How I Discovered Blogging With WordPress

September 23, 2018 — 56 Comments

Here is the interview that I did with Ben Huberman editor at WordPress Discover .  I hope you enjoy reading it 🙂

How Soprano Charlotte Hoather Took Her Singing — and Blogging — to New Heights

Whether you’re a writer, creator, or business owner, it can be challenging to pursue your passion while maintaining a consistent online presence. British opera singer Charlotte Hoather does just that. Charlotte’s blog celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this year — so we recently chatted with her to learn how she manages a demanding, globe-trotting work schedule while posting and connecting with her readers.

How did your blogging journey begin?

As an undergraduate student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) I was criticized for not being able to write essays with enough academic authority and sensible structure. I had always struggled with mixing up words, incorrect spelling, and creating a flowing argument. It was very frustrating, and despite all my hard work and research, I wasn’t sure how to improve.

Head Shot Small

The RCS suggested that I get tested for Dyslexia. It was a relief to discover after all those years what had been causing me problems. I was encouraged to start an online journal to explore reflective thinking and critical writing. To fuel my posts, I participated in a creative-writing module where we would critique live theatre and discuss general topics. I hoped that by using WordPress, I could improve my English skills and develop my artistic confidence in communicating in words. I obviously still make mistakes, but that was how my journey into blogging began.

How would you define your blog’s niche?

I share my passion for opera with others, whether they are novices or keen Puccini lovers. When I was young, I hadn’t ever experienced classical music and opera. Auditioning for conservatoires was so alien, and I was the first person to do it at my sixth form. I genuinely wanted to get discussions going and to share my world with other people from mixed backgrounds, rather than just talk and interact — which I also love to do — with a small clique of musicians. I wanted people to see why we train for so long and how opera is like athletics and sports. It takes daily practice, patience for long-term goals, and incredible self-motivation, which I am continually testing!

Was earning money through your site a priority?

I haven’t monetized my blog, but I do use it and other social media to encourage people to listen to the songs I recorded on iTunes, Amazon, and any of the leading digital platforms like Spotify, Napster, and Deezer. I’m hoping to record a new CD now that my post-graduate training has finished at The Royal College of Music in London, and I hope that people can hear the progress I’ve made. Now, to find a recording studio and the time!

You currently maintain a Jetpack-powered, self-hosted website, as well as a bloghere on WordPress.com. How did you become a WordPress user?

I can’t remember the program the RCS suggested we use, but I didn’t like that the platform owned all the content — I could never delete anything if I wanted to and I had no control. I looked at Blogger and WordPress, but you can’t self-host Blogger. I liked the blogs I read on WordPress and felt the community was warm and welcoming, so I jumped in, initially with a free blogging theme, and have added in extras through the years to improve the functionality and style of the blog and make it more independent and unique.

It was super easy to set up, and came with lots of free themes and good support. I have gone for a mix of a self-hosted WordPress website and a blog hosted through WordPress.com.

If you could magically add a feature to your WordPress site, what would it be?

It would help if WordPress had a Grammarly plugin so that when you form your replies to comments, they are automatically checked for those people who need it. There are so many brilliant writers and storytellers on WordPress it wouldn’t need to be there all the time.

You’ve garnered a massive following on several social platforms. Do you have any advice for people who are still struggling to find an audience beyond their real-life circle of family and friends?

Of my social media platforms, my blog came first. WordPress community members recommended I set up a Facebook page and linked it, and then another blog friend was surprised I didn’t have Twitter and suggested that and also advised me on how to set it up. Google+ followed, and a couple of years ago Instagram — although I still need to get my head around hashtag use. I try to treat them all as individual platforms now, but I’m really no expert — I just muddle along getting tips from people.

Beyond her blog, you can also follow Charlotte on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

WordPress used to be easier to attract readers, do follow-backs, and build communities, but as I got busier in my studies I found it hard to keep in touch with everyone. But I do my best. I would recommend that you visit, like, and comment on other blogs and build friendships even if you can only do this once each month. Just like friends in real life, if you ignore people for too long they drift away. Blogging is more about sharing and caring about others than just about you.

Training to become a professional soprano is — one would assume! — an often-grueling process. How do you find the time and energy to connect with fans and music lovers online (not to mention others from the blogging community)?

Training to become an opera singer is very taxing, but I adore it. I try to fit my blogging and connecting with my friends through social media around my tightly packed schedule. The way I blog and my expectations of myself have changed over the past five years. I used to post twice each week. I was able to use some of the posts toward my academic credits, and earlier in my training, I had a bit more free time as I was building up my vocal stamina — I could practice a lot less than I can now. As I progressed through my training, I decided to cut down my posts to one per week, preferring quality over quantity. This ensured that I could keep the conversations going and keep in touch with people enjoying my adventures.

