Cheery’s Kay Brown spent a day with our third year fashion communications students and offered some inspirational advice and tips on succeeding in the blogging world.
Kay Brown is the founder of Cheery Little Thing, a UK lifestyle blog which showcases the little things that make you smile, from a fashion find to a review of a thrilling piece of theatre or art exhibition. Kay is very well connected and also hosts inspirational and fun events across Leeds and beyond.
We caught up with Kay to find out more…
Tell us about Cheery Little Thing? How did you set up your own blog?
Cheery Little Thing was initially set up early in 2013 but it didn't really develop or come to life until the summer. I felt like I didn't have a creative outlet - working in a high pressure, very busy job - yet I was getting opportunities to go to certain gigs, places, events because of my work so I created an outlet to write about them, Cheery Little Thing via Wordpress.
Once I realised it was something I was maintaining I started to promote the website, drive traffic via different platforms, consider what I wanted the brand to be and develop the format of the website so it was nicer for readers landing on it.
Kay hosted an event with lifestyle magazine Betty
Tell us about your day with our fashion students, what did you talk to them about, what did you do with them?
During my day with the third year fashion students I gave an introduction to blogging, key things to consider (and look out for when reading blogs) - particularly about monetisation (a lot of Vloggers get a bad rep for discreet advertising but bloggers can be just as bad with their disclaimers though there is a greater clamp down on this now), the signs that identify what type of content certain blogs host and how you might adopt some of those via your own brand.
I then gave the students the daunting task of pitching a feature idea or something I should cover. This seemed to be the sticking point for some as it can be quite difficult to understand the value of your knowledge when you see deadlines ahead. After chatting through individual projects and chatting through what information might be interesting to the press or a good angle to create promotion for their own work, the task seemed to be a little less intimidating.
I then finished up by talking through my first Cheery event - what it involved, what went wrong, what went well and what I learnt. I felt that it was important to be honest about hosting your own event with your own money.
What tips and advice do you have for setting up your own blog / company?
Fear generally puts people off so I'd say that it's very rare something is perfect from the start and blogs particularly evolve. Ultimately you're not going to be the same person five years down the line and a blog will reflect that, and in part, I think that's why people read them so don't be afraid to get something set up, write some content, tinker around and then when you're happy, start shouting from the rooftops.
It's a saturated marketplace at the moment so consider what type of blog you want it to be, ensure your design/images/text reflects that so people understand that's what you're about and join the relevant blog chats for your niche. There's Twitter chats every evening for different types of blogs (and blogs in general) so utilise the hashtags like #lbloggers (for lifestyle bloggers) and talk to others, learn from them.
There also seems to be a pressure for everyone to be good at everything - both in blogging and the feeling when you set up your own company so I'd suggest asking for help when you need it. Plenty of bloggers work with photographer friends, their boyfriends might have built their websites etc, so don't feel the pressure to do everything perfectly but at the same time, don't ignore areas you're not so good in either. Collaborate with others, it's rewarding and it opens the door for other opportunities.
Kay reviews restaurants and recipes on her blog
What do you think are the trends in fashion over the next five year? Tell us about your Fashion in Yorkshire posts?
It feels as though fast fashion is being left behind and we're considering our clothes in the same educated way we buy food now. There's a greater demand for knowing who and what is around you, where something has come from, if it has been ethically made and longevity over price.
I think that we're becoming increasingly discerning over what we buy and that will be at the detriment of some high street brands but it'll also allow others to flourish. Campaigns from Barbour show that there is a huge interest in the press and bloggers visiting the UK manufacturers, documenting what is there and the sense of pride from saying 'this is here' and I think it'll continue to grow over the next few years. I hope the movement is just in time to save some of the buildings and places of industry that have been left to ruin by developers so they can demolish them and their history with it.
My Fashion in Yorkshire series came from my realisation that I didn't seem to have my eyes open to the heritage and current happenings in regards to fashion in the region. There's so many stories of people, the successes of local manufacturers, the fact that Leeds was the centre for tailoring in the world and yet we don't really seem to acknowledge it or understand its importance.
Growing up in a mining village which is still in a state of devastation owing to the pit closure, I guess I see that some of those stories are being lost because my generation doesn't know about them to keep telling them and I think it's important to understand our cultural history, not just via art and architecture but via fashion too.
What exciting things do you have coming up?
I have plans in the pipeline for more Cheery events this year and I'm spending some time focusing on my client work to ensure my business goes in the direction I want it to go in. There's nothing I can specifically reveal at the moment but like most things, they'll probably be blogged about!