Meet Claire Robinson, a travel blogger, digital trainer and consultant based in the Cotswolds. An established career as an advertising creative enabled Claire to go freelance as a creative copywriter seven years ago to work more flexibly around her daughter. As well as writing her travel blog Weekend Candy, running training courses and launching her digital consultancy, Claire has found time to share her story and her Spring weekend recommendations with us.
Tell us about yourself
By day I’m a freelance copywriter for digital and advertising agencies, then by night I’m the founder and owner of a travel blog about weekend breaks in the UK and Europe. I’m not quite sure how I ended up here, but I guess it had something to do with doing English at university, followed by a creative writing MA. I’d always wanted to write (particularly about travel) and kind of fell into my first writing gig with a small nutritional company after university. From there I went to a publishing house, then to advertising agencies where I worked in the creative department and came up with ideas for advertising and digital campaigns. I went freelance about seven years ago to help fit in with being a single parent to a beautiful girl. I didn’t know if freelance would work, but I’m a big believer in ‘leaping and building your wings on the way down’. Thankfully it worked (big yay) and I’m still freelance with a good base of clients. My blog Weekend Candy, started after I won Eurostar as my freelance client. I was writing travel destination content and it reignited my passion for this sort of writing. In the old days, to be a published travel writer you’d need to be featured by a magazine or newspaper but digital has changed all that (very big yay!). Knowing this, I gobbled up books about blogging and went on courses about starting and running a blog – then I just did it. I pressed publish on my first piece and have never looked back!
How has digital technology and social media has changed the way you work?
Digital technology has made it possible to live my dream: travel, write and share my stories with others. I think it’s incredible that people with a passion can now turn that into a viable online business, it’s so exciting, so liberating. It’s wonderful watching and sharing in others successes online.
I love the way digital has broken down traditional barriers: we’re no longer tied to 9/5 or an office desk. We can work from just about anywhere. One day I hope to be fully remote, working when I want, where I want – that’s the next part of the dream. I also love the instant gratification that comes with working in a digital medium as opposed to print. I can see immediately who’s read my posts, who likes my stuff, the affect my work has had (if any!).
Social media is my closest friend! It’s the lifeblood of my blog, driving traffic my way, but more importantly, allowing me to connect and reconnect with exceptional people, readers and long lost friends. I love that I’ve friends via social who I’ve never met but feel close to because I follow their online lives.
I’m a huge fan of live broadcasting and ‘stories’. Both are great for my brand because they give people real insights into me and my life. It also allows them to see behind the scenes of the work I do. I think that helps people feel connected to my brand and, hopefully, deepens their loyalty to me.
Social has also allowed me to co-found a group called Cotswolds Bloggers and Influencers – connecting brands with local bloggers for mutual benefit. We started it with a Facebook group and the group is growing rapidly. We host social events and will be launching training sessions and Insta-walks soon, too. All thanks to the power of social.
TOP WEEKEND CITY BREAKS FOR SPRING
BRISTOL: FOLLOW THE BANKSY TRAIL
DO THIS: Zip straight to Bristol’s gritty graffiti core with a Where the Wall Banksy Street Art Tour. Led by street art legend (and Banksy mentor) John Nation, it’s two hours of brilliance serving up works by Banksy, Inky, Stik and Nick Walker.
SEE THIS: Cruise around Stokes Croft for a while longer – the tour ends here – lapping up the eclectic vibe before heading to Bristol’s historic waterfront. Bristol Harbourside today is almost Parisian in its cosmopolitan style. Trendy bars, shops and galleries flag the dock where the city once traded with new colonies. Cross to the M-Shed where Bristol’s past and people are innovatively celebrated in three exhibit-filled floors. Don’t forget to check out the famous Banksy The Grim Reaper on the First Floor just outside the Bristol People Gallery.
EAT HERE: Fill your belly with a distinctly modern crust in Pieminister, Stokes Croft. Industrial in décor, inventive in design, it’s got enough hipster pies to satisfy the most fussy pie-lover.
STAY HERE: Retreat to the enchanting Boutique Arthouse B&B five minutes’ drive from Bristol’s city centre. Run by art lecturer Sadie Spikes and her husband, it’s a B&B that’ll leave your soul nourished and your spirits forever lifted. I can’t wait to return.
DISCOVER MORE: What to do in Bristol in 2 Days
DO THIS: Walk the The Royal Mile, said to be the oldest street in the city. It snakes through the old town from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood house flanked with shops selling tartan, whisky and shortbread; restaurants, bars and cafes; and historic monuments. Afterwards, pay a visit to Edinburgh Castle. It costs £16.50 to get in, but is worth the fee for the treasures inside.
SEE THIS: Take a tour of Greyfriars Kirkyard – the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk church near Grassmarket. It’s alive with history and character and is particularly famous for Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal police dog that wouldn’t leave his master’s grave for 13 years.
EAT AT: Scotland is synonymous with whiskey. So to mark the partnership, eat at the Whiski Rooms restaurant where they serve seasonal Scottish food. And if you want a dram of whiskey on the side, you’re in the right place: tastings are also on offer.
STAY HERE: Just a 10 minute stroll north of the hustle and bustle of famous Princes Street, you’ll find Nira Caledonia – a boutique, luxury hotel nestled quietly in a high-class, historic neighbourhood. (Romantic Getaway Packages start at £176.)
Paris in Four Months
For her beauty, style and astronomical success I have to say Carin Olsson. I love her pictures and watching her Instagram Stories. She’s definitely my go-to Insta-Crush for inspiration and to stay on focus in that medium. She’s also my injection of Paris beauty when it’s a grey day in the muddy Cotswolds!
A true girl boss and entrepreneur. She went from designer to creative coach in a relatively short space of time. I love the in-depth, no-nonsense, smart-talking, free value she gives to women who want to rock their online business. I’ve bought a couple of her courses and find her a real inspiration.
The Blonde Abroad
Kiersten Rich was the first travel blogger I came across and had the sort of fizzy, feel-good blog that I aspired to. She’s always full of beans and her articles and pictures are so vibrant that you totally get sucked into her travels.
I’m fortunate to be working on many exiting projects at the moment. The first is two workshops I’m running with Lucy from On the Luce. We’ve co-founded Cotswold Bloggers and Influencers and are now offering training to aspiring bloggers and businesses. Our first two sessions, Blogging for Business and Social Media Booster, are being held at Meggies in Stow on the World. Click here to book tickets: cotswoldsbloggers.co.uk/training
The Business Suite
Secondly, I’m also setting up a digital business suite for SMEs who want to start rocking their online presence, called The Business Suite. Once launched, it’ll have online courses, free downloads and bags of free advice about blogging, social media and websites. To sign up click here: weekendcandy.leadpages.co/weekend-candy-business-suite