The lady I am interviewing today is a good friend of mine. She has been blogging for a good bunch of years and knows a thing or two about it! Having blogged at Suger Coat It for most of that time, Melissa is embarking on a new adventure with the recently launched The Leave Home Blog.
As the name implies, The Leave Home Blog is the place to go for those who are planning to leave home or those who have just flown the nest. It’s full of advice on everything from cooking to finance and everything in between, all with a dash of Melissa’s matter-of-fact way of writing and her infectious humour!
Melissa has some pearls of wisdom to share with us today, so without further ado, here is my Melissa Walker Horn Blogger Interview!
Tell us a little about you:
I have a thing for stripes, and I’m obsessed with old movies and sort of old movies from the 90s. I’ve been married for almost ten years, blogging for five and wishing I was queen of the world, in title only, since forever. I think if you were to meet me you’d say I swore more than you thought I would but that I’m pretty much as I appear online.
What is on your desk right now?
Four fashion type magazines, a bunch of stamping stuff (I’m making thank you cards) and a blog folder with a bunch of worksheets for Leave Home Blog. That folder is essential as I’m only a couple of weeks in; I refer a lot to my planning folder. My MacBook isn’t there because it’s here with me, cross-legged on the lounge room floor.
Describe your perfect Sunday:
My perfect Sunday would include a sleep-in, breakfast that turns into brunch with my husband and some sunshine. Preferably I’d like to soak up that sunshine at the beach or in the pool but my backyard on my sun lounger will work too. Throw in a movie or a good book, and I’m a happy camper.
You just can’t live without:
My family. Cheesy but true. From my third cousins through to the guy I chose to make my family, those are the people, the things, I couldn’t live without. As far as actual things go I neeeed my iPhone most. Second to that would be its charger.
How did you begin Blogging/ your career?
Entirely by accident one night when I was exploring the Google Apps for work. I opened two blogs, one of them went on to become my primary blog Suger Coat It. The other died in the ass with no posts. Wow, what an adventure THAT has been.
On December 1st, I launched myself into my first commercial blogging venture with The Leave Home Blog. It felt like such a natural progression to take everything I’d learned with my personal blog and apply it to a blog with more commercial opportunities. I’m probably mad, but we’ll see.
What resources/apps/gadgets do you find essential to your blogging process?
My blogs are both self-hosted WordPress blogs. I couldn’t live without my laptop, my camera, and WordPress, but my secret weapon is Grammarly. As someone who suffers from a serious lack of spelling and grammar skills Grammarly is a godsend. I pay for my annual subscription and this app/program/thingy checks my spelling and grammar as I write.
As far as apps, etc. go I don’t do a lot of the actual blogging side of things on my mobile devices. But like any blogger I love Instagram, Twitter (so good for flicking between two accounts, get on board Instagram) and the Facebook Pages apps. I use the Pinterest app a lot to pin on the go to keep up a regular posting schedule in an attempt to grow the blog audiences there.
What twists and turns have you faced in your blogging/ life and how have you dealt with them?
That day I really had to face the realities of not owning the platform my blog was on and where I was going with the whole blogging thing. My whole life was documented on that blog. I wasn’t going to let it go. That day I started building my first WordPress blog and have never looked back. I was team Blogger for a long time, but not anymore. Team Blogger can kiss my ass.
What do you consider worthwhile investments when it comes to blogging?
A good camera. Every. Single. Time. For me, a good camera is essential to personalising your blog and the attached social media.
Then a program like Lightroom with some add on actions to make the most of the photos you’ve taken. I’m using a lot of stock images on the Leave Home Blog, but nothing beats the photos you take yourself. It’s personal in a way that stock photos can never be. For me, a blog and it’s writing is always made better by decent photos.
And finally, the ProBlogger Training Event. I try to get there every year to be inspired by what bloggers are achieving and to the pick the brain of an entire room of people who have a clue what you are talking about. That weekend costs me upwards of $1,000 when all is said and done (and lately it’s been in Queensland, so I drive there!) and it has been worth every penny. Invest in some training and save yourself a few years of stumbling around in the dark.
What do you gain from blogging?
Some of my best friends came into my life because of blogging. And I mean friends that I visit, hang out with and share my life with, not just a twitter handle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Blogging gave me access to those people and the opportunity to meet them, and I’m so grateful for that.
I also make a little bit of money; that’s a gain, right? It’s not as much as some, but it is enough to keep me in dinners out and iTunes movies.
Where do you go online when you need a break from blogging?
I go offline when I need a break from blogging. Waaaaaay offline. Out of service area offline. Picture me throwing my phone into a bush and running the other direction for as long as my leg will carry me. That’s me when I need a break from blogging.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to blogging?
Decide on a blog name a stick with it. Then grab every social media platform account you can use that name even if you don’t plan to use them immediately. Don’t use your name for some accounts, your blog name for others and some weird abbreviation for others. Choose something you can own and stick with it. Making it hard for people to find you will ALWAYS bite you in the butt.
What do you see for the future of blogging?
Unfortunately, I think it’s video. Le sigh. Video and I are having a lifelong disagreement, and I’ve been resisting it hard but I can’t anymore. Autoplay on Facebook and Instagram changed that. Time to get on board. Apparently.
That said video for the sake of video will be pointless. Quality content will always be important in whatever format, I think. If you have a blog with quality written content don’t freak out and throw the entire thing out the window in favour of video. Just do what I plan to do and incorporate video in your social media strategy… One day. Some day. Soon. Promise.
Well, I hope you were taking notes there, no, not really, but Melissa did share some truly great advice there that I hope you find helpful and take on board.
Thanks for sharing with us Melissa, it great to hear more of your story and to introduce you on a deeper level to my readers.
If you want to find out more on what the ProBlogger event is all about, read Melissa’s guest post about the 2014 event.
Connect with Melissa online: