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How I Got Here: Adore Beauty’s Digital Content Manager on making the most of every role

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“If a role is going to help you develop skills you don’t have, or connect you with the people that will help to advance your career, take it.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


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Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way. This week, we hear from Joanna Fleming, Adore Beauty’s Digital Content Manager. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

I’m Adore Beauty’s Digital Content Manager, so I look after the organic content output on all of our offsite channels (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and podcasts). I also co-host our podcast, Beauty IQ Uncensored, as well as a segment on our YouTube channel called Skincare Nerds.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

Funny thing is, when I started my journalism degree, I had no intention of ending up where I am now. I saw myself being a news journalist, but quickly learnt after a brief placement at Channel 7 that the fast-paced environment of news wasn’t going to suit my overwhelming need to be pre-planned and organised. Getting back to the newsroom to do voiceovers just minutes before the piece was going live on TV gave me major anxiety!

Coincidentally, I’d taken a part-time administration job at a cosmetic clinic just prior to starting my degree, and quickly developed a very keen interest in skin and aesthetics. I had wonderful colleagues who taught me a lot, and I stayed at that job for two years before moving to Adelaide, where I finished my degree and worked with a cosmetic surgeon there. When I returned to Melbourne a year later, I landed a marketing position with a group of plastic surgeons and developed more experience in content marketing (and subsequently surgical and non-surgical procedures). I didn’t realise at the time (because roles like mine didn’t really exist then) but I was setting up my future career by gaining all of that experience and informing the direction I’d end up taking.

Now, I’m five and a half years in at Adore Beauty. I started off here as a Social Media Coordinator, then moved into Beauty Editor (though still had a lot to do with socials), and now I manage a team of five who I absolutely adore. Seeing the growth of Adore Beauty over that five-plus years has been incredibly rewarding; anyone who has been in the business as long as me will recall a time when nobody knew what Adore Beauty was, and now when you tell someone where you work, they usually say “Oh, you guys do the TimTams!”, so that’s pretty cool to have been a part of that growth.

 

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A post shared by Joanna Fleming (@joannafleming)

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular? 

Proving the worth of organic content to traditional marketers has been quite a challenge. If you think back 10 years ago, roles like mine didn’t exist (social media wasn’t even used as a news platform back then), yet there’s so much value in organic content if your audience is actually engaging with it. To traditional marketers, content like memes for example just don’t seem like they’re part of a strategy, but they are.

They reinforce the relationship you have with your community; you share something with them they can appreciate/laugh at, and as a result, they’re more likely to develop a loyalty to your brand and/or platforms. I like to think of it as though you’re behaving like a friend would on social media, rather than a brand. That’s a tricky sell to traditional marketers that are very numbers-driven, but the proof is in the engagement rate!

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

People see the fun parts of my role because it’s very visible across our platforms, but they don’t see the other moving parts behind the scenes like reporting, briefing, managing a team. Every role will involve tasks you don’t love doing, but that’s all part of having a job, right? All I’m saying is that content production roles are a heap of fun and a great avenue for creatives, but be prepared to also spend a fair chunk of your time behind a desk answering emails! Oh, and I think people have this preconceived notion that the beauty industry is vapid and superficial, but that hasn’t been my experience at all.

 

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A post shared by Joanna Fleming (@joannafleming)

What’s the best part about your role? 

I get to work with very talented and creative people who are actually enthusiastic about their jobs which you don’t get in every industry. It keeps things interesting and being innovative and creative keeps me motivated. Also, I get to host a podcast about beauty as part of my job, so that’s just like having a half an hour conversation with a friend and getting paid for it.

What would surprise people about your role?

I don’t think a lot of our podcast listeners realised that Hannah and I both worked in quite demanding full-time roles when we started the podcast. Hannah has since left her full-time position at Adore, but I’m still juggling the ins and outs of a very fast-paced role which we’ve both found challenging at times. Like, how do you get in the mood to have a light-hearted conversation about candles when you’re feeling really stressed and overwhelmed? Somehow we make it work, but there are days when you don’t want to record and have to pull yourself together for the sake of the content.

What skills have served you well in your industry? 

Something unique I was able to bring to my role was my background in skincare. I’d worked in clinics with dermal therapists, cosmetic physicians, nurse injectors and plastic surgeons for about four years prior to starting my position at Adore, and I’d learnt a lot in that time. That was a huge benefit to me when it came to conceptualising content, writing articles and providing education across our platforms. To this day, that knowledge still informs questions we ask guests in podcast interviews and what we produce for other off-site platforms. I’m now also studying an Advanced Diploma of Dermal Science, so I hope to be able to put that to good use at some stage.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day? 

I almost didn’t take my job at Adore because it was part-time and it felt more junior than the role I’d come from, but I decided to use it as a stepping stone… and I’m still here over five years later. Sometimes you need to take those opportunities that might not be your ultimate dream job in order to actually get to your dream job. If a role is going to help you develop skills you don’t have, or connect you with the people that will help to advance your career, take it – it could be the best decision you ever make career-wise.

What about a practical tip? 

I often get asked “How do I get into the beauty industry?”, which is hard to answer because the industry is so vast. Technically, I’d say I work in online retail, not exclusively beauty, so my practical tip would be to have a strong idea about what kind of role you actually want, and then map out the steps you’ll need to take to get there. That’ll give you a clearer vision of what commitments, study, and experience you’ll need to acquire in order to gain that position. Don’t be afraid to ask people in similar roles for their advice either.

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

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