‘In the Blog Seat’ is a series of interviews with bloggers and vloggers who share their blogging journey, inspirations and learning lessons…
Ana De Jesus lives in London and has been blogging at Faded Spring for two years. The blog covers lifestyle, fashion and social issues and focuses on mental health, dating, trends and personal life stories. When Ana is not busy blogging, she enjoys singing, acting, dancing, reading, writing short stories/poems, eating out at restaurants and seeing friends….
What three things can’t you live without to help manage your blog – and why?
Ooh tricky question, as there are so many automation tools out there. I run two popular Facebook Social Media Groups for bloggers, as well as running my own blog, so I use Hootsuite to schedule my two groups ‘threads’ and content and I use Buffer to schedule Tweets (so don’t be offended if I don’t see your comment straight away as many of the tweets are automated).
I also use Like To Know It’s Rewardstyle App to schedule Instagram content, which uses affiliate links so that readers can shop my Instagram feed.
Who is your ideal reader?
In all honesty I would never say there is an ‘ideal reader’ as I love all my readers regardless of background, occupation or beliefs. I have young teens who read my content, but also mums who identify with my personal content.
I am very thankful for anyone who takes time out of their day to read my blog as it means the world to me. I never thought I would have people who would actually enjoy my blog ramblings as much as they have and I am so grateful for all the kind comments and lovely emails that my readers write to me. It really does make my day.
How did you first get into blogging?
I followed blogs from a young age; I was 15 when blogs first became popular, but it was not until my second year of university that I had contemplated blogging as an occupation. After graduating my third year with a first in English Literature, English Language and Education and Social Sciences, I was very unwell and was unable to work in a traditional sense. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take the plunge and start my own blog, which in all honesty was the best decision I have ever made.
I am a Libra so I am notoriously indecisive, but writing that first blog post felt enthralling. Despite being unwell and having mental health issues, I felt connected to a wider community who helped me through my early blogging days and shaped me into becoming the person I am today. After some time I went into full time work, but I knew one day that I wanted to blog full time. I am happy to say that I am officially a full time blogger now – and I can’t wait to see what the journey will bring me!
How did you choose your niche?
I originally started as a ‘fashion blogger’, but the more I blogged the more that I wanted to share my story with the world. I grew up in care, was abused as a child and bullied as a teen. Yet despite everything that happened to me and the mental health issues I had as a result, I realised that I wanted to address what I had been through and show that you can be stronger and a survivor, even when life seems rough.
Gradually the content became ‘centered around’ lifestyle and talks about everything from my ‘dating disasters’ to dealing with childhood issues, right through to my passion for ‘eating’ and all things street art.
How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently? Do you have a schedule/automated systems/extra help for example?
It was tough when I was in full time work, as I was working 12 hour days or more, alongside running my blog and a weekend job too. Not to mention other additional projects, so at first I found it hard to find a routine that worked for me. I tend to not schedule blog content, as often the best posts are written in the moment, but I usually try and write content at the weekend when I work fewer hours. Even now as a full time blogger, I still write posts at the weekend.
What strategies have worked well for you in getting more traffic to your blog?
When I first started blogging I was on Wix, but I honestly wish I had started on WordPress, as it is a much better platform for SEO and in my eyes has a more professional selection of templates. My traffic on the WIX platform was ok, but it was migrating over to WordPress last November that saw my traffic skyrocket.
I began posting more regularly and worked hard on generating leads from Twitter, which is now my second highest traffic source after Facebook.
A few months ago I realised what the best ‘social media groups’ and platforms to generate traffic were for me. After analyzing my data I noticed that Mondays were consistently the best day for generating more traffic and sets the benchmark for the rest of the week. This is also why I post on Instagram on this day too, as my users will head over to my blog to read that day’s post.
What blog achievement are you most proud of?
I could say it would be the awards (Best British Blogger, Blogger Of The Month), but in all honesty I am most proud of taking the plunge and going full time. You might think I am crazy, after all it pays less and I have a mountain of debt to my name. But the truth is I have always put my dreams on a back burner because I never saw them as ‘realistic’ goals – and then I realized that we only have one life to live so we should follow our dreams. Our time is precious so dare to dream and stop putting off your dreams for the sake of reality. Besides you never know what could happen…
What are your blogging goals for the next 12 months?
Now that I have become a full time blogger, I would like to do some courses in photography, SEO and coding so that I could improve the basic skills that I have and take my blog to the next level. I would also like to create blogging events for the London community and set up an online forum for ‘mental health bloggers’, so that we can all share our stories and give each support, especially when so many people are afraid to share their stories. I would like to eliminate that and show that we all have each other’s backs, as it is a judgement free zone.
As well as creating events and forums, I would like to be able to increase my social and blog presence and be able to learn new ways to monetize my blog and social platforms.
What’s the most challenging issue for you in your blogging journey so far?
While I don’t get them too often, dealing with trolls is something that scares me. I have had a few incidents where there has been nasty comments about me as a person i.e. one example was that I was portraying myself as a victim and no one cared if I had been abused, when I was writing an article that raised awareness about childhood abuse.
Naturally I am quite sensitive so while it did upset me, I reported them and (all the other trolls) and put it out of my mind. Dealing with negative comments can be challenging as I ‘automatically’ go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, so learning how to not react but at the same time ensure that these online bullies do not get away with their horrible behaviour is a fine balance to strike.
Do you have any favourite bloggers?
