It’s time for our monthly collaboration, I’ll Show You My…” and this month, we’re showing off our fellow bloggers!
I’d like to introduce you to Ashley from Bloomin’ Ash!
I’m still pretty new to blogging, and in the first few months, I joined about a million Facebook groups for bloggers. I kept “bumping into” Ashley in the comments of posts and I quickly realized she was the kind of blogger/mom/person I wanted in my tribe. Our writing styles are very similar, and when I read her post about not being an expert, I decided she was my blogging soulmate. Ashley was my first and most obvious choice for this interview, not only because we are so similar, but because I look up to her! We started our blogs around the same time, but I am still awestruck when she shares one of my posts! Ashley is doing great and amazing things, and being a part of that makes me feel pretty special!
And without further ado; the interview!
Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?
Hi! I’m Ashley, and I created the “Bloomin’ Ash”
blog in Feb 2017. I live in Mississippi with my husband and four kids. We have a crazy blended family. I’m a mom of 3+1 bonus daughter, and a 31 year old grandma thanks to a the age difference between my husband and I (15 years).
By day, and often night, I am a website consultant. I absolutely love what I do, which is building and managing websites for businesses, bloggers, etc. I am in recovery, and recently celebrated two years sober. I’m a domestic abuse survivor as well as a complete screw-up who learned some really, really hard lessons during and after a divorce from hell in 2014-2015.
Bloomin’ Ash is a blog that I started as a way to connect with parents (often moms), and/or women who struggle with overwhelm, anxiety, addiction, and depression. The women who feel the pressure to do all the things, and never feeling good enough, but always trying. Initially, it started as a blog to encourage daily habits and personal growth without massive pressure. However, in the past month or so, it has evolved into more of an overall theme of recovery + personal growth.
Describe how you first got into blogging?
I’ve followed bloggers for 10+ years and have started blogs here and there over the years. They were mostly family stories and personal tidbits, though. This is the first time I realized that I had more to offer, and I knew what I wanted to share. I came across Melyssa Griffin in my Facebook feed at some point, read her blog, and it intrigued me enough to keep learning about blogging for a purpose. I have always wanted to write a book, and hopefully multiple books, and I realized that I could use a blog to help me shape all the different angles and thoughts, see what was most interesting to people, and turn what I wanted into a book.
Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging?
Reading and writing have been passions since I was in the womb, I think. I’m sure I was born with a pen and notepad in one hand, and a book in the other. I don’t shy away from uncomfortable or vulnerable topics (some people have called it “TMI” or “oversharing” but I like to call it “authenticity”), and I’ve been told that’s an attractive part of my writing. Another strength is online communication. I’ve never had problems connecting with people online and developing meaningful relationships. I have friends now that I’ve met and spent time with, that I met online when I was 11 years old in AOL forums. Meaningful friendships with others is important in all aspects of life, and blogging is no exception. A rising tide lifts all ships.
How would you describe your blogging style?
Relatable and honest, plus uplifting and positive.
What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?
Connecting with bloggers in a similar niche is very helpful. Engaging in active Facebook groups has been hugely beneficial for me, but can also get overwhelming at times. Guest posting, cross-promoting, and other types of collaboration with bloggers and companies who have the same (or similar) audience to me is also very helpful. I’m still new though, so this could change. I haven’t focused on Pinterest much yet, but I believe that will be a help when I do.
What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to his readers?
A solution to their problem, whether it’s a technical problem or an emotional one. They could be lonely and isolated, and the blog provides the solution in the form of “you’re not alone; we also deal with this.” They could be trying to learn something new, and the blog provides a roadmap for that skill. Whatever the problem, there is some kind of satisfying solution to it. Even if it’s just an emotional one.
What would be your ideal working environment?
Working in cafes and other slightly busy areas is good for me, as long as nobody talks to me or needs me. If I’m all alone, I tend to get restless, but being surrounded by strangers (while wearing headphones playing instrumental “focus” music) seems to increase my productivity. Other days, I need to be in a closed room with a window and headphones on. It depends.
How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
Hahahahaha. I’m working on it. “Efficient” isn’t a word I’d use to describe my style yet, but the most successful I’ve been (measured in consistent traffic, anyway) has been when I woke up about an hour earlier every day and set a goal to write at least 500 words every day. I get my writing done early, and the rest of the day can be balanced between work and promoting/networking.
What do you think is the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
Guest posting and cross-promoting with other bloggers in similar niches. Connecting in Facebook groups (especially large groups with collaboration threads and “share your content” threads), was the first step. Not spamming groups, but answering questions and connecting for real.
How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
I want to improve my offer to my readers. I don’t want to just write bland stuff to say I have a blog. I want to write and share things that actually stick and make an impact in a reader’s mind. Even if it’s just a few. Overall, I also want to improve my focus in all areas of life. Rather than jumping from task to task and getting distracted easily, I want to improve my productivity through focused effort.
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
My divorce, and the years leading up to it. I learned that I could lie to myself, which blew my entire world open. I learned that I wasn’t immune to serious consequences for stupid behavior. I learned what abuse really was, and how it affected my life. The biggest lesson was how important it really is slow down and appreciate emotions for what they are, rather than running from all discomfort all the time.
