Today I got the privilege to introduce one more London based blogger currently living in the Oregon Coast, U.S. She is none other than Beeb Ashcroft, who has nearly nineteen years of experience in the field of journalism. Through this post, I am actually publishing the interview of someone who had got the opportunity to conduct interviews of celebrities like Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Howie Dorough (Back Street Boys), Tara Strong and many more. Let’s see what she has to share with us now.
Reji Stephenson: Hi Beeb, Thank you very much for your valuable time for this interview. Can you please introduce yourself in case some of my readers don’t know you?
I started my career in print media back in 1997 and then transitioned to social media full time in 2008. I am currently the managing editor of MomStart and the owner of multiple lifestyle sites including Contest Corner and Blog My Wedding.
Reji Stephenson:Being a journalist for nineteen years, could you please share your experience how you first got involved with blogging?
Beeb Ashcroft: It began when I was casually reading websites about saving money, and discovered coupon blogs. I had started a casual blog in the summer of 2008 (SuperCouponGirl.com) about my own coupon clipping hauls, just for fun; I had been creating websites and writing personal blogs since the late 1990s purely as a creative outlet since there had never been a way for me to monetize them effectively. Then, the coupon blog I had made for my friends began getting visitors from all over the world, many of whom found my blogspot profile because I had stumbled on their blog and left a comment or entered a giveaway.
I quickly noticed that these websites were being run as businesses, with the bloggers doing freelance work for PR firms advertising on their sites. The second I realized that this was now possible, I began doing it myself and never looked back!
Reji Stephenson:If given a choice to choose between journalism and blogging, which one you select and why?
Beeb Ashcroft: Honestly, I don’t see a separation between the two as print media declines and social media increases. Although blogging is often maligned by traditional media, I apply the same high editorial standards of ethics, fact checking, and quality to my blog posts that I would to any other article. Conversely, I am often appalled at the sloppy practices employed by many highly regarded media organizations as they struggle to keep up with the pace and competition of web-based media.
In terms of work environment, I consciously chose blogging over a more traditional newspaper or magazine environment, because the opportunity to be the owner and editor of my own publication is fantastic. Blogging allows me to write about topics that are of personal interest to me, which makes it more gratifying and enjoyable than most other writing jobs – but that is not to say that it is any easier than other writing jobs. Running your own business is fraught with challenges that you don’t encounter as an employee, and is not for the faint of heart.
There is a myth that bloggers somehow make money by sitting at home eating bon-bons, but sadly, that is not the case; I work very, very hard. (But if I can find a way to earn a living eating bon-bons, I’ll certainly consider switching careers!)
Reji Stephenson:Tell me about one of the happiest moment in your journalism career so far?
Realizing that blogging existed. Being able to work for myself and write in the style that has always appealed to me, about the kind of topics I most excel in – my dream job was created, and it did not exist back in 1997. Talk about exciting!
Reji Stephenson:Can you name few bloggers who influenced you in blogging and what are the reasons why they influenced you?
Beeb Ashcroft: Back in the coupon blog days, one of the first websites that I read was MoneySavingMom.com. The editor of that site, Crystal Paine, has a lot of similar work philosophies to me and seeing the success she’s built is pretty inspirational.
Reji Stephenson:Tell me about the most important part that you like about blogging?
Beeb Ashcroft: I think the freedom and control of being able to dictate what I’m doing.
Reji Stephenson:Can you name some of the celebrities that you interviewed during your long career in journalism?
Beeb Ashcroft: I’ve done interviews with actors (Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore), musicians (Kenny Loggins, Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys), authors (Nicholas Sparks, Piper Kerman), reality stars (Giuliana Rancic, Trista Sutter), athletes (Kristi Yamaguchi, Goose Gossage) and even My Little Pony herself, voice actress Tara Strong! I love meeting and talking to people from all jobs and walks of life – it’s fascinating to hear other people’s stories. Beebashcroft.com-Interviews
Reji Stephenson:We all know that the number of bloggers in U.S.A is high compared to any other nation. Being born in U.K. and now living in U.S.A, do you have any reason to support the argument that the people in U.S. give more importance to blogging than anyone from other parts of the globe?
