Wise Words Wednesday with Sara Williams

It’s Wednesday and that means I get to bring you another inspirational blogger to share with you their journey.

Sara’s blog is full of so much advice on debt and everything that comes with it. It is the perfect place for advice that will help you understand the next step and where to turn.

Tell us a little bit about you & your blog:

My name is Sara Williams. I started my website at debtcamel.co.uk just over three years ago. I blog about everything connected with personal borrowing and credit ratings in Britain. That is a big range, from a Guide to the advantages and disadvantages of IVAs for people with huge debt problems to Are 35 or 40 year mortgages a good idea? for people who don’t have debt problems at all!

What inspired you to start blogging?

I had been an adviser at Citizens Advice for over ten years and debt problems were the ones I found most interesting because they are so varied. Every debt adviser always wishes their client had come a few months or years before. So I set up Debt Camel so people could get answers to their questions online, on a weekend afternoon or late one evening, before they are desperate enough to go for “proper debt advice”. 

I think it’s important to write in plain English, not use jargon. I also wanted to be honest that it’s not always easy to make debt decisions and to look at the emotions and worries people often have – not tell them what to do.

What has been your highlight of blogging?

At the end of 2015 I wrote an article about the payday loans trap, saying how people who repaid a loan but then had so little money left they had to get another one the the same month, could ask for a refund of the interest they paid. There are now thousands of people who have got these refunds – the Financial Ombudsman is getting more than two hundred complaints a week. These refunds have been life changing for many people and it’s great to know my template letters have helped them do this.

Is there anything you have learnt about blogging which you wish you knew when you started out?

I didn’t realise how many people would be reading my blog on mobiles. If you do all your blogging at home on a desktop with a fast broadband connection, you aren’t seeing your blog the same way a lot of your readers do. It took a year before I really started to concentrate on keeping picture sizes down and doing other things that help my pages to load quickly.

Are there any bits about blogging you don’t like?

Finding pictures is a real hassle for me. I don’t want to use pictures of beautiful, white people in their twenties with perfect make up and lovely clothes sitting on luxurious leather sofas frowning at the latest iPhone. I write about the real world, not some advertiser’s dream.

What has been the most rewarding part of blogging for you?

I have made a lot of contacts with a wide variety of people in the debt world. I may be “on the debtor’s side” but it helps a lot to talk to creditors and debt collectors and also to meet people who work for different sorts of debt management firms. One of the best parts of running Debt Camel is that people now send me news stories. I can’t always print them because of confidentiality, but they are so interesting to hear.

What would be your 1 tip you would give all new bloggers starting out?

Write about what you really care about. If you aren’t passionate about a subject you will just give up – the first year when your reader numbers seem to go up oh so slowly can be tough going. Focussed blogs are also much more interesting than people who try to do everything. So if you want to blog about puddings, don’t feel you also have to cover starters and main courses!

Who do you find inspiring to read/watch in the blogging world?

There are some specialised housing and legal sites where I read most articles. I love a lot of the American money bloggers because of their huge enthusiasm. I read a lot of blogs and I get very bored with click bait titles. I like a blog which tells me something new and interesting, it doesn’t have to pretend to be the best thing ever.

Lastly – do you have any big plans/dreams for your blog in the next 12 months?

I’d like Debt Camel to have a make-over. And I would love to get round to vlogging. But I will probably settle for writing a pile of interesting articles!

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