Bonjour, Blogger! : Kat

bonjour-blogger-kat
bb-kat-got-the-creamName: Kathryn Sharman
Age: 37
Location: Harrogate, N. Yorkshire
Blog URL: katgotthecream.com

What is your blog about?
I tend to describe it as a lifestyle blog as it includes my work/home life as well as my interests including fashion, craft, vintage and interiors. It’s a place to share my personal style, creative projects and favourite finds.

Is this your first blog?
Yes and it’s currently my only blog.

When did you start your current blog?
Nearly 3 years ago, in August 2010.

What made you do it?
I’d stopped working full-time as a journalist to be more of a stay at home mum but continued to work as a freelance writer. My friend told me I should start a blog, although I knew very little about the blogging world at the time and I just jumped in, feet first.

What was your first blog post about?
It was a strange one really – quite different to my current blogging style but still the same old me – I think I tried to introduce myself and explain my background as a retail writer by writing about a new shop I’d discovered. You can read it here if you really want to but it’s a bit dull: katgotthecream.com/retail/cool-in-the-countryside

What do you think is the most useful tool to you as a blogger?
I love PicMonkey for photo-editing and creating slightly more interesting images and graphics. The upside is it’s free and easy to use but that means pretty much everyone else uses it too so you have to be quite creative with it to try and distinguish the look and feel of your blog. In that sense I guess my best tool is really me; my own personal writing style and the photos I choose to take.

Do people in your “real life” know about your blog?
Yes, my family and most of my friends know about it and I think some of them even read it regularly. I also use it as a professional reference point and it has helped me to secure freelance work as a writer and social media manager. I’ve also just been invited to feature in a magazine article, which is a direct result of my blogging.

What has been the one thing (blog post, project, etc) you’ve been really proud of?
I’m always honoured to be asked to write for people, whoever they are, and I’ve really enjoyed blogging for both Laura Ashley and White Stuff amongst others. I was also one of the first writers to join the Oxfam fashion blog team, creating regular content that helped to raise awareness of the Oxfam shop and resulted in a 500% uplift in traffic to the site.

Where do you see your blog in a year?
I didn’t set out with a game plan when I started my blog, I just really loved the freedom of self-publishing and I still do. Obviously I’m pleased that my blog has grown and I’m now able to monetize it (a bit). I do work hard at my blog and I think about its audience rather than just writing purely for myself, so in that sense I guess I am a professional blogger nowadays. But I’ve never set yard sticks by which I measure its success. In a year’s time my blog will be wherever I am personally and I hope that people will still be with me and hopefully still enjoying it.

What do you wish you knew when starting your blog?
I wish I’d known how much I was going to love it and I would have started it a couple of years earlier! I probably should have planned and prepared a bit more in terms of blogging platform and maybe even the name too! I recently moved from blogger to self-hosted wordpress and I could have saved myself some trouble if I’d researched that option at the very start. That said, blogger is a great, user-friendly platform to start blogging with, especially if you’re not sure how long you might stick with it.

What do you wish you know about now?
I wish I was better at coding (although I’ve learned the basics) and I wish I was adept with a more specialised graphics package like Photoshop or illustrator. It would be great to have full control over the front and back end of my blog (and for the most part I do since I went self-hosted) but I’d love to be an expert coder/designer. Those would be very useful skills!

How do you keep motivated to post?
I think my background as a journalist helps as I’m used to generating content plus I just really enjoy seeing / doing stuff and creating a new angle on it or telling a story about it. I also write all my ideas down in a notebook and plan, plan, plan.

Anything else you’d like to add?
These are a few things I try to remember while blogging:

  • It’s just a blog – try not to take it all too seriously.
  • Enjoy it – when the fun stops so should you (at least for a bit while you get your mojo back).
  • Never get too comfy on your blog – you’re publishing to the world and anyone could read it. Be honest but don’t write anything you wouldn’t be happy to share with your boss/granny/next door neighbours. Same goes for photos.
  • Love to blog, don’t live to blog. Always prioritise your friends/family/work/life in the ‘real world’ above those in the social media world – those relationships are the ones that really count.
  • Don’t get too hung up on comments, followers and stats. As in life, I’d rather have a handful of really good, loyal blog followers than a gazillion fair weather friends who’ll ditch you as soon as your giveaway finishes.
  • You will spend about two hours crafting the ‘perfect’ post only for someone to skim-read it in two minutes flat with half an eye on Eastenders. If you still think it’s worth it then you’re a true blogger. Welcome to the club!

Thanks Kat! If you’d love to be next in our little series of blogger interviews, get in touch!

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