WHEN PASSION BECOMES YOUR PROFESSION…
Letting strangers into your own world certainly takes a lot of courage, as well as resistance to difficulties, which may appear on your way. Another thing you need to learn is how to deal with the readers’ critique of your writing, especially provided by the ones who happen not to like it.
When I decided to set up my own website, I didn’t really know how to handle it and how all these things really worked. While publishing my first texts my excitation was very high, until the time when I had to face harsh new reality and my lack of knowledge related to promotional activities and to the way this whole mechanism of so called social media worked.
After years I have come to a conclusion that it was not only me who had to cope with such difficulties at the very beginning of my blogging adventure. And the fact that small failures constantly interchange with small wins is just normal. During all these years I have learned how to be critical towards my own texts, as well as towards the opinions of my readers concerning the articles I post. I try to draw conclusions from both to improve my own work in the future.
However, it happens that you are not always able to deal with everything on your own – and this is the moment when it’s good to ask for help and find specialists who are experienced in the area of blogging business. I’m truly pleased to introduce you to my today’s interviewee – Anjali Kay – a girl, who started her blogging journey when this type of websites wasn’t so much popular. Now when blogs can turn to be quite profitable businesses, she decided to help other female bloggers with their daily struggles related to their work.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Anjali: Kia ora (hello), everyone! I’m Anjali, a New Zealander with a love of books, travel, creative projects and helping women start and grow their blogs. I talk about all these things (and more) on my blog, This Splendid Shambles, where I’ve been blogging for over a decade now.
As well as working a part-time 9-5 job, I’m a blogging coach and help women start and grow their blogs. Whether they’re a seasoned blogger in need of some tips moving forward, or they’re brand new to blogging or having a blog to complement their small business, we work together through resources, courses and 1:1 support.
Passion Piece: You’re a New Zealander with a love of many things I personally share an interest in. I bet at least some of my readers have a similar feeling! What’s the closest to your heart: books, travels, creative projects or blogging?
Anjali: Oooh! It’s so hard to pick favorites when you love everything you do!
I think that all the things I write about on my blog, and all the things I love to do outside my blog come back to one central thing: story.
Books, travel, creativity … they all tell a story, whether that be words on a page, experiences in the world, creating for business or hobby … they’re all in this mishmash of Story.
Having a blog and being a blog coach is such a joy because it means I can not only tell my own story through the articles I write, but I can help other’s tell their own stories through their content, blogs and businesses.
Passion Piece: You’ve been running your own website since 2008. How did you develop your passion for blogging? Were you inspired by anyone you knew?
Anjali: Yes! It’s been a while! I actually started a blog back in the day because a friend recognized my love for writing and photography, and suggested I start a ‘blog’.
To be honest, I barely knew what that was back then. But I went for it and I created my first blog. I can’t even remember what it was called (something to do with cupcakes?!), and all I did was share snippets of my life. I had a few readers – okay, they were my friends and family – and I loved it.
I’ve had 3 blogs over the years, but This Splendid Shambles is the one that stuck. I started it in 2010 when I moved countries and wanted to document my travels. It’s had a few name changes and direction changes over the years. Now it’s grown into something I couldn’t have possibly imagined back when I was 17 googling ‘how to start a blog’.
Passion Piece: Was blogging that popular so many years back? What failures did you face and how did you manage to overcome them?
Anjali: 2008 was a whole different ball game for blogging! Blogging has been around since the 1990s, but it didn’t really start taking off until the 2000s and it wasn’t until closer to 2010 that people really started jumping on the bandwagon. When I started my blog, there were a few ‘big’ blogs out there, but nothing like there is now.
There were very few places for us newbies at the time to learn, no Pinterest to browse (Pinterest didn’t start till 2009!), and Facebook Groups weren’t a thing yet. I very much went it alone back then. And as such, yeah, I definitely made a lot of mistakes.
I don’t know if I’d called them failures, but they were definitely things that I wouldn’t have done if I had known how the blogging world worked, or what it was going to become.
Every mistake or thing that I’ve done that I would have done differently is now something that I can look back on and learn from and grow from. It also means that I can give advice to other bloggers, speaking from experience.
Passion Piece: What should rookie bloggers remember about to avoid similar mistakes?
Anjali: Remember that you don’t have to go at it alone.
We’re not in 2008 anymore. There are blogs out there dedicated to blogging! You can google your questions, join Facebook groups, learn from experts, sign up for 1:1 blogging support with people who have been there and done that.
Mistakes are inevitable, and I still make them! But the important thing is that we’re learning and we’re growing and we’re ready to ask for help when we need it. And if you’re a newbie blogger reading this, know you’re not alone.