I have so many, there are some amazing people out there. Of course there are some who I count as personal friends like Anna Maria (On The Edge Blog), but if I was to name bloggers who I had not met in person but I love their content it would be the following (my answers might surprise you)
Harriet From ‘Toby and Roo’
Not only is she funny and undeniably real but she also writes amazing blog posts. I get that I am not a ‘parent blogger’, but her style of writing never fails to make me laugh and she also writes about topics like ‘mental health’ and sex, which I am a huge fan of reading about.
I love her frank discussions on dating, sex and relationships and her candid exploration of ‘taboo topics’ is absolutely mind blowing. I like to think that I am very open minded and will write about topics that might be seen as controversial and Vix does the same .
Angela from ‘The Inspiration Edit’
Angela is the sweetest soul and always messages me to see how my day is going and whether I need any help with anything. Despite being a parent, we share more similarities than you might think. Not only has she experienced abuse and domestic violence, but she has also fought against racial oppression, all while battling chronic illnesses. For that I admire her bravery and willingness to share her journey with us, her readers.
David From SingleDadsGuideToLife
Again another very sweet blogger, David has been through a lot of hardships but remains positive nevertheless. His writing style is beautifully descriptive yet as humorous as it is eloquent. Plus there is more to David than just parenting as he also talks about dating, food and days out.
Laura From ‘Five Little Doves’
One of the bravest bloggers I know, Laura speaks candidly about the loss of her child Joseph and raises awareness of what it is like to lose your child. It breaks my heart knowing what she has been through but I am very proud of her for being the beautiful soul that she is.
Elizabeth From Betty’s Battleground
Another beautiful, brave soul, Betty is a survivor of domestic violence and abuse and speaks openly about her struggles with PTSD and how abuse kept her from revealing her bisexuality for a very long time. She is a true inspiration to me and her bravery in the face of true injustice is absolutely amazing.
What motivates you to keep your blog up and running?
Blogging not only helped me deal with depression, anxiety and PTSD, but it also helped me feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin.
I am someone who never likes to give up, so even on days where my depression is bad I think of my blog and how much I have achieved to get to where I am now. So despite hardships that come my way, what inspires me to keep on blogging is A. how it has changed me as a person for the better, B. the friends I have made along the way and C. how passionate I am about blogging and how it has made me a happier person.
Where do you hope your blog will take you?
It’s difficult to predict where things can take me next but I am hoping that I will continue to be recognized for my hard work and be able to continue blogging full time. I would love to be able to travel the world and be able to earn enough money to give to animal abuse and childhood abuse charities.
I also want to speak at events and show people how they too can overcome difficult pasts and become the person they have always dreamed of becoming.
Do you monetise your blog – and if so, in what ways?
I do! I even wrote two posts – platforms that pay you to blog and how to turn your blog into a money making business.
My main source of blogging income comes from sponsored posts, although I do earn a little from affiliate marketing, and I am hoping to monetise my social media channels over the next six months so that is something I am working on!
Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?
I do tend to get a lot of inspiration from my own ‘personal life stories’, but I also get inspiration from reading other bloggers posts and even from Facebook Groups, news and social media.
What’s the best thing a blogger can give to their readers?
I think the best thing us bloggers can do for our readers is to give them something back in return. For me I like to reply to readers' comments, write them personal emails and interact with their content because I want to thank them for being my reader. Without their love and support I would not be here now. My readers give me happiness and joy, so why not make them happy too? They deserve to be happy.
What do you love most about blogging and how long do you spend blogging in a typical week?
I love the freedom that blogging gives me. Not only can I choose my own hours but I don’t have to follow someone else’s orders; anyone who knows me understands how much I don’t like being told what to do! It is a weakness of mine. But I digress, I love being my own boss and prospecting my own opportunities because the rewards at the end seem that much sweeter.
If someone was interested in starting a blog, what one piece of advice would you offer him or her?
Go for it. Forget about other people’s opinions and go with your gut. Dare to dream; our time on earth is fleeting, so why waste your time worrying about the ‘what ifs’? Living out your dreams is a beautiful feeling I promise you.
The nitty gritty…
What is your favourite blog post (or one of your favourite) you’ve written and why?
My aunty and my foster mum are my greatest role models, but it is my aunty who is the bravest woman that I know. She has battled cancer, been abused and raised my cousin as a single mum. Yet despite everything she has been through, she never fails to bring positivity and light into my life and I don’t know what I would do without her. She taught me that it is okay to be alone and that you don’t need a man to make you happy.
I also need to mention A Letter To My Dad on Father's Day. The last time that I saw my dad was when I was 10 and while he still calls me occasionally at work, growing up without a father has been difficult. His wife (who he is still with) abused me as a child and I wrote a letter relaying how I have struggled with growing up, but how I don’t hold it against him. My father is a good man; what people must realise is that he is being abused too, but doesn't have the strength to leave his wife.
What type of blog post do you most enjoy writing?
My favourite posts to write are on ‘dating’ and personal posts on abuse and bullying, even if the latter two is the hardest to write.
Do you regularly collaborate with brands?
I love collaborating with brands and my favourite brands I have worked with so far are ‘Prezzybox’, Quiz and River Island. I would love to work with Pretty Little Thing, Public Desire and Quay Australia among others.
What has been the best thing about blogging so far and why?
I love the opportunities and the events that blogging gives me, but truly the best thing about blogging is my readers. They lift me up when I am feeling down and make me smile when all I want to do is frown.
Through hard times they have reached out to me and told me everything was going to be alright and have never failed to cheer me on.