This round of Behind the Blog features Jessica Freeman of Jess Creatives. Jess is a self titled blogger and creative entrepreneur, and a web and graphic designer based in Atlanta, GA. Jess Creatives is a blog focused on design and business for service-based entrepreneurs, and launched in 2013.
I stumbled upon Jess Creatives for the first time last year because Jess is a really active member of a lot of Facebook Groups that I’m in. She’s always taking the time to answer questions to help other bloggers and entrepreneurs, and she’s always participating in discussions. Since then I’ve been a reader of Jess Creatives – I love that the posts are always very real and honest, and I feel like I’m learning things that I can actually apply to my blog and my business. I also love her design aesthetic – Jess manages to keep everything is clean and simple, but still very interesting.
Coffee or tea: Iced coffee or chai lattes
Cats or dogs: Dogs, I have a cocker spaniel pup :)
WordPress or blogger: Squarespace
Summer or Winter: Summer all the way
Pen or keyboard: Keyboard
Sweet or savoury: Definitely sweets
Morning or night: Morning person
Serif or sans: Sans
Indoors or out: Hmmm… I’d say outdoors
Apple or Android: Apple all the way
What inspired you to start your blog?
What obstacles did you face in the beginning?
When I started blogging about design, I just wanted to share my thoughts with people, or share cool things I found online. My biggest problem was consistency, and knowing what to blog about. Also… no one ever read my posts. Ha!
How did you come up with your blog name?
What’s the meaning behind it?
Jess Creatives is actually the name of my business. I created Jess Creatives (that sounds redundant) in college, as part of my senior portfolio class, we had to brand ourselves. I was seriously dating my now-husband at the time, and knew that we would be getting engaged/married sometime in the next year or so — so using my full name was out of the question. I didn’t want to brand myself with my maiden name (also I hated my maiden name, because no one could ever pronounce it). I couldn’t really think of anything to do with colors or objects like many creatives do — like Yellow Feather Studio or Pink Brick Creative, etc.
So, I landed on Jess Creatives. I chose Creatives, because at the time, I was doing photography on top of design. With “Creatives” in the title, I felt like I could add in more services as I felt appropriate in the future. My husband is also a creative-type, and does audio/video work, so knowing that could be a possible service added in the future, it would also fit under the “Creatives” umbrella.
What is your daily blogging routine and how do you stay productive?
How many hours a week do you spend on your blog?
I don’t blog daily, or even spend time on it daily. I try to chunk my time by project — sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For instance, as I’m working on this interview, the last few hours have been spent working on my blog and answering emails — so this is kind of my writing + email + admin time. Later this afternoon, I will spend a chunk of time just working on design projects. I’ve realized it works better for me to do these things in separate chunks of time, where I can get in “design” mode, and “writing” mode. I probably spend 2-3 hours a week on my blog right now, writing two posts, editing, creating graphics and scheduling it out.
Are you the only one who works on your blog or do you have help?
If yes, how long were you working alone before you brought on help?
In terms of writing, yes, I am the only one who works on my blog. I have outsourced coming up with blog topics a few times, because that’s a struggle of mine. If I can just have someone tell me to write about ______, then I can sit down and write it all out. I did this outsourcing the first time, about six months into my blog, because someone wanted some beta testers. I did it a year later, but paid for it. Then, I did it again a few months ago, as a part of another beta test.
Was there a blog or blogger you looked up to when starting out?
How did they inspire you and your blog/brand?
Leah Kalamakis was probably my inspiration when starting out. When I found her online, I was just doing freelance work as it came to me. I wasn’t trying to build a business, and I wasn’t trying to quit my job or anything. Honestly, I didn’t even realize that people my age could be self-employed and run an online business. I joined her Freelance to Freedom Facebook community, where I started learning a lot from other entrepreneurs about starting a business, making the leap, selling your services, blogging, etc. This community was huge in helping push me to be better and grow my business.
Are there any blogs you read regularly?
Why do you like them?
I’m not one of those people who has a blog bookmarked, or subscribes to RSS feeds. I’ve tried it, and I just can never be consistent about going in and reading posts. So, in that sense, I don’t have anyone that I read every. single. post. that they write. But, Erika Madden (@OlyviaMedia) has great posts that I read quite often, as does Sarah Morgan (@xosarahmorgan). There are probably dozens of others that I read fairly often, but those two are ones that stick out in my mind.
What do you wish someone had told you on your first day of blogging?
What advice would you give someone else on their first day?
Focus on the reader, is what I wish someone had told me, and what I would give to someone else. This is really important as someone who blogs for business, but even if you’re just blogging as a lifestyle blogger, just blogging to tell funny stories, or whatever — focus on the reader. Maybe your blog post can’t be a technical checklist or tutorial, maybe it’s not a recommendation of products or tools, but what can you do to inspire or impact them? That will keep them coming back for more.
If you had $1000 to start from scratch today what would you spend the money on?
What have you spent money on that wasn’t worth the investment?
What’s the one thing you’ve done that has increased your traffic the most?
What have you wasted time on with the least reward?
Pinning for business, has been the best thing for my blog. It doubled after I started being really strategic about pinning, joining group boards, optimizing my pins, etc. (I have a post about it going up next week!)
The least reward has been using ads. I’ve tried Pinterest ads, Facebook ads, ads on other sites (like in sidebars), and even a few local things — and nothing has ever come of these things. This has just reinforced my belief that relationships with people, and producing content, are best for driving traffic and getting shares.
When did you realize your blog was a success?
What was the turning point?
When I had some “big names” tweet out my blogs, I felt pretty good about my blog. But, when I had people emailing or messaging me about how helpful something was, or how something totally made sense now — that was a big mark of success for me. The whole point of my blog has been to be a resource for others — not to make millions, not to get thousands of followers, just to be a resource for those who are starting out.
Who else would you like to see profiled on Behind the Blog?