A blog for your thoughts: Interview 5 – Charlotte

By Tony Allen,

Charlotte is a Glaswegian blogger who has been running her blog Colours and Carousels since 2010. Charlotte combines her blogging with studying Advertising and PR and running her freelance Content and Social Media Promotion business Content by Charlotte. She also sends out free monthly emails full of blogging advice. Charlotte told us her top tips for taking great photos for your blog, deciding how much to share and whether it’s worth investing in a fresh new theme.

Describe your blog in a few sentences.

I like to think it’s just relatable rambles. I share the things I love and how I’m feeling, covering everything from food and fashion to mental health and travel. It’s a culmination of all of my passions in one handy place, and an attempt to justify how much time I spend online.

Can you give us a brief personal background and talk about your other hobbies/interests?

So, I’m 22, and currently living in Glasgow. I started out studying Fashion Management up in Aberdeen, but it wasn’t for me, so I took a gap year and I’m now back in Glasgow again, studying Advertising and Public Relations. I love food, books and playing The Sims. My bed is my most prized possession, and I spend any of my spare pennies on travelling!

When, where and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging when I was 15, so that was back in 2010. I was about to start applying for universities and wanted to make my personal statement stand out, so when I discovered the world of fashion blogging it just made sense. I’ve always been online, I loved sites like Myspace, Piczo, Bebo and Tumblr as a teen, so it seemed like a natural progression for someone who likes writing, shopping and oversharing on the internet!

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We’re all students like you, how do you manage your time between studying and blogging?

It’s a struggle! I’m obsessed with staying organised and I constantly have a list on hand. I couldn’t keep up if I didn’t have my calendar, which I can access on my phone or at my desk, alongside my diary, my bullet journal and my desk pad. I could probably cope with less, but I just love buying stationery! To-do lists are my saving grace as they help keep me focused, especially when things are really busy.

Did your experience as Fashion Editor of your uni magazine help with your blogging and vice versa?

I think being a blogger helped me bring a new angle to the magazine, as I wanted to make it more about the actual students on campus instead of purely focusing on what was in the shops. It was fun, but it was a lot to take on, especially on top of everything else I did!

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Do you think your blog is a positive enhancement to your CV or freelance portfolio?

100%! My blog has been mentioned in job interviews a lot, and it’s definitely swung it for me in the past too. Having a blog shows passion and dedication, no matter what the subject, plus it’s taught me valuable skills that I can use to progress my career in the digital marketing industry, too. The skills you develop as a blogger can be transferred to so many walks of life, like organisation and communication skills, so I think it’s an incredibly valuable thing to do – especially as a student!

Has your blog led to any exciting opportunities for you?

More than I can count! I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible brands on everything from product and experience reviews to press trips and social experiments, too. I love getting to know new brands as well as shouting about the ones I already love. No matter how long I’ve been blogging for, I still can’t believe that these huge names actually want to work with me!

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What would be your dream post, if you haven’t done it already?

Probably an ultimate guide to Glasgow. I get asked for my recommendations a lot, and keep meaning to put together a whole post dedicated to my brilliant city, but I just have so much I want to recommend that it’s going to be huge! I think I’ll get round to it in the new year, and maybe split it into categories to break it up a bit, or else it’ll be close to a book at this rate.

What blogging tips or advice would you give to yourself when you were starting out?

Be consistent! In the first couple of years I would go months without sharing a post and I really regret that. I’m not saying that I should have been blogging every single day, I just wish I’d kept it up a bit more regularly when I first started, because I can’t even imagine where I’d be now if I had.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write but doesn’t know where to start?

Find the thing you love and tell people why you love it. Passion is one of the best driving factors for blogging, or writing in general, and I think it’s obvious when someone really cares about what they’re writing.

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What methods do you use to expand your readership?

I’m not great at expanding my readership, at least I don’t think so anyway! My main focus when it comes to getting my blog out there is adopting social media for its primary use – communication – and utilising the platforms to create meaningful relationships with other people. I share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and even LinkedIn and just watch how it grows from there!

What tips would you give for people using social media to promote their posts and blog?

Use an automation tool for scheduling like Buffer, it makes things so much easier. You can be pushing out links to your blog without even looking at your phone, which is really handy for busy periods too. I think you also have to remember to use the platform for things other than promotion – get involved with the conversation and share the things you find interesting too.

Has your blog benefitted from your decision to pause vlogging? Do you plan to return to YouTube in the future?

I think so! I loved vlogging, but it was getting to the point where I didn’t have the time and it was starting to feel like a chore. I’m feeling a lot less frazzled now that I don’t try squeeze in two videos a week alongside working, studying and my blog – so I think my content is benefitting from the extra attention. Writing will always be my primary focus, but I do love YouTube. I’ve been contemplating a return to YouTube in the form of Vlogmas, but I’m not sure if it’ll work out. I might give it a go and see, anyway! I think in the new year I’ll try bring video content back into my lineup, but on a much less regimented schedule to help relieve a bit of the pressure.

