I'm pleased to welcome Katy Cowan, of Creative Boom fame, for the first Why Blog? feature interview.
Katy describes herself as a 'friendly creative from Manchester' and her blog is the place where she loves to champion creativity and support others whilst sharing her own creative adventures. What started as a bit of a sideline has now grown into what it is oday (a very successful creative business blog) and attracts a huge audience, reaching a staggering two million people a month,
Katy also writes for the Guardian and Creative Boom is part of the Guardian's Culture Professionals Network. It is definitely a blog you should be checking out if you haven't already. It is jam-packed full of up-to-date info and top tips for creative business owners.
SO without further ado, let's get on with the interview.
How long have you been blogging?I’ve been blogging for nearly four years. It doesn’t feel like four years – but that’s how old Creative Boom is. It was started in July 2009 and I’ve never looked back. I love writing posts that help expose my community and raise their profile. I also love to share inspirations, tips and my own adventures. It’s great fun blogging about the creative industries. It’s something I’m hugely passionate about.
Why did you decide to start blogging and what was the main purpose of your blog when you first started?I’m the kind of person that always needs to be doing something. Otherwise I get restless and agitated. I thrive off hard work and needed a hobby to indulge my creative passion. It was one of the reasons I decided to start blogging. But Creative Boom was mainly about helping other people. It was started following the recession of 2008. Seeing other freelancers and creatives struggle through conversations on Twitter, I wanted to do something to help. My background lies in journalism and PR, so I know how the two disciplines work. It was nice to be able to provide my own platform to shout about people’s businesses and their portfolios.
How often do you post?On Creative Boom, I post between 4-10 articles every day. I like to make my content interesting and relevant. I mainly share people’s work to inspire others, share events that my audience might find interesting and I have a wealth of regular features – one being ‘Workabout’ where I profile great cafes or co-working for freelancers to work from… Another being ‘Creative Cities’ where I profile a city and its creative scene. Elsewhere, I also blog for The Guardian, write for Computer Arts magazine and provide guest posts for popular communities like TinyBuddha.com. I’m actually starting to look for more opportunities, so if you’re reading this and you’d like me to write something email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who reads your blog and why do they enjoy it?Creative Boom is for creative freelancers, small businesses, startups and graduates. It’s something that is also read by agencies and people employed by larger companies – but who like to be inspired on a daily basis. It’s mainly about art, design and visual communication. Why do they enjoy it? Because everyone loves to see what’s going on in the creative industries and I try and provide an outlet to satisfy people’s insatiable appetite for visual creative inspiration.
What do you think are the important ingredients of a successful blog?Engagement, personality, hard work and visual satisfaction. Those are the key ingredients to a successful blog. You should also know your audience inside out and provide the kind of interesting content that will keep them coming back for more. Above all, you have to have passion about everything you blog about – if you don’t, it will be obvious and people will just switch off and go elsewhere.
How do you promote your blog?Over the years, I’ve relied on Twitter and Facebook to promote Creative Boom. I’ve also written engaging content that has been shared by my followers, thus leading to new fans of my site. Elsewhere, I’ve contacted big brands, publishers and organisations – telling them about Creative Boom and this has helped to build my profile. I’ve also committed a serious amount of time and effort into communicating with my audience, getting out there and meeting people and doing everything I can to ensure the site is always improving and growing. I won’t lie – Creative Boom has been a huge amount of work but I believe in it and love helping others, so it’s worth every effort. Bottom line? The more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
What kind of opportunities have arisen as a result of your blogging?I’ve been able to travel the world, meet people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to meet - I’ve had a voice and an influence. I hope that I’ve been able to make a difference. I’ve always wanted to help others. I feel hugely passionate about the creative industries, particularly here in the UK – and believe they deserve a serious push. Creative Boom has allowed me to help and expose other people’s work, so I’m pretty happy about its achievements so far. I was even approached by the UK Government, seeking my opinion on the creative industries for a report they were compiling.
How do you manage your time with your blog and your other commitments?I commit weekends, very early mornings, lunch breaks and evenings to Creative Boom while I run my own marketing consultancy, Boomerang (http://www.weareboomerang.com) during office hours. It just takes discipline to manage Creative Boom when I’ve got so many other things going on. But, as it’s a loveable hobby, I always manage to find the time.
What are the benefits of blogging?In my case, I’ve been able to elevate my profile and therefore have access to a wealth of opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible without Creative Boom. Next month, I’m flying to LA to attend Adobe Max – a huge four-day conference with some high profile speakers and interesting workshops. And then I’m off to Tokyo several weeks later to meet various agencies and creatives in the city. But it’s not just things like these – it’s the people I’ve been able to meet along the way. It’s also pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to learn, move forward and try to be the very best at what I do. It’s a constant learning process and a real opportunity to thrive and grow. I don’t know where I’d be without blogging.
What advice would you give to new bloggers?Find something you’re hugely passionate about and blog about that. Don’t try to do too many things at once, just focus on one thing and find a niche that you can really go to town with. Most of all – enjoy it! Blogging shouldn’t be a chore - it should be a joy. Also, don’t be afraid to make changes if something isn’t working. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said ‘Enough!’ and completely turned direction on things. I’ve never regretted change – it’s what has led me to where I am today, and I feel Creative Boom is better than ever before. But with everything, nothing is ever perfect – so never rest on your laurels and think you’ve reached the furthest you can go, because believe me, there is always an opportunity to improve.
Thanks Katy, words of wisdom from a pro! Thanks for taking part in my new blog series and keep up the great work with yours!