In the wake of spending solitary nights- writing- a blog was born in the shabby end of 2010. A blog which would see a young girl’s brave adventures in turning her little rented apartments in big city Mumbai to the beach house of her dreams on a budget. Why on a budget? Because at 21, when you are living off bread and coffee and staying free and independent, you are always on a budget.
That blog readers, is mine. And that girl is me. And roughly around the same time, came a blog that blew me away with its cream puff Christmas tree recipe. Oddly a food post and not a decor post- and yet just equally stunning! That, ladies and gentlemen, was Kim’s blog and I have been following Sand and Sisal, since then; hooked completely to Kim’s classy, modern coastal decor and ideas!
Today, it gives me immense happiness to welcome Kim, here in this tiny place and talk about her blogging journey, her design style, her favourite corners, bits and bobs you’ll want to know if you are a blogger trying to make it out here, and ofcourse a few super easy Christmas/Holiday decor hacks for your home.
Over to Kim!
Looking back, where did it all begin?
I have always enjoyed decorating and expressing myself creatively. My background education was fine arts and design. My husband and I didn’t have much money, yet I had a taste for the finer things in life. And because I couldn’t afford to buy designer brand decor or higher expensive contractors for room makeovers, I tried to figure out how to replicate the look myself. I started blogging privately in 2009 to share creative decor crafts, recipes, projects with family and friends. After a lot encouragement from friends and much hesitation on my part, I decided to go public with the blog in 2010.
What’s in the name?
“Sand & Sisal: Where Love of Home and Sea Meet”. As a child, I grew up with the beach as my front yard. Water, sun, and sea is part of my soul. My personal style always gravitated toward coastal and when it was time to have my own home, I tried to capture that relaxed yet chic coastal vibe. Everyone knows what sand is but people are always asking me, “What the heck is sisal?” . Sisal is the natural fiber you see in most coastal homes (sisal rugs, sisal rope, etc.) I had a lot of sisal and seagrass items and the name just made sense… at least to me! HA!
What is your USP in this cluttered space? How does your content give you an edge?
Starting a blog when blogs barely existed was a huge advantage for me. Choosing an overall focus for the blog was important. My branding has evolved a bit over the years, but overall the brand is known for coastal design, decor and DIY projects. When I started there were only a handful of coastal decor bloggers and I wanted my style to be set apart from the rest, which I hope I have done successfully. A blog mentor of mine once told me that the key to making a blog successful is to make sure your blog posts either Educate, Empower, or Entertain your readers. That has always stuck and what I try to do with each post. Giving great content for my readers is imperative. Content is king! If I can teach someone how to create a beautiful decor item, or how to build something, or paint something and leave them feeling empowered and encouraged then that is the most fulfilling feeling ever!
Please take us through your content creation process. How do you stay relevant and relatable?
Essentially I just do what I love and what I want! I do watch the upcoming trends and implement small bits and pieces from them to keep our current but I never just jump on a trend bandwagon. Who has time or money for that? If inspiration strikes, let’s say for example creating a Christmas ornament. I will gather my supplies and start making it, taking a gazillion step by step photos along the way. Then when the project is finished I will look for beautiful ways to stage it, in multiple ways, and again take a million more photos. Next I edit the photos in Lightroom and Picmonkey. Once I narrow down the best photos, I’ll put them into a blog post in the order I want and then after that, I’ll write the blog post. Once it goes live then the whole marketing, promoting and sharing of the post on social media begins. That itself can be a full time job!
How do you make moolah with your efforts?
I monetize my blog with ads, sponsored posts, and affiliate links. I have a wonderful ad network that brings quality and relevant ads to my site. The revenue has enabled me to help support our family, pay for my kids’ college tuition and turn a hobby into a career.
How do you maintain editorial objectivity with the influx of brand briefs?
The Sand & Sisal brand has built a solid reputation with brands over the years which puts me on lists with PR companies who offer me partnerships with corporate brands. Companies are learning fast that they get the best results from a blogger’s influence when they allow the blogger to have creative expression over the blog post. I have to stay true to myself and my readers. I will never write a sponsored post for something I don’t already use and like. Building trust with my readers is imperative and thankfully all my sponsors have respected my wishes.
One instance/experience that made it all worthwhile
The biggest reward I receive as a blogger is when a reader tries one of my tutorials and sends me photos of their finished project or makeover! To be even a tiny inspiration to help turn someone’s house into a home they love just fills me with joy. When I feel like throwing in the towel and stop blogging, which if I’m honest if often, these instances are such an encouragement and make it all worthwhile.
Weirdest brand brief/request ever
I receive some crazy requests for sure. Probably the weirdest was for either a women’s incontinence pads or a male enhancement pill. (They were paying insanely good too, but um…. thanks, I’ll pass!) It’s always better to blog with integrity than sacrifice your reputation for a quick payout.
If not blogging, you would be?
Considering I have 4 kids, two of which are in college, I think I’ll need to be blogging for quite some time! 😉 If I wasn’t blogging I’d probably paint and sell my art.
A day in your life….
Wake up around 7:30 and make a pot of coffee. I am NOT a morning person, don’t talk to me until 9 am please. Ha! Then I watch the news while I pick up the kitchen and family room or start a load of laundry. Who isn’t always drowning in laundry? Then I get myself ready for the day and hit the computer, check emails (I currently have 9127 in my inbox!). Next I tend to all the social media channels, schedule pins on Pinterest and check IG. Then I check my editorial calendar to see what I need to be working on and either start a project, photography, edit, or write until 4:00. The kids arrive home and nothing productive gets done after that. Dinner’s around 6:30 and after that is family time. Being married for 25 years, I’ve learned that balance is so important for a successful relationship, so I try not to work or be on my phone or computer once the family gets home.
Message/tips for upcoming bloggers
- Content is king! Create amazing original content and people will follow.
- Always educate, empower, or entertain your readers.
- Blog with integrity.
- Be passionate about what you are doing.
- Work on photography skills.
- Find a blog mentor.
- Don’t expect the money to come quick. It takes years. Again, content is king.
–Your Favorite Influencer
Oh how could I pick just one? I have so many favorites! Many have all become good friends in real life over the last decade too! If you follow me on Instagram ( @sandandsisal ) and look at the bloggers who I follow, they are the best of the best and have a vast array of decor styles.
The Future you foresee for your Personal Brand
I feel like the blog is evolving slowly. I’ve had a book offer which I had to turn down because of the timing but maybe in the future I could revisit that prospect again. We shall see… I’m going to keep doing what I love and see where this crazy creative journey takes me!
Share with us your favourite corner this Christmas
A few tips for decorating for the holidays hassle-free or something you do as a hack.
5 minute holiday centerpieces:
- Use glass ball ornaments for centerpieces. Fill a beautiful display bowl with beautiful ornaments and weave in ribbon.
- Place glass ornaments in an apothecary jar or cloche with fairy lights.
- Fill an apothecary jar or large vase with water and cranberries and a few floating candles or flowers. This centerpiece will last for over one week.
- Gather fresh mixed greenery clippings from the yard, like pine, cypress, holly and place in a ceramic jar or vase. Insert a few artificial white or red berry picks. Surround with the centerpiece with tea lights. This centerpiece lasts for weeks and smells amazing.