Katy Cowan from Creative Boom tells us all about how her successful website came about and how Folksy sellers can get involved with this exciting network!
I was honored and surprised when the team at Folksy contacted me and asked me to become a guest writer for their blog. Just over a year ago, I would never have imagined anything like this could happen. Let me introduce myself… My name’s Katy Cowan and I run an online magazine called Creative Boom. Designed to celebrate, inspire and support the creative industries, the site was launched in July 2009 by my husband Tom and I.
|Tom and Katy Cowan
of Creative Boom!
But how did the idea come about? Well, I was forced to go freelance in August 2007 following a long-term health problem and started my own business, providing PR and marketing services to businesses throughout the Midlands.
When the recession struck in 2008, I lost many clients. Because of ongoing health issues and with no option to return to full-time work, Tom and I really struggled to make ends meet. I was at the end of my tether and felt overwhelmed, stressed and very down about our situation.
I tried everything to turn my business around and win more clients, taking any financial pressure off husband Tom. I used traditional PR and marketing methods but found that my local paper and trade media just didn’t want to run my story or help raise my profile. I wasn’t ‘big enough’. No one really cared.
It was around that time that I started to use Twitter to network and meet new people. Talking to other freelancers on the micro-blogging site, it became apparent that I wasn’t the only one out there, struggling to survive the economic downturn.
During my honeymoon, I had a chance to relax and reflect on my life and whilst lounging by the pool, I suddenly came up with the idea for a creative industries e-zine. Something that was friendly, inviting and welcoming to all businesses, no matter how big or small.
Of course, it would be a platform to raise my own profile but I’d be helping others at the same time, sharing people’s work, news and updates online. Essentially, I wanted to instigate a ‘creative boom’ and that was how the name came about.
As soon as we got home, I told all my followers on Twitter about my idea and started asking for their news. Not everyone was enthusiastic about my plans but I was determined to at least have a go at making it work. To keep things cheap, husband Tom developed a free magazine WordPress theme and we bought the domain for Creativeboom.co.uk. We were quickly up and running and started to post news and features about the creative industries.
On our launch day, we attracted over 300 hits. After just three months, we were getting over 1,000 hits per day.
Word spread on social media and we soon redeveloped the site to improve the design and functionality. I constantly asked our followers how to improve the site and listened to their feedback.
Over 13 months later and we’re now getting over 650,000 hits each month and more than 10,000 visitors per day. Vimeo, Carbonmade and The Guardian are all supporting us and now we’ve been approached by Folksy. I sometimes have to pinch myself.
You see, Creative Boom has been a lot of hard work. I’ve spent entire weekends and most evenings updating and working on the site, much to the disapproval of my doctor, considering my ongoing health niggles.
However, Creative Boom helped to dig me out of a very large hole. It helped me to raise my profile and attract new clients as far away as Canada, such as Anna Goodson Management and virtual office space, THECUBE in London. It also allowed me to diversify my own business – Boomerang, a Cheshire PR Agency – by focusing my services on digital communications rather than traditional forms of PR and marketing. It certainly paid off as I’m no longer a freelancer and now have five people working with me.
What’s really been my biggest achievement is helping hundreds of other freelancers and small businesses to survive the recession and win new business. My regional Hub editors have all benefited from being part of the Creative Boom network. Take Gill McColl at Creative Boom Edinburgh. She runs regular networking events that attract over 100 people each time and has gained lots of new business as a result. Or what about Kirsty Burgoine who looks after Creative Boom Shrewsbury! Thanks to Creative Boom, she has been able to start her own business and is now turning work away she’s so busy.
We also love to help out a whole range of people including photographers, fashion designers, writers, marketers, musicians, illustrators and of course craft makers.
If you’ve never heard of Creative Boom, then you should pop along and say hello. We welcome everyone and anyone who has something interesting to share.
We have a ‘LookBook’ section that’s perfect for those of you who want to showcase your latest work. Simply send us a Jpeg of your latest project, plus a short bio about you and your business and also a web link to your site or blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or if you’ve got some news, send us a press release plus decent images to email@example.com. We’re always checking our emails and will upload your stories as soon as possible.
You can also add yourselves to our lovely ‘free’ directory. Simply email your category (i.e. crafts, textile designer, fashion), your name or business name and a little info about who you are and what you do to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to supply a web link to your blog, site or online portfolio.
Finally, we’re currently working on a new design for Creative Boom and can’t wait to reveal our new look. I’d welcome you to come take a look and become part of our growing creative network. Visit www.creativeboom.co.uk, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Thanks! If you have enjoyed reading about Katy’s fantastic success story we’d love to hear your comments!