Well, it's been a hot minute since I put some words down here, but I finally have some stuff going on, so here we go!
I just read my last blog which I published over a year ago. I had finished my website and was ready to roll. What I hadn't mentioned there, well there were a couple of things I didn't mention, but mainly it was that I had heard about a contract coming up here in Athabasca that I really wanted.
Hurry Up and Wait
This contract was for the Tourism and Economic Development (TED) Committee here in the Athabasca region. It was a committee made up of representatives from Athabasca County, the Town of Athabasca, the Village of Boyle, the Athabasca Chamber of Commerce, Athabasca University and some members-at-large. Their task was to promote tourism and economic development in the region. They were looking for a contractor to develop a strategic marketing plan and some marketing campaigns, fix up their website and manage the social media for the Visit Athabasca brand. Sounded right up my alley!!!
I contacted the TED officer, let her know I was interested and asked her to let me know when the RFP would be out. Well, if any of you have worked with Municipalities, you know that sometimes the decision-making takes longer than with private companies, mainly because they only meet a few times a year and that is when the decisions are made. Plus there had been a Municipal election and basically new councils for both the County and the Town. So while I was chomping at the bit, the TED committee wanted to make some changes to the RFP. This was over the course of a few meetings and it went back to the drawing board a couple of times.
In the meantime, I applied for a couple of remote part-time jobs in industries that aligned with my new focus on values. Unfortunately, I didn't get them. This was more of a blow to my ego than I had ever experienced with job hunting. I've been pretty lucky over my career to have gotten the gigs that I really wanted. I felt like I had produced good application material and had good interviews and still wasn't successful. It made me realize that the competition is WAY bigger in the remote world because instead of competing against local applicants, you're competing against the whole province and sometimes the whole country!
So with the delay of the TED contract, not being successful in finding a remote position and the fact that I was already feeling depressed and disappointed in some fellow humans after coming out of the COVID-19 gong show, I fell into a slump. Maybe even depression. Compounded with my growing dislike of "Sales Funnel Marketing", LinkedIn's "You've Got This With the Help of My Career Consulting" culture and social media BS, I was at a loss.
Do I put away my values and try to hustle up business from companies I don't really believe in? Do I try to find a part-time gig here in Athabasca? At an undisclosed middle-aged age, do I think about another type of career? None of these choices were appealing. So with the financial help of my partner, I decided to wait out the TED contract and do some pre-work on a proposal.
Then in the spring of 2022, a seed I had planted, sprouted! Words Work Adult Literacy, the local adult literacy provider, needed someone to teach tech and digital skills.
I met with the Executive Director in 2021 to see if they wanted to create a social media marketing course. like the one I provided through the Lloydminster Learning Council. We had a great chat but didn't get anything together. Luckily, the ED remembered me when they needed someone for Digital Skills! Yay! A part-time gig doing something I enjoy for an organization I believe in. So since the Fall of 2022, I've been teaching Digital Skills courses and tutoring some newcomers on how to use the internet and email. I've also been helping Words Work with their social media and website.
That Fall, the TED committee released their RFP for the Tourism marketing file. Wooo! I put together a proposal that highlighted not just my skills, but the fact that as a local choice, I had skin in the game. Their previous contractor was from Edmonton, and it showed. There wasn't the "love" that came from someone who lived in the area and knew what it has to offer. I submitted my proposal and crossed my fingers.
A couple of weeks later I got a great email letting me know I was the successful bidder! Finally, this seed had sprouted!!! I was super stoked, as the kids say. There were a couple of bumps along the way (the TED committee disbanded and is working on a new format) and that put the contract on the back burner again, but they have decided to go forward with the work while they form their new committee.
So I have been busily organizing the project, fixing up the current website, writing a blog, scheduling social, talking to Tourism operators, getting events into the event calendar and working on the strategic marketing plan. Talk about going from 0 to 100!
Photography for the Athabasca Farmers' Market
To top it all off, I'm also helping the Athabasca Regional Multiplex with their website. This will include a new website for the lovely local performing arts theatre, the Nancy Appleby Theatre.
The Moral of The Story
Even though I got pretty down about what I was doing with my life, deep in my gut I knew that hanging on for the Visit Athabasca gig was the right thing to do. Luckily the seeds I planted grew. So I guess the moral of this story is to plant your seeds, keep watering them with hope and eventually some of them will grow for you.
I'm not going to add a call to action for Freshet, because I've got enough work right now, but I will encourage you to check out the Athabasca Region if you are looking for a new place to golf, a weekend getaway from Edmonton or family camping in the Boreal.