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Do you pay much attention to your blog’s stats?

I wish I didn’t, but I do. I’m not one to obsessively check but I do care about my numbers, and think that’s totally fine. A lot of people tell you not to get caught up in the figures, as it can be disheartening, which I do agree with to an extent. It’s good to use your stats to figure out what content works well and who your audience is, but the issues creep in when you can’t quit that vicious cycle of comparison that is oh-so-easy to fall into. I like setting myself goals based on my stats so that I have a clear direction away from the actual content topics, but that might just be the budding digital marketer in me!

What has been your most popular post to date? Did you expect it to be the most popular?

So my most popular post was actually one where I gave away an iPhone, which isn’t surprising, but apart from that my most popular post was called “How To Get Free Stuff For Your Blog” which was all about the ways bloggers can stay authentic and build effective brand partnerships. My posts about blogging tend to do really well, which is great because it’s one of my favourite topics! Other popular topics include mental health, which I’m really passionate about discussing, as well as beauty reviews and outfit posts.

Your blog features some fantastic photography! What tips would you give our members to improve their original photography?

Thank you! You don’t need a fancy camera to create great imagery, as you can easily take a beautiful photograph on your phone these days. I think lighting and composition are the most important things. It’s best to use natural light wherever possible – which can be difficult in the winter months – and I also have a Pinterest board where I save photos that inspire me. I’ve been using Photoshop and Lightroom since before I had a blog, so I’m comfortable editing my photos to bump the brightness and get the right colour balance. There are hundreds of free apps out there that are great for editing, if you want to go down that route!

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What made you decide to go freelance and launch your own content company alongside studying?

It’s something I’d been considering for a while, and to be honest I wasn’t really planning to do it when I did! I’ve been doing the odd bit of freelance work here and there for a while now, but I was approached by a local start-up who wanted me to take them on as a regular client, and I wasn’t particularly happy in my part time retail job so after much deliberation I decided to give it a go. I didn’t launch my business straight away after this, instead I decided to give it a few months and see how it felt before I started promoting my services with the world. It’s been scary, but massively empowering, and I’m so proud of myself for doing it. I love the flexibility it gives me around my studies, which is one of the main benefits for me right now, alongside getting to help lots of different small businesses with digital.

You advise companies on how to approach bloggers. What do you particularly like and dislike when brands approach you about your blog?

I hate when brands send out one blanket email to hundreds of bloggers without doing their research to see if the bloggers are actually a good fit for their business. It’s unprofessional, and it’s just sloppy work! I often get emailed asking to promote parenting brands, which just isn’t right for me. I think the most important thing with outreach is making sure it’s going to be a mutually beneficial relationship and a relevant partnership.

Your ‘Rediscovering My Confidence’ post is admirably honest. How do you decide what to share with your readers and what to hold back?

I overshare a lot these days, partly because it’s cathartic to get my thoughts down in words, and partly because I want other people who might be in similar situations to know that they’re not alone. There are some things I don’t share with my readers, and for the most part it’s usually because I’m not quite ready to discuss it yet. It took me a long time to open up about my health issues and my mental health struggles, both of which I’ve only really started sharing openly in the past year or so. It’s been amazing though, and I’m totally overwhelmed by the support I’ve received as a result of spilling my heart out on my blog.

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Have you made any friends through blogging? I was checking out your friend Claire Barclay the other day, might use her for this year’s Christmas cards…

Yes! So many. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met through blogging, which is incredible. It’s great to find people with common interests, and make friends who won’t judge you for wanting take hundreds of photos of your meal, too. I’ve discovered some brilliant small businesses too, like Claire Barclay Draws, which has been fantastic – although a bit dangerous for my bank balance!

You use a pipdig theme. Can you tell me why you liked and chose one of his themes?

I’ve used Phil’s themes for a few years now, mostly because I know I can trust them to work, and Phil to help me out if something goes wrong! I think they look clean and professional, but they’re also customisable so that you can put your own stamp on things too.

At what point in their blogging careers should our members consider buying a theme?

Honestly, if you’re taking blogging seriously, you should be buying a theme when you’re setting it up or buying your domain. You can get nice themes for free in some places, or for less than a fiver on sites like Etsy, so I think that it’s a worthwhile investment. It makes your blog look the part, so if it’s something you see yourself keeping up, I’d try find one that suits you!

Are there any other good blogs you’re reading at the moment that you’d like to recommend?

So many! I love Rhianna Olivia, Last Year’s Girl, The Monday Project, Sophie Cliff, Hannah Gale, Sophie Rosie and soooo many more.

You can follow Charlotte on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and visit Colours and Carousels here. Sign up for Charlotte’s monthly blogging advice email here.

All photos supplied.

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