Our next Blog Spark Interview is with Tara Gentile the editor of Scoutie Girl.
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Tara give her readers a look in to the handmade scene and believes that the power of independence and handmade can change the world. I had the privilege of asking Tara a few questions about her blog. In this interview Tara gives us just a glimpse of what it takes to run a successful blog. Be sure to click on the pictures you will find through out the interview. they will take you to some of my favorite articles from Soutie Girl.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I run Scoutie Girl (http://www.scoutiegirl.com), the blog with a penchant for the passionately handmade, as well as a boutique WordPress design business (http://taragentile.com). I’m a mom to a spunky little almost-two year old named Lola and wife to Michael. My formal education is in contemporary religious thought which I still love & use on a daily basis… if not overtly!
How did you become interested in design/decorating?
My mom is a professional seamstress (http://fabricshopperonline.com). She taught me the value of craft, working with your hands, and a beautiful home. I can distinctly remember rushing home from school to catch the very first decorating/diy shows on the Discovery Channel. I can also remember having very definite opinions on the types of design they showed!
I first started blogging in college as another outlet for writing. And boy, did I wish I would have stuck with it! But the “real world” caught up to me and I never caught up back up to blogging. After my daughter was born, I started helping my mom with the blogging & marketing side of her Etsy business and then started Handmade in PA (http://handmadeinpa.net) in January 2009. That site was extremely well-received and in July, when I had the opportunity to take over Scoutie Girl, I jumped at the chance!
I jumped into blogging whole hog and never really looked back! It comes very natural to me and I am so thankful everyday that this is how I get to make a living.
Where does your inspiration come from when writing articles?
No secrets here! And no crazy editorial calendars either (although I wish I was that organized…). I write about things that catch my eye, artists that I just HAVE to share, products that really resonate with me. I also write about my own life, the lessons I learn from it, and the needs that other people have.
I think part of blogging is just keeping your eyes & ears open – being keenly aware of the world around you and then communicating what you find to the masses. I’ll admit, that kind of mindset can be completely exhausting but, every time I see something that clicks with my readers, I get rejuvenated!
Who taught you or how did you learn the technical (design, setup, etc) side to blogging?
I’m all self-taught, actually. If you’ve been following my blogs for awhile, you’ve probably noticed a real progression in the style of my sites. Every single one has been a complete experiment and I learn something new every time I build a site! I started building sites for others last summer, starting out just tweaking themes to brand them to the business’ logo & design.
Now, I build all my sites completely from scratch so that I (or another designer) have ultimate control! It so fun to take a static image and a blank website and turn it into something extraordinary!
Not unlike our crafty creative community, the WordPress design community is extremely open to sharing what they know and how to do it. I’ve learned from online tutorials and community forums – all created by people who just like helping other people!
How did you build a community around your blog ?
Well, I think like many design or craft bloggers, I initially struggled with involving my readers, getting comments, and generally building community. Over the last few months, I’ve let my writing take a drastically more personal tone. I tell stories about my life, share details from my day – just be more more free & easy in my blogging. And my readers responded! Now, instead of just a great place to find handmade or independently design goods, Scoutie Girl is a personal & inviting space. I think that many of us in this niche of the blogging world try to be “too professional” – we end up stripping the personality out of our web spaces.
Lighten up! Be yourself – you’ll get more rewards than you know!
Any specific tips you have for newbie bloggers who want to make it in the blogosphere?
Sure! Get specific – define your niche and give your blog a mission. Then, get personal. Don’t be afraid to share yourself with your readers (within your own limits, of course). Read a lot and do things that get your inspired!
Name three websites you couldn’t live without.
What are your three favorite Etsy shops and why?
Oh man…. you ask hard questions!
Megan Auman – http://etsy.com/shop/meganauman
ArtMind – http://etsy.com/shop/artmind
Sofia Masri – http://etsy.com/shop/sofiamasri
Honestly, I can’t say I have a 10 year plan. I tend to make big goals with smaller time frames! If my new ecourse is successful, my plan is to develop a series of ecourses on different subjects that I’m passionate about because I love writing online and I love teaching – best of both worlds! I’m also hoping to finalize an book proposal by the end of the year and submit it to publishers.
I don’t think small.