Beeb Ashcroft: At this point in time, the US is the dominant blogging market, but it will only continue to grow in other countries. America is the hotbed of advertising and PR, so while I imagine that this country will always be a major force in blogging because of that specifically, we are going to see a huge increase in blogging worldwide. I started The International Blogging Network specifically to provide support to this growing market. As blogging expands in other countries in the coming years, I wanted to have the same kind of resources and forums available that I had readily accessible here in the US. I predict that we’ll see large increases in non-US blogs in the next 3-5 years, so I wanted to start my forums now so they’d be ready when that time comes!
Reji Stephenson:I know that you are actively involved in doing different things at the same time. How do you manage your time efficiently for all your activities that involve journalism, blogging, freelance writing, running the YouTube channel and much more?
Beeb Ashcroft: I think this is the magic question we’re all trying to figure out! The challenge with our modern world is that work is truly limitless now, and when you work for yourself, it can be very hard to establish any boundaries – or have any free time. Social media is ever-changing, so I also find that my areas of focus have to shift frequently, sometimes on a daily basis. One mistake I made at the outset of my blogging career was trying to run my site exactly like a print magazine. When the printing press was invented, scribes became impractical, and the same is happening today. The technology simply demands a different approach, like it or not.
Since online media consumption is very timely, you have to be ready to pick up the ball and run at any given time. Although I still plan an editorial calendar out in advance, I give myself more leeway to pick up a hot story or topic that may come up unexpectedly during the day. This can take some getting used to, since I prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time, but you have to adapt and remain flexible.
In practical terms, I keep a planner where I notate deadlines and projects that need to be tackled each day, and I prioritize based on what is due, what emails are urgent, and what last-minute opportunities or angles come up that are worth covering.
It’s also really important to have enough space in your life to do things other than work. I have spent many, many years working nonstop and keeping insane hours in order to establish myself. I’ve had to learn how to pull back and take days and evenings off.
Most crucially, you have to become comfortable saying “No” and prioritizing your time according to what is important to your goals and what you are capable of.
Reji Stephenson:Can you name a few social media sites and online communities that you are actively involved?
Reji Stephenson:Can you explain few of your networking strategies that worked better for creating visibility for yourself and your blog?
Beeb Ashcroft: Kick every door until you get can get your foot through one! Do not be overbearing under any circumstance, but rather, prepare to be extremely persistent. You will be rejected, repeatedly – that’s just part of it.
In practical terms, I think that networking in person is irreplaceable. Depending on where you live, this can be challenging, but take any opportunity to attend local blogger events or conferences so that you can make those real-life connections that translate into online work. Where do you find those? Blogging forums and social media are two good ways to start – look for blogging groups on Facebook if you’re not in any, or ask for recommendations. Put yourself out there by following relevant people in your niche on social media channels – be gregarious, professional, and helpful.
Reji Stephenson:Could you please share some tips for newbie bloggers and writers for improving their writing skills?
Beeb Ashcroft: It’s so cliché, but I truly believe that reading as much as you can will make you a better writer. I read voraciously as a child, and it gives you an intuitive feel for writing that you can’t replace. In practical terms, there are free online courses.
To help with nuts and bolts skills such as grammar and spelling. It’s also helpful to have others read your work and give feedback, although it’s important not to be oversensitive as tastes vary. Leaving your ego aside and not being “Precious” about your work is also an extremely huge asset for anyone writing professionally to have – or develop!
Reji Stephenson: Thank you very much Beeb for sparing your valuable time for my readers in this blog . Have a happy and prosperous 2016 to you as well as for my precious readers of this blog.
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