platforms, run errands, plan events, or just about anything a company might need, as her website says, to “stay competitive, relevant, and keep its voice ‘heard’ among the crowd.”
Jen says she spends a fair amount of her work time networking and researching. In fact, researching is a critical part of her job. “Researching ideas and the competitors of clients is a huge component in this industry. There is always someone right behind you thinking bigger and better,” she says. “For this reason, I like to speak with my friends in the industry, artists, clients, and find out what inspires them. I am always looking for what puts a spark in our market, and can set my clients apart from their competitors.”
As a Webster School of Communications student, Jen says she never thought she’d have the courage to start her own business. “I knew I wanted to work in the marketing field, but [the idea of starting my own agency] was scary at first. I just kept walking through the fear.” Then, about a year ago, after having done much research, Jen hung a shingle and opened her doors for business. Since then, she has created and managed campaigns for authors, photographers, non-profits, and small businesses. She works on various levels and various projects, depending on her clients’ needs, including social media, event planning and execution, and public relations efforts.
Jen thinks it is important to have a nice working space in which one can stay organized and focused. Also, she says it is crucial to learn to budget both time and money when working for oneself. “It’s very easy to get lost in a day’s work, and before you know it, it’s time to wake up and start again.”
To stay current, Jen says a communications entrepreneur must keep up-to-date on different types of media, styles of writing, and perhaps most importantly, “always be open to new and exciting things.” To stay positive, she says she reminds herself and her employees to remember the nature of the work. “When you are expressing an idea to a company, whether it’s through graphics or writing, you are finding a way to speak through their voice. Sometimes the client will love what you have to say; other times, not so much. It is important to understand that everything is a process and that because we strive for the very best, it can be a little tough to take criticism. In any business you have to develop a little bit of a thick skin, and learn not to take that criticism personally.”
Jen works from her office in St. Louis. She hopes to expand Socially Jen into a nationally recognized name in marketing. We wish her continued success as she grows.