Alrighty then, let’s get back to miss Hollie Grace James.
Hollie is an awesome example of someone who decided to do her own thing and pursue a life she loves. She worked in a bank for 4 years before deciding it was just not for her. She fearlessly quit her desk job and left the comfort of a 9 to 5 behind. Hollie has decided, over the last few months, to commit to being a blogger. We spoke about Ottawa, journalism, and she dropped some great tips for new bloggers.
On picking a stage name
The first thing I asked her when we sat down was whether “Hollie Grace James” was her real name. I mean, you gotta admit it flows. She laughed and explained it wasn’t. I asked her how she came up with it. “Well, I wasn’t sure what to pick as a name. So I just started to think, you know, if I were ever on Ellen and she called me up from the audience, what would sound cool?” Hah, genius! Ellen, Hollie’s ready for you.
On committing to blogging
Lotsa Local Love isn’t Hollie’s first crack at blogging. She’s been blogging on-and-off for 10 years, but it was only recently that she decided to really commit. “I would do it randomly. Start a tubmlr, or a wordpress… try out different sites and with different angles but I always ended up flaking out and not continuing”. For many of us, this sentiment is all too familiar. We want to try something new, but we’re lacking the drive to fully commit to it… you know, the old “diet-starts-Monday” mentality that comes around every Sunday night.
But commitment is actually key. One of my favourite sources of business inspiration, Michael Bosstick, once said “a good idea never made anyone any money”. I’ve made that little phrase my mantra and keep it in the back of my mind. There’s no point dwelling on a good idea if you’re not going to do something about it. It’s all about execution you guys. It can be a little scary, but if you want to actually make something happen, you have to FOLLOW-UP on your great ideas with ACTION.
That’s how Lotsa Local Love was born. Hollie made the decision to be a blogger and got to work: “I knew I really wanted to do it. I want blogging to be my career. I’ve really committed to it, without taking a break. I’ve never worked on it so much… I want to be a writer.”
Like Hollie, you shouldn’t worry about getting a fancy education to be a blogger. Let your passion and determination drive you. “If you can write, you can write. The passion won’t come from journalism class. I’m just gonna keep writing.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to start a website or if you don’t know how to be a blogger… Be resourceful and figure it out. We have the internet guys! No excuses!
Although Hollie’s interest in writing originally stemmed from journalism, she is proud to call herself a blogger today. “I never used to like the word blogger; I had always wanted to go into journalism. I never thought of blogging as ‘serious’. But there are so many successful bloggers now, the word has a lot more weight to it. I want to make blogging my career in some sort of sense, whether it’s writing for my own site or a another publication.” Aside from Lotsa Local Love, Hollie has written for local magazines, newspapers and blogs, including Ottawa Life Magazine and Apt 613.
Hollie’s writing is focused on immersion journalism.
I ask her what she means and she compares it that show Made on MTV. (Yes, yes an episode comes to mind – I distinctly remember a 40 year old woman living out her dream of becoming a cheerleader). Well, Hollie takes that concept and applies it to blogging.
Like the old saying goes “write what you know”: Hollie writes about her own experiences rather than about a situation that doesn’t include her. This helps her establish trust with her readers. For example, she won’t just write about a fitness class, she’ll tell you firsthand how she barely survived crossfit. She won’t just post about the magic unicorn hair trend, she’ll go and get it done for herself and then tell you what’s up. You’ve got to experience it to know it, you know?
She’ll also take you places your curious about, but maybe too shy to go there… Like her recent post on attending a witchcraft workshop.
But it’s not just gyms and salons. Hollie gives me an example of reporters she admires who brave war-torn countries and dangerous situations to be able to write about an experience firsthand. One reporter in particular would insert himself into sports. “He got to play in the NHL for two minutes. The NFL too.”
I imagine hoards of 250 pound men throwing themselves at Hollie on a football field and make a mental note to never be an immersion journalist.
On showcasing Ottawa’s fun side
Hollie wants to help raise awareness about things to do and places to go in Ottawa. As an Ottawa native, I can tell you that I often look to Toronto and New York (or any big city), green with envy. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it sometimes feels like there’s nothing to do in my town. Hollie attributes the problem to bad advertising. “It’s not that there’s nothing going on, it’s that people are terrible at making it known.” With that in mind, Hollie tries to make sure most of her experiences are as local as possible.
Tips for new bloggers
Hollie has racked up over 1,500 followers on social media, and has achieved collaborations with several local businesses. If you are just starting out, that number can seem so far away. How does she do it? She’s very proactive in reaching out to businesses, brands, publications and local events to for collaborations. You can’t wait for them to come to you.
When it comes to the old “how often should I be posting?” question, Hollie says “consistency is key” for blogging and social media, event if it’s not easy. “I deal with anxiety so I sometimes get really anxious and don’t feel like doing it [blogging], but if you stop for a couple weeks, your followers will drop.”
Her last tip is to be patient; blogging, managing social media and building trust with your readership won’t happen over night. “It takes so much time. First of all, I have to have the experience. Then I have to write about it”. Creating and posting quality content is waaaay harder than it looks. I won’t speak for Hollie, but it can sometimes take me over 20 hours to write a blog post. Combined with photos, social media and collabs? Well, being a blogger today can be a full-time job (or worse, because, let’s face it, social media does not take weekends off).
Okay guys, I hope you enjoyed reading about Hollie! I picked Hollie to be featured on my blog for a few reasons. First of all, she is a realistic example of a woman who is going after what she wants in life. What do I mean when I say realistic? Well, you know how we all have idols? Usually, when we look for examples of people living our dreams, we’ll look at Hollywood, A-listers… the people who have already made it big. The people who have no hill left to climb, they’re already at the top.
But comparing ourselves to someone like that can make us feel like our dreams are beyond our reach – as though we’ll never get there.
Hollie is someone like you and me, but she stepped out of her comfort zone and decided to make her dream of being a writer/blogger a reality. She’s not living in some mansion driving around a lamborghini (yet), but she is making her dream happen. No she’s not at the top of the mountain, but I have no doubt she will get there because I’ve seen how committed, determined and fearless she is.
Hollie had a fine job in a bank, but she decided to ask herself one day who she wanted to be and what she wanted out of life. The answer? Not work in a bank!
It is to write. To be creative. To have adventures. To experience things. To enjoy.
So start questioning your daily life: your job, your lifestyle, the place you live. Is it what you really want? Let Hollie be an example, she is proof that it is possible.