I’ll be honest with you, it was pretty hard to whittle the amount of questions I had to ask Sarah, the blogger behind The Prosecco Diaries, down to just eight. She’s a fountain of knowledge- on everything from blogging and journalism, to the finest skincare and where’s best to get a great glass of fizz in London! I just wanted to pick her brains about everything, okay!? ;) I’ve followed Sarah online for a long while now, and can’t tell you what a treat it’s been to dedicate time this month to getting to know The Prosecco Diaries better. I just adore her authorial voice, and how each post on TPD seems so well researched and carefully put together. And I’m so excited to be introducing Sarah and her lovely blog here today! Enough from me- let’s get to this interview already!
1. Tell us a little about how you’ve come to be an events organiser and blogger in London! Has your background studying theatre influenced and enhanced your career? And what does an average day look like for you?
‘I always wanted to be a magazine journalist and did my school work experience at Mizz Magazine (remember that?), but I don’t know why I didn’t pursue it. I ended up studying theatre at uni, and training to be a drama teacher. There was a lot I loved about teaching, especially directing school plays, but there’s also a lot to be unhappy about when you’re not in your dream job. I started my blog because I just needed somewhere to write, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started creating magazine-style content: interviews, reviews, recommendations, etc. As my blog started to take off I spent more and more time on it, and started working with brands to do blogger outreach and organise events. Teaching is not the kind of job you can switch off from in the evenings and weekends; there’s always some paperwork or marking to do. So, I had to make a decision – do less blogging or blog full time. It was a scary decision to make, but made easier by the fact I was working in a really horrible school at the time! The first thing I did when I left was write a column about quitting for Teaching Drama Magazine, and I rejoiced in finally being a published writer! I have since done lots of freelance work on the side of my blog: events, social media consultancy, writing, and blogger outreach. I also set up Bloggeration with a fellow blogger, and we run workshops and events for bloggers. This month I’m speaking at the Web We Want Festival at the Southbank Centre on monetising your blog, and I’m also chairing a panel of bloggers and YouTubers.’
‘An average day for me starts with getting up between 7am and 8am and walking the ten steps from my bedroom to the lounge where I work from. When I went freelance I made the mistake of working very late hours and sleeping late, getting into student sleeping patterns! But this made being wide awake for morning meetings or events difficult, so now I make myself get up early, even if I’ve been out late at an event the night before. I start with checking emails and promoting my latest post on social media (they go live at 6am most mornings). I then go to the gym or do a workout DVD at home, do some housework or laundry, and then get ready to go out if I have meetings with brands or PRs, or if I’m meeting a fellow blogger for lunch. If I’m working from home all day I make sure I get an afternoon walk in, or take some time to have a break. I watch loads of YouTube vlogs and read blogs, and I might also watch a cheeky episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race…. I’m out several nights a week for blog events, or I might be reviewing a restaurant or going to a film premiere. Weekends are my quiet evenings to stay in and relax, or catch up with non-blogging friends, but I still work on weekends in the day time – when you’re freelance there’s always something that needs doing.’
2. What three words would you use to describe The Prosecco Diaries?
‘Informative, entertaining, prosecco-fuelled.’
3. Do you have a favourite subject to cover on TPD? I personally am hooked on your reviews of London restaurants and hotspots, they’re just so great!
‘When I started my blog it was mostly about things to do in London – hence my tagline “exploring London’s creative side”, and I interviewed several creative types. It’s evolved to include beauty reviews, and a health section to document my struggles with weight loss and acne scarring. I also have the “and another thing” section which is open for any kinds of opinions, tips, and rants. I enjoy all the sections, which probably goes back to my love of magazines – I like a bit of everything to read. It is pretty great to get invited to exciting places in London and be able to tell my readers about them.’
4. What advice would you give to anyone juggling multiple projects- i.e.writing a blog alongside a full-time job? Any top tips for efficiency and productivity?
‘I’d say an editorial calendar is essential. Most bloggers like to be spontaneous with their posts, and write about what’s inspiring them that week. But if you plan a month ahead (or even three months) you can also have lots of general posts ready to go so you don’t have to scrabble about and get stressed when work or your social life are busy. There are loads of editorial calendar templates online, and one tip is to look for national days and holidays, such as national cat day, halloween, international women’s day, etc – put those in your editorial calendar and write something connected to them. This will give you some easy, shareable content ready to go on those dates. When I worked full time I would also try and cut corners by making one blogger event into two posts. For example, I’d blog about the actual event, and then do another post about the beauty products in the goody bag. Or if I went to review a museum, I’d take some street-style photos outside and write a second post.’
