School holidays can create apprehension in any household with children, especially for many of us city-living folks. There is a real need for parents who are hungry for help on “how to keep kids connected with nature”. Caroline Webster, known to many as Caro, saw this opportunity and created Caro and Co – a fantastic blog bursting with colours, ideas and beautiful words that help parents find creative ways to engage their offspring with nature. It’s just what’s needed to encourage children to think about the world around them. The blog is inspirational in its approach to craft projects, kids cooking and parenting ideas.
Caro is a writer, author, fanatical gardener, foodie, social media advocate and a passionate believer in the magic of nature, outdoors and unstructured play. She has worked in a variety of industries including advertising, politics, the not-for-profit sector and publishing; and is a regular contributor to Australian Country and Style Magazine.
Winner of the Best Parenting Blog 2012, her inspiration comes from her 2 children.
The interview with Caro made me want to borrow some kids to play with!
Tell us about Caro & Co. What’s the inspiration behind it?
After the release of my book (Small Fry Outdoors-inspiration for being outside with kids) I realised that people were hungrier than ever for information on how to keep kids connected to the wonder of nature. So I created Caro and Co as a place people can come to for tips and insights on engaging with nature, outdoor fun (including natural art and craft ideas), cooking with kids, food sources and sustainability, gardening (plot to pot), animals and pets. I guess it’s a general parenting blog but with an emphasis on encouraging creativity, imagination, resilience and independence in our children when outdoors. No preaching though! I attempt to keep it humorous and engaging in tone and as such, have built a loyal band of subscribers. A food tragic, I also recently created No Fuss Food to satisfy my desire to write about and photograph the world of food.
My children provide much inspiration for the content on the site.
Social media also played a huge part in my decision to start a blog/website. It made me realise that there was a new and exciting way of engaging with my audiences. I was interested in disseminating information about my writing, but also garnering information about my areas of interest. Social media affords that in spades. It has definitely given my writing a broader audience and drove sales of my book, which sold out not long after I started the blog in late 2009.
The challenge many of us face is getting an idea off the ground, how did you do it?
I gave myself a deadline of 6 months to monetize the site and attract a reasonable number of subscribers. I knew absolutely nothing about social media or managing a website so realized this was an ambitious goal. However, I felt that placing this level of pressure on myself would not only focus my mind but also make me bloody-minded about achieving those targets.
The next day I asked a friend to show me the basics of WordPress and I was off and running. I also set myself the task of writing at least 400/500 words each day. Initially, whether I used those words or not was irrelevant. It was more about honing my discipline, focus and educating myself on the burgeoning world of social media. I knew that providing content would always be easy – the admin. associated with managing a website was always (and to a degree remains) going to be the challenge for me.
What does a typical day look like?
First up? The crossword. It kick starts my brain. I try to have business meetings in the morning. I then focus on writing from lunch through until my children get home. I do the boring, back-end stuff after the kids have gone to bed. Working from home certainly affords a flexible schedule.
What was the biggest challenge you faced on your journey?
I didn’t have any insurmountable challenges to speak of. Initially, the trickiest issue was my lack of technical knowledge.
Trying to explain to some friends and family exactly what it is that I do also brings its own set of challenges.
What have been the recent highlights in your blogging career?
Winning the title of Best Parenting Blog in 2012 was definitely a highlight. The steady increase in my subscribers is also comforting. And it was also very satisfying when the blog began “washing its own face” after the 12-month mark.
What’s next for you and Caro & Co?
On a personal level, I’d like to complete my Horticulture degree in 2013. My love of plants knows no bounds.
My goals for Caro & Co are to create and maintain a YouTube channel based on, and to complement, the content of the website. It’s my view that using vlogs to boost subscription and engagement will be the next ‘big thing’ in the blogging world. My first two vlogs are up and have been well received. I’ve also created the outline for a magazine, again, based on the content of the site.
I would also like to form an ongoing partnership with a charity and give back in some way. Encouraging philanthropy is very important to me.
Caro Webster is mother to a boy and girl who perplex and amaze her in equal measure. They lie at the core of her award-winning blog Caro & Co. She is also a regular contributor to Australian Country Style magazine.
Caro is a writer, author, fanatical gardener, foodie, social media advocate and a passionate believer in the magic of nature, outdoors and unstructured play.
She has worked in a variety of industries including advertising, politics, the not-for-profit sector and publishing. Caro is currently working on a second book about the power of imagination and a third about a girl who loves dirt.
You’ll find her here:
Email: [email protected]
(Photographer: Elise Lockwood)