I met Rona at one of Lamplighter London’s calligraphy classes earlier this year, and was lucky enough to catch up with her again at Blogtacular in June!
In between, I read the story of how she left the corporate world to find her dream career as a florist, and create an award winning blog to boot. I couldn’t wait to find out more about this huge transformation and pick Rona’s brain for advice.
You started out on quite a different path, in the corporate world. What drew you to floristry?
I’ve always loved flowers. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad growing anemones in rows in his vegetable patch. He grew them especially for my mum as they’re one of her favourite flowers. I also remember the beautiful smell of flowers when we used to enter church on Mothering Sunday.
It wasn’t until I fell ill though over ten years ago that I decided to study floristry. I’d been on a ferry journey which resulted in me feeling dizzy… constantly. It took two years and numerous visits to different doctors and then specialists to finally get the diagnosis that I had an inner ear problem.
One morning, whilst walking to the train station with my husband, the wind was so cold and piercing that there were tears streaming down my cheeks. My husband said, “You’re really not very happy, are you?”. I shook my head. He said, “Well…what do you really love?”. I suddenly uttered, “Flowers!”
That lunchtime I looked online for floristry courses and shortly afterwards, I signed up for and began a floristry evening course at Southwark College in London. I also started working as a Saturday girl in a local florist to gain work experience.
After 12 months, I was lucky enough to go part-time in my corporate job in the City and I studied for a National Certificate in Floristry. Then I took redundancy and went to work for florist, Paula Pryke.
Why did you decide to start a blog, and did you ever think/hope it would grow to this great (award winning!) point?
I realised when I was studying floristry that there was very little floristry information online, so I decided to set up Flowerona.
When I started it back in December 2010, I had no idea how it would grow. However, I regularly checked my daily page views and thought about how I could increase them. I’m really thrilled at how it’s grown and now it’s received several awards.
Do you have any top tips for fellow bloggers looking to improve and expand their content?
- Commit and be consistent
Decide on when you’re going to blog, as in, which days of the week. Just as TV programmes have regular schedules and viewers look forward to watching them, make it easy for your readers to know when to expect new content from you. I blog at least four times a week – Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If I have more time (I always have more content!), I’ll blog in the intervening days.
- Weekly columns
Create regular weekly columns. Not only will it help your readers know when to expect new blog posts, but it’ll also help you to know what you’re writing about. For example, I have Wedding Wednesday, Florist Friday, my YouTube video on a Saturday and Flowerona Links on a Sunday.
- Read, read, read…
Read blogs of general interest and relating to your niche. Feedly is a great tool which I use to keep up-to-date with my favourite blogs.
You still attend floristry workshops, even with all of your experience. Is it important to keep learning, and honing your craft?
I feel that you never stop learning. There’s always something new to discover. For example, at the moment, there’s a big trend for informal, relaxed floral designs.
What advice would you give someone thinking of taking the leap into a new career?
- Get work experience
I found it hugely beneficial to work at the weekends at my local florist. So I’d definitely recommend seeing if you can get some work experience.
Combine your work experience with training. I personally benefitted from firstly taking an evening class and then a qualification. They both gave me a good grounding, introduced me to all the floristry terminology and this, combined with the work experience, helped me be 100% sure that working in the world of floristry was the path that I wanted to follow.
- Financial security
Dip your toe into your new career whilst you’re still in full-time employment. Then you can test the water and see if your dream career lives up to your expectations. I was also very lucky to have a financial nest egg in the form of my redundancy payment which helped me once I left my job.
- Go for it!
You only live once, so make sure that you’re doing something that you love work-wise. Something that makes you wake up every morning excited to see what the day has in store for you.
Book – Blog Inc by Joy Cho
I’ve read lots of books about blogging and this is my favourite, by far.
Course – Blogging Your Way
At the very start of my blogging journey, I took courses run by Holly Becker of Decor8, which I found so useful.
Blog – Problogger
A must-read blog for bloggers.
Event – Blogtacular
An annual conference for bloggers, held in London.
Thanks so much Rona! Isn’t her photography stunning? You can keep up with Rona in the following places online:
Twitter – @Flowerona
Instagram – @flowerona
Pinterest – @flowerona
Facebook – Flowerona
YouTube – Rona Wheeldon
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