Interview Series: 5 Questions with Miranda from SpookyLittleHalloween Blog

Welcome to the first in a new series beginning here on the blog called 5 Questions with... This will be an ongoing series of "interviews" with people I admire in the world. From traditional artists to bloggers, writers, actors and creatives of all types. This series was originally planned for the podcast, but since I have moved on from that, I'm excited to bring it to you here, because I really think you'll enjoy it. So let's get crackin!

Photo Courtesy of Miranda at SpookyLittleHalloween.com

My first guest is Miranda from the delightful blog www.spookylittlehalloween.com who celebrates all-things-Halloween all year long. I first found Miranda on Instagram (@spookylittlehalloween) and have been happily following her Halloween shenanigans for a couple of years now. So let's find out a little more about Miranda...

1. Writing is clearly only one of your many talents, but what motivates you as an artist?

There are a lot of things that motivate me, but I think what it all boils down to is sharing something I love with other people who love it too. I’m an old millennial, but I’m part of this first generation who has learned to share their passions online. I kind of have this sense of childlike wonder about it, but I think it is SO cool we have the ability to connect with people all over the world who share a love for anything, whether it books, music or Halloween through the Internet.


Photo Courtesy of SpookyLittleHalloween.com

2. You so obviously love what you do. What is your favorite part of the process?

I love being in the thick of the creation process. I am in my happy place when I have my Halloween tunes going, I’ve decorated a corner of the Spooky Little Apartment for the backdrop of a blog post and I’m making things happen, whether it’s making a recipe or writing about my favorite Halloween Instagrammers. It automatically makes me feel like it’s Halloween season even if it’s January and I’ve got months to go until October.

I also enjoy brainstorming. I carry my blog notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down ideas as I think of them. I think the most fun part of running a year-round Halloween blog is seeing how ingrained in the rest of the year I can get. Nothing makes me happier than, for example, wondering if there’s a Halloween workout playlist (there wasn’t so I made one) or what kind of Halloween school supplies is out there (lots if you know where to look!).


3. We share not only a love of Halloween, but also of writing, literature and music. Your Halloween beginnings and love of the holiday are scarily similar to my own! But what was it that made you decide to do a year-round Halloween blog after previously writing a music blog?

I had fun writing my music blog, but it didn’t excite me. I didn’t rush home from my full-time job every day to work on it. I totally do that now!

Spooky Little Halloween was started on a total whim and was the culmination of a lot of moments that pointed me towards a Halloween blog. About two years before I started it, I became obsessed with building the perfect Halloween playlist for the music blog, but my readers’ reaction was underwhelming. They weren’t obsessed with Halloween like me, and that was okay. I’d also been hosting my annual party for five years, and I kept thinking it would be fun to have a creative outlet to explore party themes and share my own parties since I was getting more serious about them.

The real-life moment that made me pull the trigger, though, was one night when I was organizing my Halloween board on Pinterest. I had hundreds of pins and was trying to sort them by topic – recipes, costume, parties. When I got to the point of having 12 separate boards just for Halloween I realized I had a problem…and that I was probably crazy enough to start a Halloween blog. Three weeks after that moment, I launched Spooky Little Halloween and never looked back.



Photo Courtesy of SpookyLittleHalloween.com

4. Having recently passed 10,000 followers on Instagram (congratulations!) What are your plans for SpookyLittleHalloween? Do you have any big goals for the future?

Thank you! I am still baffled by that number – 10,000 is a LOT of people! Halloween season is just around the corner, and I will be reopening my Killer Halloween Party e-course where I teach my students how to plan an amazing Halloween party by following just a few simple guidelines. I’m also teaching my course in person at Halloween & HauntFest Show in Dallas Aug. 18-19 which I’m excited about.

My Halloween season will include a lot of the same features my readers have come to love – my Halloween card exchange will be back, and I’ll be doing my 31 Days of Halloween emails again where I send one way to celebrate Halloween every day in October. And, of course, there will be some other surprises in there too!

I’m also hoping to release at least one Halloween party guide in time for Halloween. More of those will be coming in 2019, and I’m also hoping to start offering a print version of my quarterly Halloween zine next year.


5. The Halloween/Horror community is crazily welcoming and supportive, has there been a specific incident that most surprised you after embarking on this journey?

There have been so many things that have shocked and surprised me along this journey, but my favorite has to be the moment I realized this exact thing – how welcoming and supportive the Halloween and horror community is towards everyone.

