I’m very excited about this post which is the second in my series of features! (If you didn’t catch it, my first feature was all about the wonderful Bels Flowers – read it here.)
Chloe Hall is quite the busy lady! Founder of gorgeous North East lifestyle blog Prosecco and Pie and newly established small business Bumble and Bloom Media, Chloe was also shortlisted for ‘The Guardian’s Rising Star Award’ last year. We’ve met a couple of times, tweeted each other lots and her blog is one of my favourites – she writes so beautifully. (I also love Chloe’s Instagram photos of Daisy and Miffy, her two fluffy bichon frises!). I decided to ask her, very formally via Twitter DM, if she’d like to feature on my blog. She said yes. This would be a sad post if she’d declined. Ha.
We met up for a good old catch-up over brunch at Harvest Canteen in Jesmond, I could have quite easily spent all day chatting and drinking coffee.
1. Predictable question to start us off! How did you first get into blogging?
I decided to start Prosecco and Pie about the same time as I was working for a local magazine as a writer and helping to manage their blog. I loved the idea that you could reach hundreds, if not thousands of people interested in the same things as you and get an instant response/feedback to your writing. I also realised I knew very little about blogging, so jumped in with both feet and decided to learn everything I could – turns out it was one of the best things I ever did.
2. How did you decide you wanted to work for yourself?
I’ve always daydreamed about running my own business, I just didn’t ever let myself imagine it would (or could) happen so quickly. I’m a bit of a geek and secretly loved Business Studies at GCSE and A-Level, I kept thinking this looks so fun! The marketing modules were my favourite, but I still found a strange enjoyment struggling with balance sheets and the meticulous layouts of cashflow forecasts. Ultimately, being in charge of your own destiny, income and daily schedule always seemed so appealing to me, to think of going back to a 9-5 grind now would be rubbish!
3. You’ve blogged about lots and lots of places, what’s your favourite hidden gem to visit in the North-East?
Prosecco and Pie has definitely inspired me to get out there and actually see what’s on my doorstep. Because I stayed here to study (I ended up doing English Literature at Newcastle Uni) I found myself feeling a bit flat when my uni mates were getting excited about places I’d visited so many times. Being able to drive and have my own car definitely helps me get about, so if I had to choose a favourite hidden gem it would be the beautiful Garage Spa near Barnard Castle (about an hour away from Newcastle) I visited recently, or The Northumberland Arms in Felton which is the most beautifully furnished pub/restaurant with rooms right in the countryside. Both are picture-perfect!
4. Being your own boss can’t be easy – are you always working?
Truthfully? Yes. Being self-employed is so empowering and exciting that my body and mind can (so far!) handle being at work almost every hour I’m awake, but it can also be scary as hell when unlike your friends and family, you don’t have a pay-day at the end of the month. If I don’t keep putting myself/my business out there, meeting new people and forcing myself out of my comfort zone to try new things then I don’t get paid. In between meetings, networking events and actually doing work for clients at Bumble & Bloom Media, I’m also thinking about Prosecco and Pie and making sure I’m in touch with what’s going on in the region, when was the last time I posted etc.
5. Give us an insight into your working day!
My ‘office’ is at home, so if I’ve got a lot of work to do the next day I’ll get up around half 8, turn on my laptop and can work away until 6pm if needs be. Often I’ll have meetings and events booked in my diary – some days I’m out of the house at half 8 and not back until 9ish! I can’t lie to you though, some days are like a dream come true/scene from a film where I get up, grab my handbag and drive five minutes along the road to Tynemouth and sit in a coffee shop with my notebook or laptop. If I really can’t concentrate, sometimes I find the silence of my local library the perfect atmosphere to work. Working from home definitely has its perks, although with two dogs, two guinea pigs and a tortoise at home all wanting my attention sometimes I find myself shooing a guinea pig out of the dog’s bowl in between proofreading a press release I’ve written or shoving my wellies on and taking the dogs for a walk in the pouring rain just to tire them out so they’ll sleep next to me for the rest of the afternoon while I manage clients’ social media or write a blog post for them.
6. What tips would you give to budding entrepreneurs/bloggers?
- Have faith in yourself. Before I decided I was ready to become self-employed I thought it would be more sensible to get additional experience under my belt. It wasn’t until I was in various interviews telling people what I could do and what I have achieved already that I thought actually, why don’t I just show these people I can do it? And so I did.
- Having a support network around you is also really important. Without the help and advice of my family and friends I’m not sure whether Bumble & Bloom Media would have turned out as wonderfully as it has. It’s little unexpected things that get to you the most, like having to make decisions alone. In theory, that didn’t seem like a problem but when you run your own business and you have the final say on everything – from approving logo designs to writing terms and conditions being self-employed can be daunting and lonely.
- Don’t apologise for being ambitious. Not all of your friends or family will understand what you do – my Nanna was HORRIFIED when I told her I was leaving a full-time job as a Senior Writer for a magazine for example. She still asks me now a year and a half later whether I’m looking for jobs, or if a job comes up will I take it? What she doesn’t understand is that I no longer enjoyed my job, it wasn’t nearly as glamorous as it seemed and that the freedom to be as ambitious and adventurous as I like was too exciting not to pursue. The world is your oyster, if you truly believe you’re talented at what you do then go for it!
- Save up. Boring, I know, but looking back I’m glad I saved up money to act as a cushion while I was still looking into developing my business, panicking about a name, doing my market research etc. It meant my car was still on the road and my rent wasn’t a big issue – giving me the freedom I needed to explore new options.
- Be honest with yourself about where your skills lie, and how good you are at what you do. I love writing, but I also know what kinds of writing I’m good at and more importantly, how to write commercially. Working to daily, if not hourly deadlines at a magazine with word counts of 1,000+ you have to be able to write to a high standard consistently. Having a portfolio of work definitely helps when pitching your ideas to people, but at the end of the day it’s all about the delivery. Writing for a magazine where an Editor checks everything before going to print is a safety net, now I’m self-employed I have to be both and that has taken some practise and getting used to. Some people I know realised they love writing more as a hobby, blogging about things that they like and enjoy – that’s fine, and that’s when your writing will be at its best.
Thank you to Chloe for taking time out of her busy schedule to feature 🙂 Hope you’ve enjoyed reading!