Passion Piece: Blogging means not only failures but also wins. What are yours?
Anjali: The fact that I’m here over a decade later is a major win to me! Haha! But seriously, there have been some big highlights over my blogging life.
As well as running my own blog, I’ve been privileged to be a part of a collaborative book blog since 2014, I’ve been published in a blogging magazine, hosted masterclasses with women on the other side of the world, started a business in 2020 helping other women on their blogging journeys, launched a course in 2021 that has taught nearly 100 bloggers how to totally crush their content creation, and flung the doors open to 1:1 blog support.
It sounds very braggy when you lay it out like that haha, but I do think it’s important to celebrate our wins, and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.
Passion Piece: What are the most underestimated blogging skills one should remember about?
Anjali: The most underrated blogging skill – and actually life skill! – in my opinion, is the willingness to learn new things and unlearn things that aren’t actually working for you.
This may not seem like a ‘skill’, but being open to learning and growing is so important. And it’s not something that comes easily to a lot of us. If we’re willing to hone our skill of stepping back and looking at everything from a different perspective, of seeing where we need to work on things, and actually seeking advice and support to learn what we need to learn, great things will happen.
We can have the most beautifully written blog posts, with the highest of quality images, but if we’re not learning new things, we’re going to get stuck in ways of doing things, and we’re going to get left behind.
Passion Piece: How do you manage your social media? How do you try to make your readers interested in the content you propose?
Anjali: Ah social media! It’s wonderful and temperamental at the same time!
I have two Instagram accounts: one for my blog content, and one for my blogging business.
On my blog account, @anjalikay, I share blog posts as well as things that are happening in my life. People connect with people, not just content, so it’s important to share the highs and lows with your followers. On my business account, @thissplendidshables, I share blogging tips as well as Pinterest, Canva and social media hacks.
Utilising the features on Instagram is a great way to connect with readers and potential clients. Using Stories for sharing behind the scenes of writing blog posts and working with clients, making Reels to reach a wider audience, and having really great conversations in the Dms … all these things help readers stay engaged with what you’re creating on your blog and your business.
I also have a Facebook Page for sharing my blog content, and a Facebook Group, Bold Beginner Bloggers, as a space for bloggers to ask those questions and support each other.
While not a social media platform, I love using Pinterest and spend time working on my Pinterest strategy and creating new content for the platform every month.
I hope I create content in a way that draws people in to discover new things, think about topics differently, get inspiration from creative projects or find their next read.
Passion Piece: Being a blogger means searching for the right inspirations on and on. How do you manage to stay so positive? How do you deal with mental blocks?
Anjali: One of my favorite things to talk about with people is inspiration, and moving through mental blocks. It can be a struggle, sometimes, to be a blogger; it’s quite a solitary activity if we’re not careful.
I love nearly every part of blogging, and thinking up new content ideas and ways to engage with my readers and audience is one of my favorite things to do. Staying positive comes with doing what you love. There are obviously really tough days, especially when it comes to the business side of my blogging, but the important thing for me is constantly coming back to my ‘why’. Why did I start blogging in the first place? Why do I know help others do the same?
If your ‘why’ is front and center of all you do, it makes those tougher patches easier to get through.
Passion Piece: What do you love doing in your free time?
Anjali: I love reading! A lot. I spend a lot of time reading in my free time (which I then write about on my blog!). Usually, I’m a big traveler, too, and I love discovering new places around the world. I also love sewing and I sew a lot of my own clothes.
Passion Piece: Is there a book you could recommend to me for a long cold evening?
Anjali: Completely depends on the genre! I have lots of recommendations.
But a few books I’ve read this year (2021) that I’ve really enjoyed have been: The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by VE Schwab. Schwab is a formidable writer and storyteller. She weaves this story with art and music and literature, with friendship and love, with connection and thought-provoking lines and ideas. It’s semi-fantasy in the genre, but I think people who don’t like fantasy will enjoy this one too. I also really liked The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, which is a romance-comedy-esque story, and a lot of fun.
For a non-fiction book, I’ve been reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and it is incredible. Highly recommend!
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself in the nearest future? Which creative projects would you like to undertake?
Anjali: There are so many creative projects that I’d love to be doing! I have so many hobbies! But in a blogging sense, I really hope to continue teaching and supporting otters in their blogging journeys. It’s such a joy to be able to walk with someone in different ways as they share their story and their passions online.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Anjali: Never stop learning.
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I hope to hear about some of your creative projects in the near future.
See you around!
Photos by: Anjali Kay