I was recently tagged by fellow Caithness blogger Gail at Wellies on the School Run with a Sunshine Blogger award. Since it’s coming up to my 8th blog-birthday next month I thought I would answer the questions Gail posed for me!
- What made you start blogging in the first place?
I started blogging when I was newly married to Mr B and had moved to Scotland – way back in 2011 (so I’ve been writing away in this little corner of the internet for 8 years now), which was a way to share where I had moved to with my friends down south!
If you dare to dive right back to the beginning when my blog was called Gratuitous Nothingness (I do not know what I was thinking with that name either!), the photos are awful, and my posts are very much in a diary fashion. Recently I did consider deleting my old blog posts but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it – it’s good to look back on fun memories, and my posts back then show how I’ve grown in terms of writing and my own photography. Despite two moves to different parts of Scotland and another change to the name of the blog (while we lived in Inverness it was called Mess in the Ness), my subject matters of exploration and food & drink has remained mostly unchanged in that time!
2. What opportunities, if any, has blogging brought into your life?
There’s a few different things here!
- Meeting other creatives: Through social media, different contacts and the occasional event or press trip, I’ve been thankful to meet some lovely writers and creatives. When I’m not posting on social media, I often tend to fall into being an unintentional lurker, so I’ve been recently conscious of trying to interact a bit more and give others more support in terms of a like or comment on their work. This feels especially important now when my location in the north of Scotland prevents meeting up with writers regularly.
- Other writing opportunities: I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to write reviews for restaurants and have short freelancing contracts at times, and last year I repurposed some of my Inverness content for a local magazine for tourists. I’ve also been a brand ambassador for North Hop festivals which I’ve really enjoyed bring part of. A few years ago I was getting sent a lot of gifted stuff to review which was fun at the time but I’m glad I’ve moved on from that phase of my blogging life, and am not constrained by the demands of companies on my blog. I’m a definite believer in things happening for a ‘season’ and am happy enough to see what opportunities each year brings!
- Future plans: Blogging has given me the confidence to try new things. I’ve got a business idea whizzing around in my head that really needs to be written down on paper, and despite the self-doubt I often feel about pursuing it, the encouragement I’ve had from a few friends to go for it has been really positive. Watch this space next year to see if it actually comes to fruition!
3. Where do you get your inspiration to write from?
On the most part, it’s the highlands of Scotland itself! I have written about other places we have visited on holiday around the rest of the world but this once-city girl definitely feels at home in the Scottish Highlands. As one of the few northern Scotland bloggers who lives on the North Coast 500, I feel like it’s a privilege to share about the beautiful part of the world I live in with potential visitors.
4. What tips would you offer someone who wants to start their own blog?
- Just start writing – even if it’s for yourself and no-one else reads it.
- If you do want other people to read it, be prepared to put the work in on helping them to find it (research, SEO, tagging images and including keywords etc.). It’s time consuming but it is worth it if that’s your goal! Yoast has a good SEO checklist plugin, which you can work through as you create a post.
- Enjoy the writing process, and don’t pressure yourself to write. A few years back I was churning out three posts a week (how I had the time to do that I have no idea!) because I had a self-imposed ideal of what I thought I should be writing. An unpressured writer who loves the process is more likely to produce higher quality content than someone with a ‘should be writing’ mind-set. Take the pressure off yourself and show yourself some grace!
5. Which 3 articles are you most proud of on your blog?
Less a single article, more a whole section, I’m really proud of my NC500 section (a whole variety of posts detailing places to explore on the route) and how I’m building that up over time. There’s still loads more places (some of them very close to home in Caithness!) that I want to write about, it’s just finding the time to do so!
One post (that’s incidentally had thousands of views) is my review of a Chinese restaurant in Inverness that very few people knew about. After my post was published, I had several people contact me saying that they had been for a visit after reading my post and really enjoyed their visit. It’s not going to win any awards for influencer of the year but I’m glad that my writing prompted some of you to support a locally run business as I’m particularly keen on championing them!
- What has been your favourite Scottish destination to write about?
- What’s one place in Scotland that you are yet to visit?
- Do you ever find it hard to blog? Why/why not?
- What blog post are you proudest of?
- What advice/tips would you give to people who are thinking about travelling to Scotland?