When I was writing the music blog, I felt like I was in a rat race competing with a ton of people for the title of cool. That will discourage you and burn you out faster than anything. I have never once felt that with the online Halloween/horror community. Everyone is just unbelievably cool and kind and cheers everyone else on. It is truly incredible, and I’m honored to be a tiny part of that.



Photo Courtesy of SpookyLittleHalloween.com

Extra credit bonus question!
Being the introvert that I am, I am insanely inspired by your Instagram Stories, and how you are so natural, confident and engaging in front of the camera. How the bloody hell do you do it??

You just jump in and go for it! It gets easier, and no matter how stellar your brand is…people are always going to connect with other people better than a product. I think there is a LOT of value in showing your followers the person behind the account.

Growing up I was totally that girl who hated having to give presentations. I’d get up in front of the class and shake like a leaf because I’d have so much anxiety about not being perfect. I’d listen to my voice quiver as I spoke, and on the inside, I’d be SO mad at myself for feeling nervous. I’ve also been plagued by my fair share of self-esteem issues over the years which led to me getting hung up on things like how I looked or how I said certain things. I was always SO worried about being judged unfairly or not being understood.

But then I had a therapist who asked me, “So what?” and those two words changed my life. She challenged me to think about the worst-case scenario in situations where my anxiety got the better of me, and bit by bit I realized it wasn’t going to be the end of the world if I didn’t do things perfectly on the first try.

If I’m honest, I still feel like I’m terrible on camera. I rush through what I’m saying. I forget to breathe (esp. in person!). I say “um” a lot. I’m naturally soft spoken, and being “live” takes a LOT out of this fellow introvert. But…I also get a little better every time I do it, and it genuinely feels like I’m hanging out with my friends when I go live. And if I don’t get it perfect or someone judges me…what’s the worst that will actually happen? I stumble and show I’m human or I lose a couple followers – I can live with both of those things.
😃


Please let my readers know where they can find/follow you:

Find the blog at spookylittlehalloween.com

Instagram: @spookylittlehalloween

Facebook: facebook.com/spookylittlehalloween

Twitter: @spkyhalloween

Pinterest: pinterest.com/spkyhalloween


Thanks so much to Miranda for being my first "interview". Stay tuned in two weeks for my next guest...who will it be?!


Real Talk: Social Media Monsters Part Two and the New IGTV App

First off, I have to say how overwhelmed I was at the response of Real Talk: Social Media Monsters Part One. It has received the most engagement on any blog related IG post, EVER. Wow. I was not expecting that, at all. Now that I've had some time to think about what I wanted to say for part two of this social media rant, I feel I have to address one of the most common themes of said engagement...

I should have prefaced the previous rant by saying that it really pertains to fellow sellers who use IG as a marketing tool. Many people said to just "keep it fun" and rather made light of it. Well when 75% of your income depends on IG, you can't make light of it. It's frightfully important, which is why it's easy to get so emotional over the stupidity of it all. Now many of my followers are sellers as well, and struggle with the same issues, although maybe not as dramatically.

Maybe that's part of my problem, maybe I have "put the pussy on a pedestal" and given it too much power over my business. But that's the thing see, IG used to bring in SO MUCH traffic=sales=income that it was easy to rely on. And I know (boy, how do I know) that things change, and to stay in the game you must be flexible. I would not still be here after 15 years if I hadn't learned the fine art of flexibility, I assure you. But this was back before social media was even invented and before it was an essential element to any online (or standard) business that needed to be seen.

Now Instagram has a new app; IGTV. and it's meant to be in direct competition with You Tube (pssht, good luck with that). It's where "creators" (read; semi professionals) can upload videos up to 10 minutes in length (remember the old days of YouTube video limits?) and get access to new followers they may not find on IG proper. Oh boy...

If you've followed me for any length of time, you'll notice my face is virtually nowhere to be seen. That's by design, and for two very staunch reasons:

1. I hate, absolutely hate having my picture taken, video or otherwise--always have, always will. Simple as that.

2. My business is not my face. It is not about me other than my curating skills, customer service standards and interests--which may sound like a lot. But you know I'm not a robot, I know I'm not a robot, why the hell should it be a requirement to slap my face all over my business in order to generate sales?

Yeah, ok, maybe it's old school and I need to get over it. But my work ethic should be enough, and that's a majority of the problem; these days it isn't enough. It simply isn't enough to be good at something, you've got to shout it from the rooftops and generate enticing content to acquire that almighty click.