Tell me about your proudest achievement?
My sobriety. I never thought I would ever quit drinking, and now it’s been two years since I touched alcohol and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. It amazes me.
Who has impacted you most in blogging and how?
I followed Heather Armstrong (dooce.com
) years ago, and she impacted me with her honesty and hilarity. She was my first real introduction to the world of blogging, and got those wheels turning. Melyssa Griffin is the more recent blogger, with her posts about how to provide value to readers. I hadn’t made the jump from simply blogging about my own life to also offering something to the reader until that point.
What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
See above. 🙂 I don’t really have a proud achievement within blogging besides the fact that I still have it, and I’m still happily working on it. That’s an achievement for somebody who tends to get bored easily.
What do you do in your spare time?
Social media, sadly. But outside of that, talking with my children, writing, and exploring various towns from the back of my husband’s Harley.
Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?
I would like to have written at least 1 book, preferably more, and my blog still going strong with resources, a podcast or video series, and a decent income to help it keep going. I want my site to be inspirational, witty, and something that might change people’s lives if they came across it at the right moment. I want my blog to take me around the country meeting amazing people, inspiring others, and providing some kind of service (to be determined). I’d also like to connect with charities related to domestic violence and recovery.
What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?
Just continuing day in and day out, right now. Writer’s block gets me, big time. Perfectionism halts a lot of my progress, and I have to work through it. I don’t have one single moment to point to, but the challenge to write fresh, useful content on a consistent basis is difficult sometimes.
Can you name some of your favorite bloggers and explain why they are your favorites?
April (SoberUpButtercup.com), a favorite because she is very blunt and honest. She talks candidly about sex, sobriety, and a lot of very interesting self-awareness posts. I have a ton of favorites, though.
What inspired you to start your blog?
The desire to share my experiences and hopefully reach somebody who is going through what I’ve gone through. I want to write what I wish I’d read 10 years ago. I finally started my blog because I just finished a major court hearing (for permanent sole legal and physical custody of my children after having temporary sole custody for over a year), and now that the biggest part is over and my children also know about my sobriety, I feel freed up to talk about it publicly like never before. Before now, it never felt authentic to write about things without talking about recovery. It’s the lens that everything has to run through.
How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
Connecting with other bloggers, committing to guest posts on a consistent basis (keeps me motivated to write), and thinking about who I want to help and why.
What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
It’s a lot of trial and error, and what works for somebody else may not work for you/your niche. There are a ton of helpful step-by-steps, and a lot of that stuff works, but in the end you have to try a lot of things to see what sticks and what doesn’t. It takes time, and if you’re not making money from it, it can be easy to quit. The constant promoting and connecting can be exhausting.
In the future where do you hope your blog will take you?
I hope it will take me around the country and world. I’ve always had a dream that I would be traveling the country and maybe even the world, meeting people I already knew online, speaking (even though speaking in front of people terrifies me), and sharing something important. I hope that my blog helps make that dream a reality.
Have you met anyone interesting/famous on your blogging journey?
Do you have any specific goals for the rest of this year?
Outline and start my book. Monetize my blog to the point that it at least pays for the time and resources I put into it. My biggest goal is a financial amount that I want to make (monthly) from blogging as well as website consulting by the end of the year, though.
What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?
I see a lot of things through a lens of “how can I write about that in a way that’s useful”. If I hear an offhand remark from a stranger in the store, I’ll start crafting a blog post in my head from an idea that comes from that. I am more creative and connected to my own thoughts and beliefs.
Did you have any professional help or did you created the blog yourself?
Myself, being a web nerd and all. 🙂
How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
I communicate with followers via email once or twice a month right now. Not as much as I’d like, but something. I’m active with many regular followers on a daily basis via social media, though. I post about 1 blog post per week, sometimes every other week during a particularly busy month.
How much time do you spend blogging?
If social media and general connection counts, as well as adjusting technical things for the blog, I’d say 5-8 hours per week off the top of my head.
What do you think is the best social media strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?
Pinterest, even though it’s not “social media”. And outside of that, it depends on where the audience is. Instagram has been the best for me to regularly connect with people, but Facebook is the highest traffic (probably thanks to those big FB groups).
Would you encourage other people to make their blog?
YES. All day long. It may not be for everybody, but I encourage everybody to try it. Whether it’s writing, or vlogging, or whatever the case may be, I always encourage blogging and online creating.
Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
Currently a hobby that I’m hoping turns into more of a profession.
A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?
Making money is hard no matter where the work is. Since I’m not there yet, I will give the advice I was given: one step at a time. If you jump all in trying to make thousands right off the bat, you may burn out.
If you’d like to read more about Ashley’s journey through recovery, her thoughts on parenting, or how she gets through tough days, check out http://www.bloominash.com
This is a collaborative link-up post, if you’d like to hop on board, just drop your link in the form below!
If you think you would like to join in on future posts, I’ve included out link-up schedule below. Publish a post that fits the scheduled topic and add yourself to the link-up form that day!