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Kat Molesworth talks about her annual conference for creative bloggers

Clear Books spoke to Kat Molesworth, co-founder of Blogtacular — a conference for creative bloggers where businesses can connect with the power of business blogging and bloggers. Kat talks about how her entrepreneurial spirit, as well as her own experience of running businesses, allows her to share her passion, expertise and enthusiasm about photography, social media and blogging with others.

Tell us about why you started your business and what it does.

Blogtacular started because I was extremely frustrated that the kind of conference I wanted to attend didn’t exist in the UK. The conferences that did exist were very thin on the ground in good quality content so I felt I was being cheated and ultimately there was no way to get to a good conference unless I created one myself.

Our conference is essentially for creative bloggers, and a way to think about that would be that it is just the same as any other business conference, but the people who attend ours happen to be in the business of blogging.

What do you enjoy about working in this industry?

I really enjoy the creativity in our industry. We have bloggers who are crafters, who are graphic designers, who are interior designers. We have people who run blogs that have been going for over a decade and are really old hands, but we also have people who come in and are brand new, so there are all these different perspectives and different industries; it’s a real melting pot of creativity.

What advice would you give to people starting their own blog?

First and foremost, visuals are really important. You need good quality photos, you need a really nice, sleek design and it needs to work on mobile. Beyond the technical, I think working on your voice and how you sound, as well as being approachable are really important because no one is going to read your blog if they don’t enjoy the interaction between you and them. Creating a blog now doesn’t just happen on the page, on the website as it might have a decade ago. You need to pick which social media channels are going to go with your blog because that’s where interaction takes place rather than in the comments. So whether it’s instagram, Twitter, facebook; you need to think about which platforms you’re on and how you’re going to interact with your audience on those platforms

How do you differentiate yourself from similar businesses?

There are quite a few similar businesses in the UK, and I see the big difference between us and them in two fold. Number one, we work really hard on our quality of content, so we make sure we book the best people, we look for the freshest voices, the people who have got very interesting ideas and people who support the industry. Number two, is that we pay our speakers which doesn’t often happen at these kinds of conferences and we feel that it’s not ethical to be a blogger running a company, making money from bloggers working for free, while we’re telling bloggers they shouldn’t be working for free, so from day one we’ve always paid the bloggers.

What was your biggest challenge when setting up your business?

Our biggest challenge was probably seed capital because to book the venue and start selling tickets, we needed to put down a deposit, and to put down a deposit we really needed to sell tickets to raise the money, so we looked around for an investor. That was probably one of our biggest challenges, creating that seed capital to start the business and getting it going for year one.

Since then, one of our biggest challenges is making sure we remain a high quality conference. That is something we really strive to do, and something we work very hard on. It is challenging, finding people who are doing something exciting and different, and who match our standards for design and how they conduct themselves, which is very challenging in day to day business.

Who was your biggest inspiration?

In terms of blog conferences, there’s a really fantastic conference called ‘Alt’ run by Sarah and Gabrielle. I have always looked at what has happened at that conference and been inspired from afar. I’ve watched it on social media and through blogs and have been really impressed with what they’ve brought to the table, and how they’ve changed the industry as well as how they started their conference. I do think having them out there made me feel confident that I could set up a company, and that I could run a conference and it would be fantastic. I actually managed to attend it this year, so I’m really pleased that I was part of that because I think what they’ve built is phenomenal.

In terms of bloggers that I admire, I think our headline speaker this year Grace Bonney from Design Sponge is someone that I look up to an incredible amount. She has a wonderful overview of online business, creative business, online blogging and life, and she’s a very steady voice in the world of blogging. She does a lot to help other people and I really just admire her tenacity over the last decade

What does a normal working day look like for you?

Well at the moment I’m glued to my computer and my email constantly because we’re six weeks away from the conference. It’s our busiest time of year, so we’re trying to make sure announcements go out on time, and that we book our final speakers before our programme printing deadline passes, which is my big challenge this week; and just keeping in contact with everyone making sure that we have got all the products coming in that should be coming in, and then going out and doing meetings such as party planning and talking to sponsors who need a little bit extra in their package.

Throughout the rest of the year, I can add in some more time for going to listen to speakers and going to other events so that I can feel inspired myself. The other side of my business that’s not related to Blogtacular which is that I work as a photographer and I teach social media classes, so for example yesterday I was teaching a group of shop owners how to take amazing photos for their websites and their instagram feeds which was very fun, and it was nice to be away from my desk for a change

What advice would you give to people starting their own business?

Spend as little money as you can, learn web design so that you can do it all yourself, use all of the social media channels to market and have a really key marketing plan. If you can do these things yourself, rather than hiring other people to do them, you can keep your startup costs down.

That said, I do think going forward you do have to decide what you do best and hire out the rest. So this year we hired a PA who supports me in emails because we get over two hundred emails a day which I could spend my entire day answering which wouldn’t be very productive. So we have a PA who handles things like our emails, our contracts, our invoicing and takes all of those away from me so that I can spend more time on the bigger things.

How has Clear Books changed the way you do your accounts?

I really like Clear Books, I’ve used it for a number of years for my own business, and when we set up Blogtacular it was a no brainer we would be using it. One of the tools that I enjoy the most is being able to calculate our VAT in seconds rather than having to stress about it and go through spreadsheets. Instead, I can just run the report and then I can input those numbers directly into the HMRC website, which makes my life a lot easier. I was very nervous about having a VAT registered business because a lot people I know who have them struggle with their VAT, but I find that it’s very easy.

It’s also very handy to be able to set up a customer and print off or send off an invoice very very quickly. It means we don’t spend huge amounts of time creating invoices that would essentially be wasted time, so if we can do that in under five minutes, which you can with Clear Books, it really helps us.

Where can people find out more about Blogtacular?

Our website is blogtacular.com, but we’re also on twitter, instagram, snapchat and facebook as @Blogtacular. Every Thursday night at 9pm UK time we hold a twitter chat under the hashtag #Blogtacular where each week we explore a theme on blogging or marketing or online life and creativity and everybody shares their advice and asks questions and it’s a really helpful hour.

To find out more about Kat Molesworth, take a look at the Blogtacular website.

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