Sue Jordan started blogging under the guise of CherrySue 5 years ago. That blog has changed both her life and the lives of her lads and is undergoing its own transformation at the moment. I talked to Sue about engaging audiences, keeping it real and asking important questions.
Siún: Cherry Sue Doin’ the Do started 5 years ago, in 2011. What’s changed since then? What was the vision at the beginning? How has that changed over the years?
Sue: Originally, I started it as a creative outlet. All of my good friends had started to settle down and have babies. All of the normal stuff that people do, but as you know I had the lads when I was 17 and 18, so that wasn’t my normal. I’ve always loved English, I gave up studies in English in Trinity to have Aaron. When the likes of beaut.ie came on the scene and I started engaging and found a community there, that I got a real taste for it. I wrote a little bit for beaut.ie but then I realised I could do it myself and I just ran at it. The vision then was just way to communicate creatively since then it has transformed into what it is now. It has changed my life and the lads’ lives. It could be my full-time career but I don’t want it to be, it’s a full-time passion. I am realistic about it and the reality of being a full-time blogger is chasing invoices and unpaid bills. If you’re a blogger who hasn’t got the media behind you already, you have to work a hundred times harder to get your voice heard. It probably goes back to being a single mam and worrying where the next paycheck is coming from and worrrying about whether it’s enough. I need to know that the lads are provided for. Not only that, but I love my dayjob too, it’s chalk and cheese and it’s brilliant that I get to do both.
Siún: The evolution of the blog is quite apparent, was there a conscious shift from the roots of the blog, which were beauty and film weren’t they?
Sue: Watching movies is something myself and the lads always did together, we grew up together Friday and Saturday nights. I started reviewing movies for about 2 years before Aaron came on board. I loved that I could change the blog in whichever way I wanted. If you’re hugely passionate about something, there are other people out there who share your passion. Even now, my blog is 50% male and I think that has a lot to do with the movies’ aspect. Corrina, my sister covers travel on the blog and she does it very well. All of the changes have evolved organically. It’ll be changing again soon, because I want feature some of my tips and tricks on digital media.
Siún: Did that come about with the advent of Snapchat?
Sue: The impetus was definitely Snapchat. When I began talking, people began to ask questions. I realised the same questions were coming back in again and again. It’s so easy for me to send back a 10 second snap. YouTube feels contrived to me and Snapchat doesn’t, I love how raw it is. It’s instant and the reaction is instant.
Siún: Now that you’ve entered the world of digital consultancy, is it challenging to maintain your authenticity? I always find your tone is very encouraging…
Sue: I feel like saying ‘get in here, the water is fine!’ I’ve followed up with a few people who’ve gotten in touch to say how much they’ve enjoyed that aspect of things to see how they’re getting on implementing a few things and they’ve been flabbergasted. My own brother has been at me to get involved in teaching some of these skills on a larger scale recently and now I’m the one getting the push. Of course, the fear of no-one showing up and it being a complete failure never leaves..
Siún: It’s funny you should mention that because during the last two interviews I’ve done, both interviewees have mentioned that exact thing, the fear of failure. Both of whom are in completely different fields have felt the dreaded imposter syndrome.
Sue: It’s paralysing. I gave someone a bit of encouragment once and she has gone on to garner a huge following. When we did the Dream It, Do It workshop she thanked me before she started. I nearly bloody cried before my own talk. Damn it, I wish I could take my own advice more often!
Siún: One of the things that keeps cropping up about blogging is how to maintain the levels of authenticity and transparency, two things on which most blogs are founded when it comes to sponsored or paid work. I know you’re all about being upfront but is it a challenge to stay true to your own voice while working with a company?
Sue: No, never. I would never say I liked something if I didn’t. I don’t see the point. The nature of this game is that PRs and interns change all the time. So if I’m not working with one PR company, I’ll probably be working with others. Any PR worth their salt doing the best job they can will want a balanced view of everything. Unbalanced views are of no value to their client. They’ll take everything on board, good and bad and that’s how products evolve. The value of beauty bloggers is they’re doing market research for you, which is hugely valuable. You can’t say that of every agency, the turnover is huge. Paula, (Hurley, of Paula Hurley PR) watched my snaps and saw I was giving out about the HD cameras in TV3 and said let’s sort you out with some HD makeup from Makeup Forever. Because it performed exactly as she said it would, I in turn went on to promote that makeup on every social media platform free of charge. That’s joined up digital marketing.
Siún: There’s quite a bit of cynicism about the blogging industry at the moment, how do you feel about it?
Sue: I feel like a lot of it is coming from mainstream media who feel threatened. They’re not getting every opportunity like they used to. The playing field is much more level than it used to be and they’re scared of that. I will agree that there are a lot of people jumping on board the blogging world with dollar-signs in their eyes, and that’s why we need to question everything, challenge everything. Questioning publicly starts conversations and that’s hugely important in every aspect of this world.
A big thank you to Sue for sharing her time and expertise with such generosity.