5. What three things would you tell someone visiting London for the very first time to go and do? :)
‘If you’re brand new to London you’re going to need to see a view of this beautiful city! Forget the London Eye, it’s expensive and you’ll waste half a day queuing. Go to the Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street, it’s free but you need to book ahead online. There’s a 360 degree view of London, plus yummy pastries to eat! I also recommend the Ghost Bus Tour to people, it’s so silly but it’s also such a laugh! You travel round London at night on a black double decker bus, and hilarious actors perform whilst also showing you the sights. It’s the perfect way to combine theatre and a London tour – I’ve been on it twice! If you only have time for one West End show see War Horse, it will break your heart and amaze you with how powerful theatre can be.’
6. You feature so many amazing beauty products on your blog! Best thing you’ve tried during the past month?
‘I’m loving the Sunday Riley range at the moment! It’s pricey, but the hype for these products is justified! It’s an American brand and all-natural, so everything smells a bit iffy. But stripped of perfumes and artificial nasties you get powerful oils and creams that nourish your skin and leave it glowing. The Artemis oil has given my skin a new lease of life!’
7. Okay, I can’t not ask- what’s your very favourite Prosecco? Any you’d recommend to a relative Prosecco-drinking newbie like myself?
‘I like my prosecco dry! I don’t know why some people think it’s a sweet drink. I’m no expert though, this was proved when I was recently asked to go on BBC radio and talk about the international prosecco shortage. Haaa! I had no idea what I was rambling about! I called my blog The Prosecco Diaries because it’s my favourite drink and it’s what everyone who knew me associated me with. One of the world’s biggest bloggers warned me against the name as she thought it sounded like a blog about wine, but I’ve mostly had people saying they love the name. I think it does confuse wine merchants a bit at first, but then they still offer me free prosecco anyway, which is a perk I never expected but have welcomed with open arms! The best one I’ve ever tried (so far) is by Italian chef, Enrica Rocca. It’s only available to buy online in cases of six at the moment, but it’s so amazing, I’d say push the boat out if you’re having a special occasion!’
8. And finally, it’s our old favourite Desert Island Discs! If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring along for the ride? You can bring two albums/CDs, two books, two films, ingredients to make a meal, and one luxury item!
‘This is tough as I’m a music and film fiend! Albums would have to be the greatest hits of Blondie and David Bowie. Though, if I could cheat I’d take two massive CDs of playlists I’d made heh heh. My music tastes are eclectic – I can never put my iPod on at parties because one minute it’s a cool song, next it’s a track from a musical or some embarrassing early nineties pop that kills the mood. I’d need to cheer myself up so I’d take Your Highness or This Is The End as a silly film to watch, and I’m also obsessed with Christmas films so I’d watch Home Alone to fit in with the vibe of being stranded and alone. A book I always recommend to people, and one I’d happily read again is Wedlock by Wendy Moore. It’s a biography of a young, rich heiress in the 1700s who is tricked into marrying a vicious brute of a man, who goes about trying to destroy her and keep her money. It’s a true story, and it will blow your mind at how she fought back at a time in history when women had practically zero rights. It’s so well written and researched, and Moore makes a lot of parallels with modern laws and rights for women. Again you’ll be shocked at how little things have changed: it was totally legal in the UK for a man to rape his wife up until 1990!! I love biographies, and another brilliantly written one is Peter Cook: A Biography by Harry Thompson. I’m such a fan of Peter Cook, and this book tells us about his fascinating life whilst also pretty much telling the story of television comedy in the UK.
My luxury item would be that Sunday Riley skincare range – though I should be sensible and take some SPF70 sun protection – I’m next-level pale. Food would be a dish I’ve made for most people in my life at one time or another, I got it from a 1980′s Jane Fonda healthy cook-book. You use a stock cube to make stock in a jug, add peanut butter and mix it into a creamy peanut sauce, then pour it over cooked pasta. Thanks, Jane – it’s delicious!’
p.s. If you’d like to see your own blog featured here on Cider with Rosie, click through to the Sponsor page and book up an advert!