I love knowing that on Sunday, I need to create a post! No ifs, no buts! It means that at some point in the week I need to have done something interesting or complete some research on an area of opera that I would love to share with people. It taught me to enjoy the little moments: if I have a quiet period in my career and visit family and make paper flowers, then that’s what I share.

I wish I had more time to answer everyone on my social media platforms individually. I hope that people understand; if they want a reply or a discussion, I ask that they comment on my blog — this platform easily allows for that.

Do you have any practical advice for aspiring bloggers on a busy schedule?

I wake up early and go to bed around 10:30-11:00. I have always had a full-structured, energetic day. I often dictate my thoughts into my iPhone and convert them into text. I think this allows for a conversational style of writing, which I can later edit grammatically. I answer comments as I go along on public transport, or if I have any downtime between appointments. I usually copy the comments into a word document and edit them over a few days. Once they are all complete, I put them all on at the same time. My Dad helps with videos and resizing photos, and my Mum checks my post for spelling and grammar.

On a more personal note, what are the next goals you’ve set for yourself?

After six years of training at Music Conservatoires in both Glasgow and London, I want to apply everything I’ve learned so far and put it into practice. During my studies, I managed to find my own small work projects. Now I want to develop my professional working portfolio while continuing to advance my language, singing, and dance skills, which take a lot of time and investment.

I hope that over the next five years, I can enter a Young Artist Program or Fest Contract at an opera house and maintain a career in opera. I would love to continue working internationally, as I have really enjoyed working abroad, trying new cuisines, conversing in different languages, and partaking in special customs.

But for the next few months, the hope is to keep my head above water, stay motivated, and earn enough to support my training and become an engaged member in this industry.

Do you have a dream role (or roles) you’d love to perform?

My dream roles change constantly, depending on my mood and personal development. At the moment I would love to perform Musetta from La Bohème (Puccini), Zerbinetta from Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss) and The Controller from Flight (Dove). But one thing I have learned recently is that if you are surrounded by a wonderful cast, every role is enjoyable — even the smallest role has a big story to tell, full of personal hardships and glory.

Any other exciting plans for the near future?

I had some great experiences this past year performing in Manchester, London, Cornwall, Oxford, and even Paris and New York, and I’m currently on a tour with Scottish Opera in the Highlands of Scotland. After that, who knows? That is what makes life such an adventure, and hopefully gives me enough blog content to continue.

56 responses to How I Discovered Blogging With WordPress

  1. 

    Great interview. You let us all in on such a personal energy. While you are a world-wide presence, you are very much like out sisters, best friends, and neighbors. Thank you for being here on WP, if you weren’t I may never have found you.

  2. 

    Great interview. I think I have followed you for most of those five years…. With how big your blog has grown and how busy you are, I think it is great that you can find the time to keep some of the communication open. I hope your autumn is going well.

  3. 

    Really professional and entertaining responses! Being discovered by Ben is yet another accolade.

  4. 

    Brillant, comme tout ce que tu fais ! Bravo ! Très fière de Toi ma chère amie ! Je te souhaite tous les bonheurs du monde et beaucoup de succès et n’oublies pas de faire des pauses et de prendre soin de Toi ! Meilleurs pensées

  5. 

    Great insight. Thank you.

  6. 

    Wonderful and professional! Great article! Congrats Charlotte!

  7. 

    You may have started a blog as a help to yourself, but it’s definitely “adding value” as they say, to your readers. Thanks!

  8. 

    Wonderful Charlotte & congratulations for your well earned recognition!

  9. 

    Wonderful review, Charlotte! Congratulations on all your accomplishments and for a full and rich year of experiences. Keep on working hard and you will realize your dreams! Hugs xx

  10. 

    I have often wondered how on earth you reply to comments, including mine. It’s wonderful how you involve your family in your blogging; I wasn’t aware of the dyslexia before; it makes what you achieve in your blogging even more amazing and I see you’ve answered my question about your dream roles – what a fascinating grouping! Although I’ve been an opera lover for most of my life, since at least seven years old, I always learn something from your wonderful posts. I’m sure the future is bright for you and look forward to continuing to follow you on your journey (I don’t use any other social media so it’s just on WordPress). Bravissima!

    • 

      I have lots of travel time, I seem to always be on one train or another so I find ways to pass the time even if I have no WiFi. I’m busy at the moment learning new music, I must keep my direction and timetabled learning, so much still to learn. Thanks Roger.
      My best wishes
      Charlotte

  11. 

