Behind the Blog with Lauren Hooker

Behind the Blog with Lauren Hooker

Behind the Blog with Lauren Hooker

I’ve got some exciting news here! I’m starting my first ever interview series. I’ve always looked up to and felt inspired by other bloggers, but I also like to know that they’re real people too. I love finding out a little bit more about how they got where they are, how they stay productive, how they’ve struggled, and what they’re passionate about. So, I decided to start my own series to profile bloggers who have found success. I guess the term ‘success’ could be interpreted a lot of different ways, (we’ll get to that later in the interview) but for the most part, I’ll be profiling bloggers who inspire me, in my new series Behind the Blog. I’m hoping to post a feature once a month, but for now we’ll just see where the wind takes us.

Speaking of inspiration, it’s only fitting that the first featured blogger in Behind the Blog is Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company. I’ve read her blog for a while now and am super inspired by everything she does. Essentially she is who I want to be in five years or so. She runs her own design business and brings in clients through her blog – exactly what I’m wanting to do with The White Corner Creative. Not to mention she’s just an amazing person. When I was struggling with the possibility of relaunching my blog, I reached out to her on a whim asking for advice and she actually responded. Not even that, she scheduled a call with me and helped me through all my decisions that I was struggling with. Needless to say I decided relaunching as The White Corner Creative was the right idea, but I could never have done it without her.

The Elle & Company blog is a design, blogging, and business resource for creative entrepreneurs which was started in January 2014 by Lauren Hooker, a creative entrepreneur living in Charlotte, NC. (For all those Canadians out there NC means North Carolina. Yes I had to look it up). Lauren Hooker describes herself as a brand and web designer, Squarespace enthusiast, blogger, and creative entrepreneur, and works by day as a designer, helping creative entrepreneurs create beautiful online presences. I first encountered Elle & Company when I was browsing the internet in search of blogging inspiration. Lauren’s beautiful website, clean space and gorgeous colour scheme caught my eye, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Here are a few fun facts so you can get to know Lauren a little better. I feel like it’s little things like this that really help me to get a feel for who a person is. I guess it would have been smart to include Squarespace as an option for someone who I know uses squarespace. My bad!

Coffee or tea: Cream with a little bit of coffee
Cats or dogs: Hate to admit it, but our little rescue cat, Heidi, is turning me into a cat person!
WordPress or blogger: Squarespace ;)
Summer or Winter: Summer
Pen or keyboard: Pen
Sweet or savoury: Sweet
Morning or night: Morning
Serif or sans: Ooo that’s tough… sans serif!
Indoors or out: Outdoors
Apple or Android: Apple

LaurenHooker

I tried to think about the best questions to pose that would tell you the most about Lauren and give you some insight into her success, to help us one day find success of our own! There are a bunch more I would have loved to ask but I kept it to a strict maximum of 10 questions so I wouldn’t be asking too much of this busy lady.

Q

What inspired you to start your blog?
What obstacles did you face in the beginning?

A

From my experience, one of the greatest challenges for any new blogger is the struggle to be original. With so many other great blogs out there, I found it difficult to embrace my own style and think outside the box. I often looked to others for inspiration and ideas, and it really stunted my creativity.

Q

How did you come up with your blog name?
What’s the meaning behind it?

A

Because my last name is Hooker, I knew that I wouldn’t be choosing “Lauren Hooker Designs” for my business name (although it may have been memorable!). I wanted to use some semblance of my name, and Elle is a play off of the first letter in my name and the first syllable of my middle name, Elizabeth. Elle is also a feminine, classic name, which fit well with the brand I was trying to create. I also wanted to choose a name that would allow my business to grow, and that’s where the “& Company” comes in.

Q

What is your daily blogging routine and how do you stay productive?
How many hours a week do you spend on your blog?

A

I usually spend 3 hours a day on each blog post, which adds up to over 15 hours a week. Business has been fairly busy lately and despite my efforts to write posts during my normal workday, many posts are written at night. My type-A nature works best with an outline, so I start each post by listing the key points of the article and the conclusion I’m trying to work toward. After I have a solid outline, I try to come up with a catchy title and an interesting introduction, and then I jump into fleshing out my ideas. I usually create my blog graphic while Jake looks over the post for any errors, and then I schedule post to publish at 6:00am EST the next morning.