I watch accounts soar ever higher who use themselves as (basically) their marketing campaign, and can't help getting pissed off. How is the quality of their product? Do they have great customer service? Do they ship on time, and not overcharge on shipping costs? Some do and some don't. Yet they seem to gain more and more popularity, and their businesses skyrocket, and I'm down here feeling like what the fuck am I doing wrong?

After 4 years, my business is beginning to stagnate, and I'm at a loss as to why or what to do about it. Hence the poll on my IG account where I asked if a video channel for LaCreeperie is something people wanted to see. This is how it turned out:



Well. I am not an actress. Nor am I young, thin or traditionally pretty. So I fail to see how video of me yammering on about gawd-knows-what is going to generate more sales. Am I missing something? Tell me! Other friends said not to engage in something if it makes me uncomfortable for the sake of capitalization, but um hello, I gotta keep the lights on and food on the table. I mean at the end of the day, I started this business to make money, not just for something to do.

So I ask you, my dear 5 readers, what would you do? I am still in the process of finding other work to supplement my income, and perhaps get me out of this occupation altogether. But if I'm honest, (and that is the real point here, of my new blogging style, to be brutally honest) entrepreneurship is truly in my blood. Almost my entire family on both sides have always had their own businesses. Some more successful than others, but I'd like to think that I've got enough smarts to keep things going until I win the lottery or someone pays me to write a book. There, I said it.

I am opening up the comments section for this post, so those compelled to do so can add their two cents. Any and all thoughts are welcome, but keep the nasty comments to yourselves. Constructive criticism is fine, but if you cannot offer something in a positive way, please don't respond at all. Rant over, peace out.

Real Talk: Social Media Monsters Part One

Photo: syn.org.au
 Since all of five people are reading this blog, I've come to some decisions. I'm gonna start saying whatever the hell I want, no holding back, no being polite for "business' sake, I'm about to get real. Really real. Because I'm tired of playing nice, sticking by the rules and keeping my mouth shut for fear of offending anyone. It hasn't gotten me very far. Fuck that shit.

The thing I wanna rant about today is social media. Instagram in particular. It used to be the one channel I enjoyed "having" to utilize, cuz it sure as hell wasn't gonna be Facebook. Anymore, Instagram feels like just a place where people try to one-up each other on things they have, how they look, or who they're with. And frankly, I'm sick up to my eyeballs of it. In fact, if my livelihood didn't depend on it, I would delete the whole freakin lot.

Is this really where we're at? Is this what we have come so far to become? It's not enough that people try to 'keep up with the Joneses' within their social circles and neighborhoods, now we gotta do it with basically complete strangers too? Why? This is something I'll never understand, nor frankly, do I want to.

Friends and acquaintances think I'm strange for being a hermit, rarely leaving the house and never showing up to social functions. But what they don't realize is that I've made my home my sanctuary, exactly to the way it pleases me, not anyone else. So I can go days without leaving the house and not miss a thing. It seems more and more these days, people irritate me so much that I don't enjoy being out anyway. I guess I'm just grumpy in my old age..

But can you blame me? The world is really fucked up right now, and you know what, we've all been saying that for years. Only now, I believe it's more of a disaster than it's ever been. Because even though we've been through wars and devastation, poverty and loss as a nation, the real difference is how people treat each other now, and how little we help each other.

I'm not really here to offer up answers, this "new" way of blogging for me is going to be about things that have bothered me for quite awhile, that no amount of journaling has seemed to help resolve. Maybe the sheer idea of putting these words out there for all (5 of you) to read, helps make me feel a little better, and helps me cope with the batshit insanity of this current state of the world. We'll see.

But let's talk about that 'necessity' of Instagram. When I don't post items for sale, I make ZERO dollars. But even when I post stuff for sale, I'm in a constant battle of too much vs. not enough self promotion. I know what the so-called ratio is, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference whether I follow it or not. I can't even begin to express how utterly fed up I am with this tedious ritual, and am looking for a way out. As I've already mentioned, I'm working on getting out of this business altogether, 15 years was a pretty good run. But making a living selling things online has become an increasingly impossible task, and the things that I have to do just to keep a steady flow of traffic to my website just doesn't seem worth it.

There will come a time when I desist from any and all social media as a whole, and I long for that day. But until I find other work to replace what little income I do make from selling online, it's a necessary evil. And it is evil. Maybe I'll have to resort to scheduling all of my Instagram posts so that I never really have to look at it, as much as I steer clear of any automated activity aside from auto-posting to Facebook, which you will NEVER find me lurking on.

End of part one.