Interiors blogger Rohini Wahi on how her life changed during the recession.
When the recession hit I was a successful freelancer. Being an interior stylist and writer I had my fingers in lots of pies, I had regular work from well known magazines and styled for great brands, I even had a creative agent to find me work. Life was good.
Then suddenly, from out of the darkness came a fist and a hammer which like a fairground game, knocked my clients, my colleagues and my friends on the head, pow, pow, pow! And gave me double knock for good measure.
Many big magazines had folded and 'budget cuts' were the new buzz word. I assessed the damage around me; I had some due invoices which would last me a few months and thank goodness for my agent, but aside from that, little could be salvaged. I was young in my career so didn't have years of client relationships to fall back on - I pretty much needed to start again.
I knew that the coming year would be bad, and being positive of nature I knew that to accept it was the best option.
I decided to use this time to start something I had always desired - a British design blog. For years I had admired 'shelter' style blogs that had flourished during the internet boom in the US - blogs run by modern day Martha Stewarts extolling the virtues of affordable contemporary design, DIY ideas for the modern home, beautifully styled recipes for the short on time and tips on how to beautify your rented accommodation.
Thousands of readers flocked to the sites every day creating feverish communities of the creative and talented and enthusiastic! As well as running these successful blogs with advertisers to boot, these women had strong creative careers in publishing and design.
I wanted that for myself.
These sites were abundant with exciting talent from the US, but I had always been frustrated with the lack of spotlights on British and European creatives. Often waxing lyrical that one-day I wished I could create something like this, a blog-zine of sorts for designers and artists on this side of the pond, but just never had the time.
So, with bundles of time and bundles of nerves, I took the plunge...
I already had a personal blog for a few years which had a modest amount of followers, so I roped my programmer boyfriend into creating a custom made template for a new site, designed in the crudest way by myself.
Soon friends, former colleagues and PR acquaintances began to encourage me, I discovered so many people in the industry had the same thoughts as myself, and I was bolstered by the outpouring of goodwill.
A graphic designer friend offered to help me with a better re-design and I began mapping out features for every week. Structuring ideas and creating an editorial calendar for myself helped me to keep things professional.
I emailed PR companies with a press release and a features list just like a real magazine would. To my surprise, I received a huge amount of support from PR's as this gave them a new outlet and a new audience during an uncertain time for the publishing industry. The majority of my features material came from online research and PR mail-outs.
I also bagged myself some really talented contributors; a book reviewer, a foodie and a travel writer, on the basis of a creative outlet from a 9-5 job and possible new opportunities. Each new contributor I gained also expanded my readership as they added their friends, colleagues and acquaintances to the mix - like a mini viral.
Other methods I used to attract readers were the use of Facebook, press releases and word of mouth - but Twitter by far has been my most valuable tool, allowing me to network, interact and forge relationships with like-minded people.
The blog took me three months to conceive fully and plan. In the first few months of the launch because of my constant plugging, I was featured on numerous well-known blogs and in national publications.
My beloved blog, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, hasn't made me rich, but what it has done is given me a platform for my talent. Consequently I have had offers of work from trend prediction companies, gained styling opportunities and been offered writing work. Now I have a great following - nothing like the US blogs [as yet] but I'm hopefully on the same path.
The reason I began this blog was partly for love but also partly for survival. I could either sit at home and be sucked into the void of freelancers fallen by the wayside, or sit up and demand to be noticed. Hopefully I've been noticed.