This summer, one of my goals is to start making better use of my editorial calendar, write during the day, and stock up on posts to take off some of the pressure. While it takes a lot of time and energy to blog consistently and share quality content on a weekly basis, the benefits are numerous. Blogging has become a key part of my business!

Q

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?

A

My husband, Jake, is the biggest help and it wasn’t until he came on board last summer that the Elle & Company blog began to grow. He’s great at coming up with content, giving constructive feedback, and setting goals. I couldn’t do it without him!

Q

Was there a blog or blogger you looked up to when starting out?
How did they inspire you and your blog/brand?

A

I’ve always loved Young House Love. Although their blog is very different than mine, I loved their transparency and their writing style. They had a distinct persona and design style that made them unique and so fun to follow along with. I was so sad when they stopped blogging this past year!

Q

Are there any blogs you read regularly?
Why do you like them?

A

I really enjoy keeping up with Lisa from Elembee, Regina from ByRegina, and Jen from Jennypurr. All three women consistently produce quality content and share their secrets with others in their industry. They also have a distinct style from their graphics to their writing; they’re front-runners who don’t look to others for ideas.

Q

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?

A

From a business perspective, I wish I had known that blogging is much more than an outlet or a side project; it’s a fantastic marketing tool. There are numerous benefits of blogging for business, and the content you share has the ability to position you as an expert, draw in your ideal customers, and benefit others.

Q

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?

A

That’s a great question! One of the biggest advantages of running an online business is the ability to keep costs low. Jake and I are very cautious about what we spent money on within our business, but I have subscription-based tools that help me save time and maintain productivity. Among those are Boomerang, 17hats, Squarespace, and Adobe Creative Cloud. I get a greater return from my “investments” in those programs because time is one of the most precious commodities within my business.

When I first started Elle & Company, I sold planners from a shop on my website. I spent money on a nice printer, high-quality paper and ink, and packaging materials. The cost of producing each planner was very high, and I ended up losing money in the long run. If I could go back and do it again, I would have jumped straight into brand and website design, where production costs are non-existent and I’m getting compensated for my time.

Q

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?

A

Traffic began to increase by leaps and bounds when I shifted the focus off of myself and began to write for my audience. I say this often on the Elle & Company blog, and I mean it in the nicest of ways, but blog readers are selfish. When a person visits a blog, they want to know what’s in it for them; they either want to be entertained, educated, or informed. By sharing more how-to’s and tips in areas that I had experience in on a daily basis, visitors had a reason to return.

Q

When did you realize your blog was a success?
What was the turning point?

A

We’re learning that blogging is a never-ending process and you never feel like you’ve “arrived.” With that said, one moment that really sticks out in my mind in terms of a turning point is when we sold out of our Adobe Illustrator course in 15 minutes a couple months ago. While that seems to have nothing to do with blogging, we had been sharing content on our blog for months with the hope of growing our audience and appealing to readers that would be interested in the course. We attribute the success of the e-course registration to content marketing on the blog.

I want to say a huge thank you to Lauren for taking a leap of faith with me and agreeing to be the first featured blogger in the series. Her blog, her work, and her answers here constantly inspire me. I’ve learned so much from her already and I hope you learn something too from what she has shared! Oh, and incase you’re wondering, my own answers to the fun facts are Coffee, Dogs, WordPress, Summer, Pen, Sweet, Morning, Sans, Indoors, and Apple. What are yours?
What other questions would you like to see posed on Behind the Blog?

9 thoughts on “Behind the Blog with Lauren Hooker”

  1. Great interview! I love Lauren’s blog and she is an inspiring and fresh face around the internet right now. She has given me some great ideas and motivation for ways to change my blog around. I’m interested to see who else you will get on here, and I’m excited to have discovered your blog in the process, too!

    1. Thanks Sara. I hope to feature a bunch of other inspiring bloggers in the next few months. Lauren has given me some great ideas and inspiration as well – it’s nice to know she has touched so many other people! I’m glad you’ve stumbled upon my little corner of the internet. Thanks for reading!

    1. Thanks Emily – I sometimes read blogs and the writer sounds so successful and knowledgeable that I forget they’re a real person who struggled and worked hard to get where they are! I love getting to know the people behind the blog. Thanks for reading!

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