Well I Guess This is Growing Up
I love a good story, don’t you?
This section of my blog fascinates me, because it tells the journey of people that have become successful bloggers, often while juggling their own careers and families. Many started out writing about their own experiences, be it renovating or decorating, and have grown up as bloggers while they have gone through their journey.
Blogging doesn’t often make as much money as you might think, and so many bloggers still work other jobs; in my case I work full-time and juggle this blog in my spare 20 minutes between the kids and bed. Trying to find a balance is the tricky part and I’m not sure all of us get it right all of the time.
And that is why I like to share these journeys, so you can find out how others do it, if you want to start or grow a blog, or if like me you are simply nosey!
Today, I am featuring Karen Clough of I Guess This is Growing Up. Karen is fairly local to me, and I have had the pleasure of meeting her a few times. A girl after my own heart, her blog is a colourful feast for the eyes and I urge you to hop on over and get lost for an hour or two. But, do read on first for some pearls of wisdom on blogging and interiors.
1. You've have an amazing blog so I'm interested in what got you started with Blogging and on Social Media? what drives you to write a blog?
I started writing my blog back in 2011 when I bought my first house. It was an abandoned property with very little to live with (think no kitchen, bathroom, heating or PVC windows!) but we loved it all the same. I blogged to document our renovation and over time as our taste has become better defined and our family has grown, we’re now onto renovation 2, a little less drastic this time around. That first learning experience living in a wreck for 6 years taught me so much about how important the idea of “home” is. I want to continue sharing that and I love the feel of community that you’re not alone in doing so!
2. Do you mix your blogging and social with other jobs, what time is spent on each?
I do! I work in SEO by day, with a focus on content strategies, user behaviour and training in Google Analytics for other marketing departments. I love that my day job lends so well to what I do in my blog. I started blogging as a creative outlet, something I could take complete ownership of and create an identity I feel happy with - a yearning I needed evermore so after becoming a parent in 2014. It’s incredibly freeing to have a space that is entirely your own, to write about whatever you like, for no other reason that it gives you joy.
3. What, in your opinion, makes a good blog?
As a reader, I’d say a good narrative and human element. Magazines have long been able to grant us aspirational homes and lifestyle, but what I personally look to blogs for is the real people behind it and clever ideas. How does your family life influence your kitchen layout? How did you manage to avoid getting children’s felt tip pens on your lovely new couch? Tell me the story behind your artwork on the walls! Many people know me for my love of colourful interiors, so I think there is an assumption that I don’t like to see other styles, but I really do!
If a home reflects someone’s personality, I completely love it.
4. How do you juggle it all?
Sometimes, I’m not sure if I do! But I’m also my own worst critic. Generally, I try to just be as efficient with time as possible. If I can schedule social posts on the commute to work, I will. If I have a lunch break free from my day job, I’ll head to a coffee shop and edit some blog images. It’s all about finding a balance and I never sacrifice family time for blog work. Little and often is the key.
5. Do you have any advice on growing a blog readership or Instagram following, what specifically should people look to do?
If my clients ask me if they should start a blog or social channel, the first thing I ask them is why they want to do it. Either numbers are important to you, or they’re not. Typically, I’d say quality over quantity every time though, and consistency is key to growth.
6. What Brands have you worked with? Did you seek to monetise your blog or has it been serendipitous? or are you just not interested in that side of things and why?
I’ve been so lucky to have worked with some fantastic brands including IKEA, Homesense, Rose & Grey and Valspar to name just a few - and as I grow I’d love to do more to support my local stores and more independents. My blog is not my main source of income which gives me the luxury of turning down brands which don’t share a similar branding viewpoint. Whilst I didn’t start my site to monetise it, over time it has improved in value and I do consider brand partnerships a commodity which should be paid for. I’m excited for what the future holds!
7. If someone was looking to make money this way, without giving away all your trade secrets, do you have any advice for them?
I’d tell them to say “no” more often. It can be very tempting to say yes to every opportunity but over time, you can stretch yourself too thin, and your audience will get sponsorship-fatigue. Choose ways to monetise that don’t compromise your tone of voice and branding.
8. What do you find the hardest and the most rewarding?
Time management is definitely my struggle. I love my day job, but in order to keep running my site, I need to prioritise it - sometimes around family life too. That can be harder at certain points in the year.
9. Have you done anything different or new in the last year to increase your social/blog following?
Rather than a new year resolution, at the beginning of 2018 I decided on one focus for the year, and that would be quality. I wanted to gain credibility for what I was doing. So, I started blogging less, but made sure each post was something I was really proud of. I’ve found that evergreen content is what’s working for me.
10. How do you grow your blog readership and most importantly keep people coming back?
It might be because of my background, but SEO is what drives me traffic the most, and from that when readers like what they see, they sign up to my newsletter. Social channels can be great for promotion but they can be saturated with fickle algorithms so aren’t always a guarantee.
11. What has been your biggest or favourite milestone?
At the end of 2018 I won “Best Colour Inspiration” in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. My background is not in design, and my taste in decor has been described often as a bit bonkers, so to receive that recognition from people I hugely admire, I was honestly overwhelmed. I’d been nominated for 5 years but never got through to the awards ceremony. To make it to the ball would have been enough for me, but to have won as well was just so incredible. It’s given me the boost to make bigger plans for 2019.
The Girl with The Green Sofa