    Fantastic interview. Your blog goes from strength to strength. Good luck with future plans x

  12. 

    What a lovely informative interview Charlotte. Well done. I continue to thoroughly enjoy your weekly blog and feel you always give everything you do 100%. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in your career. See you soon😘

    • 

      Thanks Gill, you’ll have to tell me if I start to drift 😀. Hope you enjoy my Shetland photos from this week, lots of place names and even a fort called Charlotte.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  13. 

    You even interview well, Charlotte. Oh, what a future you’ll have!!

  14. 

    Charlotte
    What an amazing blog and interview.
    It is a brilliant insight into how hard you have worked for the last7 yrs,
    The video’ s are fabulous , I could listen to you all day.
    Congratulations on everything you have achieved so far,and I’m sure will continue far into the future..xx

    • 

      I’m glad you enjoyed the videos they are two I recorded that I didn’t use for audition purposes but I enjoy singing both songs. I hope to do some more recording soon.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  15. 

    Lovely to hear your voice on these recordings. So much exciting development, both in sound and body language, over the years. Congratulations!

    • 

      Thank you Hilary, they’re videos that didn’t survive the audition cut I did but I was hoping listeners would hear some of my new technique so thank you very much.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  16. 

    Dear Charlotte,
    I love your honesty and service in the opera as well as your WordPress Blog. May the Lord bless you richly my Beloved.

  17. 

    What a wonderful interview, Charlotte, and it’s been great knowing you and learning of your amazing accomplishments. Thanks for entertaining us with your gorgeous voice, too. 💕🌼🎵

    • 

      Thank you Lauren I’ve loved reading your blog over the years, I’ve learnt so much from your poetry, your latest poem to your daughter was just lovely and congrats again on 8 years blogging.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        You’re welcome, Charlotte, and thank you for your kind words about both my poetry and my recent poem. Each time I visit you, I’m in awe of all you’re accomplishing, not to mention your beautiful soprano voice. I look forward to many more posts from you, too. Take care. 🌷

  18. 

    This is such a fantastic interview, Charlotte and it was so good to see and hear the videos you included too. Your voice is getting better and better! I wish you so well, my dear xx

  19. 

    Wonderful interview, Charlotte, it is great to hear you describe starting the blog, and then seeing, reading and hearing how incredible your voice and writing have evolved over these 5 years. So much ahead for you as well 🙂 Cheers to a great weekend, and congratulations.

  20. 

    This is an inspiring read. Thank you for sharing.

  21. 

    Charlotte,
    I had to take the time to read this twice! This fabulous interview shows your ability to focus and use your time wisely. I’ve never enjoyed opera like I enjoy listening to you.
    I’m 1/3 of my way through my new Art Gown. I thought I would be further along, but things got hectic. Alice In Wonderland has arrived for me to pick up at my local library. Crazy as it seems, I used the sketch of you in the gown in my portfolio when I interviewed with a producer/director yesterday, about a TV series. There is a reason, but that will be later.
    I always listen to music when I work on my gowns. What is the best platform to listen to your work? Vimeo…. YouTube… OR? I am so excited to create while you sing. However, if I don’t have to keep switching sites, that would be best.
    Well, take care, and all the best!
    Resa ❦❦

  22. 

    Such a wonderful story

  23. 

    Great interview Charlotte! I’ve been slow to read it as have been busy myself. It was enlightening to hear so much more of your background to blogging and social media, and I loved the two musical interludes. Listening to the second one as I type 🙂

  24. 

    I discovered this yr that my son is mildly dyslexic, and I appreciate the many purposes this blog has served in your growth, Charlotte. Not to mention how your blogging is a family affair. You are so blessed. I love the dedication and rigor of athleticism that the singing exacts of you, and appreciate that you’ve made it a point to connect with me in and around your demanding schedule. Keep up the great work.

  25. 

    This is very inspirational to a new blogger. I’d appreciate it if you and a look at my blog. Let me know if you have any tips. Thank you

  26. 

    Nice blog and post! Congrats on finding and using WordPress!

  27. 

    Charlotte, what a talent you have! Hearing your beautiful music, I am inspired to spend an hour or so playing the piano this week. I am only a hobbyist pianist, but playing brings great joy.

    At what age did you begin voice lessons?

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 20, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      Thank you Tricia for your lovely message you made me smile 😊. I started singing as a toddler singing along to videos, then I went to classes age 6 on Saturday mornings with a company called Stagecoach. At 11 at High School I met a classical singing teacher and started having individual lessons with her for 30 minutes per week and increased from there.

      Enjoy your piano, you’ve inspired me to do a bit of piano practice tonight too.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

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