Blogger Behind the Blog {Debt Camel}

Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by Sara from Debt Camel.

Here’s Sara with more about her blogging life:

Where did your blog name come from?

I couldn’t think of a good URL. Then I was buying a Moon Pig card for my sister when I realised the name had nothing to do with cards. So I thought of various Debt Animals – it was very nearly Debt Panda, but that sounded a bit like a fluffy toy. Camels are pretty practical animals. And the word is short and easy to spell.

When did you start your blog and why?

I started it in 2013. I am a volunteer adviser at my local Citizens Advice. Very often people come for help with the debts too late, they would have had more and better options earlier. So I wanted to create something online that talked about debt in a common sense, unstuffy way and which recognised that making debt decisions isn’t always easy.

What did you do before you blogged?

I was a stay at home mum who became a Citizens Advice volunteer for something interesting and socially worthwhile that could be done around the school runs.

What was your first post?

It was “How to help someone with a Pay Day Loan problem”. A friend asked me for advice because his niece was on a zero hours contract and had taken out a loan she couldn’t afford.

What inspires you to blog?

There are a lot of things I love about blogging but the inspiration – what makes me get out of bed and write yet another article – is the enormous number of people with debt and credit record questions who would need clear explanations about their options.

What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?

Best response – Can you get a payday loan refund? Thousands of people have used the template letters in that post to successfully get a refund from payday lenders.

Most proud of – Guide to IVAs. IVAs are a great debt option for a few people, but they are being sold to some people who really need a different alternative. And people in an IVA keep coming up against unexpected problems they want explained. So my Guide pulls together a large number of different articles into a useful resource.

Enjoy writing – I enjoy the posts where I look at the reasons behind the news and it turns out to be not the expected answer eg Why have CCJs increased to 300,000 in the first quarter of 2017?

Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?

I once published a pretty obscure article about a court case and bankruptcy and pensions … and included a picture of a cartoon robber. To be met with howls of outrage on Twitter from people who said I was accusing Insolvency Practitioners of being thieves. I pointed out that it was a cartoon and no one was upset about what I had written in the article, but after a morning I changed the picture. It seemed pointless to argue with people who either had no sense of humour or who were just faking outrage – it was getting in the way of an important story being actually listened to.

Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?

More readers, more interesting news stories covered.

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

I like researching the stories and talking to people about potential stories. I guess that’s being a journalist!

…and your least favourite?

Having to find pictures. There are no good free pictures for serious debt stories. There is nothing aspirational about getting a letter from a debt collector or trying to understand your credit record. I hate stock pictures with beautiful, white people in their 20s pretending to frown at a credit card as they sit on a luxurious leather sofa.

What’s the best blog post you have ever read?

No idea.

What blog do you love to read and why?

I like Nearly Legal – a blog about housing law and news. It’s not an area I am an expert in and he makes it seem almost understandable a lot of the time.

Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?

Yes, I am more organised. I use Trello to keep track of ideas for future blog posts. I do most of my blog writing on Thursday and Friday and I try to get ahead whenever possible.

Is blogging what you expected it to be?

No, I never thought it would take over my life. And I had no idea about SEO or any of the technical side at all.

What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?

I asked some blogger friends to try out a couple of apps and pulled their reviews together into 2 apps that make it simple and painless to save. It was fun to do and I am proud of the resulting article.

Are there any brands you would love to work with, why?

Not something I have ever really thought about. But yes, of course, the big national debt charities or various government departments. You know where to find me, guys!

Have you had any blogging fails so far?

All of my posts should, of course, have had a lot more readers, haha.

What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?

Something that goes viral would be fun. But it’s not very likely in my field, especially as I dislike clickbait titles!

What do you do when you’re not blogging?

Sleep? And walk my springer spaniel, cook and read.

and lastly, tell us all a random fact about yourself

I dislike driving. It’s boring and I am one of the 20% of people who don’t think they are a better driver than average. As soon as a driverless car is on sale, I will be buying one.

Now that you know all about Sara from Debt Camel, make sure you go and read her blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook – thanks so much Sara for being involved!

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