This week’s guest is the wonderful Nicole, the blogger behind the established guide to all things Northamptonshire, Nicole Navigates. Nicole’s blog focuses on supporting local, independent businesses and she regularly reviews and shares mouth-watering food that make you really wish you lived near Northampton. Road trip?
Here, Nicole shares how her blog turned into the established guide to all things Northamptonshire.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your life.
Hi! My name is Nicole, I’m 25 years old (26 on Sunday – yikes!) and I live in Northamptonshire in my own home with my boyfriend Josh, where we have been for a whole year – wowza!
I currently work in Content Creation, a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, afternoon naps, love visiting local places and travelling further afield and I’m a big foodie!
I am a Northamptonshire Blogger who writes the blog, Nicole Navigates, which is a guide to eating and navigating Northamptonshire whilst loving everywhere local and supporting independent shops.
What made you want to start a blog? And what did you initially blog about?
I started blogging as a hobby in 2015 whilst I was in my final year studying my Musical Theatre degree and my old blog is still somewhere out there and will remain a secret – ha! But I was inspired by Little Miss Katy, who I can’t remember how I stumbled across her, but I just remember thinking “wow, I want to do this!” and I’ve been inspired by many OG content creators too.
So one day, I set up a blog which initially started as a 21 projects for my 21st year where I would write a blog everyday (I didn’t last very long) but I wrote about all sorts!
I blogged about anything and everything when I first started; from University life, recipes, 10 happy things posts and just general lifestyle posts on what I did over the weekends – it was back in the day where you could just write about whatever with no agenda – I kinda miss those old school blogging days!
After that, I knew I really loved writing and blogging, so once I left University, I set up Nicole Navigates (previously known as Tea with Nicole) and started putting a lot more effort into my content.
How did you find your niche?
As I came home from University, I was finding after missing home for so long and having such a natural desire to explore my local area, that I was writing more about it. Back when we first moved to Northants when I was 13, we used to explore everywhere, so I already had that ingrained in me.
I wrote about meals out, places I visited and soon I started to realise that there was a gap in the market and no other blogger at the time was really writing about Northamptonshire (it doesn’t seem to be the most visited tourist spot in the UK). I wanted to change that and show that Northamptonshire is a great place to visit – so it kinda became natural out of pure love for my hometown.
How has Nicole Navigates evolved over the years into the established local guide for Northamptonshire?
I just started writing more and more about the days out I was having, the foodie places I would eat at and that progressed into making food guides in 2018. They are now known as my ‘Northants Food Guides’ and I started to get noticed by other people and businesses.
You have to put in a lot of hard-work and dedication, from evenings sitting on my bed and writing and scheduling blog posts, to social media scheduling and using any time spare to work and graft.
I’ve also been proud of the fact that my blog has been consistent, meaning 90% of my content is focused around where to eat and navigate in Northamptonshire. I feel from that, people have recognised my name and brand and know exactly what and who I am.
What new opportunities has your online presence given you?
My blog was the reason I managed to gain my first job in Digital Marketing, which has now led me to my current job within Influencer Marketing and Content Creation. My blog is like it’s own CV with the amount of skills I’ve learnt doing it from photography, SEO, writing, graphic design, video editing and much more.
I’ve had some amazing opportunities thanks to my blog, from gifted stays at luxury hotels, to lovely meals out at local places, to being a guest on BBC Radio Northampton and even doing some public speaking at events, running my own blogging workshops and much more!
Blogging has given me so many skills and accomplishments over the years which I am very grateful for and hope, post lockdown and covid, there will be more to come!
What would be your top tip for anyone starting a blog?
BE YOURSELF. No one else can do you. At the beginning of my blogging journey, I was so concerned about blogging about things because everyone else was, but I’ve learnt that originality is the key to success.
What are your aspirations for your blog, Nicole Navigates, or self in the next few years?
I’d love to see it grow further, to be well adapted in all fields i.e. social media, have regular content going up and for it to become a secondary income for me.
I’m also a bit addicted to TikTok, so I’d love to grow that and add regular content there too!
Maybe even one day, I’ll do this full-time, who knows what the future holds! I’d be open to that…
Is there a charity you’d like to mention that’s close to your heart?
I’d like to shout out a local one to me, who always deserve a mention for all the hard-work they put in:
The Lewis Foundation are a Northamptonshire based charity who source, pack and hand deliver gifts to adult cancer patients in hospital, whether it be items they find difficult to source themselves, or just items that make their time in treatment a bit easier.
They rely on donations in order to make those gift packs and I strongly admire Lorraine Lewis, one of the founders, for her and her husband’s dedication and all they do. They deserve national recognition in my eyes! They were even mentioned in OK Magazine recently!
Read more of my interviews with bloggers and creatives here.