Ashley from I’m Topsy Turvy

Ashley is a successful blogger who likes to bake cakes publishes how to guides on how she made the most wonderful creative cakes on I’m Topsy Turvy. Last year she attended my SEO Workshop at EVO, and apparently grew her traffic significantly after the 3.5 hours marathon sit. I would like to claim any credits for this, however, if you look through the different cakes she has made, and the how to guides, it was bound to happen!

I'm Topsy Turvy

Can you first introduce yourself, where you come from, and what is your background?

My name is Ashlee and I’m a stay at home mom to 5 wonderful children!  I’ve moved 33 times in my life, lived in 7 states and even Japan!  Growing up I was into Theater, singing and dancing.  My dad was pretty ahead of the game and we got a PC for our house when I was 14, and I’ve loved computers ever since!

What are some of the topics you write about on your blog?
I started out as a food blogger, recipes and my cakes, then I started a craft, DIY blog and then I merged them together!  In addition to the food, cakes, parties, crafts and DIY I also throw in some personal posts every once in a while, usually about my kids but sometimes about being a mom to children on the autistic spectrum!
How did you get started blogging? What made you want to start a blog?

In 2007 my husband graduated with an MBA and we had our 4th child the same week.  A few weeks later we moved to Houston TX, away from all family and friends, and then my husband left me for 3 months training in India!  4 kids, new town, brand new baby, no husband…  I was lonely, bored and crazy busy.  a friend suggested I start a blog to update my husband on the kids while he was gone, as well as connect with my family and friends all over the world!  So I started a PRIVATE family blog, and at the same time I started a food blog, July 11th, 2007!  In January of 2010 I started my craft blog and after my first conference in June of 2010 I merged the craft and food blogs, renamed/branded them and the rest is history!

Where do you get your inspiration?

Since I blog about so much my inspiration comes from all over!  I get on kicks, sometimes I’m all cakes for weeks, then all knitting patterns, or all about the kids (summer).  I love getting from my kids, family, friends, pinterest (I’m an addict), fellow bloggers, my sisters, mom and friends!  I’m very visual so sometimes I’ll get inspired in the check out line at the grocery store, or from a picture at the dentist office, I try to take pictures with my phone when I see something I want to remember later, or pin it if I see something online!

Do you have a specific piece you have written, which you are really proud of? Can you tell us how this came together, and the story behind it?

The post about a Lego Star Wars  Birthday Party.

Since so much of my blogging is visual, tutorial based, or just plain showing off my cakes I don’t feel like I’m really a writer, in fact I’m actually very insecure about my writing.  Once someone told me that I apologize too much- which I followed up with by apologizing!  Someone else once told me that when they meet me in real life I sounded JUST like I did when I write, which was the best compliment I could receive!
That said my favorite posts are my party posts, the parties I throw for my kids (myself, friends) include all the things I’m passionate about, cakes, food, crafts, etc…  They not only take the most work, but are so much fun to present and share!  the labels I created for this party are my most requested, so much in fact that I added them as a free download on my facebook page!
I once wrote a quick blog post about the Wireless Switch on a Dell computer, which became my biggest traffic driver on my blog. I called this accidental blogging success. Do you have content which you didn’t spent a lot of time on writing, but turned out to be some of your most popular posts?
Often, actually! Some of my favorite posts, that I expect will be huge, are just average, but the ones I throw out are sometimes the biggest hits!  like my lego head birthday cake

LEgo Head Birthday Cake it was so big and got so many request I ended up doing a follow up with a tutorial a year later! Lego Head Cake Tutorial  then this year a cake that took me not time at all to make has been one of my biggest pinned cakes!  Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake

What did you learn from these successes?
While people love looking at my amazing, difficult, time consuming cakes they really love the easy ones they know they can do themselves!
I should take pictures and do tutorials of the items I think are self explanatory because the ones I think don’t need a tutorial is inevitably the one I get asked about all the time!  apparently what I think is easy isn’t 😉
Also of course my more successful posts are all within the last year, having the correct SEO, knowing how to name my images and put out the best possible post has helped as well. I have older posts that are also simple, and pin-able and should have done better than they did, My plan is to go back and fix those up, I do a few every few months and it makes a huge difference!  the few I’ve “fixed” have not only done better, but helped my overall blog numbers too!
Did you also have posts you spent a lot of time on, which in the end are not driving a lot of content?
For sure!  I did a HUGE post on my daughters Dr. Seuss birthday party a few years ago, I spent WEEKS creating content and creating an AMAZING party, BUT I had a terrible camera and while in person the party was impressive it didn’t read well in pictures. Dr. Seuss 3rd Birthday Party Cake
What did you learn from these posts?
I learned to create one well done table, and started saving up for my nice DSLR.  my industry is an image driven one, so good pictures are huge, I learned to use my camera better, set up tables better, got photoshop and at the same time didn’t create quite so much.  More content didn’t/doesn’t help! one simple project is often better recieved, so I now break up my party posts, the invitation, a recipe from the party, a craft from the party, the cake and then a wrap up with everything, it seems to help a lot, smaller more posts, less overwhelming I think!

On top of simply the content the posts I’ve learned so much about SEO last year (thank you Dennis) that I’ve actually taken some of those older posts, like this one, that hadn’t done well when I thought they should and renamed the images, used the SEO tips and tricks and some other quick fixes (the layout, and order of the pictures/writing) and even though it was over 2 years old it’s gained momentum and done MUCH better!

Are there any people, or other bloggers, you see as examples or to whom you aspire to?

Because I’ve been blogging for 5 years I constantly learn from other bloggers. some I aspire to learn from, and some i learned what not to do from!  it’s still such a new industry I think we’re all learning from each other!  I like being in the middle, bigger than the beginners and smaller than the titans, it’s a good place to be!

Have you been featured on large blogs, media or in TV programs? If so, how did they find you?
Yes, l have been featured and done guest posts on some of the larger blogs in my niche, my top referrers (after google , ravelry and pinterest) are these blogs, and
A local TV network, KSL, is reaching out to bloggers and I was featured as their blogger of the week
My cookies were featured in Vogue Mexico. They found me via google images.
I’m now working on doing a show with an online craft tv show network! Hopefully in the fall!

Craft blogs have weekly link parties, so I link up and they pick favorite posts to features, also I’ve meet both bloggers in real life and are now friends, so they’ve both had me do guest posts as well!
I meet the TV channel through a KSL blogger facebook group!
Can you tell us your experience and how this has made you more successful?
I USED to guest post all the time, but I was losing out on my content, they were getting credit for my stuff, now i’m only willing to guest post for blogs big enough to be worth it, in fact last year the two blogs that were my biggest referrers were also the only two I guest posted for again this year, I’m still willing to link up, and even to a guest post about myself, or with teasers, but not full tutorials.
I’ve also learned how maybe other people see my blog and have cleaned things up, my font for example, changed my water mark, etc…
You learn something from everything you try!  I’ve learned I LOVE the camera, and want to do more TV! I learned to say yes to as much as I can, you never know where it will lead down the road! Be brave, be yourself and HAVE FUN!
What would you do differently this time?
Lose weight?  it’s hard seeing yourself on camera!
For my blog the same thing I said above, I quit giving my content away, and I wish I hadn’t done so much of sharing my content before!  I protect my images with better water marks.
The biggest changes I’ve made over the last year is better pictures, naming my images better and being more aware of my SEO and google analytic’s.  I’m slowly going through old posts and “fixing” my mistakes, and slowly but surely those older posts are doing better, and helping my overall blog!
Where can we find you online?
on Instagram as @imtopsyturvy #topsyturvycakes