Monday, 22 July 2013

Why Blog? - Jo Gifford aka Dexterous Diva


I've been following the blog of Jo Gifford for quite a while now after following her on Twitter and am in awe her work. I recently asked her if she would like to be interviewed for the Why Blog? and she instantly replied saying she would love to! Her blog is visually striking, the images are full of bright colours, giving us plenty of eye-candy and her content is spot-on and full of great tips and advice for fellow creative bloggers. As well as blogging multi-talented Jo also makes delightful illustrations, is a mum to twins and also runs an online e-course 'Idea generation and Creativity for Bloggers'. She is giving away two places on this to two lucky readers... details to follow.

But first on to the interview.... This is what Jo had to say....


How long have you been blogging?

I began my very first blog in 2006, called Leap and the Net will appear, which was all about my journey into self employment and a new life. I lost my confidence with the project, and sadly deleted the blog and it's posts, which is such a shame as I would love to be able to look back now and see how far I have come! I began a personal blog again in 2010, to document life as a twin mum with endometriosis working in the creative industries. It has evolved so much over time, and continues to grow and change every year, as I grow with it, which I love. Having a blog is such a nice way to keep a diary and to make yourself write.

Why did you decide to start blogging and what was the main purpose of your blog when you first started?

In the first instance I wanted to chart my journey into self employment. I was very inspired by the early Blogger community, it was a very different landscape in 2006 than it is now; no Twitter, Facebook, Linked In etc. It felt cathartic, like a personal diary, and as if I was part of a community. It still feels like that, albeit a much bigger community and on more platforms. When I began again in 2010 I had no real direction, and was just posting about my family, some opinion posts, endometriosis and my life. I began on a wordpress blog (it’s still there on and then went self hosted after 18 months or so.

How often do you post?

It depends, sometimes once a day, sometimes once a week, but on average two or three times a week I would say. I often have “going fallow” times when other projects I am working on take over (or life gets busy!) so there isn’t a set diary or schedule as such.

Who reads your blog and why do they enjoy it?

Oooh, well I think my readers are predominantly, but not exclusively, female. My readers tend to be creative, entrepreneurial people who resonate maybe with family life, blogging, my health journey, creative thinking or sometimes the fashion and lifestyle elements of the blog. I also give a lot of tips on freelance life, creative thinking and idea generation so I hope my readers enjoy a range of topics. I imagine people like my honesty, and hopefully just the little space of the web that is mine to call home in my own way,


What do you think are the important ingredients of a successful blog?

It depends on the blog, whether business, personal, or both. However, I think that an authentic voice is important, even if you are constantly learning and growing in whichever sector you are working in or blogging about, honesty and authenticity is key. Eye catching imagery, compelling posts, and a reason to come back for more.

How do you promote your blog?

I use Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Blog Lovin’ as channels to promote my posts. I also use my email lists of previous e course attendees, Feedburner, and I sometimes guest post for other bloggers I love. I like to be part of the community too, so I get to know people on social media and enjoy the banter.

What kind of opportunities have arisen as a result of your blogging?

Oh my goodness, so much! Freelance blog work, speaking engagements, my ecourses, Team Bangs on the Run, my first ever half marathon, meeting wonderful friends and colleagues, working with wonderful brands, having a voice to be heard, visiting some great events, it really has done a lot for me. I have written for on and offline publications since 2005, including Le Cool being Arts Editor of an online magazine, commissions for travel writing pieces and all sorts, but the blog is all mine and I like that autonomy.

How do you manage your time with our blog and your other commitments?

Honestly? I have no idea. I just love it. If life gets busy or tough, as it can do with running a business, social enterprise, having two young children and chronic illnesses, I just prioritise - if I don’t post, it’s not the end of the world :) I also post from my iPad using Blogsy so I can blog on the go, or from bed if the mood takes me.


What are the benefits of blogging?

I think blogging is good in so many ways, and in fact I wrote a post on it (of course!). For a business it gives behind the scenes news and a new insight for an audience to engage with; as a personal project a blog is great to have a platform, to write often and to document life, and to connect with other like minded people and spark discussion.


What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Just be yourself. To be an “iconic”, full time blogger takes a while lot of hard work and is very rare. Blog because you love it, because you want to create engaging content, or just for yourself, either way just enjoy the journey. Learn as you go, figure out how to create imagery, how to post the way you want to, how to tinker with CMS systems, if you like a new project, blogging is a lot of fun.

Thanks so much for taking part in this blog series Jo. If you want to check outbwhat Jo is up to you can find her Dexterous Diva blog here, her super Etsy shop here and you can follow her on Twitter as @dexdiva

Jo will be giving away some places on here e-course later this week. Watch this space for details...

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